November 2019 Spotlight

Happy Halloween

Mark your calendars for the following dates:

  •  Thursday/Friday, November 7th/8th  - School Closed for NJEA Convention
  • Tuesday, November 12th  -  7:00 PM Board of Education Meeting
  • Wednesday, November 13th  - 7:30 PM EFLS meeting – Point Road
  • Thursday/Friday, November 28th/29th  - School Closed for Thanksgiving

conferences

Parent Teacher Conferences on the Horizon

Parent-Teacher conferences are scheduled for the afternoons of Friday, November 22nd and Tuesday, November 26th and the evenings of Thursday, November 21st and Monday, November 25th.  There will be early dismissals on all conference days as well as on Wednesday, November 27th.  This is a reminder that the Little Silver School District operates on three annual assessment periods, or trimesters.  Parents can expect the following:

Trimester #

Tentative Dates

Report Card Issued

1

September 5th - December 6th

December 13th

2

December 9th - March 13th

March 20th  

3

March 16th- End of School Year

Last day of school

At Point Road, students attend their Related Arts classes (Art, Music, STEM, Technology, PE) all year long, based on days of the 6-day cycle.  Therefore, parents of Point Road students can expect to see all grades posted by trimester.  At Markham Place, students attend quarterly Art, Music, STEM, and Technology courses throughout the year; therefore, the timelines for these courses will not mirror the trimester calendar. Parents are encouraged to utilize the Parent Portal of Genesis periodically to view their child’s current grades.  The grades for these courses will be reflected on the report card once the course has been completed.  Please note that PE and Spanish will be reflected by trimester.  Parents can see grades 24/7 on the Genesis Parent Portal. 


Boo

POINT ROAD

October 31st marked the annual Halloween Parade at Point Road.  As usual, the costumes did not disappoint! 

Point Road Halloween Parade Video

MARKHAM PLACE

One of the many Markham traditions is the annual Halloween window painting.  Under the direction of the Art Teacher, Nicole Lawlor, Markham Place students lined the streets of Little Silver, painting Halloween themes on the windows of local businesses.  This year about thirty 8th graders from Markham Place spent a day in the October sunshine painting the windows in downtown Little Silver for the annual tradition.  Gianni's, Nails Plus, Grandma's Bagels, Dr. Dowd, Little Szechuan, Wells Fargo, and Family Pharmacy graciously welcomed the students to add colorful Halloween Paintings to their windows.  In addition, in keeping with the Markham Place tradition, 7th and 8th grade students had a spooktacular evening at their Halloween dance.  MPS Halloween Festivities Video


What is mindALIGNED?

During the 2018-19 school year, the Little Silver School District embarked upon a school-arts partnership relationship with the Count Basie Center for the Arts.  Last year, first and fifth grade teachers were trained in the implementation of mindALIGNED.  This program is spearheaded by the Basie, in partnership with over 20 organizations, foundations, arts partners, and artists.  One of the many goals of the program is to increase schools access to arts engagement and creative learning.  It encompasses techniques that span across disciplines that teachers embed into their instruction.  During this 2019-2020 school year, in addition to first and fifth grade teachers, several Markham Place ELA teachers have jumped on the bandwagon!  During our October professional development days, teachers were trained by a staff developer from The Basie regarding the implementation of the mindALIGNED program.


Grading the States

In their September 2019 article, Education Week revealed that New Jersey is now the top-ranked State in the Nation in terms of academic achievement.  To read more click:  Grading the States. 

The Little Silver-Oceanport Patch reported ranking using slightly different metrics, placing New Jersey as second in the nation.  To read more click:  New Jersey is 2nd Best in Nation for Schools in 2019 - Here's Why 


Treating teachers as professionals is essential to maintaining a healthy school community

If you were to survey teachers regarding what they deem to be the best part of their jobs, I would venture to guess that the resounding response would be: the kids.  The vast majority of us entered the field of education because we love teaching and interacting with our students.  We genuinely want to make a difference.  In recent years, however, our nation has seen more and more teachers leaving the profession.   

While there may be several reasons why teachers choose to leave the profession, recent research suggests that the departure is largely due to a shift in culture whereby teachers are no longer valued for their professional knowledge.  While Little Silver has been very fortunate to hire and retain high quality teachers, our staff experiences many of the same challenges faced by teachers across the nation: State and Federal mandates, lack of funding, standardized testing and mental health issues.  There is no disputing the fact that workloads have become increasingly more difficult.  In addition to the issues facing public education in general, is the ongoing quest for our teachers to not only meet the needs of all students, but also the expectations of the Little Silver community. 

More than 50% of our teachers hold a Master’s degree or beyond.  They are well educated and extremely knowledgeable regarding the content they deliver.  That said, we (teachers and administrators alike) are regularly challenged regarding our level of expertise.  The National Education Association (NEA) recognizes that a lack of respect is driving people away from the profession and is committed to solving the problem by giving educators a voice, by improving working conditions so they can focus on their practice and improve student learning, and by empowering educator leaders who can ensure that all educators have a role in deciding what is best for their students and schools. 

In our district, our staff (and Board of Education) is collectively reading Culturize by Jimmy Casas.  As we debrief on each chapter, we are talking about teacher empowerment and our individual roles in ensuring that we cultivate a kind, caring, respectful learning community.  Parents are part of our learning community.  We have identified one of our challenges as the difficulty we experience maneuvering through relationships with parents who disregard our professional opinions.  Recently, the opinions of outside professionals are outweighing the opinions of our professional staff that work with the children of Little Silver day-in and day-out.  Teachers, Child Study Team members, Counselors and Administrators have been trained in our fields, yet our professional opinions are, at times, disregarded and quickly replaced with the opinions of outside evaluators who see a snapshot of a student in a testing environment.  Their reports are quick to dictate what we should be doing in school, even if their opinions are contrary to what we see every day.

Our staff embraces the importance of the three R’s – Relationships, Relationships, Relationships.  We believe that developing relationships with each other, with the children, and with parents will lead to a culture of mutual respect.  As we continue to delve into fruitful conversations to enhance our school culture, I ask that you respect the professional knowledge of our staff.


You think you know what teachers do.  Right?  To read more click here.


Little Silver Parents - Please Lobby for Continued Fair Funding

For a sample letter to send to Senator Declan O’Scanlon (senoscanlon@njleg.org) and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (aswdimaso@njleg.org) to advocate for fair funding, click here.


Markham Place introduces a GSA for Students

A Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is a student led or community-based organization found in middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the nation.  Research indicates that GSAs improve school climate, individual well-being and educational outcomes for LGBTQ youth.  Participation in GSAs is related to stronger school connectedness and improved academic achievement for LGBTQ youth, and regardless of whether LGBTQ students themselves participate in their school’s GSA, just having a GSA in their school can create a more positive school climate for LGBTQ students.

 

As per NJDOE Guidelines, each school district shall develop policies and procedures to ensure that its schools provide a safe and supportive learning environment.  42% of LGBTQ youth say the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBTQ individuals (www.hrc.org/youth).  The Human Rights Campaign Organization (HRC) HRC Foundation and the University of Connecticut released the largest-of-its-kind survey of more than 12,000 LGBTQ teenagers across the nation, revealing in distressing detail the persistent challenges so many of them face going about their daily lives at home, at school and in their communities.

 

The more than 12,000 respondents, ranging in age from 13 to 17, and from all 50 states and Washington D.C., participated in the online survey.  It found that these teenagers are not only experiencing heartbreaking levels of stress, anxiety and rejection, but also overwhelmingly feel unsafe in their own school classrooms. LGBTQ young people who participated in the survey also made crystal clear that supportive families and inclusive schools are key to their success and well-being.  This sentiment was echoed by former Markham graduates who are now part of RBR’s GSA. 

 

As noted earlier, just having a GSA at Markham Place can create a more positive climate for students, regardless of whether LGBTQ students themselves participate.  This new club will meet monthly.  There will not be a student participation fee.  Students in grades 6-8 will be invited to join in our quest to develop a more empathetic learning environment.


 

Did you know graphical image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that one of our teachers, Stephen Galgon, recently published his first novel?  The Circle was released this summer.  This has been a passion project for Mr. Galgon for over 15 years. 

IMAGINE YOU HAD ALL THE MONEY YOU EVER WANTED at the push of a button. The power to control law enforcement, politicians at the highest levels, the judicial system as a whole. To have what you want when you want it, whatever it is. All you have to do is kill someone . . . before someone kills you.

MEMBERS of THE CIRCLE don’t have to imagine such a life. They live it. The liberation of being both hunter and hunted. The salvation that comes with such freedom. A chance to feel truly alive. A chance to savor each precious moment. Because in THE CIRCLE any moment could be your last.