Wyckoff Schools Today
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Wyckoff Supports Hurricane ReliefPosted by Thomas DeLoughry on 12/22/2017
Wyckoff Supports Hurricane Relief
Catastrophic hurricanes were an unfortunate complement to the start of the new school year and Wyckoff’s schools wasted no time in pitching in to help.
All told, the five schools donated more than $3,161 to hurricane relief efforts following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
One successful fundraising effort was at Sicomac Elementary School, where $1,895 was raised through the Student Council’s Wear Red Day on September 20th. Marianne Krupa, an advisor to the council, says the event enabled students and staff members to support the Red Cross through contributions or by just choosing to wear red.
At Eisenhower Middle School, a joint fundraiser by the Student Council, React, and Mad4Kids clubs brought families out to eat at local restaurants that had agreed to donate a portion of their proceeds to the worthy cause. The two-night event raised $602. Aldo’s Restaurant and Pizzeria Mandara participated on Oct. 5th and 3 Chicas Mexican Kitchen participated on Oct. 11th. Additionally, Mad4Kids collected sets of gloves and hats for over 240 elementary students who were displaced from various cities and found themselves in the Reading Pennsylvania School District.
Students at Lincoln Elementary School with their donation jars for Disaster Relief and Students from Reading PA.
Eisenhower’s React Club also sold “ghosts” for Halloween to raise more hurricane funds. The costumed lollipops brought in another $140 that was donated to the hurricane relief efforts of Rotary International, the service organization that supports React and Interact Clubs in schools.
At Lincoln Elementary School, $524 was brought in through the Student Council’s “Dollars for Disasters” campaign. Principal Pat Lee says students brought in their money and placed it in special jars that the Student Council had made for each homeroom.
Middle School Girls Win Soccer ChampionshipPosted by Thomas DeLoughry on 12/22/2017
Middle School Girls Win Soccer Championship
The girls' soccer team at Eisenhower Middle School brought home the championship trophy this fall after posting a record of 8-2 and two memorable playoff victories.
CHAMPS: (Back row) Coach Perrotta, Lexi, Madison, Lindsay, Sofia, Natalie, Julia
(Seated) Ava, Emma, Izzy, Madeleine, Mikayla, Emily, Sophia, Elizabeth, Kayla, Mia
(Kneeling) Leetal, Ella
The final victory was by a score of 3-2 over Allendale, which had defeated Eisenhower in the teams’ regular-season match earlier this year. Eisenhower got to the finals with a semi-finals win over River Vale, the team that had beaten Eisenhower in the championship match one year ago.
Coach Jeanine Perrotta says Eisenhower’s players peaked at the right time by overcoming a strong Allendale squad that had won the regular-season match 5-1. “We knew we were in for a tough game,” she says. “It was a real nail biter.”
Seventh and eighth graders are eligible to tryout for sports teams at Eisenhower, which also competes in basketball, baseball, football, and track. This year’s girls’ soccer team had only one seventh grader and a large group of eighth graders, many of whom had enjoyed a strong season together in 2016.
In addition to Allendale, the league includes middle schools from the towns of Park Ridge, River Vale, Woodcliff Lake, Hillsdale, Upper Saddle River, Ho-Ho-Kus, and Franklin Lakes.
The boys’ soccer team at Eisenhower suffered a loss in the first round of its playoffs this year, falling short on penalty kicks after two overtimes failed to break a 0-0 tie with Westwood. Eisenhower’s boys had 5 wins, 3 losses, and 2 ties for the season.
Summer Academies Expanding for 2018Posted by Thomas DeLoughry on 12/22/2017
Summer Academies Expanding for 2018
Summer 2017 was still a fading memory for many of us this fall, when Barbara Pepe and other staff members were already working on Summer 2018 and what should be offered through a larger, Wyckoff Summer Academies. While course listings are not final yet, one change already announced is a move to Eisenhower Middle School from the former site at Coolidge School.
Dr. Pepe, a long-time Wyckoff teacher who currently teaches Language Arts Literacy at Eisenhower, became director of the summer program last year. The 2017 program experienced a surge in enrollment over prior years and many parents praised the courses and the instructors.
The central goal for 2018 is to expand course offerings further and attract more students. Registration will also occur earlier to appeal to families who prefer to set their summer plans early.
Being at Eisenhower means that summer students will have access to the state-of-the-art STEM Lab, the band room, a full-size stage in the multi-purpose room, as well as the kitchens in the home-economics room.
Not surprisingly, many of the items on Dr. Pepe’s wish list for 2018 fit with what the middle school can provide: more art, music, and theater opportunities, more STEM activities and entrepreneurship classes, and a greater variety of classes for students in the young grades.
Summer instructors are Wyckoff teachers, but the students do not have to be from the District. The Summer Academies are open to all students, so a Wyckoff child who has a friend or cousin in a nearby town might enjoy sharing a class for a two-week session. Session 1 runs July 9-20 and Session 2 will be July 23 - August 3.
The “Safety Town” offering for incoming kindergarten students will be repeated this year along with the new parent element begun last summer, which enables parents to meet the superintendent and ask questions about the District. The Safety Town for Washington and Lincoln will be in Session 1 and the one for Coolidge and Sicomac will be in Session 2.
Registration for the Summer Academies will begin in January. Interested parents can visit the Summer Academies website or check out the Facebook site at WPSSummer or Twitter at WPSSummer.
District's Goals Approved for 2017-18Posted by Thomas DeLoughry on 12/22/2017
District's Goals Approved for 2017-18
District’s Goals Approved
The Wyckoff Board of Education has approved a lengthy list of goals that were proposed for the current school year.
The annual goals have been sorted in recent years among three categories: 1. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment 2. Cultivate a connected learning community 3. Build a caring community.
This year’s goals include piloting a new type of teacher evaluation known as Self-Directed Growth Process, as well as expanded use of block play in the early grades, improved math fluency, and implementation of new science curricula. Schools will also be focusing on Habits that Support Learning, an initiative that emphasizes the importance of Habits of Mind (i.e. perseverance and curiosity), Habits of Heart (i.e. kindness and community building) and Habits of Design (i.e Identifying a problem and investigating a cause) that are well developed and used by educated adults. “Habits that we develop in our lives are the residue, or what remains, after many diverse learning experiences,” Superintendent Dr. Rich Kuder said. Superintendent Kuder added, “There will always be some canon or body of knowledge that needs to be understood to be considered a smart, well-educated person. There are also a host of mindsets, skills, and dispositions that complement that knowledge and allow all of us to solve novel problems and negotiate new situations. In the end, these habits may be the most important part of what persists from all of our learning.”
In the category of strengthening our learning community, the District aims to expand its offerings through its Connected Parent program, which offers teacher-led programs for parents who want to learn about any number of topics from Google Classroom to cyber safety. Dr. Kuder says the District is also expanding several websites so they can also be used as a resource for parents. He says his own web page is being enhanced as well as those in the District’s guidance offices and nurses’ offices. Resources on these web pages “may help you, as a parent, talk to your child about an issue they may be facing for the first time,” Dr. Kuder adds, “I want the community in Wyckoff to look to our professionals as expert resources and significant assets when it comes to being an informed, effective, and ‘with-it’ parent.”
Goals intended to build a caring community include faculty training in the areas of cultural competency and diversity plus the full implementation the Responsive Classroom strategy, which elementary schools are using to strengthen the connections between educators and students. The District is also exploring how the strategy could be extended into the 6th grade at Eisenhower Middle School.
To read all of the District goals click here. District Goals
3R’s Day Brings Powerful Message to Middle SchoolPosted by Thomas DeLoughry on 12/22/2017
3R's Day Brings Powerful Message to Middle School
Remarkable is not one of the R’s at Eisenhower Middle School’s 3 R’s Day, but it should be.
The day itself is a remarkable learning opportunity with an impactful message that can change young lives. The guest speakers are remarkable for the hurdles they’ve overcome and the passion with which they share their stories. And the dedication, cooperation, and generosity that go into making this special day happen every three years are similarly remarkable.
The 2017 event, held on October 23rd, brought two dozen visitors who captured the attention of the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders with emotional, from-the-heart accounts of their challenges. Students heard from a U.S. veteran who helped liberate concentration camps after World War 2. Another speaker told the story of her mother who saved Jews from the Holocaust, while another was a witness to the war in Iraq, and one overcame the crippling effects of gun violence in the U.S. Still another speaker had students paying rapt attention to her story of the disfiguring injuries she suffered after drinking and driving. And a parent from Newtown, CT, who lost his son in the 2012 school shooting there, detailed his work in helping schools identify and assist students before they pose a threat to others.
All of this was about teaching students to understand the needs for Respect, Reflection, and Resiliency. Students should respect what others have gone through in life, reflect on how these struggles relate to their own lives, and understand how to be resilient when life does not go their way. Eisenhower Principal Chris Iasiello says this year’s event fulfilled its mission. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” he notes. “Parents have shared that their children came home with so much to share.”
Iasiello says students had an “exceptionally powerful” reaction to accident survivor Sarah Panzau who was the opening speaker for the day. “Her message about good decisions and the ills of substance abuse come at an important time in our students’ development,” he said.
While some of the guests had spoken at Eisenhower’s earlier 3 R’s days in 2014, 2011, and 2008, many were newcomers. Locating speakers, scheduling them, and providing funds for speakers’ fees, transportation, and overnight accommodations is a full-time job that was undertaken by a committee of dedicated parents led by Susan Creech, Inessa Rome, and Rebecca Holland. The committee also provided a 3R’s t-shirt for all students and staff members and had breakfast and lunch brought in for guests and staff in the school’s media center.
Half of the $30,000 pricetag was raised through a food-truck fundraiser in Eisenhower's parking lot last spring and the remainder came from sales of 3R’s Day magnets plus family and business contributions. Principal Iasiello expressed his “sincere gratitude for our community for committing to a program like this.”
Message from the SuperintendentPosted by Rich Kuder on 11/1/2017
It has been an exciting start to the school year, and it is hard to believe that it is already November. As you most likely anticipate, the next month is quite busy in our schools. Our annual conference days are scheduled for next week beginning on Monday and ending Wednesday. Parent-teacher conferences are occurring at every school, and it is the first time that you may have an opportunity to sit with your child's teacher or teachers. Rather than focus on report cards or test scores, conferences afford you the time to have a conversation with the teacher about the progress of your child, share positive points and perhaps some of your child's school work. It is also a time for the teacher to share some areas of success and points for growth. The conference should give you an overall sense of how your child is doing academically, socially and emotionally in school.
On Monday, conferences will be occurring on the following schedule:
- Elementary School - 1:00 pm-8:00 pm
- Middle School - 2:00 pm-9:00 pm
Tuesday and Wednesday are minimum days at every school and parent-teacher conferences will begin about an hour after school dismissal.
While all elementary parents are able to be scheduled for a parent-teacher conference during these three days, due to the number of students, this is impossible at the middle school in the amount of time allotted. Throughout the school year, conferences are available to middle school parents by request. If you are interested, please contact your child's team leader or guidance counselor.
Finally, the Thanksgiving Holiday will be upon us shortly. Please be mindful that Wednesday, November 22, 2017 is a minimum day.
As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to me via email at email@example.com or by phone at 201-848-5700.
Richard D. Kuder, Ed.D.
Welcome to New Faculty and StaffPosted by Thomas DeLoughry on 10/31/2017
Welcome to New Faculty and Staff
Administrators in the District were busy this summer hiring new teachers and re-organizing the responsibilities of some returning staff members.
The retirement of Rob Shean, former supervisor of special projects, brought the most significant changes as his former assistant, Priscilla Jurgens, is now responsible for the district’s data collection and analysis as well as managing technology needs. Stacey Linzenbold, meanwhile, was named the new supervisor of special projects and will be responsible for supervising and evaluating special-area teachers, which includes physical education, music, art, and others.
Jennifer Ascrizzi returns from a maternity leave to become the instructional coach at Washington School, which is a post formerly held by Linzenbold.
The District also hired eight new tenure-track teachers during the summer. Eisenhower Middle School welcomed Courtney Morfing in science, Sarah Clooney in mathematics, and Krystal Knyfd, a resource room teacher. Two new resource room teachers at Washington School are Morgan Repetto and Kimberly Reilly. The new art teacher at Lincoln School is Shannon Goffan and the new vocal music teacher at Coolidge School is Kyle Cosman. Lauren Malaney is a new instructional coach who will work with special education and general education teachers throughout the district.
Five leave-replacement teachers came aboard this summer in the elementary schools. They are Allie Van Hooker and Sarah Marini at Washington, Paige Visbeen and Stephanie Vlacancich at Coolidge, and Allison Casillo at Lincoln.
Three new secretaries are Jessica Campagne in the District’s accounts payable office, Karen Marchisin at Washington, and Carol Gneiding at Coolidge. Tony Percapio, a licensed plumber and business owner, is the new employee in the District’s maintenance department.
The new group of faculty and staff are primarily a local group from the New Jersey and New York, but their college years took some of them a bit farther to Penn State, Kutztown University, and as far as Hawaii Pacific University. Their student teaching and subsequent teaching jobs have been across New Jersey from Mahwah to Flemington and as far away as the Windward District on Oahu in Hawaii. Members of the group have come to education with a variety of prior jobs, including waitress, museum educator, buyer’s assistant, camp counselor, and art therapist.
An informal poll of the new employees shows dog lovers far outnumber cat lovers in the group and hiking is a popular activity outside their classrooms. Their sports allegiances are widely varied. But there is much agreement on the reasons for their call to teaching: helping kids learn, shaping young minds, sharing a love for learning, helping to foster self-confidence, and “because I’m a big kid at heart.”
Summer Brings School ImprovementsPosted by Thomas DeLoughry on 10/31/2017
Summer Brings School Improvements
Summer is the season in a school district for improvements to the physical plant, including everything from new air conditioning to new telephones.
Washington School and the first floor of Coolidge School are cooler this September as the District moved forward with its air-conditioning plans during this past summer.
The improvement plan brought new units and air conditioning in all of Washington except for the gym. In Coolidge, new Univent air-changing equipment was added to 14 classrooms. The plan calls for extending the improvements to the second floor next summer. The home-economics room at Eisenhower also was air-conditioned.
A new bottle-filling fountain at Eisenhower Middle School
The District’s maintenance personnel also installed filtered bottle-filling water fountains and replaced bathroom partitions in multiple schools. The main office at Sicomac was also refurbished.
In the fall, a new district-wide phone system will be completed that will allow teachers more capabilities than previously possible with the intercom telephones. The new phones not only allow teachers to place calls outside the building but also allow for more options within the building.
New Calendar Adds Teacher Development TimePosted by Thomas DeLoughry on 10/31/2017
New Calendar Adds Teacher Development Time
The calendar for the 2017-18 academic year has one significant change from traditional calendars of the past. Teachers this year will have additional hours of professional development on five mornings, which means students will arrive later on a delayed-opening schedule.
The five mornings (Oct. 9, Dec. 11, Feb. 12, March 19, May 21) were built into the calendar to reduce problems associated with professional development occurring at various times, which required teachers to be out of their classrooms and replaced with substitute teachers.
Dr. Richard Kuder, Superintendent of the District, noted the importance of professional development in a recent letter to parents. “We do not use packaged or ‘canned’ programs in our classrooms,” he wrote. “Our success, and our students’ growth, depends heavily on the quality of the teacher in every classroom. To continue and maintain this mindset and approach requires time, energy, and funding.”
He acknowledged, however, that starting school later on the five days will disrupt schedules for families. “We recognize that this may be an inconvenience for some families,” he wrote. “This year-long pilot program will help us meet an essential need without pulling teachers from the classroom.”
To alleviate such concerns, the District has arranged with the Wyckoff YMCA to provide “before-care” services in all five school buildings prior to the start of school on the five delayed-opening days. More information is available from the YMCA here.
District to Pilot New Way of Assessing Teacher GrowthPosted by Thomas DeLoughry on 10/31/2017
District to Pilot New Way of Assessing Teacher Growth
Teachers and administrators in the District are working together to develop a mechanism for measuring teacher quality that would be an alternative to the traditional methods of classroom observations and written evaluations. SDGP is the new acronym in an arena already rife with SGOs, SGPs, PDPs, and others. The Self-Directed Growth Plan would allow teachers to be assessed based on their implementation of innovative ideas in addition to, or in place of the traditional teacher assessment.
The State-approved SDGP concept can be traced back about 10 years to Dr. Adam Fried, the Superintendent in the Harrington Park District, who helped create this innovative, growth-oriented tool. Wyckoff faculty in all the schools have been encouraged to volunteer for the pilot program and a September information session elicited a good degree of interest. Proposals from faculty members are being evaluated, according to Lincoln School Principal Patrick Lee, who is a member of a District committee coordinating the SDGP effort.
Lee explains that SDGP promises to inspire highly rated faculty members to investigate innovative ideas in lieu of having to endure the traditional observations and post-mortem discussions twice a year from an administrator. Lee expects to see groups of faculty work together to implement and evaluate classroom practices that might include, for example, new questioning techniques, managing differentiated groups, the use of flexible seating, etc. "You're going to learn and refine your instructional practices as a result of what you ascerain through your research," Lee says.
Lee says SDGP encourages teachers to work collaboratively, which is a natural outgrowth of the Professional Learning Communities approach the District has used for many years. Teachers who develop an SDGP proposal might come together within one building, across buildings, across grade levels, within one subject, or across disciplines, he notes, adding that groups will probably include three to five members.
Lee says faculty who qualify to participate in SDGP should not worry that a bad outcome in their research will reflect poorly on their job performance. “Everyone will be successful that attempts this in good faith and works at it,” he notes. An innovation found to be ineffective is still something everyone can learn from, he adds.
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