Back to School Even Before Labor Day


coaster-news-200-newMany area students are returning to school before Labor Day weekend where they will be welcomed with new science labs in Ocean Township, a partnering with Google in classroom environments in Neptune and a College and Career Readiness Institute in Asbury Park designed to groom students for post-secondary education.

Both Ocean Township and Neptune students will return to class Thurs., Sept. 3. Asbury Park students return Sept. 10.

In Asbury Park the district recently partnered with Scholastic to establish a pre-k to 12 comprehensive literacy model for the 2015-16 school year. District officials said they will implement a full-suite of proven-effective instructional programs that promote blended learning and researched-based curriculum, as well as professional development for teachers.

In the preschools in the city students will now use the Creative Curriculum System, which is designed to help educators plan and implement a developmentally appropriate, content-rich program for children with diverse backgrounds and skill levels. It presents knowledge-building and daily practice resources in tandem and offers guidance for working dual-language learners, advanced learners, and children with disabilities.

Asbury Park Middle School students will experience thematic-based curriculum focusing on character in the sixth grade, service in the seventh grade, and leadership in the eighth grade. These themes will be embedded throughout the curriculum, activities and books. The students will end the year by doing a problem-based capstone project.

Asbury Park High School will be implementing career academies for the 2015-2016 academic school year. Incoming freshman will have the opportunity to select a career track customized to meet the requirements of the educational program they choose. By graduation, students will be certified to work in entry level positions of their chosen field, or fulfill the prerequisite requirements of post-secondary schooling. The areas of study include Allied Health, Law and Public Safety, and Humanities.

Also on the high school level, the district is debuting a College and Career Readiness Institute, which is designed to groom students for post-secondary education. This program will provide the foundation and essential tools to make students more competitive in the job market, raise awareness for career paths and employment opportunities, and broaden horizons through career fairs and college tours.

The Dorothy McNish Parent Center, 1300 Bangs Ave. will also be renovated and the Board of Education has a new office at 910 Fourth Ave.

In Ocean Township School Superintendent James Stefankiewicz said this year’s late Labor Day results in an early school opening, on Tuesday, Sept.1 for staff and on Thursday, Sept. 3 for students.

“Labor Day is about as late as it can be this year plus we have another few days off for religious holidays in September- so we didn’t’ want to start pushing the school year that much further back,” he said.

Stefankiewicz also said there will be significant construction to some schools next year so it is best that students get out as early as possible. Ocean Township residents recently approved a $28.9 million bond referendum to pay for improvements to all five district schools.

“Our new science labs will be in place and there will be new ventilation systems in the Dow and Wanamassa elementary schools soon. Some projects may drag into the school year but the main construction will start in the spring and into next summer- and we are excited about that,” he said.

Enrollment in the school district is about 3,750, which is down several hundred students from about 10 years ago although enrollment this year is consistent with last year.

The school district is also completing a three-year, one-to-one technology program by providing Google Chromebook laptops to all students in grades three through 12.

“It’s part of the changing nature about how education is delivered and the engagement of students. Putting technology in the hands of every student gives them research and word-processing capabilities- it streamlines and improves the educational process,” Stefankiewicz said.

He that school officials are working on options for students to have the alternative to purchase or keep the laptops when they leave the district.

Neptune Superintendent of Schools Tami Crader said her district’s schools, with about 4,500 students in pre-K through the 12th grade, will also begin on Sept. 1 for teachers and on Sept. 3 for students.

“This year’s opening is a little early because of Labor Day but we will have two days of open schools before then. Plus we have to account for snow days and we don’t want to shortchange the district on that,” she said.

Crader said the school district will continue its efforts this year to participate in a state-mandated teacher evaluation system that was initiated about three years ago.

“We are required to have a new evaluation system for teachers and we will use this information to provide additional training to leverage that information to build on instructional skills. We gather observational data, analyze it, and provide professional development according to a teacher’s needs,” she said.

Working with Google in a classroom environment is also something the district is looking into.

“It is just in its beginning stage but we are excited about it,” Crader said.

She said the program is intended to create opportunities for students to collaborate more and to engage with professionals and experts that they otherwise might not learn from outside classroom.

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