Mike Ryder, chief administrator of the Hardyston Township Schools, discussed students’ results on the Start Strong assessment as well as district goals and action plans at the Feb. 14 meeting of the Board of Education.
The staff plans to use the results as a checkpoint to measure students’ learning loss during the summer. Start Strong does not reflect how well students are doing in a particular subject.
The district has four goals and action plans in the works, Ryder said.
The first goal is analyzing English Language Arts and math performance data to determine trends and modify instruction. Data will be checked at the beginning, middle and end of the year to evaluate student needs.
The second goal is to publish a new district mission statement after collaboration with staff, students and community members.
The mission statement is an overview of how the district plans to achieve its goals. Ryder wants students to read the mission statement and say, “Yeah, that’s what I want it to be.”
He has met with students to discuss the new mission statement, and there will be a public session March 21 for the community to make suggestions.
The third goal is to provide consistent classroom-based instruction for students that will enhance early childhood education in grades preK-3. Occupational therapists, speech therapists and behaviorists would help provide the instruction to provide a better understanding of the students.
The fourth goal is “to provide targeted social emotional support to students by collaborating with outside agencies that specialize in those areas.” The staff will create a list of outside agencies that fit the needs of the district. They include the Center for Prevention, YMCA, Behavioral Health among others.
Hardyston has groups, such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, which provides a one-on-one mentor for students age 5 through young adulthood.
The township also has a Girl’s Circle, which provides support for girls and helps them build confidence.
The board was scheduled to have a budget workshop at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28. It is open to the public.
Students of the month
A large crowd attended the meeting to celebrate the students of the month for January.
Jennifer Cimaglia, principal of Hardyston Elementary School, announced the winners for students in grades K-4.
For kindergarten, Kayla Ramirez was nominated by her teacher, McKenzie Cuccia, saying, “From the first day of school, Kayla impressed me with her exemplary manners and listening skills. Kayla has a sweet and polite nature that radiates positivity in our classroom. Kayla always listens and follows directions the first time they are given. Kayla consistently shows kindness and compassion towards her peers. Kayla’s perfect manners, listening skills and kind nature are qualities that deserve to be recognized as student of the month.”
The first grade student of the month was Blake Vasquez. His teacher, Abigail Higgins, said, “Blake is a joy to have within the classroom. He is compassionate, respectful and he demonstrates incredible listening skills. Blake takes initiative and advocates for himself in his learning. Blake is also a class leader. He creates calls and responses for the class and he is eager to support other students in need. He greets me with a warm smile on his face each and every day. Blake makes every day brighter!”
The second grade student of the month was Lianna Mehmedi. She was chosen by her teacher, Alyssa Perry, who said, “Lianna was chosen because she is a hard-working and dedicated student. Lianna comes to school every day with a smile on her face and is eager to learn something new. In our non-fiction writing unit, Lianna really took in all the skills that were taught and applied them beautifully! Lianna is also a kind and respectful friend. She is always willing to help a friend in need. It is a pleasure to have Lianna in my class this year.”
For the third grade, two students were chosen: Sofia Meyer and Kaylin Contrada. Both were nominated by their teacher, Jill Brown. She said, “The two girls demonstrated compassion and caring, empathy and friendship to another student during lunch.”
A cafeteria employee told Brown that a student was sitting alone when lunch was finished, and the employee asked the girl if everything was OK. A little while after that, she saw Sofia and Kaylin go sit with the girl. Soon all three girls were smiling and having a conversation.
Brown talked to the two girls and told them how proud she was of them. “This is what we have been talking about in the second step and how happy it made their classmate who they sat with.”
A few days later, Brown’s class was working on the second step in the program used to teach social and emotional learning. She told her class what happened in the lunchroom. The girl that Sofia and Kaylin sat with raised her hand and explained how happy she was that day when they reached out to her.
Brown said she and her class had a great discussion about caring, compassion, friendship and empathy. “As a teacher, academics are very important, but when you see students care for one another and go out of their way to be an encouragement to others, it just makes your heart fill to the top. Thank you Sofia and Kaylin for being such kind and caring students.”
The fourth grade student of the month was Henry Scarpone, who was nominated by his three teachers.
Cimaglia said, “He is a wonderful role model and practices what we learn in second step daily. He’s empathic, respectful and compassionate. He consistently tries his best and puts 110 percent effort into all he does. He comes to school with a positive attitude, ready to learn, and is always kind and helpful to others. Keep up the great work Henry! You are shining!”
Ryder announced the students of the month for grades 5-8.
Fifth-grader Chloe Clapp “is an exemplary student,” he said. “Her positivity is contagious. She surrounds herself with other positive students and never gets involved in negativity. She always has a smile for anyone passing by. Chloe’s teacher said she nominated her because ‘she is a ray of sunshine.’ ”
Sixth-grader Victoria Diribe was described by her teacher as a very intelligent student. “She works hard at her school work and never loses her energy. She makes conversations fun and makes people around her laugh, all while maintaining a gold standard of school work. ... I enjoy having Victoria in class because of her creative ideas and her positive demeanor.”
Seventh-grader William Conklin was called “a pleasure to have in class.” His teacher said, “He works hard and plays hard too. He is very creative and maintains a positive energy. He is always willing to share his love of video games, his fun Oculus adventures, and he loves to help. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face.”
Eighth-grader Alex Mogavero’s teacher said, “Alex is such an animated student. He takes an idea and runs with it. I enjoy Alex’s creativity and his willingness to always be himself. I admire his work ethic and I am so excited to hear what he will become in the future. I know he will find something that totally suits his personality. Alex is polite and genuine. I will miss him when he graduates from Hardyston. Keep up the great work Alex.”
Ryder thanked the parents and students for attending the meeting, adding that the students of the month are an example of the great things at Hardyston. “Recognition of students is probably one of the best things we talk about.”