Netcong School’s Classroom EconomyIn an effort to improve the Netcong School District’s curricular efforts, I in my position then as Principal, met with staff in the 2014-15 school year to conduct a needs assessment. My first step was to collaborate with the then Interim Superintendent and the then Elementary Supervisor to unveil what needed to be done in order to get the District’s curriculum moving in the right track.
With preparations underway for the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC), we had to assess the contents of our current curriculum and make a plan for how and when we could revise it. Our District had had high administrator mobility with a consistent staff. That’s good in a way because the staff kept the learning process going. They continued their instruction and dedication to student achievement and growth. When I assumed the role of principal in October 2014, I knew there was going to be a lot of work in all facets of the job: operations, organization, procedures, policies, curriculum, etc.
Curriculum and instruction regarding student outcomes is paramount for me. I hit the ground running and began organizing the academic structures and listening to what the teachers needed. There were many areas in need of attention; but slowly but surely over the last year, together we put ourselves in great shape.
On July 1, 2015, I was appointed as Chief School Administrator and the then Elementary Supervisor was appointed as Assistant Principal. Together we identified steps in the curriculum alignment process. Currently, Netcong has a two-year revision plan that we are currently implementing. The NJDOE instituted a new standard for 21st Century Life and Careers (Standard 9) which must be implemented by September 2015. Working as a team, we shared this information with staff last year and insisted upon creating a plan to be ready for implementation.
The Netcong School adopted a project-based learning program to deliver this concept. It is a free curriculum program called “Classroom Economy. Netcong’s Assistant Principal Kathleen Walsh was instrumental in coordinating the roll-out to the staff. Mrs. Walsh notes, “When we heard about this program, I immediately began to research it and familiarize myself with it. We shared it with the teachers before they left for the summer and they were enthusiastic about the real world application component.”
Mrs. Jacqueline Cinotti, our Grade 3 teacher, took this program and ran with it. She immediately saw how vital it was to her classroom environment and how relevant and applicable it was to interdisciplinary projects. Cinotti says, “The classroom economy program helps children learn valuable life skills such as organization, the value of saving and delayed gratification. Rather than being told about the importance of these skills, they actually experience them.”
In addition, the system fits in well with other parts of the Netcong curriculum. Using classroom “currency,” students earn money for jobs and pay rent for their desks. The first week of school Mrs. Cinotti’s class filled out job applications and applied for the classroom job they wanted. At the end of each marking period the students will apply for a new job in the classroom. The students have the potential to earn “Magic Tickets” by helping others, keeping their work area neat and organized and being a good citizen.
These magic tickets are equal to money and are highly coveted! On the other hand, students who do not meet classroom expectations will be fined some of their classroom dollars. That could happen, for example, if they did not complete assignments or did not listen when other students are speaking. After paying rent, students can save money to spend on reward coupons. The students are really enjoying “working” at their assigned job and earning money for their efforts. Overall this has been a great program to infuse into the third grade.
Netcong School prides itself on academic rigor and relevance and Classroom Economy is a perfect example. Keep up the good work Netcong School!