Hot-Button Issues for NJ’s Public Schools – Fall 2019Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 8/29/2019
We’re heading back to school. In New Jersey, that means plenty of hot-button issues on the horizon. The 2019-20 school year will be pivotal as we explore state funding, graduation testing requirements, regional consolidation, the teacher shortage, special education disputes, a new mental health curriculum and a later school start time. Here’s a look at what lies ahead, and what it means to administrators, educators, parents and students.
The Quest for Equitable State Funding
Funding struggles are nothing new for New Jersey’s schools. But in past years, some districts didn’t receive nearly enough state aid. Landmark legislation passed last year was supposed to correct those imbalances — and it did. The problem is that it took funding from the budgets of other districts.
As a result, educational leaders throughout New Jersey have found themselves in one of two positions: finally receiving additional funds for their districts after years of hardship or losing funding and having to slash budgets.
This summer, Governor Murphy signed the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Act, which helps to ramp up K-to-12 funding by nearly $260 million dollars. Of that amount, $60 million will be dedicated to maintain and expand pre-K programs. Another $2 million will expand computer science education to all grades, and not just high school, and there’s $650,000 for STEM and other early college high school programs. Finally, the budget includes another $50 million for “extraordinary special education costs.” Districts can apply for this funding, as needed.
We’re optimistic that we’re moving toward equal funding for all New Jersey students, but challenges remain as district court filings dispute the redistribution for districts losing state support.
- What State Funding Means for Schools and Educators: Districts receiving funds are still operating at a shortfall since this support has been years in the making. Districts losing funds have already made the first set of cuts, in many cases essential staff. Pre-K programs seem to be the only “safe” bet in this funding scenario — for now.
- What State Funding Means for Parents and Students: Expect cuts across the board in districts which are losing funds. Parents of preschoolers will have more public options. While STEM programs are already in the elementary grades, computer science will need a learning curve as districts explore appropriate curriculum for younger learners.
The Path to Graduation is Still Unclear
State law mandates that students pass an assessment in eleventh grade before they can graduate from a public high school in New Jersey. The PARCC test was intended to replace that requirement, with students passing both PARCC Algebra 1 and tenth grade English Language Arts.
On December 30, 2018, the Superior Court Appellate Division invalidated those PARCC tests, and legislators have been scrambling to address graduation requirements ever since. The Department of Education (DOE) has recently released educator-prepared student learning objectives for the English Language Arts and Mathematics student learning standards, which will ultimately guide school district curricula and form the basis for a new generation of assessments.
In the meantime, recent agreements approved by the State Supreme Court allow high school graduation standards to remain the same through 2022. Beginning with the graduating class of 2023, there will be a mandated, eleventh-grade assessment. NJASA is one of the many stakeholders informing future assessment decisions. Stay tuned.
- What the Path to Graduation Means for Schools and Educators: Schools are continuing the status quo for the foreseeable future, as they await direction from the DOE and the state.
- What the Path to Graduation Means for Parents and Students: Students graduating high school now through 2022 have a variety of options according to the state: the eleventh-grade state test, the PARCC assessments, SAT, ACT or ACCUPLACER scores and student portfolios.
Senate President Steve Sweeney and others have introduced a series of Path to Progress bills that promise to fix the state’s financial crisis. A portion of the proposed legislation impacts New Jersey’s school significantly. The idea is to merge K-4, K-6 and K-8 districts into K-12 regional school systems, purportedly saving tens of billions of dollars for taxpayers.
This is nothing new; we’ve been studying the issue for decades. Proponents say it will increase efficiency and lower costs. That’s not always the case. Regionalization can result in increased transportation costs, higher property taxes, and loss of state and federal aid. Local participation and involvement also is an issue. Our experience leads us to believe that parents identify and participate with greater frequency in local school districts rather than in larger regional districts where a town may only have one board member and the meetings take place in a different town. Finally, the quality of existing courses and services in many small districts is excellent. Many students thrive in a small educational setting. Therefore, bigger in terms of educational organization does not necessarily mean better.
We believe that for some districts regionalization may bring some students a wider range of course offerings and services, and possibly some other benefits. We also feel strongly that combining school districts must be a local decision. It could be right for your district, but that’s for communities to decide — not the state.
- What the Path to Progress Means for Schools and Educators: Districts that consolidate may lose their unique offerings and ability to personalize education. Prepare for faculty cuts as districts eliminate redundancy.
- What the Path to Progress Means for Parents and Students: If regionalization becomes a reality, parents and students will need to navigate a more complex education system while potentially paying more in taxes.
What You Need to Know About the Teacher Shortage
A growing concern is New Jersey’s teacher shortage in critical areas. Simply put, districts are struggling to employ teachers who represent their diverse student base. Having a teacher that looks like you, or shares a similar cultural background, helps to build relationships. That in turn promotes equity, where all children have an equal opportunity to succeed. Districts are working on opportunities for minority students to develop interest in education careers. School leaders are also making an effort to recruit a more diverse teacher base.
This summer, the Department of Education held its first statewide conference on equity in education. There were workshops on LGBTQ inclusivity, disability awareness, empathy and trauma, among other topics. The DOE also is encouraging a focus on social-emotional learning initiatives to help students thrive.
- What the Teacher Shortage Means for Schools and Educators: Equity continues to be the watchword in today’s districts. Look for more programs to learn how your school can establish equity for all.
- What Teacher Shortage Means for Parents and Students: Don’t expect significant staff changes overnight as schools struggle to recruit talent. Do expect an emphasis on social-emotional learning, and ask your child’s teacher how he or she is addressing this important aspect of education.
Streamlining Special Education Disputes
There are hundreds of disputes each year between districts and families with special education students. At issue are whether student needs are being addressed. Due to a shortage of judges, these cases can drag on for months or even years.
New state rules promise to streamline the process. Cases must be resolved within 45 days. That may seem challenging, and time will tell whether that’s realistic. There will be non-judicial hearing officers to help process the caseload. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this complex issue.
- What Special Education Disputes Mean for Schools and Educators: Schools will have increased accountability to the state. It’s unclear whether the non-judicial hearing officers will have the expertise to make decisions.
- What Special Education Disputes Mean for Parents and Students: Cases will be resolved during the current school year, or close to it, for more immediate action.
Fostering Mental Health
Governor Murphy signed legislation requiring mental health education in K-12 health curriculums. That means in future physical education and health classes, students also will study mental health in an age appropriate manner, starting in kindergarten.
- What Mental Health Curriculum Means for Schools and Educators: New curriculum could mean additional investments for fund-strapped districts.
- What Mental Health Curriculum Means for Parents and Students: Mental health curriculum will hopefully reduce the stigma and instill greater empathy among students.
Later Start Time
The Governor also established a pilot program that would test later start times in New Jersey schools. The program will be tested in five districts, representing urban, suburban and rural areas of the state.
- What a Later Start Time Means for Schools and Educators: Research has suggested that a later start time may improve student learning outcomes.
- What a Later Start Time Means for Parents and Students: There will be jockeying for timing of transportation and extracurricular activities, but most students will enjoy a later start.
Look to NJASA for the Latest New Jersey Public Education News
As the organization that supports school leaders, NJASA keeps its finger on the pulse on public education in New Jersey. We have a long and proud tradition of advocating for children and preparing leaders to steer schools and districts in the direction of positive futures. The children of New Jersey represent the future of our great state, and we have the responsibility to effectively educate all students through our public education system.
Stay tuned to the New Jersey Association of School Administrators website at www.njasa.net, this blog and our Facebook page for continuing up-to-date information on these critical issues and our professional programs.
2019 NJASA Distinguished Service Award WinnerPosted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 6/14/2019
Dr. Scott McCartney Makes a Difference in Moorestown and Beyond
Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader. They set out to make a difference.
That’s the case with Dr. Scott McCartney, Chief Education Officer for Moorestown Township Public Schools. As recipient of the 2019 NJASA Distinguished Service Award, Dr. McCartney had made quite a difference both at the local level and statewide.
The Value of Education
For Dr. McCartney, it started with a longstanding interest in education that turned into a major in college. But it was during his undergraduate practicum at Ursinus that he realized the full value of his chosen profession. He was asked to teach the color green to three young special needs students. It took many attempts, and a lot of creativity, but he succeeded – and was captivated by the experience.
The first of his family to attend college, he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in secondary education from Ursinus and followed with a master’s degree in education administration and leadership from Rowan University and a doctorate in administration from Seton Hall University.
Taking the Helm to Lead Toward the Future
During that process, Dr. McCartney officially began his career as a teacher, substituting in the very district where he once attended school. The district recognized his potential and soon offered him a full-time teaching position for language arts, writing and reading. His administrative career soon followed, as assistant principal and principal at the George L. Hess Complex in Hamilton Twp., Atlantic County.
At the age of 32, he took the helm of Dennis Township Schools in Cape May County, becoming – at the time – the youngest chief education officer in New Jersey. He has since served as chief education officer for Downe Township Schools in Cumberland County and Egg Harbor Township Schools in Atlantic County.
Today, Dr. McCartney is Superintendent of the Moorestown Township Public Schools, a post that he has held for the past three years. And lot has transpired in those three years.
The district has been awarded a Bronze Certification in the Future Ready Schools Program. It has extended and enhanced technology integration. It has engaged with the community to address social and emotional learning.
Dr. McCartney has also worked with the Board to generate over 2.5 million dollars in new revenue through grants and programs in the district. This includes a school security grant of over a million dollars for Moorestown High School.
Through it all, Dr. McCartney is doing what he does best – making a difference. In addition to providing stability in leadership, he has engaged the school community on focused district goals. He emphasizes innovation, social and emotional learning and targeted instruction for different learners.
Taking on the Challenges that Make the Difference
His dedication to the profession is shown by his extensive record of service. Dr. McCartney is an active member of NJASA, and a past president. He also is an NJASA mentor and a former AASA Governing Board Member for New Jersey. Professional development remains his passion, and he regularly presents at the local, state and national levels. He is proud to be part of the Moorestown Township School family.
Throughout his career, Dr. McCartney has sought and been asked to participate in visionary programs and to take on new challenges. As a first-year teacher, he was asked to build a new computerized writing lab program and stepped in to help redesign an alternative school. As a building administrator, he has always looked forward to see how innovation and progressive thinking could benefit his students and my staff. Some of those areas included the development of a school based professional development institute, looping, innovative schedules and a variety of new instructional program and curricular models. As a Chief Education Officer, he has led the charge to implement standards-based instruction and reporting, professional learning communities, differentiated instruction, character education programs, STEAM, alternative programs, and a host of other visionary initiatives.
Says Dr. McCartney, “This career in education has blessed me and continues to do so daily as I serve a robust and talented community of learners. I am encouraged, excited, and enthusiastic about the care I see being delivered in our public schools each day and I truly feel privileged and grateful to be a part of it!”
For these reasons, and others too numerous to mention, it is my pleasure to recognize Dr. Scott McCartney with the 2019 NJASA Distinguished Service Award.
Click here to view the video.
Three Reasons to Attend the Spring Leadership ConferencePosted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 4/30/2019
Self-awareness. Focused attention. Empathy and inclusiveness. These are just some of the concepts embedded in mindfulness, the theme of this year’s NJASA/NJAPSA Spring Leadership Conference: “Mindfulness for All: Connecting Leaders and Learners.” When mindfulness is a focus in education, both leaders and learners benefit—which is why attending the conference could be the most important professional development opportunity that you take this school year. In fact, there are hundreds of reasons to sign up for the spring conference. I’ll give you my top three.
Reason #1: Inspiring Speakers Offer Exciting Perspectives on Leading and Learning
The conference opens with a keynote presentation on Wed., May 15, from 1-3 p.m. by Jonathan Mooney. Jonathan first learned to read when he was 12 years old. Today, he’s an award-winning writer, entrepreneur and activist who is one of the foremost leaders in neurodiversity, education reform, and career pathways for at risk youth. His books, including “The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal,” are considered foundational texts in the disability rights movement, the inclusive education movement, and the learning revolution, and are used in undergraduate and graduate programs at universities and colleges across the country. Jonathan has lectured in 49 states and 5 countries, and has been featured and quoted in the New York Times, the Washington Post, HBO, NPR and more.
On Thurs., May 16, from 9-10:30 a.m., we’ll hear from Dr. Samuel Betances, a former school dropout who went on to earn two graduate degrees from Harvard. Now he’s a senior diversity consultant who inspires willing learners to excel. Dr. Betances is passionate about social justice and increasing the cultural competencies of mission-driven teams for educating ready-to-learn urban students immersed in poverty. His books are well received by principals, educators, students and parents, including his most recent release, “Ten Steps to the Head of the Class: A Handbook for Middle School Students.”
On Fri., May 17, from 9-10:30 a.m., we’ll learn from Dr. Michele Borba, an internationally-known educator, author and bullying expert. Her realistic approach is stopping bullying in its tracks, by bolstering empathy and social-emotional intelligence. Her proposal, “Ending School Violence and Bullying” (SB1667) was signed into California law in 2002. Dr. Borba is an award-winning author of 24 books translated into 19 languages. She is a frequent NBC contributor, and has appeared on the Today Show, Dr. Phil, Dateline, The View, as well as MSNBC, Fox & Friends, CNN, and more.
Reason #2: Insightful Programs Offer Best Practices—Ready to Launch in Your District
With a focus on mindfulness for all, our Spring Leadership Conference workshops are designed to encourage, educate and celebrate both leaders and learners. Here is just a sampling of what you can expect. Find a full list at this workshop link.
- Reducing Anxiety, Stress and Aggression in Students with Autism and Behavioral Disabilities Using Mindfulness Practices
- Social and Emotional Learning and At-Risk Youth; A Whole-Child Programmatic Approach to Meeting the Needs of Our Most Vulnerable Students
- A whole child approach to school safety
- Harnessing the power of resistance
- School-based interventions without IEPs
- STEM and problem-based learning with a purpose
- Building an inclusive culture
Reason #3: Great Opportunities to Expand Your Resource Base Through Networking
Last, but not least, you’ll connect with like-minded leaders who are successfully pioneering ideas in their districts. You’ll also have the opportunity to chat with vendors who might be able to provide that pivotal product or service for your programs. Don’t miss the chance to meet that colleague, collaborator or expert who will help you take your district to the next level.
To register for the 37th Annual NJASA/NJAPSA Spring Leadership Conference on May 15-17, 2019 at Caesars Atlantic City, click on the following links for the registration page, information on hotel reservations and a waiver for overnight lodging.
Inspiring Women Leaders in New Jersey's SchoolsPosted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza on 3/6/2019
Women have made great strides professionally in many roles. In New Jersey, they dominate the business world. However, it’s not quite the same in New Jersey’s public schools. If you’re looking at the position of superintendent, more likely than not you’ll find a man at the helm.
While New Jersey has an average of 33% percent of Chief Education Officer roles filled by women – ahead of the national average of 24% – we are still actively looking to increase these ranks.
Women Mentors Inspire Women Leaders
Mentors are key to encourage young female administrators, according to NJASA Secretary Dr. Margaret Dolan, Chief Education Officer, Westfield Public School System; and NJASA Director of Special Projects Judith Rattner, former 2016 New Jersey Superintendent of the Year. Ms. Rattner had an opportunity to mentor nationally as part of the “More Than a Power Lunch” initiative through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AASA. Ms. Rattner said, “We need to inspire people to serve as mentors and work with people whom we see are effective leaders and sponsor them in new roles.”
The NJASA Women’s Leadership Group is key, according to Dr. Dolan. She notes, “We now have representation all over the state, with individuals who have started initiatives in their own county or region.”
Dr. Dolan worked with her fellow chief education officers to create a local event in Union County. Despite a massive snowstorm that first year, the conference was a success. Teachers who participated approached the organizers, saying they were inspired to become administrators.
Mark Your Calendar: 2 Conferences in March
This year, the organizers are expanding their reach. The annual Women’s Leadership Conference will take place on March 14-15, 2019 at The Palace at Somerset Park, in Somerset, NJ. Inspiring speakers, who will chronicle their journey as women in all industries, will share their expertise. Check out the agenda and register today.
On the state level, NJASA was proud to host the Annual Regional Women’s Educational Leadership Forum and Luncheon, on March 1, 2019.
Get Involved at the Local, Regional and State Levels
I encourage women in New Jersey’s school districts to join in these initiatives. To see more featured events for women leaders and to learn more about the NJASA Women’s Leadership Group, click here.
We’re all working to promote gender, race and ethnic equity within New Jersey’s schools. As positions open up for chief education officers, we hope to have plenty of women leaders poised to fill those roles.
Hot-Button Issues for NJ's Public Schools - Fall 2018Posted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza, Executive Director on 9/20/2018 2:00:00 PM
School is in session, and so is the New Jersey State Legislature. In fact, as busy as we’ve been setting up our districts for a new school year, it seems the folks in Trenton have been even busier. So much has transpired since our video of August 28 that we’re eager to share important updates. As the organization that supports school leaders, NJASA keeps its finger on the pulse of public education in New Jersey. Here are the latest issues as of September 17, 2018.
Look for Proposed Bond on November Ballot
The state will be placing a $500 million school bond referendum on the November ballot — a compromise from the $1 billion originally proposed. If voters approve the bond, it would support: $350 million — career-technical education and school security in K-12 schools; $50 million — county colleges; and $100 million — school district water infrastructure projects.
Tragedy Spurs Action on School Bus Safety
The fatal Paramus school bus incident earlier this year has prompted a flurry of legislative action to address school bus safety concerns. A new law signed by Governor Murphy requires school buses to have shoulder restraints as part of their seatbelts. This boost in safety comes at a cost — of about $7.5 to $10 million a year. In addition, the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill that requires suspension of a school bus driver’s license after a certain number of moving violations. It heads to the full Senate next for review. Finally, a series of other bills sought to make bus drivers more accountable. These included thorough investigations of school bus safety, proof of driver physical fitness, and designation and training of school safety personnel. Stay tuned.
Segregation Lawsuit Could Have Far-Reaching Implications
A recent lawsuit claims that New Jersey schools are segregated. Since students attend the school nearest their homes, they tend to be similar in race, culture and economic status.
The Murphy administration has agreed to begin negotiations in this civil suit. This could have an impact on whether parents will be able to send their child to the local neighborhood school. In other states, students spend as much as 45 minutes on a bus to attend school.
Is Regionalization Best for the Students?
Senate President Sweeney is calling for a significant regionalization of all New Jersey school districts. If his plan, Path to Progress, advances, New Jersey would have only K-12 school districts. Currently, the plan recommends merging all K-4, K-5, K-6, K-8, and K-9 school districts into K-12 regional districts and establishing two countywide school district pilot programs. Senator Sweeney will be hosting informal meetings regionally with the NJASA membership and his staff to exchange ideas and discuss related issues. NJASA will support regionalization if it’s in the best interest of the students, but this is a decision best made at the local level.
Stalled on State Assessment
By this time, PARCC testing was supposed to be history. However, rather than voting it out, the New Jersey State Board of Education (NJSBOE) at its September 12th meeting asked to delay the vote until its October meeting. That could mean there weren’t enough votes against PARCC, and Governor Murphy was being cautious.
A joint meeting of the Senate/Assembly Education Committees on September 17th with NJDOE Commissioner Repollet and the Department's Senior Staff explored having the Legislature lead the assessment discussion and move to a finalized program rather than transition only away from high school assessments as an interim step. NJASA anticipates the eventual removal of PARCC, and the transition to the next generation of state assessment. The proposed changes include:
• Streamlining graduation requirements by reducing the number of required tests in high school from six to two;
• Ensuring that educators and parents receive test data in a timely manner; and
• Providing flexibility for first-year English learners on the English language proficiency test.
Daily Recess Put on Hold
A new law requiring mandatory recess will go into effect a year later than originally announced. The law specifies at least 20 minutes of unstructured playtime daily for K-5 students. Districts now have additional time to adjust their schedules. The mandatory recess law will take effect in the 2019-20 school year.
Look to NJASA for the Latest New Jersey Public Education News
The NJASA has a long and proud tradition of advocating for children and preparing leaders to steer schools and districts in the direction of positive futures. The children of New Jersey represent the future of our great state, and we have the responsibility to effectively educate all students through our public education system.
NJASA Announces the Distinguished Service Award Winner, Patrick Fletcher of River Dell Regional School DistrictPosted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza on 5/16/2018 3:05:00 PM
There are great things happening in the River Dell Regional School District, and we think it’s because of who is at the helm. Meet Patrick Fletcher, the guiding force behind this highly-ranked district, and the recipient of the 2018 NJASA Distinguished Service Award.
At the helm of the district since 2006, River Dell Regional Superintendent Fletcher has made his mark. Under his leadership, River Dell Regional has been called one of the best public districts in the state -- and nation -- in publications such as NJ Monthly, The Bergen Record, The Star Ledger, Newsweek and US News & World Report.
He created the first tri-district office of curriculum and instruction as a shared service with two sending districts. He supervised over $29 million in building renovations. He introduced a district-wide technology program and a one-on-one laptop computer initiative for students in grades 7-12. He spearheaded programs to support students with disabilities, ages 18 to 21, to transition from school to work and other educational opportunities. He works hard to ensure his seventh through twelfth grade students are well prepared academically, and well supported socially and emotionally.
Superintendent Fletcher gets things done in River Dell by understanding people, education, business, and the community. Being a Certified Public Accountant with an active license – and a former school business administrator -- doesn’t hurt when it comes to analyzing school budgets.
He is most proud of developing a comprehensive special education program that provides the same opportunities to disabled students as their non-disabled peers. It is not uncommon for these students to be a part of an academic awards ceremony, the school musical or a competitive athletic team. Patrick Fletcher also initiated a program to support under-achieving students who do not meet the threshold for special education intervention. As a result, every student succeeds at River Dell.
But it’s not just his influence within the district. Patrick Fletcher’s service to NJASA, and other professional associations, is truly inspiring. An NJASA member since 1999, he has served as secretary, treasurer, president, immediate past president and currently is a NJASA past president. He also served on NJSIAA’s non-public committee. For his accomplishments in River Dell, he was chosen as the Northern New Jersey Superintendent of the Year by his peers in NJASA in 2014.
Superintendent Fletcher’s reach in the community is equally pervasive. He is a past president of the Bergen County Business Officials Association and a past president of the Bergen County School Administrators Association. He is a trustee for Bergen County Community College. He was selected as the 2016 Person of the Year for the YMCA of Greater Bergen County. His work with the West Bergen Mental Health Center also earned him a Distinguished Service Award.
He leads by example, donating his time over the years to such organizations as the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, the organization that helped coordinate much of Super Storm Sandy relief efforts. He is working to make a difference—in River Dell and beyond. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, he helped to form the Bergen County Flight Team. Consisting of trained school personnel, the team responds when schools need help in dealing with tragedy and grief. That model is now in wide use across the state.
Superintendent Fletcher is a constant presence in the classrooms and hallways of his schools, and attends every event. He is deeply engaged in his district and in the success of his students, and he leads by example, inspiring them to make a difference.
For influencing a generation of students, for helping forge a path for quality education in New Jersey, and for giving his time generously to causes that matter, we salute him. Congratulations, Patrick Fletcher on receiving the 2018 NJASA Distinguished Service Award.
NJASA Announces 2018 Superintendent of the Year Dr. Kathleen W. Taylor of Ocean City, NJ Public SchoolsPosted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza, Executive Director on 5/16/2018 2:55:00 PM
Bold. Visionary. A leader for today’s challenging times. That, in a few words, describes our 2018 New Jersey State Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Kathleen Taylor.
“From the preschoolers taking their first tentative steps into the classroom to the graduating seniors taking their first tentative steps into the world, my commitment and focus has always been on helping each student to find who they are and tap into what moves them,” said Dr. Taylor. “What makes them feel remarkable and unique? What brings them the greatest joy in school and in life?”
From her vantage point of 24 plus years’ experience as a school administrator, Dr. Taylor is most proud of fostering “leadership for learning” by making closing the achievement gap a district’s strategic plan goal and incorporating this goal as part of the evaluation system for the teachers, administrators and the chief education officer. The strategic improvement strategies are aimed at analyzing the individual student scores, developing intervention strategies, and arranging for push-in and pull-out support schedules. Dr. Taylor has also actively engaged the students’ parents in ways that can help their children. This educator-parent partnership has enabled students to grow academically in ways that would otherwise not be possible.
Ocean City is fortunate to have Dr. Taylor at the helm. In 2014 and 2015, when two Ocean City students took their own lives, Dr. Taylor made the bold decision to address mental health head-on. She involved teachers, administrators, board members, parents, police officers, clinicians, and community members. The goal was to empower students to cope with life’s stressors. Now mental health is an integral part of the student learning experience at Ocean City schools. Friends, family members, faculty and staff are equipped with resources to support students in need.
Dr. Taylor is a mentor to many—including New Jersey State Teacher of the Year Amy Andersen, and Nora Faverzani, selected as the student representative to the State Board of Education. She inspires excellence from her colleagues, staff and students. Recently, the Ocean City High School crew team honored Dr. Taylor by naming a boat after her. She continues to be a role model for them, traveling to races in Philadelphia and beyond to support the program.
A prolific writer and presenter, Dr. Taylor serves as Chair of the NJASA Curriculum and Instruction Committee. On behalf of NJASA, she participated in the NJEA Teacher Leader Summit. She also co-wrote a grant for the EE4NJ Pilot Program. Subsequently the Ocean City School District was selected as one of the ten Cohort I Pilot Districts.
Currently, she serves on the Executive Board of the Ocean City Education Foundation and the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. She is part of the Ocean City’s Task Force for Health and Wellness. She has organized and led the Ocean City School District’s and Community Committee for the “Did You Know Campaign” – a drug prevention program.
For these, and many more accomplishments too numerous to name, Dr. Kathleen Taylor was named NJASA Superintendent of the Year for 2018. In accepting this prestigious honor, Dr. Taylor said, “I have been blessed with a challenging and rewarding career that has taken me from the classroom to the principal’s office to my role as superintendent of a high-achieving district in an idyllic community. But regardless of my role, responsibilities or district I serve, I never lose sight of what drew me to and ignited my passion for education – the students whose lives we as educators are privileged to touch and share.”
NJASA Announces the Regional SOY Winner, Chuck Sampson of Freehold Regional High School DistrictPosted by Dr. Richard G. Bozza, Executive Director on 5/16/2018
There are more than 10,500 students in the Freehold Regional High School District, and Chief Education Officer Charles B. Sampson is ensuring each one has the opportunity to reach unprecedented heights. As a result, his district has been honored repeatedly at the local, state and national levels.
Now Superintendent Sampson can add one more honor: NJASA Regional Superintendent of the Year.
“This honor not only recognizes my work in the district but acknowledges the fantastic team that makes the Freehold Regional High School District a lighthouse district,” said Superintendent Sampson. “I am very fortunate that our district has been able to accomplish so much thanks to a strong team of dedicated individuals.”
His goal is authentic and modern learning for all at Freehold Regional. There is dramatically increased access to AP, IB and honors programs, particularly for minority and economically disadvantaged students. There also are magnet programs and specialized programs for the neediest students. These programs are designed to challenge students in highly personal ways while they are fully supported with unique and locally-created intervention strategies.
Technology is pervasive—so much so that Superintendent Sampson was recognized as Future Ready by President Obama and the Office of Educational Technology. Superintendent Sampson joined more than 100 school district leaders at the White House who shared promising approaches for using technology in our nation’s schools. “It is not sufficient to tinker along the edges of tradition,” he was quoted as saying. “We need to create bold new paths”—and he is.
Superintendent Sampson has led the district since 2011 and is known for his hands-on approach. When he wanted to evaluate the student experience in his district, he didn’t just observe a class. He spent the day as a student.
As a result of his leadership, the district has earned numerous accolades:
- Two separate Program of the Year designations from the New Jersey School Boards Association;
- The only public district in New Jersey to be honored twice at state level for innovations in special education;
- One of only nine districts this past year to receive a $500,000 grant to support the expansion of the computer science program;
- One of only two districts in New Jersey to be named to the AP Honor Roll for the first five years of that designation; and
- Acceptance into the prestigious League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of forward-thinking school districts organized by Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to accelerate innovation in education.
“We have worked hard to embrace the changing trends of technology to create an inventive, student-centered learning environment,” he said. “Organizations like the League of Innovative Schools allow teachers and administrators to learn from a community of practice.”
Superintendent also has received his share of individual recognition, as a byproduct of his exceptional district-wide commitment to students. He was named 2017 Monmouth County Superintendent of the Year. He was the 2017 Manalapan Mayor’s Charity Ball Honoree for outstanding leadership and contributions to the community. He was appointed to the Common Core Standards Review Committee to rethink the standards for New Jersey.
He continually seeks best practices from among his peers—as an executive officer of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a network of high-performing New Jersey districts dedicated to quality education for all. He is a member of the Panasonic Foundation, New Jersey Network of Superintendents, dedicated to improving excellence and equity for all students. An adjunct professor at Montclair State University, he was recognized for outstanding contributions for the next generation of school leaders.
For these, and many more accomplishments too numerous to name, Chuck Sampson is NJASA’s Regional Superintendent of the Year for 2018. Please join us in congratulating him.