Expanding Outreach to the Community is...the Roseland Way
Lester C. Noecker School is a “one school district” in the heart of Roseland with about 430 students from grades pre-k through 6th. This beautiful school has always been the “HUB” of the town, home for recreational games and practices, place for father-daughter dances, pinewood derby events, trunk or treat, and much more. We know there is a love for the community and school district when several parents at kindergarten orientation raised their hands to say, “We were once a Noecker student, and are proud to be back.” Most recently our new business administrator returned to his alma mater to share his love of numbers. Knowing the importance of the community/school partnership, expanding outreach to the community remains a focus.
The school year began with our annual Back to School Nights, but this year we decided to create an educational fair before classroom visitations. In our main gymnasium, parents were provided the opportunity to learn about various programs in the school and community. Our specialist teachers, guidance counselor, and related services professionals set up display tables with informational pamphlets and brochures. Parents also met with the Home School Association, recreation officials, and learned about community programs such as the boy/girl scouts, and after school programs. The Educational Fair was a huge success with parents asking for more time for this event next year.
Keeping in line with our mission to expand community outreach, we developed a Noecker Newsletter where district events and grade level activities are shared quarterly. This is in addition to our weekly notification from the principal. Throughout the year, parent workshops are offered on topics such as balanced literacy, technology, internet safety, and PARCC. Roseland senior citizens are welcomed into the school to learn about topics such as communicating via social media. “Coffees with the Principal/Superintendent” is a time set aside to chat about educational trends and topics as well as a chance to get to know one another. The school administrators also make themselves available to the community before Board meetings to answer any questions from the public. One of the biggest highlights in Noecker is the annual Veteran’s Celebration. Students at each grade level present songs, poems, iMovies or plays for more than 35-invited veterans. The event is very moving and there isn’t a dry eye in the house.
As we focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning, our technology supervisor has been instrumental in creating a “Maker Space” developed by a committee of teachers and parents. Our students are encouraged to think critically and creatively through tinkering and exploring. We even partnered with a local company to offer an after-school enrichment club called “Little Bits.”
After completing interest surveys, our fifth & sixth grade students have been exploring various careers in the area of STEAM and reached out to professionals in the area of their choice for a Career Day event that will take place later on in the year. The prospect of bringing community members into the school such as the mayor, chief of police, fire chief as well as local merchants not only teaches the students about aspects of the community, but allows the school to highlight and share many educational programs.
We continue to expand our outreach beyond the Roseland community and provide experiences for our students to learn about other cultures. Foreign exchange students were invited from Latvia and Argentina to share about their culture, customs and traditions. Displays that highlight holiday traditions and observances from world cultures are exhibited in our front hallway. The importance of looking beyond the four walls of the classroom help our students have a global awareness.
As we continue to focus on building stronger relationships with parents, teachers, staff and students, we are researching cloud-based technology to focus on increased communication and community outreach. This will help to organize feedback from teachers, parents and community members. It will assist us in providing a first-class customer service so that the school district can respond to trending topics and keep everyone in the loop.
Expanding the outreach to the community is not just something we are checking off our list, it is the Roseland way. It is embedded during morning meetings, through the integration of technology, and as part of our curriculum and instruction. We are committed to raising students to be 21st century learners, collaborators, communicators, innovators, and creative global citizens.