"It Takes a Village to Raise a Child" We Are Proof!
How many times have you heard people say that school really didn’t teach them anything valuable that was applicable to their current career path or school didn’t prepare them for college? In an ever-changing world, schools, school administrators, and school curricula are challenged to incorporate technology and curricula that will prepare them for a competitive global job market. Knowing and understanding the use of technology students hold a greater advantage to joining the work force in such a competitive world today.
While everyone agrees, that school curricula should be revised to mimic a real life job situation, at times, that proves to be a difficult feat because of availability of finances, effective professional development training opportunities for staff, and consistent monitoring for instructional infusion. With this in mind, during the 2012-2013 school year, the Hackettstown School District made a budgetary commitment to make technological upgrades, select and incorporate resources and emphasize professional development for staff as a district priority. In addition, throughout the 2013 year, the district partnered with community stakeholders and staff in creating a five–year strategic plan, with an area of focus being integration of technology. I would like to show my gratitude to one of our Board of Education members in Great Meadows, Lori Prymak, who afforded several of our administrative cabinet members to visit and observe McDonald’s corporate headquarters. There we learned how they train staff, communicate needs, and utilize technology on a daily basis. Ultimately, all of these experiences led the Hackettstown and Great Meadows middle schools to develop blended learning classrooms, where a few years removed students are thriving and staff is invigorated.
New Jersey School Districts, in a day and age where there are 2% capped budgets, must be selective of the types of programs and upgrades they purchase. Along with the Board of Education’s commitment to technology in schools, the Great Meadows Regional PTO/PTA partnered with us to raise funds to support blended learning classrooms. Additionally, Mr. William Thompson, Principal of Hackettstown Middle School, was approached by a staff member, Mrs. Suzanne Manieri, whose father is an employee of JCP&L. Mr. Manieri made arrangements with JCP&L to donate 24 HP EliteBook 8460 laptops to Hackettstown Middle School. Mr. Thompson, along with Mr. Robert Redmon, Director of Instructional Technology, quickly seized this opportunity to evaluate one of the laptops to ensure that it was suitable for use in the classroom. Upon acceptance and the receipt of the donation made, Hackettstown School District’s Instructional Technology staff completed the process of reconditioning the devices and revitalizing an outdated computer lab at Hackettstown Middle School for the start of the 2016-2017 school year. Currently, we have a 1:1 technology initiative in grades 3-8 for Chromebooks and laptops in Great Meadows, Liberty and Middle School respectively.
Although Hackettstown and Great Meadows Regional School Districts are enthusiastic about forming community and business partnerships, it also takes a visionary and supportive Board of Education, the support of parent groups, such as PTA/PTO, and dedicated staff members who work synonymously for the betterment of any school community. Without support from our Boards of Education and community members who understand and are part of any school districts vision for success, endeavors such as these fall short. The old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” holds true and we are proof.