Sunday, April 15, 2018

April 13, 2018 - Spring Has Arrived Edition

LMS student, Dylan Latham, intervened in an emergency 
Hello,

I hope everyone is having a great Friday and looking forward finally to some nice weather!

Yesterday was an exciting day for sure…we had a Blackhawk Helicopter land on the practice grounds so students and staff could get an up close and personal look at this incredible technology. In addition, our military guests brought their own climbing wall. Students got a workout and an education on the Blackhawk Helicopter. Despite the copter being from the late 80’s it appeared more than ready for action. Check Twitter for the video of it landing and many pictures of students and staff aboard the Blackhawk. Thank you to our own Michael Schenck for organizing.

Also yesterday, Lakeside hosted as an AVID National Demonstration site several groups from schools across NJ. Showcasing their school wide approach to incorporating the AVID strategies, visitors were impressed with our staff as well as the students who addressed the large group of adults. The students explained to the audience, clearly and concisely, what AVID has done to help them advance. Judging by my conversations after with several visitors, the students and staff of Lakeside AVID left a lasting impression on the group. Kudos to Kim Hallenbeck and others for representing our District so well. A BIG SHOUTOUT to Rita Pettit for her comments to the AVID visitors yesterday during the debrief. I was extremely impressed with how passionately she articulated the value in using the AVID strategies as a ’non-avid’ teacher. By ’non-avid’ I mean not officially teaching the elective but Ms. Pettit is most certainly an AVID teacher. She uses the strategies in her classes and actively promotes the advantages her students have because of it. Thank you for being a leader among your peers!

These are just two of an endless list of amazing happenings across the MPS District!

One Amazing MPS Student caught being Phenomenal!!!
Subject: Student Dylan Latham

Good Afternoon Dr. Cook,
I wanted to share with you a moment that Dylan and I experienced last night.  We, unfortunately, witnessed a horrific accident.  An SUV was in front of us and went to turn onto a side road.  Upon doing so, an explosion happened in the front of her vehicle as is ripped it around almost in a circle.  Dylan and I noticed that the explosion was a motorcycle.  We ran out and just wanted to find the person.  The lady who hit him  told us to look in the woods while she called 911.  Dylan found him and went right to him without any fear and held his hand and with such a soothing voice, spoke as calmly as she could to the guy.  He was wrapped around a couple of trees.  I just tried to untangle some of the mess while trying not to cause any additional pain. 

Dylan got him talking and found out his name and tried to keep him focused on the little boy that he kept asking us to find (should he not make it) and tell him how much his daddy loved him.  She told him he could do that himself and told him he was NOT going to die.  I heard him finally talk in a normal voice and asked Dylan,  “Your not lying to me, right?”.  And Dylan spent the rest of the time she had with him letting him know that he’s going to live and that she would never lie about something like that. 

She showed such tenderness and bravery for a 13 year old.  And our intentions was to NOT let him die alone.  And she was prepared for that.  Somehow.

It took some time and effort for the shock to wear off once we were home.  She asked me, “what do we do now?”.  And I responded that she didn’t need to worry about what to do next except to know that she made a difference just being there and to know that she may have saved his life by keeping him from going into shock.  She kept him calm and spoke so sweetly that you would think she was professionally trained to do so.

I was able to find out that he made it. 

I am so proud and ever so shocked at the ability of a child to think and react in pure chaos.   Dylan is that child.  She’s constantly  amazing me!  Yes, I’m partial.  But, I thought that those who are around her and know just how special she is too would like to share in this moment. 

 This was received from the motorcyclist...

“Hi there, I’m so thankful for you and your daughter the both of you kept me together. I’m very lucky. Your daughter really gave me hope, how she handled herself talked to me, she kept me thinking. I thank her for that. Just thank you for the hands I could hold onto.”


All My Best,

Tina Latham



SHOUT-OUTS!!!!


"Kim Hallenbeck, Beth Benfer, and Sandy Lokuta did a phenomenal job with organizing an AVID Site visit at Lakeside Middle School. We hosted over 20 educators from area schools as well as from North Jersey and Pennsylvania. Thank you for your hard work!"
~Spike Cook, Principal

"A big Bacon shout out and thank you to Stephanie Muhlbaier for pulling together Hoops for Bacon (along with her team), the yearbook, and the Walk-a-Mile events.  Stephanie, thanks for all your hard work and dedication to keeping Bacon active and keeping our Bears involved.  I appreciate the time and effort it takes to make these things happen.  Thank you!"
~Mike Coyle, Principal

"Clara Lowers and Tammy Tozer were able to provide over 200 chicken eggs to be used throughout the district. These eggs will be incubated and hatched in over 20 classrooms for the students to witness and learn from. Thanks Clara and Tammy!"
~Bobby Barber, Supervisor

"A BIG shout out to our two school nurses, Karen Chamenko and Lee Tamagni, for their attention to detail and receiving a 100% compliance on all of our Child Family Center student records from the county health department.  The registration process and the record keeping for our 600 children is a monumental task!"
~JoAnn Burns, Principal

"Audrey Muller, Jackie Eppright, Ali Prevard, and Ish Jimenez: Your enthusiasm and efforts to work with our students with special needs is inspiring.  Thank you for being the light in their lives and the lives of their families."
~Steve Matusz, Executive Director

"A big shout to Marie Celestin. Thank you for another successful Reality Fair at Memorial High School. Once again Marie prepared, organized and implemented this wonderful event for our students. This fair is a great opportunity for our students to experience some of the financial challenges they will face when they start living on their own. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the students and staff at Memorial High School."
~JoAnne Colacurcio, Supervisor

"Kristin Phelan, Patti Atkinson, Courtney Fry, Tammy Elliott, Jessica Pacana, Juanita Douglas, and Jessica Kauffman: Today, three of our high school special education classes are presenting break out sessions at the annual Dare to Dream Student Leadership Conference at Cumberland County College. The sessions are entitled "Finding Yourself in Your Strengths" and "What Does Your Future Hold?" Thank you to the teachers and paraprofessionals that have worked with these students over the last few months to prepare them for this special day. This is an opportunity for students with disabilities to realize they have bright futures!"
~Debby Sukinik, Supervisor

"Thank you to Mike Schenck for coordinating the Blackhawk Landing at MSHS yesterday. Both students and teachers were impressed with every aspect of its visit."
~Kristin McManus, Vice Principal

Have an amazing weekend!!!
Warm Regards,
Dr. G.


Dr. David N. Gentile
Superintendent of Schools
“Lead Learner”
@drgentile_mps (Twitter)
856-327-6001

#MPSWC (MPS World Class)
#greatdaytobeabolt

Published by Spike Cook, Millville, NJ

Saturday, April 7, 2018

March 29, 2018 - Spring Break

Photo by ANJA KWOK on Unsplash
Happy Friday (well Thursday) Everyone,

This issue marks the start of the Spring Recess for 2018…although not technically a Friday, today is certainly Phenomenal. Like all of you, I am looking forward to an opportunity to recharge with family and friends.

Yesterday I enjoyed some time spent with the Rieck Avenue Jets 5th graders! I was fortunate to be invited in as a guest reader. The book selected was a Bad Case of the Stripes, by David Shannon. If you are not familiar with this particular story, it involves something just about all of us can relate to – trying to please others. In the story, a young female student is about to begin her first day of school and she is very nervous about what to wear in order to make everyone like her. She cares so much about being like everyone else that she even gave up one of her favorite foods, because according to her “nobody likes them”.

In her effort to do what she thinks others want her to do instead of following her own heart, she breaks out with the strangest illness I have ever heard of - ‘a bad case of stripes’. Whenever someone suggests something for her to be she can’t help but turn into it. I won’t spoil the ending but simply say that it is probably normal to care what others think of us. I mean who doesn’t want to be liked?!? If, however, you lose sight of who you are in the process of trying to be liked you may find yourself with a bad case of the stripes. If others determine how you feel about yourself, or how you view your self-worth you are going to be left very vulnerable.

For our young people they go through this in various stages as they develop. It is normal for students to struggle with figuring out exactly who they are along their journey. Hopefully, by the time you are an adult you have figured out who you are. Even once you have done so, it can be difficult at times not to just go along with the group despite your real beliefs. We have all been there, a conversation is taking place with a group of people and it turns to talking about someone mutually known to the group. The person may be the butt of a joke or some other derogative statement about them; despite you knowing it is wrong to talk badly about others and perhaps you even like the person they are talking about it but is often easier to just go along. Maybe you just don’t say anything, which condones the behavior, or worse yet you chime in. I can say truthfully that I have done both in my lifetime. The power of social pressure is something that is very strong. Perhaps while enjoying the great spring weather (that I am confident will not include anymore snow) you can give this a little thought. The next time you find yourself in that situation, perhaps you can boldly point out that it isn’t polite to talk badly about others. If you don’t maybe you will get a bad case of the stripes!

Have an amazing break!

Shout-outs:

"A big shout-out to Kristi Abel for organizing and leading the Wellness Report as well as developing ideas for improving Lakeside Middle School."

"For filling in for Scott Godfrey while he was out of the 6th grade office, Robin Roche did a great job of keeping the office running smoothly!"
~Spike Cook, Principal

"Eric Paulson and Luisa Lopez-Arbelo have been working diligently on trying to complete the required ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 English language proficiency testing on all ELLs grades K to 12.  The wicked March weather threw a couple of monkey wrenches into the overall plan, but they're making it work.  THANKS!"
~Debbie Homan, Supervisor

"For bringing enthusiasm and professionalism to the management of our Infrastructure. Jeremias Bermudez is always willing to take on any task or challenging situation as they arise."
~Dan Wright, Communications Manager

"Krystle Ammann, Bob Domico, Harry Longini, Derek Clarke, Sam Landi, Dan Lalli, Bridget Borlak, Elisa Petrini, Steve Matusz, Heather O'Donnell, Sheila Montecino, Jarrod Headley, Michele Lobaito: Thank you all for volunteering to chaperone 150 students (3 charter buses) on our annual trip to Washington, DC. Because of you we were able to visit the Holocaust Museum, eat at the United States Department of Agriculture, and see the White House, Jefferson Memorial, MLK Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and war memorials.  The students and I appreciate your time (an over 16 hour day) and dedication to preparing our students to become 21st century citizens."
~Jessica Kauffman, Dept. Chair

"Thanks to Lauren Daigle, I was able to say good bye to "My Documents" and I am now fully operational in Google Drive File Stream! She was so patient and answered all of my questions. I was on the fence for so long and after reading Lauren and Alicia's Tech Tuesdays, I decided it was time. If you haven't switched over yet, Spring Break is the perfect time!"
~Debby Sukinik, Supervisor

 "A Bacon shout out to Patti Banker for being a great Bacon Bear. In addition to the fantastic work she does with the kids in the classroom, Patti doesn’t hesitate to jump in and help others do just about anything. From helping with school events to occasionally covering classes when needed and everything in between, Patti is a great team player and colleague to all. Thanks for being awesome, Patti! We appreciate your hard work and dedication to the students and staff at Bacon."
~Mike Coyle, Principal

"We are very fortunate to have James and Bacon as our daytime custodians at Holly Heights.  They both keep our building in top shape and assist all of us on a daily basis.  They also both work in our latch key program and interact with our students in a positive manner.  Last night they both captained teams for our Games Galore and today assisted Mrs. Fryling's class by dropping their egg containers off the roof.  They are both always willing to do whatever they can to make Holly Heights a better place."
~Steve Saul, Principal

"Thank you to Jamie Burrows, John Parkin, Rick VanArsdale, and Jim McCarthy for another successful Advisory Committee meeting. You've done a fine job of showing off the wonderful programs you run for our school. Your passion for your fields was evident and appreciated. Kudos to you all for your efforts!"
~Bridget Borlak, Dept. Chair

Have an amazing Spring Recess!!

Regards,

Dr. G.

Dr. David Gentile
Lead Learner
Superintendent of Schools
Millville NJ
856-327-6001
@drgentile_mps (Twitter)

Published by Spike Cook, Millville, NJ

Friday, March 23, 2018

March 23, 2018

Lakeside's King Tut CSI Crew 
Greetings all,

Wishing all of you a happy Spring 2018 as it is officially the end of Winter. Although Mother Nature does not yet seem to realize it. Do I dare say, this should be the final snowfall for us this School Year?!? There I said it, it is not allowed to snow again.

Yesterday in the wake of the winter snow blast, many area homes and businesses were without power. I am happy that we were able to get fully restored as of yesterday 3pm. The last of the snow appears to have melted perhaps we can turn the page and fully embrace the warmer weather of Spring and look forward to completing another amazing school year.

Shout-outs!
"A much-deserved shout-out to ALL the members of the District Equity and Diversity Team who have worked so hard in their schools and at the district level to raise awareness of issues related to race and ethnicity, poverty, special education and gender bias, to highlight disparities in discipline and placements and to offer ideas and strategies for teachers and administrators to consider in the quest to bring equity to Millville's academic and extra-curricular programs.  I have so appreciated the opportunity to work with you!"
~Nora Zielinski, Executive Director Special Services

"Stacey Musey has made my transition so much easier this year. (I'm pretty sure that was her main goal.) She stepped into a department chair position that absorbed an entire department because of cuts, works in three buildings, and is a first time administrator. Because of her tireless work ethic, attention to detail, and extremely high standards, I have been able to focus my attention away from the high schools. She has my complete trust and the district is a better place with her working here."
~Bobby Barber, Supervisor

"The team of Kristi Cranmer, Heather Dian, Joy Gorgas, Terri Russo, and Deb Zavorski had an outstanding meeting the other day.  During their meeting they began to lay the foundation for a Professional Learning Community.  The meeting was an open and honest discussion, where each person had a voice.  They were able to outline the details critical to its success.  It was great seeing the team apply the knowledge from our last professional development day."
~Eric Reissek, Principal

"Our Social Studies Department transformed the Auditorium Hallway into a museum so that the LMS students could experience the King Tut CSI project! Thanks to Cody Hand, Tim Garrison, Robbie Williams, and Amy Gehringer for coordinating."

"Thank you to Barb Kern, Tom Fien, and Darlene Bassetti for assisting with the coordination of the Millville Youth Empowerment Summit. They attended multiple meetings throughout January - March in the evening and on the day of the event on March 17. Thank you for everything!"
~Spike Cook, Principal

"Thanks to all of our district's art teachers for their outstanding exhibit for Youth Art Month at the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts."
~Henry Hartman, Supervisor

"Thank you to all of the custodians, maintenance and grounds staff who came in several times this winter to shovel and plow snow.  There were some miserable days this winter.  On some snow days everyone was shoveling snow with temperatures in the teens and 25 mile per hour winds to get school opened the next day.  The district couldn’t operate without you.  Thank you."
~Ryan Cruzan, District Facilities Manager

"Since joining the Bacon staff, Stacey Gant has made an immediate positive impact. She goes above and beyond to ensure her lessons are engaging and fun for the students, and she works well with her 4th grade partner to plan lessons and actives for their students. She’s a wonderful addition to the Bacon family, and if that weren’t enough, she’s a new mom. Stacey, though I’m sure it wasn’t easy to come back, we welcome you upon your return from maternity leave. Your students are lucky to have a teacher like you, and we’re glad you’re here!"
~Mike Coyle, Principal

"Dan Caregnato has done a wonderful job in transitioning from state trooper to classroom teacher. He provides our students with real world experience, and his wisdom and knowledge go beyond the classroom walls. Dan is always eager to learn and implement instructional strategies, from using Google Classroom to attending after school workshops. The high school is lucky to have such a valuable staff member."
~JoAnne Colacurcio, Supervisor

"Congratulations on a job well done goes out to Elizabeth Morgan, Advanced Eighth Grade English. Liz's class just completed a community service project. Collectively, the class spent 140 hours making our community a better place to live. Here are some things the class accomplished: A student collected 1,103 diapers and 1,646 wipes for families in need, another student made twenty care packages for children in or going into foster care, eight students joined forces to clean-up the nature conservatory, while others cleaned the community and removed litter. These are just a few of the projects completed. Great job class!"
~Maggie Colina, Supervisor

"Joanne Mills is our Autism Inclusion teacher at Silver Run. She has a big task of working with all of the inclusion paraprofessionals and teachers that her keep our students successful in the general education classes. Ms. Mills created social skills objectives aligned to current Student Learning Standards, 21st Century Life and Career Standards, and the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Competencies and Sub-Competencies. The social skills progress by grade level and these skills are then enhanced in the more formalized LEGO “therapy” program which includes specific job titles and duties that foster effective planning, communication, and team problem solving. Ms. Mills goes above and beyond with parent outreach! You do so much for our program!"
~Debby Sukinik, Supervisor

"Mrs. Dondero, Mrs. Mascara and Mrs. Oliver's classes have been doing an investigative study on Music.  The interest areas in their classrooms have been transformed into various musical discovery activities.  They also invited parents to come in and perform for the children.  An "old fashioned " sing a long by a former district music teacher was incorporated into a lesson and they Skyped with Mr. DeSantis and his band class to showcase the different instruments and the sounds they produce as well as how those sounds are made.  What a great way to include the community, parental involvement and retired educators as part of the learning at CFC."
~JoAnn Burns, Principal

"Terry Davis is the glue that keeps Holly Heights together.  She goes above and beyond for everyone and does so many things to keep our building running smoothly.  Her professionalism when dealing with high stress situations is appreciated.  She wears so many hats on a daily basis and does so without complaining or seeking recognition.  She is always willing to listen and help anyone in need.  Thanks Terry!"
~Steve Saul, Principal

"Christine Olinda and Julia Araujo are teachers in two of our self-contained special education classrooms. Last year they went for training in a Wilson Reading program for older students. It's been great to see this multi-sensory reading approach in action with our students. They collaborate as they plan lessons for their classes and our students are benefiting from it!"
~Brian Robinson, Principal


Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Warm (like Spring Weather Warm) Regards,


Dr. G.


Dr. David N. Gentile
Superintendent of Schools
“Lead Learner”
@drgentile_mps (Twitter)
856-327-6001

#MPSWC (MPS World Class)
#greatdaytobeabolt

Published by Spike Cook, Millville, NJ

Sunday, March 18, 2018

March 16, 2018

Stella Sheppard, LMS student, flying during Seussical this week
Hello,

Happy Friday everyone!! I will admit that this week has been uniquely challenging and the fact that it is coming to an end is fine with me. I want to first thank the Greater Millville Chamber of Commerce for inviting me to speak at their luncheon two days ago. It was a fantastic hour spent with people who are dedicated to the betterment of Millville. Samantha Cruz, Millville City Supervisor of Parks and Public Properties, was honored as the citizen of the month. This recognition was well deserved as Samantha does a great deal to help the City improve. So congratulations to her and her lovely family who attended to celebrate with her.

Purposely keeping this week’s message 'short and sweet’, I hope everyone enjoys a well earned wonderful weekend with family and friends!

Shout-outs!

"Congrats to Jason Kessler, for being selected by the Daily Journal as the Girls Basketball Coach of the Year for the 2017-2018 season. Jason was also recently approved by the Board of Education as the new Assistant Principal at MSHS."
~Dave LaGamba, Supervisor

"John Law is consistently providing expert support to keep our computer and telephone networks up and running. John does a great job helping our customers with their telephone and web site problems. John is also one who is always looking for ways to improve our processes and services."
~Dan Wright, Communications Manager

"Shout out to Yansi Alvardo-Cardona. Yansi does amazing work providing OT services at the Child Family Center. She also goes out of her way to help staff and parents. She provides insights, tips, and support to our teachers. Recently she translated for a mom, who recently relocated from Puerto Rico, during a Child Study Team meeting.  She ensures that parents are welcomed and understand all the workings of the Child Study Team process! She is a true asset to our early childhood program."
~Chris Barlas, Vice Principal

"A big shout out to Katie Burns, our new speech teacher at the Child Family Center.  Katie works with non-verbal children as well as children with speech deficits.  She is energetic and enthusiastic and never shys away from a challenge.  She also provides assistance to teachers and gives them suggestions on how to work with language delayed and speech children.  During CST meetings she speaks with parents in a kind and understanding manner, provides data of her work with the children and gives recommendations to the parents so they can help their child at home..  She is a great asset to our team at the Child Family Center."
~JoAnn Burns, Principal

 "Amy Gehringer, a sixth grade Social Studies teacher at Lakeside, is one of those rare teachers who works tirelessly for her students without any expectation of recognition.  Amy recently had her students create a museum on Ancient Egypt. Each student researched an area of choice and designed a three dimensional display for their museum.  Each class visited the museum and conducted themselves as though they were in an authentic museum.  They viewed the displays and answered questions about Ancient Egypt.  Allowing choice helped students think outside the box of those traditional topics and resulted in some of the most amazing displays I have ever seen.  Thank you Amy for all that you do!"
~Pat Wulk, Supervisor

"Carol Ann Ciccio is a resource for the Lakeside Staff. She meets with administration on a regular basis to ensure that the staff have their needs met. She is proactive and is always seeking ways to improve Lakeside Middle School."
~Spike Cook

"Thanks to these 8th grade math teachers for inviting me into their classroom for Pi Day: Tom Fien, Jennifer Todd, Jennifer Rauch, and Nancy Lokey! Their theme related lessons had students graphing, making words and shooting hoops! It's nice to see collaboration among the teachers as well as with the special and general education students. The teachers even did "plus/ delta" with the students at the end of the period."

"I have had the pleasure of meeting and observing Jennifer Gillen and Brieanna Hinrichsen,  two high school special education science teachers at that are new to Millville this school year. I was most impressed with their hands-on approach to science learning and their willingness to go above and beyond for their classified students."
~Debby Sukinik, Supervisor

"Congratulations to the staff, cast and crew of "Seussical, Jr." (Shari Booz, Erika Zeiters, Megan Belluci, Jillian Heacox, Jesse Jones, Tom Costa) The production was a great success and the hard work and extra hours was evident in the caliber of the production!
~Henry Hartman, Supervisor

"Super shout out to Tina Dallas, Special Education teacher at Holly Heights, whose high energy approach to teaching keeps her kiddos motivated, moving, and most of all learning.  I am impressed with the amount of quality instruction and energy Tina can pack into a 30 minute resource block.  Keep up the great work!"
~Maris Lynn, Supervisor

"I would like to thank the Equity and Diversity Team at the HS for all of their hard work in making sure the walkout was a safe and organized event.  They truly have the best interest of the school and students at all times.  They are kind amazing people that impact a the climate of the buildings in a positive way.  "Y'all Rock"

"A big shout out for Jason Kessler who dove right into his new position with ease.  He has already faced some challenging days and more are ahead in the world of Administration.  He is a great addition to our team and we are so glad to have him on board."
~Stephanie DeRose, Principal

"It is great gratitude that I extend a fond farewell to the English Department retirees, Sue Corson, Bernie Cirocco and Sue Flickinger. You have all touched so many of our student's lives over the years. Your dedication, time and patience have not gone unnoticed. I wish you the very best in your retirement. Best wishes!"
~Maggie Colina, Supervisor

"A big shout out to Megan Rosado.  Megan is our PBIS aide at Holly Heights and does an amazing job.  She greets everyone with a friendly smile and is eager to help both students and staff.  She goes the extra mile  to develop a positive rapport with our students and provides them with the skills they need to make better choices."
~Steve Saul, Principal

"Andrea Pfeiffer has coordinated job placements around the high school for our BD students.  The students complete jobs such as library workers that help file books, maintenance assistants that help with deliveries, cafeteria assistants that help prepare lunches, and LINK assistants that deliver passes. We are two weeks in and the students love their jobs! Thank you, Andrea, for coordinating these opportunities for the students!"
~Jessica Kauffman, Dept. Chair

"I would like to give recognition to Pat Wulk, Assessment Supervisor, as well as all of the staff/ testing facilitators involved with preparing for PARCC. It is a heavy responsibility preparing for this State mandatory assessment. I had the opportunity to sit in briefly on part of the training and was impressed with the staff as they worked to prepare for the upcoming assessment. While I have very strong feelings regarding how the PARCC results are used – I am very proud of the way our staff prepares and executes the State mandate."
~Dr. Gentile

Have a great weekend!

Regards,
Dr. G


Dr. David N. Gentile
Superintendent of Schools
“Lead Learner”
@drgentile_mps (Twitter)
856-327-6001

#MPSWC (MPS World Class)
#greatdaytobeabolt

Published by Spike Cook, Millville, NJ

March 9, 2018 - No more snow edition!

Photo by Tim Tiedemann on Unsplash
Hello,

This week we have carefully faced more of Mother Nature’s winter weather. I would like to focus on ‘leadership’. Specifically the type of leadership that comes from sources other than our administration. I absolutely believe one of my main responsibilities is to foster an environment that encourages everyone to take a role in the leadership of our district. To accomplish this, I need to take my hands off the wheel  at times and that can feel scary. It is critical that I trust our employees to step up and take ownership for our success. Once the destination is set, the administrative leadership must encourage others to help determine the best way to get there. I must encourage other administrators to do the same – to encourage others under their supervision to take risks, to innovate, and do so with the administrations’  full support.

It is when we fail that we have the greatest opportunity to learn. Hopefully this then becomes how the staff empowers the students. Creating young risk takers, innovators, and problem solvers. Simply put, top-down initiatives usually fail to create lasting change. They often fail regardless of the merit or quality of the project. They fail because they lack investors…instead they are viewed as something being done to me not something done by me. The antithesis is staff led initiatives. These are created by, designed for, and taught by your colleagues. Staff led projects or initiatives are more likely to spread and be widely accepted for countless reasons. Least among them, they are usually really – really good! They come from people who are closest to the classroom and designed for the main purpose of helping you do your job better. Will there still be resistance? Sure, but it will be limited. In every group there is at least one person who will say up to your down. Left when you are certain it was right. The majority, however, will see the value in the work.

Wednesday, the District kicked off the start of implementing PLC’s, Professional Learning Communities. As you will see below in the shout-out section, our staff stepped up and knocked it out of the park. The initiative to create authentic PLC’s across our District came from, was designed by, and training was given to the rest of the staff by teachers. This is a perfect example of teacher-led or staff-led leadership. The core group met and spent time planning how best to implement PLC’s. They scheduled time to meet with administration in order to gain support for their idea. I could not be happier with their progress! Great job to all involved. I am very excited to watch the PLC’s grow and hopeful that more teachers & staff will continue to look for opportunities to provide leadership as we pursue the District’s vision. We will be creating the strategic plan in the coming months, this is an ideal place for leaders to lead.

In the spirit of staff lead leadership, here is a special edition of staff shout-outs to colleagues:

"I’d like to give a HUGE Shout Out to the custodial crew at the Senior High School for the job they did clearing snow from the sidewalks after the Nor’Easter on Wednesday. That was some of the heaviest snow I can ever remember and there wasn’t a flake of snow to be found on the sidewalks and walkways to the Trailers when I came in this morning. We were all expecting to have a shortened day due to the storm but the entire crew came together to get the school ready for opening on Thursday.  Matt Bonham, Sarah Brown, Ricky Cordero, Willie Hinton, Carmen Mena, Steve Morris, Amelia Soto, Mike Taylor, Dionicia Vasquez, THANK YOU for all you do!!!!!! I would also like to thank our District Maintenance worker, Jeremy Table, for spending his morning removing remnants of ice and snow from the parking lot also!"
~Dominic Carapelli, Head Custodian

 "Also, I wanted to give a "shout out" to Matt Slater, who ran a "mouse trap" team building activity yesterday as part of our PD. Four of us braved the challenge, and we made a mouse trap tower with 14 stories!! Perhaps a world record! Ha!"
~Cindy Commander, teacher

"A big shout-out to Sandy Grennon for consistent great service and dedication to the students and staff of Millville Public Schools. Throughout the years Sandy has always been a force for positive technology improvements in a variety of buildings. Most recently, Sandy has been the sole source of technology service and support to Lakeside Middle School where she is supporting over 2,000 technology devices, over 1,000 students and over 200 staff members.  Sandy serves as a role model and mentor for other technicians. Sandy was named, by a vote of her peers, the Technician of the Year for 2017-2018."
~Dan Wright, Communications Manager

"Patty Wynn has done an amazing job as the Principal Secretary for LMS. She is instrumental in finding coverages for teachers, working with parents, keeping the school organized and ensuring that I am on task through SAM process."
~Spike Cook, Principal

"Tina Dallas and Theresa Sutton both volunteered to be our PLC building trainers and have done an amazing job.  They both provided a great training to our staff and all of their hard work and preparation was evident by all of the positive feedback from their colleagues."
~Steve Saul, Principal

"Thank you to Margaret Keefer for her organization and hard work in always being available for the High School.  She will always be a part of this family."

"I would like to send a special shout out for the bravery of 3 chaperones from the Senior Trip: Dana Siniavsky, Kelly Hughey, and Amanda Gaunt. They handled a stressing situation with calmness and precision addressing a students needs.  I am so proud of them and honored to have them be a part of our Millville HS Family.  You are amazing guardian angels!"
~Stephanie DeRose, Principal

"Thank you to these phenomenal teachers and leaders: Valerie Archetto, Dana Siniavsky, KT Fouhy, and Tara Cotton! The in-service sessions that you led at the High School were well-presented and informative. Thank you for sharing your talents beyond the classroom!"
~Bridget Borlak, Dept. Chair

"A Bacon shout-out to Paul Lokey, security guard extraordinaire.  Paul welcomes our guests and visitors with a courteous smile and gets them to where they need to be with respect and professionalism.  He works hard to maintain a safe, secure environment, and he doesn’t hesitate to go the extra mile – in any direction – to help anyone in need, even if it is beyond the scope of his regular duties.  Thank you, Paul, for your dedication to our students, staff, and school."
~Mike Coyle, Principal

"Christine Burns and Linda Wittmann did a great job presenting on PLCs on the in-service day."
~Debbie Homan, Supervisor

"Thank you to Christine Burns, Linda Wittmann, Danette Boone and Harry Drew for making Rieck Avenue's workshops on PLCs effective and enjoyable."
~Brian Robinson, Principal

"A BIG shout out to Cindy Ciocco and Jen Shute for taking the lead in our PLC presentation.  They included ice breakers, group work and individual thinking all in one workshop.  Their buy in and encouragement to the staff of the value of PLC's was very helpful towards our work with this district initiative."
~JoAnn Burns, Principal

Have an amazing weekend!

Regards,
Dr. G.
Dr. David N. Gentile
Superintendent of Schools
“Lead Learner”
@drgentile_mps (Twitter)
856-327-6001

#MPSWC (MPS World Class)
#greatdaytobeabolt

Published by Spike Cook, Millville, NJ

Friday, March 2, 2018

March 2, 2018 - Budgeting Issues

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash
Hello all,

Hope you are enjoying a wonder Friday despite the less than ideal weather. Today, I just want to share something that is really bugging me. It is that time of year where Mr. Kell, school business administrator, and I are deep into the budget process for next year. What this means for MPS (at least as it has been for the last 8 years that I have had the pleasure of leading) is we anticipate that the State Financial Aid will remain flat – same as the year before. Each year, for the past 8 years, we have seen flat funding – with the exception of last school year where we received flat funding initially, then the State took an additional $860,000 after our budget was prepared and approved. Yes, that happened but I will get back to that in a minute. First, let me spend a little time on what flat funding means for us.

Our annual operating budget is just a bit above a hundred million dollars. Of that, approximately $10 million is provided by the local taxpayers. Easy math, over $90 million comes in the form of State Financial Aid (Federal Aid as well). Within our budget, some 70% is dedicated to 1200 or so employees and their medical benefits. The remaining 30% is used for things like technology, infrastructure, facility care, supplies, athletics and such. Each year, modest salary increases and increases to the cost of health benefits around 2 or 3% results in about an addition 2-3 million dollars. Again, pull out the old calculator and you can see that flat funding coupled with increases in labor costs (regardless of how modest) results in a 2 to 3 million dollar shortfall. Factor in the cost of operations also increasing this deficit can grow. Under the current State guidelines, the District is permitted to raise local taxes by 2% annually without the need for a public vote. This 2% provides an additional $250,000 annually, give or take. Certainly not anywhere near enough to cover the shortfall that exists when flat funding is provided.

A bit of history lesson for those who are not fully aware… The MPS District is a ‘former Abbott’ School District.  Abbott districts are school districts in New Jersey once covered by a series of New Jersey Supreme Court rulings, begun in 1985,[7] that found that the education provided to school children in poor communities was inadequate and unconstitutional and mandated that state funding for these districts be equal to that spent in the wealthiest districts in the state.
The Court in Abbott II[8] and in subsequent rulings,[9] ordered the State to assure that these children receive an adequate education through implementation of certain reforms, including standards-based education supported by parity funding. It include various supplemental programs and school facilities improvements, including to Head Start and early education programs. The Head Start and NAACP were represented by Maxim Thorne as amici curiae in the case.[10] (Source: Wikipedia)

The part of the state constitution that is the basis of the Abbott decisions requires that:

  • [t]he Legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in the State between the ages of five and eighteen years.[11] 

  • The Abbott designation was formally eliminated in the School Funding Reform Act of 2008, but the designation and special aid were restored in 2011 when the NJ Supreme Court blocked the Christie Administration from making any aid cuts to the Abbott districts while allowing cuts to other districts.[12]
  • There is limited evidence that the legal actions have improved student learning outcomes in the Abbott districts.[13]  (Source: Wikipedia

Important to address that last bit of information. While the overall research does not show significant improvement in Abbott performance as a result of the funding, our District was cited among a few former Abbott Districts that have made significant improvement (source – Governor Chris Christie’s 2017 Budget Address). Also important to note is that improved student learning outcomes is still comparing the Abbott performance to that of the wealthiest districts. I maintain that the funding simply provides the Abbott District with the basic resource to create a comprehensive budget. Student outcomes among students of poverty must be reviewed against other students of poverty – not as the State does it as they say low socio-economics play no role in student achievement. From someone who has spent his 20 year career in districts in the lower tier of socio-economic status it does make a difference. Growing up in poverty is filled with challenges that the wealthy student never has to consider. Hunger…clean clothing…supplies and resources at home to assist in the education development of the child. There are countless studies that identify the differences, for example students of poverty begin school with a vocabulary that is 2-4 thousand words short of their middle-class classmate.

Now, during the time we were Abbott, we were NOT permitted to raise local taxes at all. For obvious reasons, the State was subsidizing the Abbott Communities to ensure fair funding. So while an Abbott, the local share was frozen. Fast forward to last year when the State decided to take additional money from our budget after it was already board approved. There were 27 Districts total in NJ that had additional money taken from their budgets; in 2018 twenty-four of them received that money back while 3 received their money back in the form of a loan from the State. A loan, for money that was once part of our budget. In fairness, they are not charging interest (that we are aware) but we do have to pay the nearly nine hundred thousand dollars back over the next ten years.

The only reason we have been provided is that it is because our community does not pay its fair share in local taxes! If you have been able to stick with me through this you are probably scratching your head asking huh? MPS was identified by NJ as one of the Abbott Districts, low socio-economic status…and during that time we could not raise local taxes under their rules….and now that Abbott has been removed not by our choice (how that happened is still a mystery as the finding of the court that initially created it has not changed or been overturned to my knowledge)…we are being punished because the local taxes are not high enough?

So year after year, we come together and tighten the belts. We do more with less. We were forced to close an elementary school last year…all to attempt to make flat funding work somehow. For 8 plus years I have been warning the State and anyone who would listen in my budget address that at some point in the future, we simply will not be able to cut any further and still meet the never decreasing demands placed upon NJ School Districts (with countless unfunded mandates). I fear that time may be close.

I remain hopeful that with the new Governor as well as an education commissioner who was a superintendent in a former Abbott District perhaps something will change for the better. I hear all the time about the importance of the ‘children’…now more than ever. The students need to be safe, they need to receive an exceptional education, become college and career ready, we must provide support services to identify signs of mental illness, provide federally mandated special education programs to help our large special needs population (something for which I support 100% - but the reality is it is expensive to provide a full host of services), we must have the latest technology…we must have the best staff…(which we do) but we are not going to provide you with the funding necessary to do that this year. Instead, make do with what we gave you 8 years ago. I am sure the bills in your house have remained the same as they were 8-10 years back right?

Normally, I want the Phenomenal Friday to strictly be positive; to celebrate our staff. However, this is an issue negatively impacting all of us and for that reason, it must be shared. I believe with my entire being that public education is and always has been the best opportunity to give kids a shot at a bright future. MPS District has some of the best staff members anywhere! We must demand that every community, from the wealthiest to the poorest has what they need to provide an exceptional education. We cannot accept that if your parents are fortunate to be able to live in the wealthiest communities you are granted a full and complete set of resources. If however, you are not, well you just have to make do with what you were given more than a decade ago.  I was the first to go to college in my family. My parents both worked extremely hard and made education a priority. Fortunately for me, I attended the MPS District at a different time when funding was not the issue it is today. I am an example of how with hard work you can accomplish your dreams. We must make sure that every student in our community has the same chance! We must provide our world-class staff with the resources of a world-class school district.


Photo by Rene Bernal on Unsplash
Shout-Outs!

"Over the last couple of faculty meetings we have been discussing PLC's all the while diving deep into our student data.  During a recent unannounced visit to their 5th Grade Language Arts PLC Mrs. Silvestri and Mrs. Tapp were using the data that was provided to them to target specific areas in their instruction and plan intervention strategies to help their students meet their targets.  This meeting exemplified what a PLC ought to be.  Outstanding Stuff!!"

"The job of a Principal's secretary is not an easy one, especially for my secretary.  I get pulled, twisted, and stretched in what feels like a million different directions across the day.  Tammy Haley keeps me grounded and focused; she helps make the unmanageable, manageable.  What makes her even more remarkable is that I am pretty sure she does this for almost everyone else in the building as well.  Thank you for all that you do!!"
~Eric Reissek, Principal

 "Congrats to Mike Jones for earning his 100th career win as the Head Coach for the Millville High School Boys Basketball Team this past week. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to the program!"
~ Dave LaGamba, Supervisor

"Barb Kern is an amazing Social Studies and AVID teacher In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she is very dedicated to the Lakeside Student Council. She provides opportunities for the kids to become engaged with the community through service projects. She assists with many activities throughout the school and ensures that kids are recognized for their hard work!"

"Robbie Williams is a positive force in the climate and culture of Lakeside Middle School. He is an innovative Social Studies teacher who is always willing to take risks for his students. He is a mentor to first year teacher, Cody Hand. In addition to his teaching, Robbie is the Co-Athletic Director and Head Wrestling Coach. He coordinates fundraising activities so that his wrestlers have adequate gear. He volunteers his extra time to assist with the 8th grade hallways and is always willing to assist teachers, parents or students!"
~Spike Cook, Principal

"Katie Baralus is our awesome CST case manager at Holly Heights.  Katie has quickly built a positive rapport with both students and staff and is always eager to help.  She will be leaving us soon for her maternity leave and we wish her all the best."
~Steve Saul, Principal

"Heather O'Donnell is always full of positivity in the history hallway of MSHS.  She greets her students at the door each day with a smile and starts each class by saying, "Welcome to another fantastic day of learning!"
~Jessica Kauffman, Dept. Chair

 "A big shout out to Eileen Roche for securing A PRIDE grant for our once upon a recipe night. Diane Cavagnaro and Cindy Tarpine organized the event. Every family who came out last night enjoyed the company of at least one of the teachers in their child's room. 100% of our classrooms were represented by a staff member. Each teacher and aide selected a book for their class and followed a rebus recipe that went along with their book . The halls came alive with families sampling their child's creation. Also special thanks to Millville Day Care staff and their families for joining us in this event."
~JoAnn Burns, Principal

"Margaret Keefer took some of the high school students to Lakeside to give a Bullying presentation.  The Lakeside students were engaged and very receptive.  Congrats on a meaningful, well-done presentation!"
~Henry Hartman, Supervisor

"A special shout out to Dan Caregnato!!! Dan has been working so hard to become a Master teacher, learning each day from his peers and students.  Being a retired State Trooper he had a very different skill set prior to this job.  He has truly impressed everyone with his development as a teacher.  From writing tickets and reports to now writing curriculum .  Dan also offers a helping hand at the HS and is willing to assist in any way needed.  He is often someone’s hero !  Thanks Dan!"

"I would like to give a big shout out to Tori Smith from Memorial HS.  She has transformed the food service department and works hard to make the meals nutritional and great for the staff and students. Keep up the great work!!"
~Stephanie DeRose, Principal

"When the flu struck the Bacon front office and our awesome secretaries were down and out, Karen McCafferty volunteered to cover our office.  Thanks to her help, Bacon didn't miss a step and the show went on.  Thanks Karen for being willing to come spend the day with us!  We appreciate it."
~Mike Coyle, Principal

Have a great weekend!
Regards,

Dr. G.
Dr. David N. Gentile
Superintendent of Schools
“Lead Learner”
@drgentile_mps (Twitter)
856-327-6001

#MPSWC (MPS World Class)
#greatdaytobeabolt

Published by Spike Cook, Millville, NJ

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February 23, 2018

Photo by Gianandrea Villa on Unsplash
Hello,

Wednesday’s weather was certainly a nice change to remind us that winter will not last forever. For me, that is one of the best parts of living in NJ. The change of seasons provides variety and there are benefits to each season. The beach or pool in the summer, watching a baseball or softball game on a beautiful spring afternoon, or a football or soccer game under the lights on a crisp fall Friday, or the occasional snow day – or rather sledding in the winter. If we did not experience four very distinctly different seasonal changes it would be difficult to experience all of the different activities each season brings.

Currently, the climate (unrelated to weather) is that of a collective empathy for the victims and families of the Parkland shooting. I dare say beyond empathy, there are a variety of other emotions surfacing loudly. Outrage and anger, fear and worry, pessimism and optimism are battling it out, and I would hope some happiness. Happiness for the survivors, for the stories of heroism, for the memories of those taken too soon.

I want to focus on fear and worry today. Just for a moment. I can feel these emotions loudly from our staff, our students, and our parents. In the wake of tragedies which cannot be explained or rationalized there is always a period of fear, worry, outrage, blame while the national spotlight is brightly shining on the  vulnerability of a very precious resource, our kids! Sadly, historically this eventually fades after an indiscriminate amount of time. During that time we watch the news channels go 24/7 with every possible angle and element involving the horrific incident. Early on while we want to turn away to protect ourselves from a feeling of helplessness and fear but we don’t. Immediately after there is a moment where everyone is aligned with a collective determination to 'fix it’. ‘It’ being the senseless loss of life. Politicians weigh in and it inevitably boils down to ‘gun control’ or ‘2nd amendment freedoms’. I want to be clear, I am not in anyway advocating in either direction right now.

Instead, I want to point out that while the debate ensues about whether or not it is too easy to own a gun, and schools are pointed at for not being able to keep their students safe, and fingers are directed at mental illness and agencies who oversee treatment, it all builds to a pitch that forces most to finally give in and look away. This happens at different stages for each person and some (those directly effected) may never be able to look away again. Ultimately, there are always lessons learned and passed along to school officials. Please remember, school officials are parents too, we are husbands and wives and none of us want to ‘let’ anything bad happen to our communities. Remember, we are only human. We are unable to safeguard our school community alone. We work to create plans of action that are informed by law enforcement best practices and lessons learned from tragedy survivors, and from security consultants. We implement, practice, and believe our plans to be our best way to safeguard our schools. In addition, we really need all of you to work with us to help. Blame, second-guessing, rumors, gossiping, and other devicive behaviors only serve to weaken our collective resolve to prevent violence of any kind being visited on our campuses.

Let me address some of the concerns or rumors that I have heard so far while also explaining a bit about what we are currently doing to keep all of us safe. First, I hear often that something happened at one of our schools and school officials have done nothing about it. Worse yet, why haven’t they told us all about the details of the incident? To respond, we take every single report of violence seriously. Due to federal student confidentiality laws we cannot simply discuss any issue in detail or items that may impact the investigations. We have a duty to protect all students including any student accused of misbehavior. If your child is involved you will know about it. You will have all the information you need to work with us in order to assist your child.

All students are capable of making bad decisions, while it may be frustrating to not know all of the details when someone else’s child made the mistake it should also be comforting to know that if it were your child we would protect their privacy as well. We will inform the masses only when it is appropriate. As you can imagine, students sometimes say things in anger or to gain attention. We investigate these incidents thoroughly to determine the level of threat involved. We work collaboratively with the local police department and prosecutor’s office. In some cases, it is determined that a student simply made a poor decision but does not have any actual plan to harm anyone. The police will often visit the home during the investigation as well. Following the investigation a consequence may be applied which is also confidential. Sometimes you may not directly know what consequence was given and therefore want to assume ‘the school didn’t do anything’. Again I ask that you consider both sides of this coin, while you may want to know what specific consequence or punishment was given to someone else’s child you would likely not want us disclosing the outcome of incidents involving your own child. Please give us the benefit of the doubt and trust we have addressed it. If however, you still have concerns contact your school Principal.

If we work together there is little we cannot accomplish. Staff, students, and parents of MPS – we are all on the same team. If you see or hear something, report it. If you have concerns or questions please ask the school official assigned to care for your child(ren). Staff members work with the school and district administration to improve our safety procedures. This means pointing out areas for improvement but more importantly it means bringing feasible solution ideas to the table as well.

So far, our school staff and students have done an exceptional job preparing for all types of emergencies. You should all be very proud of the efficient responses to various incidents you have taught to our students.

* We are exploring adding ALICE training to our response. Feel free to research it and stay tuned for opportunities to be an early adopter in the training.



Shout-outs!
"A big Bacon shout out to Beth Rohaly and Meganne Peck for putting together the Chinese New Year parade last week.  It was a great, arts-infused, multi-cultural event in which the students had fun and learned about the traditions of celebrating the Chinese New Year.  Thank you ladies for all your hard work in pulling it off and getting the whole school involved."
~Mike Coyle, Principal

 "A big Holly Heights shout out to Jackie Olivio.  Jackie not only does an excellent job with our 2nd grade students but also serves as coordinator for our Club 21.  She puts in many late nights and plans activities that keep our students actively engaged.  We appreciate all of your hard work Jackie!"
~Steve Saul, Principal

 "A Mount Pleasant shout out to Miriam Gandy, our super star kitchen aide. Miriam has held this job faithfully for 17 years, and has near perfect attendance. Our students have told her many times, "You make the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the planet". Thank you Miriam for your dedication!"
~Arlene Jenkins, Principal

"Thanks to Monica Panichelli and Kyle Drake for organizing Rieck Avenue's Jump Rope for Heart last Friday. Our students raised $2,000 for the American Heart Association. Monica and Kyle continue Rieck Avenue's culture of helping students think beyond themselves to help others. Jet Pride in action."
~Brian Robinson, Principal

"A huge shout-out to our Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade  curriculum writers. This year we are creating interdisciplinary units that will remove the arbitrary divisions between teaching reading and social studies separate from one another as if they were separate bodies of knowledge. The integration of these two subjects will help students better integrate strategies from their studies into the larger world.  Thank you for your hard work...Carolyn Munzenmayer, Jen Finch, Joann Cuff, Theresa Russo, Sandi Gery, Kelli Blough, Ashleigh Udalovas, Kara Lunemann, Staci Clark, Nina Crain, Jackie Olivio, Lisa Baran, Betty Lou Williams, Kim Taylor, and Kristina Messina."
~Maggie Colina, Supervisor

"John Bunting is a very dedicated guidance counselor at Lakeside Middle School. He is very flexible with our needs during the school day and is always willing to volunteer to help.  He makes sure that students have breakfast, meets with students individually and in groups."

"Dena Andrews recently performed at Carnegie Hall with her signing group Continuo Arts Foundation."
~Spike Cook, Principal


Regards,

Have an amazing weekend!

Dr. G.
Dr. David N. Gentile
Superintendent of Schools
“Lead Learner”
@drgentile_mps (Twitter)
856-327-6001

#MPSWC (MPS World Class)
#greatdaytobeabolt

Published by Spike Cook, Millville, NJ