What you see happening in these pictures is one very happy Superintendent at work! Thanks to teacher Greer Gelman, I was invited to join the entire Kindergarten class at Collins Elementary School to celebrate Read Across America. I never refuse an invitation from great teachers and a superb bunch of children.
What is Read Across America?
“NEA's Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss. NEA's Read Across America also provides NEA members, parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.” (NEA, 2013)
We are celebrating Read Across America all this week at Livingston Public Schools. At any given moment, you can see teachers, administrators, board members, and community members in our schools sharing their love of reading with the students. More than anything, our goal is to model that we, as adults, read all the time, especially the fact that we all have unique interests in our reading.
In my case, I was reading my absolute favorite children’s book, Unlovable, by Dan Yaccarino. And, one of the special things I do is that I autograph the book with a special message to the students and I leave the book there for their classroom or school library so that the students can read it as many times as they want to at any point in the future.
I will be reading many more times this week, all across this great district. It is one of the weeks that I look forward to because it gives me that rare opportunity to directly interact with Livingston students … the best part of an already great job!
In February, Livingston celebrates Black History Month, as do all schools in this great nation. I was discussing this with Chris Bickel, our Supervisor of Social Studies, Mary Oates, our Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, and a handful of our school principals. As a Superintendent, there are many aspects of education which we focus on, but one of the most important ones is assuring that we respect the worth, dignity, and contributions of all.
Livingston Public Schools has many activities around the district in celebration of Black History Month. There is evidence in all of the buildings of discussions on Black History Month, appropriately leveled read-a-louds and bulletin boards highlighting the accomplishments of a wide range of African-Americans. There is a fine balancing act of celebrating Black History Month without trivializing the accomplishments of African-Americans through singular announcements or activities.
In Livingston, we chose to celebrate the spirit of Black History Month through a myriad of activities which span all aspects of curriculum. Although we highlight the impact of African American contributions in February, it is not enough to just focus it all on one single month of the calendar year. In fact, during all months of the year, you will find International events happening in our schools at all different times. We do this by inculcating in our buildings and curriculum, where appropriate and aligned to New Jersey and Common Core State Standards, the teaching of respect for diversity, and the fight for justice and equality for all people and the accomplishments of famous Americans of all backgrounds.
The current best practice(s) in how to celebrate Black History Month indicate that we infuse the above mentioned practices throughout the year is much more effective and longer lasting than simply acknowledging the accomplishments of African-Americans during one month only. To educate a child best, we do not adhere to boundaries of time, my hope as Superintendent is that “Week of Respect” happens every week, not just during an assigned time. Also, as the ultimate role model for our students, we strive to make certain, at every opportunities, to assist students in making connections and building bridges. As I have said before, “we only get ONE chance with your children, and that chance is a gift from you to us.” Education is a partnership between home and school and that partnership requires respect, trust, and much two-way communication.
If you have any specific questions or would like more details, please e-mail Mr. Bickel @ firstname.lastname@example.org, Supervisor of Social Studies, K-12, for further clarification on yearlong, global initiatives that occur within the various buildings of Livingston. Again, I thank you so much for your support and your assistance in this, my quickly moving first year as Superintendent of Schools.
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."
At our last SEPAC meeting, a very important discussion was raised regarding re-evaluation of students with IEPs.
Q: Must a student with an IEP be re-evaluated every three years?
A: No. According to NJAC 6A:14-3.8 Re-evaluation, the IEP Team shall review existing evaluation data on the student, including, but not limited to: · Evaluations and information provided by the parent. · Current classroom based assessment and observations.
· Observations by teachers and related service providers.
On the basis of that review, and input from the parents, the IEP Team shall identify what additional data, if any are needed to determine whether the student continues to have a disability. Thus, a re-evaluation conference/meeting is necessary, but testing may not be necessary.
If it is determined that the student does continue to have a disability and therefore remains eligible for special education and related services, then it is not necessary to put a student through a series of testing. At this point, a re-evaluation can be waived.
However, if the team or you, the parent, as a member of the team, would like to get more current data on your child, then you have the right to request that additional testing take place.
Posted by Dr. John B. Alfieri at 2/12/2014 3:00:00 PM
Without a doubt, one of the very best aspects of this position is the opportunity to meet with students. In the elementary and middle grades, this involves me going to see them in their learning environment. However, when it comes to high school students, very often, I will ask them to drop by my office so that we may have a chance to speak about anything that is on their minds. Today, I had a meeting with our Student Council Representative to the Board of Education – one of the most impressive young people I have met here in Livingston, Jeremy Knopf. Jeremy puts in long hours as a student and also serves in this volunteer role that the students of LPS will have “a voice” at the Board of Education table. And, in my humble view, the opinions and thoughts of student body mean so much to me. Today, Jeremy came over to discuss this week’s Board of Education meeting and the current calendar issues given all of these snow days. He had done his homework before he came because all of his input was based on student surveys, formal and informal, and information he collected from others. He never once said the word, “I.” Jeremy is but one example of what makes the Livingston Public Schools so awesome!
I have new Lancer memorabilia, a T-shirt to help raise autism awareness. I was a guest on Monday, February 10 with Terry Santora, our Interim Supervisor of Special Education, at the LHS Girls Basketball game at the Lancers’ third annual Autism Awareness Night, a fund-raising and awareness-raising event to benefit Autism New Jersey.
The night was dedicated to Autism Awareness, a cause the Livingston Girls Basketball program strongly supports. The full basketball program was involved by selling Autism Awareness pins, soliciting donations and also by learning more about autism through discussions with Varsity Head Coach, Patty Kaes. Coach Kaes opened the evening by addressing the audience about autism and the efforts of her program to create more awareness.
As educators, we are seeing more and more children with autism. People often ask me why this is, and I do not know if I have the answer, but I do know that we are more accurately and correctly diagnosing children at early ages. Livingston Public Schools is here to help you and your child if you have concerns or questions. One of our overarching goals is to continuing to create top-notch programming that meets the unique and special needs of every child we serve.