Collins Elementary School

Empowering all to learn, create, contribute and grow.

District Announcements

  • All parents/guardians/students in grades K-12 have until noon, Wednesday, July 10 to view/print Report Cards and other student information in the Genesis Parent/Student Access Portal.

    Elementary Schools - Final Report Cards posted on June 19 at 3:00pm
    Middle Schools - Final Report Cards posted on June 21 at 3:00pm
    LHS - Final Report Cards posted on June 27 at 3:00pm

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School News

Principal's Messages

  • 4.27.19 Weekly Message Mr. Accardi

    Posted by Stefanie Lichtstein on 4/29/2019

    April 27, 2019

     

     

    Hello Collins Parents and Guardians!

     

     

    A belated welcome back from our Spring Break! I hope the time with your child(ren) was all you hoped it would be. I know from talking to the kids that a number of you were in town due to spring sport schedules. And I also heard about some great family trips- some in the tri-state area and others involving planes, trains and automobiles! As a boy growing up, my family did not travel very much, and I always wished we could. Even going back to my classroom days as a teacher, I never minded one-bit students who missed class time because they were on a family trip outside of the school vacation schedule. It goes without saying that spending time together as a family sets in place so many positive models for kids to absorb. So whether it’s everyone together at the lacrosse game or everyone together in a European city, it’s family time- and that’s what counts.

     

     

    As you may remember, I was not here for the last two days of school prior to the break. On Thursday of that week, while I was winging my way over the Atlantic, unfortunately, I did miss our Collins Multicultural Night. I’ve been told that the event was a great success and the many cultures that merge into our school community were beautifully represented. I want to send out a huge thank you and congratulations to our parent organizers who, by all accounts, did a fantastic job. I also want to thank and congratulate the students and parents who brought to life many aspects of their culture. As our community, town, state and country continues to diversify, it is important that we both take pride in our cultural traditions while at the same time sharing in the traditions that connect us as Americans. The fact that our Livingston elementary schools have a Multicultural Night says a great deal about the Livingston community. As the newcomer here, I can tell you that I’ve found a community that is open-minded and welcoming and working hard to be the patchwork quilt that keeps everyone warm. Great job.

     

     

    And now for some principal stuff. Did you really think you’d get off so easily…

     

    We’re going to have another all school community meeting next Friday. We have a number of topics that will address our Collins Cares initiative. We are going to highlight our Student Council members, our Safety Patrol and the students who- on their own- help Mr. Duarte sweep up during lunch. All these students give of themselves for the betterment of Collins. How great are these kids?! Another topic will be a chat about how we do recess. Recess is a critical aspect of a student’s day. It is the time outside of the classroom and away from the books. It’s a time to be social with friends and to “let off steam” by running and playing. At times, however, the condensed timeframe seems to ramp up the urgency to get it all out before we have to go back to class. I think this heightened level of energy has led to some back and forth with our Aides and teachers. I’m going to ask everyone to take a step back and exhale and see if we can re-set our parameters.

     

    And perhaps in the same vein, we’ve seen an increase in the number of issues that are happening afterschool on the playgrounds. I’ve asked the other elementary principals and the rule is parents/guardians must be present for those particularly heightened 30 to 45 minutes after dismissal. Please be present if your child plays on school grounds at the end of the school day. 

     

    Bikes. Love them. As the weather warms and students begin to ride their bikes to school and after school- please insist that they follow safety rules- helmets, using crosswalks, and never, never go between parked cars. We had a very close call last week during morning drop off. I can’t even speculate on the “what could have happened.” Let’s remove that concern. Please talk to your kids.

    We have a PTO meeting coming up on May 14th. I hope you can come to Collins and join in the conversation. In a pre-meeting with Maren and Jen, I told them I would like to give an update on the Collins principal search, talk a bit about typical social issues your child may encounter and have a chat about internet safety. I would like it to be informative and interactive. I hope you can make it.

     

    Thank you again for hanging in there with another long email. For your reward, I’m attaching a collage of our decorated classroom doors. They are fantastic. And perhaps for the next email I can do the same with our bulletin boards which are beyond fabulous. The staff does an incredible job keeping them fresh and student centered. Bulletin boards take a great deal of time and effort and the work that our teachers and instructional aides do absolutely sets in place a happy and warm feeling tone throughout the building!

     

     

    All the best-

    Bob Accardi

    raccardi@livingston.org

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  • Weekly Message Mr. Accardi

    Posted by Stefanie Lichtstein on 4/1/2019

    Dear Collins Parents and Guardians,

    I thought it would be helpful for you to have a heads up on a few items that we are embracing here at Collins. This is the time of year when the daily pace of a school picks up. Of course, it's somewhat driven by administrative items such as report cards, testing, staff and student evaluations and, believe it or not, the start of planning for the next school year. If we do not remain steadfast, our daily schedules here at school can easily begin to infringe upon our primary and most important responsibility- your children/our students. I try to be mindful of what I ask of teachers and how that may impact their time and focus on their students. Similarly, I try to manage my time so I can maintain a visible and active presence throughout the school day.

    Tomorrow we are having an all school assembly. Again, the idea is that things can get a little wobbly (excuse the educational jargon) in schools come spring. This is not new nor is it particular to Collins. The warm weather puts a hop in our step, which in school translates to running in the halls. As we move from indoor activities to outdoor activities people talk louder, which in school translates to raised voices. The biggest issue, however, seems to be the loosening of inhibitions. When it’s cold we tend to huddle together and be respectful of the people around us. Once spring comes we act a little more freely and boldly, if you will. So in a nutshell, Spring has Sprung here at Collins.

    Our assembly tomorrow will pull our students together to talk about what makes Collins so great. But also to remind ourselves that greatness does not come without care and commitment. Going from great to less than great can happen quickly if we do not strive to maintain and even grow our respect for each other and practice the simple but powerful manners that elevate all of us. And finally, to remind ourselves of how much kindness matters- to others and to ourselves.

    We will discuss all this tomorrow- and we are offering up a celebration in May as a way of showing that Collins Cares, and we are committed to being our best selves.

    The attached video is from my time at Chatham Middle School. We wanted to show the world what mattered to us and that we could live up to those ideals. And now we are going to do that here, because those things are here and we just need to step up and show ourselves and the world what we believe in. This will be a K-5 all in project. And by the way- this is no different than the messages and guidance and modeling you do at home with your children. We’re all on the same team. I can’t say WHICH team because I’ll get in trouble, but we all practice and play the same way. Ok it’s the Yankees. Boy is that going to cost me….

    And next week we have yet another wonderful PTO sponsored event- Margie Palatini will be here for Author’s day. All our students will to hear this highly regarded author speak to us about the art and craft of writing. Her books were flying out of the media center this week as Mrs. Stafford had a wonderful display of her many books.

    Again. Again. And again. Our PTO is like no other parent organization I’ve ever worked with. I meet with the Board twice a month and attend the meetings as best I can. The level of activity and the commitment of the Board and all the parent volunteers is amazing. They are a huge part of our school’s success. It is an honor to support them and work with them. They are a great team- kind of like you know who….

    This is the best place. Thank you again for your support.

    Bob Accardi

    raccardi@livingston.org

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  • Weekly Message Mr. Accardi

    Posted by Stefanie Lichtstein on 3/22/2019

    Dear Collins Parents and Guardians,

     

    First we start off with the happy news- As many of you know (because you were here last night), the PTO Basket Bonanza was a huge success! Despite the rainy weather and busy personal lives, many Collins parents and other family members came out to support our school, our students and our staff. And once again, when we shout out the PTO it’s with the complete understanding that our parent volunteers are incredible. There are so many moving parts that go in to a fund raiser of this size and scope. And yet the event was flawless. Thank you to the parents who stepped up on behalf of all of us.

     

    And now let me comment on a less than happy note. I have concerns regarding the growing amount of tardies we are experiencing. School begins at 8:05am and we start marking children tardy at 8:10.  That should be enough time to have your children in school and starting their day- along with their classmates.

     

    I have two points to make as regards late arrivals. You certainly can disagree with my first point if you so choose, but I feel strongly that being punctual is a time management skill that benefits children as they make their way in the world.

     

    The second point, however, is based on my experience as a teacher and administrator- and my prerogative as the building administrator. Students who arrive late miss out on the positive aspects of being ready to learn in a timely manner. While that is a concern of mine, the larger issue is the impact that a late arriving student has on the rest of the class who met their obligation and now are being distracted by someone who has not.

     

    It is my responsibility to ensure that learning happens in a seamless and productive manner. Late arriving students are a challenge to that effort.

     

    And lately, it has become quite common to see students walking in 15 and 20 minutes late. I need Mr. Duarte inside and helping with the needs of teachers and students who are here and ready to go. And the same for Mrs. Bowman who dutifully stands at the office door handing out late slips. I need Mrs. Bowman to be at her computer inputting the Collins attendance.

     

    Therefore, beginning Monday, March 25th, the tardy policy at Collins School is going to change. After 8:10am, we will no longer have a teacher/custodian at the front door. If you child is arriving after 8:10am, you must now walk them into the office and sign them in. If the child arrives without a guardian or parent we will send a reminder note home that every child needs to be signed in by an adult. Should the issue persist, I will apply additional measures. If your family should experience an extraordinary circumstance then please call the office at 973-535-8000 x8121.  I am well aware of the stressors that can accompany getting your child or children ready for school. It’s not my intent to add more stress into that mix, but I hope you can see that my responsibilities are such that I have to find solutions to problems- and the growing number of tardies have become a large problem.

     

    I’m happy now to finish on a high note. Next week we are starting a multi-week Collins Community activity with all our students. I will send out specific details next week, but we are going to use encouragement, examples and incentives to remind our students about the importance of manners, respect and kindness. Friday, March 29th will culminate with an all-school assembly that will set in motion a full list of activities. Then later in the spring we have an exciting outdoor event all the students will participate in. So we’re going to have fun with a purpose. We’ll also share with you some things you can do at home that will support our efforts here to show how Collins Cares.

     

    Thank you once again for your support. We couldn’t do this without you.

     

    Bob Accardi

    raccardi@livingston.org

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  • Weekly Update from Mr. Accardi

    Posted by Stefanie Lichtstein on 3/12/2019

    Dear Parents and Guardians of our Collins Students,

     

    I have to share with you some thoughts on what I witnessed last night at the Board of Education meeting- and how what I saw comes to life here at Collins.

     

    Last night, the BOE and Superintendent O’Neill recognized the school district’s Teachers of the Year and Educational Professional of the Year. Kudos to our leadership for having building administrators highlight the great work of our honorees. As a group, they are emblematic of the great work the entire Livingston staff does on behalf of you and your children.

    What struck me was the incredible sense of community as so many families and colleagues came out to support our honorees. This speaks volumes about the level of support and care that exists in this community- and to bring that thought into sharper focus- here at Collins.

     

    We had two honorees at last night’s event. I had the honor of presenting Mrs. Tracey Dunleavy as the Collins Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Dunleavy makes a difference in the lives of our students. And Assistant Superintendent Lisa Steiger had the honor of presenting Sue Gould as Educational Professional of the Year for her incredible work as our School Nurse.

    As I watched our honorees accept the congratulations of Mr. O’Neill and Mr. August, I could not help but think of their importance to us here at Collins and how they, and all the staff here at Collins, do such an incredible job for our students. And this brought me back to something I’ve always believed- schools are living and breathing entities and they, like us, have a heart.

     

    So where then is the Collins heartbeat? Well, it starts at the front door as your children are welcomed every morning by Carlos Duarte, our school custodian. I’ve never seen that in any other school. Heartbeat.

     

    It continues in our front office where students, parents, staff and visitors are warmly greeted and treated with respect. Heartbeat.

     

    Students are greeted and welcomed by our Instructional Aides during morning line up and throughout the day as they support their students and their classroom teacher partners. Heartbeat.

     

    For children who receive Special Services, our Child Study Team works with great sensitivity to create educational plans that fit the needs of our students. Heartbeat.

     

    And of course we have our teachers who, like Tracey Dunleavy, do amazing work inside the classroom and outside the classroom as well. Heartbeat.

     

    Last night when Lisa Steiger was presenting Sue Gould, she talked about the many medical issues that she addresses and how many times the best medicine she provides is a sympathetic ear and a hug. Heartbeat.

     

    And lastly, it’s you the parents who are here as volunteers- like the parents at our Book Fair all week and the parents tonight at Family Reading Night. Heartbeat.

     

    I’m probably saying all the things you already know, so perhaps this is more for me than you but, like last night, there is a great community spirit in this building. And I’m so fortunate to be so close to its heartbeat.

     

    Sincerely,

    Bob Accardi

    raccardi@livingston.org

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  • Weekly Message from Mr. Accardi

    Posted by Stefanie Lichtstein on 3/2/2019

    Dear Collins Parents and Guardians,

     

    I’ve been writing this update in my head for days now- it’s just finding the time to sit down and write it out that’s the challenge.  Merging into a school at this relatively late date is like merging onto a super highway and you’re driving an old car…. which is not too far off the mark! But the 5,000 steps I’m doing a day is good exercise for me! And so is being here at Collins in general. The positive energy in this building is contagious. The kids and staff now have a fresh start, and I believe our partnership will yield great results.

     

    So I have quite a few things to share with you, and I hope you don’t mind if I “line out” some of those thoughts.

     

    Let me start off with last Thursday night when the 5th grade Sports Night took centerstage. This is a rite of passage for our 5th graders, and they loved every minute of it! That’s Collins!

     

    And a huge shout out to the parent organizers and volunteers. Great job. That’s Collins!

     

    And another huge shout out to the many teachers who came to help. I thought I would see only 5th grade teachers. What a surprise to see teachers from every grade level there supporting the kids! That’s Collins!

     

    And one final shout out to the Ringmaster for the evening- Mr. Scott Lantzman. What an incredible job! I was told that Mr. Lantzman had some prior experience in this area and wow did it show! That’s Collins! I wonder if Mr. Lantzman is available during our lunch recess periods….

     

    And now for a less happy topic…. We recently had a situation where a student used a Smart Watch to record an activity in class. We had the recording erased. In checking with the other principals and upper administration, they pointed me to the district policy on “Smart” electronics. These items are not allowed to be used in school. So, starting Monday, if your child has a Smart watch, it will have to be stowed in their backpack as they do with a cell phone. I thank you in advance for your support.

     

    On another topic, I recently met with two of our PTO leaders, Maren Harris and Jen Rothenberg. In addition to all the activities that the PTO already supports, my additional requests for help with certain items were warmly received. I’ll hold off on the details as we have some work to do, but I can tell you that I got a huge roar when I announced to the 5th graders that the PTO- who are their moms and dads- are going to buy Foosball tables for us to use at recess! This is something the 5th graders asked me to do when we had our class meeting- and you- the PTO made it possible! Thank you! That’s Collins!

     

    And now a paperwork detail. Dismissal time at Collins, like any elementary school, can be a bit hectic.  It’s not quite as bad as the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, but there certainly is a quickened pace as students go out to the buses or meet parents or gather for the JCC bus or gather for Y care- well you get my point- it’s busy. The paperwork problem comes in when a child’s usual destination is changed by a parent- and we do not receive the note in a timely fashion. For the front office to manage these changes, a note must be in our possession by 2pm. This gives the secretaries time to document the changes and alert staff to the changes. When that doesn’t happen, we oftentimes are holding buses or checking the usual gathering spots. We are looking into either an email box that you can send to or even a phone app that would give you even more flexibility. I’ll keep you posted, but for now please send in those dismissal changes by 2pm. Thank you!

     

    And finally- one last shout out and it goes to our Office Staff. They are truly amazing. Multitasking? Check. Knowledgeable? Check. Flexible? Check. Patient? Check. And Friendly? You betcha! Collins would not be Collins without Mrs. Lichtstein, Mrs. Meehan and Mrs. Bowman. Like true Allstars- they make everyone around them better- and most of all- me! They are Collins!

     

    Thank you and hopefully I did not exceed my exclamation point allotment for the week….

     

    Bob Accardi

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  • Weekly Message from Mr. Accardi

    Posted by Stefanie Lichtstein on 2/22/2019

    February 22,  2019

     

    Dear Collins Parents and Guardians,

     

    I want to take a moment to introduce myself and tell you how happy I am to be a part of your school community. I officially started as Interim Principal this past Tuesday, and it has been a whirlwind few days.

     

    While I have turned down other requests for Interim Principal positions (2 in the last year and a half alone), I could not do that when Jim O’Neill asked me to come aboard here at Collins. As Superintendent of Chatham Schools, Mr. O’Neill oversaw my move from my 7th grade English Language Arts classroom into a Supervisor of Humanities position. And from there to Assistant Principal and then finally Principal of Chatham Middle School. I spent 20 of my 35 years in education at Chatham Middle School. Soon after Mr. O’Neill retired, I followed suit. It was hard to leave a profession I loved so much, but it was time to do some of those things that you just don’t have time for. My wife and I were soon traveling and immersed in hobbies and projects. But then the phone rang and things changed a bit.

     

    While it was never my plan to seek part-time employment as an Interim Administrator, it was Chatham calling to ask if I could step in and help our 4-5 school while the principal was out. Chatham had been very good to me and I agreed to help. I had never worked with 4th or 5 graders before- and I loved it! The next school year it was Boonton Twp.  that called for an Interim position in their Pre-K to 8th grade school. And if I loved the 4th and 5th graders, well the primary students captured my heart. I never thought I would find something as fulfilling and satisfying as middle school. What an eye opener! And so to finish out my educational journey, the following year I received a call from East Hanover as they needed an Interim Principal for their middle school. So back in I went for one last time, and I had a wonderful experience there as well. But at that point my wife and I were embarking on a project to totally rebuilt our little summer cottage and from that point on I turned down the superintendents who called. Until, of course, the phone call from Mr. O’Neill that has brought me to your wonderful school.

     

    As I told the PTO parents on Tuesday night, I went home from my initial meeting with Mr. O’Neill, Ms. Steiger and a few others questioning whether this school could really be as wonderful as they said? Well, it took only one day to actually find out that they were not exaggerating. From the moment I walked in the building, until the end of a long day after the PTO meeting, I was welcomed with kind words, smiles, handshakes and high fives- and that was just the response from the students! I know schools inside and out, and it was very clear to me from the moment I walked into the main office, to my trips through the halls or for the many teachers who came to greet me- this is a caring and supportive staff who take care of your children and each other. I could not be happier to be a part of such a strong school community.

     

    And that appreciation extends to you as well. I know well how important it is to have supportive and committed parents. Their children come from homes where education is valued and expectations are high. Their children come to school ready and eager to learn. And that aligns perfectly with the highly skilled professionals and caring staff members who help children every day. This is Collins.

     

    By the end of the day Friday, I will have met with all students from every grade level. It’s important that they see me and hear me and get a chance to interact with me. I assured them that I will be here with them every step of the way until the last day of school.

     

    I am passionate about education. And I am thrilled to be back surrounded by people who feel the same way.

     

    If you have thoughts or questions for me, please reach out, and I’ll do my best to help.

     

    Sincerely,

    Bob Accardi

    raccardi@livingston.org

     

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    UPCOMING SCHOOL EVENTS:

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Call for Safety

  • Call for Safety In order to ensure the safety of our students, parents should use the Call For Safety phone line and report the student’s name, day or dates the student is absent or tardy, and the reason for the absence or tardy.

    973-535-8000, x7102

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