The COnnection

MARSD Central Office Newsletter - February 2017

Congratulations to the 2017 MARSD Recipients of the Governor's Educator of the Year Award

Matawan Regional High School
Mrs. Deirdre Dellert - Teacher of the Year

Mr. Matt Goetz - Educational Services Professional of the Year

Matawan Aberdeen Middle School
Mr. James Scheuing - Teacher of the Year
Ms. Kathleen Feen - Educational Services Professional of the Year

Lloyd Road School
Mrs. Dawn Lasko - Teacher of the Year
Ms. Allison Foley - Educational Services Professional of the Year

Cliffwood Elementary School
Ms. Allison Maglione - Teacher of the Year
Mrs. Mary Ann Gerrity - Educational Services Professional of the Year

Ravine Drive School
Ms. Kristen Fisco - Teacher of the Year
Ms. Lori Donaghue - Educational Services Professional of the Year

Strathmore Elementary School
Mrs. Allison Christie - Teacher of the Year
Mrs. Erin Cagnina - Educational Services Professional of the Year

Cambridge Park Preschool
Mrs. Lisa Brown - Educational Services Professional of the Year

From the Office of Curriculum & Instruction

Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Thursday, March 2nd is Read Across America Day! The National Education Association originated and sponsors the celebration annually to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Seuss; but everyone is invited to connect with a book on March 2nd!

The purpose of Read Across America is to motivate children to read. Reading is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school. (

The intent of Read Across America Day is to celebrate all authors in addition to Dr. Seuss. So take a few minutes to read with your child, no matter his/her age, a book that you really love.

Here are some additional ways you can foster a love of reading for your child:

Make your home book-friendly

  1. Make a special place at home for reading and writing. Spend regular time with your child in the reading space.

  2. Find a well lit, quiet corner with comfortable seating. If you don't have the extra space, set aside a regular time for the kitchen table, or some other area, to become that space.

  3. Hang fun pictures and your child’s artwork and writing.

  4. Work with your child to come up with a name for the library. Make signs, library cards and bookmarks that he/she can use when “checking out” books.

  5. Designate an area as the "library shelves" with bookshelves or some other means of shelving books.

  6. Always keep writing materials (paper, pens, pencils, markers, crayons) available and within easy reach.

  7. Make your child a co-librarian and together start building your library with new, used or donated books.

  8. Over time, stock the library with a range of books your child will enjoy and find meaningful, including age appropriate books about your child’s hobbies and interests, family background and local area.

  9. Use the space in other ways related to reading and writing. Play "Pretend Library" with your child, and take turns being the librarian or visitor.

  10. Invite special guests like family members and friends into the library. Have guest readings of your child’s favorite books or have guests bring their favorite childhood books to share.

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From the Office of Special Services

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day we wanted to share some love! We asked staff members to share what they love most about their jobs. After reading the beautiful responses we wanted to share them with the community, so you know how much the staff in our district love working with and servicing our students every day!

17 Things Special Education Staff Love the Most About Their Jobs

1. “I love seeing their smiles... it reassures me that life is amazing!!” — Anthony Certa

2. “Seeing them make steps toward progress everyday, it is so rewarding!” — Michelle Sloan

3. “What I love about teaching special needs students is the special bonds that I make with my students and also seeing the thrill and excitement in their faces when they achieve a goal they have been working towards.” — Kelli Werner

4. “I love that everyday is a new journey to see our students grow, and assist them in reaching their "aha" moment of grasping a new idea or concept!” — Bonnie Weinstein

5. “I love the "aha" moments - when they finally get something that has been so challenging for them like zipping their coat or knowing all their letters!” — Caitlin Farley

6. “I love the look on their faces when they work together and help each other with class work... such confidence and feelings of success!” — Kathy Joyce

7. “You can be creative in anyway, shape or form to get your point across. When they get the concept, they glow! When you stop having fun, you need to retire!” —Barbara Bergrin

8. “I love the special bond we develop with our special students. Sometimes we can have our students for 2 or 3 years in a row and that leads to a special bond most teachers do not ever experience.” — Liz Zeppilli

9. “I love how my students are so enthusiastic to help and support each other in our classroom! It's great to see how they watch out for each other and try to help out however they can every day.” — Jessica Riley

10. “One of my favorite things about teaching students with special needs is seeing the progress they are making (the slightest change in the direction we want to see) and the student's faces when they know they are doing what we are asking.” — Melissa Whartnaby

11. “Teaching special needs students has been my dream since I'm a kid. My mom who is now deceased told me that it takes a very special person to teach special needs and although I agree, my students make coming to work so easy. They inspire me and because of them I learn something about myself everyday. I want to make a difference even if it's to only one.” Alex Perrotta

12. “I love teaching language that leads to first words, first connections with peers, the first use of humor and especially belly laughs.” Susan Generoso

13. “I love witnessing their tolerance and kindness of others. I love witnessing the many ways they do things for each other without prompting or reward. I enjoy the kindness and respect they bestow upon me.”Susan Russo

14. “I love the moments of laughter and how my students challenge my creativity everyday.” Jacqueline Bliss

15. “I love finding students’ strengths!” Sue Ripple

16. “My heart is full. I love their different personalities: sweet, silly, squirmy, smart, and a little sassy. They make me smile and for that I am forever grateful.” Barbara Gray

17. “I love the ability to teach an entire classroom the same concept in as many different ways as they need. Individualized teaching is my favorite.” Ryan Moore

From the Office of Human Resources

Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying Grade Report

In 2011, the Governor Christie signed the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (ABR). The law was designed and implemented to strengthen the state’s already existing state law against harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB). The ABR established a multi-prong definition of what substantiates an act of HIB and also created implementation, prevention and investigatory mandates and guidelines. Since adoption of the law, school districts are required to conduct a self-assessment on the implementation of the components of the comprehensive law, which is submitted to the NJ Department of Education at the conclusion of each school year. Prior to its submission, the self-assessment report is reviewed at a public board meeting and the scores are posted on our district and school websites. Additionally, New Jersey school districts are also required to report the number of HIB investigations that were confirmed and substantiated to meet the definition, training provided to the school community, and the programs being implemented within the district, twice annually, at a public board of education meeting. This data is cross-referenced with the HIB Grades Summary to confirm the information being reported is accurate. As a result of the 2015-2016 HIB Grades Summary Report, the district earned an average of 73 out of 78 possible points, for 2014-2015 the district earned an average of 73 out of 78 points, and for 2013-2014 the district earned an average of 75 out of 78 points. We are extremely proud of these scores, however, we are always seeking ways to offer more prevention and effective responses to any HIB situation. For example, in the second issue of “The COnnection” in November 2016, an article was published highlighting the district’s continual efforts in implementing Social-Emotional Learning initiatives and our ongoing focus on the implementation of the district’s strategic plan which has one of its goals focused on school climate improvement.

You can access our 2015-2016 HIB report by using the following link:

Harassment, Intimidation & Bullying Defined

The New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act of 2011 and Matawan-Aberdeen Board of Education Policy 5512 Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) define HIB in a specific manner.

In order for an incident to meet the requirement of substantiated HIB, the incident must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Harassment, Intimidation or bullying means any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents that meets all of the following:

a. Is reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or distinguishing characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical, or sensory disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic; and

b. Takes place on school property, at any school sponsored function, or off school grounds, and

c. Substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students.

  1. A substantiated act of HIB will meet all of the above requirements, and at least one of the following:

a. A reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, that the act(s) will have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a pupil or demeaning the pupil’s property, placing a pupil in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his/her person or damage to his/her property;

b. Has the effect of insulting or demeaning any student or group of students;

c. Creates a hostile educational environment for the pupil by interfering with a pupil’s education or by severely or pervasively causing emotional or physical harm to the student.

Sometimes behaviors and incidents occur in school that may seem like an act of HIB, but the investigation results determine it is unsubstantiated because it does not meet the criteria of the definition listed above. However, consequences and remedial measures will still be taken to alleviate an incident whether it is a substantiated act of HIB or not. The student code of conduct will be used and applied when addressing disciplinary incidents, whether HIB or not.

Each school has an anti-bullying specialist, also established by the ABR. If you have any concerns about your child feeling as if they are being bullied, please contact your child’s principal, assistant principal, or anti-bullying specialist. All of our anti-bullying specialists are published on our district website and on each school’s website.

We also have a reporting system that the district utilizes, called Hibster. Hibster also offers a reporting module that can be accessed remotely. Anyone can submit an HIB report by using the link below. All reports are taken seriously and will be investigated in accordance with the law.

You may file an HIB Report using the following link, which is also found on the district’s website:

If you have any questions regarding any of this information, please reach out to District Anti-Bullying Coordinator, Brian Walsh.

From the Business Office

Food service program

One of the areas that often gets overlooked in reviewing district operations is the food service program. The collective expectation from the school community is that there will be food available for students to eat for breakfast and lunch. The financial and operational requirements to run these programs require considerable resources. School districts in New Jersey run these programs through their proprietary funds, an enterprise account for which a fee is charged for goods and services. Although Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District contracts with Chartwells to manage the program, the success of the program has a direct impact on the district.

The financial health of the program allows the district to expand food offerings, update equipment and streamline logistics. The annual balancing of costs versus meal prices puts a strain on the operation as we try to provide the most cost effective services to minimize the impact to parents. In addition, over the last several years, the federal government has imposed more requirements on the composition of food items and meals. These ongoing factors and the instability of regulatory changes don’t leave districts much room to develop long-term projections or improvements. The district has tried to mitigate this risk by performing upgrades in the kitchens at several schools as opportunities are presented, and those investments are expected to provide financial and operational returns.

In terms of operations and delivery of services, the major change included the creation of a pre-ordering program for students in grades K-3 for the purpose of allowing students more time to eat lunch. In recent years, the K-3 schools had some difficulty in serving the students within the prescribed lunch time. Although the extent of the problem was school specific, the district in conjunction with Chartwells developed the pre-ordering program to address this problem. The Center for Disease Control along with other organizations have documented over the years the importance of a healthy balanced diet for a student and its relationship to academic achievement. Similarly to other initiatives that the administration takes on, the overall goal is to minimize impact to students’ ability to learn. The district wants to continue to enhance food service offerings to our students to help them achieve their academic goals. As we continue to navigate some of these uncertain operational and regulatory waters, please feel free to provide us with any feedback that you may have, both at the local building and district levels.

Quick facts on school meals (Source: School Nutrition Association):

· 30.5 million students served lunch daily

· 5 billion lunches served annually

· $13 billion in federal subsidies to school

National School Lunch Program application

Just a reminder that the free/reduced lunch applications can be completed at any time during the year as family circumstances might change. The application and designation of free/reduced lunch is used as an indicator for various federal programs and initiatives. The application process has strict financial and residency requirements to maintain privacy. The intent of the designation is to provide services to the students that might need them the most. A copy of the application may be obtained through the schools, the district’s website under the Business Office Department section or by contacting the Business Office at 732-705-4016.


The district’s food service management company, Chartwells, has 62 people working with district administration to provide a comprehensive food service program to our students. More information about lunch menus can be found on each school’s website. Below is a snapshot of recent Chartwells events:


· K-3 Star Wars Day

· Chinese New Year


· Superhero Day

· Omelet Bar

· Superbowl

· Lucky Tray Days

Looking ahead to March