The COnnection

MARSD Central Office Newsletter - March 2017

Spring Break - Schools and Offices Closed

Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District will be closed from April 10 - April 17th for Spring Break. We will reopen on Tuesday, April 18th. Enjoy and be safe!

A Message from the Superintendent

Recently, our district received a cordial site visit by Linda Carmona-Bell, an Educational Technology Specialist from the NJDOE's Office of Educational Technology. Ms. Carmona-Bell came to Matawan-Aberdeen with the intention of learning how different districts successfully integrate technology into their curricula. After meeting with district administration in an effort to gain a strategic view of our educational technology roll-out, Ms. Carmona-Bell observed different teachers in action throughout our school system. She was not only impressed with our pioneering use of technology in the areas of Web Design, Television Production, Genius Hour, and Radio, but she expressed equal satisfaction that our students showed familiarity with technology as part of their everyday school experience at all levels, elementary through high school. Furthermore, she may request that certain teachers showcase their skills in small video clips to be shared with other districts in the state, as a way to help others fuse technology into their classrooms.

A Message From Curriculum & Instruction

On Friday March 10th, PreK-12 staff engaged in collaborative professional development as part of the District In-Service Day. The district secured educational consultants, teacher leaders, and administrators to lead workshops on a variety of topics to promote professional growth, increase student learning and enhance the teaching and learning process for all students.

Although the weather was cold and snowy, MARSD staff actively participated in professional learning experiences that support the goals and objectives outlined in the district’s Strategic Plan, and demonstrated their unyielding commitment to ongoing professional growth.

The majority of teaching staff attended a workshop facilitated by Dr. Tracey Severns focused on Using Data and Cognitive Engagement Strategies to Improve

Teaching & Learning. This session focused on how to effectively use data to drive instruction, differentiate learning experiences, and develop rigorous, standards-aligned assessments to monitor and assess learning across grade levels and content areas. Dr. Tracey Severns has served as a special education teacher, vice principal, principal, superintendent, adjunct professor, and Chief Academic Officer for the New Jersey Department of Education. Currently, she is the Director of Student Performance in the Mt. Olive Township School District.

Below is a list of the professional development workshops that were designed for staff as part of the in-service day.

  • Timesaving Strategies to Integrate Speech Language Interventions into Classrooms

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences - Toxic Stress and How it Affects Student Behavior

  • Next Generation Science Standards & Engineering Practices

  • Total Physical Response Strategies (TPRS) to Support World Language Instruction

  • Increasing Teaching Effectiveness that Directly Increases Students’ Physical Activity

  • Best Practices for Enhancing Visual Arts Education Instruction and Programming

  • Instructional Strategies to Support Mathematical Modeling & Reasoning

  • Data Analysis & Authentic Learning

  • Enhancing Questioning & Discussion Techniques Planning for Effective Inclusive Classrooms

  • Positive Behavior Supports in the Classroom - Working with Difficult Behaviors in Children

  • Zones of Regulation - Strategies to Teach Behavior & Emotional Regulation

To view the full agenda from the March 10, 2017 in-service day, please click on the following link:

A Message from Special Services

A Message from Special Services

Looking for ways to help support your child at home? Try these!

Reading and Writing:

Colorin Colorado

Read Write Think

Social Emotional Learning:

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

Center on the Social Emotional Foundation for Learning

Transition to Adulthood:

New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education

NICHCY National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

OSERS Year of College and Career for Youth with Disabilities

What is Project CHILD FIND?

Project CHILD FIND is a free referral service and public awareness campaign to assist in the identification of unserved/underserved youth with a delay or disability from birth through twenty-one years of age.

In addition, Project CHILD FIND develops and distributes information to the public about early intervention services and special education programs throughout New Jersey.

Project CHILD FIND's comprehensive efforts include:

1. Assisting families of infants and toddlers, birth through two, concerned about their child’s development by directing all requests regarding early intervention to the family’s local Special Child Health Case Management Unit. If you need the number for your Special Child Health Case Management Unit, call: Project Child Find, 1-800-322-8174.

2. Assisting families of preschoolers, three through five, concerned about their child’s development by directing requests to the Director of Special Services.

3. Helping families access community services through referral.

4. Promoting community and public awareness of all children with disabilities by providing information.

5. Assisting local school district boards of education to identify unserved children from age three through twenty-one who are in need of special education and related services.

A Message from Human Resources

Changes to Educator Preparation Programs

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is making a change that will impact prospective teachers enrolled in a college or university educator preparation program. This change will require a performance assessment for college students in an educator preparation program in 2017-2018 and year-long student teaching for the 2018-2019 school year and beyond.

There is a performance assessment being introduced to student teachers and their educator preparation programs by the NJDOE called the Educator Teacher Proficiency Assessment (EdTPA). The EdTPA will be required by the NJDOE for all student teachers to complete who are enrolled in an educator preparation program. This will require a 15-20 minute video submission of the student teacher's performance. This may involve students being recorded on these video segments. The colleges and universities, along with the NJDOE, have developed privacy and confidentiality forms for students and parents to sign or to opt out of being included. Pearson is the vendor who has been awarded the state contract for EdTPA. There are 16 other states using EdTPA.

The implementation of year-long student teaching is an additional change that will be piloted by some colleges and universities during the 2017-2018 school year and will be adopted and mandated for all colleges and universities by the NJDOE for the 2018-2019 school year. This is a change from previous the requirement and practice of student teachers taking over a class for half of a school year, or one college semester. The student teacher interns will immerse themselves into the classroom. First, they will begin through observation working closely with the classroom teacher, then working to get more involved with conferencing, leading small groups and eventually taking over the class as a traditional student teacher would do. The NJDOE envisions this as more of a collaborative and comprehensive teaching model then it has been in the past.

A Message from the Business Office


Looking at the district’s Vision Statement, Mission Statement and most recent set of goals, it is easy to identify the district’s focus, education of students. At the most basic level, this is a goal that people can comprehend and support. As the discussion gets deeper, the opinions of how to accomplish this task get wider and wider in scope. This is an area that even within the professional education community, there is a vast spectrum of opinions. Human nature is that different stakeholders will have different perspectives, and consequently, different opinions. It is up to each community to help steer each district in the direction that they find to be acceptable to define and meet that goal.

With this is mind, the areas that people will typically focus on as the hub of education is the classroom. Rightfully so, this is the location where a majority of the academic curriculum gets delivered. It is the responsibility of district administration to provide adequate resources for educators to do their job and deliver instruction. Along with this prioritization of resources, the operational areas often get bumped to the next level, and once again, the level of resources provided to non-academic areas is also district specific to what the community expects.

From a level of service to the Matawan-Aberdeen community, transportation would fall somewhere on the spectrum between state minimums and full transportation of all students. It is tempting to compare the level of service here to the different ends of the spectrum, but most districts are in the bell curve of the spectrum and not on the extremes. According to State law, the basic parameter to transport began with students classified as remote from school. Over the course of time going back to the 1960s other components were added to the transportation (some optional and some mandated): joint transportation, students with disabilities, nonpublic students, contracted services, payment of services, financial hardship determination, extra-curricular, courtesy busing, hazardous route designations, parental contracts, training requirements, school bus advertising, and so on. The one constant is that a school district was to take these components, make a decision to implement them, in some capacity if necessary, and record this action through Board policy. Unfortunately, some of these services began to take shape, and established roots within the community, but appropriate policy may not have always taken place. The disconnect between the policy component and the service component can lead to some very different expectations and put policy makers in a difficult position in an attempt to close this expectations gap. At the same time, it is unfair to the community because the community has grown accustomed to this level of service and an adoption of policy might mean a deviation from the norm. This type of environment is created over the course of many years and ultimately leads us to the problems that we are having today.

As a result, the district’s administration and Board of Education are trying to have those two worlds (adoption of policy and community expectations) come closer together. This is a process that may take multiple tries over the course of an undefined period of time, but the reality is that the district needs to find that balance. Once again, similar to the example of defining education of students, there is no right or wrong answer, and it is community specific to the variables and resources available. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that the district’s goal should be to educate students in the best possible environment. As we continue down this path, the community can be assured that the Board of Education, district administration and 43 staff in the transportation office are doing our best to deliver on this goal. The 2,350 students spread out over the 96 daily routes depend on the district to strive towards constant diligence of delivering on this goal. The district looks forward to continued communication as we move through this process and we encourage everyone to stay up to date through the district’s website for the most recent information.