Crystal's Corner

November 13, 2015


As I mentioned last week, the LHS Theater Company's first production for this year opened Thursday night and runs through Saturday. It's an audience participation who dunnit.

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We just learned of a presentation several LHS DECA members attended in mid-October at the New Jersey DECA COLT Conference in Cherry Hill. The purpose of this conference is to impart the important of leadership.

Students heard an inspirational talk by Keith Hawkins. Once an inhabitant of a rough area in Los Angeles, Hawkins now travels the country as an inspirational speaker, presenting to roughly 400,000 each year.

Hawkins encouraged students to exit their comfort zones. He claims it is in uncomfortable situations when students are able to maximize their learning. Student feedback related that Hawkins taught many lessons that day but perhaps the most memorable was when he spoke of helping others.

Prior to Hawkins' time on stage, students had listened to Rod Hirsch, executive director of Operation Shoebox NJ. Hirsch stressed the importance of helping soldiers overseas and related how his organization sends care packages of donated supplies to soldiers in need.

After Hirsch finished, Hawkins took time to reiterate the importance of helping others. He asserted that "you may forget the others you help, but the others you help will never forget you," and encouraged students to get involved.

Photo below is of DECA officers:

Front: Daryl Hoehne, Alexandrea Manalo, Jennifer Zoll, Nelle Evans, Ally Wakeman, Saraj Tennant

Back: Michael Marsh, Ian Rosenast, Justin Morris, Audley Clarke, Fawad Yousufzai, Kyle Sprinsteen, Nick Ciuffreda

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As referenced at the BOE meeting, Challenge Day was at LHS this week on Nov. 10 & 11. Over 200 students and 30+ staff participated. They were inspired to "Be the Change" they wish to see in the world, and challenge others to do the same. The program was funded through a grant from the Lawrence Township Education Foundation (LTEF) and Church and Dwight.

Challenge Day is a program designed to break down barriers between students, stop bullying, and encourage students to make relationships outside their typical group of friends. During the two-day program, leaders from the California-based Challenge Day program used highly interactive and energetic activities to guide students, staff and community members through a carefully designed exploration of the ways people separate from each other, and modeled tools for creating connection and building community. Participants plan to use Challenge Day's valuable lessons and spread its message as encouragement for all students to continue to 'Be the Change."

Photo below shows the "aftermath" of Challenge Day with several of the participants wearing their shirt and meeting for a quick photo.

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Wednesday I met a second time with the secretaries group to continue work on an evaluation rubric for their staff category. We will probably meet a couple more times and then, I'll share the rubric with their administrators for additional input. We'll have a joint meeting at some point to make sure we're all on the same page.

November 9 I met separately with three principals for their first observation conference of this school year. Wednesday I conferenced with another principal and Thursday I met with the last of the seven principals. Individual conferences last about two hours as each principal is eager to share the wonderful things happening in their buildings as well as challenges they've identified. Fabulous discussions! Now I have my writing assignments to complete their observations.

Wednesday morning I was part of a round 2 interview for a LHS biology position.

As you know from Wednesday's BOE meeting reports, CIAPD and CR & LA met this week. District strategic plan goal 3 was shared at CR & LA.

Thursday I attended the County Superintendent's monthly Roundtable. This meeting was held in conjunction with the County BA and his group.

I led the monthly COA meeting on Tuesday and the monthly Leadership Council (LC) meeting on Thursday. The entire LC meeting was consumed with my briefing them on what will change in the evaluation protocol as LTEA negotiated and questions/concerns raised by the LC group...the "what ifs" for which we want to be prepared. The discussion will continue in next week's Administrative Council meeting.

Jeanne Muzi met with me this week to brief me on ideas she has for moving forward with her instructional leadership practices and the district focus on questioning.



Mark your calendar! We've set the date for the Community Conversation for April 26. More info will follow.

Ivy Cohen, LTEF executive director, met with Erin and me Wednesday to share her ideas about possible future collaborations for community involvement.

Ed Treadaway from transportation discovered and informed us this morning that Cold Soil Road is now open. No entity had communicated this to him. Every few days he has gone to the site to check the status. When he went this morning, detour signs were being removed and he was told to give them 10 minutes and the road would reopen.

Since it's such short notice, Ed will resume the normal bus routes on Tuesday. He is notifying involved parents via email and voicemail and he's notifying schools.

Thursday we received information for LHS English teacher Jill Vaughn about an LHS Interact Club event. As she related:

On Wednesday, November 11, the LHS Interact club members welcomed autumn with “Fall Fest” fun at the Homefront Family Campus in Ewing, NJ. The LHS student volunteers celebrated with HomeFront children and their families with music, dancing, refreshments, face painting, tattoos, and games – an evening that was enjoyed by all. And while the kids had fun overall, the “pin the feather on the turkey” game and glow stick necklaces were huge hits!

Just two months ago, over 500 visitors from all walks of life celebrated the grand opening of the new HomeFront Family Campus at 101 Celia Way in Ewing. Supporters, volunteers, and former clients crowded the bright hallways and rooms, eager for a first-hand look at this new “village of healing and hope” for families living in the shadow of homelessness. The Interact club at LHS is proud and privileged to have worked with HomeFront over the years.

Interact, Lawrence High School’s community service club, is advised by Mrs. Vaughn, who provides support and guidance to this largely self-governing group of student volunteers. The members of Interact work to tackle the issues in the community that they care most about and strive to create positive change. If you would like to connect with Interact – either as a student volunteer or as a community member – please contact Mrs. Vaughn at

Photos below give us a glimpse into the interactions of the special event. This group is the same club that sponsors a prom for Lawrence's senior citizens in the spring.

Here's a slideshow from Wednesday night's Invent-a-Mania presentation.

Tom and Tsun-Ju Lin are due to return from China tomorrow. Looking forward to hearing their trip feedback. In addition to photos I shared at Wednesday night's BOE meeting, a few are below. A visit to the Great Wall was included towards the end of their trip.


The unofficial results are in. LTEA voted on Thursday to ratify the contract: 95% in favor and 5% opposed.

We've generated lots of great ideas under District Goals #1, 2, and 3...but great ideas need funding. Over the next couple of weeks, administrators will brainstorm ways to reallocate funding sources, conserve resources, and generate new revenue to fund these wonderful initiatives. More to come as the strategic plan unfolds.


Goal 1: Strategic Plan - Erin and I presented District Goal #3 to the Community Relations Committee on Monday.

Goal 2: Evaluation Systems - I continued work on the secretaries' evaluation rubric. I briefed the Leadership Council on the protocol change in the evaluation process negotiated by LTEA.

Goal 3: NWEA Reading - District data available on November 30.

Goal 4: Instructional Rounds - Round 2 will commence in January.

Goal 5: Community Participation - The Green Team consisting of Jo Ann Groeger, Sam Fierra, Cari Gallagher, James Alberti and I look forward to joining the conversation between the Mercer County Sustainable Coalition, School Superintendents, students, teachers, and township Green Team members on Monday night at West Windsor Plainsboro Admin Building.