Mine Hill Board of Education News

September 2020

2020 Board of Education Members

Diane Morris (President), Karen Bruseo (Vice-President), Katie Bartnick, Peter Bruseo, Brian Homeyer, Srinivasa Rajagopal, Jennifer Waters, and Carolina Rodriguez (Board Secretary).

Board of Education Website

Big picture

From the Superintendent

Greetings Panther Families!

Welcome Back! I'm so proud of all our Panthers! Our staff, students, and community always manages to pull together regardless of the circumstances! In these unprecedented times, we are thrilled that we are able to continue providing outstanding teaching and learning experiences for our students at the Canfield Avenue School.

The first week of school began with much anticipation, anxiety, and hope that our reopening plan would go smoothly, considering that we were entering so many uncharted territories in education. Hundreds of Chromebooks were given out, markings were placed on the ground for social distancing, and LOTS of plexiglass installed throughout the building. Each Classroom had to have furniture taken out and rearranged so students could be seated six feet apart, and technology had to be tested to ensure synchronous learning can take place smoothly. In addition, new cleaning and sanitizing procedures had to be developed and implemented. It was a lot of work for everyone involved, but well worth it in the end to see our little Panthers back in the building again safely!

Now entering week three, I’ve noticed that folks are much calmer and the new concept of social distancing, wearing masks, and teaching synchronously to both in-person and remote students are becoming the norm. Teachers are learning everyday about new digital applications and the best methods to make learning engaging and relevant in this very different environment, and I’ve never been prouder or more appreciative of our fabulous staff and faculty. They are rockstars for sure!

As mentioned during the summer, we planned for a soft-opening with the expectation to expand in-person learning where and when we can until we’re back to the normal school day. Thanks to a large amount of remote only requests, we were able to offer five days a week in most grade levels and are working on a plan to expand that option to 2nd and 3rd grade as well, if possible. Please note that the schedule could change overnight based on the circumstances of the health emergency, meaning, be prepared to pivot to remote only learning overnight, based on the department of health’s activity level report of transmission rates and regional risks or if positive cases are discovered in the district. Also keep in mind that after the first trimester, some remote-only students may wish to return to the building, which may cause certain grade levels to return to the A/B Cohort schedule.

I’m also pleased to announce that beginning Monday, September 28th, ALL students will be given breakfast and lunch for FREE. Parents will no longer need to order online. This program is funded by the NJ Department of Agriculture with no additional cost to the district. Breakfast and lunch bags will be provided at dismissal and all food items will be “grab and go” cold meals and/or frozen heat and serve style provided by Maschio's Food Service.

Lastly, all NJ school buildings will be closed on Election Day. Please plan for remote-only learning for all students on Tuesday, November 3rd. I hope this message finds everyone well and excited to be back in action for the 2020-2021 school year!

Best Regards,

Mr. Nittel

Preparing For Reopening

Big picture

"Staying Connected While Apart" by Mrs. Pyrzynski - MHTA President

As the reality of distance learning set in, we realized that the need to stay connected

would be a critical part of our students’ experience during this time. We are a school that places a lot of value on connecting not only with our students, but with our entire community. Our Association, made up of 35 teachers, has always held several Pride events each year. If you walked into any of these events you would find not only families, but BOE members, along with our principal, Adam Zygmunt, actively participating in whatever it was we were doing. Since these events were an essential part of our community, we knew it was imperative to continue them remotely.

Our members have stepped up in various ways, going above and beyond the

extraordinary work they have done in their virtual classrooms, to continue to engage our

community during this time. Our Art teacher, Cortney Smith, compiled an amazing video on

Creative Acts of Kindness. She encouraged students to think beyond themselves to see how

they could encourage others. It was beautiful to see our CAS Family helping others. Robby

Suarez and Margaret Nunnermacker have put together several Family Trivia Nights which

allowed students of different grade levels and many of our staff members to reconnect with

each other in a very fun way while testing their knowledge in different categories. Physical

Education teachers Jeff Steidl and Cindy Pyrzynski organized a Virtual Field Day. Hundreds of

pictures were submitted, and seeing parents enjoy the day alongside their children was so

heartwarming. Our music teacher, Mark Richardson, appeared twice on the NJTV program

bringing his dynamic style and love of music to many children across the state. To wrap up the

year we have started our CAS Trekkers program. We will track the miles our families are

walking or biking to see how far we will “travel” together over the last two weeks of school. Our

entire staff has been dedicated to connecting through virtual meetings regularly to keep their

students engaged, parents informed, and to help continue with the socialization that is needed

during this time.

Although this has been a challenging time in so many ways, it has also been an

opportunity to realize how much we really need each other. It has drawn our school community

together in a different, unexpected way. Having opportunities in which families, teachers,

paraprofessionals, administrators and Board of Education members can all be connected at the same time does not always happen easily. We are pleased and proud that we have been able to do just that during this time.

Big picture