Back To School Edition: August 2019
A letter from Dr. Scott Rocco, HTSD Superintendent
Dear HTSD Community,
Welcome Back! I am excited to start the 2019-2020 school year and share some of the great things that have happened in our district over the summer months. This newsletter will provide you with information from a variety of departments and help you begin the new school year.
To start, I want to remind everyone that school opens for our students on Wednesday, September 4, 2019. This will be a one-session day. Information on the elementary schedule and times for full days and one-session days can be found here. The middle schedule can be found here, and the high school schedule can be found here.
As you drive around town you will notice that referendum work continues in most of our schools. Windows, doors, brick work, and security systems (to name just a few of the projects) continue to be updated or replaced. Some of these projects will continue into the fall as there is a lot of work to do. Every effort will be made to minimize any impact on instruction. But from time to time, a classroom may need to be relocated so work can be done in a specific area of the building. Once this phase of work is complete, we will begin planning the final phase of referendum work, which is scheduled to start in the summer of 2020 and be finalized in the summer of 2021. Please check out our Google Tour Builder and District website to see referendum pictures and updates. We have added pictures throughout the summer.
Toward the end of last spring and into the summer, HTSD received some good news we would like to share with you:
HTSD passed our three-year New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) evaluation in all five categories. (Instruction and Program, Fiscal Management, Governance, Operations, and Personnel). NJQSAC is a monitoring system conducted by the New Jersey Department of Education that examines the procedures, processes and requirements of state and federal laws in the five areas listed above. This is the first time HTSD has passed all five sections thanks to the hard work of every member of our school district.
The New Jersey Department of Education’s recently released Advanced Placement (AP) Four-Year Growth Statistics for the years 2016 to 2019 showed our district made significant gains in AP testing. HTSD had a 191% increase in the number of exams taken since 2016. This represents the highest percentage increase in Mercer County. Last year, approximately one in five of the district's high school students took at least one AP course and exam. The district’s growth in the number of exams taken is in the top 1% in the state. AP Tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. A score of 3 or better means a student may earn college credit and has proven himself/herself capable of doing the work of an introductory-level course in a particular subject at college. The district saw a 79% growth in the number of students scoring a 3 or higher. Again, this success is a team effort by many HTSD faculty and administrators.
Over the last few months, the district has worked on adjustments to the elementary schedule that will address changes in State law for required physical education time as well as provisions in the new teacher contract. In the new schedule, which takes effect September 1, 2019, you will notice the following:
Morning meeting each day for students and their classroom teacher to focus on character education, social emotional learning, and / or a purpose for the day.
A fifth special of Physical Education / Health (PE/H) added to the special schedule to address the new State requirement for physical education and health. This results in students participating in two physical education classes per week during trimesters 1 and 3; and one physical education class and one health class during trimester 2.
English Language Arts (ELA) instructional time of 125 minutes per day.
Math instructional time of 70 minutes per day.
Science / Social Studies instructional time of 45 minutes per day.
Student lunch of 30 minutes per day.
Student recess of 20 minutes per day.
A What I Need (WIN) period of 40 minutes per day to help establish additional time for core subject areas (as needed), assist in basic skills scheduling, and establish time for chorus, strings, and band rehearsals. The WIN period will also help teachers address individual, small group, and classroom academic needs that might present themselves during a specific subject or lesson recently taught.
Some other key items for the coming school year:
Each high school will have an ESports team and virtual reality lab.
Each middle school will begin a seasonal intramural sports program several days per week.
Our two strategic planning committees continue their work and are on pace to submit final reports this school year.
The district will hold its second annual Tech Night on November 21st.
Finally, our district theme for the year is Building a Better Tomorrow …Together. I look forward to working with all of you as we build a better tomorrow for our students and our district together as one school community.
Have a great school year.
Superintendent of Schools
District Curriculum & Instruction Update from Mr. Anthony Scotto
High School Update
With the implementation of nine new courses at the high school level (Advanced Placement Studio Art - 2D Design, Advanced Placement Studio Art - 3D Design, English 9 w/ Applications, Intro. to Music in Film & Video, Intro to Organic & Biochemistry, Genetics & Biotechnology, Neuroscience & Society, Multicultural Studies, and Photo Technology II) teachers and supervisors worked over the summer to write curriculum and select materials to enhance instruction/support student learning. We have also adopted new curricular resources for existing courses (ie: World History, Environmental Science, Physics, AP Calculus, Discrete Math, French, Spanish, and Sports Medicine). For more information about our newly-implemented (or existing courses), please click the link below:
Middle School Update
During the summer we examined our current Grades 6-8 Applied Tech (STEAM) experiences and designed a three year plan to promote greater continuity and preparation for high school. During the 19/20 SY, students will experience Scratch, Design Projects, Little Bits, and Ozobots. The full year Grade 8 elective will also cover Coding, Microbits, and 3-D Printing. In the area of lesson design/increased student engagement, another cohort of teachers participated in extensive training of the Learner-Active-Technology-Infused-Classroom (LATIC). We have seen great success with this lesson design approach in the area of middle school science. For more information about Middle School STEAM and/or LATIC, please click the links below:
The District continues to expand upon our Grades 3-5 Reading Series (Schoolwide). Teachers will be receiving resources to support the teaching of grammar and additional materials to support guided reading. The elementary principals had individual meetings with our Study Island representative to examine ways to strengthen math and language arts usage Grades 1 and 2. As our teachers continue to become more familiar with the Next Generation Science Standards, we have also purchased science performance tasks that align with our Mystery Science program, which provide students with a more authentic assessment experience. For more information about Study Island - Grades 1 & 2 and/or the Grammar Component recently purchased, please click the links below:
Professional Development Update
Students may not be in school; however, our staff continue to grow professionally during the summer months. Once again, the District offered 43 workshops facilitated by teachers & staff, administrators, and some of our product vendors. Over 190 registrants voluntarily attended professional development sessions (between the last week of June and second week of August).
We ended the summer with a four day New Teacher Orientation. Newly-hired staff were able to examine the four domains of the Danielson Framework for Teaching, learn more about the various departments within the District, meet new colleagues, and so much more
Congratulations to our "Class of 2019" HTSD New Educators!
We are thankful you are part of the Hamilton Township School District TEAM!
Technology update from James O'Boyle, District Technology Manager
This summer, our Tech Facilitators presented many workshops in and out of district. In June, Cara Flodmand, Chris Corney-McGee and Joe Valver attended and presented at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia. At their presentation "Developing Virtual Professional Learning with G Suite," there were over 100 people in attendance from around the world. After the presentation, EdTech Magazine published an article online about their presentation. ISTE was a fantastic learning experience offering Tech Facilitators many workshops and events to learn about new and exciting ways to integrate technology in the classroom.
In July and August, the Tech Facilitators presented workshops for the district and held two more online courses through Google Classroom. This fall, they hope to offer more opportunities for professional development and hold the District’s 2nd Annual Tech Night.
The Technology Department was also staying busy with many projects over the summer. Some of their work included:
- Replacing more than 100 switches district wide
- Installing a new district-wide phone system
- Installing new wireless access points in all the elementary schools
- Delivery of new desktops to be utilized in the new ESports program
- Delivery of new VR (Virtual Reality) Carts at each High School Media Center
We are very excited for the fall as new laptops for staff and new chromebooks to replace old windows devices for students will be arriving. We will also be implementing a new district-wide printing system.
Congratulations Tech Facilitator, Cara Flodmand accepted into the Google Innovator Program!
Cara was invited to join a community of 1,700 passionate educators in over 50 countries who are excited to grow professionally, advocate for innovative technologies and drive school transformation.
The program kicks off with an in-person three day Innovation Academy focused on helping new participants define, design and eventually launch a transformative project. After the Academy, Innovators stay engaged through mentorship, ongoing learning and development trainings, and special opportunities from Google to advocate for transformative technologies and practices.
Free or Reduced Lunch Application - Please submit by October 1, 2019
Does your student(s) qualify for free or reduced price school meals? We encourage all parents/guardians to complete a free or reduced price meal application by October 1, 2019 to determine if your student(s) is eligible. Applications must be completed every school year. Parents need only to complete one application per household. For half-day pre-k students, the application is used to determine whether your student(s) qualifies to receive free milk.
Applications are available online at www.PaySchoolsCentral.com or you may request a paper application from the main office of your child’s school. All new families must set up a user profile prior to completing your online free or reduced price meal application. Users with an existing online application profile can login with their existing credentials and click to begin your online free or reduced price meal application. Please note that if your household income changes at any time during the current school year, you may apply/re-apply.
If you have not yet completed an application for the 2019-2020 school year, we ask that you please complete one now.
Data Update from Kevin Bobetich, Testing Evaluation Specialist
Reflection & Goal Planning: Two Key Components for a Successful School Year
At the beginning of the school year, our district administrators, teachers, and staff look at student data to identify students’ academic strengths and weaknesses.
When conducting this activity, some of the questions are:
- How did the student perform last year in their classes?
- Did the student come to school, and where they on time?
- How did the student perform on standardized assessments?
Besides looking at the data, information is also gathered by speaking directly with counselors, parents, former teachers, and reviewing other documentation in the student’s records.
Parents are encouraged to take some time with their child/children prior to the start of the school year and engage in a similar activity. Before the start of the school year, reflect with your child about his/her past performance in school. Here are some leading questions:
What factors contributed to my successes last year?
What do I need to work at to improve my academic success this year?
What do I need to communicate to my teacher so this year can be a success?
After you and your child have reflected on these questions, write down a list of goals for the upcoming school year, and post them in a place where your child can see them every day. By posting the goals for your child to see, it will help your child take ownership of his/her education. Be sure to revisit these goals periodically to review the progress made. Have a great year school year!
Mr. Kevin Bobetich is the Testing/Assessment Specialist and Data Systems. Mr. Bobetich supervises assessment in our school district, and a variety of data projects.
HTSD 2019 Back To School Kickoff Day at Barnes & Noble! Sept. 7th
HTSD is Rebranding!
We are currently implementing a districtwide Community Strategic Planning initiative. Through this work, we are collectively working to unify the Hamilton Township School District, embracing our diverse community as we unite our schools as “One Hamilton.”