Shaner Shark Bites

September 1, 2023

Welcome Back to School!

Upcoming Shaner Events

  • Preschool Orientation - 9/6 8:00am
  • Kindergarten Orientation - 9/6 9:00am
  • First Day of School - 9/7
  • Back to School Night - 9/21 6:00pm
  • Family Night - 9/28 6:00pm


Welcome to the Joseph C. Shaner Elementary School! A student’s education and growth is the focus of our work here at the Shaner School. To achieve our goal of providing an outstanding educational environment with excellent programs, certain guidelines and procedures need to be followed. This informational handbook has been designed to provide you with some basic information about the Shaner School that will help your family during this school year.

The Shaner School is committed to the building of a strong academic foundation for our young students. Each child will receive instruction in all domains that is suited to his or her learning needs and that is delivered in an educationally exceptional manner. We are dedicated to providing the necessary building blocks that will help our students be successful in their upcoming elementary years.

Students at the Shaner School will be immersed in a school community where, as very young learners, they will learn to problem solve through diverse social interactions, be challenged through research-based academic experiences, and grow in their understanding of what it means to be a person of character. Each day the four tenets of the Shaner School – respect, responsibility, kindness, and safety - will be taught, practiced, and reinforced. It is our hope that these values, taught at home by you and here at the Shaner School by the Shaner staff, begin to become a central part of who your child is as a young learner.

Your primary point of contact at the Shaner School is of course, your child’s teacher. We encourage an ongoing conversation on behalf of your child. Should you need additional assistance, your child has been assigned a counselor who would be glad to speak with you throughout the year. We hope all of your experiences in our school are both enjoyable and meaningful.


Mascot: Shaner Sharks

School colors: Red, White, and Black


Hamilton Township Parent Teacher Association (HTPTA) meetings and events are a great way to meet other preschool parents and become involved in the community. Meetings typically take place in the Hess School Library. Families can join PTA using this link:

School Nurse Notes

Students will have vision and hearing screening within the first few months of school. Results from these screenings will be shared with parents and referrals will be made when necessary. Dental hygiene will be addressed as well.


Hamilton Township School District is committed to working closely and collaboratively with our parents and community. The Early Childhood Advisory Council will meet at least four times a year to discuss our early childhood programs, collaborative opportunities, and ways to improve the overall program. Parents, community members, Head Start staff, Atlantic County Council for Young Children representatives, Board of Education members, and Hamilton Township School District teachers/administrators will serve on the advisory council. Parent participation is highly encouraged. If you would like to participate on the advisory council, please contact Colleen Bretones at 476-6272.


The Shaner School uses the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports framework. We work daily to help our young children learn how to live by our four Smart Shark Habits found on the front cover of this folder. We ask that you talk with your child at home about these Smart Shark Habits. Rules exist for the purpose of maintaining a safe and orderly environment. Students will be taught the expectations of the Shaner School and of their teachers within the school. Failure to adhere to the expectations will result in consequences in accordance with our district discipline policy. Parents will be notified when teachers or the administration assign consequences.


A Family Worker or counselor will be available for all preschool families to provide assistance when necessary. The family worker will ask all parents to complete a Community Needs Assessment to identify areas of concern within our community. Additionally, parents will be asked to complete a Strengthening Families Survey. Parent feedback is very important to us. It assists us in developing program goals and objectives, evaluating each family’s experiences in our program, and incorporating ideas on how we can better serve families. Based on the results of these surveys, relevant information will be shared with our families. A Community Resource Book will be available for all of our families.

Family Success Centers are community-based neighborhood gathering places that offer families convenient access to information, support and resources that help develop and maximize their strength and potential. Parent events, meetings, and resources for families are scheduled at the centers throughout the school year. Three Family Success Centers are in our area:

Inland Family Success Center

Family Service Association

3050 Spruce Avenue

Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234

Phone: (609) 569-0376 Fax: (609) 569-9164

Hours: Monday and Thursday 10am-6pm; Tuesday, Wednesday 10am-8pm; Friday 9am-5pm; Saturdays Varied

Hammonton Family Success Center

AtlantiCare Behavioral Health

Atlantic County Human Services Building

310 Bellevue Avenue

Hammonton, NJ 08037

Phone: (609) 567-2900 Fax: (609) 567-3896

Hours: Mon: 9am-6pm, Tues: 9am-6pm, Wed: 9am-6pm, Thurs:9am-6pm, Fri: 9am-5pm, Saturday (twice a month) 9am-1pm

New Day Family Success Center

622-624 South New York Road

Galloway NJ 08205

Phone: (609) 652-0230 Fax (609) 652-0420

Hours: Monday, Thursday and Friday 10am-6pm; Tuesday and Wednesday 10am-8pm. Saturday Varied


Hamilton Township uses Creative Curriculum, which is one of the four curricula recommended by the State of New Jersey. The curriculum is aligned to the NJ Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards and to the NJ Kindergarten Teaching and Learning Standards. Areas of focus throughout the school year are Social Emotional, Physical, Language, Cognitive, Literacy, Math, Science, and Social Studies. The children are assessed using Teaching Strategies GOLD. This developmentally appropriate tool provides parents/guardians detailed information about the progress of your child.

The Shaner School leadership continues a decade long partnership with Columbia University Teachers College in the development and enhancement of our reading and writing program. Shaner School teachers and school leadership attend regular training at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

The Shaner School is in its sixth year of a partnership with the Boggs Center at Rutgers University through the Department of Education. This partnership provides us with ongoing support and training in providing social and behavioral instruction and discipline to primary-aged students. The Shaner School staff was recognized in 2019 as a New Jersey Showcase School, one of six in the state, and again in 2022 as a High Implementation Fidelity School, one of 36 elementary schools in the state, for its work in the area of student behavior.

Pre-school and kindergarten students are assessed using Teaching Strategies Gold which connects seamlessly to Creative Curriculum. Students will be assessed using this developmentally appropriate portfolio approach that gives parents/guardians detailed information about the progress of your child. Creative Curriculum encompasses all New Jersey learning standards for pre-school and kindergarten.

Exercise and play are foundational parts of pre-school and kindergarten. The State of New Jersey’s guidelines for these grade levels includes the expectation that outside and inside play occur daily. Children will go outside almost every day of the year and will have times of play within their classrooms.

The arts are encouraged and celebrated in our classrooms and through the Creative Curriculum. Collaborative experiences take place during the school year that include multi-cultural learning celebrations that explore the arts across genres and cultures.

The sciences are explored as part of the Creative Curriculum which takes a hands-on approach to learning, engaging children in a collaborative investigation of our world.


Reading books to your child is an important factor in children’s academic and social success. Children will engage in shared read aloud activities every day and will have the opportunity to interact with books at the library center and during other activities throughout the day. It is critical that parents read to their child every day!

Suggestions for home:

Reading with your child strengthens the parent-child relationship, fosters strong communication and language skills, and broadens their exposure to a variety of academic content areas that are so important for success.

· Reading in any language is beneficial.

· Read at home or take your child to the library and encourage reading for pleasure.

· Have conversations about books with your child in the language that is most comfortable.


Computer use and other electronic media, such as tablets or the Smart Board, will be limited to no more than fifteen minutes per day in the classroom. However, children with special health care needs who require and consistently use assistive and adaptive computer technology are encouraged and supported to use them throughout the day. Unstructured playtime is more valuable for a young child's developing brain than is electronic media. Screens are everywhere. As a result, controlling a child's screen time has become much harder for parents.

Suggestions for home:

  • Moderation of screen time, which includes television, videos, tablets, video games, etc, is key for healthy development.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that all screens be turned off thirty minutes prior to bedtime.

  • Televisions, computers, and other screens ideally, should not be in children’s bedrooms.

  • It is recommended that children under age 2 have no screen time, and that children older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.

  • Avoid fast-paced programming, which young children have a hard time understanding, apps with a lot of distracting content, and violent media.

  • ·Develop screen time rules for your family.


HTSD will be using the ESI-R to screen the general education preschoolers this year. If your child was screened as a three-year-old, there will be no need to complete this screening tool. A screening provides a quick look at how children are doing in important areas, such as visual motor skills, language, cognition, and gross motor skills. The purpose of the ESI-R is to identify children who may need additional support to perform successfully in the school environment. The information allows our staff to differentiate learning opportunities for students. The results will be shared with parents.


Report cards are issued three times a year with parent conferences scheduled at least once a year. It is encouraged that all parents monitor their child’s progress throughout the year and should not hesitate to contact their child’s teacher, counselor, or the pre-school master teacher if a concern arises. Additionally, your child’s teacher will communicate with you using a communication folder and through Remind. Please check the folder daily and use it to keep the teacher informed of any changes at home or with anything that you may want the teacher to know.


Your child’s teacher will communicate with you regularly using a communication notebook/newsletter. The related service therapists and case manager will contact you periodically via notes sent home in the folder or a phone call. Progress reports will be sent home throughout the school year. These reports include a list of the IEP goals your child is working on and a rating that indicates his/her progress in meeting those goals. This includes all related service goals as well. Lastly, your child’s IEP will be updated every year. Your case manager will contact you to attend an annual review meeting to discuss your child’s progress and develop new goals for the following year.


The Preschool Intervention and Referral Team (PIRT) and the Kindergarten Intervention and Referral Team (KIRT) consist of educational professionals who are trained and experienced in supporting teachers and families to meet the needs of all students. Parents will be contacted if a teacher seeks assistance from PIRT or KIRT.


One of our goals at Hamilton Township School District is to develop a system of continuous transition activities to ensure that transitions from one placement/grade level to another are as seamless as possible. The Transition Team has developed a comprehensive transition plan that supports children and their families from Early Intervention services through third grade.


Exercise is an integral part of a child’s overall health and well-being. The American Council on Exercise lists a variety of physical, social, and health benefits for exercise and physical activity. These include maintaining a healthy body weight and healthy muscles, bones, and joints, improved interpersonal skills, higher self-esteem and better sleep patterns. Children will engage in movement activities on the playground and in the classroom. When there is inclement weather, children will participate in indoor gross motor activities, such as jogging, jumping, and rolling. Children will go outside almost every day of the year.

Suggestions for home:

  • Research shows a link between exercise and improved attendance/academic success. Please encourage movement activities such as jumping, running, climbing, throwing, catching, and/or riding a bike. Visiting local parks is a great way to bond with your child and get them the exercise they need.


Sleep is the cornerstone of wellness. Adequate sleep on a regular basis leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional self-regulation, as well as quality of mental and physical health. Nap time is provided within our pre-school program for up to an hour. At this time, children may either rest or do a quiet activity in the classroom.

Suggestions for home:

  • Have a consistent bedtime routine

  • Ensure your child is getting adequate sleep. The following guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics promote optimal health;

  • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per day.

  • Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per day.

  • Teens 13 – 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per day.


The Shaner School has a number of means of communication for school-related matters, events, and information. Most class level and grade level events are communicated directly through your child’s teacher through Remind. School level events and information will be communicated through the monthly newsletter, school calendar, and text messages. We encourage you to opt-in to the school’s text messaging service so that you can receive important announcements and reminders. Messaging through Remind is our primary method of communicating matters, schedule reminders, and event reminders. Late buses are communicated directly to the parents/guardians of the affected buses through text messaging.


If you should have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact the following:

Shaner Office: 609-476-6142, 609-476-6141

School Counselor: 609-476-6269, 609-476-6145

Child Study Team: 609-476-6111

Master Teacher/PIRT Specialist: 609-476-6273, 609-476-2108, 609-476-3016

Reading Specialist: 609-476-6309

School Nurse: 609-476-6151

Transportation: 609-476-6318

Kids Corner: 609-476-6266, 609-476-6269

Food Service: 609-476-6134