Superintendent Newsletter

Roxbury Public Schools

September 2022

Welcome back to the “reset” year! This year’s first weeks of school marked a return to a more typical school year. Students filled our hallways and filed into classrooms bringing their brightness and vivacity. While the last two years were filled with the vicissitudes of change and the unknown, the opening of this school year felt comfortable and familiar. This energy was not only felt when our students returned, but also on our staff’s first days. We took some time to take stock and highlight the enthusiasm, passion, strength, and wisdom of our educators. On the second day our keynote speaker, Mr. Frank Piccone, a nationally renowned speaker on emotional intelligence, presented strategies for using the body and mind to create and foster a well-regulated and resilient school community. Based on the reactions and input of our teachers, the learning was well-received and set the tone for an enthusiastic “reset” and anticipation for a wonderful upcoming school year. Most importantly, we were reminded that each of us plays a role in creating a positive school environment. Knowing this staff, I have every confidence that this year will be one of the best!

Educationally yours,

Loretta L. Radulic, Ed. D.

Superintendent of Schools

What does the administration do during the summer?

Every July the Board of Education holds a retreat which may sound like fun and foster images of relaxation, but for the Board of Education, it is just the opposite. It is a time to reflect on the previous year and to discuss how to forward District Goals. This year’s goals focus on five areas. Within each area are sub-categories that are detailed in the District Action Plans. Our first district goal continues to focus on student achievement and educator professional development. Goal two highlights the Portrait of a Graduate initiative, a community designed expectation for our graduating Gaels. This initiative was recognized as a 2022 Promising Practice, noting that it makes a significant impact and is fully aligned with the principles of creating a culture of character. The third district goal focuses on sustainability while the fourth centers on health and wellness, forwarding social emotional learning and self-care strategies for mental and emotional fortitude. The final district goal strives to foster a strong connection to our community and a partnership with families in educating Roxbury students. These goals are shared with administration during the August Administrative Summit.

The annual August Administrative Summit is where the district’s administration comes together to learn, to calibrate for observation/evaluation purposes, and to plan and prepare for the upcoming school year. This year’s learning included such topics as Trauma Informed instruction and HIB training as well as planning for our New Teacher Orientation and RAFT (Roxbury Academy For Teachers) to name a few items. To be a strong educational institution it takes commitment to being the “second set of eyes” in a classroom during an observation or walk-through, to work with teachers to evaluate instructional strategies and to offer clear and detailed feedback. Our administrators are our instructional leaders.

Another important event that occurs every summer is New Teacher Orientation. It is during this time that our new staff learns about what it means to live in and go to school in Roxbury. This segment is presented by our very own students, in their own words. Then they learn what it means to be a Gael, highlighting the values celebrated through our Portrait of a Graduate. Along with conversations centered on instructional practices, technology resources, working with paraprofessionals, and the importance of parent community, the multitude of day-to-day aspects of the position are also discussed, from using ClassLink to filling out a technology ticket for support or repair. Ensuring that our teachers know the expectations for being a Roxbury educator and where to go for support is the best way to retain the best teachers.

Along with those customary events, we hold Board committee meetings, Board of Education meetings, conduct interviews and hire, write curriculum, provide Extended School Year, camps, and the Summer SAIL academy. We also hold our internal meetings that include security, technology, buildings and grounds, and sometimes parent meetings. There is also the upkeep and enhancement of our buildings & grounds, paving, construction, and bus cleaning. Even while writing this list, I know I’ve missed items. Additional opportunities also arise, such as the webinar I attended on July 6th, a webinar with Senator Vin Gopal where topics, such as mental health, preK, bussing, teacher shortage, HPE standards, and state assessments were discussed during “A Conversation with the Chair of the Senate Education Committee: Hunterdon, Sussex, Warren & Morris.” In mid-July, we partnered with our Roxbury Police Department to learn, practice, and enhance our school safety protocols. More on that will follow.

This year we concluded the summer with a special event that you may have read about in the news or seen on television. This summer’s special event was one that has taken two years in the making, fighting through the weather and health emergencies. I’m speaking about the final celebration, the dedication of the Morris Habitat House, and the efforts of our Structural Fabrication and Design class.

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The house that was constructed by our very own students in the Structural Design and Fabrication class will now be the home of three future Gaels. If you are not on the distribution list for Mr. Frank Caccavale’s newsletter, please sign up here.

Community, it is important to remember that YOU BUILT THIS HOUSE, too! This course grew out of a Roxbury Reimagined community survey in 2016 where we asked what YOU THINK Roxbury High School needs to deliver a more comprehensive educational experience. You helped guide, and we have delivered.

This summer we partnered with our local Police Department to learn more about Active Shooter Drills and how we could function better as a team in ensuring the safety of our students and staff. The training also tested our school mapping system and provided professional development with a focus on how to be a first responder. Over 40 staff members attended one or more of the training sessions, many of whom also serve on our School Safety Committees. Lt. Eckert, Police Chief Adone, Sgt. Jeff Paul from the Office of Emergency Management, our former Director of Security/former Police Chief Simonetti, as well as an FBI agent were on hand to provide guidance. This opportunity was a first for Roxbury School District. An event such as this one only occurs through the shared vision of multiple stakeholders. It was truly an honor to work with our Police and to train, practice, and prepare for the day we hope will never come. We will continue to forward our safety and security protocols with our new Director of Security, Lt. James Monaghan.

I hope you took some time to read my spring newsletter where I shared the many security enhancements that Mr. Simonetti led during his time here in Roxbury. We are grateful for his guidance over the years and wish him well in his future endeavors. Mr. Monaghan is already building off of the great work that has been done. Through the support of our Board of Education, we have enhanced district coverage by adding an additional security guard, increasing the number of hours of two security guards, and restructuring schedules for greater coverage.

Typical Fall Planning Begins for the Administration

During the fall of each year, while our students are partaking in classroom activities and families are celebrating the return to school events and opportunities, the administration turns towards budgeting and planning. Designing a budget that supports the needs of our students, accounts for the curricular resources needed by our teachers, and ensures the maintenance of our buildings requires multiple steps and the gathering of information from a variety of stakeholders. Long range planning is also taken into account. Multiple meetings are held where stakeholders contribute their piece of the district budget puzzle. While we are enjoying the beginning of this school year, we are already looking ahead and preparing for the 2023-2024 school year.

Happily, a few long range goals that have been incredibly expensive, but much needed, are coming to completion this year. The completion of these goals puts us in a healthy financial position.

  • Roofing: We have completed roofing projects on all of our 20+ year old roofs over the last five years with only a few small projects remaining that will be finished before the end of this school year. To put this in perspective, the average small roof on an elementary school costs approximately a million dollars. Once completed, the Roxbury School District will not need to worry about another roofing project for at least twenty years.
  • Windows: Window upgrades are complete at Franklin, Jefferson, Eisenhower, and Lincoln. We are in the final stages of completion at Kennedy and Nixon and have plans to address Roosevelt this year. Like the roofing project, window projects are expensive, but once completed we will have another big project that will not need to be addressed in the near future.
  • High School Auditorium: With new auditorium seating, the completion of the balcony, upgrades to our sound and lighting system, there’s no question that you will feel like you are on Broadway watching our performances this year. As a Choice School of the Performing Arts, creating a space worthy of the talents of our students and staff was imperative.
  • Paving: Every summer we complete paving projects to keep our driveways and parking lots safe as well as aesthetic. This summer we focused on the high school parking lot and Bryant Drive.
  • Cameras: Upgrading, assessing, and enhancing camera coverage is on-going. One portion of the planning is school bus coverage. Over the last four years, we have ordered buses with cameras and have worked to add cameras to our older buses. Through appropriate planning we were able to complete the project this summer. But buses aren’t the only place we’ve enhanced camera coverage. Along with hallways and gymnasium coverage, we have coverage on the fields, at the Meeker Street Pavilion, and on our parking lots. Part of security is vigilance, and this is where our camera coverage comes in.
  • Beautification Projects: Maintaining our grounds creates an atmosphere that is both functional and aesthetically pleasant. In its own way, caring for our grounds teaches students respect and appreciation. We have worked on enhancing the landscape at school building entrances, at the special education building and the entrance to our football stadium. In connection with maintaining physical spaces, we have also appreciated the rich history of the Roxbury School District by designing a special structure to display the original bell that sat atop the Board of Education building, Roxbury’s first schoolhouse.
  • Re-keying doors: While this project may seem mundane, it is one that began about four years ago in an effort to limit the number of keys and increase security. We are fortunate that our buildings and grounds staff have been working on this project.
  • Science Labs: One or two science labs are revamped each year. In this way, we have worked to remain up-to-date with academic needs. For example, one of our classrooms became an Aviation Lab to accommodate our pathway program.

The Roxbury Public Schools takes great pride in offering a comprehensive learning experience that includes a wide variety of opportunities that appeal to a vast audience of learners offering inroads toward a complex network of future opportunities. US News and World Reports rank high schools in comparison to one another. In order to do so, they utilize historic data points to calculate a ranking score for high schools across the country. This ranking system accounts for a small number of the items that a comprehensive high school, like RHS, offers students. These metrics include the following: students who took at least one AP test as well as those who took multiple tests during the 2019-2020 school year, student performance on standardized testing (NJSLA) from the 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 school years averaged due to a lack of data from the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, and four-year graduation rates. While these metrics are important to review and evaluate, our goal in pursuing the mission and vision of our district is to support students in their endeavors beyond standardized and AP testing with access to meaningful learning opportunities so they can soar in their learning as well as our Portrait of a Graduate themes.

Reflection is a critical part of growth and improvement and when we reflect on the data tabulated by this ranking system, it contributes to the overall reflection process when we examine the entirety of our academic, social, and extra-curricular programs. As a district, we are very proud of what our staff and students achieve every day and are always seeking to improve so that our students are provided with the very best experience. We will continue to do so by considering information presented by outside organizations like this one as well as internal mechanisms, such as student academic assessments, social/emotional growth in reflections and overall experiences, ensuring that we continue to focus on a comprehensive approach that is multi-faceted and innovative.

The SDF (Structural Fabrication and Design) class is one such experience, but there are many others. A few I will present to you for consideration.

Our Newest Pilot and the First in our Aviation Program!

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Our Roxbury High School junior Tyler Benedetto has officially flown a plane SOLO, as of Friday, September 2nd. This important milestone puts him one step closer to his personal goal of earning his pilot’s license, which he hopes to accomplish on his 17th birthday (10/18). Tyler has nearly 40 hours of flight training so far, making great progress since he started in May. Tyler has participated in our Aviation Pathway and has found his passion!

Our Aviation instructor, Mr. Michael Gottfried, who is also pursuing his pilot license, organized some flight time to watch Tyler solo from the air! In his words, “I had a front row seat to watch his final landing.” Mr. Gottfried’s excitement for his students’ success was palpable. This kind of “above and beyond” (no pun intended) attitude of our teachers is not unusual and is one of the reasons that Roxbury is such a special place.

We have a senior who did not follow the pathway towards his passion for aviation, but is interested in pursuing it. Roxbury provides opportunities for these students through a Senior Option class. The important step to take is to talk to one’s guidance counselor.

Over 2,200 schools participated in the AP Capstone Diploma program, a project-based learning experience valued by colleges and universities across the U.S. and around the world.

Roxbury, NJAt Roxbury High School, four students have earned the AP Capstone Diploma.™ Additionally, one student has earned the AP Seminar and Research Certificate™ during the 2021-22 school year. The AP Capstone Diploma program helps students develop the critical thinking, research, collaboration, and presentation skills that are critical for academic success.

“We proudly recognize the achievements of students who participated in the AP Capstone Diploma program,” said Monica Mann, Director of School Counseling. “Our AP Capstone™ students and teachers showed extraordinary commitment while facing historic challenges. This is a meaningful college readiness program that will serve our students well after high school.”

To receive the AP Capstone Diploma, students must earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar, AP Research, and on four additional AP Exams. To receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate, students must earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research. Students are increasingly participating in the AP Capstone program. Over 2,200 schools participated in the AP Capstone program worldwide during the 2021-22 school year. Approximately 14,100 students earned the AP Capstone Diploma, and 9,200 earned the AP Seminar and Research Certificate.

Unlike traditional AP® subject exams with a single end-of-year assessment, AP Seminar and AP Research assessments are project based and evaluate skills mastery through group projects, presentations, and individual essays completed throughout the year. Instead of focusing on one specific academic discipline, AP Seminar and AP Research are interdisciplinary: students are empowered to create research projects based on topics of personal interest. Students are assessed on the critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills needed to complete their projects.

“I’m thrilled to congratulate these motivated students, who worked hard to earn the AP Capstone Diploma and AP Seminar and Research Certificate,” said Trevor Packer, head of the Advanced Placement® Program. “These students have enhanced the foundation for their future academic and professional careers by honing their ability to manage long-term projects, collaborate with teams, and deliver effective presentations on topics they’re passionate about.”

Of the students who participated in the AP Capstone Diploma program at Roxbury High School:

  • Four graduating seniors (Taylor Kramer, Gehad Moustafa, Nia Mullengada, Callista Oliveira) in the class of 2022 were awarded the AP Capstone Diploma by earning scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar, AP Research, and on 4 additional AP Exams.

  • One Junior (Seanna Mahoney) was awarded the AP Seminar and Research Certificate by earning scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research.

The College Board Advanced Placement Program gives students the opportunity to take challenging college-level courses while still in high school. A 3 or higher on an AP Exam has multiple benefits for students, including earning college credit, advanced placement, or both for successful performance on AP Exams, saving them time and money. Research shows AP students are better prepared for and more likely to enroll and remain in college, do well in classes, and earn their degrees on time. Each exam is developed by a committee of college and university faculty and AP teachers, ensuring that AP Exams align with their high standards.

In speaking with one of our performing arts teachers, she asked, “Why can’t someone pursue an activity that just gives them joy without the pressure of how it will fit in with their future career?” It was a great question and made me pause. Should those moments of simple joy be a part of our life’s journey? Yes, of course. We are a School Choice for the Performing Arts, and we excel in that area because of exceptional talent and hard work, but also because there is joy in that experience.

I am proud to announce that the Honors Wind Symphony has been selected to perform at the 2023 National Concert Band Festival sponsored by Music for All. In addition, this festival is the nation's premiere concert band festival. Only the finest programs in the country are accepted to perform each year - the competition is truly "fierce." Performing groups are selected through a rigorous application process. Groups must submit multiple LIVE recordings that are then evaluated by three of the nation’s finest minds in the world of wind band teaching and conducting. Additionally, each group must secure two references from nationally recognized clinicians who have worked with the group and can verify its performance level. This year, the RHS Wind Symphony was one of only 60 groups selected to perform from HUNDREDS of applications across the country!

The festival runs from 3/30/23-4/3/23 in Indianapolis, IN. Students will have the opportunity to perform for, be evaluated by and work with some of the biggest names in the music world. They will also have the opportunity to play for, meet and collaborate with peers from across the nation. This is truly a "one in a lifetime" experience. In the words of our Director of Bands, Mr. Jeff Conrad, “I am truly excited to give our students the chance to represent their band program, their school, their community and the great state of New Jersey under a NATIONAL spotlight.”

If you want to hear a performance, please join us at the April Board of Education meeting where they will offer a small sampling.

Everyday truly is a great day to be a Gael when you can walk across the Roxbury High School campus and see so many students participating in our Fall sports and music programs. The volleyball team is ranked 8th in the state to start the season as they look to repeat as county and state section champions. On Saturday, September 10th Horseshoe Lake will be filled with hundreds of high school runners for the Roxbury Cross Country Invitational. Records are sure to fall on one of the fastest courses in the state. The marching band will also begin their competition season at home hosting the Roxbury Band Classic on September 24th. The Gaels Gymnastics team has a chip on their shoulder after finishing in second place in both the conference and state section last year and have championships in their sights. The boys and girls soccer teams have had excellent pre-seasons and should be very competitive this Fall. Field hockey and girls tennis are also picked to make big jumps this season. And of course, don't miss the opening of Roxbury High School's Friday Night Lights! The Gaels football team will be hosting Randolph at 7 pm on Friday, September 9th. The cheerleaders will keep you screaming all game and the Roxbury Sound will have you dancing in your seat at halftime. Go Gaels!

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Roxbury Board of Education 2022: (Left to Right): Sitting - Anne Colucci, Dan Masi, Carol Scheneck, Brian Staples. Standing: Leo Coakley, Kathy Purcell, Heather Champagne, Joe Bocchino, Michelle Danielson, and Edwin Botero.

Roxbury’s Board of Education became a Master Board in 2018 after achieving ten hours of professional development. Why is this important? Because it demonstrates the commitment of this Board of Education to learn about, understand, and implement the responsibilities of their roles. In the chart below, you can learn a little about the years of service, committees and delegate roles of each of the current Board members.

2022 Board of Education Members

Ms. Carol Scheneck, President (2022)

  • Certified Board Member by NJSBA
  • 15 years of service
  • Finance Committee (Chair)
  • Policies - Governance Committee

  • Educational Services of Morris County Delegate

Mr. Dan Masi, Vice President (2022)

  • 6 years of service
  • Community Relations/Shared Services Committee

  • Education Committee

  • Facilities Committee

  • Finance Committee

  • Policies - Governance Committee (Chair)

  • NJSBA Delegate

Mr. Joe Bocchino IV (2023)

  • 5 years of service
  • Education Committee (Chair)

  • Policies - Governance Committee

  • District Sustainability Team

Mrs. Heather Champagne (2023)

  • 5 years of service
  • Education Committee

  • Policies - Governance Committee

  • NJSBA Alternate

  • MCSBA Representative & ALT

Mr. Leo Coakley (2024)

  • Certified Board Leader by NJSBA
  • 10 years of service
  • Education Committee

  • Facilities Committee

  • Finance Committee

  • Negotiations Committee (Chair)

  • District Sustainability Team

Mrs. Anne Colucci (2023)

  • Certified Board Member by NJSBA
  • 5 years of service
  • Community Relations/Shared Services Committee

  • Facilities Committee (Chair)

  • Finance Committee

  • Negotiations Committee

  • Personnel Committee

  • Town Council Liaison

  • MCSBA Representative & ALT

Mrs. Michelle Danielson (2022)

  • 3 years of service
  • Community Relations/Shared Services Committee (Chair)

  • Facilities Committee (ALT)

  • Finance Committee (ALT)

  • Negotiations Committee

  • Personnel Committee

Mr. Brian Staples (2024)

  • 1 year of service
  • Community Relations/Shared Services Committee

  • Personnel Committee

Mrs. Kathy Purcell (2024)

  • 4 years of service
  • Education Committee (ALT)

  • Facilities Committee

  • Negotiations Committee

  • Personnel Committee (Chair)

Mr. Edwin Botero, Mt. Arlington Representative

  • 2 years of service
  • Facilities Committee

  • Finance Committee

  • Project Graduation Liaison

This is the Board of Education that has worked together to develop and advance a positive culture in the relationships among the Board, the Administration and the three employee unions. They have worked to handle disagreements with courtesy and respect. Mutual cooperation has proven fruitful in the face of challenges, such as adjusting to COVID-19 and settling contracts prior to their expiration, and has resulted in positive advances to benefit our students through more extensive student support opportunities and programming.

Board members are also proud of the achievements of our students from our athletes and performing arts students to our AP and SDF students. They appreciate the efforts put forth for sustainability and our Portrait of a Graduate initiatives.

One Board member offered the following insight…

"People often ask me why I want, or even like, being on the Board. After so many years of being involved with the PTA/PTO of various schools and volunteering for school and community activities, it just seemed like a natural step up. I've always believed community involvement is the key to a successful school district. It's important that citizens see people like themselves represented on the Board - parents, grandparents and neighbors - and that they feel comfortable expressing their opinions, suggestions and views on what is happening in their schools and township. Parents, teachers and taxpayers need to be part of the Roxbury success story. As a Board member, I take pride in working with my fellow Board members, bringing the "pulse" of the greater community to the Administration."