Cliffwood School Parent Newsletter

November 2019

Principal's News

Dear Cliffwood School families,

My favorite time of year, Fall, is here. I love the crisp cool air, the colorful leaves, the non-stop football, and more. I especially love Thanksgiving. I love the time with family and friends and, of course, the delicious food. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for all that we have. As I reflect this year, I am thankful to work in such a great school and community. I am thankful for the awesome kids who fill Cliffwood's halls each day with their energy and smiles that brighten the whole building. I am thankful for the students' families who support our learners, especially the ones who spend so much time at our school's activities, working to make the kids' experiences the best they can be. I am thankful for Cliffwood's dedicated teachers and staff who guide our children's learning and work hard to help our students. I am thankful for the great school we have in which to learn and the people who work to keep it in great shape. I am thankful for the resources we have, like technology, books, materials, and good food to eat in our cafeteria each day. There are so many things to be thankful for this season. But I am especially thankful for the opportunity to serve as principal here at Cliffwood School. Each day that I come to school, I find another reason to be more CLIFFWOOD PROUD! I hope that all of our students, their families, teachers and staff, and the whole Cliffwood community have a wonderful Fall season. Take care,

Mark Van Horn, Principal

Big picture

All about One School, One Book

Get excited about reading! Cliffwood School is taking part in a special, community-wide shared reading event. Every student received a copy of the same book, The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Clearly, and each family is asked to read it together at home over the next few weeks. I am personally asking each family to make the time so that you can participate in this special activity (about 15 minutes, 3x/week). Reading aloud at home is valuable because it better prepares your child to be an effective reader, and it is also a fun, worthwhile family activity. With this program, we aim to build a community of readers at our school. Everyone – students, parents, teachers, the principal – will all be reading along together!

Mouse and the Motorcycle resources

It's super important for families to use our website during One School, One Book. Click here to find info about this project including chapter questions, a reading calendar, view our kickoff assembly, and more!

Tips for strengthening your child's reading skills!

We're all about reading here at Cliffwood! Click the image at right to view some great tips and strategies for working with your child at home. If you'd prefer to print this list, click here to view a PDF version of the chart.

Thanks for a great night!

Cliffwood's first Title 1 Family Night of the year was a huge success! Thank you so much to our awesome school community for coming out to this event. We had literally hundreds of Cliffwood families at our school to learn about reading strategies, play games, eat food, do face-painting, and even take a picture with Ralph S. Mouse. Thank you Cliffwood families for helping to make a memorable night!

Picture Day is coming!

Everybody smile and say "cheese"! School picture day is on Tuesday, 11/5. Any make-ups will be on 12/6. Don't forget to wear your smile!

Check your phone # (and other contact info)

Parents/guardians, it is very important that you have a working phone # listed in our computer system. If there is an emergency at school, a phone call is the best way to reach you. Please make sure to update your contact info regularly and your approved list of contact persons (and their phone info also). If you need help, please contact our main office staff. Also, several parents have completely full voice mailboxes on their phone so our school staff cannot leave messages. Thank you for your help with this and keeping our students safe!

Educators of the Year awards

Cliffwood School is proud to announce that we will once again participate in the Department of Education's Educators of the Year Program. This program integrates the Teacher of the Year and the Educational Services Professional of the Year. Do you know a classroom teacher or educational services professional who is dedicated, inspiring, and making a difference? If so, please take the time to recommend this person for the Governor’s Educator of the Year Program! More info, including the nomination form, will be sent via email soon. Please consider nominating someone from our great staff here at Cliffwood School! Nomination forms must be sent to the principal on/before Friday, December 6. Thank you!

Parent/teacher conferences are almost here!

Parent/teacher conferences will be held on Thursday, 11/21 and Friday, 11/22. The 21st will be evening conferences and the 22nd will be afternoon conferences. Both days are 1/2 days for students (1:20 dismissal for K-3 and 12:50 dismissal for PreK). Adults​ ​will​ ​use​ ​the​ ​parent​ ​portal​ ​to​ ​sign​ ​up​ ​for​ ​conference​ ​time​ ​slots.​ ​With​ ​the​ ​portal,​ ​parents can​ ​quickly​ ​and​ ​easily​ ​select​ ​their​ ​child’s​ ​teachers​ ​and​ ​choose​ ​a​ ​date​ ​and​ ​times​ ​for​ ​meeting.​ Parents can choose from the available slots on a first come, first served basis; once a slot is filled by a parent, other parents cannot choose that slot. The portal will open to choose conference slots starting on Saturday, November 2. Please click here to view a letter with details and instructions for using the portal to sign up for conferences. Please try your best to attend these conferences. These meetings are key for strengthening the home-school connection. Teachers will be prepared to discuss your child's academic progress and show examples of work and assessments. Parents can ask about strategies for home that will support their student's learning at school. Here are some ideas to make the conference more meaningful:

  • Before the conference, review your child's grades online.
  • Before the meeting, talk with your child about his/her progress in school.
  • Make a list of questions beforehand to ask during the conference (e.g., Is my child performing at grade level? What do you see as his/her strengths? How could he/she improve?).
  • Ask the teacher what you can do at home to help your child learn.
  • Think about ways you would like to become involved in your child's learning and discuss with the teacher.
  • Make a plan. Write down what you and the teacher will do (and how often) to support your child.
  • Schedule the next time to talk with the teacher. Discuss the best way to communicate and set up a schedule to stay informed about your child's progress.

Important info about immunizations and/or physicals

If you've received letters, phone calls, email, etc. about missing immunizations and/or physicals, please contact our nurse ASAP. Be sure to avoid a situation where your child could be excluded from school. If you have any questions, please contact our school nurse, Mrs. Caldwell, at 732-705-5632 or email at

Cliffwood celebrates Week of Respect

In October, all Cliffwood students and staff participated in New Jersey's annual Week of Respect. Activities included classroom lessons with Mrs. Levine, a laser show assembly, signing the No Place for Hate pledge, and more!

Thank you for supporting our Garden!

Your generous donations for our Walk-a-Thon benefit our wonderful Friendship Garden! A BIG THANKS to Ms. Minneci and Ms. Bowman for helping to organize this event and also to all of Cliffwood's community members who gave so generously! Also, thanks to our awesome PTO and our Garden Club advisor, Ms. Minneci. Thanks to their efforts, Cliffwood's Friendship Garden is now officially a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat!!

November Dates to Remember

Please mark your calendars for these upcoming school events:
  • School Spirit Day - 11/1
  • Picture Day - 11/5
  • Schools closed 11/7 and 11/8
  • PTO school store during lunches - 11/13 and 11/14
  • Marking period 1 ends - 11/14
  • Early dismissal for all students in grades PreK to 8th only - 11/15
  • PTO book fair 11/20 to 11/22
  • Star Student meeting - 11/20
  • Report cards "live" to parents - 11/21
  • Evening parent/teacher conferences - 11/21 (Early dismissal for students)
  • Afternoon parent/teacher conferences - 11/22 (Early dismissal for students)
  • Early dismissal for all schools - 11/27
  • Schools closed - 11/28 and 11/29