Crystal's Corner

January 8, 2016

Thought for the Week:

What Does C-Average Really Tell Us About Children?

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Monday I focused on catching up with paperwork and loose ends. Tuesday and Wednesday held a concentration on Goal 1 of our developing strategic plan. I met with Andrew and Erin Wednesday afternoon to formulate objectives for the goal.

On January 7, Lawrence High School (LHS) hosted a presentation by students from various Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), including Howard University, Spelman, and Morehouse Colleges. The presentation, sponsored by the Howard University New Jersey Club, provided juniors and seniors the opportunity to learn more about the college experience in general and the HBCU experience in particular. After the presentation, students had the opportunity to ask further questions in smaller, breakout sessions. Pictured is Howard University sophomore Joy Stradford, president of the Howard University NJ Club.

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Thursday, a handful of us took a field trip to Cisco in Iselin for a collaboration briefing and we learned a lot! (I could put this under Goal 4 also since a future decision will have a financial impact.) Andrew, Steven, Lana, Fay Lopez and Frank Giffone (our technician whose responsibilities include our phones) made the trip not only to learn about phones but also about additional options available perhaps to add at a future time. (Tom and Vince were due to go also but were unable to do so at least minute.) There are safety components as well as video conferencing and expanded instructional tools also available. The impetus for this briefing is a need to replace our Nortel phone system. The company no longer exists and our phones are not externally supported. It's next to impossible to get parts. Generally a week doesn't go by when phones at one location or another are down for a period of time...sometimes just minutes and others hours. Today, phones at LES were down for about 4 hrs. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about a new phone system. There are two different type emergency phone numbers for each location that are available when the system is down.

Agenda setting with Kevin was yesterday.

This morning I attended the monthly Mercer County Interim Executive Superintendent's Roundtable. The main topic of conversation...TRANSPORTATION! The solution...the County BA invited all Mercer Superintendents to attend the special community transportation meeting Tom Eldridge and Ed Treadaway set up (for Lawrence residents) on Tuesday, January 26. The County BA was so impressed with the outreach and collaboration that Tom and Ed set up that he wanted others to see it in action in hopes of being able to address their own "woes" with transportation issues. Kudos to Tom and Ed for once again leading the County in tackling another problem school districts face.


Next Tuesday night...January a big night for the high school as it opens its doors to the community, specifically for future freshmen and their families. The event is 5:30-7:00.

The same night Alyson is hosting an informational session entitled "Understanding Athletic Recruiting in the 21st Century." This begins at 6:30 p.m. in the high school library.

Lawrence High School Spanish teacher Alyssa Katz traveled to Honduras over winter break to build schools with Students Helping Honduras (SHH), an organization that aims to alleviate poverty and violence in Honduras through education and youth empowerment.

On January 4, "Senorita" Katz attended the inauguration of Por Venir, the school that she and former LHS student Julia Strak broke ground on last winter and for which the LHS SHH Club raised close to $2500 last year. Recent LHS graduate Matthew McCormack, now a freshman at the University of Tampa, attended the inauguration with her.

The school displays a plaque naming those who contributed significantly to the school, including current and former members of the LHS SHH Club Nelle Evans, Olivia Waaben, Julia Strak, Matthew McCormack and club advisor Alyssa Katz.

Alyssa said she'll keep us posted on a new school that soon will be funded and built...and painted red and honor of Lawrence High School! Great work!

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In case you missed it in the January 2016 Lawrence Gazette, here is the latest edition of The Link.

LMS is offering a service opportunity for middle school students on the January 18 Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day of Service when schools are closed. They are inviting the community into LMS as some students and staff will be on hand to offer free student-led lessons on how to use Google, smart phones, and fun Web 2.0 tools. They’ll also be involved in various community service projects, such as writing letters to soldiers and seniors, sorting Troopons, and knitting/crocheting hats for infants. All activities are free and open to the public.


Now that retro is behind us, a focus shifts to the budget.

I learned unofficially this week that I received the $30,000 Achievement Coach grant for which I applied. Once I get the official notification, the grant will appear on a BOE agenda for approval. In addition to acquiring fiscal resources (Goal 4), the grant also supports Goals 1 and 2. Below is the abstract from the grant:

At Lawrence Township Public Schools we understand that students learn best when teachers develop thinking dispositions, habits and procedures; routinely integrate highly engaging, purposeful and authentic curriculum connections across and within all subjects; maintain the highest expectations for student achievement; intentionally design critical thinking activities and questions; and create consistency in learning methods and instructional strategies focused on problem solving, creativity and higher order inquiry. We also understand that in order for our students to be successful we must surround and engulf them in a culture of learning that is embraced by everyone. We recognize the benefit of establishing professional learning communities that are grounded in rich, rigorous research-based strategies that support intellectual thinking and personal growth.

This grant will allow us to create professional learning communities that focus on developing and enhancing student critical thinking and problem solving skills and are facilitated by our most effective teachers. Our Achievement Coaches will play an integral role in providing coaching, mentoring and modeling for our new teachers as they participate in new teacher orientation and the multi-year induction program. These highly trained coaches will also share and turnkey their knowledge and strategies with a cohort of experienced teachers who eagerly want to advance to become our next Achievement Coaches. And finally, these coaches will work side-by-side with the administrative team to ensure alignment and coordination of our district strategic plan, instructional pedagogy, assessment practices, evaluation tools and measures, and professional development.


Just a reminder that I have given every BOE member "view only" access to the Google folders that were once only visible by the Personnel committee. I will update these documents as needed. Please use the links below to access them w/your Google accounts and/or the accounts you use to access other committee agenda information. You can access this information at any time that is convenient for you. Please let me know if you cannot access the information.

Click on the link below:

Goal 1: Strategic Plan

Goal 2: Evaluation Systems

Goal 3: NWEA Reading

Goal 4: Instructional Rounds

Goal 5: Community Participation

Below is the schedule the Personnel Committee agreed on with regard to my evaluation procedures:

Superintendent Evaluation Protocols

  • July 17, 2015: Merit Goals submitted to ECS

  • August 20, 2015: Merit Goals approved by ECS - letter in Supt Eval Folder

  • Nov 3, 2015: 1st Evaluation & Merit Goal Update w/Personnel Committee

  • Feb XX, 2016: 2nd Evaluation & Merit Goal Update w/Personnel Committee

  • May XX, 2016: 3rd Evaluation & Merit Goal Update w/Personnel Committee

  • May XX, 2016: Supt to complete electronic submission

  • May 25, 2016: BOE meeting w/o Supt to finalize report

  • June XX, 2016: Supt to receive written report

  • June 22, 2016: Full BOE meeting w/Supt to discuss report

  • June 30, 2016: Submit to County Office BOE resolution for merit bonus - NJDOE

  • July 15, 2016: BOE pays merit bonus for prior year - NJDOE