Winter Edition: February 2020
A letter from Dr. Scott Rocco, HTSD Superintendent
If you have ever watched the launch of a rocket, you have heard the announcer countdown, “T-minus ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one,” and then the word, “Liftoff” is cheerfully announced as the rocket leaves the launchpad and heads toward space. It’s an exciting experience to watch and an even more exuberant one for those who made it happen.
A rocket launch is a major accomplishment. It takes many people coming together to design, build, and launch it. But the launch is just a portion of the rocket’s mission. The same is true for a strategic plan. It involves many people, requires it to be designed, built, and launched. Once launched, the true mission takes shape; implementation of the plan.
Almost sixteen months ago, Hamilton Township School District embarked on an exciting initiative to design, build, and launch a strategic plan that will run from September 2020 to June 2025. The process engaged our community, established district priorities, and set a positive direction for our school district’s future. On January 22, 2020, the work of many in our community was presented to the Board of Education for consideration, and on February 26, 2020, our Board of Education approved our new strategic plan.
Through the work of many during the strategic planning process, our district now has a strategic plan with goals, measurable outcomes, and an estimated timeline. The strategic plan is separated into six areas. Below you will see the areas and the goals for each one.
Mission and Vision
Mission: The Hamilton Township School District is dedicated to providing an academic experience that helps to foster the success of all students in a supportive and encouraging environment. We will challenge our students to be confident, skilled communicators who set and exceed their own goals.
Vision: We believe preparation for life goes beyond what we learn in the classroom, and the power of a strong community with a united goal will help prepare our students for an outstanding future.
Strategic Planning Theme: Hamilton Opens Pathways to Excellence = H.O.P.E.
Student Academic Success and Social / Emotional Wellness
Foster and promote a supportive environment to empower our school community by elevating personal and academic expectations.
Ensure equitable access to resources and opportunities that meet the needs of all students, families, and staff to support the development of student academic success and social-emotional wellness.
Faculty and Staff Success
Recruit, hire, support, develop, and retain highly effective and caring professional staff and form them into an educationally successful faculty that are culturally reflective of the population they serve.
Increase the retention rate of faculty and staff by creating an inclusive culture and climate in all school district instructionally focused buildings.
Stakeholder Communication and Collaboration
To grow and sustain ongoing communication between the Hamilton Township School District and all stakeholders.
Culture and Climate
Build a culture of district unity and stakeholder engagement, which will ensure stakeholders have a voice at the school and district level, by creating opportunities for students and families across the district to interact and work together to achieve district-wide goals.
Develop a best in class, district-wide K-12 character education program with real-life application (small group, grade-level appropriate service projects) that incorporates social and emotional learning, brain development, mental health education, diversity, and inclusion in order to develop the whole child and emphasize the importance of empathy, equity, and compassion within our schools, communities and beyond.
Foster and support professional development by providing opportunities for all staff members that cultivate 21st-century skills, digital citizenship, technical literacy, and ensure effective integration of technology that transforms classroom instruction.
Provide all students with equal and equitable access to technology and digital resources in order to provide diverse, technology-enhanced learning opportunities that maximize their success.
Support a well -managed infrastructure, software resources and tools, efficient repair procedures, and high-speed connectivity in all instructional and administrative areas within the district.
As each of the sub-committees worked to create the above goals, the district invited the community to submit suggestions for a new logo to align with the proposed strategic plan. Over sixty suggestions were submitted and five were put to the community for a vote. The “Tree” logo won with 32% of the over 1600 votes cast. The tree, symbolic of permanence and longevity, has roots that represent an ongoing relationship with its surroundings. The tree in the logo represents our school district, which holds a permanent position in our community. The roots embody our whole community, hence the term “One Hamilton” below the tree. The base of the tree has three root bumps which represent our district’s three high schools and the 24 branches represent each of the schools in the Hamilton Township School District.
Many members of our community came together to design, build, and launch our new strategic plan. So many of our community had never worked together before, but found areas of interest, common purpose, and the excitement of the potential a new strategic plan can provide for our district’s future. They came together, like those who work to launch a rocket, giving many hours to the process. I thank everyone who participated in the process. It was truly wonderful to have representation from so many stakeholders from across our school district.
We are moving into the new phase of the process; implementation of the strategic plan. Many who were involved up to this point have agreed to stay on. But I want to also extend an invitation to other members of our community to assist in the implementation. This strategic plan has H.O.P.E for all of our students, faculty, staff, and community. It sets a pathway for excellence and works toward building the success of everyone as One Hamilton. As we begin our journey to One Hamilton, we will need the help of many who work, live, go to school in, and support Hamilton.
We have “liftoff” of our strategic plan. It’s now time for it to be put into action. I hope you will join us on this journey as we implement our new five-year strategic plan and set an exciting path for our school district’s future.
District Curriculum Updates from Anthony Scotto
High School Curriculum
Every October, students in Grades 9, 10, and 11 sit for the PSAT. Providing students with this experience, improves individual assessment confidence and readiness for the SAT, provides an additional measure for Advanced Placement (AP) potential, allows students to be considered for National Merit Scholarship, and provides the District with an additional snapshot of student performance.
Over the last few years, we have seen an upward trend (of student performance) on the PSAT. Students in the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 have shown growth over time. The Class of 2023 (current 9th grade class) took the PSAT for the first time this past October; their average score was an 849. The chart noted above highlights how our students in Grades 10, 11, and 12 have improved.
For more information about the PSAT, please click links below:
NJ State Seal of Biliteracy
Another area where HTSD has seen growth is in our participation with the New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy. The Seal is an outstanding way to recognize students for their proficiency in English and at least one additional language. Over the last few weeks, our high school students have been taking their world language assessments to see if they qualify for the Seal.
In addition to seeing an increase in student participation, the District has also seen an increase in the number of languages assessed. In 2017, two languages were assessed; this year, seventeen languages were assessed.
The chart noted above shows how many students have participated in the Seal since 2017. For more information about the Seal of Biliteracy, please use this link.
Middle, Elementary & Professional Development
Middle School Update
During the month of January, middle school students completed benchmark #2 in Mathematics and English Language Arts. The benchmark process is an effective way to determine how our students are making progress with grade level content. Teachers utilize benchmark data to drive instruction, pin-point remediation or acceleration, and discuss the curriculum with other members of the department.
The District utilizes Imagine Learning for mathematics and iReady for English Language Arts. Both programs provide your child’s teacher with detailed reports regarding student progress. Once benchmarks have been administered, both programs provide students with personalized practice. For more information about our online programs, please contact your child’s teacher or the Office of Curriculum & Instruction.
In the area of high school preparation, all grade 8 families were sent the 20/21 High School Program of Studies (for grade 9 course selection). In addition to sending out the Program of Studies via School Messenger, copies of the document have also been placed on the main page of the district website, curriculum webpage, high school sites, and on social media. For more information about course options for students entering 9th grade, please click this link.
In an effort to provide our elementary students with authentic, science experiences, the District has been implementing science performance tasks in Grades K-5. Using an online product called Exemplars, the District (through a teacher review committee process) has selected grade-specific tasks aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. “The open-ended investigations help students develop conceptual understanding while utilizing the skills of inquiry, engineering, and communication.” Some of our grade level performance tasks are noted below:
· What Can Motion Be? - Kindergarten
· What Happens When Light Travels Through An Object? – 1st Grade
· How & Why Does Water Climb? – 2nd Grade
· How Can A Simple Machine Make Work Easier? - 3rd Grade
· Earthquake Engineers - 4th Grade
· Saltwater & Freshwater…..Is There A Difference? - 5th Grade
If you would like to examine a few sample science performance tasks, please click this link.
Professional Development Update
Providing our new hires with ongoing support is a priority for the entire HTSD Community. This year, the District launched phase one of a four-year induction program. Currently, all new hires attend a monthly training focusing on a variety of topics that are key to year one success. To date, our new hires have learned more about:
· Classroom Management (September);
· Legal (October);
· Communication (November);
· Technology (December);
· Special Education (January);
· State Assessments (February).
Before the end of the school year, topics will also focus on Working With Guidance, Assessment Design & Implementation, Professional Responsibilities, and Reflection/Goal Setting.
HTSD 2020 Summer Camp Registration is now open!
What's New for HTSD 2020 Summer Camp?
- More than 60 Camps this summer!
- Onsite Before & After Camp Care through the Hamilton Area YMCA.
- Register before May 8, 2020 to receive a discounted price!
- Five weeks of Camp, hosted by Reynolds Middle School & Steinert High School.
Click HERE TO REGISTER for Summer Camp.
Questions? Email: HTSDSummerCamp@hamilton.k12.nj.us
HTSD Proudly Presents our Middle & High School Musicals!
Nottingham High School - March 5, 6 &7
Catch Me If You Can
Reynolds Middle School - March 11, 12, 13 & 14
Hamilton High School West - March 12, 13 & 14
Crockett Middle School - March 19, 20 & 21
The Addams Family
Grice Middle School - March 26, 27 & 28
Join us on March 30th for our 1st annual Health Night at Nottingham High School
Letter from Dr. Rocco, re: HTSD Chronic Absenteeism
In 2018, the Hamilton Township School District (HTSD) recognized that chronic absenteeism was negatively impacting student learning...
Please click HERE to read more.
HTSD In The News!
Grice Middle School Named NJ School of Character!
We are very proud to announce that Grice Middle School was among 81 schools in New Jersey to have been recognized as NJ State Schools of Character, by Character.org.
Character.org has been certifying Schools of Character for over 20 years based on their implementation of The 11 Principles of Character. In that time, they have certified more than 500 State and National Schools of Character. Grice Middle School will now become eligible to compete for National status in the next several months. Congratulations!
HTSD's Human Resource Department is on Twitter!
Save the Date:
HTSD Educator Job Fair
April 21, 2020
4 - 7 p.m.
Steinert High School, 2900 Klockner Road, Hamilton, NJ 08690
Questions? 609-631-4100 x 3082 EOE/AA