November Newsletter


To the HMS Community,

Last week marked the end of MP1. I know it is a common cliche amongst educators, but the school year really moves fast. This is probably the case because we have so many activities and events, in and out of school, that break up our routines and make us feel like time is flying by (figurative language- in this case, personification- has been a major focus in 5th grade).

With this, the next six weeks will feature a flurry of activities, most of which are listed below . I will post this newsletter and previous ones on the re-designed HMS website so that parents may go back for reference. Hopefully this can make tracking all HMS activities a little bit easier.

I hope the Thanksgiving break brings the entire HMS community peace and respite with friends and family. If you are staying in town, you can find many HMS staffers at the Turkey Trot. See you there?


Doug Layman


UPCOMING EVENTS (also posted on website calendar):


21: Kids and Grief Parent Workshop

23. Early Dismissal (1:05pm)

24-25: Schools Closed

28-30 (and below): Early Dismissal (K-5)


1: Early Dismissal (K-5)

2. Early Dismissal (all schools)

15: Strings Concert @ SHS, 7pm

22: Band Concert @ SHS, 7pm

Meet the Teacher....

The first in a series of brief interviews with teachers from our "specials" department.

This month: Ms. Andrea Birch

1. What/who inspired/led you to become a music teacher?

From a young age I always gravitated towards and loved music. When I started school at Overlook Elementary I was overjoyed to find someone who loved music just as much! Her name was Miss Janet Ohnikian and she inspired me to become a music teacher. She was a source of encouragement, enthusiasm and inspiration which helped to foster and grow my love of music from a childhood interest to a life long passion. Her joy was infectious and she continues to teach and inspire hundreds of students to this day!

2. What do you enjoy most about teaching at HMS?

I have a two fold answer to this question. Firstly, the students! I can say this with great pride of not just HMS but of Sparta as a whole. I am so fortunate to work with some of the most hardworking, kind and talented students around. I think this is a huge part of what makes Sparta such a great place to be! Secondly, the staff. The teachers at HMS consistently inspire, push and lead each other to be better educators. I feel so fortunate every day to be a part of this amazing team!

3. What is an interest/hobby of yours that most people don't know about?

Though I have stepped away from the activity in recent years, most people might not know that I enjoyed teaching and marching in both marching band and colorguard/winterguard. I marched with my high school, the Arlington Admirals and I was a member of the Hawthorne Caballeros colorguard and have helped to coach colorguards and winterguards in Connecticut, Ramsey, and Pequannock.

4. If you could meet one person, living or from the past, who would it be?

I would love to meet Teddy Roosevelt! I lived very close to Hyde Park growing up and the Roosevelt family has always interested me.

5. Do you have a favorite quote/saying?

" I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Edison

6. Do you sing in the car?

Yes, I sing in the car! As I often tell my students, I sing all genres of music while driving and usually quite loudly!

congratulations, mrs. heinz

HMS para-professional, Jayne Heinz, was recently named the Sussex County Education Association's Educational Services Professional of the year! Great job, Mrs. Heinz. Our students, staff, and greater community are lucky to have you as part of our team.

Media Center Playaways!

We are excited to inform you that Helen Morgan School has acquired many Playaways to help support the library program. Playaways are audio books in the convenience of a small device (about the size of a deck of cards). It is preloaded with one title and it cannot be changed or uploaded. A listener only has to plug their own headphones into the jack to listen to the content. The Playaways are available to all students in the building, and are available for checkout today.

Along with this new implementation of technology, there comes a new responsibility for students, staff, and parents. If your child borrows the device, it is expected that it will be returned in the condition in which it was received. Each Playaway has a case and a AAA battery. In the event that the Playaway equipment is lost, or returned in an unusable condition, there will be a cost for replacement. The replacement cost will be the responsibility of the patron who borrows the unit. Please see the pricing information below.

Our goal is to provide a motivating reading experience for everyone involved by maintaining the devices throughout the year. Please help us achieve this goal by completing the form that has been published to your Genesis Parent Portal account. Your completion of the form certifies that you give your child permission to borrow the device and its contents. If you do not wish for your child to check out a Playaway, you do not need to complete the form. To learn more about Playaways, please feel free to use this link,

Follow these simple direction to access the form in the Genesis Parent Portal:

  1. Upon logging into the Parent Portal, the Student Data screen will appear. Click on the Forms tab to access all Forms that have been published to your account.

  2. The “Forms” library appears. All forms currently available will be listed. “HMS Kindle” is the form you will use to grant permission for your child to check out a Kindle from the school library. Click on the link to access the form.

  3. Please complete the form by checking the box. Then, to submit your answers, click on the checkbox next to “This form is ready for final submission” and click on “Update Answers”. Once this form has been submitted, it cannot be updated.

We are looking forward to starting this wonderful new journey in the library.

Stephanie Bernardo

HMS Media Specialist

Playaway Price List

Case Replacement = $5.00

Playaway Unit = $49.99


For all parents:

EnVision Math Parent Guide

For 5th grade parents- SMS Math Sequence Presentation

Shifting From Common Core to the NJLS:

The New Jersey Learning Standards, a roadmap that will outline what skills students should learn in each grade level. There will be some changes, but there are not major changes. Some of those changes will result in moving a standard of the wording of a standard to clarify or enhance it. New Jersey will maintain about 84 percent of the 1,427 math and language arts standards that make up Common Core. About 230 standards will be modified, the new standards will go into effect in New Jersey schools beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

-From NJ.COM article last Spring

MAP Score Reports

All parents should have received their child's MAP test report. I have attached two links to assist in interpreting these reports:

Dr. Johnson's Letter

MAP Parent Guide

Special Services Department

For information and resources from our district's Special Services Department please visit their webpage.


Click here to view the latest announcements and invitations from local organizations.

Sparta Education Foundation News

1: Amazon Smile – for anyone who regularly shops on Amazon, they can select the Sparta Education Foundation as their charity.

2: Firefan– this interactive sports app is going live next week and anyone who pre-registers will earn additional tokens. This is supposed to be a family friendly app for kids age 13 and up. See flyer below.

3. Krough's Turkey Trot

4. NJ Devils Night

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From the Center For Prevention

Click here for their most recent newsletter.

The Center for Prevention, a tremendous community resource, provides many programs for our district.



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Headmasks in Mrs. Kratina's Explorations Class

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4th grade after the BULLDOG RUN

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a big crew for playing of patriotic song

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hms election

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learning notes in band

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students teaching students

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hms flute players


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