Programs in three New Jersey school districts have been selected for recognition in the New Jersey School Boards Association's 26th annual School Leader Awards.
The 2012 School Leader Awards drew a dozen entries. A program operated by Freehold Regional School District was designated as the "Exemplary Program," the highest honor in the 26th Annual School Leader Award program. Two other districts – East Hanover and Vernon Township – received the title of "Recognized Programs."
NJSBA will honor the school districts on Oct. 23 during the opening session of Workshop 2012, the training conference for New Jersey's local school officials held in the Atlantic City Convention Center.
The judges based their evaluations on the level of innovation, how well the program addresses specific needs of the students, the relationship of the program to the state's Core Curriculum Content Standards, and program results.
The judges for the 2012 School Leader Awards were Rosemary A. Bernardi, NJSBA's vice president for legislation/resolutions and a member of the Evesham Township Board of Education; Anne Gallagher, communications director for the New Jersey Association of School Administrators; and Dr. Mary Reece, director of media and innovative programs at the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.
The 2012 School Leader Award winners include:
Freehold Regional High School District, Monmouth County – Medical Sciences Learning Center
The Medical Sciences Learning Center is a four-year program of interdisciplinary studies for academically talented students interested in pursuing medical careers. Students engage in advanced math and science courses, while gaining the opportunity to conduct a year-long independent research project and complete a year-long externship at a local medical center. Beginning in grade nine, students sit for Advanced Placement examinations in biology, chemistry, statistics, physics and calculus. Throughout their four years, they take additional advanced courses in computer science, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology. The courses allow students to develop skills that have a direct application to the medical and biological fields. By the fourth year, students are involved in an externship through a partnership program with CentraState Medical Center, an acute-care medical center in Freehold Township. Students attend the professional lecture series, they are exposed to multiple departments of the hospital, and they often pursue volunteer and shadowing opportunities with doctors.
East Hanover School District, Morris County – Anti-Bullying Initiatives
The Anti-Bullying Initiatives program integrates character education and the requirements of the state’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights throughout the curriculum of the K-8, 1,400-student district. The initiative began with the superintendent’s outreach to the Morris County Sheriff’s Crime Stoppers program to develop a partnership that provides an anonymous reporting method for children who otherwise would be reluctant to step forward. Through this process, trained law enforcement professionals immediately become aware of incidents that may rise to the level of criminal activity.
Crime Stoppers funded the implementation, promotion and maintenance of the program.
The program also includes a strong community-involvement element. For example, the district established a “Community Night of Respect” to educate citizens about the impact of bullying and the school district’s partnership with law enforcement. The event was attended by representatives of the U.S. Department of Education, the state Attorney General, the county prosecutor, the county sheriff and other leaders.
Vernon Township School District, Sussex County – College & Career-Ready Book Clubs
The Glen Meadow Middle School's College and Career-Ready Book Clubs include three major events. A Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention features professional speakers and activities to encourage a love for reading, writing and the arts. Teachers and students dressed in sci-fi costumes for the day. The Math Book Club is a 12-week program to increase students' math confidence and proficiency. Small groups of students work to improve math skills, while exploring math-related career paths, reading fun literature and celebrating their success. The third program, the Animal Lover's Book Club, allows students to bring their pets to school for the day. Students read about wildlife, learn about animal-related careers, and meet experts from the regional Avian Wildlife Rescue.