The New Jersey State Board of Education met for its October monthly meeting, discussing and acting on the following items:
- Resolution in honor of National Principals Month: The State Board passed a resolution recognizing October as National Principals Month. The State Board noted that New Jersey’s principals guide and support their schools each and every day and have proved to be the key to the thorough and dynamic education that helps ensure a strong and prosperous society. Principals played an immeasurable role in the academic and social-emotional recovery of all students following the COVID-19 pandemic, reconnecting the school community as school resumed in person. The State Board urged all New Jersey students, parents, teachers, school district leaders and policymakers to join them in expressing appreciation for the outstanding work of the thousands of elementary, middle and high school principals throughout the state.
- Presentation of the 2022-2023 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year: As reported in last week’s issue of School Board Notes, the State Board recognized Christine Girtain, a science teacher and the director of the Authentic Science Research program at Toms River High School North and South, as the 2022-2023 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year. Girtain, a graduate of Toms River Schools herself, has been teaching science for 28 years, including earth science, biology, and authentic science research. The Authentic Science Research program at the Toms River Regional School District is a three-year elective program that allows students to pursue and conduct independent research on a specific science topic that interests them. As the director, she has guided student projects ranging from the effects of fruit seed extracts on bacteria, to bioengineering E. coli. Her students have connected with Penn State researchers to learn about microbes that may block the spread of the dengue and zika viruses, and they have been to an immersive research program in the rainforests of Costa Rica.
- Bridge Year Pilot Program: The State Board adopted regulations implementing L. 2020, c. 41, which establishes a three-year Bridge Year Pilot Program under which each school district with a high school must offer students in the graduating classes of 2021 and 2022 the opportunity to pursue a bridge year during the year immediately following their senior year of high school. The Bridge Year Pilot Program provides participating students with an additional year to address learning loss and missed opportunities in extracurricular activities, including spring sports programs, due to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Educator preparation and certification regulations: The State Board continued its discussions on updating the regulations concerning educator preparation and certification. The amendments proposed at J.A.C.6A:9 and at N.J.A.C.6A:9A, 6A:9B, and 6A:9C in separate, simultaneous rulemakings are intended to provide options to certain candidates for an instructional certificate. The proposed amendments also would implement recently enacted state laws that created new endorsements for instructional certificates or altered the requirements for existing endorsements.