Innovative programs in five New Jersey schools have earned recognition in the New Jersey School Boards Association’s annual School Leader Awards.

The School Leader Awards showcase creative and effective programs that New Jersey schools are implementing to enhance student achievement. Entries are judged on their level of innovation, and how well their programs met students’ needs. Congratulations to all involved for successfully serving their students.

This year, the judges of the 2023 School Leader Award program selected one school district for exemplary program recognition and four recognized programs, out of 18 entries. We thank the individuals who took on the task of judging this year’s award: Anne H. Gallagher, director, Communications Department, New Jersey Association of School Administrators; Daniel Higgins, director of strategic communications, New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association; and Vincent DeLucia, special assignments, executive office, New Jersey School Boards Association.

Award winners will be honored at a ceremony during county school boards association meetings later this year. The winners are:

West Windsor – Plainsboro Regional School District: Dual Language Immersion Program (K-5 in Spanish and Mandarin)

(Exemplary Program)

The mission of the Dual Language Immersion program is to support students as they learn core academic content and skills through the target language (Spanish or Mandarin Chinese), thereby acquiring a high level of communicative and academic proficiency in both English and the target language. The program also seeks to foster strong intercultural competence in every learner; the program seeks to help students to grow in their knowledge and appreciation of other cultures, to develop a deeper understanding of their own cultures, and to learn how to communicate effectively across global communities.

Clifton Public Schools: IMPACT Program

(Recognized Program)

Clifton High School’s IMPACT Program is the school’s program for students ages 18-21 years old that need continued support with vocational and daily living skills. The school provides opportunities for employment in the community, exposing students to multiple job sites. The program also provides life skills opportunities in and around Clifton High School and the Clifton community. The goal of the program is to set students up with employment and daily living skills for life beyond high school.

Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa): AP Spanish Program at HoLa Middle School

(Recognized Program)

In 2021, Hoboken Dual Language Charter School’s (HoLa) seventh and eighth grade internally developed a Spanish Language Arts curriculum that was evaluated by the College Board and approved as a college level AP course. All HoLa eighth-grade students will now graduate with an AP designation on their high school transcript and have the opportunity to sit for the College Board AP Spanish Language and Culture exam, making HoLa the first public middle school in the state with this recognition. Upon successful completion of the AP exam, HoLa students qualify to start high school with college credits already in hand.

Lawrence Township Public Schools: The Slackwood STEAM Center

(Recognized Program)

The Slackwood STEAM Center has enabled students to embrace new ideas and empowered them with the time and space to cultivate their highest levels of thinking. Transforming the lower level of Slackwood School has changed more than a building … it has provided a setting that supports learning and ignites the potential all children possess. The Slackwood STEAM Center will benefit every student who attends Slackwood School for years to come.

Mendham Borough School District: Making the Grade: Painting a Comprehensive Picture and Elevating Conversations About Student Academic Achievement

(Recognized Program)

The school has developed a report card to communicate to parents/guardians and students about the student’s academic achievement in specific content areas. The report card also identifies noncognitive factors that could play a role in academic progress. The inclusion of the noncognitive factors is intended to reflect an individual student’s work habits, which can impact their learning experience in each class.

Learn more about the annual School Leader awards and read stories highlighting past winners.