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Mr.  Daniel  Patton
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Principal's Corner

Tis the Season

To begin, I want to wish everybody a happy holiday season and a fantastic 2018!  The first half of our school year of course went quickly as always.  I would like to touch upon some of the highlights of the first half of our year.

Some recent activities at the school: Family Science Night was a success as each family member made a matter monster!  On December 5th, we held our annual PTA sponsored Holiday Luncheon for our seniors.  Thank you to all of the volunteers who made it possible.  On December 12th, we held our annual Holiday Concert for the community and our students had a blast performing for their families!

We made the news for a couple of activities/events with the potential for more.  Our community service classes’ pie throwing fund raising event for hurricane victims proved to be interesting to say the least.  Mr. Zimmerman and I were wrapped up in toilet paper by members of our Students Council as we met our Book Fair goal in sales.  Family Science Night pictures and a story was submitted.  An awesome showing by our Debate Club recently at Clinton Twp. Middle School was also submitted to the papers.  Congratulations to Nora Cubberly and Cassidy Sieber for winning their debate!  We will continue to pursue newsworthy stories as there are many!

I heard nothing but positive thoughts about how our conferences went at the beginning of November.  In addition to them being slightly earlier away from the Thanksgiving timeframe and with our small class sizes, we were able to personalize them with individual student learning goals. Teachers began working on goals for your children as early as last year and through collaborative meetings finalized them this year.  A follow up on your children’s progress will occur in March.

As always, we place a serious emphasis on professional development.  We continue to work closely with the Rutgers Graduate School of Education’s Center for Literacy Development.  We sent several teachers to the 50th Annual Conference of Reading and Writing.  Their professional development workshop series then focuses on best practices in teaching language arts with four separate PD opportunities for the primary, intermediate, and middle school grade levels.  In March, we plan on sending Ms. Hubiak and Ms. Marcine to TCNJ for Wilson Reading - Fundations level K and 1 training.  Wilson is a multisensory, structured language program and Fundations has a strong focus on phonics.

Our middle school science and STEAM teacher, Ms. DeAngelo, has attended science and STEAM related PD workshops including the annual NJ Science Convention.  Ms. Heuneman annually attends the NJ Mathematics Convention as well.  

Perhaps even more important is that our middle school and special area teachers collaborate with the local high schools.  The NHVSD has refined its PD with the sending districts as it is stressing articulation among all schools whose students will attend Voorhees and North Hunterdon High Schools.  Our teachers meet on a periodic basis with other sending district teachers and the high school staff in order to ease the transition for our students when they are ready to move on to their next level.  A unique opportunity arose this year when I received a call from a high school math teacher in August.  She stated that she would be working periodically with the sending schools’ 8th grade math teachers by observing, collaborating, teaching, and learning.  Needless to say, we have welcomed her here with open arms.  It has been a fantastic relationship to say the least.  Not only is this occurring in math, but it is also occurring in English Language Arts.  Mrs. Heuneman, Ms. Heyduke, and Mrs. Charleston have all said that it has been a positive experience.

Our curriculum continues to be updated.  We feel very confident in our English language Arts program as we follow a guided reading, centers based, writer’s workshop approach in the early grades and work toward a literature based, student centered, writer’s workshop approach in the older grades.  We are in the third year of the Go Math program and in my observations of your children on a daily basis I see them really beginning to conceptualize math problems as opposed to simply memorizing math facts, although that has its role as well.

At the beginning of the year, we realized we needed to update our science program.  We have a committee that includes Mrs. Montesion, Mrs. Medea, Mrs. Firko, and Ms. DeAngelo.  In more ways than one, we have looked at several programs.  We are ready to begin a trial run of one program in particular that the committee really liked - STEMscopes.  It is a combination print, online, and hands-on kits, inquiry based program that is aligned to the new NGSS.  We are still in the midst of the process but are making positive strides in narrowing down a program that we feel will engage your children in wanting to know more about the world in which they live.

The students here at Califon continue to learn about the importance of service.  Service learning is important for a variety of reasons, but at the very core it teaches individuals the importance of caring for each other, which I feel is at the crux of what some might believe is missing these days.  In community service class, middle school students raised money for the less fortunate, collected three huge bags of toys for hospital bound children, assisted Voorhees in the collection of goods for troops, helped Mr. Zimmerman write pencil grams for the book fair, wrote holiday grams for the staff, and assisted teachers and students in whatever they might need.

Other students also take part in service learning.  Fourth and fifth grade students work with the preschool students weekly, and fourth grade students traditionally read to the first grade students during Read Across America Week. The fifth grade students actually write and bind a book for the first grade students using the first grade students as a character in the book!  The Girl Scouts in the school run tables during Make It Take It that are service oriented, for example, building bat boxes or creating organic cleaning products.  They also present service learning to other students such as waste reduction challenges and sharing information about endangered bat species.  

Our special area teachers stress service learning as well.  Mrs. Madson’s art classes in grades 4, 6, and 8 helped to make the holiday an enjoyable experience for everybody at the holiday senior luncheon by working on table and wall decorations.  After the event, the decorations were recycled and delivered to Little Brook Nursing Home.  During testing when rooms may be limited, Mrs. Maginnis has taken her eighth grade class upstairs to interact with the K, 1, and 2 grade levels by teaching small Spanish units, vocabulary, and culture, and reading bilingual books to them.  This interaction is priceless.  Mr. Zimmerman has the eighth grade students working on a cyber safety/bullying project for younger grades. The best way to learn is to teach and why not have the eighth grade students teach the younger students about this important topic!

Moving forward, our benchmark B tests (grades K-8) will be given in January.  Our PARCC test (grades 3-8) and the NJSLS - Science (grades 5 and 8) will be given in May.  The schedule should be posted on our website.  This year, we'll be testing the whole school at one time.  Our final benchmarks (grades K-8) will be administered in May/June.  

Look for more after school clubs to be offered.  There will be one more Family Science Night.  I am also working with a committee consisting of Mrs. Montesion, Ms. Heyduke, Mr. Zimmerman, Mr. Blondina, and Mrs. Medea to bring an engaging family literacy night sometime in March for Read Across America Week.  

I continue to be excited with the direction our school is headed.  It would not be possible without the great relationship we have with our school community!  I thank you for your continued support, and with hard work we will continue to make positive strides for our students, your children!