School district to pursue several dynamic, innovative programs

Editor’s note: The following article details Haddonfield Public Schools Superintendent Rich Perry’s outlook for the 2013–2014 school year.

This upcoming school year, Haddonfield school district is pursuing several dynamic, innovative initiatives and programs, including continuing the Achieve New Jersey Educator Evaluation Program, which helps enhance teaching and learning to effectively support students competing in an age of rapidly changing technology and the increased demand in the world market as we move through the 21st century. This new mandated evaluation program will review teacher and principal performance so that educators will be able to better reflect on instructional best practices in the classroom setting. The district successfully completed its teacher evaluation grant pilot program during the last school year — only one of 10 school districts chosen in the state to participate in this grant initiative. By reflecting upon creative instructional strategies and sharing best practices, teachers and administrators will build upon unique professional development opportunities along with integrating the use of technology in the classrooms.

The district is committed to building upon advanced technology initiatives in order to support and enhance instruction for the students. Some of the technology-based initiatives include utilizing “Flipped Classroom” techniques, distance learning, project based STEM initiatives, iPad research and projects, software applications, Apple TVs, SMART technologies, smart boards, laptops and collaborative project based online learning. Professional development for staff will also be a key initiative in implementing these innovative curricular programs district-wide.

The unique partnership with Drexel University, in which Haddonfield students participate on Drexel’s campus as Drexel University students, has expanded in the curricular fields of business, mathematics and engineering. Haddonfield school district recently further developed its Drexel-Haddonfield innovative engineering program in conjunction with Drexel University’s Engineering School. The students learn and experience what it is like to be an engineer in various engineering fields such as electrical, chemical, civil and environmental engineering in collaboration with local engineering companies. Students have an opportunity to work with Drexel engineering professors and participate on engineering projects at Drexel’s labs including investigating and learning about nanotechnologies and surgical robotics. Environmental impact concepts, such as how to protect communities against hurricanes like Hurricane Sandy, are also studied along with other environmental issues.

Haddonfield Memorial High School will explore and develop a dynamic new program involving a concentration of studies, which students will have the opportunity to participate in field experiences for specific career areas in relation to their studies, including fields such as law, engineering and medicine. In addition, the world languages Program will implement a mobile World Language computer lab so students will be able to study various cultures and world languages utilizing the latest technologies. Professional development will focus on curriculum and pedagogy in world languages in grades first to 12th. HMHS will also add new course offerings, including application development and a history of music course.

Haddonfield Middle School will offer new opportunities for project based learning initiatives in which students will work in teams, incorporating STEM concepts along with utilizing technology based student driven collaborative research.

Teachers will improve home/school communication by moving from e-boards to Edmodo, a technology platform for social media. Digital citizenship also will be a focus for students in conjunction with high school administration and the district media/technology specialists in order to address emerging issues of ethical media use in addition to utilizing parent-student speaker programs. HMS will also be moving toward full implementation of the Common Core state standards in mathematics during the school year.

The elementary schools will be focusing on Common Core curricula objectives, supported by innovative teaching and learning using iPads and other technologies to enhance critical thinking. Programs such as Odyssey of the Mind and Science Olympiad will also be expanded and strengthened.
In addition, new language arts literacy and everyday mathematics programs will continue to be implemented at the elementary school level along with building upon the world language program and incorporating environmental projects such as student developed (historical) gardens at each of the schools. Technology will be utilized by teachers to create advanced dynamic learning environments for students in order to accommodate a variety of learners.

Technology will also increase collaboration between elementary school teachers at specific grade levels through the use of the iDrive.
In addition, the smart exchange notebooks lesson will also be used as a resource for teachers to collaborate and share best practices lessons.
By using iPad applications and Apple TVs, students will be able to better learn concepts as a part of their programs and share their work more easily. Students will also be able to practice important presentation skills through the use of technology in order to help them prepare for future advancements in technology and “digital learning.”

The school district will provide preschool to fifth grade at each of the elementary schools, incorporating one pre-school class into each of the elementary school buildings.

This was done in order to create neighborhood pre-school programs along with helping to alleviate overcrowding at Tatem Elementary School. The entire pre-school program was originally housed at Tatem. As enrollment continues to grow district-wide, creative solutions will be needed to solve long-term student population issues.

The current enrollment for the district is 2,558 with a 7 percent increase in enrollment conservatively estimated within the next five years. With state mandates being discussed for full-day kindergarten, the district will have to look at creative ways to secure much needed classroom space.

In regard to security, beginning the school year, each elementary school will have a state of the art key fob system in which access to entry and exits of the elementary school buildings will be closely controlled and monitored.
Duress Alarm Systems will also be placed in each one of the schools. District-wide crisis teams have been formed and communications with law enforcement, OEM are continuing.

In addition, a Community Borough-School District Safety and Security Committee has been formed involving educators, borough officials, residents, parents and law enforcement in order to collaborate on safety and security issues within the district and community.

School district-wide crisis teams have also been formed. In addition, crisis plans have been developed that include crisis drills and exercises, tier level lockdown drills, evacuations and reverse evacuations.

Regarding capital projects, repaired roofs and infrastructures on our school buildings: One of the capital projects involved renovating the high school’s copula that is illuminated as a dome each night and can be seen throughout the community.

In addition, the high school auditorium project has been completed along with the new dance studio.

The library has also been redesigned and renovated into a collaborative learning/research center.

This upcoming school year, the district and community will have two new dynamic turf fields for Haddonfield’s youth to play on. The new turf fields were made possible by a communitywide effort to fundraise close to $700,000 for our student/athletes. With the generous support of the PTAs, HET (Haddonfield Educational Trust), and Lights, Camera, Action among other supportive organizations, Haddonfield school district is able to complete several important capital projects for the benefit of our students and community.

The tuition program continues to bring in a substantial amount of revenue for the district to help alleviate the burden on taxpayers. This school year the program will raise more than $400,000 in revenue.

That’s half of the recent aid from the state. The Haddonfield Summer Academy also had a successful summer raising revenue and offering a wide array of enrichment opportunities and programs.

All schools are participating in the recognition of Haddonfield’s Tricentennial in a variety of ways including student-led research and presentations, curricular studies of the history of Haddonfield, and student participation in communitywide Tricentennial events.

The school district is very appreciative of all the sacrifices, dedication and support of the parents, teachers, Board of Education members, administrators and the community that enable Haddonfield school district to remain being the best in the state, region and nation.