Burlington Township School District prepares students for the real world

The district has many programs in place to help kids succeed

It’s clear from the moment you meet her that Director of Human Resources and Community Relations Liz Scott has a genuine love for the Burlington Township School District. Scott has been with the district for 24 years and beams with pride when she talks about all that has been accomplished in recent years.

But what’s more important than what has gone on in recent years is what’s going on right now.

“One of the most prominent things we have coming up is we are having a young men’s and young women’s conference,” Scott said.

She went on to explain that this program for the high school sophomores started as something just for young men that was designed to build character and facilitate bonding between male students. A few years ago, the first young women’s conference was held, and it’s being brought back again this year.

The young women’s conference will feature guest speakers such as professional soccer player Christine Rampone from the National Women’s Soccer League and the Future Leaders Institute for Girls founder Joy Morgan.

Scott added that something that will be addressed with both the young men and the young women is dating violence. The event is held for sophomores because the district felt that this is a pivotal time for students.

“They’re not kids anymore, they’re not adults, but they’re right there at a pivotal point where they’re going to have to start making a lot of life choices,” Scott said.

The school has tried to organize a similar event for each grade level at the high school. Freshmen focus on community service. They have a day in the spring where they go out and take part in a day of service in the community.

“They’re cleaning up cemeteries. They’re working at some of the local churches helping to clean up. They’re working at the fire department scrubbing down trucks,” Scott said. “It’s just the community coming together and opening their doors and letting our students come out to give back.”

Scott also raved about a project the freshmen participate in called “Stop the Hunger.”

“They actually pack little food packs that are full of all of the nutrition that somebody would need, and it’s shipped off to foreign countries,” Scott said. “And the students — they have the music blasting, they’re in there packing, and every thousand they get the gong going. It’s a really exciting event.”

The juniors participate in a program called Project Paths where students have the opportunity to sit one-on-one with people in different careers, from doctors to custodians. The seniors have loads of different activities going on to prepare them for the real world.

Burlington Township School District Superintendent Mary Ann Bell is heavily involved with Project Paths. Bell says she loves to get involved with activities such as Project Paths because it gives the students a better idea of who she is and what she does.

Bell was originally promoted to interim superintendent before becoming permanent. While waiting for the board to become comfortable with selecting a permanent superintendent, it was suggested Bell take on the leadership role permanently.

“By the time it actually happened, I was ready for it and I was mentally prepared. But in the beginning, it wasn’t my intent at all,” Bell said.

Bell added that one of her biggest accomplishments since becoming superintendent has been implementing the district’s strategic plan, the All Students Achieving Plan.

The plan includes ensuring that Burlington Township School District has the best programs, the safest schools, a highly engaged community and the most effective and efficient district. While the way these goals are implemented can change, the goals always stay the same.

When Bell isn’t busy working on the strategic plan, she loves to get out and interact with the school kids.

“The most rewarding part of my job is any time I get to go and see kids who have gone a little bit beyond what they expected to be able to do, no matter what it is,” Bell said.