A look into Harrison Township’s 2019-2020 school year

After a summer of behind-the-scenes work, Superintendent Missy Peretti said the district is ready to welcome families back to school.

Superintendent Missy Peretti says the district is thrilled to begin the 2019-2020 school year as the rebranding process has nearly completed, and more learning opportunities are being offered to students. (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

“New year, new me” is a fitting phrase for the Harrison Township School District as it nears the Sept. 5 start of a new school year with the completion of a re-branding process.

In the 2018-2019 school year, the district began to rebrand itself as a new website was launched and the district left the decision up to parents and children to decide on what their new mascot will be – Explorers.

We worked this summer coordinating the physical seal and make sure that it’s shown anywhere publicly wherever the panther or hawk used to be,” said Superintendent Miss Peretti. “We left the Hawks and Panthers as part of the murals as a part of history.

To help push the new mascot onto students in the coming year, Peretti said teachers and administration alike will be using the motto “teach, learn and explore” throughout various lessons and one-on-one meetings with students.

Last year, it was ‘what’s your why’ about why we’re doing what we’re doing, the entire profession of education, facing each day or lesson,” she said. “Whether it was professionals or students.”

She later added the new mascot binds the two elementary schools, Harrison Township and Pleasant Valley elementary, together and helps the district promote a consistent message.

Within the four walls of Pleasant Valley, Peretti added more opportunities will be given to students who are excelling in language arts literacy through their existing enrichment program.

All of the students that were identified for the program will still be educated in their homeroom classes as they always had for their whole group reading,” Peretti said. “They will be pulled out once per day during that instruction time, together.

The method of pulling the students out also gives other learners a chance to receive more intimate instructions, whether it’d be on the proficient or remedial side. The district, Peretti said, meets students where they are and adds supplemental instruction to meet grade level goals.

We’re excited to be able to expand our programs as a whole,” she added. “It won’t just be a benefit for the students getting pulled out, it’s a focus on lessening the class size and increasing personal attention for all students.”

As the world shifts more to being technology-dependent and emphasizing S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), Peretti said teachers are moving with the societal changes to naturally incorporate those fields in their lessons – especially with more and more students signing up to participate in the STEAM Tank competition each year.

Currently, the students have an Innovations and Design class once every six days at Pleasant Valley. Students at HTES work on projects appropriate for their grade levels that incorporate the STEAM concepts.

We have to keep changing what we’re doing with kids to ensure that they’re prepared to move on,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re not only teaching the traditional foundation for education, but we also have to prepare them from a technology standpoint.”

Other changes many teachers, parents and students will see include the creations of the sensory hallway at HTES and the zen den at PVS, both in response to a growing need for elementary-aged kids to have down time to address mental health needs.

Our goal is to provide enough support for the students or as much as we can, and if need be the parents, to ensure that the anxiety doesn’t follow them for 180 school days,” Peretti said. “If they can’t be calm or feel safe when they’re here or feel at ease when they’re here, they won’t be able to perform.

The sensory hallway is complete, and details on the zen den are still being worked on. Both are available for all students to use at their teachers’ discretion.

With the changes coming into the new school year, Peretti said she and the rest of the district are excited to have another successful school year with the students and their families.

We’ve missed the kids and are looking forward to them joining us in September,” Peretti said. “We find a tremendous amount of success because of the hard-working students and staff that we have, and the incredibly supportive parents we have.