Home Washington Twp. News Superintendent looks to boost mindfulness in the year ahead

Superintendent looks to boost mindfulness in the year ahead

Bollendorf talks security, vaping and student feedback as well

The Washington Township Board of Education. (Special to The Sun: wtps.org/domain/1804)

With summertime winding down and Labor Day on the horizon, Superintendent Joseph Bollendorf spoke with The Sun about the upcoming school year.

One of the hot-button issues at board meetings for the better part of six months is the issue of mercury in rubberized floors. Before the 2018-19 school year ended, the plan was for all nine affected floors to be abated and replaced before the 2019-20 school year. As it stands in mid-August, all nine floors have been removed and eight of the nine have no detection of mercury. Bollendorf said he anticipates the floors should be in place before the school year starts, however if they are not replaced it will not affect the school from opening on the fifth. More updates on this will follow.

When it comes to mindfulness and social emotional status of students, Bollendorf said the district is moving away from the OLWEUS program and transitioning to a program called “Building Better People.” He said this program should help teach children how to cope with situations and how to interact properly and positively with one another.

“It’s really a focus that is very much needed in public education. It’s something we intend to do. Mindfulness is one thing we’re continuing to expand,” Bollendorf said.

He specifically mentioned the district’s program No Place for Hate, a part of the anti-defamation league. Bollendorf deemed the first year of No Place for Hate a success. He said he wishes to expand on the program.

“It starts the conversation and sends the message for what we stand for,” he said. “We’re  trying to set a bar of expectation for students. We live in a world where kids are being exposed every day to nasty rhetoric, negative commentary on social media – it’s rampant. It’s more challenging than ever to try to understand the value of living in a world where we want to work together and get along with one another and respect the views of other people.”

By preaching these values, for example treat people how you’d like to be treated, Bollendorf believes the youth can shape America back to the country he’s proud of.

“That’s the kind of world I was proud to live in as an American, and that’s the world I want to continue to be proud of living in as an American. I felt as a nation we were kind of the guys with the white hat. I want to be perceived that way,”

Other updates for the upcoming school year:

  • The first day of school for all schools is Thursday, Sept. 5.
  • Back to school nights are set for the following dates:
    • Sept. 10: Bells Elementary School grades four and five.
    • Sept. 11: Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.
    • Sept. 12: Whitman and Birches Elementary Schools. Hurffville Elementary School grades one and two.
    • Sept. 17: Bunker Hill Middle School, Chestnut Ridge Middle School and Orchard Valley Middle School.
    • Sept. 18: Bells Elementary School grades one through three. Wedgwood Elementary School.
    • Sept. 26: Washington Township High School. Hurffville Elementary School grades three through five.
  • Bollendorf spoke to the importance of restorative justice. For example, the district is cracking down on the use of vapes and other smoking paraphernalia. If a student is caught vaping, not only will they suffer a disciplinary consequence like detention or an in-school suspension, they will be given information from MD Anderson Cancer Center about the health risks of vaping along with ways to quit if the child is addicted to nicotine already. This is done through a free partnership between the district and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“Restorative justice is to restore relationships you have with other people, whether it’s students or teachers, taking steps like writing a letter of apology, simple things kids can understand to take responsibility for their actions that can be missed if they only get two days of detention,” Bollendorf said. “Simple things to remind the students they’re accountable and there are ways to repair relationships when they make mistakes. It makes students introspective.”

  • Bollendorf said the district is closing in on completing the digital locks in the schools. Software will be installed in buildings to allow teachers and staff to request or perform a lockdown from their phones in addition to being able to communicate with first responders in case of an emergency.

“This is state-of-the-art, we’re way ahead of the security curve when it comes to what it is we’re doing in our buildings,” Bollendorf said.

He added the district is purchasing software that scans drivers licenses and immediately tells staff if there’s a concern relative to a visitor in the building, like a warrant or if the person is a sex offender.

“That’s an added layer of protection I think our parents will be happy about,” he said.

  • While it was previously reported the eighth-grade school trip is scheduled for Clementon Park, Bollendorf confirmed there is no set destination for the trip at this time. More updates to follow.
  • Bollendorf is looking forward to his monthly roundtable discussions with students. One month he will host representatives from each grade level at the high school. The following month, he will host students from each grade level at each of the middle schools in the district. This rotates each month and allows the superintendent and members of the board of education to have direct feedback from the students on the receiving end of the curriculum.
Exit mobile version