Schools Superintendent's 2011-2012 Mid-Year Report

This report was written by Holmdel School District Superintendent Barbara Duncan. It was distributed to Board of Education in January and posted on the district website Thursday. It is republished here in its entirety.

Progress toward meeting our district goals will continue to be shared on a regular basis in the Superintendent’s Reports, at Board of Education meetings and posted on the district website. Special presentations have been and will continue to be made at board meetings by administrators and teachers.

The district goals cascaded down to inform administrators’ and teachers’ goals and professional plans. Action plans were created by the administrators. District supervisors met with principals and assistant principals to collaborate and formulate these plans, which were reviewed, revised and approved by Mrs. Currie and me.

1. World Language Program K-12
2. Technology
3. Character Education
4. Differentiation of Instruction/Professional Development
5. Financial Enhancements

Goal 1: World Language Program K-12

Village School students are introduced to Spanish instruction in grades 1-3. The program gives them an opportunity to be immersed in the Spanish language. The World Language teacher engages the children in Spanish with follow-up in English. The children are asked to respond using Spanish in their daily lessons, allowing them to truly practice and demonstrate understanding.

This year Village School has continued with lengthened Spanish periods. This extension of time has allowed more to be accomplished in any given period enhancing student learning.

Indian Hill School is implementing a new World Language master schedule for grades 4-5. The purpose of this new schedule is to provide instruction for grades 4-5 each week and afford students the opportunity for ongoing language practice and immersion. All students at Indian Hill are involved in communication activities involving listening, speaking, reading and writing. Reading and writing are introduced as natural extensions of oral language and vary depending on the student’s language level. In this way, the instruction is differentiated based on a student’s level. Technology is integrated through the use of web pages to view video clips related to the lessons. Students also use laptops to create power point presentations and research topics within the world language curriculum.

Satz School continues to share the use of the World Language Lab with the High School. As noted, the lab not only infuses technology into the World Language Curriculum, it provides an excellent opportunity for staff members to differentiate instruction for the students. Satz currently has five (5) sections of ICR (In-Class Resource) World Language running, as well as one (1) section of World Language to provide additional support to the special needs students who may have difficulty in 7th and/or 8th grade World Language. For our students with special needs, we have continued to provide additional support through the integration of in-class support and replacement classes in the area of World Language, particularly in Spanish. Through these ICS and Replacement classes, individualized learning programs are developed collaboratively by the classroom teacher, in-class resource co-teacher, guidance counselors, and CST (Child Study Team) members. To assure that the CST students are getting the most out of these courses, student progress is monitored regularly and re-evaluated by the CST team as needed. To that end, Satz School currently has six sections of seventh grade in-class resource Spanish, two sections of eighth grade in-class resource, and two Replacement Spanish classes in operation, one for our seventh graders and one for our eighth graders. Furthermore, using our extensive range of resources and technologies, such as the World Language Lab, our students are often able to achieve beyond our expectations.

Holmdel High School continues to use the World Language Lab. A full day of professional development training was provided for all teachers in October. The high school has brought in a nationally recognized trainer who specializes in using the Sony software that runs the lab. Additionally, the teachers attended a webinar with the same trainer on December 5, 2011. Some of the World Language teachers have provided additional training during department meetings. The World Language Lab allows the students unique opportunities to work on speaking and listening skills. These skills are important for language acquisition and for preparation for the AP language exams.

Holmdel High School now has a full-time In Class Resource Teacher devoted to Spanish Classes. They offer 2 sections of In Class Resource Spanish I and 3 sections of In Class Resource Spanish II. The In Class Resource teacher, along with the regular education teacher, attended a workshop geared towards inclusion language classes.

Goal 2: Technology

The following programs are being utilized at Indian Hill School:

Study Island – This year Indian Hill is implementing the use of the web-based program, Study Island, in the areas of Language Arts & Math for all students. They are currently introducing Study Island’s benchmarks in both Math and Language Arts and will continue to use them throughout the year. The benchmarks will generate diagnostic data reports that will help teachers to address specific areas of remediation for the students in accordance with the NJCCCS. This will help to not only address the needs of the students but will also help in the efforts to make AYP as a school.

Study Island will assist students with specific content as it creates customized assessments based on students’ individual skill levels. This is in direct alignment with the curriculum as the program offers students and teachers immediate feedback while it also remediates for any individual learning needs. Because it is a web-based program, Study Island will also be integrated once a week as a homework assignment. Due to its versatility in providing unlimited access to students, this will encourage individualized work for the students as well as give them the opportunity to work at their own pace.

• Indian Hill’s PLG has purchased 64 Nooks for use in literacy classrooms. The nooks have been loaded with varying levels of reading materials and will also be loaded with nonfiction pieces to enhance social studies and science collections.

• Through a grant from the HFEE, Indian Hill has purchased 33 iPEVO Point 2 View Document Cameras for the classrooms. The iPEVO Document Camera creates a full screen, professional image of printed material and digital devices to enhance instruction.

• New this year, Indian Hill School is benefitting greatly from a technology coach shared with Village School. The coach works closely with the teachers to help them update their web pages and create new ones. She models and creates technology infused lessons, tailoring instruction to the teachers’ needs as they incorporate technology into their instructional programs. Some programs being introduced include: Animoto, a program being used to produce unique video pieces from photos, video clips, and music. Google literature trips, an interactive multimedia experience created using Google Earth. Students are creating their own virtual literary trips and sharing them with other school communities. Students and teachers also use Skype to talk to other classrooms across the country, digital storytelling, podcasts, blogging, and Google docs.

• Indian Hill is now fully equipped in every classroom with a Sound Field system that amplifies the speech of both teacher and student. This system is beneficial to all of the students but especially to the students who are sensitive to distracting noises in the classroom.

The following programs are being utilized at Satz School:
Study Island – Several years ago Satz School implemented the use of the web-based program, Study Island, in the areas of Language Arts & Math for the students enrolled in BSI Math and/or English and those with Special Needs. Currently they have expanded the use of this program to all of the General Education students as well. All students will participate in the benchmark program that SI offers in an effort to address specific areas of remediation for our students in accordance with the NJCCCS. This effort has been supported through the Office of Special Services, as well as through the Office of Curriculum & Instruction.

• We have continued the use of the Power School Parent Portal which is web-based and provides parents and students with real-time access to student schedules, course assignments, grades and attendance.

• Through a grant from the HFEE and the Satz School PSG, Satz has purchased several iPEVO Point 2 View Document Cameras for various classrooms. The Point 2 View Document Camera provides live image capture for documents, pictures, textbooks, and three-dimensional objects - at hundreds of dollars less than conventional document cameras and overhead projectors.

• With the help of Anthony Gattini, Technology Director, a new Technology lab/class has been instituted at Satz for students in both 7th and 8th grades. This course prepares students to live and work in the 21st century through the integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). By combining the current Technology Education Program with a course on Computer Literacy, students will gain an even broader exposure to current trends in Technology Literacy and Education. Students also create technology portfolios demonstrating their technology literacy skills, as required by the New Jersey Department of Education.

• Additionally, through a grant from the HFEE, several classes in English and Social Studies have implemented the use of student response clickers as a means of incorporating technology and actively engaging students. These clickers provide staff with the ability to actively engage students who are normally too shy to participate in discussions. The clickers encourage students to share their opinions through discussions about lecture topics, revisit material throughout the term to review and reinforce previously learned material, and improve retention.

At Holmdel High School the district’s participation in the M.C.I.A. lease-purchase program was particularly fruitful this year. A great deal of technology equipment was added, including: additional software and workstation capability in the Television Studio, a complete refurbishment of both the Graphic Arts Computer Lab and Web Design Computer Lab, the purchase of fifteen laptop computers for teacher use, the purchase and installation of fifteen additional ceiling-mounted LCD projectors for classroom use, and the significant increase (from 23 to 47) of FM Sound Field Systems designated for classroom use.

Additionally, nearly all of the entire wireless access points in the high school have been upgraded, allowing for broader coverage and management capability. The upgrade provides the high school with a solid foundation for improving access to technology in the classroom, and brings them one step closer to filtered Internet access for personal computing devices on campus. 


Goal 3: Character Education

Village School has continued progress this year with the Character Education Committee which is composed of faculty members across grade levels and specialty areas. The committee has met twice to discuss ways to further integrate character education into the curriculum. The committee established a goal to promote kindness, compassion and empathy within the Village School community through the use of common language/terminology and positive reinforcement strategies. The committee has continued to promote the “Bucket-Filling” philosophy of affirmations and actions; that was considered the most effective way for Village School to achieve this goal. Teachers have also familiarized their classroom parents in the common language and general philosophy associated with “Bucket-Filling”. This has served to enhance the effectiveness of the philosophy, according to feedback from many teachers. Village was able to bring an assembly program to the school this year with the help of the Holmdel Alliance. This assembly was presented by the author of the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? This assembly was presented to staff, students, and parents to assure that everyone is on the same page with this initiative.

Using the new schedule at Village School, they have set aside time each morning for “Character Education”. Fifteen minutes is built into each teacher’s schedule, allowing them to meet with students around our school initiatives. The biggest push in each classroom is a “Morning Meeting.” This serves to have each child start their day in a very positive way with their classmates and teachers.
They also have formed a school safety team to enact the new HIB law that went into effect in September, 2011. The team has met on a couple of occasions this year, in order to discuss progress made in this area. Additionally, they had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Eric Swensen, our District HIB Coordinator, to make sure all is consistent across the four district schools. The staff at Village School supports this initiative as it serves to ensure a comfortable and safe learning environment for the children.

At Indian Hill School all of grades 4-6 classes begin with Morning Meetings. Morning Meeting is a powerful research based character education tool for building classroom communities and improving academic and social skills. Teachers launch their school days with greetings and interactive lessons to help ensure that learning takes place in a safe and respectful environment for all students. They continue to participate in character education training and all of the teachers play an integral role as classroom leaders.

• The Holmdel Alliance to Prevent Alcoholism and Drug Abuse sponsored the Red Ribbon activities this year with a week of relevant and fun events. Indian Hill is also starting the Heroes and Cool Kids program, another critical Alliance program which brings high school students to Indian Hill School as mentors for the sixth grade students to reinforce the important message of abstaining from alcohol and drugs. Indian Hill students were also encouraged to bring in non perishable food to donate to the Project PAUL food pantry in Monmouth County. All of these projects helped the students to increase awareness of the importance of living a healthy life, free of drug and alcohol abuse.

• In art enrichment classes, students are painting and creating a beautiful "I Pledge Tree". This colorful mural covers a large wall and the branches of the tree will list specific character education goals. The leaves of the tree will be signed by current students as well as by any incoming students.

• Sergeant Jeff Ackerson of the Holmdel Police Department provided students with an informative assembly on the topic of bullying and appropriate Internet and computer use. This very important assembly helped to reinforce Indian Hill’s anti-bullying and anti-violence message.

At Satz School the following character education initiatives are underway:
Through grant funding from the Holmdel Alliance, they continue to participate in the “Peer-Proof” program run by Camp Fire, USA. The Peer-Proof program is specifically for 7th graders and is made up of six sessions designed to teach students about peer pressure and how to handle situations they are likely to encounter, how to respond to keep them safe, and how to think independently.
They have also adopted the use of the program, GenerationTextOnline as a means of addressing the HIB requirements for the state. Generation Text is a program that strives to create a positive school climate by prompting students, teacher, parents, and administrators to work together, to address pertinent issues that affect schools in terms of bullying, intimidation and harassment. The programs main focus is on cyber bullying and the devastating effects it has on individuals in the school setting.

Holmdel High School Heroes and Cool Kids is in its 5th year. This program (as mentioned in Indian Hill’s summary) brings high school students to Indian Hill. Their message is that it is “cool” to be drug and alcohol free and it is “cool” to not bully and to help others. They are beginning to see students become members of Heroes for Cool Kids who were 6th graders receiving this service five years ago.

Transitions is a program that pairs incoming 9th graders – and students new to the district – with an upper classman. This Character Education program was previously a club for 9th graders; due to its success, they have made it mandatory. Transitions is an excellent way for new students to become acquainted to the high school. The Transitions “counselors” meet with their group of 9th graders throughout the year and perform activities that support school-involvement, anti-bullying, and other character education components. 


Goal 4: Differentiation of Instruction/Professional Development 

Village School staff continues to differentiate instruction through data analysis and technology. Analysis of NJPASS, NJASK 3, Study Island and the Naglieri will take place through the school year for appropriate grade levels. As a new program to Village School, Study Island training was provided to 3rd grade staff in December. Action plans for specific students will be developed to address areas of concern. A post-assessment will be administered prior to the administration of the NJASK 3. They are also looking forward to training the K-2 teachers/students later this year.

All grade levels have been trained on administering Running Records for each student. The teachers will conduct Running Records three times throughout the school year in order to assess each student’s individual reading level to provide appropriate individualized instruction.

The Reading Specialist has been working closely with 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade teachers on Readers Workshop strategies. The strategies have been implemented in classrooms to continue the goal of differentiation in the literacy program. They are also engaged in intensive training with Columbia University for Readers/Writers Workshop. These trainings have given all staff members the opportunity to view lessons in action within a “lab classroom”, as well as having the opportunity to meet with the trainer to gain valuable insight and resources for their instruction moving forward. All of the teachers are part of the training, in order to prepare them for the continued push for improved literacy for the students.

At Indian Hill School the administration and teachers continue their efforts to promote differentiation of instruction throughout the curriculum. The literacy teachers are being trained in Readers/Writers Workshop. This new literacy strategy will address the needs of our diverse learners as it supports students at their level and challenges them to read and write at a continually higher level as they grow and develop over time. The emphasis in this new literacy initiative is on the interaction between readers and text. Students learn to ask questions and make connections. Students who were once reluctant readers now find themselves with the skills needed to be successful readers. Over the course of the year, students read many books and are encouraged to explore different genres, authors, and texts.

In order to support teachers’ efforts as they plan and integrate new literacy strategies, they welcome a new reading specialist to Indian Hill School. The reading specialist works with each grade level of literacy teachers to help plan their lessons. She visits classrooms to model instruction and offer feedback, helping the teachers to build a strong literacy program to meet the needs of all students.

This year, the literacy teachers are participating in a training program through Columbia Teachers College. Through this powerful training, teachers have an opportunity for important dialogue as they implement the model lessons into their daily instruction.

Professional Development to support instruction in Readers Workshop continues to be a focus at Indian Hill School. Two parent workshops were held at Indian Hill. During both workshops, parents raised questions about vocabulary development, spelling and grammar instruction. Vocabulary, spelling and grammar are imbedded in the instruction. It will be important to clearly articulate those components of the Workshop model in future parent sessions.

At Satz School the administration and teachers continue their efforts to promote differentiation of instruction throughout the curriculum. They have infused the use of technology into various classes through the purchase and use of devices like the student response clickers, and the purchase of iPEVO systems.

Many of the staff have also been trained in the use of the Study Island program as a means of differentiating instruction, by allowing teachers to focus on specific skill areas where students need improvement. The program can be used by individual students or through small group instruction. For example, based on the student’s individual diagnostic reports, a teacher can assign individual assignments based on Study Island’s suggested topics report, located in the teacher’s handbook.

At Holmdel High School the “Collaborative Team Teaching Initiative” is in its second year; both General and Special Education staff participated with representatives from Monmouth University in both workshops and classroom visitations, all in an effort to further enhance team teaching at HHS.


• Summer 2011 Curriculum Revision: The K-6 Social Studies curriculum guides were rewritten in UBD format to incorporate the new NJ CCCS which are mandated to be put into practice by September 2012. In addition, the grades 1-6 Language Arts curriculum has been rewritten to incorporate Readers/Writers Workshop which supports the new Common Core standards which are also mandated to be implemented by September 2012. Ms. Alston worked through the summer to support the teams’ writing curriculum and to order the resources, books, and supplies necessary to implement the new curriculum in each grade and subject area.

• Ms. Alston wrote and distributed parent information materials to help in understanding how reading workshop works and how to assist their children at home to become more proficient readers. She appeared before the C & I committee to explain and discuss the new curriculum in LA and Social Studies.

• Continued training for staff by Teachers College in the implementation of Readers/Writers Workshop.

• Ms. Alston will be joining general and special education staff in attending a workshop in differentiating Readers/Writers Workshop for student with disabilities.

• Ms. Alston is a member of the AYP committee, which is working to provide resources and data to teachers regarding student proficiency through the use of benchmark tests, Study Island, and Coach books. We are working together to design a plan for action to help our students increase their proficiency on NJASK, as well as overall comprehension and skill levels in LA and Math.

• Ms. Alston attended, with other administrators, the Unified Plan workshop presented by the NJDOE which gave insight, information and direction in dealing with creating a plan to improve NJASK scores and AYP in the district.

• She is working directly with the new Literacy Coach/Reading Specialists at Indian Hill and Village to support their work with teachers in implementing reading workshop.

• At the HS and Satz, English and Social Studies department meetings are dedicated to collaborative review of the new standards in preparation for curriculum work during summer 2012. They are performing a gap analysis to see where the revisions need to be made. They are discussing and reviewing new resources and textbooks, as needed. The goal is to come to consensus before revisions are made.

• Analysis of NJASK scores was performed and shared with building administrators and teachers to assist in instructional planning and development. 3 year grade level comparisons were also performed and shared.

• Ms. Alston attended a NJDOE ESL Supervisors training session to become familiar with changes made in reporting and curriculum. This allows them to better serve the growing ESL population.

• Dr. Martinez attended the New Jersey Science convention in October to meet with supervisors from districts around the state. The topic of discussion was focused on comparing strategies in use to maximize preparation to meet the states for most recently adopted standards based on the Frameworks for Science K-12 as well as STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) competencies.

• Dr. Martinez is a member of the AYP committee, which is working to provide resources and data to teachers regarding student proficiency through the use of benchmark tests, Study Island, and Coach books. They are working together to design a plan for action to help students increase their proficiency on NJASK, as well as overall comprehension and skill levels in LA and Math.

• Dr. Martinez attended, with other administrators, the Unified Plan workshop presented by the NJDOE which gave insight, information and direction in creating a plan to improve NJASK scores and AYP in the district.

• At Satz, Science department meetings are dedicated to collaborative review of the new standards in preparation for curriculum work at the elementary level. They are performing a gap analysis to see where the revisions need to be made. They are discussing and reviewing new resources and textbooks, as needed.

• At Satz, Math department meetings have focused on discussion of placement levels.

• At the High School, Science department meetings have focused on the Physical Science course that was offered to students in grades 9 and 10. Discussions have been ongoing regarding the best instructional options for those students. A recommendation to offer Principles of Biology following Physical Science has been investigated and will be recommended.

• High School math department meetings have focused on recommendations for course prerequisites.

• Analysis of NJASK scores was performed and shared with building administrators and teachers to assist in instructional planning and development. 3 year grade level comparisons were also performed and shared.

• Grade level meetings were held at Indian Hill to review the results of NJASK testing as well as to preview the Benchmark testing results from the Study Island program. Teachers were introduced to the program and its potential for use in identifying specific areas for instructional emphasis. 


Goal 5: Financial Enhancements

Energy Conservation Program: This program has resulted in the largest cost savings to the district since inception.

Transportation Outsourcing: The district realized significant savings by outsourcing the remaining 40% of the district’s student transportation services.

Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): This is a shared service solar project with the Township which should result in savings due to reduced energy rates.

High School/WRS Parking Lot Repairs: The district realized significant savings by partnering with the Township for this shared service project.

Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission (MRESC): The district joined this consortium for the purchase of applicable goods and services at reduced rates/prices.

Revenue Opportunities;

Regular Education Complementary Kindergarten Program: The Board continues to discuss the opportunity of generating additional revenue by accepting tuition paying regular education students into this complementary program.

Village School PSA does a great job of fundraising. Through these various fundraising opportunities, the parents give back to the students in the form of additional materials for daily use to support/enhance the curriculum. The Holmdel Alliance and the Holmdel Foundation for Educational Excellence bring many wonderful grant opportunities and programs to the staff/students.
All newsletters are emailed to parents and posted on the Village School website. They also email as many letters and memos as possible to limit copying and postage usage. The student/parent handbook is posted on-line. This allows parents access to this document without the school needing to add this information to a student planner or send out as a separate paper copy to all families.

Indian Hill School:
• The Indian Hill School PLG newsletters are sent via email to all households. All important information and most school mailings are also sent via email. This helps to limit copying and postage.

• The school community has benefitted from an Anti-bullying and Cyber-bullying assembly provided by the Holmdel police.

• The PLG routinely sponsors assembly programs that align directly with the curriculum and enhance learning.

• The Holmdel Alliance and the Holmdel Foundation for Educational Excellence bring many wonderful grant opportunities and programs to the teachers and to the school.

Satz School:
♦ With the continued use of the PowerSchool Parent Portal, progress reports are no longer printed and mailed to parents. Grades can be viewed at the parents’ leisure by simply logging on to the PowerSchool Parent Portal web address: powerschool.holmdelschools.org

• The Satz School newsletters are no longer printed and mailed to households. All newsletters are emailed electronically to parents and posted on the Satz School website for viewing. They also email and post on their website as many letters and memos as they can to limit copying and postage usage.

• Through the utilization of the Satz parental email chain, many announcements, flyers, important notes and letters, are emailed to parents, as opposed to printing and kidmail.

Holmdel High School continues to look for ways to be fiscally prudent. In its second year of use, the Parent Portal has saved the school printing costs associated with progress reports. Because of its central location, Holmdel High School is a popular choice to host championship sporting events, which allows the Booster Club an opportunity to make a profit from concession sales; these profits, in turn, are given right back to the student-athletes in the form of equipment, championship apparel, etc. via the donation process.

This report is representative of our achievements and progress toward meeting the District’s and Superintendent’s goals, as well as additional obligations and mandates.
Submitted by Barbara Duncan, Superintendent

Jeff Gollin February 17, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Are all the savings from the various cost-savings measures already included in the current budget or are some of them available to help cut into the current township-wide budget shortfall?
Christina Johnson (Editor) February 17, 2012 at 07:40 PM
The following is a reply from BOE President Barbara Garrity: Dear Mr. Gollin, Thank you for your excellent question. Just to clarify, the Board of Education and the Township Committee are legally and statutorily separate and independent governing bodies, each elected by the voters. The School District and Township budgets are completely independent of each other. When it is mutually beneficial, we share services (e.g., fuel pumps) and bid projects jointly (e.g., the paving project). That's good for taxpayers, and we are on the lookout for new shared service/bidding opportunities. However, income, expenses, surpluses and deficits are not transferred between the two entities or budgets. In short, cost savings and revenues realized by the Board of Education are not available for the Township budget and vice versa. We like to work cooperatively, but we each manage our own financial affairs. There is no overlap or oversight. I hope that helps explain our relationship – cooperative but independent. Barbara Garrity, President, Holmdel Board of Education
bud February 19, 2012 at 04:50 PM
I do not remember reading in the US or NJ Constitutions whereby local school boards have the ultimate say as to financial matters. Last time I looked, that power still rested with the local government which has the power to assess taxes. Local government indeed maintains ultimate oversight over school boards. A fact often overlooked by school boards and administrators, particularly in NJ.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something