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Westfield — Letters to the Editor

Important Information from the Westfield Board of Education

Margaret Dolan, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools

Saturday, April 12, 2014 • 2:56pm

SYNOPSIS of Board of Ed Meeting of April 8, 2014

GUIDANCE & COUNSELING UPDATE

Director of Counseling, Maureen Mazzarese, provided the Board with an
update on services and initiatives of the Counseling Department.  She
outlined the mission of the counselors, which embraces services to all
students, including academic development, career development and
personal/social development.
Ms. Mazzarese affirmed Westfield’s counseling goals, which she called the
bedrock of any effective school-based counseling program:

•       To develop  programs and procedures that reach all students;
•       To recognize the importance of individual student planning in all areas
(academics, career, and social and emotional skills);
•       To develop services that are responsive and timely;
•       To use counselor time effectively and efficiently;
•       To be current in changes and trends in the college application process
as well as changes and trends in career opportunities and all post high
school options for students;
•       To expand our connections with colleges and universities;
•       To work effectively with administrators, teachers and support staff
with an emphasis on mutual respect and appreciation for each other
expertise. (The I&RS --Intervention & Referral Services--  Committee is a
good example of this collaboration);
•       To develop collaborative relationships with resources in our own
community, especially expanding our network of referrals in the mental
health care community;
•       To maintain positive relationships with parents and communicate
effectively with parents; and
•       To evaluate results by looking at data and narrative feedback.

Ms. Mazzarese explained that counselors support students, teachers,
parents, supervisors, principals, and child study teams. She provided
examples of how the counselors meet their goals:

Elementary
Four elementary school counselors work in six buildings. Collectively these
counselors are seeing over 237 students individually, some seeing as many
as 65 students per week.  Over 60 students are participating in group
counseling each week and entire class lessons are provided when possible.
The counselors also serve on every I&RS Committee, 504 Committee and share
the responsibilities of scheduling, maintaining records, case managing, and
writing action plans. They are all anti-bullying specialists. They are
written into Child Study Team behavior plans, are involved in school
committees, Professional Learning Communities, In-service, evening
presentations for parents, annual reviews, and crisis intervention.  They
provide assistance to students in decision-making/problem solving, social
skills/communication skills, academic difficulties,
impulsivity/self-control, coping skills, divorce/family changes,
grief/mourning, anger, friendships, self-esteem, anxiety, and school
phobia/avoidance.

Middle School:

Counselors have caseloads that average 285 per counselor at Edison and 244
at Roosevelt.  They provide individual counseling every day, attend weekly
core team meetings and dozens of annual reviews; serve as 504 case managers
and I & RS committee members; they participate in NJ ASK test preparation
and implementation, Genesis scheduling, classroom lessons, peer leadership,
and a grant-sponsored lending library for parents.  At Roosevelt, they are
working on a program entitled Effective School Solutions, and Edison was
named as a Mix-it-Up Model School, one of just 76 schools from across the
country.


Westfield High School:

The student counselor ratio is approximately 205:1, which is in line with
comparable districts and with American School Counselor Association
standards.  The WHS counselors just completed approximately 1,900
individual scheduling conferences.  There are approximately 450 Junior
conferences in progress.  Counselors made 27 classroom visits to review the
college application process and provided 34 Naviance and Common Application
Workshops.  More than 50 letters of recommendation have been written per
counselor. Counselors are case managing 61 I&RS Plans and 54 of the 504
Plans. In addition to many individual and crisis counseling meetings, they
are attending more than 150 annual reviews. The department provides an
advisory role to three student support groups.  To assist students and
families in the college process, the department has provided:
•       3484 transcripts processed, averaging 8.1 per student (an increase of
13%);
•       2 college essay workshops;
•       5 parent evenings;
•       200 colleges attending WHS College Night;
•       142 college rep visits; and
•       48 counselor college tours, with more scheduled later in the spring.

Ms. Mazzarese highlighted many new accomplishments this year.  Counselors
were trained early in the school year to develop Student Growth Objectives.
She stated that among the districts that regularly attend the Union County
Directors of Guidance meetings, Westfield is the only district that
required Student Growth Objectives for counselors. We are now a model for
others. For elementary counselors the SGO in-service was an opportunity to
set some common goals, to plan together, and to support each other
throughout the process.

At every level counselors are taking advantage of workshop opportunities to
help students deal with anxiety, difficult emotions and life experiences.

To date, Suicide Prevention In-Service has occurred in 7 of our schools and
the remaining three are on the calendar for this month. Counselors have
worked with Ms. Mazzarese and their principals to develop a presentation
that was tailored to the needs of the school and the age levels of the
children and provide staff with essential information, policy review and
resources.

Middle School Counselors have expanded their Character Education
initiatives and peer leadership models to include more classroom lessons
and school-wide programs.

At the High School, the use of Naviance grows. One of the department’s
SGOs is to have all sophomores started on a resume as a way to reflect and
plan.

Through a survey of 11th graders, counselors identified a group of students
who were interested in learning about alternatives to college. To that end,
counselors have met with representatives from seven technical or trade
schools. Thirty-four of our students attended a college/career day at New
Jersey City University where they and the counselors had the opportunity to
meet with representatives from dozens of programs and schools.

Money saved by technology has allowed for certain technology upgrades in
the form of some lap-tops and i-pads that counselors will use in group
presentation, college tours, meetings, and for working at home and on the
road. The department has used data to re-organize the counseling calendar
for next year. For seniors and juniors everything will happen sooner to
better align with the college timeline.

Next year our Naviance bundle will expand as we integrate Alumni Tracker
into our package.  Through the National Student Clearinghouse we will be
able to track graduates. The program will allow us to correlate high school
GPA’s and test scores with post high school achievement, majors and job
outcomes. Ms. Mazzarese explained that with more information about what the
millennia generation is doing, the department can advise and counsel
better.  She thanked the Board for its continued support.


PERSONNEL

The Board accepted with regret the retirement of Kathleen Ellis – Lincoln
School, Special Education – following 15 years as a Special Education
teacher in Westfield.  We wish her a healthy, happy retirement, which is
effective June 30, 2014.

POLICIES

•       The Board approved for second reading the following policies:  2230 –
Course Guides and 2510 Adoption of Textbooks.
•       The Board approved for second reading to abolish the following
policies:  3220 Evaluation of Teaching Staff Members and 3222 Evaluation of
Tenured Teaching Staff Members. We will instead be following the new state
mandated staff evaluation model.
The Board affirmed my decision on five HIB incidents.

CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION & PROGRAM

The Board approved the following curriculum as aligned to standards:
Language Arts - English I, II, III, IV and Writers Craft.

Pamela Ackerman-Garcia, Supervisor of Language Arts, provided background on
the new curriculum that aligns with the Core Curriculum Content Standards.
She noted that the curriculum changes focus on: balancing informational and
literacy texts, building knowledge in the disciplines, text complexity, and
academic vocabulary.  In the case of Intermediate Language Arts (6 – 8),
the format has changed to create a balanced literacy vision characterized
by explicit skill instruction and the use of authentic texts.  There is an
emphasis on reading informational text aligned to Literature, and the
writing focus has shifted to opinion/argumentative writing.  The
collaborative approach among teachers from different academic disciplines
also is meant to help prepare students for college and careers.

The Board approved for first reading following curricula: Language Arts -
Intermediate English Language Arts (6-8).

The Board approved for second reading following curricula: World Language -
French III & III Honors; French IV & IV Honors; French V & V AP; Spanish
III & III Honors; Spanish IV & IV AP; and Spanish V & V AP.  Language Arts
- School Library Media and Journalism II. Mathematics -  Math of Personal
Finance; Calculus, AP Calculus AB, and AP Calculus BC; Computer Science
1,2,3; Discrete Mathematics; Probability & Statistics; AP Statistics;
Pre-Calculus; Pre-Calculus AP; and Pre-Calculus Honors.  Social Studies -
Social Studies K-4.

The Board approved four field trips to coincide with curriculum.



FINANCE

The Board approved a resolution for the NJSDA Grant Agreement for
Roosevelt’s projects:  upgrade temperature controls, phase I; boiler
replacement; and security upgrades, year I.
The Board approved tuition for STEM Summer Camp in the amount of $250 per
week.

LIAISON REPORTS

Ginny Leiz reported on her attendance at the PTC/PTO Presidents’ meeting
in which there was discussion regarding the new website and possible PTO
funding for school air conditioning.  Rosanne Kurstedt stated that at the
Roosevelt Intermediate School PTO meeting there was appreciation expressed
for the Board’s awareness of improvements needed for auditoriums.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

WORLD LANGUAGE
Congratulations to students in the Spanish II Honors class at Westfield
High School, who combined their knowledge of language and history to make
an awarding winning video.  Earning first place in the Montclair State
University Spanish Day film festival on March 28, the video entirely
created by Westfield High School freshmen, beat out all other schools in
New Jersey including those represented by upper classmen. "En busca de un
futuro mejor" (In Search of a Better Future) is a 5 minute video based on
historical events concerning forced disappearances in several countries in
Latin America in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Attending the award ceremony
were Juliana Yang, Max Wasilewski, Zoe Rader, Emily Sackett, Sophie
Hurwitz, Noah Bram, Ben Norton, Katie Colleran, Erica Cheung, Jillian
Martinez, Emma Pettit, and Emily Oster and teachers Liz Schultz and Katie
Foley. The film festival was held during the second half of Spanish Day at
Montclair and attended by more than 15 schools and approximately 400
students. The first half of the day consisted of workshops entirely in
Spanish.

FINE ARTS

Congratulations to Westfield High School’s drama department for receiving
8 Montclair State University “Theatre Night Award” nominations for the
school’s fall drama, Metamorphoses.  The nominations include:
Outstanding Achievements in Sound Design; Stage Crew; Costume Design; Stage
Direction; and Acting Ensemble.  Also - Outstanding Production of a Drama;
Outstanding Overall Production; and Outstanding Performance by a Supporting
Actress in a Drama for Jesse Zimmermann’s role as Myrrha.


Six Edison Intermediate School students were selected to showcase their art
work at the Elizabethtown Gas Company in Union, NJ.  A special awards
ceremony was held on March 24 to honor the Westfield students and recognize
their unique artist talents.  The students are: Tahani Ahmed, Darika
Lara-Rodriquez, Elaina Jones, Amanda Zhang,  Shea Elliot, and Elisha
Israel.  Members on a committee from the Art Educators of New Jersey made
the final selections.  The chosen Westfield pieces included four paintings,
one pen and ink drawing, and one using colored pencil.  The Edison
Intermediate School award winning artists are students of Alison Hooper and
Helen Frees.

WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL

Eight Westfield High School students have achieved perfect scores in
January on the SAT and in March on ACT standardized tests widely used for
college admission criteria.  They include:  Katherine Ko (ACT English);
William Crenshaw (SAT Writing); Brian Johnson (SAT Math); Andrew Zale (ACT
Science); Griffin Mooney (SAT and ACT Math); Albert Chen (SAT Reading and
Writing); William Chen (SAT Writing); and Benjamin Howell (ACT English).
This group of students brings to 29 the total of perfect SAT or ACT scores
thus far in the 2013-2014 school year in Westfield.

ODYSSEY OF THE MIND
Westfield Odyssey of the Mind will be hosting its second annual Showcase on
Wednesday, April 23, from 6 to 8 pm at Edison Intermediate School.  The
community is invited to find out what this creative problem solving
competition for kids is about and how to get involved.  Admission is free,
but donations to support the Westfield Odyssey Program are kindly accepted.
 For questions, please email WestfieldOdyssey@gmail.com

INTERMEDIATE

A reminder that the deadline for receipt of nominations for the 17th annual
Intermediate School Outstanding Teacher Award is Tuesday, April 22.  Two
intermediate school teachers – one from Edison and one from Roosevelt
Intermediate Schools – will be chosen to receive the award on May 14th at
an Optimist dinner, and will be honored at a Board of Education meeting in
June. Students, parents and staff are encouraged to submit nomination
letters to: Outstanding Teacher Award Committee of the Optimist Club of
Westfield, c/o Office of the Superintendent, Westfield Public Schools, 302
Elm St., Westfield, NJ  07090.  Letters can also be e-mailed to:
optiaward@westfieldnjk12.org.

ED FUND
The Education Fund of Westfield is holding its annual Wine Tasting and
Auction on Saturday, April 26th, from 7 – 11 PM at the Echo Lake Country
Club.  Proceeds fund grants for teachers in our schools.  For more
information, contact westfieldnj.com/edfund.

WESTFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED APRIL 14 - 18.  We wish everyone an
enjoyable Spring Break.

NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING – will be held Tuesday, April 29, at 302
Elm Street.  We will have the Public Hearing on the 2014-2015 budget at
that time.

Margaret Dolan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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