Informal PTA Meet and Greet at West Orange High School A Success
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 • 10:44pm
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The first meeting of the West Orange High School PTA provided the opportunity for parents to come out and meet the Principal, Assistant Principals, and Administrators at the high school, get important information, and ask questions. A large audience interacted with the staff and learned many aspects of how the high school works to make their children's experience a positive and sucessful one.
Hayden Moore, Principal, stood and called himself a "lucky man" as he acknowledged the team that surrounded him. As they laughed and joked with each other, it was apparent that they have formed a strong team that is dedicated to the students and working towards improving all levels of operation and academics.
Cheryl Butler, Director of Guidance in the West Orange School District, shared that in an effort to meet the needs of parents, that dates in November have been arranged so that parents can meet with guidance counselors in the evening. If those dates do not work, the guidance department will work with parents' schedules. This time will also provide assistance to students with college and scholarship applications.
Principal Moore interjected that the Parent Portal, a source for parents to check on their children's progress, be called the "Parent and Student Portal" and encouraged parents to get their kids on board to take ownership of their academic progress.
Kim Mancarella, Assistant Principal in charge of curriculum, was unable to attend.
Lou Della Pia and Lesley Chung, Assistant Principals for Discipline and Attendance respectively, discussed how their departments overlapped. Discipline was utilized as 'teachable moments' for the students, and that there were different 'levels' of discipline. Violence, fighting, use of any type of weapon, or threats, were not tolerated in any way, and consequences ranged from 10 day suspension to long term suspension to expulsion. Ms. Chung encouraged parents to read the Mountaineer Handbook, which outlined the process, in an effort to help their children not lose credit. Conflict resolution was handled by the staff, and counselors were available to assist students with various issues, ranging from substance abuse to bullying. Parents were told to call, whether their concern was about their child, or their child's friend, and it would be handled in a confidential way.
Annette Dade, Assistant Principal in charge of the Master Schedule and Special Programs, spoke about the wide range of programs offered to students at all academic levels: AP, Honors, AVID, and the focus on the small learning communities, which the district received grant money for. IMS (Institute for Math and Science), and IH (Institute for Humanities) are already in place, with more to follow.
Mike Figueiredo, newly appointed Small Learning Communities Project Director, energetically discussed the compilation of data, research, and details, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the district, and how to improve things. He stressed that he understood the concerns of those who felt that students in the middle (not high or low performers) could be 'lost' and said the goal for all new and ongoing initiatives were to provide individual instruction to meet the needs of all the students.
Mr. Moore said that he wanted the staff and the students to all feel like they are 'Mountaineers.'
Parents then asked questions and raised some issues, most notably about how to improve communication between parents and the high school, the proposed block/drop scheduling (a presentation will be given at the BOE meeting on 10/22, 8:00 pm, Pleasantdale School), and importance of teaching parents about the available online resources such as Family Connections and Naviance. The Guidance Department will give a presentation on how to use these invaluable resource tools in the near future.