The 2010-2011 school year was full of changes for the Prospect Park School District, both sad and happy. In August of 2010, the district’s Superintendent, Dr. James Barriale was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The entire school community was devastated to learn of this news and rallied behind him as he dedicated himself to “fighting the fight”. Throughout the first few months of the school year, Dr. Barriale continued to lead the district from his home while working closely with myself, Principal, at that time. Sadly, Dr. Barriale passed away on November 24, 2010. I could not imagine not sharing this news with all, as Dr. Barriale was the driving force behind this district for twenty eight years, and always strived to ensure our students were afforded every opportunity to meet their personal success. He is missed by all, but, his presence will always be felt by everyone within our district.
Following his passing, Mr. Andrew Luciani joined our team as Interim Superintendent. Through the partnership developed between Mr. Luciani and myself, (Principal), we were able to continue the path paved for the 2010-11 school year. We worked closely with the faculty to implement some new research based strategies and techniques. Through the incorporation of additional “Whiteboards”, computerized assessment programs, family reading nights, a stronger emphasis on the Collins Writing Program, and the availability for closely aligned professional development, the teachers identified needs and planned activities to meet those needs. Additionally, they worked closely with the parents to share strategies that would provide help to their child(ren) at home. I am pleased to note, that many of our students demonstrated high levels of growth throughout the year.
One activity that I would like to highlight was the fourth grade participation in the statewide Celebrate NJ! School Program. The school district’s librarian and computer teacher collaborated with the homeroom teachers to encourage participation and guide the students with the chosen project, Essays on New Jersey Topics. The students chose a topic and then incorporated all components required and resources available focusing on this topic. This activity provided for a strong focus in the areas of writing, computer technology, public speaking, cross curricular study, peer collaboration and New Jersey History, as well as a myriad of additional educational opportunities. I am thrilled to note upon completion and submission, we had two students chosen among the individual winners statewide. One student wrote about New Jersey Artist, Andre de Krayewski, while the other wrote about the Liberty Science Center. Additionally, the grade level project, a “glog” – an online multimedia poster including other fourth grade articles, was also honored by the contest judges. We are very proud of the fourth grade participation and accomplishments, and look forward to participating in the contest yearly.
As we closed out the school year, I am honored to share, that the Board of Education appointed me as the new Superintendent for the school district. I am proud to accept this role and look forward to leading the district as a partner with the Board of Education, Administration, faculty and staff, parents and students, and the entire Prospect Park Community. We have a lot of work ahead of us as we continue to strive to meet AYP and the goals of all of our students, however, I have no doubt our growth will continue as we work hard to provide all of our students with the essential tools and opportunities to meet these goals.