Dear Mount Laurel Families:
Welcome to a new school year! The 2016-2017 school year promises to bring new and exciting challenges to our classrooms while promoting student growth both academically and socially. Our goal as a district over the past twelve weeks has been to prepare programmatically and physically for the return of students.
In July, a team of elementary teachers and administrators developed the elementary science curriculum to align with the Next Generation Science Standards. This curriculum will be implemented next year. During the 2016-17 school year, teachers will pilot a number of the units, and final revisions will be made. These cyclical revisions bring our content in line with current standards, but more importantly, the process allows our skilled practitioners to scrutinize and improve our programs.
A new program for writing in Grades 6-8, Lucy Calkins Units of Study, brought teachers in those grade levels together in August for training. They will introduce their peers to this program during our initial staff in-service days prior to the opening of school. While our program will continue to implement the writers’ workshop model with a focus on whole group mini-lessons, small group instruction, and independent writing, Lucy Calkins Units of Study will support those measures.
I am proud to announce that we open the school year with two new administrators. At the Hillside School, Dr. Briean Madden will take the helm as Principal, while James Marchesano will assume the role of Interim Assistant Principal at the Mount Laurel Hartford School. I hope you will join me in welcoming them warmly to their new positions.
This summer, as in years past, our district administrators took part in an intense three-day retreat. The emphasis for this year’s administrative retreat was the neuroscience of learning – understanding how the brain works to improve strategies for teaching and learning. Part of this fascinating professional development took place at the Franklin Institute. Meanwhile, all of our new teachers participated in a new-staff orientation lasting five days prior to the star of the school year. They were introduced to a number of Mount Laurel’s teaching strategies and best practices.
In our buildings, maintenance staff members have been performing routine tasks along with major summer projects including replacement of the shingled sections of Hartford’s roof and repair to the front sidewalk and sewer pipe sections at Springville due to erosion damage. Parkway staff will be glad to find new closet doors when they return, with new cabinets in fabrication and soon to follow. Worn carpeting was either removed or replaced in several areas, and Hartford’s library circulation desk was also replaced. We painted classrooms at Hartford, Springville, Countryside, Parkway, Harrington, Hillside and our Child Study Team offices, and replaced lunch tables at Springville, and at Hartford and Harrington, where needed.
We are well-prepared to welcome you back for a new year of collective insight and individual success. We look forward to our valued partnership as we guide a new group of students through another grade level on their educational journey.
As your Superintendent, I look forward to beginning our first new school year together!