Longevity: What It Brings To The Table

Next week, the Mount Laurel Board of Education will recognize our retirees for the year, as well as those staff members who have reached their 25th-anniversary. Looking at the list of our recipients, it is clear to me that many of our employees have dedicated the majority of their career to the families of Mount Laurel.

That’s a fine tribute to the community and its support of public education. We should all be very proud. Long-time staff members bring our history to the forefront of our operations – both good and bad. They can caution us not to repeat mistakes of the past and present solutions that may have worked before, even though they are not necessarily the latest trend.

It is fitting that just last week, I attended a Burlington County School Boards Association workshop where Board Member Margaret Haynes received a Milestone Award. Mrs. Haynes was recognized for 35 years of consistent service on the Mount Laurel Board of Education.peggi35

(From left) BCSBA President Brandon Pugh, Senator Dawn Addiego, Margaret Haynes, BCSBA Vice President Michael McClure, and Immediate Past President John Bulina.

Her longevity has no doubt benefitted the district many times over during those years. She has helped to build schools, establish policy, select school leadership and staff, and approve countless program initiatives. She has accomplished all of that as a volunteer.

Mount Laurel is indeed fortunate to have such dedicated staff members and leaders. That only happens in a community where education is a priority and parents are invested in the future of their children.  Your longevity in that regard is dearly appreciated.

Classroom Visits Are Important!

Recently I visited with Mrs. Christy Vincent’s third grade class at the Larchmont Elementary School to read an inspirational book called, “YOU!” by Sandra Magsamen. The message to our children was to communicate how special they are to us, encourage them to believe in themselves, always try their best, and work hard to achieve their dreams! Another important message for them was to be the best “YOU!” you can be!

ClassroomAlthough I will be out and about in our schools, I have encouraged our staff and principals to invite me into their classrooms and schools whenever they like. I plan to be an integral part of the educational program and ensure our students, staff, and parents are familiar with their Superintendent of Schools!

I believe it is important to spend time in our classrooms to connect with our students. The best compliment I can receive is when a student sees me and says, “Hello, Mr. Rafferty!”. To me that means I have been present for that child in some way and that made a difference to them! One of the hallmarks of the Mount Laurel Public Schools is that our students always come first.

One of the ways our students can really understand how important they are and how much we care is to spend some time with them!

On Teacher Appreciation Week

Traveler holding a compass

Female traveler holding a compass on nature. Point of view shot

“A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils.” Ever Garrison

Anyone who has spent any time in the Mount Laurel Schools knows this to be true.

The moments that matter most are not always those that make the front page of the paper or get shared hundreds of times on social media. They are quiet, spontaneous and sometimes hard-fought. They happen in classrooms, in hallways, on our stages, in our labs, sometimes on the playground and often are hailed by a quickly raised hand.

For our teachers, that’s where appreciation lies.

Which is not to say that the tremendous luncheons, filled refrigerators, gift bags of supplies and notes provided by our parents this week are not gratifying. They are a meaningful celebration of our work together on behalf of each and every student in the Mount Laurel Schools. Thank you for being our constant partners. So as this week comes to a close, take some time to reflect upon how you make such a meaningful difference in the lives of children!

Thank You, Larchmont PTO!

Thank you to members of the Larchmont PTO for the warm welcome to their monthly meeting this week. I enjoyed not only attending your meeting, but also watching and learning how integral you all are to the mission of the Mount Laurel Schools! Listening to your discussions about the school’s needs with Principal Jackson, support of both classroom and school-wide initiatives, and especially the untiring enthusiasm displayed for generating new ideas made it very clear to me that your motivation is about what is best for students. I’m very grateful for all you do and look forward to playing a part in supporting all your efforts!



Happy Cinco de Mayo Day!

While Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in Mexico, it has evolved into a far less somber day here in America. At the Springville School, the Fifth of May was celebrated with cultural festivities such as hat dances, cakewalks and great food by second-graders, staff members, family and friends.

It was wonderful to see the integration of lessons that went along with the Cinco de Mayo Festival organized by second-grade teachers and originated by Teacher Ceil Lynn. Funded by a PRIDE Grant from the New Jersey Education Association, student artwork decorating the cafetorium was all based on Mexican culture, as were the activities in which students participated, and some of the directions given were in Spanish as well as English. A great example of learning by living!


Let’s “Take our Daughters and Sons to Work” Day!

Once a year across the nation for the last 22 years, a tradition of taking our nation’s youth to work with us has been occurring. The Mount Laurel Township Schools support and participate in this time-honored tradition. Some of my most precious memories involved going to work with my grandfather on Saturday mornings, when he would spend quality time with me and give me a glimpse  into the workmanship that went into the  tailoring of custom made suits for customers – his chosen profession.


Some of the staff who work at the Hattie Britt Board of Education Building brought their children to work to see, hear, and experience how we work together on behalf of your children. Our work and careers take up a huge amount of our time and impact the time we have available for our families. When we allow our children to peer into our work lives and the professions we’ve chosen to pursue, we teach our children about our dedication, values, work ethic, and commitment to excellence by showing and modeling it for them!

“Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin


I am happy to introduce this space as a place where we might share the educational experiences of Mount Laurel’s students. Today’s children live in an amazing world technologically – one where their classroom walls expand beyond many borders and around the world. But some of the most important discussions still happen here at home.

It is critical that members of the community remain involved in their schools. We look to our student citizens to become the leaders of tomorrow, and we want to assure that they are prepared.

I hope you will join me here, and offer comment, suggestions and feedback as we “tour” our classrooms on a periodic basis.