Thursday, December 21, 2006

Enjoy the Winter Break

We have an early dismissal day scheduled for tomorrow. I wish all in our school community an enjoyable break. The time with family and friends is special. Enjoy.

We look forward to an exciting new year – 2007 will be another successful year for the Woodbury Public Schools.

We return to school Tuesday, January 2, 2007.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tonight's Concert -- 8:00 p.m.

There has been a bit of confusion regarding the start time of this evening's choir concern. The event will be held in the newly re-opened high school auditorium and starts at 8:00 p.m.

The show features selections performed by the --

*Sixth Grade Choir
*Seventh & Eighth Grade Choir
*High School Concert Choir, and
*High School Traveling Choir

Woodbury High School
Ninety-Eighth Annual Holiday Concert
December 20, 2006 at 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Board of Education Meeting -- Tonight

The regular, monthly meeting of the Woodbury Board of Education is scheduled for this evening at 7:00 p.m. The meeting is held in the Board Conference Room on the first floor of the high school building.

At upcoming Board of Education meetings during the balance of this school year, representatives from one of our schools will be in attendance to present an update highlighting activity within the building. This evening, the high school starts off these presentations. The Jr.-Sr. High School presentation will focus on the World Language Department and the AVID – Advancement Via Individual Determination -- program.

Also, the architect will be present to update the Board on the status of the Walnut Street School heating, ventilation, and air conditioning project.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Jr.-Sr. High Choir Concerts

We just received word that the correction to our auditorium seating has been completed, and the room is now available for use.

Therefore, this Wednesday’s choir performance will be held at the school! We are pleased to have our new room back in operation. Doc Maddison will be speaking with our students today regarding the change.

Jr. High performance @ 6:30 p.m.
Sr. High performance @ 8:00 p.m.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Spotlight on Ms. Harrison

Danielle Harrison

Teacher of Grade 2

West End Memorial School

Danielle Harrison

• College(s) and degrees(s):
Rutgers University – Bachelor’s Degree – African American Studies; Elementary Education

• Work experience:
Cherry Hill Public Schools (long-term sub – 4th grade)
Camden Charter School (long-term sub – 5th grade)

• Favorite books
o fiction: Polar Express
o nonfiction: The First Day of School, by Harry Wong

• Favorite television show:
America’s Next Top Model

• Last movie I loved:
Akeelah the Bee

• Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
Beyoncé (B-Day)

• Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
Martin Luther King. He was an inspiration to all people for Civil Rights and peace in this country.

• Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
Florida (Orange Lake Resort)

• One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
Filing all my paperwork and bills at home

• Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

• Favorite sports team:


• Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:

• Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
A teacher I will never forget was my fourth grade teacher at West End, Miss Schaffer. She was very loving, funny, and she cared for her students. She also had great classroom treats to share on Fridays!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Emergency Alert System

Mrs. Pennell, our school Business Administrator, was very impressed with a presentation regarding a county service that we will be looking to employ in the near future. I have attached below some information about the Roam Secure system from the company’s website. Gloucester County has purchased access to the system and is making it available to schools in the county. Woodbury is excited about what the system will allow for our schools as a way to provide information to our community in the case of emergencies.

This information is very preliminary -- kind of advanced, insider’s information for blog users. I anticipate that it will take some time to finalize our connection with the county service. Once we have that completed, we will advertise the chance for families to join.

From the Roam Secure website:

Roam Secure® is the leader in deploying and managing emergency text alerting systems with its flagship product the Roam Secure Alert Network (RSAN™). RSAN is setting the national standard for text alerting each day as more and more people join the tens of thousands of government leaders, first responders, employees, critical infrastructure security personnel, businesses and citizens that rely upon the award winning emergency alerting system. RSAN has continually proven reliable and successful at reaching out to citizens, employees and key personnel over the past several years during all types of routine emergencies and regional crises. RSAN’s patent-pending technology delivers targeted information quickly and efficiently, with the capability to send 18,000 messages per minute, per server and it has delivered millions of messages during all-hazards events.

RSAN leverages text-based technology, such as SMS, to reach text-enabled devices including pagers, cell phones, PDAs, Blackberry, Treo, satellite phones, XM Satellite radio, instant messaging and e-mail. These messages provide essential information to targeted groups about where to go, what to avoid, and other important time-sensitive information to secure public and personal safety during an emergency. RSAN also provides efficient two-way communication, through a combination of cell phones, pagers, Blackberry, PDAs, email and desktop alerts. Cities, Counties and States use RSAN for routine paging and dispatch and to warn millions of citizens and businesses in seconds with specific, targeted information during emergencies. RSAN has also been attributed to saving lives during severe weather, helping find missing children and elderly persons and tracking down crime suspects.

In the United States alone more than 194 million adults carry their cell phones with them at all times, and more than 37.5 billion SMS messages were sent in the first 6 months of last year – making text communication an imperative way to reach individuals anywhere, anytime. In addition, as proven time and again during the London bombings, 9/11 and hurricanes Katrina and Rita – text works when other traditional forms of communication fail.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Teacher of the Year Program

Each year, the district recognizes a teacher from each of our schools as a representative of the high quality work occurring in the classrooms. In early January, we will be sending out nomination forms to all homes by way of our students; I will provide a reminder here on the blog when the handouts are sent.

A committee will meet in early February to make the selection. That committee consists of Board of Education members, teachers, parents, and citizens without children in the system. We have internal mechanisms for selecting the Board of Education members and the teachers on the committee.

If you are interested in serving as a parent/citizen member of the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee, please send me an e-mail. (There is a link off to the right hand side on this blog site.) Please indicate if you have children in the system and what grades/schools they attend. It is best if our parent representatives have children currently attending two different schools in the district (elementary/Jr.-Sr. High school).

There are only a couple spots available on the committee. A decision on the committee membership will be made in January. Parent/citizen participation is important and appreciated.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

All Systems Go

With colder temperatures in recent days, we have had a good chance to test the new geothermal systems at the Jr.-Sr. High School, West End, and Evergreen. We are pleased to report that the overall performance has been good. The system can be controlled remotely through an Internet connection so that troubleshooting can occur at all hours and from locations off-site.

Additionally, a significant cost savings results from the capabilities to regulate temperatures during the day and to shift to unoccupied modes during “off” hours. An added advantage of geothermal, the ability to use the ground temperatures to provide cool air during the hotter weather, will have to wait until the later spring months to be fully appreciated!

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning renovations to the Walnut Street School will be reviewed by the architect at this month’s board of education meeting (next Tuesday). It is anticipated that the specifications for the Walnut system will be ready to be approved at the January meeting; they will then be put out to bid. The work at Walnut is slated for the spring and summer months.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Robotics Team Update

I have yet to hear all the details about this past weekend’s trip to Auburn University for the Robotics Team, but I am told the message by cell phone from Alabama was that our team placed 21st out of 49 teams.

That was a very respectable finish since Woodbury’s team consisted of junior high school students and ninth graders while other schools were composed of all high school students. Additionally, some of the other schools competing at this regional site have participated in the past competitions.

All in all, an exciting, impressive, first-year effort for Mr. Ford and the students on the team. Congratulations!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Spotlight on Ms. Chandler

Thilana Chandler

Special Education Teacher

Evergreen Avenue School

Thilana Chandler

• College(s) and degrees(s):
Rowan University – Bachelor’s Degree – Special Education

• Work experience:
West Deptford H.S. – Grades 9-12 – Reading Teacher
Durand Academy – Preschool Disabled Teacher
Volunteer – St. John of God – Preschool Multiply Disabled Class

• Favorite books
nonfiction: Your Best Life Now, by Joel Osteen

• Favorite television show:
Dancing With the Stars and American Idol

• Last movie I loved:
End of The Spear

• Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
Israel Houghton and a New Breed Another Level Live

• Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
Harriet Tubman. I would like to just hear her experiences first-hand and listen to the courage in her voice. It would be great to be able to see such a strong woman who helped so many people reach freedom.

• Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
Red Bank National park at sunset

• One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
Cleaning out my basement

• Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

• Favorite sports team:


• Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
My very own remote island where I can be pampered all day long

• Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
Mr. Haige. He empowered me to conquer my fears of math and helped me succeed. His class was entertaining, energetic, fun, and a place where it was okay to make a mistake. Mr. Haige helped me grasp Algebra, and I passed the class. I also came away knowing that teachers can make a difference -- if they believe they can make a difference. Teachers are the key to students succeeding!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jr.-Sr. High School Parent Conferences

Today marks the second and final day for parent conferences at the Jr.-Sr. High School. Teachers are available this afternoon (1:30 – 3:00 p.m.) and again this evening (6:00 – 8:00 p.m.).

The conferences are being held in the cafeterias and library --
Old Cafeteria: Junior High School
New Cafeteria: Senior High School
Library: Special Area Teachers

This is a good opportunity to touch base with some of your child’s teachers to review first marking period student performance.

The afternoon conference time is likely to be less crowded; if you can make that time, it is highly encouraged!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Music Tonight -- Elementary Winter Concert

This evening, our annual elementary Winter Concert will take place at the Evergreen Avenue School. Elementary students from all schools in the district -- grades four and five -- who are involved in the choir and band will perform.

The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. Please arrive early – parking is a challenge. Come and enjoy the music!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

White & Gold -- West End Edition

As I mentioned earlier in this school year, we are trying to unify various school publications under the common heading of "White & Gold." West End has had a tradition of providing a detailed newsletter to the families who have children attending this school. The title of that publication has been updated to White & Gold -- West End Edition.

Mr. Myers, the new principal at West End, is excited to announce that this publication is now available on-line. It can be accessed through the district website. Go to the district site -- find West End in the "Schools" drop-down selection -- and select "School Newsletter" from the choices on the left side.

This way, if you lose the hardcopy of the newsletter or are somewhere away from home, you will always have access. Additionally, older issues are archived. You will find the first three months' issues for the 2006-07 school year available on-line.

  • Woodbury Public Schools
  • Monday, December 04, 2006

    Stadium Update

    The contractor who has been working on the stadium anticipates accelerating the amount of work on the site in the upcoming weeks. Some of the early prep work has begun, but the more significant demolition work should be started either this week or next. The timeline for this project has all work being completed prior to the end of this school year.

    It will be exciting to see the stadium and field restored to a status that will allow for competition!

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Technical Difficulty -- Stay Tuned

    The Friday Spotlight should be posted either later today or over the weekend. There are some technical difficulties with posting the picture. (Not bad -- this has been a very reliable sight -- and free!; actually, the difficulties are not with the blogger site but rather with our local technology.)

    Anyway, enjoy your weekend. The weather takes a bit of a turn -- seems like today's high temperature will be 69 degrees while starting tomorrow and continuing through next week the high temperatures will be in the 40's! It was only a matter of time.

    By the way, as a benefit to the faithful White & Gold blog edition readers, I will try to post any school closing information here once a decision is made. That may make this a more popular destination during the upcoming winter weeks!

    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    Nighttime Activity

    The school buildings do not sleep. Board meetings, musicals, school sports teams practices, community recreation programs, adult English as a Second Language classes, Family Nights, PTA meetings . . .

    It seems that these winter months bring even more activity to our schools during the night hours. We welcome everyone and look to make our schools vital centers to community activity.

    There is a process that is required to secure the use of the building. Groups who already do business with the schools know the procedure. For those of you with questions, you can contact our Facilities Department by e-mailing at

    Those using the building are asked to respect the fact that we are open for business in an effort to serve both extended school activities and the larger city community needs. Additionally, we ask all our adult visitors to help in monitoring the good use of the schools. Please feel free to ask a neighborly question to anyone you believe may be extending beyond our good will.

    We hope that you enjoy these upcoming months when we all buckle down against the cold and spend more time indoors. The Woodbury Public Schools look forward to providing you a place for some quality evening activity during the winter.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    Board Meeting -- Reconfiguration Update

    At last night’s Board of Education meeting, it was decided to end the conversation on reconfiguring the elementary schools and to retain our current neighborhood school structure. Each board member spoke about how the comments heard during the public testimony sessions helped solidify an understanding of how passionate the parents felt about the value of the current structure.

    I thank all for their patience and involvement in the conversation. I am pleased that we were able to employ a process that allowed for each to contribute his/her thoughts.

    The development of the 2007-08 budget will now continue without the inclusion of the ideas associated with the reconfiguration concept.

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    November Board of Education Meeting

    The regular, monthly Board of Education meeting is scheduled for this evening at 7:00 p.m. In anticipation of a larger than normal crowd, we have moved the location of the meeting to the high school’s newer cafeteria.

    The board members will discuss the elementary reconfiguration during the early part of the meeting. As with all board meetings, there will be opportunity for the public to make comment on both agenda and non-agenda items.

    The agendas for the board meetings are posted on the district website:

  • Woodbury Public Schools – Board Meeting Agendas
  • Monday, November 27, 2006

    Conference Time

    This 2006-07 school year is well underway. We have recently completed the first marking period and our winter sports teams have started to practice! It is hard to believe.

    Conferences are scheduled this week at the elementary schools. Soon, with the first marking period report cards, the Jr.-Sr. High School conference information will be provided to our parents; these conferences are scheduled for December 6th and 7th.

    Please use the conference time to help assess your child’s work to date and to formulate a plan for success for the remainder of this school year.

    Remember, our teachers are ready to meet with you at any time during the year. E-mail contact is often the best way to initiate or maintain contact; a phone call or note will work, too! Finally, please feel comfortable reaching out to the appropriate principal if you have any difficulty that cannot be addressed by the teacher.

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    A Bit More Detail on Robotics

    Woodbury Public Schools
    Woodbury High School
    Press Release
    November 21, 2006
    Contact: Ari Ford 853-0123, ext. 349

    Over the course of the past few years the Woodbury Public Schools System has had a focused initiative on increasing technology, science and mathematics across all content areas through the NASA Explorer Schools grant program. One aspect of this grant, allowed for the development of a robotics course to be taught at the Junior High School level. Over the past year and a half, this course, taught by Mr. Ari Ford, has grown and developed beyond the traditional classroom. An after school robotics club has been created.

    Most recently the club entered the 2006 Philadelphia BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) robotics competition. The BEST program involved 20 school districts in the greater Philadelphia area including districts such as Moorestown, Dobbins Vo-tech, University City HS, and the Science and Technology HS of Philadelphia. The BEST competition is designed to inspire and interest students in engineering, science, and technology through participation in an exciting sports-like technology contest. Specific goals of this project include:

    • Help students understand technical concepts and principles.
    • Provide students with a real-world engineering challenge that includes limited time and resource constraints.
    • Offer students an academic experience that encourages abstract thought, self-directed learning, and decision making.
    • Provide mentoring through accomplished professionals from business, industry, and academia.
    • Provide team-building experience for students.
    • Promote good sportsmanship and ethical conduct within a competitive environment.

    The Woodbury robotics team, consisting of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders, began their involvement in the BEST competition on September 28, 2006, in a kickoff ceremony that outlined the goals and structure for the competition. Students were provided with a box of parts that included: 4 motors, 4 micro switches, 2 speed controllers, wood, PVC pipe, and a remote control. They were then given instructions to design a robot that could hang wet laundry and take down dry laundry. Teams were given six weeks to build the robot, culminating in the actual competition that occurred on Saturday November 19, 2006, at Villanova University. In addition to being judged on the robot’s ability to complete the assigned tasks, students were also evaluated in the following categories: oral presentation, table display and interview, engineering journal and school spirit/ sportsmanship.

    Over the course of the six-week period, students worked both before and after school for a combined total of over 40 hours. This work involved creativity, team work, independent research and design, trial and error methodology and out of the box thinking. This past Saturday at Villanova University all of that hard work paid off. Woodbury began the day finishing second in the open rounds; this earned them a birth in the semi-finals. The semi-finals proved to have some stiff competition with Woodbury winning a tie breaker to advance to the championship round. The team then dominated the championship with a 5 to 0 sweep to earn a first place finish in the Philadelphia BEST competition. The students will now travel to Auburn University in Alabama on December 8th and 9th to compete in the South’s BEST Regional Championship.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Woodbury History

    The following update was written by Nora Taylor. Mrs. Taylor is our teacher for the enrichment program at the elementary schools:

    As part of their Community Study of Woodbury, fourth graders in the Opportunities Enrichment Program have been engaged in conducting oral history interviews with current and former residents of Woodbury. Students have learned that history is not a thing of the past, and that our history is easily accessible through our community members.

    Fourth graders interviewed Mrs. Joann Sparks at West End School and Mrs. Evelyn Warren at Evergreen Avenue School. Students at Walnut Street School were surprised to learn that their interviewee, Mr. Jack Sheppard, long time Wenonah mayor and well known citizen of Gloucester County, attended kindergarten at Walnut Street School. He went on to relate that he had recently celebrated his 80th birthday by biking 80 miles!

    The taped interviews will be transcribed and published in a booklet as part of the study by the children. Students are learning that the stories of our community are important and need to be preserved.

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Moving On

    Robotics teacher Ari Ford and a group of our Jr.-Sr. High School students participated in the 2006 Philadelphia BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. "Game Day"” was last Saturday, November 18th, and was hosted by Villanova University in Villanova, PA.

    Each school that competed was provided identical parts and created their robots to perform a set task according to the guidelines for Game Day.

    Woodbury's robot performed the best of all the schools represented and the team has now qualified to continue on to the regional competition scheduled for December 8th and 9th. The next round, the South's Regional Finals, will be held at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.

    Congratulations to Mr. Ford and the students involved!

  • Philadelphia BEST
  • Reminder – Public Testimony

    The Board of Education will hold its final special meeting to take public testimony on the elementary grade reconfiguration concept that has been presented for conversation. The meeting is this evening at 7:00 p.m. and will be held at the West End Memorial School.

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Mr. Roskoski

    Mr. Roskoski

    School Psychologist

    Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

    Gary A. Roskoski

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    Manhattan College (1999-2001); Monmouth University, BA – psychology; Rowan University, MA - school psychology; Rowan University, Ed.S - school psychology (expected, 2007)

    • Work experience:
    Manager --Eden Family of Services (group home for adults with autism)

    • Favorite books
    o fiction: The Catcher in the Rye
    o nonfiction: CASH, by Johnny Cash

    • Favorite television show:
    The Wonder Years & The Simpsons

    • Last movie I loved:
    Wedding Crashers

    • Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
    The Wall by Pink Floyd

    • Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    My Grandmother: Anita Franchi. It would be so nice to see her again. I would enjoy just sitting with her and showing her that her influence and love has stayed with me all these years.

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    Tibbets Brook Park - Yonkers, N.Y.

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    Clean out my closet

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):
    "BEAR" - my miniature longhair Dachshund

    • Favorite sports team:

    New York Yankees

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    He inspired me and made me understand it was more important to achieve success using my own standards rather than someone else’s standards – thank you, Mr. Day.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    $10,000 Grant Awarded to Woodbury Public Schools

    Woodbury Public Schools is pleased to announce a grant partnership with the Verizon Corporation’s Southern New Jersey Office of External Affairs. This partnership was highlighted at an awards ceremony held on Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at the Bally’s hotel in Atlantic City. Woodbury has teamed up with Verizon in an effort to increase the utilization of technology in the direct instruction of literacy for our students.

    Verizon is providing Woodbury Public Schools with $10,000 to focus on this initiative. As a result, a cutting edge computer based reading program, My Reading Coach – Gold, will now be used at the elementary level. The software was piloted during the last school year at the Junior High School. The plan is to offer this program to our students as a before/after school activity over the course of the 2006-2007 school year.

    This current grant award provided by Verizon is one example of a new initiative the Woodbury Public Schools is undertaking. The district is aggressively seeking other grant opportunities with local and national businesses, corporations and agencies.

    It is the district’s goal that these competitive grants assist in providing enhanced services and resources to students, staff and community members without increasing a burden on the taxpayers of Woodbury. In addition to the grant awarded by Verizon, Woodbury is currently in the process of applying for funding through the State of New Jersey for enhanced autism programming as well as applying for sports equipment for our athletic programs through a grant program offered by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.

    The district’s grantwriter, Dr. Jeffery Adams, welcomes any information our school community has with regard to additional funding opportunities. You can contact Dr. Adams at or 856-853-0123, ext. 440.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    October Athletes of the Month

    I had a request from our athletic trainer, Ms. Melody Arno, to help publicize the “athlete of the month” program that she has been running with Athletic Director Grant Shivers for the last couple of years.

    Our high school coaches are asked for nominations each month and then Ms. Arno and Mr. Shivers finalize the selection -- choosing one female and one male athlete of the month. Each gets a certificate and t-shirt, and names are posted on a bulletin board outside the athletic trainer’s room.

    Ms. Arno writes, “So far, this program is only known to the athletes, coaches, Mr. Shivers and me. I would like to get the word out there more -- so that it is announced to a wider group of people. This year, the names of our September students have been able to be announced to the high school students at a pep rally. I thought that maybe you could post the “athletes of the month” on your blog that you post daily. I feel it would reach more parents that way.”

    So, maybe this will be the start of the use of the blog as a way of adding some recognition to specific student accomplishments and awards.

    The October ATHLETES OF THE MONTH are:

    Victor Smith (boys soccer)
    Andrea DiCarlo (girls soccer)

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Congratulations, Mr. Santarone

    Our own Rick Santarone, Evergreen and Walnut physical education teacher, is scheduled to be inducted in the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame.

    The Hot Stovers Baseball Club of South Jersey will induct six new members into the 2006 South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame at its 47th annual Awards Dinner scheduled for Saturday, November 25, 2006.

    Mr. Santarone, a 1977 graduate of Cherry Hill East High School, had the distinction of being drafted three times by three different major league teams: Seattle Mariners (1977), Detroit Tigers (1978) and NY Yankees (1979). He was an All-State catcher in 1977, All South Jersey player in 1976 & 1977, All Group 4 in 1976, and All-Conference from 1975-1977.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Reminder – Public Testimony

    The Board of Education will hold special meetings to take public testimony on the elementary grade reconfiguration concept that has been presented for conversation. The meetings start tonight:

    Monday, November 13 at the Walnut Street School
    Tuesday, November 14 at the Evergreen Avenue School
    Monday, November 20 at the West End Memorial School

    Each meeting is open to the public and will begin at 7:00 p.m.


    Congratulations to the Woodbury varsity football team for an opening round victory in last Saturday’s NJSIAA South Jersey Group I playoff game. The win over Maple Shade moves the Thundering Herd into the semifinals. Next up, Woodbury returns to Paulsboro this weekend for a rematch. Good luck to all!

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Enjoy the Long Weekend

    Enjoy the extra time and less hurried pace. I hope that these days without the rush of school allow you and your family some time to do some things together – rent a movie and pop some popcorn, play a board game, visit relatives, read a book with the younger children, etc.

    If you are looking for something to do on Saturday, you need to go no further than Gateway High School. Gateway has graciously allowed us to use their football field for the site of our first round NJSIAA South Jersey Group I football playoff game against Maple Shade. The game will start at 1:00 p.m. Go Herd!

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    South Jersey Group I Semi-Finals

    Good luck to the Thundering Herd Boys Soccer team as they travel to Burlington City today to play in the semi-final round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group I competition. The boys had an exciting victory over second seed Pitman last Friday in the opening round. Today's game starts at 2 p.m.

    No School Today

    Election Day -- Remember to vote!

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    Grade Reconfiguration Conversation Continued

    The goal of this reconfiguration conversation is to address fiscal concerns while continuing to provide a program that allows for educational excellence. This is a difficult issue and the board is looking for input to help make the decision. It is why the effort has been made to reach out to as many constituent groups as possible. It is the reason for the opportunity for the public to have input at the special board meetings this month. All are important steps in better understanding a complex issue so that the best decision can be made.

    I want to thank those who were in attendance at the various elementary parent organization meetings last week. There were a number of ideas suggested that we have already begun to study in more detail.

    If you were unable to attend a meeting last week and have a specific question that you want to ask in advance of the special board meetings, feel free to call me. It may be the best way to understand one another – through direct conversation. You can reach me at 853-0123 ext. 230. Obviously, you can also e-mail me with ideas or questions –

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Mr. Gallatig

    Mr. Gallatig

    Social Studies Teacher

    Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

    Steven Gallatig

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    University of Northern Colorado, BA

    • Work experience:
    I have been teaching history for ten years in Colorado -- three years at Otis High School and seven years at Fort Morgan High School

    • Favorite books
    • fiction: The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
    • nonfiction: From Under the Rubble by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    • Favorite television show:
    VH1 Rockumentary

    • Last movie I loved:
    The Last Samurai

    •Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
    Hoochie Coochie Man, by Muddy Waters

    •Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize winner in Literature

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    My music room

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    Clean my desk

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

    • Favorite sports team:

    Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
    Southern France

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    Mr. Hess taught history with passion. He always made me feel like I belonged and that I could make an important contribution to the world.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Elementary Grade Reconfiguration Conversation

    The school district met with key school community members throughout the day yesterday, in a coordinated fashion, so that all of these individuals had a chance to hear about a plan that the Board of Education is considering in association with the budgeting process. The goal was to have as many school community groups hear directly from the school.

    Esther Pennell, School Business Administrator, and I held yesterday’s meetings with the following groups:

    • Woodbury Education Association leadership
    • Woodbury School Administration
    • Woodbury City Council representatives and the Mayor
    • Officers from the various Woodbury school parent organizations

    The board has NOT made any decision regarding the matters discussed (specifically – the potential of closing Walnut School and reconfiguring the grades for elementary education into PK-1 at Evergreen and 2-5 at West End). The only decision was to inform the public that the board is considering options and to provide the opportunity for the broader school community to contribute to the conversation.

    There are two fact sheets that will be available today at all school offices – one is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of the reconfiguration concept and the other is a detail of the financial impact. These sheets will help you understand the reasoning behind why the consideration of this reconfiguration is happening at this time. Later today, this information will also be posted on the district website.

    In addition to the significant cost savings (up to $650,000 in annual operating expenses), the plan also has another important advantage – the inclusion of two classrooms dedicated to full-day preschool. Obviously, the most significant disadvantage is the fact that Woodbury is a walking district and the change would increase the travel distances to school.

    Again, the intention has been to assure that as many groups as possible hear the information regarding the potential change directly from the school. A press release was issued late yesterday and an article is in the Gloucester County Times today. The article did not include the fact that there will be three special Board of Education meetings in November specifically designed take testimony on this topic from the public (November 13 at Walnut, November 14 at Evergreen, and November 20 at West End). These meetings will be held in the All Purpose Rooms and will begin at 7:00 p.m. (An article also appears in today's Courier-Post, and it includes all this information.)

    Additionally, Mrs. Pennell and I attended last night’s Evergreen PTO meeting. We will be at the Walnut and West End parent organization meetings today.

    I appreciate your patience. The most important aspect of this effort is to insure that all have an opportunity to add to the list of advantages and disadvantages prior to the board making any final decision. The Board of Education plans to discuss this matter at both of their upcoming, regularly scheduled meetings but a final decision will not be happen until the December meeting.

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Too Much Candy

    That’s a lot of candy. My three youngest participated in the Halloween festivities last night and then decided to figure out the weight of their loot. It was a good math problem that required using the bathroom scale, your own weight, and some subtraction. The end result was a pillowcase weighing in at eight pounds. So, 3 X 8 = 24 pounds of candy!

    Our kids do not know about the time when every home gave out the "“old", full size candy. Those pillowcases full of candy were heavy. Living in city row houses, we would have to come home to dump our bags during the course of the Halloween night before heading out again to continue with our "“trick or treating!" How many pounds did they weigh?!!

    Now, what do you do with all this candy? As a kid, when we moved from Philly to South Jersey, my mother told us that there was not going to be a corner store nearby and we might want to consider saving our Halloween candy. I remember freezing those big chocolate bars and still having a decent supply when we made the move in January.

    Today's challenge is to ration all this candy so that the kids are not bouncing off the walls due to all the sugar. Your child's teacher will appreciate that too! Good luck. Maybe stashing a supply of that chocolate into the freezer is the way to go.

    Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    Staff Development Days

    Due to the construction that took place over the summer, we delayed the start of the school year a bit and then the first four days were for faculty and staff only. Interestingly, this feature to the school calendar -- concentrating staff development time at the beginning of the year -- allowed an opportunity to work together as a faculty and proved to be very beneficial. We felt that we had a chance to concentrate on specified themes and to start the year “on the same page.”

    I know that next week’s schedule of days off can be difficult for our working parents. We chose to take Wednesday as a faculty staff development day because it fell on a day where there were a number of county-wide opportunities for our staff – schools across the county will be having in-service days on this same day. It will be the only time during the actual school year that we are off for a full day of faculty in-service. In years past, these days came around a bit more frequently.

    So, other than next week with the in-service day and the Teachers’ Convention, we will only be off for scheduled holidays. The idea of clustering the full-day staff development days at the beginning of the school year went so well this past September that I am giving serious thought to proposing a calendar for next year that will be similar in that regard (but, without the extra delay due to construction!).

    Just thought you might want to know . . .

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Planning for Next Week

    November can be a bit crazy with the various days off. Looking ahead to next week, we have only one regular school day – Monday, November 6.

    Monday, November 6 -- Regular School Day
    Tuesday, November 7 -- OFF (Election Day)
    Wednesday, November 8 -- Faculty In-Service Day – no school for students
    Thursday, November 9 -- OFF (New Jersey Teachers’ Convention)
    Friday, November 10 -- OFF (New Jersey Teachers’ Convention)

    Sometimes, when these events happen early in the month, they can sneak up on you because the calendar page has not been turned. I just thought another reminder wouldn’t hurt.

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Mr. Morris

    Mr. Morris

    Sr. High Assistant Principal

    Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

    Steven R. Morris

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    Delaware State University: BS Business Administration; Rowan University: Special Education Certification; Lincoln University: Masters in School Leadership

    • Work experience:
    Teacher of the Handicap in Camden NJ from 1994-2003; Middle School Assistant Principal in Pennsauken NJ from 2003-2006

    • Favorite books
    • fiction: Call of the Wild by Jack London
    • nonfiction: The Negro Leagues by David Craft

    • Favorite television show:
    The Sopranos

    • Last movie I loved:
    Batman Beyond

    •Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    Shaquille O'Neal: He always appears to have fun, but I also feel that he has an astute business mind that I can learn from.

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    Fairmount Park in Philadelphia

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    I want to learn to speak Spanish

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

    • Favorite sports team:

    Philadelphia Eagles

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
    City of Pompeii

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    My fourth grade teacher Mr. Strobol had the biggest influence on my life. He made learning fun like no other teacher. I did get into a lot of trouble in his classroom. In looking back, I greatly appreciate the time I spent in his classroom.

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Parent Organizations -- November Meetings

    FYI. I plan to attend the November meetings of the Parent-Teacher organizations for our elementary schools. The Evergreen group meets next Wednesday, November 1, in the evening. Walnut's parent organization is scheduled for Thursday, November 2, in the afternoon, and the West End meeting is also November 2, in the evening.

    I am looking forward to meeting with anyone who is able to make it out to these meetings.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Family Fun -- "Family Nights"

    This seems like it is the “Week of the Family” in terms of my posts. As difficult as it is to find time to get everything done each day, let me again encourage you to get out to a “Family Night” activity this year. These special occasions will provide for wonderful learning opportunities and create fond memories.

    Last night, we had our first of three kindergarten Family Nights. Congratulations to the kindergarten and speech teachers who helped our families through all the activities. There will be two additional kindergarten evenings this year.

    The last of the third grade Family Nights is TONIGHT. If you have missed the other two evenings, see if you can make it out for some fun with mathematics this evening. This program will start at 6:30 p.m. and is held at West End Memorial School.

    The link for all the Family Night Programs is below; dates are provided. These are district-wide activities – open to all students and families in the district. More information will come out by flyer as each program date gets closer. Circle the date for your child's Family Night on the calendar!

    Contact your child’s teacher or the building principal for more information.

  • Woodbury Family Nights
  • Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Marriage, Parenting, and Schools -- Continued

    And . . . a taste of reality. I did not plan it this way when I wrote what I did the other day, but on the heels of yesterday’s post, I find myself a “single” parent for the day. My wife is with one of my son’s overnight attending to his recovery from minor (is there such a thing?) surgery.

    I realize that my taste of being a single parent is really not the same as those who do this every day. I have been provided a bit of a script and the medicines that are required the three remaining sons that are my charge happen to all be left out together on the counter. Little things like that make this only a taste of what it is like to be really on your own.

    Well. First of all, and most importantly, let me say that I am glad that only the first grader had homework. The fifth grade student did want to review his classwork – at 9:30 p.m. -- and that turned into some homework. We set out clothes for the next day (because that’s part of a routine, thanks to my wife – routines are good). Bed by 10:00 p.m. right!?! Oh my.

    Alarm clock. Now, I just need to feed myself breakfast, prepare three other breakfasts (or maybe two if the high school student is still sick!). Get one guy to before-school intramurals and the other to a sitter to await the school bus. Oh, yes, and pack lunches. I can’t forget that one – that wouldn’t be good.

    One small victory --- the two younger ones and I did read a book before that late bedtime. I am thankful for small victories. This is hard work. Special thanks to all the moms and dads who are doing this parenting business on their own.

    I always have said that I became a better educator once I had my own children. I need to revise that statement – I believe that I would become and even better educator if I had to parent my children on my own for any length of time. Right now, I am just glad that length of time is twenty-four hours!

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Marriage as a Social Contract

    In Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, there was a commentary entitled “Marriage as a Social Contract.” The author, Stephanie Coontz stated that “for the first time in 150 years, households headed by single adults and unmarried couples now outnumber married-couple families.”

    Though we have been sensitive to this issue in schools for some time (one example would be sending home letters with the salutation “Dear Parent/Guardian”), I could not help wonder if there is more that we need to do as a school given some of the issues the Ms. Coontz raises – families that are started much later in life which result in “older” parents who are more likely to both work outside the home and the high percentage of individuals living together but not married who have children in the home.

    Ms. Coontz writes that “many of our assumptions and expectations are based on the world of the 1950s – a world that no longer exists.” Does our school organization, in general and/or at Woodbury, need to change in any way to better account for the issues raised by this commentary?

  • Philadelphia Inquirer Commentary
  • Friday, October 20, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Ms. Rosario

    Ms. Rosario

    Jr. High Special Education Teacher

    Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

    Jackie Rosario

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    Temple University -- B.S. in Elementary/Early Childhood/Special Education and a second major in Spanish for Education

    • Work experience:
    Special Education Teacher: Resource Room Math in Pennsauken NJ during the 2005-2006 school year

    • Favorite books
    The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

    • Favorite television show:
    Grey's Anatomy (although there are many)

    • Last movie I loved:
    Inside Man

    •Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    Martin Luther King Jr. He had the courage to stand up for what he believed in and advocated expressing one's thoughts in a peaceful manner.

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    Visiting my grandmother

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    Learning a third language and joining an immersion program in a country that speaks that language

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

    • Favorite sports team:

    Philadelphia Eagles

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    My fifth grade teacher, Ms. Sullivan. She made learning fun and interactive. Ms. Sullivan would go beyond using worksheets and textbooks and engage us in most of our lessons whether they were individual work or group projects.

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    NASA Explorer School Teachers Ready to Fly

    (This post is compliments of a news release written by Alysa Cummings, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction)

    Students at Woodbury High School are going to circle February 9, 2007 on their calendars.

    That’s the day that a team of four of their teachers are going to participate in a NASA experiment – with two of them floating weightlessly in space, conducting an experiment that they are responsible for monitoring and graphing.

    Woodbury High School teachers Ari Ford, Dan Jones, Colleen Fitzgerald and Antoinette Allen do more than teach science and math during the school day. They are also team teachers for the NASA Explorer School grant, now in its third and final year. As the sole NASA Explorer School in New Jersey, these teachers regularly tap into exciting resources provided by NASA, but taking a flight on the so-called “Vomit Comet” in Houston, Texas falls into another category entirely.

    According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, “Vomit Comet is a nickname for any NASA airplane that briefly provides a nearly weightless environment in which to train astronauts, conduct research, and film motion pictures. Versions of this airplane have been operated by NASA's Reduced Gravity Research Program since 1973. (Interestingly enough, NASA prefers the nickname “Weightless Wonder” for public relations reasons).”

    While the Woodbury teachers are aboard the plane, they will conduct a robotics experiment that Mr. Ford recently designed and submitted to NASA. The experiment involves three different robot simple machines – a crane, a drill and a bulldozer. The goal is to compare the concept of work under Earth's gravity to work carried out under weightless conditions. Mr. Ford’s 9th graders in Woodbury will be challenged to retrieve data produced by the experiment, graph it and draw appropriate conclusions.

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    0123 -- It's That Easy

    The district's telephone system was upgraded as one of the various referendum related projects. Just this past weekend, a final aspect of that upgrade was completed. In the process, we have experienced some difficulty associated with the "old" elementary school telephone numbers.

    As part of the new system, the school district has united all the schools. This has allowed for easy communication within the district -- from within any of the buildings, individuals can now be reached by dialing a simple three digit extension. This has also resulted in joining all schools under one telephone number. Each school should now be reached by dialing 853-0123.

    By dialing this central number, 853-0123, you reach the Woodbury Public Schools. Then, you can use the following options to connect to your desired school:

    Option --

    1: Jr-Sr High School
    2: Evergreen Avenue School
    3: Walnut Street School
    4: West End Memorial School
    5: Office of Special Services
    6: Central Offices

    Also, you can press the extension of any individual in the district as soon as you are connected when dialing 853-0123.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Board of Education Meeting -- Tonight

    The regular, monthly meeting of the Woodbury Board of Education is scheduled for this evening at 7:00 p.m. The meeting is held in the Board Conference Room on the first floor of the high school building.

    A variety of reports will presented this evening to the board members and public -- Quality Annual Assurance Report, Violence and Vandalism Report for 2005-06, and a districting testing synopsis. The full agenda for the meeting can be found on the district website.

    English as a Second Language (ESL) for Adults

    The Woodbury School District, in conjunction with Gloucester County College and the Woodbury Neighborhood Preservation Program, began offering ESL classes for adults (ages eighteen and older) during last school year. This is an evening program. The first round of classes were very successful -- attracting up to fifty adults.

    This evening, a new cycle of the ESL course begins. If you know anyone who would be interested, please direct him/her to the school. The course is held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and will run for ten weeks. You can contact my secretary, Mrs. Carr, at 853-0123 (ext. 214) for more details.

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    Violence Awareness Week

    This week, all New Jersey public schools will organize events around the theme of “Violence Awareness Week.” The Woodbury Public Schools will dedicate extra energy to provide our students more information about issues of safety appropriate to their grade level. Additionally, some individual classroom activities will focus on this theme.

    I wrote a letter to parents and guardians informing them of the Violence Awareness Week and letting them know that we entered the 2006-07 school year with a plan to be more proactive with the practice of our various emergency response procedures associated with the district Emergency Operations Plan. Our plan has been assembled utilizing the support of various professional resources and covers a wide variety of potential crisis situations. This letter was sent home with students in grades K-6 and posted on our district website's front page.

    Please see the full text of the letter for more detail. You can feel free to contact the building principals or me with any questions that you may have.

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Ms. McArthur

    Ms. McArthur

    1st Grade Teacher

    Evergreen Avenue Elementary School

    Bobbi Sue McArthur

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    Towson University; Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education

    • Work experience:
    This is my first teaching position out of college.

    • Favorite books
    My favorite fiction author is Jodi Picoult. I love all her books!

    • Favorite television show:

    • Last movie I loved:
    How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

    • Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
    Bob Seger

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    My workout area in the basement

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    I have to cross out everything on my "to do" list! So, I do not put the things I will never get to.

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

    • Favorite sports team:


    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
    St. Lucia

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    My first grade teacher inspired me to become a teacher. She was kind and caring. She wanted to know about my life outside of school and know me as a real person. She taught me how fun learning can be and that it never ends. She has been a continual support in my life; I still keep in touch with her. She has shaped my life in ways that I will never be able to repay her for.

    4th Grade Teacher Carla Bittner National Award Winner

    (Carla Bittner w. Superintendent Jones, Dr. Foley, Acting Commissioner Davy, and Principal Carey)

    Yesterday, Evergreen Avenue School fourth grade teacher Carla Bittner was surprised at a school assembly to find that the reason everyone gathered at the event was to celebrate the fact that she was one of two New Jersey educators to win the Milken Family foundation National Educator Award for 2006. Actually, everyone was surprised since the purpose of the program was kept as a secret.

    Acting Commissioner of Education for New Jersey, Lucille Davy, and the Senior Vice President for the Milken Family National Educator Awards Program, Dr. Jane Foley, were on hand to make the surprise announcement.

    An overview of the Milken program is provided below. The award, as gradually revealed to all the children and adults gathered at the assembly yesterday, includes a $25,000 cash prize. Congratulations, Mrs. Bittner!

    (Carla Bittner w. Acting Commissioner Davy)

    Program Overview:

    The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards program provides public recognition and financial rewards to elementary and secondary schoolteachers, principals and other education professionals who are furthering excellence in education. By honoring outstanding educators, the program strives to attract, develop, motivate and retain talented people to the challenge and adventure of teaching.

    In the early 1980s, education reform pioneer Lowell Milken conceived and created an awards program to acknowledge educators' crucial contributions to our national well-being. His main belief was–and is–that an effective way to advance the teaching profession is to reward educators' achievements, enhance their resources, and expand their professional interests.
    From its original presentation of awards to a dozen California educators, the program has grown to national stature with participating partners in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Including the recipients announced during the 2005–2006 school year, over 2,200 outstanding kindergarten-through-12th-grade educators have been recognized and celebrated with unrestricted, individual Milken Educator Awards of $25,000.

    The Milken Educator Awards are announced each year at exciting surprise notifications held in all-school assemblies, attended by thousands of students all across the country. Foundation representatives and the chief state school officer make the Award announcements in the company of federal, state and local dignitaries, often including the governor or first lady.
    The electronic and print media presence at the notifications is essential in publicizing excellence in education. Policymakers and their constituencies, the private sector, and social agencies working to better their communities are reminded of the critical, positive impact of educators. Furthermore, spreading the news of the Awards seeks to attract talented people, young and older alike, to the American teaching profession.

    The Foundation presents the financial awards to new honorees during a gala celebration held at the annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference. This inspirational gathering, whose guests include state and federal government officials as well as influential community, business and education leaders, generates widespread recognition for America's finest educators.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Interactive -- Any Comments?

    Okay. It’s been five weeks of me posting Woodbury Public School items of interest – at least I believe that they are items that have some interest! What about you? The idea of the blog, as I understand it, is that it can generate opportunity for comment.

    There have been a few comments along the way, but this has not been an overly active aspect of this blog, to date. We have a decent number of regular readers at this point. So, how about a comment?

    I’ll give you a question to help prod a comment out of you. Is there something that you would like to see as a posting – something about the Woodbury Public Schools or education in general? Maybe, if we get comments here today, the ideas can be used for future posts.

    So, I thought today would be a chance for you to take a moment and post a comment. We might be able to get the ball rolling on a more interactive blog. Give it a try!

    Basic Skills Teachers

    I extend thanks to the team of basic skills and reading recovery teachers in our elementary schools who organized our parent meeting last night. Also, thanks to the many parents who took time to come out and learn more about this program.

    This group of basic skills instructors has been diligently working in a cooperative manner to build on new initiatives in our program. I believe that the night proved to be informative. We are proud of the work that we do, and I was especially proud of the energy and dedication of these teachers.

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Evening Activities This Week -- Reminders

    Tonight, there is a meeting for parents interesting in understanding more about the district’s K-5 basic skills program. Our basic skills teachers for grades K-5 and our first grade Reading Recovery teachers will present this program to parents.

    The meeting will be held at the Evergreen Avenue School, but it is a district-wide meeting. If your child is participating in an aspect of our basic skills program, you have already received an invitation to attend. The program starts at 6:30 p.m.

    Tomorrow, our first Family Night event for the 2005-06 school year will take place. Family Math Night for students in grade 3 will be held at the West End Memorial School. This is a district-wide activity – open to all third grade students in the district and their families; the program starts at 6:30 p.m. Invitations have been sent home with all third grade students.

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Ms. Frazer

    Ms. Frazer

    2nd Grade Teacher

    Evergreen Avenue Elementary School

    Dana Frazer

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    Temple University; Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, minor in Spanish

    • Work experience:
    Student teaching experience in Philadelphia Public Schools; taught Spanish in grades 1-6 in Wenonah Elementary School

    • Favorite books
    o fiction: Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
    o nonfiction: Freedom Writers (a very inspiring must read for all educators and anyone involved in the profession!)

    • Favorite television show:
    Desperate Housewives and Jeopardy (an interesting mix!)

    • Last movie I loved:
    Cars. Yes, the cartoon movie! Very cute and funny.

    • Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
    Nelly Furtado, Loose

    • Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    I would love to have lunch with Oprah. I know it sounds cliché, but I admire the things that she has accomplished -- not only for herself but for the world.

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    Deleting unwanted files on my computer

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):
    Sea otters -- catch them at the Philadelphia zoo. They're so playful!

    • Favorite sports team:


    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
    Sao Paolo, Brazil

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    My 7th grade Social Studies teacher Mr. Krantweiss inspired me to become a teacher with his very quirky teaching style that showed that he truly cared about us and really enjoyed what he did. He told us that he loved going to work everyday, and it showed. My goal is for all of my students to be able to tell, without me saying a word, that I truly love to be with them, doing what I do.

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Commissioner Davy to Visit Evergreen Avenue School

    The Acting Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Education, Lucille Davy, will be visiting the Evergreen Avenue Elementary School next Wednesday, October 11. She will address the students during a brief assembly and then tour the building.

    Davy was first appointed Acting Education Commissioner in 2005; previously she served as Special Counsel to the Governor on Education. She earned a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School and a B.S. in mathematics from Seton Hall University. She lives in Pennington with her husband and two sons.

    The Department of Education administers state and federal aid programs for public and non-public elementary and secondary school children and ensures that schools comply with all state and federal laws and regulations. The department also oversees student transportation and education programs for adults and persons who are disadvantaged, disabled or foreign-born.

    We are excited to have the Commissioner join us. The students have been making various preparations, and there will be student performances to welcome Ms. Davy. We are sure that she will be impressed!

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    College Courses for our High School Students

    This year, Woodbury High School juniors and seniors have been provided the opportunity to take college courses at the high school. The course marks a new journey for Woodbury High School in our quest to provide excellence and innovation in all that we do for our students.

    The cost of these college level psychology courses (Psychology 101- Semester 1 and Abnormal Psychology- Semester 2) has been underwritten by the Tech Prep Grant for Applied Sciences. Woodbury Public Schools was awarded this grant as a result of a partnership between Woodbury High School and the Gloucester County Institute of Technology.

    A letter was mailed to students taking honors and advanced placement classes to solicit an interest for the proposed course during the summer. More than twenty students responded positively; approximately fifteen (15) students ultimately registered to take the courses.

    Dr. DeeAnn Wilcox, Dean of Liberal Arts at Gloucester Community College, played a major role in coordinating the program. This included the hiring of an adjunct professor to teach the course. Dr. Maddison, Woodbury’s music teacher, was one of the candidates; he was ultimately selected to provide the instruction for our students. Dr. Maddison has years of experience teaching psychology courses at the community college level.

    This new course offering is first and foremost a college level course for which successful participating students will receive three (3) college credits per course. Through the innovation of what the New Jersey Department of Education references as the “Option II” approach to high school graduation, our students will also be able to receive high school credit upon successful completion of each course.

    The students are taking their first course during a “Zero Period” – first thing in the morning – at 7 a.m. The course runs four days a week and will follow the traditional college semester pacing. The second course will start some time in the winter.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Back-to-School for Elementary Parents -- Thursday, October 5

    Reminder -- This Thursday, October 5th, is Back-to-School night for our three elementary schools. The start time is 7:00 p.m.

    Look how much fun these kindergarten students are having in Mrs. Gorham's class at West End!

    Learning is fun! We learn best when we enjoy the activities.

    Come see what has everyone smiling. We hope all our parents will be able to join us at the elementary school programs this Thursday.

    [The work of the kindergarten teachers is very taxing, but the rewards are great!]

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    Blogging Recap

    Well, it has been a month of regular blogging. The White & Gold (blog edition) has been visited approximately 700 times during its inaugural month. In addition, the total number of “hits” to the site (counting when the same IP address returns during the same 24-hour period) is approximately 1200 for the month.

    Currently, the site is now averaging approximately 30 “visitors” a day. Additionally, there are a number of school employees who regularly check the site and, since the school’s IP is only counted once in a 24-hour period, I suspect that the true number of different visitors is even higher.

    So, what does that all mean? I feel that this first month has been a success. The blog site has not been extensively advertised, but it seems as if there is growing interest.

    This first month has allowed for a good bit of our new programming to be explained in some detail. Some of that will continue. I also intend to use the forum to bring other state and national issues to the attention of the users of this blog. Also, you can see that the Friday Spotlight is up and running; this feature will be a regular Friday post throughout the school year.

    Finally, the blog does allow for interactive use. If you have a question or comment, feel free to add it to the “comment” section of a daily post. You may even have a suggestion for something that you would like to see as a focus for an upcoming posting; add your thoughts.

    On to our second month of blogging!

    Friday, September 29, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Ms. Weist

    Ms. Weist

    Special Education Teacher

    West End Memorial School

    Tracey Weist

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    West Virginia University --BS in Early Childhood Education, Rowan and Rutger's University -- Special Education Certification, National University – currently completing master's degree in special education

    • Work experience:
    I started out as an aide at Burlington County Special Services. My first teaching position was as a Resource Specialist in San Diego, California for two years at Hancock Elementary. Then, I moved to a new school as a special day class teacher for two years in San Diego at Mason Elementary.

    • Favorite books
    o fiction: Anything by James Patterson
    o nonfiction: I don't read too many nonfiction books for leisure, but I love magazines about cooking and food! And I always read the newspaper.

    • Favorite television show:

    • Last movie I loved:
    John Tucker Must Die

    • Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:

    • Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    My mother. I work during the week, and she works on the weekends. We never get to go out to lunch together!

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    my bed

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    reorganize my closet

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

    • Favorite sports team:

    The Sixers

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    My second grade teacher. She was shocked that the teacher I had the previous year wanted to retain me in first grade. My second grade teacher said she knew I was bright from the first day she met me. From that day on, my confidence went up, and I felt that I would like to be able to do that same thing for other children one day.

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

    How about these photographs from the new elementary school technology initiative -- Computers On Wheels (C.O.W.'s)?

    These are fourth grade students at Evergreen Avenue Elementary working in their classroom -- Mrs. Rottina's class.

    Technology teacher, Mrs. Dougherty, helps with the new laptops. (For more information on the laptop initiative, see the September 19th post in this blog.)

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    Back-to-School Night

    Reminder: It is Back-to-School time for parents and guardians.

    This week, Thursday, September 28, is the Jr.-Sr. High School Back-to-School Night. The program starts at 6:30 p.m. You will need to have a copy of your child's schedule; a schedule will be available for you when you enter at the lobby area by the auditorium. If you have any questions, contact the Jr.-Sr. High School Main office at 853-0123, extention 212.

    (The elementary schools' Back-to-School Night will be next week, October 5, for all three elementary schools.)

    Board of Education Meeting -- Update

    All items on last night's agenda were approved. The agendas and minutes of all board meetings are part of what is available on the school district's website; both are archived on the site.

    The item of most significant note is that the stadium contract was awarded (track, football field, improved drainage, hillside stabilization, etc.). District representatives will meet with the contractor today to map out the early phases of this project. The current timeline has this work slated to be completed by June/July 2007. Though there was discussion regarding the possible benefit of using a synthetic turf surface instead of sod, the final decision was to elect the natural turf surface (sod).

    We are excited to have another, important aspect of the facilities referendum project moving forward.

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Board of Education Meeting -- Tonight

    The regular, monthly meeting of the Woodbury Board of Education is scheduled for this evening at 7:00 p.m. The meeting is held in the Board Conference Room on the first floor of the high school building.

    Our new teachers and administrators will be presented this evening to the board members and public. The full agenda for the meeting can be found on the district website.

    Woodbury National Honor Society Sale

    The students in the Woodbury High School National Honor Society are undertaking their first international service project -- sponsoring a BeadforLife sale.

    The following information is from the NHS in an effort to help advertise their sale:

    BeadforLife is a unique community development project that builds economic and cultural bridges between impoverished women in Kampala, Uganda and concerned citizens in North America, Europe and Australia. Through the sale of beautiful handmade jewelry, the project generates income for Ugandan bead makers and their families and supports several thousand people. The beaders are women living with HIV as well as refugees displaced by a devastating civil war that has been raging in northern Uganda for nineteen years. Many are widows who take care of AIDS orphans in addition to their own children, and most of the beaders live in one-room mud huts with no windows, electricity, or running water.

    The resilience of these women and their hard work is an inspiration. Although they do not have many possessions, they are rich in traditions, values, and their belief in a greater spiritual presence. They have gratitude for the smallest kindness or opportunity, and they have a remarkable strength that comes from surviving great struggles.

    BeadforLife beads are made from colorful recycled paper. Each page is carefully chosen and then cut into thin triangular strips to create the most appealing beads. The beaders carefully roll, glue, and varnish each bead, and matching beads are then strung together with glass beads to make colorful and exquisite jewelry, including bracelets, earrings, necklaces, anklets, and purses. These handmade items have an African flair and are available in a variety of styles and sizes. Each piece is unique and would make a distinctive gift – a gift that helps wonderful people rise out of destitute poverty.

    Please visit their website at The money from purchases of Beadforlife items will go far in the hands of the beaders and be used primarily for food, rent, medicine, and school expenses. Four dollars buys a pair of shoes; ten dollars pays the monthly rent; twenty dollars provides AIDS medicines for one month. Your participation and generosity do make a difference and are greatly appreciated.

  • BeadForLife

  • The NHS will be selling the jewelry at Back-to-School Night on Sept. 28th, 2006 in the New Cafeteria. You may see Miss Knauss prior to that time for a sneak preview. Beadwear prices range from $5.00 to $30.00. The Woodbury NHS asks that you please help them help others.

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    AVID: Advancement Via Individual Determination

    Woodbury Senior High School will be implementing the Advancement Via Individual Determination program (AVID) for a second school year. Last year, Woodbury brought this national program to the district with the help of a grant from the Center for Essential Schools; one class of twenty freshmen began as the first AVID Class in Woodbury.

    For the 2006-07 school year, the majority of these students will continue as AVID students in their sophomore year. In addition, two new groups of freshmen will be involved in this year's program. In this short period of time, over ten percent (10%) of the high school population will now be active participants in AVID.

    AVID is a college preparatory program for students who are determined to achieve during their high school years. Through the AVID elective program, students find support to achieve good grades in honors and advanced classes. These high school students succeed in rigorous curricula, enter mainstream activities in school, and increase their opportunities to enroll in four-year colleges.

    Developed in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, AVID has seen steady growth nationally and internationally in the last twenty-five years. The program has a proven track record for students, measured in the numbers of students who succeed in Advanced Placement classes in high school and finish four-year college educations within five years after graduating from high school.

    We have had the majority of Freshman and Sophomore class teachers trained over the course of the last two summers -- volunteering their time during week long training sessions specifically geared to understanding the AVID essential elements and how AVID teachers can increase student motivation and achievement through the use of proven teaching and learning strategies. Every staff member and student joins the program on a strictly voluntary basis. In addition, other Woodbury faculty has been involved in training that takes place during the school year.

    This year, the following educators were involved in the summer AVID training:

    Anne Baney
    Regina Bosworth
    Donna Cohen
    Denise Dunham
    Colleen Fitzgerald
    Jim Hilferty
    Maria Lario
    Carmen Nigro
    David Snelling
    Michelle Sokolovic

    Other educators who participated in training the previous summer (2005) include:

    Paula Swan
    Barbara Castleberry
    Gloria Goode
    Josh Bowe

    In addition, a number of our faculty has had the opportunity to attend sessions throughout the school year that help to introduce AVID to an even broader group of educators in our school. These include:

    Cheryl Federline
    Liseidy Diaz
    Mickey Kiser
    Yael Emenecker
    Terry Stebich.

    This program is directed by Mrs. Donna Cohen. She can be reached at, if you have specific questions. Or, you can call her at 856-853-0123 (ext. 241).

    This link is for the national AVID site:
  • AVID
  • Friday, September 22, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Mr. Scavette

    Mr. Scavette

    Physical Science and Chemistry Teacher

    Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

    Gary Daniel Scavette

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    Southern Maine Technical College (Associates of Science Marine Biology and Oceanography), Glassboro State College (BS in Biology / Secondary Ed)

    • Work experience:
    Teacher of Middle School Science -- 3 yrs, Teacher of Honors Chemistry and AP Physics -- 11 years, Charter Boat Captain and Registered Maine Guide for my own Company (Northeast Anglers Inc.) -- summers 8 years, Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Personal Trainer -- current, Outdoor Writer (Monthly Columnist for Northwoods Sporting Journal) -- 5 years

    • Favorite books
    o fiction: The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
    o nonfiction: A variety of Chemistry and Physics references

    • Favorite television show:
    Very seldom watch TV?????

    • Last movie I loved:
    A River Runs Through It

    • Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
    James Taylor, Sweet Baby James

    • Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    My father (deceased). He did not live long enough to see what I have become or to see my lovely children.

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    The vast wilderness north of Monson Maine

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    Fly fishing in Pennsylvania on Sundays

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):
    My Brittany Spaniel Molly -- the finest upland bird dog In the Northeast!

    • Favorite sports team:

    The Philadelphia Eagles

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
    Fly fishing for wild trout in Alaska

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    Dr. Siegel (college professor). He demanded the highest standards and expectations of his students. Dr. Siegel showed me that intelligence is not predetermined at birth and can grow through hard work, discipline, and a positive view that "you can accomplish anything you set your mind to do if you are not afraid to work at it."

    Thursday, September 21, 2006

    Elementary School Family Nights

    Woodbury Public Schools has a long tradition of offering Family Nights to the community. These special events invite parents and their children to spend a couple hours together exploring an instructional topic in an engaging (and fun!) way.

    Maybe, over the years, you have come to a Family Math Night at West End School and learned about math manipulatives. Possibly you have attended a Family Literacy Night at Evergreen Avenue School and worked at learning stations that all had a pirate theme before reading a picture book about pirates with your child.

    This year Woodbury is fine tuning it's Family Night program and opening our doors to interested families no matter which of the three elementary schools your child attends. Our Family Nights will be by grade level and offered throughout the year.

    Flyers will be sent home with students in advance of each event and we are planning to get the details onto our school district website. This blog entry is informational -- so that you have an idea of what is in store for this year. There will be at least one Family Night event for each grade level.

    Check your son's or daughter's backpack for a Family Night flyer three weeks before a Family Night is scheduled for his/her grade level. Then please be sure to register by completing the form, indicate the number of family members who will be attending, and return it to school with your child.

    (Note that the calendar in this year’s student/parent handbook also indicates when these elementary Family Nights occur.)

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Young Computer Whiz

    I posted yesterday about the new Woodbury technology effort in the elementary schools. It is only fair that I report that this weblog (blog) was created largely due to the work of my own son who has just finished sixth grade! I have four boys and this second child has been the technology person in the family for quite some time now.

    He changed the colors using HTML code to give the background more of a Woodbury look, added a counter, and generally directed the technology choices that made the set up of this blog possible.

    It is because of what I see some young children accomplish with technology that I get excited about what we at Woodbury are offering in our elementary schools with the new mobile laptop labs. (see previous post: Elementary School Technology)

    This post is simply giving credit where credit is due.

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Elementary School Technology

    With a new technology initiative, the Woodbury elementary schools will be offering technology experiences to our students beginning in kindergarten. All three of our elementary schools will be using new wireless mobile computer labs equipped with laptops for student use in grades K-5 during the 2006-07 school year.

    Students will learn to use technology tools as they study their regular academic work right in the classroom. Our technology teachers will team teach with the regular classroom teachers. This will involve advance lesson planning between the classroom teachers and the technology teacher. Their shared goal will be to utilize software or internet websites that authentically complement classroom instruction.

    These mobile laptop labs will be cycling through all kindergarten through grade 5 classrooms throughout the school year. A team comprised of our two technology teachers -- Susan Sarlo (West End) and Sue Dougherty (Evergreen and Walnut), our computer consultant -- Monica Shields, and our Supervisor of Curriculum & Instruction -- Alysa Cummings have all worked to develop the new program and accompanying curriculum.

    We are excited to be able to get the technology into lower elementary students' hands and effectively integrate technology as a tool in the regular classroom. Stay tuned for exciting updates!

    If you have any questions or ideas to share, feel free to contact any of the above individuals. Ms. Cummings can be a point person to field general comments at or 856-853-0123 EXT 218.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    NASA Explorer School -- Robotic Competiton

    An exciting part of our three year history as the only NASA Explorer School in NJ has been offering our Junior High students a chance to explore the world of Lego robotics. Woodbury students thrive in a class in which they work in teams to design and compete with original robotic creations.

    This year, robotics teacher Ari Ford has arranged for some of his most capable students to participate in the 2006 Philadelphia BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Robotics Competition.

    “Game Day” is scheduled for Saturday, November 18th (9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) and will be hosted by Villanova University in Villanova, PA.

    A preview date in September will allow the team to receive a glimpse of the competition field, a kit of returnable and non-returnable parts for building their robot, and guidelines for Game Day.

    Last year, teams from as far away as West Virginia and Connecticut competed in this event.

    Good luck to our Woodbury engineers!

  • Philadelphia BEST
  • Friday, September 15, 2006

    Spotlight on . . .

    I am still assembling the information for the Friday employee spotlight postings. In the meantime, let me put the spotlight on two kind acts associated with our “Got Tickets?” campaign:

    Part One
    Two of our teachers, Mrs. Evans and Mrs. Cammarota, read the “Got Tickets?” posting on this blog and, in conversation with the owner at Ciconte’s Italia Pizza (Crown Point Road, West Deptford), secured a donation of vouchers for over 150 tickets to this Sunday’s Camden Rivershark’s baseball game.

    We extended an invitation to claim these vouchers to our 6th graders and their families. The tickets will be distributed today.

    We thank Ciconte’s Pizza for their contribution to this effort!

    Part Two
    Our own Vince Myers, principal of West End Memorial School, has donated two tickets to a 76ers game in January against Milwaukee. This donation provides us a bit more time to coordinate the distribution; we will look to find a family who will be able to provide a child a chance to attend this professional athletic event that would not have occurred otherwise. Thank you, Mr. Myers!

    [For more information on the “Got Tickets?” campaign, see the September 7, 2006 posting. Again, we thank those responsible for getting us off to such a quick start.]

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Contact Us

    If you have a question -- no matter how insignificant you feel it may be -- ask. In today’s world, it is simple to reach out by e-mail and leave a message for your child’s teacher, counselor, nurse, or principal. All will be interested in helping you.

    Our e-mail addresses can be found at each school location on the district website:

    Also, our phone system has voicemail capabilities. All schools can be contacted by using our general number: 856-853-0123. The extensions for individuals are listed on the website in the same location email addresses are found.

    We want to hear about your questions or concerns so that we can help work through matters with you. It is important that we keep our lines of communication open and active.

    By working together, we hope to make the 2006-07 school year a good one for you, too, as parents/guardians.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006


    Today, we welcome our students back to school. They will be provided with a lot of information about the school year ahead.

    Though this blog provides a bit of school news for you, you may be interested in the links that are listed in the column to the right on the blog's main page. These links will give you access to even more information about the issues that impact the Woodbury Public Schools.

    Woodbury Public Schools
    You are probably aware of the school site. This link will take you to our official district site.

    City of Woodbury
    This is the official site of the city of Woodbury. There is a wealth of information about the city found here. This site is an important resource for any resident.

    New Jersey Department of Education
    The NJDOE site has a section dedicated to New Jersey parents. A wide variety of resources are provided to keep you informed about the state educational practices and expectations.

    United Stated Department of Education
    This is the national educational site. The most significant national issue facing local schools is the impact of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. This site will provide you information about NCLB and other federal educational initiatives.

    Education Week

    Education Week is a weekly, national newspaper that focuses on educational matters. It is a very popular source for current information on school related matters. This link is to the official website of the newspaper and provides access to the stories that appear in the hardcopy.

    The location of these links will provide you easy access to any of this educational information throughout the school year.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Ready . . . Set . . .

    Go! Well, almost – tomorrow. We are ready for tomorrow’s official start of the 2006-07 school year for the students. The faculty is completing the fourth day of in-service activity today, and it has been a very productive time.

    During these days, the buildings have become even more complete as we “clean up” the various issues from the summer construction. As noted in an earlier construction posting, there will be ongoing work during the opening months of school, but that will be taking place primarily during the second shift (3 p.m.-11 p.m.).

    Also, the board’s White & Gold – Community Edition left the printers yesterday and made its way to the post office. That publication will give you more detail regarding the referendum related construction work.

    First day of school – Wednesday, September 13.

    Junior High Students -- program starts at 7:50 in the auditorium
    Senior High Students -- program starts at 8:30 a.m. in the auditorium
    Elementary Students -- doors open at 8:35 a.m.

    Welcome back, everyone!