Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Spotlight on Mr. Sokolic

Scott Sokolic

Teacher of Science

Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

Scott Sokolic

• College(s) and degrees(s):
Bachelor’s Degree – Farleigh Dickinson University
Master’s Degree – Kean College

• Work experience:
Rahway Board of Education – 8 years
Retail (store owner) – 24 years
LEAP Charter School, Camden -- 4 years

• Favorite television show:
Ghost Whisperer

• Last movie I loved:
Stand and Deliver

• Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf

• Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
My wife – she’s my best friend

• Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
30 miles east of Sea Isle City, NJ

• One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
Paint the ceilings

• Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

• Favorite sports team:


• Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
None – been there, done that

• Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
None, the movie - The Blackboard Jungle

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Another Woodbury Blog -- The Equation Invasion

One of our new junior high school mathematics teachers, Mr. Blumenthal, is experimenting with using a blog in conjunction with teaching his classes.

Here is the link: The Equation Invasion

Earlier this month -- his classes completed a pi day research roundup. Mr. Blumenthal provided the students with the idea of researching different topics regarding pi --history, uses, games, songs, etc. The students worked in groups to research on the internet and then posted comments back on the blog with the url's of the sites they found useful as well as brief synopses of what they found.

He notes that "this is [his] first time using the blog as the teaching medium, so we'll see how it goes!

Looks like it went well -- thirty-two posted comments that provided links to further information, some summary insights about pi, or simply fun with pi! Just the fact that the students had a chance to understand the operations of a blog and how it is an interactive use of technology is a success.

Take a look.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Absentee Ballot for the Budget Vote -- April 17

Last night, after the public hearing on the school budget for the 2007-08 school year, the board approved the plan to be submitted to voters.

This year’s budget contains a 6.5 cent increase. This represents the lowest increase in the last eight years. More budget information can be found on the district’s website.

The vote is schedule for April 17 from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m.

If you feel that you will be unable to get to a polling location that day, you are welcome to submit a form for an absentee ballot. This is the link for the form – you can print out the form and mail it to the address below:

Also, if you have any college students in your family, we encourage you to keep them involved in this important Woodbury Public Schools event. They are ideal candidates for the absentee ballot!

The form to request the absentee ballot needs to be submitted seven days prior to the election, by mail, or by 3 p.m. the day before the election if you hand it in at the county clerk’s office.

The mailing address for the form is:

Gloucester County Clerk

James N. Hogan

550 Grove Road

West Deptford, NJ 08096

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bluetooth, podcasts, wikis, DVR’s, Web 2.0

Last week, the two year contract with our cell phone provider was up – and one of my sons was very interested in getting to the store the day that we were able to “upgrade” the phone. Unfortunately, we found out when we got there that only the main line (my wife’s!) was eligible for a free phone. My phone and the phones of my two oldest sons were only eligible for a discount. Therefore, they didn’t get the Razor, Chocolate, or Envy phone – but they did get a nice enough upgrade.

I, on the other hand, did pick out the slim Razor phone. And, I treated myself to a Bluetooth headset connection – I was getting a bit embarrassed by the cord that connected my old earpiece to my old phone! Imagine.

I know this Razor phone and the Bluetooth earpiece are not new items, yet I find them amazing – to make a call you simply need to press the button on the side of the earpiece and indicate “Call Home.” Next, the phone, which never comes out of the clip on my belt, dials my home number. I remember when similar voice recognition software required that you first had to record your voice so that the system would be able to “match” the sound. Now, the phone simply recognizes the correct number from the spelling of the entry!

Smaller, better, easier. But it is hard to keep up with all the technological changes. These same technological challenges exist in the classroom. As educators, we need to continually ask what and how we should be teaching our students.

It is said that we must prepare students for a future that we cannot even imagine. We are therefore left with the important goal to teach students to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. Ultimately, it will be these strengths that allow them to be the ones who fashion the technological (and other) advances of the future.

Bluetooth, podcasts, wikis, DVR’s, Web 2.0. These are part of the technology syntax of today. Each forces us to change our thinking, alter our approach to instruction, bend our understanding of technology and learning.

New technology can be exciting and overwhelming. With the new phone, it tips toward the exciting -- almost like something out of Star Trek. In many ways, these technological advances have added similar excitement to learning.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Spotlight on Ms. Allen

Antoinette Allen

Math Teacher

Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

Antoinette Allen

• College(s) and degrees(s):
BA – Columbia University, Economics and Political Science
MA – Columbia University, Mathematics Education

• Work experience:
The Hun School, Princeton, NJ – Math Teacher
Middle School 44, New York, NY – Math Teacher
Part-time: Princeton Review, Outward Bound, Field Hockey Coach
Association to Benefit Children, NYC –Youth and Outreach Supervisor
Peace Corps, Paraguay, South America –Volunteer
Hawaii Public Schools, Maui, Hawaii – Substitute Teacher

• Favorite books
o fiction: The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough
o nonfiction: Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer

• Favorite television show:

• Last movie I loved:
Motorcycle Diaries

• Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
Alicia Keys, Songs in A Minor

• Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
Chris Rock – he makes me laugh!

• Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
The beach

• One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
Learn how to play guitar

• Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

• Favorite sports team:

Brazilian National Futbol (Soccer) Team

• 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’s lovely personality and genuine concern for her students. She had a wonderful heart.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Reading Recovery -- 1st Grade

Here is another plug for the links in the far right column of this screen. Education Week is a weekly newspaper that focuses on educational issues across the country.

Often there are articles in this publication that relate directly to issues that are occurring in our region or in our schools. Today, there is an article on Reading Recovery. This is a program that we use with our first grade students who struggle with reading.

The article references the positive endorsement that the program received from the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse.

This link should take you directly to the article.

  • Reading Recovery Article

  • You may have to “sign up” for Education Week. If that is the case, try the link in the far right column of this screen.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    Ms. Fitzerald -- Board of Governors, NJ Mathematics and Science Coalition

    High School science teacher, Colleen Fitzgerald, has been asked to serve on the Board of Governors for the newly transformed New Jersey Mathematics and Science Coalition.

    This organization has existed as a Mathematics Coalition in the past and is now adding science to the focus. The Board of Governors consist of about fifty members statewide – mathematicians and math educators; scientists and science educators; state legislators; leaders from the New Jersey Department of Education and the New Jersey Commission on High Educations; and individuals with a strong interest in education from the business and public sectors of New Jersey.

    The Coalition is an autonomous organization responsible to this independent Board of Governors and is based at the Rutgers University Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education.

    As policy decisions are made that have influence on mathematics and science education in New Jersey, the Coalition intends to play an important role in how these are shaped and to help ensure that the policy decisions are ones that have the broad support of those who are committed to excellent science and mathematics education for all students.

    Congratulations, Ms. Fitzgerald!

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Greater Philadelphia Teacher Job Fair 2007

    Believe it our not, plans are starting to move quickly ahead for the 2007-08 school year. I have written here about the fact that the school budget process is well underway and next week we should have our school calendar approved for the upcoming school year.

    Today, Woodbury will be participating in the Greater Philadelphia Teacher Job Fair 2007 located at the Wachovia Center. There are 189 employers registered, and last year over 2200 teacher candidates attended.

    This is the first of a number of teacher job fair efforts in which we will participate. Our goal is to accumulate our lists of potential candidates for teacher openings for the next school year. Some of the job fairs will be more subject specific and there is one that is specific to Gloucester County. Today’s job fair is one largest that we will attend.

    This effort is the most important work that we do as school administrators – finding the best teachers to join the Woodbury faculty. And, we feel that we have an advantage in terms of the unique schools where students all walk; the diverse student body; a supportive school community; and the historic, “county seat” feel of the city with a close proximity to Philadelphia and other locations.

    For now, we are looking for quality teachers in all fields. We will develop a more specific list of anticipated openings in the coming weeks.

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Woodbury To Host Virtual Visit from Educator Astronauts

    (The following is a from a press release for today's NASA event.)

    It’s not every day that astronauts visit Woodbury Junior Senior High School and connect with students. On April 19th, from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, through the miracle of video teleconferencing, NASA educator astronauts will do just that.

    Through their science teachers, students will be submitting questions to NASA educator astronauts prior to this April 19th Astronaut Relay Rally event that relates to the upcoming STS-118 flight and mission. The technology will enable the students to see and hear NASA educator astronauts’ answers to their questions in real time, almost as if they are visiting in the classroom with one another.

    While Woodbury Junior Senior High School is the only NASA Explorer School in NJ, there are in fact other NASA Explorer Schools throughout the United States. The April 19th video teleconference event will connect many of these schools with one another. The Astronaut Relay Rally will also be simultaneously webcast which means that it will be reaching an international audience as well.

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    Friday Spotlight on LeaderTalk

    I was invited to write a post monthly on a new blog site -- LeaderTalk. So, I am taking off this Friday from "spotlighting" new faculty to put a spotlight on this initiative.

    Scott McLeod, Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota, contacted various school administrators who he found "blogging." I am signed up to post on the 16th of each month. Today, you can find my first post on LeaderTalk.

    LeaderTalk is the first group blog written by school leaders for school leaders. The goal is to provide insights and resources beneficial to P-12 administrators and educational leadership preparation programs.

    LeaderTalk (see "Tell Me a Story")

    Enjoy -- and enjoy your weekend.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Check Out the Links

    Not a golf course – but the websites that are referenced on the far right side of this page. On this blog, I have permanently posted a few links to other sites connected to the educational world and Woodbury. One, in particular, that would be worth checking out is the official site for the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE).

    Education is said to be a system that is under local control, yet we have seen in recent years how much influence the state and federal government exert over our everyday school practices.

    The NJDOE site has been recently revised. It is divided into sections that focus on Parents, Students, Educators, and Partners.

    It is a site that is worth some investigation. Again, the link can be found on the far right column of this blog.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    Go Fly A Kite

    Yesterday’s weather was a real taste of spring. I was fortunate to get a chance to do something that is not a regular occurrence – my youngest son (7 years old) and I went to the park to fly a kite. We really took advantage of the new, earlier change in the clocks!

    Usually – especially during the winter basketball season – we are running from one activity to the next, or completing school homework, or inside due to the cold. But, this nicer weather allows for more time outside and, in our house, the spring season seems a bit less hectic.

    So, yesterday, there was enough time to pause to think about flying a kite. There is something special about a kite and a young child. When the wind takes hold of the kite and it rises, you can bet that a smile is sure to come to the young flier’s face. And then, there is the inevitable drop of the string – and the chase.

    Routines – daily tasks – are necessary and important. But creating special memories is something that makes for a unique day. This is true in our schools as well. The school days with unique happenings are the ones that our students are able to look back upon with such good thoughts. Our elementary teachers seem to have a special talent to recognize and capitalize on such happenings, though it can occur at any grade level.

    Yesterday, I understood why it is important to find these unique activities and weave them into our busy days.

    I encourage you to dig out an old kite – or go buy a nice, new one. Or, find some other fun activity that you have set aside and have not had time to get back to in a while. Enjoy the extra daylight or take a break from your routine. In the end, you will be creating memories that will be enjoyed for years to come.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Student Recognition

    Terrific Kids at Evergreen School

    February 2007

    The "Terrific Kids" Program is run in conjunction with the Woodbury Kiwanis Club. This is a monthly program that runs throughout the school year. The following students were recognized in February at Evergreen:

    1st grade:
    Bryan Moye
    I’Asia Shabazz

    2nd grade:
    Kyle Bailey
    Jessica Cordero

    3rd grade:
    Dominique Reed-Hall
    Dionte McDaniel

    4th grade:
    Bless Arrison
    Randi Grasso

    5th grade:
    Dara Robinson
    Kerry Headrick

    Additional Recognition:
    Charles Wilborne

    Note: The blog is still catching on, and I am still working on getting good notification on various student recognition that can be passed along for further publicity. Hang in there -- this is truly an experiment in progress!

    Monday, March 12, 2007

    Board of Education Meeting Tonight --- 7:00 p.m.

    Reminder: There will be a special meeting of the Board of Education tonight, March 12, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Board Conference Room on the first floor of the Jr.-Sr. High School.

    The main purpose of this meeting is for the district’s budget to be approved by the full board for submission to the Gloucester County Department of Education.

    The board will then await comment from the county office. Any comment directing change will be factored into the budget. Then, a formal public hearing on the budget will take place at this month’s regularly scheduled board meeting – Tuesday, March 27.

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    Friday Spotlight on Mr. Myers

    Vincent Myers


    West End Memorial School

    Vincent Myers

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    West Chester University -- B.S. - Elementary Education
    The College of New Jersey – MA - Educational Administration

    • Work experience:
    Taught first grade for five years. Assistant Principal and Reading Recovery Teacher for two years.

    • Favorite books
    o fiction: My Many Colored Days
    o nonfiction: Tug McGraw Autobiography

    • Favorite television show:

    • Last movie I loved:

    • Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with:
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    The park to go for a run.

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

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

    • Favorite sports team:

    All Philadelphia Teams

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    My social studies teacher never gave up on me. As much as I struggled in his class, he kept pushing me to do well and succeed. I finished the year with a B, but it was overcoming the struggle that made me realize that even as far down as we get, we can always overcome adversity.

    Thursday, March 08, 2007

    Think Spring

    An article in the Gloucester County Times today indicates that spring starts March 20 but references a meteorologist who says it can snow up to the second week of April. Let’s hope that we are done with snow.

    As far as schools are concerned, spring should be here. Our high school spring sports have officially started practice – some as early as last Friday. We are ready for the warmer weather.

    As we look ahead to the board meeting at the end of this month, the agenda will include the approval of the school calendar for the 2007-08 school year.

    In addition, the board will formalize the changes to this year’s calendar due to the closings we had for snow. As I noted earlier in a post, the two days that we have to make up will be added to the end of the days scheduled in June.

    And so – “think Spring!” Last Saturday’s fifty degree temperatures will be nice to return to -- permanently -- after such a cold February.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    Health and Physical Education Trip

    Three WHS students were invited to attend the New Jersey Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NJAHPERD) conference in East Brunswick, NJ on Feb. 26, 2007 -- Senior Danielle Harvey and Jr. High School students Sydney McKeown and Zoe Mowl.

    The conference is for Health & Physical educators. The young ladies, accompanied by Mrs. Joyce Woodrow, participated in fun activities while learning the value of physical education. Danielle Harvey found the conference of particular interest because she will be attending Rowan University in the fall as a Health & Exercise Physiology major.

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Budget Season

    The school administration has been assembling budget information for the 2007-08 school year. This process has involved dialogue, input, and direction from the board’s Finance Committee. The next step in the process is for the district’s budget to be approved by the full board for submission to the Gloucester County Department of Education.

    There will be a special meeting for this approval next Monday, March 12, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Board Conference Room on the first floor of the Jr.-Sr. High School.

    Once this preliminary approval is complete, the board will await comment from the county office. Any comment directing change will be factored into the budget. Then, a formal public hearing on the budget will take place at this month’s regularly scheduled board meeting – Tuesday, March 27.

    Ultimately, the residents of the city will vote the budget on Tuesday, April 17.

    More detail on the budget will be provided once the board’s preliminary budget is finalized and submitted to the county office for review.

    Monday, March 05, 2007

    More on Today's Technology

    I have written about this year’s technology initiative at our elementary schools – laptop labs that roll into classrooms for a week at a time and link the technology with the learning. It has been a very rewarding experience. The students are anxious for their next week to come around again in the cycle!

    The difficulty is keeping up with the changing face of technology. There was a time when “learning the computer” meant learning to navigate the web or learning how to use a Microsoft product – Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

    Now, digital photography, video, interactive web pages, blogs, and numerous other advances have transformed how information is stored and conveyed.

    The link below gives a taste of that change. After viewing, you will appreciate how important it is for today’s students to feel comfortable working with the computer as a tool for learning, sharing, and growing.

    The video is primarily about digital text . . . but, as stated above, there is more to today's information age. This link is also example of the increased ease of use of video. So, this is a first for this blog. Video.

    Pictures, videos -- what will be next . . . a podcast?

  • Digital Text
  • Friday, March 02, 2007

    Gloucester Alert

    Woodbury Public Schools would like to introduce the members of our school community to the Gloucester Alert System.

    Using the Roam Secure Alert Network “RSAN,” Gloucester County has begun implementing web-based alerts for important notices.

    By establishing Woodbury Public Schools’ connection with the Gloucester County Alert System, our school community members can now benefit by receiving school and other alert types (county, city, weather, etc.).


    • Easy signup

    • Follow the link on Woodbury's website:
    • There is a "sign up" selection on the main screen of the Gloucseter Alert site.
    • The process should only take a few minutes!

    • Receiving Alerts

    • Multiple types of alert methods can be chosen: text messaging or e-mail.

    • Levels of Alerts

    • There is a capability for individuals to select emergency, non-emergency, or both. But, at this time, the school district is looking to establish this as our emergency contact only.

    We plan to run some “tests” once community members have signed up to be sure the system works for all. We have already tested the system “in-house,” and it is very impressive in terms of the speed it sends out messages to various destinations.

    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    Jr.-Sr. High School Evacuation

    Dear Parents and Guardians:

    Today, the Junior-Senior High School experienced a false alarm bomb threat. The school administration evacuated the building and then chose, in conversation with our local city police, to move the children to our relocation sites – Jr. High students to Kemble Methodist Church and the Sr. High students to St. Patrick’s parish hall.

    The police worked quickly to assess the situation and provided the school administration with the word when all was safe to return to the building. We were at the evacuation sites for less than an hour and the entire process was under two hours – including walking to and from the sites.

    The police helped to ensure safe passage to and from the evacuation sites. The students were under the supervision of the professional staff at all times. Our students were cooperative and well behaved during this event. The police will continue their investigation to help ensure that similar disruption to school time does not occur again.

    This letter has been provided to our students to communicate to you information regarding the event. Additionally, this letter has been posted on the district’s web site. Due to the fact that the high school kitchen prepares lunches for the elementary schools, there was some impact on their schedule as well. Plans were put into place to ensure that all students would be fed – the fact that we returned so quickly to the building helped in this process.

    After an event like this, we assemble administratively to assess our emergency management plans and look for ways to improve for any future occurrence. As you are aware, we practiced an emergency evacuation earlier this year. Today’s happening will take the place of our scheduled second practice of an emergency relocation.

    We do believe that our planning and practice helps us during these unexpected events. We are appreciative of our supportive and cooperative students and staff.


    Joseph Jones, III

    High School Musical -- Starts Tonight

    Don't miss Woodbury Junior/Senior High School Theater Club's presentation of Footloose

    Thursday March 1, 2007, at 7:00 p.m.
    Friday March 2, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. and
    Saturday March 3, 2007, at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

    Tickets are $5.00 for students/seniors and $7.00 for adults. Seniors free for Saturday Matinee only.