Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School Students -- Busy Calendars

Last night, two Woodbury students, Zoe Mowl (8th grade) and Diondra Brown (12th grade) were recognized at the annual Gloucester County School Board Association’s Spring Dinner. See the school’s website for a “district news” blurb and picture noting this accomplishment:

  • Woodbury Public Schools

  • Two nights ago, Woodbury High School students participated in the annual Students in Government Program in conjunction with the Woodbury City Council. For more details and pictures, follow the link below to the city’s website:

  • City of Woodbury
  • Elementary School Mathematics

    Our Everyday Mathematics series in the elementary grades does a wonderful job of introducing algebraic and other advanced mathematics concepts to our students at young ages.

    The topics are introduced gradually and then reinforced over the years. As a result, teachers and students think differently about mathematics than once was the case in a typical elementary mathematics classroom.

    For example, in one of our third grade classes, the teacher, Mrs. Stanek, wanted to be able to express how an answer was approximately equal to a number. So, she researched and added to the conversation the mathematical symbol for “approximate equality” – the squiggly equal sign!

    Now, her students are able to say that

    67/6 ≈ 11

    or even

    1/3 ≈ 0.3

    As a former mathematics teacher, I am often amazed to see the type of problems that are introduced in our elementary schools. This approach allows for a better ultimate understanding of the concepts for all students and a way for our more capable mathematics students to become excited about mathematical possibilities at an earlier age.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    Home Stretch

    Welcome Back – from our Memorial Day Weekend. I hope that you were able take in the local Woodbury parade. Also, it was a nice weekend to enjoy time with family and friends.

    I feel like I have already posted about the final stretch, but I find the idea relevant again as we make it back to school from our last holiday for the year. June is upon us –- this Friday is June 1! The benefit of the new HVAC system in three of our buildings is that most of the classrooms now allow us to continue the academic work in an optimal environment.

    Though these spring days can present challenges –- with baseball and softball games and longer days while the sun lingers into the evening hours -- I encourage you to help keep the children focused on their school responsibilities. Do they have any homework? When are they going to get it done? It is important to finish the year in a strong fashion.

    I think I write all this because of how much a struggle this is in the Jones house. Some of these spring days make my kids (and my wife and me!) feel like we have already moved into summer.

    Anything we can do to help keep the children on track will be helpful. And, our children’s teachers will be thankful!

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    Special Announcement

    Principal -- Evergreen Avenue Elementary School
    The search for a principal for Evergreen School began last month immediately following the Board of Education receiving notice of Mrs. Carey’s intention to retire at the end of July. The Board’s search included involvement from teachers, parents, and administrators. We are pleased to report that Mrs. Tonya Breland was approved at this week’s Board meeting to become the principal of Evergreen Avenue School for the 2007-08 school year, effective August 1, 2007.

    Mrs. Breland is currently an assistant principal at an elementary school in the Burlington Township School District. She has experience as a teacher of kindergarten, fourth grade and seventh grade students. Recently, Mrs. Breland was one of two educators in the state to receive the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Howard University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Nova Southeastern University.

    Principal -- Walnut Street Elementary School
    In addition, the Board of Education is pleased to report that for the 2007-08 school year, Dr. Jeffrey Adams has been appointed to assume the responsibilities of Principal of Walnut Street School. Dr. Adams has been our Supervisor of Special Services for the last two school years. He has proven himself to be a hard working, student-focused administrator who truly enjoys being part of the Woodbury Public School system. Dr. Adams will continue his oversight of the Special Services department while also serving as principal.


    Between now and the start of the new school year, formal opportunities to meet our new principals will occur. These will be advertised directly by the district and through parent organization communication. Both Mrs. Breland and Dr. Adams are excited about the chance to assume these important roles in the school district and look forward to meeting with all members of the school community.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    Tomatosphere @ Evergreen

    Astronaut Mike Fincke holds a bag of tomato seeds for the EPO Tomatosphere II project in the SM during Expedition 9.

    Mrs. Platt, teacher at the Evergreen Avenue Elementary School, reports that her students have been part of the Tomatosphere NASA project. They planted and observed tomato seeds during their germination period. Some of the seeds they grew were part of a control group, and some were on board the International Space Station.

    Mrs. Platt reports that they were very successful and that the students now have four-week-old seedling. The students will be taking some home to plant, and they have offered staff members in the school to join the effort and place a plant in a sunny garden to grow this summer.

    Mrs. Platt is asking for a report on how well the plants produce fruit when everyone returns to school next year. How exciting!

  • Tomatosphere
  • Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    Board Meeting – Tomorrow Night

    The Board of Education meetings will shift to Wednesday nights starting this month. Therefore, please take note that we meet on Wednesday, May 23, at 7:00 p.m.

    The agenda is posted on the website. As noted in yesterday’s post, an item of interest is the Board’s attention to the two elementary principal openings. It is anticipated that both positions will be filled at this meeting.

    Also, we have been active with our search for new faculty for next year. A number of critical positions will be filled at this May meeting. We hope to finalize the balance of the teacher hiring at the June meeting.

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    Elementary Principals

    Just last month, both Fran Carey, Principal of the Evergreen Avenue Elementary School, and John Gamble, Principal of the Walnut Street School and Director of the Alternative School, announced that they would be retiring at the end of the school year. Each has spent a considerable portion of their respective professional careers here at Woodbury. We thank them for the successes that they have shared with our students.

    We will be losing an important link to the history of Woodbury through the retirement of our two administrators. Their work and dedication to our school community will be missed. At the same time, we recognize that this is a critical time to bring leadership that will be able to continue the good practices that are part of each school and to bring new ideas that will enhance the current program.

    I will be able to provide an update on next year’s administrative team once final decisions have been made at the board level.

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    Edward Murphy

    Director of Pupil Personnel Services

    Woodbury Public Schools

    Edward Murphy

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    *BS Special Education, Lock Haven University
    *MA Counseling Services, Rider University
    *Supervisory Certification, Rowan University

    • Work experience:
    *US Peace Corps, Volunteer (Ecuador)
    *Elementary Special Education Teacher, Trenton Public Schools
    *Counselor, Burlington Township High School
    *Director of Counseling, Pitman High School
    *Director of Counseling, Northern Burlington

    • Favorite books
    o fiction: How Green Was My Valley
    o nonfiction: Running with the Buffaloes

    • Favorite television show:
    Real Sports

    • Last movie I loved:
    Life Is Beautiful

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

    • Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    My Dad; We have a lot to catch up on.

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    Forbidden Drive, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

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

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):
    Dogs (Juneau and Winnie- but of course!)

    • Favorite sports team:

    Philadelphia EAGLES

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
    Costa Rica

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    Tom Sexton- an excellent teacher, great coach, outstanding mentor and a fine person.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Busy Calendars

    This is such a busy time of the year. Between little league games and spring programs at the school, it seems that every night can have something on the calendar requiring attention, juggling, etc!

    As we close out this week, I have two special events left on my calendar for Woodbury Schools --

    Thursday: Academic Awards Banquet for the Jr.-Sr. High School

    Congratulations to all the students who qualified through their overall grade point average to be invited to attend this year’s Academic Awards Banquet. Just like we pause to celebrate the end of our sports seasons, it is important to recognize the hard work that has resulted in academic success during the 2006-07 school year for these high school students.

    Friday: West End Memorial May Fair

    This is the first year for the May Fair after a hiatus due to the construction work on the grounds of West End. The program is a spring celebration and a major fundraiser for the West End PTA. Enjoy!

    I know that there are many other events happening at the schools – ice cream socials, Family Nights, etc. Soon we will have a long break called summer. Until then, we will be juggling our calendar items.

    Amidst the juggling and nice weather, we – as parents – have the added challenge of keeping our children focused on the school responsibilities. Homework becomes a much more complicated challenge this time of the year. Hang in there – we are just about one month away from the grand finale!

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007


    This is the day for my monthly post on the LeaderTalk blog. If you are interested, I refer you to that entry:


    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    Teachers at School

    The South Jersey Math Partnership (SJMP) at Rowan University is an intensive professional development project involving Rowan University and sixteen school districts in South Jersey. The Partnership’s original goal was to improve the quality of middle grades mathematics teachers by deepening their understanding of mathematical content and pedagogy.

    SJMP has since grown to include a focus on science and is now expanding to provide a focus on mathematics and science for teachers in the early elementary grades.

    Congratulations to Evergreen third grade teacher, Kathy Estep, who recently received notification that she has been accepted into Cohort 1 of the SJMP program for elementary school teachers. This cohort will start its work this summer.

    Woodbury Public School teachers have been very active members of SJMP efforts. The following teachers have participated in the middle school programs:

    Tobey Realley. Terry Stebich, Robyn Sole, and Nicole Daisey

    Susan Berting and Cindy Cammarota

    For more information on Rowan’s SJMP:

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Mr. Woodbury -- Tuesday Night

    1st Annual Mr. Woodbury
    Tuesday, May 15, 2007
    7 PM in the Auditorium

    There will be twelve Senior Class gentlemen involved.

    6 judges – Faculty and Community members

    The variety show will consist of the following:
    • Opening Number
    • Casual Wear
    • Talent
    • Formal Wear
    • Question
    • Finale

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Spotlight on Mrs. Atkinson

    Marjorie Atkinson

    Secretary to the Assistant Principal

    Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

    (Note: Mrs. Atkinson is retiring at the end of this school year after thirty years as a secretary in the Woodbury Public Schools. We thank her and wish her well!)

    Marjorie Atkinson

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    Springfield College – Spring, Massachusetts - BS

    • Work experience:
    Taught 3 years in the St. Petersburg, Florida school system.

    • Favorite books
    Enjoy reading, mostly fiction. No favorites – I like mysteries, human interest fiction.

    • Favorite television show:
    House, Grey’s Anatomy

    • Last movie I loved:
    I enjoy a variety of movies.

    • Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
    John Denver, The Carpenters

    • Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    Mrs. Carr and I do a good job on lunch!!

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    I just like to garden.

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    DEEP housecleaning!! And staining some cabinets.

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

    • Favorite sports team:


    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
    I would like to go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    My 8th grade teacher. She was kind, fair, talented, good sense of humor, many different ways to teach a subject until all students understood.

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Even More Poetry News

    I want to direct your attention to the district web page. On the home page, we provide a link to "District News." In this section, we include press release information that has been sent to the local newspapers.

    You will find a link there for the Jr.-Sr. High School One School: One Poet contest held last month. Also, included in that news item is another link to a site with the actual poems. Enjoy.

    (Recall -- there is a link to the district website off to the right of this page.)

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    An Impressive Performance

    What do a girls basketball player, a swimmer, a tennis player, a student government representative, an AVID student, a boys basketball player, a transfer student, a computer science student, and a host of other Woodbury Senior High School students have in common? They all came together last night as members of the Senior High School Band to close out a night of wonderful performances with powerful music.

    On these nights I am often impressed with how our students are so multi-talented. The music was beautiful!

    During the evening event, our instrumental music teacher, Dr. DiMenna, informed the audience that many of the Junior High School performers who had opened the evening concert so nicely are ready to join the Senior High band next year. They have will have some big shoes to fill as talented seniors will leave the group this year due to graduation.

    Great job – everyone!

    And . . .

    Did you see the Gloucester County Times article on Robyn Sole?

    Sunday GCT Article

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Top 5

    Last night, the top five academic students in the senior class at all high schools in Gloucester County were honored as a program sponsored by various educational groups in the county. The function was held at Auletto’s Catering.

    Woodbury was represented by the following graduating seniors:

    Danielle Bowen (Rider University, Undecided)
    Alexis Gassner (Rutgers University, Ecological/Biological Science)
    Rebecca Schaffer (Ramapo College, Nursing)
    Christian Strey (Rutgers University, Undecided)
    Lesley Wagner (University of Scranton, Marketing)

    Parents were invited to join the students for the dinner. Each student was presented with a plaque and certificate to commemorate the accomplishment.

    The keynote speaker was a recent graduate of Glassboro High School and Princeton University – Rob Moore. Mr. Moore spoke about how he was able to be involved and successful in a wide variety of activities while at Glassboro. He indicated that, at Princeton, he had to become more focused and find the one thing that interested him most. He decided that he should focus on what he was most excited about – what he did well and did because it was fun. For Mr. Moore, his interest was in all things entrepreneurial. You can read more about this impressive young man at the following site:

    Rob Moore, Princeton University

    A school like Woodbury High School allows for our students to participate in many different activities. These experiences help students reflect on what interests them most – what that one thing will be that they ultimately choose to be the focus of their energy. High school is a time to explore, and Woodbury High School offers a great opportunity for this exploration.

    Congratulations to Woodbury’s top five! Enjoy your next four years looking to focusing on that one thing you want to do. And good luck to all our undergraduates who are following in your footsteps.

    Monday, May 07, 2007

    More Poetry News

    More poetry happennings . . . the following information comes from Mr. Myers, West End Memorial School Principal.

    Earlier this spring, students from West End entered a poetry contest for young poets. Below is a list of students whose poems were found worthy for publication in the anthology A Celebration of Young Poets. Congratulations to our poets!

    Tori Blackwell
    Darian Bailey
    Maria Berggren
    Emma Blades
    Carlissa Brown
    Jade Chandler
    Nicole Duncan
    Ryan Meraw
    Isabella Minniti
    Jessica Rohlfing
    Duane Stanton
    Jimmy Ulmer
    John Weatherby
    Eli Zarzecki

    Poetry, continued . . .

    And their teacher, Mrs. Jess, provided two examples of the poems --

    Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring
    written by: Maria Berggren

    So long my rosy cheeks,
    So long my frosty feet,
    So long frozen icicles
    and hail and stormy sleet.

    Bye-bye to bare trees,
    Bye-bye to having no bees,
    Bye-bye to snow ball fights
    and my freezing knees.

    Welcome jogging,
    Welcome bike riding,
    Welcome Daylight Savings
    and planting seeds.

    Howdy! spring showers,
    Howdy! planting flowers,
    Howdy! healthy green grass
    And playing in the sun for hours.

    My World of Red
    written by: Eli Zarzecki

    A bottle of red paint
    An old fire hydrant
    A fall leaf
    A fire truck’s siren
    Crunching leaves under my feet
    The American flag blowing in the wind
    A scrumptious bottle of ketchup
    A spicy bottle of hot sauce
    A juicy apple
    A strong, hard brick wall
    A squishy watermelon
    A soft red electric blanket
    Red may take you to a nightmare

    Friday, May 04, 2007

    Spotlight on Mrs. Branyan

    Carla Branyan

    ESL Teacher

    (Note: Mrs. Branyan is retiring at the end of this school year. She began work in the field of education as the Director and Kindergarten Teacher at St. John's Learning Center in Melrose Park, PA. During the last few years, Mrs. Branyan has worked as an ESL teacher in the Woodbury Public Schools. We thank her for her work with our students and wish her well!)

    Carla Branyan

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    Arcadia University – BS in Elementary Education
    Rowan University – Certificate to teach ESL

    • Work experience:
    28 years teaching preschool, kindergarten, 2nd grade, special services (migrant), and ESL

    • Favorite books
    o fiction: Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Where the Wild Things Are
    o nonfiction: All educational magazines and child development texts

    • Favorite television show:
    24; I’m also hanging in for Lost in case it ever starts to make sense.

    • Last movie I loved:
    Bend It Like Becham

    • Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
    Phantom of the Opera

    • Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with:
    Jimmy Carter is so very inspirational. He continues to teach Sunday school and help with world issues, doing so much to help humanity.

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    The ocean

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    Clean out the loft and have a garage sale.

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

    • Favorite sports team:


    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
    Traveling through Europe to visit cathedrals, museums, and schools

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    My father was a business education teacher in the days of shorthand and typing. He worked hard, and he told many funny stories about school and children. He always urged me to “Do it Now”, (before Nike’s “Just do it”) and “What’s a better way to do this?” I have tried to instill these ideas into my philosophy of teaching.

    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    Elementary Music

    Reminder: Tonight the Elementary Choir and Band will perform on the stage of the Jr.-Sr. High School. The show starts at 7:00 p.m. Enjoy.

    High School Drama Club

    Mrs. Webb, the director of our high school’s spring musical announced that one of our students, Laura Lonabaugh, has been selected to have her review of an area high school’s production included in this Sunday’s section of the Philadelphia Inquirer Neighbor’s section. This section of the paper is specific to region and, since this was a Holy Ghost Prep High School production, our Gloucester County edition will likely not carry the article – but you will be able to read a copy when they post it on the web site for the Greater Philadelphia Area Cappies –

  • Greater Philadelphia Area Cappies -- Reviews

  • Many students from high schools across the region attend the shows and participate in writing reviews for all the various student production of participating schools in the Philadelphia area. There is significant competition to be selected for actual publication. Congratulations, Laura.

    If you click on the tab that shows the schools who participate in the Cappies, you will note that Woodbury is one of the few South Jersey schools involved. Thanks to Mrs. Webb for her organization of this additional opportunity for our local drama club members.

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    Gloucester County Teacher of the Year -- Robyn Sole

    Each year, we are able to forward one of the names of our Teachers of the Year to the County Office of Education for consideration in the selection process for Gloucester County Teacher of the Year.

    Congratulations to Woodbury's Robyn Sole – Gloucester County Teacher of the Year! Dr. Mark Stanwood, Gloucester County Superintendent of Schools, informed us yesterday that Ms. Sole was selected to represent Gloucester County. The selection process now continues at the state level to choose the New Jersey Teacher of the Year. Ms. Sole is one of twenty-two finalists for that honor.

    Ms. Sole is a mathematics teacher in the Woodbury Junior High School. She entered teaching after starting work in the world of business (Ms. Sole had been the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House). She obtained certification by way of New Jersey’s Alternate Route process – a system started by the New Jersey Department of Education in 1984 that allows college graduates who did not follow the traditional teacher preparation program to enter the field of teaching. Today, Ms. Sole continues her own formal education and has been a very active member of the Rowan University South Jersey Math Partnership project.

    Ms. Sole exemplifies what it means to be a passionate educator. We are proud that she is able to represent the many quality, passionate educators who work in the Woodbury Public Schools.

    Again, congratulations to Robyn Sole!

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Grade 3 Keypals Connect

    (The following is a contribution from Ms. Cummings, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction.)

    In the old days, (before there was e-mail), there used to be Penpal Writing Projects between schools. Students would write letters to one another the old fashioned way. Back then, teachers needed paper, pens, envelopes and stamps to make Penpal Writing Projects happen. Unfortunately, it could take weeks (or longer) sometimes for the students on the receiving end to write and mail their responses back.

    How low tech can you get?

    During the months of April and May, third graders in Walnut, Evergreen and West End Schools are participating in a KeyPal (as in computer keyboard) Writing Project that immediately injects excitement into the old Penpal Writing project concept. Instead of writing and sending letters by ‘snail mail,’ the six third grade classrooms in the district have been organized into pairs and are communicating via their teachers’ email accounts.

    Dear Mrs. Stanek's Class,

    Good morning! This is Ms. Estep's third grade class from Evergreen Avenue Elementary School! We are very excited to be your Keypals. We have a lot of questions about your class and your school, but first we are going to tell you a little bit about us!

    The students work in teams to first decide what special things about their school they’d like to share with the other third grade classroom. Those ideas gradually become sentences and paragraphs that the grade 3 teacher types into the body of an email message to be sent to the Keypal classroom.

    West End School is really fun. We have a new principal this year. His name is Mr. Myers. He’s kind of young and likes to have fun with us…

    The next step is for the students to think of questions they would like answered in their keypals’ first message back. There’s no doubt that third graders are very curious writers indeed! For example, here’s what Mrs. Romano’s students at Walnut wanted to know about their West End keypals:

    • How old is your school?
    • Do you have centers?
    • Is there a prize box in your classroom?
    • How many students attend your school?
    • What are your school colors?

    Once a message is received and read aloud to the class, the challenge is to keep the communication going. Third grade teachers are taking advantage of their school computer labs or their C.O.W. (laptop Computers On Wheels) special class time to work on their Keypal Writing Project.

    The grade 3 teachers report that students are so motivated to send and receive keypal messages, that plans are moving forward in at least two of the six classrooms for the keypals to meet face to face before the end of the school year.