Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Full-day Pre-school for All

Business Administrator, Kara Huber, and I attended an informational session yesterday on the New Jersey Department of Education Pre-School Expansion plan. The initiative was first revealed as part of the new funding formula presented early this school year.

Woodbury is a school district that in a category that will allow us to offer full-day pre-school programming to all three- and four-year-olds in the city. The state’s plan provides per-pupil funding that covers nearly all costs associated with running the program.

The requirement is for districts to plan for this pre-school expansion during the upcoming school year and then begin implementation during the 2009-2010 school year. The idea is to have a five-year phase in process with an end goal of serving 90% of the children in the city in the program.

For Woodbury, a significant issue will be space. The state’s plan allows for you to run the program in-district, with outside providers, or by partnering with existing Head Start operations.

I will be putting together a planning team to work on Woodbury’s pre-school expansion. If there are any blog readers who have a special interest in this area, let me know; you can send an e-mail directly to me. I will look to involve as many interested parties as possible.

This is an exciting opportunity. You can read more on the section of the NJDOE website dedicated to early childhood. It is my understanding that more of the current information being shared as these informational sessions will be added to this site.

NJDOE Early Childhood Education

Monday, April 28, 2008

Governor's School -- Summer 2008

Congratulations to Woodbury High School Junior Myra Galloway who has been accepted to the Governor’s School of the Arts (Creative Writing).

Every year 11th graders with talent in music, theatre, dance, visual arts and writing are invited to make application for one of the 115 spots in the Governor’s School of the Arts. The application process includes candidate auditions, or in the case of creative writing, the submission of prose and poetry manuscripts. The students’ work is then judged by professional artists in each field.

As a result of being selected for The Governor’s School of the Arts, this summer Ms. Galloway will take a course exploring poetry, fiction and drama leading to the creation of a personal writing portfolio 40 pages in length. Additionally, she will work with fellow creative writers to publish a magazine and read her work to various audiences.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spotlight on Ms. Burrough

Jane Burrough

Teacher of Special Education

Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

· Name:

Jane Burrough

· College(s) and degrees(s):
Rowan University (BA-History & Psychology)
Eastern University (MA Multicultural Education-May 08)

· Work experience:
Resource Room Teacher, Alcorn Elementary School. Philadelphia, PA

· Favorite books
o Fiction: Catch 22
o Nonfiction: My Father's Keeper

· Favorite television show:
The Office

· Last movie I loved:
Love Actually

· Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
Mother Theresa. I would like to hear her tell her life story, explain how she felt when she found her "calling," and ask her how she stayed motivated to remain in Calcutta for so many years.

· Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
Any beach

· One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
Any kind of painting

· Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

· Favorite sports team:
Philadelphia Flyers

· Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:

· Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
She was always pushing her students for more--another reason, another re-write, etc. She never allowed any student to fail nor would she allow them to not give their best everyday.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Woodbury Celebrates National Poetry Month

(This entry was compiled by Ms. Cummings, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction.)

Poems, poems, poems
There are poems everywhere.
There are haiku on the board.
There are rhymes running down the stairs.
There are limericks on the ceiling.
There’s acrostics in my hair.

There’s poetry, poetry, poetry
Flying through the springtime air.
For as far as the eye can see.
Spend a day in April at any school
In the town of Woodbury…

West End Third Grader Imani Campbell poses proudly with her butterfly poem based on the writing of poet Christina Rosetti.

During the month of April, Woodbury students, from PreKindergarten age through grade 12, are celebrating National Poetry Month in so many different creative and exciting ways. Here’s how:

• For PreK learners working with Mrs. Seigel, Mrs. Maxymuk and Mrs. Whitman, poetry means nursery rhymes. The students are using music CDs to help them practice their nursery rhymes for a scheduled June parents’ program.

• At West End, Mrs. Gorham’s Kindergarteners learned a Quack, Quack poem written by Pat Mora and were inspired to rewrite it using cats (Meow, Meow) and birds (Tweet, Tweet) as the main characters.

• In Mrs. McLaughlin’s Kindergarten class, the Evergreen students worked one-on-one with their teacher and wrote original poems expressing how spring feels, looks, tastes, sounds and smells.

Deja Talmadge wrote:

Spring…comfortable like a rocking chair/a blossom flower/that smells like the air…

• For Mrs. Muldoon’s young writers, it was exciting to learn that sometimes poems can rhyme and sometimes they don’t have to. She helped her Evergreen Kindergarteners explore both types of poems this month.

• In first grade, Mrs. Spittal connected her young writers with second grade poets in Miss Guerin’s class. The two West End classes were able to poetically inspire each other! Across the hall, in Mrs. Brewer’s classroom, students created shape poems online.

• For Mrs. Runzer’s first graders at Walnut, every day begins with the daily National Poetry Month poem read aloud during the morning announcements. During Guided Reading, the boys and girls work at poetry activity centers as well.

• Walnut second graders have been inspired to write similes in their poetry describing their favorite stuffed animal. “His fur is like brown sugar,” wrote one of Miss Hill’s students.

• At Evergreen, Miss Lyons’ writers have created a book featuring seven poems. They will perform their favorite poem with family and friends at a poetry reading scheduled for May 2nd.

• Mrs. Tsomabaris’ writers have been collecting their writing in a special poetry folder all month long. They are enjoying reading their work aloud to one another.

• Third grade classes across the district welcomed Ms. Cummings into their classrooms for an hour long Poetry Writers’ Workshop this month. First, each classroom collaborated on a group poem “I Can’t Write a Poem” based on the poem of the same name by Bruce Lansky. Next they each chose one of three different poetry forms for a personal piece. Finally, each poet was invited to share their writing at the end of the Writers’ Workshop and receive finger snapping applause and positive feedback from the other students.

• Miss Estep’s students are working with Literacy Coach Mrs. Frapaul on Diamante poetry. In addition, Mrs. Jess’s third graders at West End We each chose one of their favorite pieces and entered a National Poetry Contest – “Celebrating Young Poets.”

• Fourth graders at Evergreen participated in a Haiku Hike based on a book by the same name and were motivated to write about the natural beauty they saw as they walked outside. Mrs. Cremeens’ students at West End moved on from Haiku form to experiment with limericks and acrostic poetry. Walnut fourth grade students have been proud to practice and perform the daily poem everyday for the morning announcements during the month of April.

• Grade Four Enrichment students across the district have been working with Mrs. Foran to write cinquains about some of the real-life mysteries that they have been studying: Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Atlantis, Bermuda Triangle, and Roswell.

• Finally, in grades six through twelve English students have been invited to write in the style of poet Nikki Giovanni for this year’s One School/One Poet Contest.

A Poet Tree “grows” outside of Mrs. Rath’s classroom at West End School

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Jersey Commissioner of Education Visits Walnut

New Jersey Commissioner of Education, Lucille Davy, visited the kindergarten students at Walnut Street School last week. Ms. Davy was touring select schools in honor of the National Week of the Young Child. Ms. Davy targeted schools that offered young children full day kindergarten options.

Commissioner Davy read to the students and asked them questions about their schooling. Mrs. Richmond's kindergarten students were dressed in pajamas because they were participating in an event later in the day where older students were going to join them for an additional reading activity.

Walnut was proud to be on the short list of schools visited by the Commissioner.

(Gloucester County Times article)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

English 100 Class Project -- Mrs. Lario

Maria Lario’s English 100 students’ strong emotional connection to Night, Elie Wiesel’s autobiographical account of the Holocaust, recently translated into a powerful classroom project.

The idea grew from a parent’s email. For the project, the students had to depict either a scene or a concept from the book. They were asked to brainstorm ideas and then plan out a drawing in detail, explaining the significance of their figures used, the symbols, and even the colors. The students also wrote a formal explanation to accompany their drawings.

The original plan was to create a paper quilt until Sue Berting, 7th grade Science teacher, offered to share her skills as a quilter. The result is the Night quilt displayed.

You can imagine how excited Mrs. Lario’s students were to see the finished product. The students’ work will be shared at tomorrow's Board of Education meeting.

Recently, Mrs. Lario was informed that The Goodwin Holocaust Museum of the Delaware Valley would like the have the quilt loaned to them for display at the Cherry Hill-based museum. The museum plans to display the quilt on April 30th for the Yom Ha Shoah evening in remembrance of the Holocaust.

(Information from this post came from Denise Dunham, Principal, and a letter that Mrs. Lario sent to the parents of her students regarding the quilt project.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Board of Education Meeting: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m.

The regular, monthly meeting of the Woodbury Board of Education is scheduled for this Wednesday evening, April 23, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting is held in the Board Conference Room on the first floor of the high school building.

This April meeting is the reorganization meeting of the Board of Education. As a result, this month's meeting is a bit more involved than normal. A couple of points of interest:

* Principal Dunham and Mrs. Lario, Sr. High English teacher, will be making a presentation to the Board regarding a quilt project. More information will be in tomorrow's blog post.

* The re-elected board members will be officially sworn into office along with the new student representative to the board, James Jones.

The full agenda for this board meeting will be able to be found on the school district's website later today: Agendas

Friday, April 18, 2008

Woodbury Relays @ Woodbury!

On Your Mark . . .

Get Set . . .


The Woodbury Relays return to Woodbury this Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 9:00 a.m.

Today's GCT's article

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Woodbury’s Own Gets the Gold!

(This entry was submitted by Mrs. Dunham, Principal of the Jr.-Sr. High School)

Samantha DeWitt, Class of 2008, achieved the Girl Scout Gold Award -- the highest award that a Girl Scout 14-18 may earn. Samantha is part of the first generation of Girl Scouts to earn the Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards. To date, only 5% of registered Girl Scouts in grades 10-12 can claim this accomplishment.

The Girl Scout Gold Award focuses on a Girl Scout's interests and personal journey through leadership skills, career explorations, self-improvement, and service. Samantha has proven to be a leader in and outside of the walls of Woodbury Junior - Senior High School. All of Herd Country celebrate your accomplishments; we are very proud to know you!

Congratulations, Samantha!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Updates -- Budget and Track

Thanks to all who participated in the school budget vote yesterday. The Woodbury budget passed by the largest percentage in the county – a nearly 80% approval mark.

Work continues on the new track surface with the hope that the historic Woodbury Relays will return to our stadium complex this year. The weather, significantly limiting much of the work over the past few weeks, has finally cooperated this week.

It is expected that the very last portion of the track will be finished today. That will leave just a couple days (Thursday and Friday) to finish painting the lines. If the weather continues to be nice – and no other complications arise – we will just make it in time for the Saturday meet.

We will put a final notice regarding the site of the meet on of the district website this Friday.

Monday, April 14, 2008

School Budget Vote -- Tuesday, April 15th

Tomorrow -- Tuesday, April 15th -- is the vote on the school budget and the election of school board members.

The polls are open from 2 PM until 9 PM.

This year’s proposed budget will reduce local taxes by approximately 1 million dollars in comparison to last year’s budget. This reducation can be directly attributed to the state’s new funding formula for schools and the corresponding increase in state aid to Woodbury.

The result to the tax rate is a cut for the upcoming school year:
-25.3 cents.

Please remember to vote. Each individual vote is important.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spotlight on Ms. Baresel

Karynna Ann Baresel

English Teacher

Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

Karynna Ann Baresel

• College(s) and degrees(s):
Old Dominion University – M.A. - Humanities – Women’s Studies Certificate
Old Dominion University – B.A. - English – Journalism emphasis, Women’s Studies minor

• Work experience:
English Instructor (Adjunct) – Rutgers University, Rowan University, Old Dominion University, Tidewater Community College
Volunteer Coordinator – Help and Emergency Response (H.E.R. Shelter)
Editorial Assistant – Norfolk Southern Corporation, Public Relations

• Favorite books
o Fiction: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
o Nonfiction: Anything by David Sedaris

• Favorite television show:

• Last movie I loved:
Lylia 4-Ever (or at least the last movie that impacted me deeply)

• Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
Joshua Tree - U2

• Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
Bono. I admire the fact that he’s used his fame to affect positive change in the world – not to mention he’s an amazing musician and performer.

• Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
Walking through the streets of my hometown of Haddonfield.

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

• Favorite animal (domestic or wild):
I’m an animal lover, but I have an affinity for bunnies.

Favorite sports team:

• Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
I love to travel and have visited more than 30 countries worldwide. I recently returned from my fantasy trip to SE Asia where I spent several months volunteering in Thailand as well as backpacking through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. For ’08, I have a few destinations picked out, including visiting a friend in China and volunteering in South Africa. To me, traveling some place new is always a fantasy and more than a “vacation” – it’s a repeated lesson on humbleness and gratitude.

• Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
In high school I had a teacher, Ms. Kalodi, who taught an elective on the Vietnam War. I've yet to experience a teacher more passionate about his/her subject matter. And through those spirited and meaningful lessons, she maintained one simple message: That no matter what side we came down on about the war, whether we believed it was justified or not, to give appreciation to those who fought in it, and if we were to meet a vet to just say "Thank you."

This winter when I was in Vietnam I met Peter, a vet returning to the country for the first time. We crossed paths several times, including a trip we took together the day after Christmas to My Lai. It was a humbling place, and I was grateful to have the opportunity to visit such sacred ground with Peter as well as to hear his stories and to learn more about Vietnam and about the war. When I finally could muster the emotional strength to say those two words "Thank you," I understood why Ms. Kalodi was so passionate about her message. When Peter puzzled at my initial appreciation, all I could muster was, "It's something I learned from a teacher."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blood Drive -- Tomorrow

(A message from Miss Sharron Knauss, advisor to the Woodbury NHS)

The Woodbury High School National Honor Society Blood Drive has been rescheduled for this Friday, April 11th. Those who signed up for the original date, your appointments will be the same.

Anyone else who would like to schedule an appointment from 3pm to 8pm, please contact Sharron Knauss, NHS advisor. Everyone is welcome. This afternoon/evening session is open to the public.

Miss Sharron L. Knauss
Phone 853-0123 ext. 248

Thank you for your assistance in making this a successful drive.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Student Summer Work

The High School Counseling Office wants students to know that there are some summer employment opportunities available right here at the school. If you are interested, see your counselor for more information.

Student Worker for Board Office

20 Hours a Week $8.00 an Hour

Start Date: July 7th

Student Worker for the Technology Office

20 Hours a Week $7.50 an Hour

Start Date: July 7th

Student Painters (10 Positions Available)

20 Hours a Week $7.15 an Hour

Start Date: July 7th

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

NJDOE f.y.i.

The following information was sent to all school superintendents regarding a new NJDOE newsletter. I thought you may be interested:

The New Jersey Department of Education has established a newsletter to serve the information needs of the state’s education community and the general public. DOE f.y.i. will provide readers with regular updates on news involving state-level programs affecting the public schools in digest form. It will also contain news about upcoming events and recent postings on our website.

Please take some time to review the inaugural issue by clicking on the link at the end of this message. If you would like to continue to receive this free newsletter, we are asking you to fill out a brief subscription request. You will be subscribed upon submission of your request.

To review your issue of DOE f.y.i., click on this link:

For your free subscription to DOE f.y.i., click on this link:

If you have any questions or comments about DOE f.y.i., please contact the Office of Public Information at 609-292-1126.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Gloucester County Summer Youth Internship Program

The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office runs a special summer program for high school students. Last week, Edward Murphy, Director of Pupil Personnel Services and I met with Jackie Caban, Assistant Prosecutor for Gloucester County about the program. Ms. Caban runs the program for the Prosecutor’s Office.

High school students can apply to be part of a group of twenty who participate in a four-week program – two weeks are held at the Police Academy (on Gloucester County College’s campus) and two weeks are at the Prosecutor’s Office here in Woodbury. Some program highlights:

  • Free transportation is provided to get to GCC during the first two weeks,
  • Free lunch is provided daily,
  • There is an opportunity to learn about law enforcement from a variety of people in the field,
  • A number of trips (Cooper Trauma Center, Constitution Center, etc.) are included as part of the program, and
  • A $400 stipend is paid to each participant.

Applications are available now. Stop by the main office. You can see either of the high school counselors or Mr. Murphy for more information.

Woodbury is allotted approximately five of the twenty slots. The program is open to students who will be entering their sophomore, junior or senior years.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Spotlight on Ms. Mosley

Amanda Mosley

Teacher of English

Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

Amanda Mosley

• College(s) and degrees(s):
West Chester University, Bachelor of Science in Education

• Work experience:
Long-term substitute in Cedarville, NJ, 8th grade LA and 7th and 8th grade AVID

• Favorite books
The Great Gatsby

• Favorite television show:
Law and Order

• Last movie I loved:
Dirty Dancing

• Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
Middle of Nowhere - Hanson

• Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
I’d love to have lunch with my paternal grandmother to find out more about my father’s side of the family.

• Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
The beach

• 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:
My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Byer, is the reason I decided to become a teacher. She had a passion for all of her students, and I can remember feeling safe and comfortable in her classroom. She loved all of her students equally and, at the same time, treated them as individuals.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Shoes and Smoking

Below is a link to the story associated with this picture:

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Yesterday: April Fools



As someone pointed out in one of the comments, the first letter of each paragraph revealed the hint: “April Fools.” Just for fun.

So, what did we learn:

 Some Woodbury colleagues (teachers and administrators) thought it would be fun to get into the act with various posts in the comment section,

 The comment section of the blog really works – this was, by far, the most actively responded to entry,

 And . . . I suspect that some truly find interest in the idea of a reduction in homework. I know that as a father of four – all school age with regular homework – the idea of just one homework-free night seems like such a treat.

Well, that was fun. You can imagine the reaction here at the schools by our teachers to such an idea suddenly appearing on the blog.

In truth, there has been conversation about the amount of homework in the elementary grades. We have been discussing this a bit administratively and with teachers in grade level meetings. The idea is to look to standardized an amount of homework by grade level so that there is no significant fluctuation from class to class.

For now, the idea of a “No Homework” school year will have to wait, and we return to the regular blog entries.

Oh – did you see the one comment on yesterday's post that used the same idea except that it was the first letter in each word in the comment that gave away the trick?

All Previous Responses Insightful. 
Life-experience Frequently Outshines Organized Learning Systems!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New Homework Policy Explanation

A number of our teachers thought that it would be healthy for us to adopt a new “No Homework” policy. The idea would be that students would be free to do what they want after school with no worry about any school assignments.

Policy changes require two board meetings. Therefore, this change will not go into effect until the next school year, but we thought it would be important to share this new thinking early.

Recent research has shown that time spent on homework can be better put to use for other important activities – family interaction, physical activity, etc.

It is expected that a few of our families will question this change in policy, but understand that you can always provide your own children with extra academic work – if that is your choice.

Limiting the time students have for outside interest seriously curtails their ability to explore these areas of interest and can have a limiting impact on future decisions about careers, etc. This new approach should broaden the horizon for many of the Woodbury students.

Following a year of operating under this new policy, we will conduct a variety of studies to determine whether academic performance has suffered. In addition, surveys will be conducted of our students and their parents to see if “quality of life” issues have benefited from the change.

Our goal here is to increase student opportunities. Interestingly, it is believed that this approach will also increase student academic performance.

One of the critical benchmarks for success will be performance on the state testing – ASK and HSPA testing. We will be able to chart these performances against past years to have an added measure to help determine the success of the new “No Homework” policy.

Let’s face it, today’s society has placed many added pressures on the family. If the school can help relieve some of this tension, our children will be better off. The teachers will be able to utilize classroom time on new learning – without worry about who did or did not complete a prior night’s assignment. Additionally, mom and dad will now have the luxury of true family time each and every night. This presents a win-win opportunity.

Should you have any questions or comments about this proposed change in policy, feel free to leave a comment as part of this blog entry. It will be interesting to be able to follow the thoughts of others who hear about this idea and the various reactions.