Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Enjoy the holiday time – especially for those of you lucky enough to be able to spend time with family and friends. You can start the day off with some Thanksgiving Day football by coming out to watch the traditional Woodbury-Gateway game. The game is home and will start at 10:30 a.m.

We congratulate each of our four schools on their successful Thanksgiving food drives. Each of the elementary schools put together large baskets of food for Woodbury families – nearly thirty Woodbury families will have much more during this holiday thanks to these efforts. Additionally, the Jr.-Sr. High School Interact club helped lead that schools effort to collect and donate food directly to the Food Bank of South Jersey.

See the GCT’s article spotlighting Woodbury graduate Bryant McKinnie’s visit to the schools yesterday: GCT article on Food Drive

See everyone December 1st !

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AVID in Action

(The following is a press release that was modified to be included here as a blog entry. I was fortunate to be present to witness our student performance. After hearing the opening testimonials from our senior AVID students, I knew that I was in for one of the most powerful student run programs I have ever witnessed. It is no exaggeration to state that it was one of my proudest moments as an educator. AVID is changing the educational landscape for many Woodbury students – over 20% of our students in grades 8 through 12 participate in the AVID program.)

Last week, as part of the eight seminar series of the New Jersey Network to Close the Achievement Gap, seventy school leaders met in Sewell at the EIRC to discuss a program whose mission is to ensure that all students are prepared for college, AVID. Students from Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School presented at the program to the gathered school administrators and teacher leaders.

AVID Executive Director, Robert Gira, visiting from California where AVID originated, along with AVID New Jersey Director, Ellen Nickerson, were also available to answer questions.

AVID is a fourth- through twelfth-grade system to prepare students in the academic middle for four-year college eligibility. It has a proven track record in bringing out the best in students, and in closing the achievement gap. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination.

AVID targets students in the academic middle — B, C, and even D students — who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard. These are students who are capable of completing rigorous curriculum but are falling short of their potential. Typically, they will be the first in their families to attend college, and many are from low-income or minority families. AVID pulls these students out of their unchallenging courses and puts them on the college track: acceleration instead of remediation." In the case of Woodbury we include some A students who have the desire to be a part of the program.

The program included an introduction of AVID elective teachers and AVID testimonials by Seniors, Malcolm Beale, Rasheeda Roundtree, Anthony Blackwell, and Malcolm Beale. AVID seniors shared the college preparation process using a student created PowerPoint featuring senior, Shelby Martin. AVID “Tutorlology” sessions were demonstrated by eighth grade students. Students from all grades presented their AVID binders. Juniors taught the gathered school leaders to use Costa's levels of questioning to have deeper discussions. Finally, an AVID Socratic Seminar was be presented by freshmen.

(Coming soon – pictures from the day . . .)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Family Tiles @ West End Memorial

(This post was provided by Mr. Myers, West End Memorial School Principal)

Over the years we have had great success with our W.E.B.S.T.E.R. home projects that encouraged families to come together as a school community. Some of our past family projects have included multicultural children, wooden flowers that adorned our school gardens, a large community quilt -- which is still a matter of great pride for us here at West End Memorial School, and the “West End Students are Heads and Shoulders Above the Rest” banners.

During the 2007-2008 school year, we were excited to work on a new project: tiling the wall outside of our computer lab. West End families were able to use their imaginations to create a tile that uniquely represented their family. Once each tile was returned, first grade teacher Mrs. Spittal and representative from our PTA shellacked each one in order for the family tiles to “shine.” Each was then mounted on boards in preparation for display. These boards were then hung in the hallway. The final piece to this project occurred at the beginning of this school year when Mrs. Spittal orchestrated the effort to paint the wall around the tiles to give all of the boards some “pop.” Along with the blue and gold paint, various character traits from W.E.B.S.T.E.R. were incorporated along the wall boarders.

We were excited to be able to display all of the creativity and diversity from our West End Families!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Spotlight on Mrs. Stalter-Allen

Mrs. Stalter-Allen

Option II Coordinator

Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

• Name:

Kathryn Stalter-Allen

• College(s) and degrees(s):

Eastern University, St. Davids, Pa BA - Organizational Management

• Work experience:

Salem Community College, Gloucester County OEL,

Cumberland/Salem Workforce Investment Board

• Favorite books:

o fiction: To Kill a Mockingbird
o nonfiction: The Last Lecture

• Favorite television show:

The Dog Whisperer

• Last movie I loved:

It's a Wonderful Life

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

10th Avenue North: Over and Underneath

• Visiting this place makes me peaceful:

Homer, Alaska

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

Stand-Up Comic School

• Favorite animal (domestic or wild):


• Favorite sports team:

Woodstown Boys Varsity Soccer (sorry) :(

• Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:

Kenya, Africa

• Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:

College Professor D. DeRosier….. "Just keep learning"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Parent Conferences

Please note that we have our annual parent conferences scheduled for next week.

Elemenatry Schools
The elementary schools will be meeting with parents Monday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon and evening, and Wednesday morning.

(Early dismissal for students on Monday and Tuesday; no classes on Wednesday for West End and Evergreen; Walnut will make up a day on Wednesday -- early dismissal)

Jr.-Sr. High School
The Jr.-Sr. High School will have conference concentrated on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

(Early dismissal for students on Tuesday and Wednesday)

As part of our new Strategic Plan, we are operating on the concept that the district requires parent participation at conference time. Parents of Jr.-Sr. High School only need to meet at least one of the teachers on your child's schedule, though you are welcome to see as many as needed.

If you have a conflict with the dates and times of the conference, please contact the building principal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jr.-Sr. High School Concern. Wednesday, November 19th.

I am writing to report to you a concern that was relayed to the school district by the Woodbury Police department late Tuesday evening. The police provided a report that one of our students allegedly received a call indicating that there would be a bomb at the school on Wednesday, November 19. The family of the student contacted the Woodbury police, and the police reached out to school officials.

Late Tuesday evening, school district personnel and the police worked closely together to ensure that the school building itself was secure. Though these matters are almost always a hoax, we have obviously chosen to treat this case seriously.

In addition to last night’s efforts, all students will be checked upon entering school today through a designated doorway. We will have established checkpoints with enough adults participating in the process to ensure that students move through as rapidly as possible. The police will have officers available, and police cars are scheduled to be on campus at the start of the school day.

We anticipate that there will only be a minimal delay to the start of school as we move students through a common entrance. Once the above student procedure is followed, we will go about a regular school day with "business as usual."

Finally, students will be informed that a reward will be offered for the first person to provide information to the building principal that leads to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for generating this concern.

Though this posting fully summarizes what we know at this time, you are welcome to call (or e-mail) me or any of the Jr.-Sr. High School administrators if you have additional questions or information.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A New Woodbury Venture

The Greater Woodbury Arts Council will introduce itself to Woodbury and surrounding communities on Friday, November 21, with their “Meet the Artist” night at 67 Cooper Street starting at 7 p.m.

Over twenty-five art works by local artists will be on display, and local musicians will be featured. Refreshments will be served. The event is free.

Come out and enjoy this fun and exciting kick off to a new arts venture in Woodbury. Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School art teacher Maureen St. John will be one of the featured artists!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Board of Education Meeting -- Wednesday 7 p.m.

The regular, monthly meeting of the Woodbury Board of Education will be held this Wednesday, November19th, at 7:00 p.m.

The board meetings are held in the Jr.-Sr. High School auditorium. Entrance to the building can be made through the lobby doors by the auditorium, across from the Cap Paine gymnasium.

The agenda for the board meeting will be posted on the district website later today. (agenda)

At this November meeting, there will be a report on our efforts to expand "Option II" and an update on the status of the implementation of our new Strategic Plan.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Spotlight on Mrs. Evans

Mrs. Denise Evans

School Psychologist

Woodbury City Public School District

Denise Evans

• College(s) and degrees(s):
Temple University--earned my M.Ed in School Psychology; working toward my Ph.D in School Psychology (anticipated May 2009)

• Work experience:
I completed my internship at Paulsboro School District during the 2007-2008 school year. Prior to that, I worked at NewPoint Behavioral Health (formerly Gloucester County Mental Health) as a case management supervisor. I helped to link children and their families to mental health resources in Gloucester county and then supervised the delivery of these services. As a result, I feel more comfortable in navigating the mental health system and am more than happy to provide any assistance.

• Favorite books:
o fiction: Harry Potter series
o nonfiction: Anything related to ancient civilizations (Incan, Mayan, Roman)

Favorite television show:
I love LOST, 24, The Office, and The Tudors

Last movie I loved:
I'm a big fan of all the Harry Potter movies, but the last movie I saw was the new Indiana Jones film -- it was pretty good.

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

Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
I enjoy going to the park by my house or the library.

One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
Finishing my dissertation--ugh, so frustrating

Favorite animal (domestic or wild):
Panda bears

Favorite sports team:
Pittsburgh Steelers!!!

Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
Italy or Jerusalem

Details about the reasons I entered the profession:
When I was young, my best friend lived next door. Her mother was diagnosed with mental health problems and ended up taking her own life. This had a devastating impact on my friend, who was very close with her mother. She was eventually diagnosed with similar mental health problems but sought out the help of a psychologist. This psychologist encouraged her talk about the issues with which she struggled and helped her address her problems head on. At the time, I remember wishing that I could help her and feeling like my hands were tied due to my lack of understanding regarding what she was going through and what I could do. After witnessing a positive change in her whole demeanor and attitude toward life, I decided that I wanted to learn more about psychology and what drives behavior and behavior change. After graduating from college, I decided to combine my own love of learning and children with psychology and attended graduate school to become a school psychologist. After many years of studying hard, I'm here to begin my journey as a Woodbury School Psychologist. I am looking forward to a great year!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chatter Matters

Here’s a non-school post. We are a game family – we like board games. Games get the family around the kitchen table, talking, and having fun. I said in a recent post that we were playing a good bit of Monopoly over the break. A number of our games tend to be the traditional board games.

At the same time, my wife is always on the lookout for new, fun games that will engage everyone – especially at the holiday times. December is often a time new games get introduced.
Last night, my third grader wanted to play a game that has been in our house for a while now. It is not in my repertoire of “traditional” games because it is a relatively new entry into the game market. But, it is a fun game that has as a main goal to get the family talking --- about family. The name of the game is Chatter Matters Family Game.

If you are looking for a good gift for a family with children – give some thought to Chatter Matters. It is for 2 to 6 players and the box indicates ages 8 & up. My son and I played last night – but it is even more engaging with a bigger group.

Anyway – just a thought/suggestion. It is a Mattel game. See the link below for even more information, if you are interested.

More Info

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Election Activity at Evergreen

(This entry was submitted by Principal Breland and 5th grade teacher Mr. Richardson.)

To celebrate and recognize the 2008 Presidential Election, students from Evergreen Avenue Elementary School gathered on October 30th to debate and sing patriotic songs.

The ceremony was opened with the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" by principal Tonya Breland and followed by songs that the students had practiced in their music classes with teacher Mrs. Savage.

With the auditorium decorated for the occassion, students from Mr. Richardson's and Mr. Grundel's 5th grade classes debated on the issue of attending year round school. Some points were argued that attending school year round allows for more opportunities to travel and could provide a chance for enrichment education during the many breaks. To counter some points, students rebutted by saying that year round schooling could cost the school more money and not allow students and teachers to have summer jobs.

After listening to the many points from each class, the school was then given the opportunity to vote for or against year round schooling the following day. All in all, the event was a huge success.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Peer Mediation @ Woodbury

(This posting was provided by Mr. Murphy, Director of Pupil Personnel Services.)

On Tuesday, October 28th, twenty-six students in grades 4-7 were trained as peer mediators. Students from each of our elementary schools and the junior high school participated in this year’s training. The final selections were made by the teachers and counselors, and training was held at RiverWinds in West Deptford, NJ.

During training, students learned the fine art of listening and the process involved in helping their peers resolve conflict. The day was filled with hands-on activities, and the students were provided time to practice the process through role-playing activities. After a full day, the students returned back to their respective schools eager to be a part of this character education program.

A group of students who were trained last year and who attended a refresher course this year also submitted Peer Mediation t-shirt designs. The designs were then voted on by this year’s peer mediator group. Congratulations to the design winners, 6th grader Megan Rogers and 7th grader Emily Repas. Each peer mediator will receive a t-shirt.

Parents or students who would like additional information about the program are encouraged to contact any of the school counselors.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Welcome to November

Welcome back, everyone. I hope that this fall break provided some opportunities to do things as a family that the hectic pace of the school week does not allow. Even if it was something as simply as a few Monopoly games (I know that is what capture the fancy of my family!).

At school, during the course of the last week, we had two days dedicated to a new initiative. The faculty started work on an ambitious project to move our local course curriculum documents into a new computerized format. This "curriculum mapping" process will allow for teachers to have easy access to all the curriculum in the district through a specially designed computer database.

We feel that the end product will provide new accessibility to important information and that this will help improve instruction across the district.

I would like to extend a special thanks to all the teachers who moved so quickly to begin tackling this curriculum mapping task.