Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Welcome to the 2018 - 2019 School Year!



To the Bethlehem Township Community:


The Summer of 2018 has been the fastest two months in history!  We welcomed everyone
back on Wednesday, August 22nd with smiles, speeches, trainings, meetings, optimism, and
an amazing PTA luncheon!


Our overarching theme for this year is “Social and Emotional Learning”.  As a school district
we can come together and continue to make our schools a safe and nurturing place for our
students to learn.  We will have a speaker on the 22nd (George Scott) that will give us
strategies for “Creating Sanctuary for Learners.” We will continue with meaningful
training from various professionals to help create a productive learning environment
troughout the year.


Thinking ahead to the school year, below are ideas for PDP goals for our staff - developed by our team
for district staff:

Kindness - Respect - Empathy

Social Emotional Learning

Inclusion and co-teaching

Educational Technology

Data meetings/Tiered instruction/PLCs

Student Achievement


Our team and many vendors have been hard at work this summer and below are some
highlights from these projects (click highlighted links for additional information):

The curbs in front of Conley have been replaced!  
Many physical and procedural changes to enhance safety for our staff and students
We will share details during a Community Meeting in early October
The Business Office has moved to Hoppock
Chief School Administrator office has moved to Room 20 in Hoppock Hoppock Main Office has moved upstairs
Child Study Team offices (and Director’s Office) have moved to Room 121
Gymnasium floors have been varnished
Public Address and Fire Alarms are in final stages of completion
IXL for Mathematics and English Language Arts will now being used for grades 6-8
Articulation throughout the year to assess progress
Continuing with Project Launch (STEAM) in Grades 3-5
Strategic Planning Adoption and recommendation for approval at our September 27th
Board of Education meeting - all stakeholders invited!


We also have adopted our District Goals for the 2018-2019 School year and we will work this
year to accomplish our objectives - see below:


District Goals for 2018 - 2019


Our Long Range Strategic Plan was developed in conjunction with stakeholders over the
past 8 months with community meetings and consultation from New Jersey School Boards
Association.  
All of the data from our meetings have been collected and organized into Goals
with Action Plans and our Bethlehem Township Board of Education met at a retreat on
August 14, 2018 at Conley school to develop our District and Chief School Administrator
goals.  Below is a synthesis of all of the data and plans to develop our goals for the 2018 -
2019 school year. These will be presented for approval at our August 23rd Board of
Education meeting for approval and our strategic plan with be presented for approval at
our September 27th meeting.


Safety & Security


Goal #1:  To secure our facilities and provide a safe environment for our staff and students.  
Ensure all school staff and students are trained in all safety procedures
Continue to maintain facilities safety equipment and hardware to ensure all security
measures in schools
Explore all options and training to secure safe schools


Communication and Community Engagement


Goal #2:  Increase communication and involve all stakeholders in a community for all
residents, students, school staff, and Board of Education.
Maintain our website with latest information and means for communications
Create building and district newsletters to highlight schools activities
Provide Board of Education with timely updates on school and district happenings
Build community-based activities that involve student/residents
Encourage students to be involved in activities that focus on seniors/veterans/non-sports
Create service projects promote participation of all students in other community events (example PTA)

Social & Emotional Learning


Goal #3:  To prepare our students socially and emotionally to adapt and adjust to our
changing world.
Enhance student self-advocacy, respect, empathy, and empowerment
Create a nurturing environment to promote student learning
Develop a program that will instill interpersonal communication skills (public
speaking classes/diversity) in our students
Assemble diverse teams and implement activities that will foster collaborative
work in students
Develop a growth mindset in students that focuses on improvement
Develop activities that will increase parent engagement with their children
Develop a Capstone Project for students


Educational Experiences (curriculum)


Goal #4:  To prepare students with content and skills necessary to succeed and achieve
in a 21st century world.
Align curriculum with New Jersey Student Learning Standards and adapt and adjust
curriculum to meet contemporary needs of our students
Horizontal and vertical articulation for all curricular areas with regional high school
and Pre-k to 8th grade
Enhance delivery of instruction through observation and evaluation and data analysis
To explore a wide array of career opportunities
To offer real-world experiences through clubs, trips, and hands-on experiences
To provide cutting edge learning opportunities through the use of educational technology


Please feel free to contact me with any questions and concerns and welcome to another
school year!


Sincerely,


Greg


Gregory C. Farley, Ed.D
Chief School Administrator/Principal - Ethel Hoppock Middle School
Bethlehem Township Public Schools
280 Asbury West Portal Rd, Asbury, NJ 08802
(908) 479-6336 Ext 2222


The mission of the Bethlehem Township School District, in partnership with the
community, is to provide a safe, nurturing child-centered environment that challenges
each child to maximize his/her potential.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Farewell 2017 - 2018~

Welcome to the Summer of 2018!


Our school year seemed to fly by in 2017-2018 and we have successfully gotten our
studentsthrough another  year of projects, assignments, and homework. Camps are
in full force and over the last weeks of June we are hosting about 200 children in
our various programs offering Makerspace, Sculpture, Coding, Camp Dynamite,
and Basketball.


Before I share some reflections of last school year I want to describe the scene at
Conley Schoolat dismissal on June 11th - Music was playing (Justin Timberlake and
other songs), the students and staff danced to the busses with a combination of sadness
from leaving for the summer mixed with happiness for having such a great year.  


The joy was evident as our drivers were honking their horns and staff stood waving
at students who returned the waves out their windows.  Hoppock was a bit more
reserved but the emotions were evident - and after an amazing 8th grade graduation
on Friday night the last day seemed like more of a preparation for next year rather
than an ending of our current year.


What a year!  We began Project Launch (STEAM) in Conley school and the
3rd - 5th graders made some amazing projects and fine tuned their problem solving
abilities.  Our students at Hoppock were coding and making rockets and sustainable
housing in their electives while preparing in their core areas for rigorous coursework
at North Hunterdon.


Next year we want to focus on empathy and character programs as well as our
academics and our counselors and staff will be preparing a “Mindfulness” type
experience for all of our students.  Also, we will be presenting our Strategic Plan
at the July 26th Board of Education meeting as we move forward to 18-19!


If anyone has any questions or concerns please contact us at the schools and we will
be happy to discuss anything--


Have an amazing summer!


Below is a post about the future that includes information from a book study the
Hunterdon County Superintendent’s participated in facilitated by me and
Dr. Rick Faulkenstein--


As the Summer of 2018 flies by we look forward to school opening in two months!


This is a very hectic time of year and the past two years have flown by - I have
learned so much about our students, parents, and community members and feel
the bond with our stakeholders and the enthusiasm for our programs and student
learning.  As we begin to implement a strategic long-range plan beginning in Fall
of 2018 we must set our goals and think about the future of our children. I will
be inviting members of our educational community to be a part of our planning
process and everyone that wants to be involved will have the opportunity to have
their voices heard.


A question I ask to educators and stakeholders is "What are we preparing our
students for?"  The answers typically range from colleges and careers to becoming
productive citizens, and the most basic Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  I believe
all of these to be true. However, my recent thinking, spurred by my last read,
The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon
Valley Are Changing the World has been altered by our new reality.  If our schools
function to prepare students for their future what exactly does that future look like?


This reminds me of the trendy and popular quote "All we know about the future is
that it will be different..." and that we need to think creatively and not be constrained
by what we know.  What we know can be debilitating to creative thinking and problem
solving by limiting us to our current understanding of how things work and the structure
of rules and fear of any disruption or change in how we understand the world to work.  
Confinement to 'that's the way we always did it' can be devastating to free thinking and
whatever awaits us in the different world of tomorrow.  


We have heard the Educational Evangelists talk about how we used to be taught not
to take rides or stay in homes with strangers (businesses now worth $68 Billion
Uber-and $30 Billion Airbnb) in which both companies implement and embrace
the Sharing Economy.  These ideas were cast aside and seen as too revolutionary to
take on systems that were so ingrained with history, rules, policies, and Associations
to be successful.  Why did these ideas and this type of thinking take so many people
by surprise? What kind of thinking do we need to be encouraging to prepare our
students for working in the world of 2025 and beyond?  It is time to do something
about it.


Bethlehem Township Schools is adding key components to our curriculum and
program for next year. This includes STEAM projects (Science - Technology -
Engineering - Art - Mathematics) which are precursors to Project Lead The Way
which will be offered in North Hunterdon beginning next year. This is more than
simply an Engineering/Computer Science pathway for student learning, it is
teaching students to think.  In an Articulation Meeting with Lou Mazzella
(former STEAM Supervisor at North Hunterdon-Voorhees) we discussed fostering
student learning and Lou profoundly said "We want our students to make something
- to do something." I found that to be so forward thinking and moving away from
the testing mentality that can consume other educators. Research suggests students
become better more independent learners, and creative problem solvers when taught
critical-thinking skills.

Can we have a Makerspace?  The answer is yes. We will also be adding Global Day
of Design and increasing opportunities for students to  create, make, and build - and
to take charge of their learning. Children and parents of Bethlehem Township please
prepare for lift off as we offer some challenging programs for next year!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Strategic Planning in Bethlehem Township Public Schools!



What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is an organizational management activity used to set priorities, focus energy and resources to ensure that our staff and stakeholders are working toward common goals.  The process builds consensus around intended outcomes/results, and assesses and adjusts our direction in response to a changing educational environment. It is an effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide our school district to best serve our students with a focus on the future.  Effective strategic planning articulates not only where we are going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how we will know it is successful.

Last  night was our kickoff to our Strategic Planning meeting! 

Below are the notes and outcomes from that working meeting--

Please put February 26th on your calendar and come out to participate in charting the future of our schools!

February 26, 2018 Meeting #2
Registration at 6:30 p.m., Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
Dream - Outcome:  Creating a Common Vision

March 19, 2018 Meeting #3
Registration at 6:30 p.m., Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
Design the District’s Destiny - Outcome:  Goals and Objectives





Creating a Strategic Plan for the
Bethlehem Township School District




Session 1 of 3

 What Are the Strengths, Achievements, and Challenges of the Bethlehem Township School District?


On January 30, 2018, Bethlehem Township School District administration, Board of Education members, staff, parents and community members came together to initiate strategic planning. The first evening’s topic was focused on the strengths, achievements, and challenges of the Bethlehem School District.  The meeting began with a welcome and introductions by Board of Education President, Kimberly Solino, and Dr. Gregory Farley, Superintendent, presented an excellent overview of the current “state of the schools.” Mayor Paul Muir,and the Teacher’s Association President also greeted the attendees. Gwen Thornton, assisted by Maryann Friedman New Jersey School Boards representatives, reviewed the strategic planning process the group would be undertaking.

Twenty-one (21) participants then gathered in randomly assigned groups to identify the strengths/achievements and challenges of the Bethlehem Township School District through brainstorming and the sharing of ideas.  After discussion, each group came to a consensus of its top 10 strengths / achievements and top 10 challenges and presented those to all meeting participants.

The information that follows is a summary of the work of the small groups. As discussed with the meeting participants, all consensus points are recorded and posted on the district’s website to share the work of the groups during the course of the strategic planning process.


Group Consensus
Strengths / Accomplishments and Challenges

Green Dot Team
Strengths / Accomplishments (Top Ten)
Caring competent staff
Character education
Broad array of activities (sports, clubs)
District size – student centered, strong school / community relationships
L-E-A-D program
Strong curriculum – state of art programming
Technology integration

Challenges (Top Ten)
No community – social “center”
Dual income family financially necessary
Concern for children’s opportunity for exposure to negative influences
Declining enrollment is it a natural cycle that will turn?
Maintain independent status for district operations
Staffing impact
Programming upgrade costs


Red Dot Team:
Strengths / Accomplishments (Top Ten)
Community
Student / teacher ratio
Quality of education
After-school activities
Coaches
PTA
Water fountains
Lunch food options

Challenges:
Enrollment ($)
Security
Discipline (inconsistent)
Communication (Conley)
Principal
Nurse
Athletic fields
Non-existent
Time for lunch
Orientation into Hoppock
Homework – inconsistent
Same grades have different homework
Parent / Teacher Conferences


Blue Dot Team 
Strengths / Accomplishments (Top 10)
Current ranking and competitive strength as a district
Full-day Kindergarten
Transportation
Activities / Sports
Summer camps
Pre-school
Flex hours
1-1 tech
Wireless
Clubs
Food services
Quality teachers

Challenges (Top 10) 
Declining enrollment
Special ed program maintaining
Staff health care costs
Safety Unfunded mandates
Attracting families
Maintaining programming
Staying up with the latest IT / tech
Calendar


Following each group reporting out on their consensus points, the following common themes emerged from multiple groups:

Size = strength and challenge
Quality staff
Ed program and technology
Clubs & sports
Community
Facilities = strength and challenge
Safety & security
IT & tech = strength and challenge
Quality of education
Special education $$


The second strategic planning session is scheduled for:

Monday, February 26, 2018 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM – 

Meetings are scheduled for 1.5 hours. Meetings start and end promptly.

During the February 26th   meeting we will create a shared vision together for the future of the Bethlehem Township School District . . . we will talk about our aspirations and expectations for our students and school district.

We look forward to seeing you!