Paterson Public School District HiLites

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District Strategic Plan in Action

Thursday, October 16, 2014

  • School 5 attendance receiving praise

  • GOPA celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

  • Family and Community Fall Conference at Eastside Campus

Effective Academic Programs

Our vision becoming a reality – The stated vision of our district is: “To be the statewide leader in urban education.” Paterson Public Schools was recently recognized in a favorable editorial piece for some groundbreaking work aimed at improving student attendance and school culture (e.g. PBSIS). The op-ed piece hails many of these initiatives, most specifically, those at Full Service Community School 5 led by Principal Sandra Diodonet (who recently presented on Chronic Absenteeism to the New Jersey State Board of Education). There are intensive efforts currently under way across the district specifically designed so that our students want to be in school; recognizing that “being there” is a very large piece of the educational puzzle. You can read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Norissa HowellOne very accomplished student - For three weeks in July, Norissa Howell, a Norman S. Weir student, participated in the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Summer Residential Program held in Baltimore. Norissa, now an eighth grader, was the sole representative from our district who participated in this extremely rigorous academic program.  Students with talents in athletics, the arts, and academics had the opportunity to develop their skills to the highest possible level. Norissa received a certificate for completing her coursework in the LOGIC: Principles of Reasoning section. The Johns Hopkins CTY program offers eligible students from all over the country and around the world the opportunity to engage in challenging academic work in the company of peers who share their exceptional abilities and love of learning. Norissa also scored a perfect 300 on the NJASK math section for her fourth consecutive year and will be recognized at an upcoming Board of Education meeting. Congratulations Norissa, for representing Paterson Public Schools and your family so well!

Robotics TeamUniversity bound - Students from the JFK Robotics/College Prep Team were recently given a chance to live and learn like college students. Rowan University selected 50 high school students from around the Tri-State area in order to experience what it is like to be a college student. Each high school student was paired with a college mentor that they could follow throughout the day. They traveled with them to their classes, ate with them at the college cafe and worked on various projects. Our students learned a great deal about post-secondary education and what it takes to get there. 11th grader Luis Dominguez raved about the program, "I can't thank the district enough for letting us learn about the college opportunities that are out there for us. For high school students to get a real, hands-on experience about college really enhances our chances for future success!” 

School improvement is the aim - It is a very exciting time for School 6 and New Roberto Clemente Community Middle School as they begin implementing School Improvement Grants (SIG).  Each school has been awarded approximately $2 million in school improvement funds targeted to increase student achievement, support job-embedded professional development and improve the climate and culture of the school community.  With the funds, the schools have been able to hire Reading Specialists, a Math Intervention Teacher (NRC) and full-time Teacher Mentors of Data Analysis and Teacher Mentors of Climate & Culture.  School 6 and NRC have extended their school day by one hour and fifteen minutes and their school year by 3 weeks resulting in 300 additional hours of instruction.  SIG funds will also go to providing student and teacher incentives, professional development for teachers, workshops for parents and community members and field trips for students.

JFK yearbook

A winning publication - The 2014 yearbook produced by Journalism II students at the John F. Kennedy Educational Complex has won third-place in a state-wide competition; The 2014 Summer Yearbook Contest, sponsored by the Garden State Scholastic Press Association. Yearbook advisor, Mrs. Amy Rios and College Guide adviser, Mrs. Lories Nye, will take students from all four JFK academies to Rutgers University in order to participate in their Fall Press Day, at which they will attend various journalism workshops.

Speed Dating/Reading“Speed Dating” with Books - Mrs. Michelle Palko and Mrs. Pat Gordon, the Library Media Specialists at the Eastside Campus, use a program called “Speed Dating with Books” to entice young readers to select appropriate books as part of the Renaissance Accelerated Reader program.  Based on an idea by Tish Carpinelli in Library Media Connection, Mrs. Gordon and Mrs. Palko have embraced the concept to encourage students to read for pleasure. School of Government and Public Administration students in Mrs. Valenzano and Ms. Ratzker’s classes sat in a special area prepared with book selections based on interest and Star Reading levels. Both fiction and non-fiction materials were available. During the activity, students rotated among 5 tables filled with pre-selected titles. They spent 3 minutes looking at the selections on each table and selected books based on a color coded dot inside their “Date Book.” Student response has been enthusiastic. Because the program is aligned to the Renaissance Reading Program, students can test upon completion of a book and earn points. The Media Center is sponsoring a contest to acknowledge those students who read the most books this year with a culminating celebration at the end of the year.

Ivy-Leaguer - Frankcarlos Castro, a Dept of Family & Community Engagement volunteer and JFK Robotics/College Prep Team member has been accepted to the highly selective Columbia Engineering Experience “CE²” program. This three-day immersive program for high school seniors is sponsored jointly by Columbia Engineering and the Columbia Office of Undergraduate Admissions. During the program, Frankcarlos will have the opportunity to stay on campus with current engineering undergraduates, visit laboratories, meet with faculty, participate in activities that are related to engineering, and experience the vibrant city of New York. "I'm proud that I can represent my city and school district for this great honor. If it wasn't for my parents and teachers, I know that I would never have had a shot at this program.”

Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools 

NRC PBSISRaising their voices for respect - In recognition of October's "Week of Respect" and as a kick-off for the Positive Behavior Support in Schools (PBSIS) programs, New Roberto Clemente School music teacher, Mr. Webb, led his middle school band and choir in a rousing rendition of a special song he had composed just for the occasion. The students' performance served as the kickoff event at all three lunch periods on October 10. Mr. Webb's brother, a professional composer and musician, paid a visit to the school in order to assist as videographer and creative consultant. Program coordinator Mimi Martinez helped coach the students and provided enthusiastic support and encouragement.

Much Respect - Many district schools launched their Positive Behavior Support in Schools (PBSIS) initiatives in tandem with the October 6 to 10, Week of Respect.  The statewide Week of Respect is held in order to deliver age-appropriate lessons on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) and character education. District photographer George Garbeck was at several of the events capturing images presented here in a photo slideshow. Enjoy Mr. Garbeck’s photos from schools 5, 8 and 15. Stay tuned for School Violence Awareness Week which begins October 20!

PBSIS event at School 5

Family and Community Engagement

It’s YOUR choice - The 2014 High School Choice Fair is slated for Wednesday, October 29 at the JFK Educational Complex gymnasium beginning at 6 PM. This is the annual must-attend event for all 8th graders and their families to learn about their High School Choice options throughout Paterson Public Schools. Families and their eighth-graders can meet principals, teachers, staff and students from each of the career-themed high school academies. There will be seminars on navigating the application/lottery process as well. Click here for a flyer in English or Spanish.

Brighter Futures – With a focus on the district’s new “Brighter Futures” Strategic Plan launch, the Family and Community Engagement Fall Conference is gearing-up to be a very big event, indeed! Registration begins at 8:30 and a free continental breakfast will be served to all attendees. Throughout the morning, mini-seminars with distinguished district educators will deliver useful information for parents and care-givers with an eye toward the strategic plan, all aimed at improving student academic performance. While parents are attending workshops, children can busy themselves with fun activities like “Baking for Children” and “Obstacle Course Challenge”, to name a few. By attending the workshops, attendees will receive several chances to win valuable gift basket prizes, as well as a shot at a grand-prize, flat-screen television. Click here for a flyer in English or Spanish. Click here for a video PSA.

GOPA HIspanic HeritageSGA embraces Hispanic Heritage Month - The School of Government and Public Administration (GOPA) at Eastside High School celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by inviting Abraham Lopez, Executive Director of Latino Policy, Research and Development from the State Department to speak to students. The Student Government Association (SGA) of GOPA hosted the presentation which included an original poetry reading by student writer Francis Fondeur and a performance of a Brazilian tango dance performed by students Silver Gonzalez and Angelica Martinez. Mr. Lopez engaged the students with a historical lesson about how Hispanic culture is a blend of Native American, European and African roots. The students also enjoyed his parody on Hispanic culture and most importantly his message of how he overcame an impoverished childhood; to emerge as a young man appointed by Governor Christie to run programs for Hispanics in the entire State of New Jersey. Each member of the GOPA SGA received a proclamation for Hispanic Heritage Month the Governor’s office. The program ended with a dedication to the memory of a Dominican lawyer, writer, poet, and social activist, Pedro Mir.

heating assistance driveWarm hearts – The Department of Family and Community Engagement worked alongside student volunteers from the JFK Robotics/College Prep Team to host a Heating Assistance Drive. Working together with Full Service Community School 5, the New Jersey Community Development Corporation, NJ Help Center, and Rutgers School of Social Work, 37 families successfully filled out applications for help paying their heating bills. The heating application is a lengthy and detailed process.  For families with only limited English, the paperwork is hard to understand and even more difficult to complete. Thanks to all these groups coming together, these families can now rest-easy knowing that they need not worry about choosing between paying for heat or putting food on the table.

Efficient and Responsive Operations

Infinite Campus Tips of the Week - Teachers, please verify that all students who are in your class are on your roster.  Any students who are not in your class should not appear.  If you find any discrepancies, reach out to your scheduler and principal in your building. It is also important that all teachers have schedules in Infinite Campus.  If you do not, please reach out to Anita West via email at: for assistance.

Upcoming Events

Oct. 18: Family & Community Engagement Conference

8:30 a.m. at Eastside Campus

Oct. 20-24: School Violence Awareness Week

Oct. 23: Arts & Humanities Night

7:00 p.m. at Rosa L. Parks School of Fine & Performing Arts.

Oct. 27-31 Red Ribbon Week

Oct. 29: Staff-in-Service

1:00 p.m. Student dismissal

Oct. 29: Annual High School CHOICE Fair

6:00 p.m. at John F. Kennedy Educational Complex

“If you get, give. If you learn, teach.”
— Maya Angelou, Former US Poet Laureate