Back to Normal

Posted November 15, 2012 by otstes
Categories: Uncategorized

It is great to observe everything getting back to normal. The students and the staff have been very enthusiastic about returning to school. A number of events have been rescheduled and we are readjusting the calendar in terms of marking periods, conferences, etc.  In case you were wondering….the last day of school now is June 18 (this includes going to school on the President’s Weekend). Let’s all hope for a mild winter!!

We have all experienced hardships in different forms during the days and weeks that followed Hurricane Sandy. We also know many people who lost a great deal and will begin the process of rebuilding.

To that end; multiple non-profit organizations have set up specific Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Information on these organizations is available on the New Jersey Department of Education website at http://nj.gov/education/sandy/support.htm. Possibly you may know someone who may be able to benefit from these resources.

As the weekend approaches and another storm moves out to sea, I know that many us also have a great deal to be thankful for this year.  The fact that we are members of an excellent learning community is one of those reasons.

Take care, enjoy the weekend, and look forward to the upcoming holiday season!

Jim Gamble

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Welcome Back!

Posted November 11, 2012 by otstes
Categories: Uncategorized

It is with a great deal of enthusiasm that I welcome back the children, parents, and staff to our schools! This has been an historic two weeks. The people of our community have endured a great deal and as I write this post, there still remain a few hundred people who do not have power restored to their homes.

As you know, events like we have just experienced sometime help us reflect upon what is most important. Specifically, our love for our families and the helping hand that we extend to our neighbors are at the top of this list.

I know that many of you have spent hours and days trying to stay warm by the fire and by helping neighbors cope with the realities created by such a devastating act of nature. I believe that we will all come away stronger from our most recent experiences in multiple ways.  For example, it is easy to take for granted the many positive attributes that we possess as a township community and a community of learners. Tewksbury Township is a wonderful place to live and our schools are recognized for their excellence due to the exemplary contributions of its staff, instructional programs, school /community organizations, and the dedication of its skilled Board of Education members. The storm has actually provided us with an opportunity to display the determination and cooperation that exist among the members of our community. I am sure you have come to know your neighbors even better than before and that you have further realized how important it is to work together as a family and a community.

As we make our way back to the daily routines of school, work, and play; I am sure that the events of the last two weeks will continue to influence the manner in which we approach the many challenges that remain. At school we have much to do in terms of teaching / learning, curriculum development, professional development, and the need to further develop a shared vision for our school district.  All of this is a process and it demands patience and hard work. Sometimes the future may look a bit scary. However, it was our sixteenth President that once said; “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

In the days and weeks ahead, it is important that we maintain a positive and productive approach to our challenges and continue in the spirit of cooperation that was so prevalent during the recent days of hardship. I am confident that both the adults and children of the Tewksbury community will do just that. Welcome Back!

Jim Gamble

Power Restored to OTS

Posted November 10, 2012 by otstes
Categories: Uncategorized

It is a pleasure to report that power has been restored to OTS! This means that we will be able to open school on Monday, November 12. We have developed a split session schedule that will be implemented at OTS. Students from Grades 5-8 will attend school from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Students in grades K-4 will attend from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Transportation

Information pertaining to school bus transportation will be released on Sunday afternoon. We continue to assess the township roads as they are being cleared of down wires and trees. Safety is a top priority!

Always Expect a Miracle

I believe that it was the former Notre Dame Football coach, Lou Holtz, that once said; “Always expect a miracle!”

With that said, let’s think positive and look for TES to have power restored before Monday. That way, we will be able to open at both buildings on a regular schedule! I will keep you informed as to the power situation throughout the weekend.

Once again, thank you for your continued patience and support. The Tewksbury community is special and we will get back to the business of educating our most valuable resource, the children; soon!

Jim Gamble

School Opening Alternative Plan

Posted November 8, 2012 by otstes
Categories: Uncategorized

This has certainly been extraordinary times for our school community. The hardships in reference to power outages, closed roads, rationed gas, etc. have impacted our community to a great extent.  I drove around the township and observed the downed wires and trees along many of the roads. The fact that our school buildings have not had power for approximately two weeks has added to the hardships that everyone has had to endure.

However; over the past year I have come to learn that Tewksbury is a community that cares deeply about education and equally cares about the welfare of everyone connected with our excellent school district. I am confident that we will all work together to open our schools and move forward with our educational program. This leads me to the purpose of this post. We are doing everything possible to open school on Monday, November 12!

Generator Will Power OTS

Our plan includes having the Army Corps of Engineers install a generator that is capable of providing power to the entire OTS complex. We hope to have the generator installed by Saturday, November 10.

A.M and P.M Sessions

Secondly, we plan to run split sessions at OTS.

The Middle School Students will attend school from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The Elementary Students will attend school at OTS from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. These half day sessions will be equal to a full day of school.

Transportation

Transportation to and from school will be limited. We plan to set up Central Station Pick Up Locations for as many school bus runs as possible. Parents will have the option of either driving their children to and from school or taking them to one of the central bus pick up locations. When the first session is dismissed at 11:30 a.m., the students will be transported to the designated central locations, we will drop off the A.M. session students (middle school grades), and pick up the P.M. students (elementary grades). Please note that the drop off and pick up location at OTS for parents driving their children to and from school is on the left side of the building at the gym entrance. Specific information as to the Central Station Pick up Locations for our school buses will be provided later this weekend.

Classroom Logistics

The OTS students will be able to occupy their regular classrooms. The TES students will be assigned classrooms. These assignments will be announced this weekend.

Lunch

Lunch will not be provided; however, students will be permitted to bring in snacks.

Parent Conferences

A new schedule for parent conferences will be announced as soon as possible.

Summary

Please know that in light of the long delays in having power restored to our community, we are moving forward in a proactive manner to open school. We are not in bad shape in reference to the end of the school year in June. We had already scheduled three days for the NJEA convention and student conferences. By scheduling school during the President’s Weekend, we will then be looking at June 18 as the last day of school. As you know, we still have a few months of winter left and the possible need to use additional emergency closing days. Please be assured that we will look at the situation carefully and come up with a plan that will make sense and provide for a quality educational program. We will keep you updated as to the changes in the school calendar via the web site and at Board of Education Meetings.

This post will be updated with additional information during the weekend. It is our hope that the power well be restored to our school buildings and we will not have to utilize this plan. Updated information will also be provided via Honeywell Announcements.

I wish to thank Rich Mupo, Bob Hoffman, Ken Wark, and Jim Miller for their assistance in putting together the School Opening Alternative Plan. The support of the Board of Education along with the cooperation and patience of our school community is greatly appreciated!

Jim Gamble

Reading Intervention Receives National Recognition

Posted October 8, 2012 by otstes
Categories: Uncategorized

Last March, I wrote about an exciting “cutting edge” reading intervention that we planned to pilot at TES. The program is a brain compatible and technology enhanced solution that addresses physical / biological issues that can cause difficulty in reading. The program is Fast ForWord and is provided by the Scientific Learning Corporation.
What are some of the gains that students make?
• Increased self-esteem
• A new excitement towards learning
• Better listening and communication skills
• Improved ability to follow directions
• Improved reading abilities
• Better academic performance
National Press Release:
The pilot that took place at TES involved 12 students and was a great success. Our school district recently received recognition on the national level via a press release generated by Scientific Learning.
Scientific Learning’s press release in reference to Dr. Paula Tallal being named NJ inventor of the year includes our Action Research results generated from our Fast ForWord reading intervention pilot project. The press release has been carried by NBC MSN News and Yahoo News, etc. Click on the two press releases that are listed below:

NBC MSN News

Yahoo News
In light of the success, we plan to expand our program this year to OTS. Currently, we are working out the logistics so that we can provide the intervention on a larger scale to the identified students. We also plan to implement The Reading Assistant Pilot later in November.
Thank You!
I cannot say enough about the excellent effort put forth by our pilot group teachers…Donna Lance, Megan Verderamo, Joan Condren, Krista Kovalsky, Brenda Votta, and Karen Morrow. It is not easy. It takes training and hard work by the teachers and the students. Teachers from TES and OTS received additional training during the TQI (Teacher Quality Institute – A week long professional development program that took place after school let out last June). Also, it is important to note that the Tewksbury Education Foundation (TEF) provided the funds that were needed to implement the pilot program. The support of the Board of Education was also a critical contributing factor that led to the implementation and ultimate success.
It is a pleasure to be able to work with a staff that embraces innovation and is willing to pilot programs that have the potential to make a difference!

Jim Gamble

Looking Forward to the New School Year

Posted August 25, 2012 by otstes
Categories: Uncategorized

The summer months have been very busy at the Tewksbury Township School District. Preparations such as the hiring new staff, providing professional development, writing curriculum, ordering materials, and cleaning the facilities were ongoing throughout the summer months.

The summer began with a highly successful Teacher Quality Institute (See the June 25 post). Professional development will be ongoing during the 2012/13 school year and will include multiple sessions in the areas of technology integration, vocabulary instruction, writing, reading, performance assessment, and cooperative learning strategies.

Key administrative hires were completed this summer for the positions of Supervisor of Special Services and Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Elizabeth Calamito begins her tenure as the Supervisor of Special Services.  Dr. Calamito brings passion, experience, and expertise to this very important position. Our new Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction is Dr. Douglas Bolton. Dr. Bolton has worked for many years in various leadership roles in the area of curriculum and instruction. Dr. Bolton’s expertise in the area of curriculum and instruction will serve our school district very well. We are fortunate to have both of these seasoned professionals join the Tewksbury administrative team!

We welcome the following staff members that have also joined our team:

  • Cheryl Miller                                   OTS Language Arts Teacher
  • Jenevieve D’Amico                         OTS Science Teacher
  • Melissa Balsamello                         Preschool Autistic Teacher
  • Thomas Lobb                                   OTS Health/PE Teacher
  • Michael DiGiovanni                       Computer Technician
  • Laura Francis                                   Kindergarten Instructional Aide
  • Alyssa Schatzman                           OTS Instructional Aide
  • Charity Dilts                                     Special Education Instructional Aide
  • Kathleen Oswald                             Special Education Instructional Aide
  • Phokham Sysouvong                      Custodian
  • Somvang Chantbakhoune             Custodian

A welcome also is extended to our student teachers and interns:

  • Stephanie Sinck                               OTS Science from  Ramapo College of New Jersey
  • Kristen Povolny                               OTS Guidance from Rutgers University

The faculty reports on August 27 and following a welcoming session, the teachers will be busy finalizing their web pages and attending mandated training sessions on the topics of affirmative action, HIB, and OSHA requirements.

All in all, the Tewksbury learning community is ready and excited about the new school year! I will continue to keep you updated as we move forward with the multiple initiatives that will take place throughout the months ahead.

Jim Gamble

Water Update: OTS is in Compliance

Posted July 10, 2012 by otstes
Categories: Uncategorized

Recently our school district tested again for the levels of lead and copper in the water at the Old Turnpike School. The tests were conducted by Agra Environmental and Laboratory Services. Agra is a New Jersey certified laboratory (ID # 14013). The test results indicated that the Old Turnpike School is now in compliance in reference to the drinking water.

Specifically, a Lead level of 7.34 parts per billion (ug/L) was reported at the 90th percentile for samples collected during June, 2012. The 90th percentile result means that the water at OTS does not exceed the state’s action level and the district no longer is required to have a program in place to minimize Lead in the drinking water.

As you may know, the most recent intervention has been the installation of an orthophosphate feed system on January 26, 2012. Orthophosphate is an NSF approved product that is used by many utilities to coat the inside surfaces of the plumbing by forming a molecular film which prevents water from coming into contact with the metal piping. It is obvious from the recent test results that the orthophosphate system is working.

With that said, it is important for us to be cautiously optimistic as we move forward. Our plan is to continue with the orthophosphate intervention and test the water again in six months. The drinking fountains will remain closed for now. The school district is planning to install new and more sophisticated filtering systems for the drinking fountains. The eleven fountains will eventually be replaced and opened a few at a time.

It is important to recognize the skilled and dedicated efforts of the school district’s facilities personnel along with the continued support of the Board of Education as the water issues have been proactively addressed. Specifically, an acid neutralizing system was previously installed and a potash system was added to regulate the PH and control corrosion. The recent installation of the orthophosphate feed system appears to have helped a great deal in the efforts to achieve compliance. The school district will continue in its efforts to maintain and further improve upon the quality of the drinking water at the Old Turnpike School.

A copy of the Consumer Notice of Results is posted on our web site under the heading of Water Update that can be found in the District Headlines section on the Home Page.

Jim Gamble