Mrs. Lynda Zapoticzny
James Monroe has retained its unique character as a small neighborhood school in the midst of a metropolitan area. It maintains strong, parental involvement and communication that help focus attention on developing the whole child. This cooperative spirit is supported by parent participation on school committees and PTA sponsorship of a variety of events, activities and programs.
Or school-wide initiative continues to be reading comprehension. This was preceded by writer’s workshop for several years, during which teachers received authentic in-classroom professional development based on the published works of Lucy Calkins and the Columbia Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Workshop Project. Teachers collegially planned out their grade level calendars for both components of Language Arts Literacy so that they make a meaningful connection in teaching and learning. We created our School Professional Development Committee plan to encompass strategies that incorporate all reading genres across grades K-5.
Problem solving continued as the focal point of Mathematics instruction. Teachers in all grades worked daily to make math meaningful by showing its connection to real life. Because of this determined effort, our NJASK scores in grades 3, 4, and 5 showed a continued overall proficiency in scores, with 100% proficiency at grade 5.
Another priority was the continued development of an inclusive environment where all children were treated equitably. In-class Resource Rooms now exist at every grade level and are meeting with great success in delivering the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards to all students. In fact, we achieved Adequate Yearly Progress Status across all groups and grade levels.
In addition, staff members continue to be enrolled in graduate studies, attend in-services and professional development seminars. We also encourage the formation of professional book clubs to discuss the latest instructional philosophy and methodology. All of this is done to instill best practices that meet the needs of all learners in this community.
Through the efforts of our staff, this school continues to sponsor an after school club program 1-5, covering topics from literacy to playing board games.
For the fifth year running, the staff also produced the school play. The presentation of 101 Dalmatians at Edison High School, performed twice in front of standing room only audiences, really brought this school community together and acknowledged the importance of the performing arts in the elementary schools.
Throughout the year, parents are invited to participate in workshops on the topics relevant to the curriculum their children are being taught. James Monroe hosted several evening presentations on curricular concerns, and this year will expand to include informational sessions dealing with special education issues. September kicked off these events with our Fifth Annual Family “Math Night”, where athletes from Rutgers University and St. Joseph’s High School shared their expertise, as well their sports’ mathematical relevance with us. In March, parents and community members visited to help celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss. We also hosted a “Go Green” Day to establish this building as a place where people reduce, reuse, and recycle.
At James Monroe, students are involved in a variety of extra curricular activities; the school newspaper, the safety patrol, student council, chorus, strings and band. Students have shown their respect and concern for others in many ways. Last year, they raised money for St. Jude’s Research through a Math-a-Thon, and sponsored four food drives. We also participated in the Quarters for the Cure Drive, sponsored by the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
Each year, our Kindergarten students host a luncheon in honor of their parents. Our first graders do the same for their grandparents. Our second grade students write letters about their “hero”, then invite this special person to attend a luncheon complete with hero sandwiches. The third graders enjoy Thanksgiving with a special feast, and fourth graders hosted a luncheon spotlighting the Fifty States, which is directly aligned to the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards in Social Studies. Our fifth graders practiced their math skills while mixing batter for a pancake breakfast. They also participated in a three-day, two night Bernie Environmental Education program at Port Murray, New Jersey.
Through hard work and very successful fundraising efforts, the PTA provides assembly programs and school-wide field trips. In addition, parents conduct a bi-weekly school store for the students, a spectacular Harvest Eve Festival, Family Fun Nights, as well as support school-initiated programs.
Results of our Character Counts program have been positive. Monthly, students select a classmate to be the Peaceful Person. They are awarded certificates and their photo is put on the bulletin board of honor in the front foyer. This helps to reinforce our Peaceful Person/Character Counts theme.
In the last few years, James Monroe has welcomed families from many different cultures to its fold. This year, we hope to continue to highlight and celebrate our uniqueness and diversity through assemblies, classroom lessons, and daily messages to help weave together the tapestry that identifies us as a peaceful, caring community.
While working to provide a rich and challenging educational program, our staff is always concerned with every aspect of a child’s welfare. James Monroe School is looking toward the future with sincere concern for the well being and learning success of each and every student.
Lynda Zapoticzny 732-452-2970