By Brianna Kudisch
Exciting changes are up ahead for Cedar Grove students, starting this September for the new school year. Not only will students walk into recently renovated areas of both their high school, middle school, and two elementary schools, but there will be additional changes in the mathematics programs.
The first major change set to affect students is the large-scale construction project. With the referendum for the project passed in 2014, work began in March of this year. Officials plan to have it completed by Sept. 1, in time for the first day of the school on Sept. 12.
The project focuses on rebuilding major aspects of a student’s day to day activities. There will be all new bathrooms put in at the high school, along with a refurbished auditorium and expanded parking, making way for 35 new spots.
Additional changes are set to highly impact the athletic department, with a new track and field, bleachers, press box, and new tile flooring, lockers and showers in both girl’s and boy’s locker rooms.
Mike Featherman, superintendent of Cedar Grove schools and supervisor of the construction project, commented on the positive reception from community members.
“The reaction has been one of excitement and anticipation,” she said. “They can’t wait to send their kids to school or come watch a game.”
The $14.8 million project will be paid for by the taxpayers of Cedar Grove, with a modest increase in taxes, totaling approximately $200 for the year. The raise will be seen in effect for next year.
“The community, as a whole, will benefit from these [renovated] facilities,” said Featherman, who compared a school district to the epicenter of a town, illuminating the restoration as advantageous for all of Cedar Grove.
In addition to the renovations, Cedar Grove students will also experience a change in the way they learn, specifically in the re-working of the mathematics program.
The new program, titled “Go Math!” aligns with the Common Core standards, allowing teachers to plan lessons that are centrally focused on the students’ learning, maximizing learning potential.
Janine Barboza, K-12 math and science supervisor and co-director of the curriculum, emphasized the notion of student-led discoveries, illustrated through investigation and exploration.
“The middle and high school teachers have been encouraged to create lessons where the students are deriving their own formulas and patterns, and they [the students] are driving the class a little bit more,” said Barboza, “as opposed to a traditional classroom.”
The teachers will attend lengthy sessions at Conquer Mathematics, the learning center owned by Nancy Schultz, with the goal of improving both learning and teaching methods, to better help their students succeed.
In terms of financial increase, Barboza explained that any time a district adopts a new program, there is a cost involved. However, she noted that the district has set aside a sizable amount of money, larger than it formerly has done in the past, to support the specific professional development program of math.
The end goal of this program is to help students learn more effectively, utilizing their own ability to solve problems and become more independent.
“We want these students to persevere through problems [and] be able to pull from a number of resources and experiences to do work independently,” said Barboza.
“When the students create something themselves, when they discover something themselves, they take ownership over the material and over the process that they’re using, and it’s going to stick with them.”