By Catherine Bialkowski
What do reading workshops, chemistry competitions, and brand-new laptops have in common? All of these things are part of what made Florham Park School (FPKS) District’s 2015-2016 academic year memorable.
A specially-designed reading and writing workshop program was instituted this year in order to improve learning comprehension. One of its benefits is that it can easily be individualized to fit each student’s needs.
“This program passed beyond the bounds of what I thought it would be,” said Melissa Varley, superintendent of schools. “The teachers embraced it to its full extent and took charge.”
Because of its major success, the program will continue to be a part of the language arts department’s teaching method. Students can work at their own pace, which motivates rather than discourages them.
An exciting moment for Ridgedale, Florham Park’s middle school, came when eighth-grader Nick Rauschenberger placed in the top 10 at the 2016 National Chemistry Challenge in Philadelphia, Pa., a competition for students around the country. The only participant from New Jersey, Rauschenberger competed with 38 other middle school students at the Kimmel Center, showcasing his knowledge of chemistry. Needless to say, Rauschenberger’s teachers could not be prouder of this outstanding achievement.
Before school let out for summer, an exciting decision was made regarding next year. Starting in the fall, FPKS District will launch a new One-to-One laptop program using Google chromebooks, allowing students to access information faster. This step forward in technology is exciting for both students and teachers, who will be able to communicate in new ways, as well as coordinate assignments more easily. The program is certainly something to which everyone involved is looking forward.
Additionally, this year saw the coming-together of a new school board.
“We had to be consistent and on the same page,” Varley explained. She went on to say that although the administrative council had to work hard and learn new, modernized skills needed for success in 2016, this project is one of her best memories of the year, as all the planning and hard work paid off in the end.
Before commencement on June 22, the eighth grade, a class of 122 students, took their annual field trip to Washington, D.C., receiving numerous compliments on their good behavior.
“The teachers are already looking forward to next year,” said Varley. Always a success, this trip is both educational and fun for the students, who will start high school in the fall.
Next year will hold no shortage of academic advancement. In July, a new English and language arts supervisor will join the reading and writing workshop team, working to further improve this innovative program. Aside from that, the chromebooks will undoubtedly prove to be an incredible step forward in both technology and communication for FPKS District.
The Florham Park 2015-2016 school year was a success in all aspects – ingenious academic programs, exceptional student achievements and highly anticipated staff improvements. Its legacies will certainly continue into next year and years after. In the words of Varley, “This year exceeded all expectations. It went beyond leaps and bounds.”