Matawan-Aberdeen School District Focuses on Student Achievement and Well-Being with New Initiatives

The Matawan-Aberdeen School District Board meeting on December 21, 2023, centered on the introduction of new educational programs, professional development for staff, and initiatives aimed at enhancing student achievement and social-emotional well-being.

The meeting opened with the Superintendent, Joseph G. Majka, acknowledging the school’s students and staff for their recent achievements. Dr. B, the school principal, presented the school’s strategic planning goals, which concentrated on developing personal passions and improving access to rigorous coursework for students. He also discussed the success of the school’s lunchtime, art, and music enrichment programs, and various clubs that foster self-reflection and goal setting.

Dr. B underscored the school’s dedication to increasing student achievement with the help of literacy programs and curriculum updates, including I-Ready, Ready Math, My View, and Studies Weekly. The implementation of the Scripps Spelling Bee was another educational initiative aimed at enhancing the academic experience for students.

A notable addition to the school’s programs was the introduction of the Lloyd Road Cafe for students in MD and autism classes, which represents a commitment to inclusivity and tailored educational experiences. Moreover, the potential implementation of an Esports club was discussed, highlighting the benefits of such an offering for student engagement and skill development.

The school’s multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) was a focal point, detailing the tiered system for classroom, additional, and small group support. Superintendent Majka highlighted the professional development initiatives, such as Orton Gillingham training for English Language Arts interventionists, aimed at providing phonics support to students in need.

Social-emotional learning was also at the forefront of discussions, with the school’s initiatives, including the Visualizing and Verbalizing program for students struggling with reading comprehension and the establishment of a therapy dog program to support mental health wellness of students and staff.

The board addressed the implementation of Schoolwide SEL and the incorporation of restorative approaches to discipline. The revised code of conduct, “caught being kind” system, good news postcards, and student of the month program underscored the school’s efforts to promote positive behavior and character recognition.

Additionally, diversity, equity, and inclusivity were discussed with the DEI team working on a smart goal for the school and participation in the Central Jersey Consortium for Excellence and Equity in Education Technology. The technology initiatives, including providing Chromebooks to teaching staff and fifth graders, and parent involvement through education nights and PTO support for a shade structure for the playground, were also outlined.

The board president thanked the community for its support in recent school events and activities and acknowledged staff members who were recognized for their contributions to education. Upcoming events, such as a family night in April, were announced, and wishes for a happy holiday season were extended.

The meeting included discussions on fundraising events, which were described as successful in engaging students and families. Events like the fall Harvest Festival, Winter Chill event, and a Pizza Bingo night, along with the PTO-organized trunk or treat, provided opportunities for community involvement and support.

Under the curriculum and instruction section, the board approved items related to student athletics and a change to the meeting minutes with no questions or comments. Likewise, the Student Services and Personnel reports were approved, including a grant from Rutgers University for comprehensive School Mental Health services and a curriculum-based construction trip.

One section of the meeting was dedicated to the discussion of website maintenance duties and the district calendar for 2024-2025. The board contemplated potential changes to graduation day if snow days are not used and expressed appreciation for the cultural awareness committee’s work in creating a document that outlines holidays celebrated within the school community to ensure inclusivity and fairness.

During the discussion of policies for first reading, the board tackled the sensitive topic of the transgender students policy, number 5950, with a focus on inclusivity and sensitivity. The school and facility names policy, which had not been updated since 2010, was also discussed. The Finance department reported on donations received for the district and requested action on items related to the budget.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Joseph G. Majka
School Board Officials:
Annette Ascoli, Tara Martinez, Katie Feiles, Shelley Gershner, Laurie Skop, John Montone, Dianna M. Pell, Danielle Spruell, Sheetal Werneke

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