Montgomery School Board Honors Governor’s Teachers of the Year

The Montgomery Township Board of Education meeting on February 27, 2024, prominently featured a celebration of educational excellence, with the recognition of several educators as Governor’s Teachers of the Year for their outstanding contributions. The meeting also delved into comprehensive strategies for addressing harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) in schools, and examined the district’s approach to mental health, emphasizing the integration of mindfulness and trauma-informed practices. Furthermore, the board discussed the responsible use of electronic devices in schools and addressed public concerns over historical preservation and district operations.

At the forefront of the meeting, educators were honored for their exceptional work within the district. Monica C. L. from Orchard Hill, Lori Wier from Village Elementary School, and Stephanie Laau from Upper Middle School, alongside Stephanie Lenher and Zoran Millich, were recognized as Governor’s Educators of the Year. The principals from each school spoke about these individuals, highlighting their innovative teaching methods, the creation of a mindfulness curriculum, and leadership in trauma-informed practices.

Building on the theme of educational excellence, the meeting transitioned to a discussion on HIB education. Principals from five schools presented a comprehensive approach that included fostering a sense of belonging, building pro-social relationships, and consistently reviewing behavior and discipline trends. The overarching goal was to create a supportive and respectful learning environment that is welcoming and values each student.

The board emphasized the importance of relationship building within schools, aiming to cultivate a community where students feel seen, heard, and valued. The discussions extended to the impact of social media and digital access on students. The integration of restorative practices and responsive classroom philosophies in K-6 education and the inclusion of diverse curricula and texts to promote diversity were also key points.

Mental health emerged as a topic with the board advocating for a focus on mental health as an important part of education. Initiatives such as Cougar Care days and the integration of mental health considerations into high school curricula were highlighted as essential steps in fostering student well-being. The board also underscored the need for a fair and thorough process in investigating incidents of bullying and intimidation, with a policy of disconnecting from devices during school hours to facilitate active learning.

Further discussions revolved around the use of electronic devices by students. Concerns were raised about the preference for Chromebooks or computers over phones, and the use of data to identify and address student behavior trends related to HIB. The board referenced New Jersey case law that permits discipline related to electronic communication outside of school grounds if it disrupts the school day.

Reports from various committees were presented, including updates on the strategic planning meetings, Read Across America event, and Governor’s Teacher of the Year Award winners. The Operations, Facilities, and Finance Committee reviewed a financial audit report for the district, confirming that the financial statements were free of material misstatements and prepared in accordance with accounting principles. The Policy and Communications committee discussed collaboration with Strauss Esme and the review of policies, including the education of homeless children and youth.

Public comments included a presentation by the Van Harlingen Historical Society concerning the preservation of the Beamsville Schoolhouse, with the superintendent addressing the food source for the meeting and ensuring follow-up on questions raised. Additionally, the superintendent responded to a complaint regarding a district employee’s conduct at a previous meeting, noting an internal investigation and a policy of confidentiality in such matters.

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.
Mary E. McLoughlin
School Board Officials:
Patrick Todd, Maria Spina, Martin Carlson, Michelle Dowling, Joanna Filak, Victoria Franco-Herman, Christina Harris, Zelda Spence-Wallace, Ania Wolecka-Jernigan, Jack Trent (School Business Administrator/Board Secretary)

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