In a riveting recent Saddle Brook School Board meeting, teachers of the year were recognized, a divisive debate over school uniforms surfaced, and substantial commitments were made towards student mental health.
The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the district’s Teachers of the Year, drawing applause and admiration from attendees. Laura Colova from Washington School, Mrs. Osterino from Franklin Elementary School, Susan Laurentino from Helen I Smith School, Mr. Anacone from Long Memorial School, and Mr. Sheldon from the Middle High School received well-earned commendations for their outstanding dedication and service.
Each teacher’s unique contribution to their respective schools was celebrated, from Colova’s role as PTO liaison, Osterino’s fun and supportive teaching environment, Laurentino’s incorporation of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) practices, Anacone’s dedication to the school’s environmental club, to Sheldon’s high academic standards and consistent Advanced Placement (AP) score achievements. The process of selecting the Teachers of the Year involved a point-based system of anonymous nominations from staff, parents, and senior students.
A point of contention throughout the meeting was the potential implementation of school uniforms, with board members articulating both potential benefits and drawbacks. While uniforms could possibly reduce violence or promote a level playing field economically, concerns were raised about enforcing uniform rules, potential discomfort and body consciousness for students, and the suppression of visible diversity. After two years of feedback, the board decided to keep the topic on the agenda, reflecting the significance and complexity of the issue.
The meeting also spotlighted student mental health initiatives, reflecting a robust commitment to the wellbeing of the district’s students. The Teen Mental Health First Aid program designed to equip 10th graders with skills to help their peers in need was noted. Further, the high school’s Falcons for Change Club’s participation in the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘Event to Prevent’ competition was recognized, further emphasizing the board’s focus on student mental health.
Policy revisions were also addressed, including a change to the “live animals in school” policy to allow for therapy dogs in school and a discussion about transitioning from a school uniform policy to a dress code policy.