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Concepts &Thought Katherine Van Haasteren Wins Geography Bee at Park School
SCOTCH PLAINS – Katherine Van Haasteren, a sixth grade pupil at Park Middle School in Scotch Plains, was her school’s winner in the first round of the 12 th annual National Geographic Bee.
Park School Social Studies Teacher Jan Townley announced that Katherine, who won a certificate, medal and a world atlas, is now eligible to compete further for a $25,000 college scholarship in the competition, which is sponsored by the National Geographic Society.
Students participating in the Bee answered oral questions in seven
categories. School winners will take written tests and up to 100 of the top scorers in the state will compete in a state Bee on Friday, April 7.
The National Geographic Society, which will provide allexpense paid trips to Washington, D. C., for state champions and their teachers to attend the national championship on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 23 and 24, developed the National Geographic Bee in response to a growing concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States.
HOORAY FOR AUTHOR DAY!… Students at Westfield’s Washington Elementary School were recently treated to a visit by children’s author Herman Parish, as part of the school’s annual Author Day. Mr. Parish, who is the nephew of the late Peggy Parish who authored the “Amelia Bedelia” series of books, has continued his aunt’s tradition. He wrote several more “Amelia Bedelia” adventures. Mr. Parish read aloud to the children and invited them to share their writing ideas with him. The event was part of the PTA’s cultural arts program. Pictured, left to right, with Cynthia Weinberg who played Amelia Bedelia, left, and Mr. Parish, right, are: second graders Darla Stabler, Lindsay Anderson, Cole Sisto, Chris Dunstan, Daniel Nash and Evan Weinberg. MUSICAL SELECTION… Nine band members from Park Middle School in
Scotch Plains were recently accepted for the Central Jersey Intermediate Region II Band and Orchestra based on auditions which were held in January. Pictured, left to right, are Park students: front row, clarinetist, Judith Brown; baritone horn William Rollins and baritone horn, 1 st chair two years in a row, David DeMair; second row, bass clarinet, orchestra for two years, Robert Kuchinski; alto clarinet Scott Pober; tenor saxophone for two years, Andre Baruch and bassoonist for two years Jenna Marionni; back row, Instrumental Music Teacher and Bands Director John Bencinvenga, oboist for two years, Nancy Twu; and alto saxophonist Steven Cooney. The pupils will perform in concert with the regional groups on Sunday, March 26, at 3 p. m. at the BridgewaterRaritan Middle School.
County VoTech Announces Open House Event April 12
SCOTCH PLAINS — The Union County VocationalTechnical Schools (UCVTS) have announced that its annual open house will be held at the Raritan Road Campus on Wednesday, April 12, from 6: 30 to 8: 30 p. m.
All programs will be available so visitors can get a firsthand look at top flight occupational and skills training through guided tours.
There will be demonstrations of the latest technology in each of the instructional areas. Auto Technology students will highlight the Dynomometer, the latest in emissions testing, while the Machine Technology Program will show a Wire EDM Machine in action.
Other highlights will include samplings in the Bake Shop; shopping at special prices in the UCVTS Tech World Supermarket; desktop publishing in Graphic Communications; bloodpressure screen ing in Allied Health and basic manicures
in Cosmetology. House plants will be on sale in the Horticulture Program and the Culinary Arts students will offer samples of gourmet specialties.
Visitors will receive free raffle tickets. Included among the prizes will be an Adirondack chair and foot rest, baskets of groceries as well as cosmetology and beauty products, a flat of bedding plants and gift certificates for computer training.
The public is invited to attend the open house and view the campus, facilities and stateoftheart instructional equipment. Instructors and trades people will be available to answer questions. Refreshments will be served and there is more than ample parking.
For additional information, please call the UCVTS Day Admissions Office at (908) 8892999 or visit its Web site at www. ucvts. tec. nj. us.
Book Fair Slated By Mountainside PTA
MOUNTAINSIDE – The Annual Mountainside Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Book Fair will be held at Deerfield School on Friday, March 31, from 9 a. m. to 3 p. m. and Saturday, April 1, from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m. in the All Purpose Room.
For more information, please call Susan at (908) 6546399.
SPF BOE to Provide Budget Information
SCOTCH PLAINS – The Scotch PlainsFanwood Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the proposed 20002001 school budget on Monday, March 27, at 8 p. m. at the Administrative Offices.
The board will present information about the contents of the budget, revenue sources, local tax impact, and the need for separate ballot questions for specific spending purposes.
Election and budget information is also available on the district’s Web site at www. njcommunity. org/ spfnet.
Citizens may also contact the budget hotline at (908) 8898665 to log their questions and comments about the proposed budget.
Students Participate in NJIT ‘Engineering Career Days’
SCOTCH PLAINS — Students from Scotch PlainsFanwood High School (SPFHS) joined more than 850 students from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania recently at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) to investigate a universitylevel engineering program firsthand.
NJIT faculty demonstrated many practical engineering applications for the students to consider, including plastics processing, fiber optic communications, electrocardiogram readings, wind tunnel research and robotics.
The sessions also provided question and answer periods for students with faculty and alumni. Representatives of the college provided information about job opportunities in engineering, discussed future earnings potential, and described the need for students in engineering who can emphasize teamwork and an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving.
According to S. T. Mau, Dean of NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering, “Today’s engineer must understand the social, political, financial, and environmental implications of a project.”
Students from SPFHS who attended the twoday event included Robert Gray, Marvin Boykin, John Maggata, Matt Winkler, Nathan Jones, Greg Paterson, Jerry Salerno, David Herrmann, Jonathan Smith, Sean Sullivan, Justin Viglienti, Brian Kaplun, Robert Stanford, Conrad Cho, Chris Sengor, Marcus Crawford, and J. Raymond Bover.
The student delegation was led by high school guidance counselor Norma Paige.
The Learning Curve
Educational Change Must Be Monitored In Order to Achieve Efficiency in Growth
By CHRIS WILLIAMSON
In this election year, we are hearing a great deal about the need for change, and education is a popular target. For educational change to be meaningful, however, we have to begin to understand the dynamic of change and perhaps even develop a more comfortable vocabulary, and we have to have the change internalized rather than imposed.
There are certainly reasons why our schools need to become more effective — many of them resulting from significantly increased societal demands on education.
Because parents have less time, educators are now developing character, civility and ethics curricula, for example. This “affective curricula” is arising at the same time that a dramatic technological revolution demands attention and resources. And, of course, schools are still expected to teach the basics effectively.
We are right to expect educational institutions to respond to the realities of the contemporary world, but we need to acknowledge that while change can be invigorating, it can also be exhausting, even demoralizing.
School communities need to be able to talk honestly about how change feels; and those ready to impose specific changes on education do so at their peril if they are not sensitive to the law of unintended consequences.
Pat Bassett, Executive Director of the Independent Schools of the Central States (available on the Internet at www. ISACS. org), identifies predictable responses to change gathered from sources as disparate as Tom Peters’ “In Search of Excellence” and Elizabeth KublerRoss’ “On Death and Dying.”
The author also notes how change is particularly difficult for faculties. Teachers are used to working independently, acting as CEO’s of their classrooms. They have developed their own style. To impose change on professionally trained, experienced individuals can make the denial or even mourning phases powerful enough to undermine the initiative.
Robert Evans, in The Human Side of School Change: Reform, Resistance, and the RealLife Problems of Innovation, writes, “School improvement faces a fierce paradox: its essential agents of change — teachers — are also its targets and, sometimes, its foes.”
All that I read suggests that the pace of change will accelerate. Schools will increasingly be expected to respond to and reflect that change. In order for institutions to respond, we must become good at developing,
at growing, or we will simply replace one “frozen state” with another.
Politicians and parents will not have schools responsive to change without encouraging risk taking, just as teachers must encourage students to operate on the edge of their comfort bubble for them to learn. That means that school leadership must rethink the notion of accountability so that the faculty is rewarded for its capacity for adaptive institutional change.
This is a very different and more amorphous model than accountability thinking relative to test scores and standards.
Teachers do not want to be stagnant. They see the changes in their world and know they must respond. They are in the business of promoting healthy growth in children, after all. But educators know that healthy growth retains positive attributes while refining them and adding new ones.
Teachers know that growth is most lasting when it comes within a reliable, usually predictable environment. They also know that all change is not good; that some changes cause deterioration rather than growth.
That is the challenge for our schools and our society as people clamor for change – to keep what works while enhancing it. Perhaps if we think about our schools as organic — as places encouraging healthy growth for all rather than as static delivery systems that require outside stimulus, our teachers will be less threatened.
Just as growing up well requires some degree of exposure to risk; so too must teachers be given permission to try, evaluate and try again. Then they will be become effective at growing — changing and adapting — while providing a stable platform for our students’ progress and retaining what works well.
Schools which can streamline their bureaucracy so that such a “design — feedback – redesign” approach can become part of their culture will be most likely to provide the models for effective 21st century schools. Those schools are most likely to be small or, in larger systems, to adopt the concept of sitebased management.
If we are serious about promoting growth in schools, we must recognize the need to change the culture, cede control rather than demand more of it, and reward innovation and risk taking. We must provide a climate in which our teachers can grow.
Chris Williamson is employed at WardlawHartridge School in Edison.
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