Jun 28th - Jun 28th, 2021 - BOE Regular Meeting
6:30 PM - Administration Building
Jul 19th - Jul 19th, 2021 - BOE Regular Meeting
6:30 PM - Mt. Olive Middle School
Aug 23rd - Aug 23rd, 2021 - BOE Regular Meeting
6:30 PM - Mt. Olive Middle School
If you closed your eyes, you could have imagined the burning brushwood of the campfire and the fragrant pine trees all around, the chirp of crickets in the background and an owl hooing in the night.
Tracy Church recently transformed her first grade classroom into a campsite for two days of outdoor-themed learning. Binders taped onto desktops and dollar-store tablecloths converted desks into tents, which were put into a circle. A cardboard fire burned in the center of the room.
“This has been a tough year for students, especially with no field trips or assemblies,” said Church. “I really wanted to do something special that could still be safe.”
And so Camp Read-a-lot was born.
Over a Thursday and Friday, the class read camping books together such as “Ready Freddy Camping Catastophe,” “Curious George Goes Camping” and “Pete the Cat Goes Camping.” Students also read independently using their personalized reading boxes which include books at their own individual Lexile levels.
There were camping activities, too. The first-graders fished for sight words from a plastic pool and made crafts such as a paper chain-snake.
The room mother, Lindsey Erlandson, added her own special touches that helped make the day memorable for students. Erlandson, who owns an Etsy shop, etsy.com/shop/sweettalkdesigns, made tent tags with each camper’s name and camping survival bags for each student. Each bag included binoculars, a reading buddy bear, a magnifying glass, bottled water, crayons, a bookmark, a camping picture frame craft, stickers, and a “Smart Camper” flag. The students used the binoculars and magnifying glasses on a nature walk around the school.
“I think kids will remember this event as a high point of the year,” Church said. “And I hope it inspires them to keep reading all summer.”
Unified, a new program at Sandshore Elementary School, is inspiring friendship and understanding. Unified brings together general education students in grades 3–5 and students with autism spectrum disorder.
The ASD students work with their general education peers twice per week, playing games with them in adaptive physical education and engaging with them in class activities and recess. Sometimes the interaction is as simple as chatting during snack time.
“Unified helps ASD students with their social skills and communication skills,” said learning consultant Debbie Reiber, coordinator of the program. “It also gives them more exposure to their typically developing peers. For the general education students, it teaches them to have empathy and patience, and makes them mindful of being inclusive of others.”
More activities and opportunities for interaction are planned for next year. A total of 55 general education students volunteered to work with the students in the ASD program.
Silvia Villena’s third grade class is Sandshore’s winner of Read to Succeed, a competition that recognizes classes with the highest reading comprehension scores. Read to Succeed was sponsored by Achieve 3000, a web-based learning platform that is used to bolster reading levels and improve comprehension.
Achieve 3000 includes both fiction and non-fiction texts. Students take a quiz after reading each Achieve 3000 article. The quiz results are then translated into points. Students earned points for scores of 75% and higher, and even more points for scores of 88% and higher.
More importantly, the platform monitors and tracks individual student progress with precision, presenting articles to each student that exactly matches his or her own Lexile level. When a student’s Lexile level increases, so does the complexity of the next text to be read.
Villena often assigns specific articles that augment lessons being taught in the classroom, particularly in social studies.
“The kids like Achieve because of the variety of topics,” Villena said. “They also like texts that relate to what they are learning in class so they can make connections between the material.”
For winning the competition, the class received a $25 gift card which will be used for a celebration of some sort, most likely on snacks for a movie screening one afternoon.
Sandshore students and staff have given Mother Nature a ton of help. Actually, it’s nearly two tons. Over the past two school years, the school has recycled 3,935 pounds of plastic bags, preventing a mountain of single-use plastics from winding up in local landfills and possibly even ocean waters.
Because of the enthusiastic effort, Sandshore is again a divisional winner in a recycling challenge sponsored by Trex, a manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and other outdoor materials. Between November 15 (America Recycles Day) and April 15, Sandshore students and staff members collected 803 pounds of plastic bags, earning the school another buddy bench made from Trex composite material. The first bench, along with a Trex flower pot, were delivered in September.
School counselor Elena Melekos coordinated the effort and brought all the plastic bags used in the school to the Target store in Hackettstown, a designated drop-off location.
“Although the competition is very exciting for students, they are really focused on making a difference and protecting the environment,” said Melekos. “They love seeing how much plastic is being brought it and that it is being repurposed into something useful.”
Because of COVID concerns, the plastics collection was run differently this year. Staff members again brought their bags into school; however, families weighed their bags at home every month and then emailed Melekos the totals, along with photos. Each family then made a Target run to deliver its bags. Last year, students brought their bags to school, then the fourth- and fifth-graders in Sandshore’s Kindness Ambassador program weighed them all.
In the 2019-2020 Trex competition, the nation’s students recycled more than 360,000 pounds of plastic. This is the 14th year in which Trex has run the contest.
Elena Melekos rocks. Sandshore's counselor was honored in the Teachers Who Rock program, sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association, St. Elizabeth University, and radio station WDHA-FM. Her nomination letter, written by first grade teacher Tracy Church, was read on the air.
“Ms. Melekos ensures that students have an excellent academic experience by providing essential social and emotional support in addition to academic support,” Church wrote. “She collaborates with students, teachers, parents, and administrators to identify and nurture specific strengths, needs, and interests, and develops plans for achieving goals. This is an important role, but now more than ever this role has proved to be of the utmost importance during the pandemic when students are really struggling with their emotions and virtual learning.”
Melekos joined the district as Sandshore’s school counselor in 2018.
|Brooke Abramson shows off her interpretation of the work of Georgia O'Keefe|
Students love the ability to choose the topics they want to learn and the activities they’d like to complete to apply or demonstrate their learning. That’s why choice boards are so popular. They’re menus of topics and activities that allow students to be in the driver’s seat of their own learning. Research has shown that this instructional strategy increases engagement, motivation, skills, and retention.
On March 19, the district celebrated national Women’s History Month with a day devoted to learning about the contributions of women past and present, and celebrating influential women in their own lives. Sandshore students were provided with choice boards for their unique grade levels, and each student selected four to complete over the course of the day.
Kindergartners, for example, had choices that included learning about women in sports (e.g., Wilma Rudolph, Venus and Serena Williams) and learning about several inspirational women (e.g. Sonia Sotomayor, Jane Goodall, computer scientist Katherine Johnson). Fourth-graders had choices such as learning about artist Georgia O’Keefe and Vice President Kamala Harris. On the following school day, students shared with their classmates what they learned and the activities they completed.
The instructional supervisors from each elementary school worked together as a team to develop the choice boards for the district’s elementary students.
The special day began with a video from Kimberley Markus, the district’s executive director of innovation and personnel. In 2017, Markus became the second woman to serve as the commissioner of education at the New Jersey Department of Education. As commissioner, she was charged with oversight of the education of the New Jersey’s 1.4 million students.
Fifth-graders recently learned about Budd Lake and the flora and fauna of the region from a MOHS graduate and former Sandshore student.
The classes spoke through Google Meet with Lauren Theis, director of education at the Raritan Headwaters Association. The association is comprised of a group of scientists, educators, and volunteers that help protect and preserve the 470 square-mile North and South Branch Raritan watersheds.
Using photos and sound clips, Theis took students through a variety of topics including the fish and aquatic animals in Budd Lake, the plant and wildlife in the area, and the glacial origin of Budd Lake. She also provided students with websites to help them learn more about conservation, and offered safety tips to follow when out hiking.
The 50-minute presentation augmented the information that students learned in the fifth grade science unit “Matter and Energy in Ecosystems.”
Sandshore Elementary School
498 Sandshore Rd
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Mountain View Elementary School
118 Cloverhill Drive
Flanders, NJ 07836
Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Mt. Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road
Budd Lake, NJ 07828