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BOE President's Reports

BOE President’s Report December 2019

I would like to wish everyone a safe, joyous holiday season and a Happy 2020.  I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to everyone who has supported me and guided me these past 10 years on the Manchester Board of Education.

There will be many new challenges facing our school district over the next couple years, and I know our board will always make the best decisions for our students.
I would like to share some issues I feel our board should continue to support and be aware of, even if they do not directly affect our students at this moment.

We are still in the middle of the Opioid crisis. Do not think this is not still a concern with our students.  Addiction is rising in young adults after high school.  We need to continue to educate our students on the facts and statistics that Ocean County is facing. 

Vaping will continue to increase in students and you will see them starting at a younger age. Look at ways to educate the parents and students on the dangers of vaping. There are many non-profits that will come and speak about this at no cost to the board. 

Our non-college bound students must not be forgotten.  Our guidance department is doing a wonderful job with the partnership with OCC.  All students need guidance to help them learn what options they have after high school.  The guidance department needs the board’s support to be able to show them these options.  This includes the military and other certifications that they can pursue after they graduate.  Our purpose as a board of education is to promote student achievement. We must prepare all our students to become productive and contributing members of society. 

Social and emotional learning (SEL) refers to the process by which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to do the following: understand and manage emotions; set and achieve positive goals; feel and show empathy for others; and make responsible decisions.  Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.   We are teaching mindfulness to help our students and staff develop these SEL competencies.

Lastly, our district must continue to look at the mental health of our students and staff.  The NJSBA released the report from their task force on mental health.  The study lists 71 recommendations for districts to consider. The task force believes districts would benefit if they:

  • Invite experts to educate the board about how to cope with a student mental health crisis marked by increasing suicide rates and incidents of self-harm.
  • Conduct a climate survey to learn about the level of suicide threat and substance abuse in the school, and take evidence-based action.
  • Consult neighboring districts, learn from their efforts and seek ways to collaborate.
  • Create a Community Response Team, because the mental health of students is not the sole responsibility of the schools. Municipal and county government, law enforcement, clergy, youth groups and other civic leaders must work together to help reach students.

Long-term, the task force believes that social-emotional learning programs can help students deal with stress and learn from life’s challenges. Healthy children perform better academically. Teachers, administrators and students should work together to improve the climate in the school, considering ideas such as homework-free nights. Initiatives such as the Wingman program can help students learn how to trust and care for each other. Each student should have a trusted adult in school who can serve as a confidant. All teachers and staff should be trained to understand the important roles they play in creating a safe and emotionally healthy environment for learning.

Board members, continue to attend trainings. Trust your superintendent and administrators because they have always made the decisions that are best for our students.  

I did not become a board member because I thought I knew what was best for the district or felt that it needed to be better.  I became a board member because I wanted to be a part of this wonderful school district and be involved. Set the goals and support the superintendent when he and his staff develop programs and initiatives to achieve your goals.  Know your role and do it to the best of your ability.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this for the past 10 years.