Friday, January 30, 2009

Special Curriculum Session: Science Day I

The following is a list of goals that were set and completed for Friday, January 30th by the Science Group: Revised the 3rd grade mapping and planners for units 1 and 2; Modified several unit assessments; Completed the Big Ideas and the unit planners for the 10th grade; Typed the MYP assessment units for grade 10.
Goals for Monday, Feb 2: Complete 3rd grade units and enter them onto the L Drive; Make corrections and modifications for existing units on the L Drive; Type up assessments for all grades; Complete Big Ideas for the 11th grade.

Primary Arts Curriculum First Draft Completed

Elementary teachers Jenny Suyat, Lea DiVincent and Donna Yula are happy to report that they have recently completed the Primary Years Language Arts Curriculum for grades 1 - 4. The district now has the printed copies in a binder along with the Language Arts Curriculum for the middle and high school curriculum (also completed). The binder will be placed on the shelf along with the other completed curriculum binders. Electronic copies of everything also exist.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Social Studies and PE/Health- Special Session III

The Social Studies group has completed a first draft of the majority of the curriculum. There is a 7th grade unit that still needs to be completed, but it is in progress, and should be done at the next session meeting. Mr. Kevin Metcalfe will reach out to the Hoboken Historical Museum and Damian DeBenedetto will reach out to the Hoboken Public Library for feedback within the next few weeks. The binder for the social studies curriculum is now housed in the library at the Brandt Professional Development Center. Ms. Rosenblum was on hand today to put the final touches on the Health/PE curriculum. The binder for that curriculum is now housed in the library at the Brandt Professional Development Center also. To date this means that complete first drafts of the new curriculum in the areas of Social Studies, Language Arts (Middle and Secondary), Mathematics, and PE/Health are complete.

Picture: 6th and Monroe St snowpath north

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Health and Physical Fitness Group- Special Session I & II

On Tuesday, the Health and Physical Fitness Group completed the following 6 units for 11th & 12th grades: Field Hockey, Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball & Badminton, Aquatics and Golf. The four units left to complete for 11th & 12th grades were: movement, tennis, fitness and softball/baseball- which were completed this afternoon. The group was very excited to have this time to be able to complete their work.

picture: 6th and Monroe St snowpath south

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Social Studies Group- Special Curriculum Session I

The Social Studies group had a very productive afternoon. To date: the 1st grade is 75% complete and they anticipate completing the rest it tomorrow afternoon. The group has continued to work on completing the drafting by design/big idea forms for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and they are now all complete. The group hopes to complete the rest of the MYP (through grade 10) tomorrow afternoon as well. Social Studies have three units left to write: (one for the 7th grade and two for the 8th grade).
There's also some general housekeeping left to do and they believe that they can get through all of this by Thurs. afternoon.
There are currently no mapping or units written for the 12th grade (elective year) as they differ to some degree year to year.
Barring any unexpected additions, Social Studies hope to complete the 1st draft late Thurs. afternoon or Friday afternoon.

Picture: Col. John Stevens, III (1749 - March 6, 1838) oil on canvas National Gallery of Art- Washington DC

Monday, January 26, 2009

Petrosino Invited by the National Science Foundation for MSP Conference

Dr. Petrosino was invited to attend the 2009 MSP (Math Science Partnership) Learning Network Conference held on January 26th and 27th at the Renaissance Washington Hotel, 999 Ninth Street NW, Washington, D.C. This year's theme was Teacher Education and the 2009 Learning Network Conference title is Research Findings in Teacher Education: New Approaches --> Transformative Possibilities? The conference lasted 2 days and encompassed the latest findings in mathematics and science education research. The focus was on teacher education both in service and pre-service and included topics such as assessment, measurement, content specific learning, pedagogical content knowledge, the role of disciplinary knowledge in teacher effectiveness, curriculum, and large scale policy issues.

Science progresses in two fundamental and equally valuable ways. The vast majority of scientific understanding advances incrementally, with new projects building upon the results of previous studies or testing long-standing hypotheses and theories. This progress is evolutionary--it extends or shifts prevailing paradigms over time. The vast majority of research conducted in scientific laboratories around the world fuels this form of innovative scientific progress. Less frequently, scientific understanding advances dramatically, through the application of radically different approaches or interpretations that result in the creation of new paradigms or new scientific fields. This progress is revolutionary, for it transforms science by overthrowing entrenched paradigms and generating new ones.

Petrosino's trip was paid for by funds from the National Science Foundation.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Curriculum Committee Sessions Scheduled

The following is a 3 week schedule for the curriculum committee released by Dr. Petrosino earlier today. The schedule will allow for longer curricula writing sessions, successive meeting dates for continuity of development, and will be cost effective as the Committee approaches the final weeks of reaching a full workable draft. Please check this site for daily updates on the progress of each disciplinary group as they reach their goals of a full K-12 curricula articulation. Once a full draft is articulated, plans are underway for local and national review with input and final incorporation of feedback into the curricula documents. The committee is currently on schedule for a September 2009 roll out of the new curriculum. 

Click on picture for larger view

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Overview of Special Programs Committee- January 21

The Special Programs Committee met Wednesday afternoon from 12:30-2PM to discuss and give updates on programs currently underway or planned within the district. The following is a very quick and broad summary:

Johns Hopkins Program- Letters will be sent out this week specifically assessing parental desire to have their children who qualified for entrance to the expansion efforts at Wallace and Calabro Schools for firm commitments. Parents have been informed through Johns Hopkins University previously. Over 40 students obtained qualifying scores on the entrance exam in addition to having an adequate grade point average. After school classes will begin in early February. 

Saturday U- This past Saturday (January 17) was the first official day of classes. A course booklet is completed and will be distributed to students/parents at this week's sessions. The booklet will include course syllabi, instructor background, contact information. Also, efforts are underway for Saturday U Expansion which will begin in early February and include additional courses or interest. Saturday U Expansion will be an effort on the part of the district to be more inclusive in terms of students able to participate in some interesting after school experiences. 

Read 180/SRI/LitLife- Data was examined on the recent administration of the Scholastic Reading Inventory in grades 4-8. This data will be used to supplement and triangulate other reading data already collected by the district including Dibbles and NJASK. Discussion centering on the ease at which this data can be disaggregated was discussed. In addition, efforts at Connors for a full scale pilot of Read 180 is currently underway and data for pre/post test study is being collected. 

IB-MYP- Discussion on efforts in the district for the IB Middle Years Program was discussed as was a new instrument developed by Dr. Petrosino and Kate Dominique to provide useful data on MYP implementation. Data is currently being collected by building administrators centering on key principles of MYP and this is expected to provide some objective data for discussions on successful implementation. 

Math/Science- Participation in programs at Liberty Science Center was discussed as was the issue of 8th grade Algebra and Algebra I more broadly. This topic will be explored in more detail in future weeks. 

English/History- Review of "Poetry Out Loud" was discussed as was efforts underway for the 8th grade to 9th grade transition. This week there were mid term exams in the high school. 

Tools of the Mind- A quick overview of the workshop given on Friday was discussed. 

In attendance: Hillenbrand (Johns Hopkins), Enrico (Saturday U), Dominique (IB-MYP), McKenzie (Math/Science), Karmarsky (History/English), Lopez (Read 180/SRI/LitLife), Petrosino (Tools of the Mind, Organizer). 

Picture: Dog run at 4th Street Park (a.k.a. Church Square Park)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama Delivers Inaugural Address at US Capitol in Washington, D.C.

It was an historic day for the United States of America: President-elect Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president, and the first African-American president in the nation's history. Speaking to the hundreds of thousands present at the National Mall, and millions watching on television, President Barack Obama delivered his inauguration address. The following is the full text of U.S. President Barack Obama’s inauguration address on Tuesday.

160 Meet for Training on Tools of the Mind

On Friday, January 16, 160 Hoboken teachers, teacher assistants, directors, family advocates, Child Study Team members, Master Teachers, PIRT (preschool intervention and referral team), speech therapists and self-contained teachers all met for an all day training on Tools of the Mind led by Amy Hornbeck and Juanita Regehr. We were also honored to have in attendance Pam Brillante from the NJ Department of Education. The workshop focused on preschool three and four year olds. This was the third training segment of four planned for the 2008-09 academic year. The first segment was a 3 day workshop in August, the second was an all day training in October and there is one more planned for April, 2009. After the training is over we always do a debrief with the directors, master teachers and trainers. They all felt this was the best training yet, that the teachers are starting to have the "a-ha" moments and feel more comfortable after this training. It had been challenging up to now, but this training today seems to have reached the "tipping point" for many people involved. We anticipate the process will be similar for the Kindergarten teachers. The workshop was organized by Ms. Jessica Peters. Tools of the Mind is part of the new curriculum and instructional strategies that are being instituted in all PreK (2008-09) and Kindergarten (2009-2010) classrooms under the direction of Dr. Petrosino and Ms. Peters.
The concept of "Tools of the Mind" comes from the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, He believed that just as physical tools extend our physical abilities, mental tools extend our mental abilities to enable us to solve problems and create solutions in the modern world

Find out more about research supporting Tools of the Mind- Click HERE

Monday, January 19, 2009

"I Have a Dream" Speech-- Full Text and Video

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Full text of the "I Have a Dream" speech was made possible by AMERICAN RHETORIC.COM.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday U- First Day of Classes

This Saturday marked the first official first day of classes for the Saturday U program. Saturday U is part of the district's Gifted and Talented offering and is under the direction of Mr. Gary Enrico. Students were able to receive a warm breakfast from 8:30AM-9:00PM and classes began shortly afterwards. Dismissal was at noon. In the interim, students participated in three classes lasting roughly 1 hour each. The program will have 2 cycles (Cycle A and Cycle B) each lasting 8 weeks. The program will continue for the next 16 weeks which will include 2 full cycles or 6 courses. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gifted and Talented Policy for the Hoboken School District

In response to some requests received over the past week, please click on the image in order to view  the Gifted and Talented policy for the Hoboken School District. Also, if you are interested to see how this compares to the official State of New Jersey's Department of Education Gifted and Talented guidelines please see post dated January 10, 2009.

On a related item, this Saturday, January 17 is the first official day of the Saturday U program for 2009. Saturday U is a part of the Hoboken School District's Gifted and Talented Program. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Miracle on the Hudson

A US Airways plane with 155 people on board went into a frigid Hudson River, apparently after striking at least one bird upon takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport, according to officials and passengers. New York Governor Patterson has called it "The Miracle on the Hudson". Pictured are a group of people watching from the lookout at Stevens Institute of Technology on Thursday afternoon. From the expressions and relief of the people present, news had just circulated that there were no fatalities. No curriculum content today, just a celebration for the expertise of the pilot (Chelsey B. "Sully" Sullenberger) and of the hundreds of rescue workers from both sides of the Hudson River for their life saving efforts. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things...again. 

click picture to enlarge

Liberty Science Center- Abbott Partnership Program for Families

Hoboken is an Abbott District and students enrolled in the public school system enjoy the opportunity to participate in some exciting and free programs. Since 1998, Liberty Science Center, in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Education, has undertaken one of the most unique and extensive science education projects found anywhere in the nation. Through yearly funding from the New Jersey State government, Liberty Science Center provides students, teachers and families from New Jersey's 31 Abbott school districts with a menu of onsite, offsite and online programs that address the science education needs of these traditionally under-served communities. To learn more about the programs offered to Abbott school districts at no cost, please click HERE.

For additional information about participation in the Abbott Partnership Program, including district allotments, please contact:
Lauren Rose
Tel: 201.253.1259

Programs for Families

Abbott school district families and communities are offered open access to science learning at both the Science Center and right within local neighborhoods. Programs for families include:
1) Family Passes: Students and their families can visit Liberty Science Center free of charge;
2) Community Evenings: Families are invited to attend these exclusive evenings held once a month;
For more information about the Abbott Partnership Program, please contact:
Angelina Ebreo, 201.253.1492,
Lauren Rose, 201.253.1259,

Abbott Family Pass
All students who attend public schools in New Jersey’s 31 Abbott school districts are eligible for a free Family Pass.
The Family Pass provides each student, and up to three guests (who must include one adult), unlimited free visits to Liberty Science Center. The Family Pass is also good for free parking and discounted theater tickets.
Family Passes are mailed to each school in the Fall and are valid through June 30, 2009. Please note: Liberty Science Center's Box Office currently honors summer passes with the September 30, 2008 expiration date.
For more information or to request a Family Pass, please contact:
Lauren Rose, 201.253.1259,
Angeline Ebreo, 201.253.1492,

Liberty Science Center is a New Jersey nonprofit corporation dedicated to offering exceptional science learning experiences onsite, offsite and online. Located in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ, they engage learners of all ages in science excitement, provide professional development for teachers, and actively connect people of all backgrounds to pivotal science and society issues.

Find out more about Abbott Districts on the State of New Jersey's Official Abbott District web site

Monday, January 12, 2009

Where's the Merit in the S.A.T.?- By Dr. Eugene E. Garcia, Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California at Berkeley

The following is an editorial about the relative merits of the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and the efforts of a person to suggest that they be de-emphasized for college admission. The intriguing thing about this is that the person suggesting the elimination of the SAT for university admission was the Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California at Berkeley (a top 10 College of Education in the United States). While almost 10 years old, I believe you will find the editorial interesting and insightful. This perspective is also worth looking at seriously since many people consider the acid test for a high school to be it's average SAT score. This editorial may provide some insights into the shortcomings of that perspective.

BERKELEY -- I recently suggested to the University of California Regents that the Scholastic Assessment Test's role in admissions be diminished. The response has astonished me.

Parents and students have chimed in with support and stories of their travails with the test. But national and local commentators acted as if I had tried to crush the Holy Grail. The College Board, the S.A.T.'s administrator, warned that such a policy would usher in lower academic standards. Others argued that we were trying to circumvent California's ban on affirmative action.

Our modest proposal, the product of a university task force on Hispanic student eligibility, is
not about lowering standards. It's about insuring that all high-achieving students get a fair
chance at the opportunities of a good college education. To do this, we must revisit how we
define and measure academic merit.

The use of the S.A.T. in college admissions and the implementation of affirmative action
advanced on parallel tracks in the 1960's and 1970's. The reliance on affirmative action to
redress past inequities hid the damaging effects of overrelying on the S.A.T., a tool created for
admissions officers inundated with applications from the baby boom generation. The University of California adopted the S.A.T. in 1968. By 1979, the test had evolved into a vaulting pole that could benefit ostensibly bright students with poorer grades. By the mid-1980's, the university was placing equal weight on S.A.T. scores and grade point averages.

The university assembled my task force to research the causes of its poor record in attracting
Latino students. We found that the percentage of Latino and African-American high school graduates in California eligible for admission would double if the S.A.T.'s were eliminated. These students meet all the other prescribed standards -- for instance, a minimum 3.3 G.P.A. in certain required courses.

Any measure of merit should consider the circumstances in which students are schooled. Isn't a
migrant worker's child who has excelled in academics, shown leadership ability and performed community service as meritorious as a prep-school graduate with a similar G.P.A. but no evidence of leadership? Now, what if the migrant student's S.A.T. is 100 points below that of the prep-school student, whose parents probably sent him to an expensive S.A.T. course? The
prep school may grade more rigorously, but relying on the S.A.T. to account for grading
differences ignores the obstacles the migrant student had to overcome to shine at a poorer

The S.A.T.'s ability to predict success in college is questionable. At best, the scores are 25 percent accurate when it comes to predicting the variation in first-year college grades, and they have not been shown to predict whether someone will graduate from college. The test does correlate highly to parents' income and educational level. Women in general score a total of 45 points lower than men, but they get higher first-year college grades.

I received a letter from a high school student from a migrant family who had earned a 3.94
G.P.A., won state awards for dancing and served in student government. But she scored
poorly on the S.A.T. and wondered if she should even apply to a "good" university.
Undoubtedly, there are many others like her who have questioned their self-worth after such
an experience. University admissions boards, looking at her S.A.T. scores, may indeed be
skeptical of this student's academic merit.

Our report suggested that more consideration be given to improvement in high school
performance as well as resourcefulness in overcoming adversity. Better yet, universities could adopt new tests tied to state academic standards for secondary schools, standards that have been adopted and used to guide teacher licensing. More than 30 states are developing tests aligned with such standards. Universities could also switch from aptitude tests like the S.A.T. to tests that measure knowledge, like the New York State Regents exams.

Doubts about the S.A.T. as a high-stakes measure of merit are not new. But with affirmative
action under attack across the country, they should be taken much more seriously.

Eugene E. Garcia was dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California,
Berkeley at the time of this writing. 

Friday, December 26, 1997
Copyright 1997 The New York Times

More information on Eugene Garcia can be found here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hoboken High's "The Odyssey" nominated for award

On Friday, January 9, 2008 Montclair State University held its first ever "Theatre Night Awards," honoring the best of high school
non-musical theatre in New Jersey. The Hoboken High School Theatre Program was nominated for an outstanding 9 awards for its production of The Odyssey. We are very pleased to announce that the program won 4 awards, including:

1. Best Sound Design - Kristyn Smith
2. Best Director - Paula Ohaus
3. Best Production of a Classical Work
4. And last, but certainly not least, BEST OVERALL PRODUCTION IN THE

Over 500 schools were invited to participate in this extremely
competitive contest. There was a very high level of talent and
achievement demonstrated from all the schools nominated, but Hoboken
High School's The Odyssey was recognized as surpassing every other
theatre production in excellence from all over the state at the awards
ceremony. This is a monumental honor for the program and all the
students involved, from the actors to the backstage crew, who lent their
time, talent, and passion to the production. On behalf of Mrs. Ohaus,
and Mr. Ramos, we congratulate you on your hard work and commitment. Be
proud, and always aim for excellence.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday U Orientation

On Saturday, January 10 a parent-student-teacher orientation was held in the cafeteria of Hoboken High School for the 2009 Saturday U Program. The program included a welcome breakfast followed by a basic introduction of the program by Mr. Gary Enrico, some words by Dr. Petrosino, an introduction of the teachers who also offered a short description/summary of their planned courses, and a question and answer period open to all in attendance. Classes begin on Saturday, January 17 and will continue until Saturday May 30. This year there will be be three new course (Animation, Geography, and Etymology) as well as a major revision to the Computer Science course. As in the past, all classes will be held at Hoboken High School and will be fully integrated with students from Calabro, Connors, and Wallace Schools. 

For an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about State Mandated Gifted and Talented Services click here.  

For the Official State of New Jersey Department of Education's Gifted and Talented Requirements please click here

Friday, January 9, 2009

An Open Letter Concerning Hoboken High School

Recently the Board of Education, the Superintendent and I received numerous letters from concerned parents lobbying for more district attention being paid to Hoboken High School. The letters have been variations on a form letter the text of which I will include in italics. What follows is a constructed response that was sent to all of the concerned letter writers and I present it here both for the public's information as well as it's direct relevance to curriculum and instructional efforts underway at Hoboken High School.

Original Form Letter

Dear ------ ,

I am writing to add my voice to those in the community urging a greater focus on Hoboken High School.

I understand that there are many great programs available at Hoboken High School, however there is need and demand for additional improvements for current and future students.

Hoboken is fortunate to have so many great public and private choices for elementary school. Many strong middle school choices are available as well. What is missing in the District is a top rated, high performing community based high school. No matter what high school I eventually choose for my child, having a strong and academically competitive local high school would be a true asset to the community.

I have been in town for “x” years and have witnessed the improvements in the elementary schools while seeing the situation at the high school worsen over the same time. What amazes me most is that in “x” years of living here, the Hoboken BOE has spent money on many of the lower grade programs while nothing has been done at the high school outside of supporting the well-known, outstanding sports programs it provides.

I urge you and the Board of Education to apply the funding available for new curriculum initiatives to Hoboken High in support of providing this strong and academically competitive local high school

It is the right course of action for the current students, future students and the community at large!


Dear Parent and/or Concerned Citizen and the Hoboken Board of Education,

I am writing this note on behalf of Superintendent Raslowsky and myself in response to a number of recent letters centering on concern about the District’s commitment to Hoboken High School. Ideally, I would prefer to address each letter on an individual basis but since it appears from the text of the letters that some sort of “form letter” was utilized, I will reply in kind for sake of efficiency. Also, in order to make some attempt at respecting privacy, I have placed all e-mail addresses in the “blind copy” of this e-mail.

To begin, thank you for your concern and interest. I believe we are both in agreement that a top rated, high performing secondary school is in the best interest of our entire community. Getting to such a level takes a deliberate and systemic effort and the defining of such is also something I believe is often open to some interpretation.

Let me begin by articulating some programs currently underway at Hoboken High School. First, there is the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IB-MYP). This covers *all* students in Grades 9 and 10 and is the culmination for the entire IB MYP district initiative which includes Grades 5-10. In addition to the Middle Years Program, Hoboken High School also houses the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program for some students in Grades 11 and 12. For more detail, please see A fairly new aspect of the IB Diploma program has been the incorporation of the community project which has been receiving good feedback as an effective way of delivering interdisciplinary, project orientated academic work through community minded civic involvement (10th Grade). The district has dedicated funds for an IB coordinator with a national reputation (Ms. Kate Dominique) and has invested in both in-house and out of district professional development. For instance, during academic year 2007-2008 we had 4 professional development days within the district for school principals and during the summer sent principals and teachers to Princeton University for formal IB training. Additionally, a vast amount of the revised curriculum is being constructed in “MYP Format” to facilitate adoption and implementation.

A new program we’re especially excited about is the Student Press Initiative at Teachers College, Columbia University (SPI). Begun in the Fall of 2008, this program is designed to develop, foster, and promote writing across the curriculum through student publication. SPI is built upon the premise that writing for publication provides young people with authentic audiences. When students realize the power and potential of an audience of their peers and the community at large, writing becomes purposeful thereby inspiring them to produce their best work. We believe that when a young writer finds an audience, she will find her voice. This program inherits a long tradition and focus on writing from Teachers College with such innovations as the TC Writing Project. Please see for more details.

During academic year 2008-2009, Hoboken High School has initiated the Interdisciplinary Teaching Program. This program has been specifically designed to assist in the transition from 8th to 9th grade (in our district it is associated with a change of a physical school building). There is an emphasis on the 9th grade curriculum and in incorporating teaching across the disciplinary domains. In conjunction with this program which has included resources for professional development, planning time, and some supplies, there has been teaching reading groups which focus on the latest in curriculum design and theory (i.e. Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe).

Another new program begun in the Fall of 2008 is the Hoboken High School Media Arts program under the direction of Mr. Doug MacAulay. This program incorporates digital technologies (both video and audio) in assisting students with the formulation, creations, production, and reflection in utilizing multimedia to as an effective way of delivering interdisciplinary, project orientated academic work through community minded civic involvement. Many of the student productions (interviews with WWII veterans, film interpretation, animation) are incorporated into classes across the disciplines. One unexpected outcome—initially planned as primarily an extra-curricular or after school program, student interest has been so high we have added a third class to the existing course schedule in this inaugural year. Funds have been dedicated to this program in terms of hardware, software, and a dedicated teacher position.

At a time when the arts are being decimated across the country in public and private secondary schools, Hoboken High School has expanded it’s offerings. Beginning with this academic year (2008-09), we have added a Theater Arts program under the direction of Mr. Jared Ramos. Mr. Ramos is a Hoboken High School graduate as well as a Princeton University alum. Under Mr. Ramos’ leadership, Hoboken High School is now offering 5 electives in the area of Theater Arts responding to a solid demand from our students and families. In addition Hoboken High School has expanded the music program under the direction of Ms. Stephanie Safko. Classes are now offered in Music History and Music Appreciation as well as performance classes. We value academics very much but as a comprehensive non-selective public school we take seriously the notion of educating the full child in the arts, sciences and humanities.

In keeping with a similar pedagogical perspective, the Hoboken High School Emergency Response Team (ERT) is another example of an effective way of delivering interdisciplinary, project orientated academic work through community minded civic involvement. In this program, students take ERT as an elective course during "zero hour" (before the normal start time of school for most of the school) and earn credits toward graduation. The program incorporates health science education in a very real world and applied context. Ms. Melanie Kolmer is the faculty advisor to the group and has been doing an outstanding job. Recently this program received some recognition and will be part of a featured segment on WABC-TV. Please see for more details.

This year saw the creation of the District’s first Macintosh Lab (15 new desktop computers) with plans to expand the number of terminals to 30 by the end of 2009. This lab is well equipped for desktop publishing, digital editing, internet access, and a full component of productive software. In addition, we have and will be adding a number of peripherals (printers, cameras, scanners). We have provided funding for professional development and training and see this as a long term systemic commitment to raising the technological fluency for our students.

Within the past 6 months Hoboken High School was recognized by New Jersey Monthly as the second most improved high school in the State of New Jersey and by US News and World Report as a Bronze Award winner

To be clear, this recognition was unsolicited and we did not apply and did not make any modifications to appeal to any judging criteria. We are cautious of placing too much value on such awards and designations. Nonetheless, such independent, objective, and unsolicited recognition hopefully gives the community some comfort that the district is on a solid and well founded trajectory and that the future of Hoboken High School is on a positive path and not the “worsening” condition some have tried to insinuate.

Clearly, there are areas we would like to improve upon. Our standardized test scores would benefit from some improvement. But, I will point out to you that it would be difficult to find school where the percentage of students on free or reduced lunch (77%) who plan to go to college (over 80%). Also, the number of minority students taking the SAT’s at Hoboken High School is at least double the national average. We are making real progress at getting our students an education to prepare them for the next stage in their life. I can suggest readings to you published by the College Board which talk very frankly about the correlation of family income with SAT scores. It is for this reason that many colleges around the nation are reducing their focus on such standardized test scores. Nonetheless, it is an area I recognize in need of improvement.

Finally, the district administration has complete faith and trust in the vision of Dr. Loraine Cella as Principal of Hoboken High School and in her very competent staff. We have and will support her in her initiatives and will do whatever we are capable of doing in providing the resources (economic or otherwise) in leading Hoboken High School on what we believe is a very positive and exciting trajectory.

In conclusion, I have attempted to delineate initiatives underway at Hoboken High School and reasons why I am optimistic about its trajectory. We welcome you or anyone from the community to take part in a discourse that is both informed and responsible. But to begin that dialogue from a perspective that the district is not providing Hoboken High School with resources or has not in the recent past or that such resources have not been allocated well or attention has not been given is simply not accurate and I’m afraid may not be productive either in the short term and over the long run.

The Superintendent and I do not expect 100% agreement or lock step alignment with every initiative we propose or support—and we embrace sincerely the desire to contact our elected officials and to assemble to coordinate efforts people think are important. On behalf of the Superintendent, we welcome your comments and will continue with efforts we believe are in the best interests of the children and citizens of Hoboken. We appreciate your concern and your support in valuing public education.

Sincerely, -Dr. Petrosino

Ps Please periodically check in to for tracking the latest developments in Curriculum and Instruction within the Hoboken School District. I make every effort to document and be transparent in the projects, programs, and meetings taking place within the District that attempt to improve the educational experience of the children in our public schools. Many of the items I have referenced in this e-mail were posted on this blog weeks and sometimes months ago.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Saturday U and Johns Hopkins Expansion

On Wednesday, January 7 Dr. Petrosino met with the Special Programs Committee. Topics included issues related in No Child Left Behind (Ms. Jennifer Lopez) as well as the IB-MYP (Ms. Kate Dominique). At the meeting, final decisions were made on two important programs as well, Saturday U and John Hopkins Expansion.

Saturday U- Mr. Gary Enrico reported that entrance criteria for Saturday U were either a score of 250 on NJ ASK or an "Advanced Proficient" designation on the Terra Nova (deepening on grade level). 98 students were accepted into the program. There will be an orientation for parents on January 10 and the first day of classes will be Saturday, January 17. This year we have added 3 new courses: Geography, Animation, and Etymology in addition to a revised Computer Science course and a Mathematics and Science course. The program will begin with a free breakfast for children from 8:30AM-9AM and the classes will run from 9AM-noon. Students will be dismissed at noon without lunch. The program will run for 16 weeks and conclude on May 31st. Admittedly, the roll out for Saturday U is about 3 weeks behind schedule but with the addition of 3 new courses and a major revision of a fourth---there is a general sense of being responsive to a revised curriculum and course offering.

Johns Hopkins University Expansion- Ms. Hillenbrand reported that testing is completed and that approximately 36 students have been accepted for the John Hopkins Expansion. Teachers have been assigned and the program will now be housed at Wallace and Calabro Schools in addition to Connors School. This will be an afterschool program and will run from 2:45pm-3:45pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Wallace School and from 2:45pm-3:45pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at Calabro School. The Expansion program will begin on January 16, 2009. For more information please contact Ms. Hillenbrand at 201-356-3688

Picture: Automatic garage robot at work- Garden Street Garage

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hoboken Curriculum Committee to Resume

The Hoboken Curriculum Committee will has it's first meeting of 2009 this Thursday, January 8th from 3-4:30pm at the Brandt Professional Development Center. The meeting will focus on the scheduling of meeting dates and times for the Spring 2009 semester as well as provide updates for each discipline's progress. The expectation is that a full initial draft will be ready by mid February 2009. Dr. Petrosino will also brief the committee on his recent visit to Trenton to meet with the Deputy Commissioner of Schools concerning the curriculum revision progress.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Three Named as 2008-09 Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholars

Three Hoboken High School seniors were recently named as 2008-09 Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholars. The students are Steven Barrett, Zach Markle and Stephanie Vallejo.

The Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholarship is intended to recognize the highest achieving graduating high school students in or from New Jersey and to reward these students with awards that are granted regardless of need.

Students are selected on the basis of the following criteria:
*class rank of one, two, or three in the graduating class and rank within the top 10 percent of the graduating class at the end of the junior year; or
*class rank within the top 10 percent of the graduating class at the end of the junior year with combined critical reading and math SAT scores of 1,260 or higher at the end of the junior year.

New Jersey students attending out-of-state secondary schools must rank in the top 10% of their class and have combined critical reading and math SAT scores of at least 1,260. Distinguished Scholars are offered an annual award of up to $1,000 without regard to financial need. The scholarship may be available for up to four years of undergraduate study at a New Jersey college or university, if funds are appropriated by the New Jersey Legislature each year. The recipient must enroll full time during the academic year following his or her secondary school graduation at a New Jersey college or university to receive payment of the award. More than 5,000 Distinguished Scholars received award offers for the 2006-07 collegiate academic year. For the 2005-06 selection process, secondary schools submitted names and academic information of more than 20,400 students.