Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Students visit the U.S.S. New Jersey- Alternative Education

Mr. Munoz's and Mr. DeBenedetto's U.S. History II classes attended the U.S.S. New Jersey Battleship Naval Musuem in Camden, NJ on March 13, 2009. The classes really enjoyed the experience of actually seeing a battleship in person. "This Iowa class battleship's size is amazing," said Jorge Rodriguez, a junior at Demarest. This is just one example of the educational field experiences that DHS (Demarest High School) offers it's student body.

Alternative education- a foundation of the educational philosophy of Demarest High School, is also known as non-traditional education and includes a number of approaches to teaching and learning other than mainstream or traditional education. While some aspects of alternative education have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, others are more informal associations of teachers and students dissatisfied with some aspect of mainstream or traditional education. These educational alternatives, which include charter schools, alternative schools, independent schools, and home-based learning vary widely, but often emphasize the following components:

Maximum teacher/student ratio of 1:15
Small student base
Clearly stated mission and discipline code
Caring faculty with continual staff development
School staff having high expectations for student achievement
Learning program specific to the student's expectations and learning style
Flexible school schedule with community involvement and support
Total commitment to have each student be a success

Demarest HS is designed to meet the needs of students who are not succeeding in a traditional setting for any number of reasons. Students are provided with a variety of options that can lead to graduation and are supported by services for the student and their immediate family that are essential to success.

Background on the USS New Jersey
BB62 (U.S.S. New Jersey) was built at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, and launched December 7, 1942- just a year after the Pearl Harbor Attack brought America into WWII.

The USS NEW JERSEY (BB62) was actually the second ship to be called “NEW JERSEY”, the first being BB16, a turn of the century (19th century) battleship. The first Battleship New Jersey (BB-16) was a Virginia class pre-dreadnought that served from 1906 until she was sunk as a bombing target in 1922. She sailed with the Great White Fleet and served her country in World War I as a training vessel.

NEW JERSEY was decommissioned for the last time on February 8,1991 at Bremerton, Washington where she resided until heading home to New Jersey. She was officially stricken from the Navy list on February 12,1995 but was then ordered reinstated by an order of congress as a mobilization asset under Bill 1024 section 1011. On January 4, 1999 NEW JERSEY was again stricken from the Navy list and IOWA replaced her as a mobilization asset.

Mr. Munoz and Mr. DeBenedetto are both members of the Hoboken Curriculum Committee and have done outstanding work in articulating the revised Social Studies curriculum for the Hoboken School District.

Educational Effects of the Tools of the Mind curriculum

The following peer reviewed journal article was recently published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly (Barnett et al. 2008). Tools of the Mind is currently being implemented in the Abbott pre-K program and will be extended to the district Kindergarten classes starting in September as part of the new revised curriculum and instruction program. Currently the Tools of the Mind program is being implemented in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington (see Picture).-Dr. Petrosino

The effectiveness of the Tools of the Mind (Tools) curriculum in improving the education of
3- and 4-year-old childrenwas evaluated by means of a randomized trial. The Tools curriculum,
based on the work of Vygotsky, focuses on the development of self-regulation at the
same time as teaching literacy and mathematics skills in a way that is sociallymediated by
peers and teachers and with a focus on play. The control group experienced an established
district-created model described as a “balanced literacy curriculum with themes.” Teachers
and students were randomly assigned to either treatment or control classrooms. Children
(88 Tools and 122 control) were compared on social behavior, language, and literacy growth.
The Tools curriculum was found to improve classroom quality and children’s executive function
as indicated by lower scores on a problem behavior scale. There were indications that
Tools also improved children’s language development, but these effects were smaller and
did not reach conventional levels of statistical significance in multi-level models or after
adjustments for multiple comparisons. Our findings indicate that a developmentally appropriate
curriculum with a strong emphasis on play can enhance learning and development
so as to improve both the social and academic success of young children. Moreover, it is
suggested that to the extent child care commonly increases behavior problems this outcome
may be reversed through the use of more appropriate curricula that actually enhance

More Information: The Tools of the Mind program has been used in both full- or half-day programs in Head Start programs, public schools, and childcare centers. Tools classrooms are found in a variety of school settings from high-poverty schools in urban or rural areas to suburban areas that serve primarily middle-class children

In order to provide a seamless transition to elementary school, the ideal experience for students (especially those that are considered “at risk”) is to attend both a Tools preschool and kindergarten program. Although the Tools kindergarten program provides a seamless transition for children who attended a Tools preschool program, those children who have not been in a Tools preschool program have adjusted to the program easily and excel with the rest of their peers.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

School Choice in Hoboken- A Statistical Analysis

This data was previously presented at a Board of Education meeting in the Fall. Due to a number of requests, I am publishing the statistical analysis here. To be clear, this analysis simply looks at whether there was any statistically significant differences between Choice children and Resident children on 3 different dimensions. All students were enrolled in Hoboken High School from 2004-2007 (latest data available at time of the analysis). -Dr. Petrosino

A quantitative analysis was conducted on existing student data to see whether there was any significant difference between two populations of students. Population One included 27 graduating seniors from Hoboken High School during academic years 2004-2005 (n=2); 2005-2006 (n=7); and 2006-2007 (n=18) who were designated SCHOOL CHOICE. Population Two consisted of a randomly chosen matching subset of students (matched on gender and graduation year) enrolled in Hoboken High School as city residents (HHS). Therefore, we essentially took our known high school universe of school choice students (SC) and matched them with a comparison group of non-school choice high school students from the same cohort (HHS).

These two groups were then compared across three dimensions. Dimension 1 consisted of Attendance/Behavioral measure (Absences and Lateness). Not only are these figures indicative of behavior but also collate well with behavioral data such as detention/suspension (which by law we do not have access to upon graduation). Dimension 2 consisted of class grades. We chose the last English and last Mathematics course taken by each student. Finally, Dimension 3 consisted of standardized test measures. In this case, we choose to look at the SAT Math, Writing, and Essay scores.

Dimension 1: School choice children were absent 2 less days a year (13.29 vs 15.4) and were late ½ day more (11.85 vs. 11.22). Absence was statistically significant (.05) indicating that SC children were absent less often but difference in lateness was not statistically significant.

Dimension 2: Class grades in English (82.7 vs 82.09) and Mathematics (78.5 vs 78.22) were not statistically different and indicate no difference between the two groups.

Dimension 3: Non School Choice (HHS) children scored higher in SAT Math (435 vs 409) and SAT Writing (404 vs. 379) by roughly 25 points while School Choice (SC) students outperform their non School Choice peers on the SAT Essay (6.38 vs 5.6). While some minor differences  exist, there is no clear pattern that seems to favor either group.

Conclusion: Based on the data to date, there appears to be little to no statistically significant difference between the two student populations on any of the three dimensions of Attendance/Late; Grades; Standardized Test Scores.

SC 13.29 11.85 82.7 78.5 409 379 6.38
NC 15.4 11.22 82.09 78.22 435 404 5.6

Picture: (L-R) "Sonny" Palmeri, Steve Cappiello, and Mayor Louis DePascale circa Fall 1968. Petrosino Club, Fourth and Monroe St. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

LitLife Walkthrough in Connors and Calabro

On Thursday, March 26th Dr. Petrosino and Jennifer Lopez toured Calabro and Connors Schoos with LitLife representatives as they conduced a semi-semester evaluation of the progress that LitLife has made to the life of the district in writing and literacy. LitLife was brought into the district late last year as a long term, systemic and residential approach to professional development. No longer satisfied with "one shot" professional development or short term professional opportunities, LitLife is consistent with what research tells us leads to sustained and improved professional development and most importantly to lasting results in classroom learning. LitLife consultants work in schools to implement innovative structures for teaching reading and writing. After a careful analysis of a school’s environment and history, they work with staff members to enrich teaching methods and curriculum in reading and writing. We help teachers and administrators in realizing their goal: a happy school in which children and adults alike thrive. As a cutting-edge consulting group, LitLife is constantly evolving. They utilize both the latest research on teaching and the best technological advances in the resources we offer schools. From seminars to study groups, books to DVDs, podcasts to webinars, we are constantly searching for new ways to expand the depth and breadth of literacy.

LitLife currently works with grades 1, 2, and 3 in all district elementary schools (Calabro, Connors and Wallace). After the walkthroughs, Dr. Petrosino and Ms. Lopez spoke about expanding LitLife to encompass grade 4 or possibly consider another configuration that would bring LitLife to the middle grades at a more accelerated pace. Results are already being seen in classroom around the district based on feedback from LitLife consultants as well as discussions with building principals. Nonetheless, it will take an iteration or two of implementation before the district sees results on standardized test scores. LitLife is *not* a test preparation program but rather a long term approach to positively impacting teacher professional development within the Hoboken School District. From the monitoring and feedback received to date, the partnership seems to be producing the desired outcomes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Academic Program Committee March 25

On Wednesday, March 25th, the Academic Program Committee met in the Board of Education conference room. In attendance were: Kate Dominique (IB Program), Kate Karmarsky (English/Social Studies Supervisor), Howard McKenzie (Mathematics/Science Supervisor), Gary Enrico (Saturday U), Ms. Hillenbrand (Gifted and Talented), Jennifer Lopez (NCLB/Reading), Ed Barfield (HHS teacher), David Bailey (IT Coordinator), and Dr. Petrosino. 

The meeting lasted over 2 hours- a quick summary of the meeting include Kate Dominique giving the group an update on her new schedule which now includes a visit to each school in the district at least once a week. Coordination with building administrators and Ms. Dominique is going well. Mr. McKenzie presented the lab schedules of the science teachers in HHS and a brief discussion on science instruction throughout the district was conducted. Ms. Hillenbrand report that the John Hopkins expansion is going smoothly and she agreed to present the group with some data for our next meeting. Jennifer Lopez spoke briefly about the SES provider fair and some funding opportunities centering on NCLB and the Title programs. David Bailey will be attending meeting in the future as the group integrates technology into it's discussions.

The next meeting of the group will be in two weeks.

Picture: Hoboken Saturday Night (1970)- The Insect Trust: Luke Faust, Robert Palmer , Trevor Koehler, Nancy Jeffries, Bill Barth. No Depression (p.105) - "Insect Trust's seamless roots-and-branches blend of blues, old-timey, Dixieland, brass band, folk, pop and free jazz put most other such experiments to shame. It still sounds exuberantly vibrant today..."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reading- The Importance of Content Specific Assessment

An important editorial by E.D. Hirsch in the New York Times titled "Reading Test Dummies" looks at how we measure reading achievement in our nation's schools (including here in Hoboken). For all the discussion about the need for more responsive tests to measure school performance and student learning, policymakers at the district, state and federal levels often overlook a critical shortcoming of existing reading assessments: the content on them is totally disconnected from the vocabulary and content children actually learn in school.

A 1988 study indicated why this improvement in testing should be instituted. Experimenters separated seventh- and eighth-grade students into two groups — strong and weak readers as measured by standard reading tests. The students in each group were subdivided according to their baseball knowledge. Then they were all given a reading test with passages about baseball. Low-level readers with high baseball knowledge significantly outperformed strong readers with little background knowledge. The experiment confirmed what language researchers have long maintained: the key to comprehension is familiarity with the relevant subject. For a student with a basic ability to decode print, a reading-comprehension test is not chiefly a test of formal techniques but a test of background knowledge.

As Hirsch write: The problem is that the reading passages used in these tests are random. They are not aligned with explicit grade-by-grade content standards. Children are asked to read and then answer multiple-choice questions about such topics as taking a hike in the Appalachians even though they’ve never left the sidewalks of New York, nor studied the Appalachians in school.

He continues: Teachers can’t prepare for the content of the tests and so they substitute practice exams and countless hours of instruction in comprehension strategies like “finding the main idea.” Yet despite this intensive test preparation, reading scores have paradoxically stagnated or declined in the later grades.

Why is this? Primarily it is because the schools have imagined that reading is merely a “skill” that can be transferred from one reading passage to another, and that reading scores can be raised by having young students endlessly practice strategies on trivial stories. Tragic amounts of time have been wasted that could have been devoted to enhancing knowledge and vocabulary, which would actually raise reading comprehension scores.

Research on the importance of content and context (some of which I conducted with colleagues at Vanderbilt University) argues that we could improve both reading assessment and reading instruction if we replaced the current ill-informed model with reading assessments in which the passages students are asked to read and analyze focus on topics that are aligned with the curriculum that children actually study in literature, science, social studies, the arts, and other subject areas in each grade.

Doing this would also essentially force states to improve the quality of their state standards in these subject areas so that they provided more useful information to teachers about what students are expected to learn in each grade. We are not there yet and it is not clear if we will get there anytime soon but aspects of the revised curriculum will take this into account when it does not come in direct conflict with state standards.

I would encourage you to read the entire piece entitled Reading Test Dummies by E. D. Hirsch by clicking HERE.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Curriculum Committee Meeting at Brandt

On Monday, March 23rd, Dr. Petrosino addressed over 25 members of the Curriculum Committee at the Brandt School Auditorium. The meeting last about 90 minutes and a number of topics were addressed. A summary of the meeting follows:

What remains to do:
1) Dr. Petrosino congratulated the group on meeting the February 15th deadline for an initial first draft of the revised curriculum (over 95% completed). As mentioned previously on this blog, the first draft was achieved after a substantial and sustained curriculum writing push after the winter recess. The following subjects are completed: Mathematics, Language Arts (elementary), Language Arts (secondary), Health/Physical Fitness, Social Studies. The following subjects are functionally completed with some minor areas of articulation still needed: Theater Arts (some elementary grades needed), Music (minimal additions needed), Technology (most in need), Science (some final units needed), Holocaust Education (2-3 more meetings needed).

2) Need for some Understanding by Design update/mini workshop- Dr. Petrosino spoke to the Committee about organizing a 1-2 day in district workshop with members from ASCD on the topic of "Big Ideas" and the Understanding by Design framework. This would be a workshop with a subgroup of Curriculum Committee members and intended as a means of supporting a review of the initial draft of the curriculum.

3) Dr. Petrosino spoke about the review process. This will include both internal (within district/community) as well as external (experts from outside the district) review and has already begun with the professional development organization LitLife reviewing the Language Arts curriculum.

4a) Communication (Within District)- Efforts have been underway for the past year at communicating the progress of the curriculum committee with district administrators. It is clear we must now begin communication and articulation with district teachers and aides on aspects of the revised curriculum.

4b) Communication (Community)- Efforts have been underway for the past 18 months at communicating the progress of the curriculum committee with parents and the community (updates at Board of Education meetings, creation and updating of the Hoboken Curriculum Project website, speaking at PTO meetings, some public meetings). But it is clear that more needs to be done. Discussion centered on a number of "parent night" events in which the community could meet with the Curriculum Committee and ask specific questions and gain more information on the revised curriculum. A schedule will be announced by the end of the first week of April.

5) Dr. Petrosino also articulated the need to follow up with a number of organizations within Hoboken who have been involved and have served as a resource for the Curriculum Committee including the Hoboken Historical Museum and the Hoboken Public Library among others.

6) Dr. Petrosino also discussed the coordination that is needed to ensure that the curriculum satisfies all the stated intentions of the State's QSAC (NJ Quality Single Accountability Continuum) accountability system. The primary issue left needing to be addressed centers on district wide assessments and analysis systems.

Here is the list of teachers who attended the Curriculum meeting on
March 23, 2009....

Tara Donnelly
Tania Trinidad-Payamps

Marni Rosenblum
Kelly Sogluizzo
Jennifer Suyat

Fran Cohen
Anabel Gomez
Kathleen Kelly-Ynoa
Mark Schartner

Jayshree Amin
Edward Barfield
Isabel Bruno
Geidy Dela Rosa
Kate Dominique
Michele Mc Greivey
Howard Mc Kenzie
Jared Ramos
Mary Sifonios
Barbara Teller

Andrea Canonico
Lea Di Vincent
Tasha Leggard
Bess Mitsakos
Donna Yula
Elise Granovsky

Picture: Mr. Jared Ramos works with students in the upcoming production of "Guys and Dolls" at the Hoboken High School Auditorium.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Superintendent Raslowsky on the 2009-2010 School Budget

The following is a television segment that was broadcast recently on Cablevision Ch 18- Neighborhood Journal. It entails Superintendent Raslowsky talking about aspects of the 2009-2010 Hoboken School Budget. From the time of this broadcast, an additional $200,000 was reduced from the budget so final numbers may be slightly different.

The budget will be voted on by the Board of Education on Tuesday, March 31. The meeting will take place at 7pm in the Wallace School Gym.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Education Secretary Duncan wants 'new era' in science education, more science, math teachers

On Friday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave remarks to the National Science Teachers Association in New Orleans. In his address, Duncan touched upon a number of areas including more science labs, nationwide standards, "the poor state of mathematics and science education, and the controversial idea that the market needs to compensate science and math teachers more than other teachers. What follows is a summary of Secretary Duncan's remarks. Also included is a link to the full text of Duncan's remarks. -Dr. Petrosino

NEW ORLEANS - Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday he wants to launch a "new era" of science education in the United States, one that encourages students to ask tough, challenging questions and brings more specially trained science and math teachers into the classroom.

Duncan told the National Science Teachers Association during a visit to New Orleans that President Barack Obama sees a need for inventors and engineers along with poets and scholars and "will not allow scientific research to be held hostage to a political agenda."

"Whether it's global warming, evolution or stem cell research, science will be honored. It will be respected and supported by this administration," he said.

The federal stimulus bill includes more than $100 billion in new education funding, with $650 million set aside for technology grants, he said. Duncan couldn't say how much money would go specifically into science but pledged funds would be available to modernize labs.

He also said many of the teaching jobs saved with stimulus dollars would be in science labs. But the money must be used wisely, he said, not just on saving jobs but also on driving strong reforms.

Duncan also cited a $5-billion "race to the top fund" to provide incentives to states already doing innovative, reform-minded work. He said there's been a "dumbing down of standards for political reasons" under the current system of states with their own benchmarks and standards. That system doesn't make much sense, he said, drawing applause, and it isn't doing students any favors in the global economy.

He said there's a need for common, high standards that prepare students for college and the work force and for international benchmarks to compare U.S. students with their counterparts around the world. He said he's working with state leaders who've taken a lead in school reforms and hopes to come up with a better system.

"I think in far too many states, meeting standards means you are at best barely qualified to graduate from high school, and you are woefully unprepared to go to college," he said. "We have been lying to children, and we are setting them up for long-term failure. That has to stop."

He said the country has a long way to go to improve science education. Sectors including engineering, health care, technology and green energy need more workers, and "a generalist," too often, is teaching middle school kids, he said.

That's been a problem for years, and the market needs to pay science and math teachers more, he said.

Click here For FULL TEXT of Speech

For full story click HERE.

Picture: This picture was taken from one of my graduate students who did a project on imagining what it would be like if mathematics, science, and engineering education was marketed for girls like dolls. It's tongue in cheek but I have always felt it was an interesting premise. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

HHS Theather Arts Program in NY Times

This Sunday (March 15) the district’s theater program was highlighted in the New York Times. The link to the article is below. We are also featured on a wonderful video produced by the NYTimes. The link to that video is below as well. It is an outstanding piece and it highlights one of many examples of great work happening in the district. The Hoboken School District places strong emphasis on theater, music, and art- and this will be reflected in the revised curriculum.

The district’s production of Guys and Dolls is just over two weeks away. Best of luck to Paula Ohaus, Jarad Ramos and all in the cast and crew as they continue preparations.

Article link: CLICK HERE

Video link: CLICK HERE

Picture: Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Commissioner Lucille Davy plan could give families more school choice

Here is an article published by Diane D'Amico from the Press of Atlantic City. The issue of School Choice is something that may be of interest to readers of this blog. The Hoboken School District currently allows non-Hoboken students to enter its schools up through sixth grade. This accounts for a very small number of students (under 10 children). -Dr. Petrosino

TRENTON The state Department of Education wants to make the school choice program available to every public school district in the state, potentially giving thousands of students more options for where they will attend school.

If approved, the expansion also could be a way for small or struggling school districts to generate more students and revenue.

“We’d jump on it,” said John Saporito, superintendent of the small K-8 Maurice River Township school in Cumberland County, which was named a School to Watch by the state last year.

Education Commissioner Lucille Davy will present the proposal to the state Board of Education today as part of the readoption process of the school choice code, which expires in September. In a memo to board members, she notes that the program has been highly successful and has had increasing demand, but has been limited by its size.

A choice school district accepts a set number of students who live in other districts, at no cost. Parents apply to have their children attend the choice district rather than their hometown school. If necessary, a lottery process is used to decide who attends.

The current program, begun as a five-year pilot in 1999, limits school choice to one district in each county. Currently, 16 districts enroll 872 choice students statewide.

Southern New Jersey currently has four choice districts: Folsom in Atlantic County, Lower Township in Cape May County, Cumberland Regional High School in Cumberland County and Stafford Township in Ocean County. Enrollment in those programs has been limited by the fact that state aid for the program has been flat for the past three years.

The new regulations would also give the choice district the ability to reject students with serious disciplinary problems. Students who might require out-of-district special education placements would be funded by their hometown districts.

Most other regulations remain in place. School districts could still set limits on the number of students who could leave their district.

Lower Township schools superintendent Joseph Cirrinicione said he would love to see the choice program expand to Lower Cape May Regional so that the almost 60 choice students who attend his K-6 school district can continue with their friends for grades seven through high school. He admits it could also create competition if other elementary districts are approved, but he said the goal should be doing what is best for students.

“We have a waiting list now,” he said. “It’s about fairness for the children.”

Cirrinicione said he also supports allowing choice districts to reject some students because it would prevent districts from trying to push problem students onto the choice districts.

The expansion could be a potential source of revenue, since the choice students would generate state aid. Maurice River Township’s Saporito said his district have been interested in the program, but could not apply since there already is a choice district in Cumberland County.

“We’ve had as many as 600 students and are down to around 400 now (in grades K-8) so we have the room,” he said. “Even 50 more students would be a tremendous help to our budget.”

New Jersey School Boards Association spokesman Frank Belluscio said the association supports allowing more districts to apply, but also is concerned that sending districts would lose state aid if students chose to leave.

“We would expect there to be more interest because there are districts with shrinking enrollment.” Belluscio said. “But the sending district doesn’t have a choice and it could impact their aid.”

Derrell Bradford of Excellent Education for Everyone, which supports school choice, said the group hopes that an expansion would allow students now attending struggling schools to attend better schools.

“It shouldn’t just be a way for kids from a good school to go to another good school,” he said. “It should be a way to get kids out of schools that are not working for them. If it’s not helping kids get into better places, it’s not really accomplishing what it should.”

Click here for full article: HERE

The “Tug & Barge” Quadricentennial Tour May 26 – June 4, 2009

The following is an exciting program that the Hoboken Board of Education is supporting in part as a supplement to our curriculum. In addition, it is a wonderful resource for the entire community. Look for more detailed information in the coming weeks but for now, please mark your calendars. -Dr. Petrosino


The “Tug & Barge” Quadricentennial Tour

May 26 – June 4, 2009

Docked between Hoboken's Pier A Park & NJ TRANSIT’S historic Erie Lackawanna Rail & Ferry Terminal

We're BARGING INTO HOBOKEN! Come aboard two antique vessels docking in Hoboken Tuesday May 26 through June 4. The visit will feature tugboat rides; barge tours; authentic Showboat performances and much more. Team up with a woman tug captain and juggling showboat captain who used to entertain on cruise ships as they retrace Henry Hudson’s voyage and update his vision.

The Waterfront Museum housed aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Barge No.79 and the 1907 Tugboat Pegasus are each listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They will dock between Pier A Park and Hoboken Terminal, One Hudson Place, Hoboken. Visitors are encouraged to use mass transit.

The Tug & Barge tour, visiting communities up and down the Hudson River, will bring locals and tourists to waterfront towns to celebrate our predecessors: Henry Hudson, Samuel DeChamplain and Robert Fulton, who enhanced the River through maritime exploration and discovery. Working closely with local communities, the tour will showcase the great potential of the water highway for public access and opportunities in education, commerce and recreation today. We celebrate 400 years since these great explorations and 200 years since the beginning of steam driven vessels, and provide experiences that bring alive their achievements.


FREE FAMILY TUGBOAT TRIPS: See the workings of The Port of New York/New Jersey as a commercial hub and discover the natural resources and wildlife of the harbor. May 30 and 31 at 1 pm. Four-hour harbor tour. Free, donations appreciated. For more information visit www.tugboatpegasus.org or call (212) 406–2225.

SHOWBOAT PERFORMANCE: "Vincent", multi-image dramatic staging performed by The Theater Company in residence at DeBaun Center for Performing Arts www.debaun.org. A 2-person play that brings the excitement and color of Van Gogh's life to the stage, enhanced with slide projection of his work. May 27 at 7:30 pm. Tickets $8 in advance; $10 at the door.

FILM: “Steamboat Bill Jr” starring Buster Keaton. The 1928 silent film will be introduced and presented with live piano accompaniment by Ben Model, silent film accompanist at MoMA. Keaton plays the son of a riverboat captain who comes home from college to help run the family business. Also being shown are archival footage of NY Harbor filmed between 1896-1906. Program presented by Projected Images of Hudson County. May 28 at 7:30 pm. Tickets: $8 in advance; $10 at the door.

STAGED READING: “On the Waterfront” Budd Schulberg’s classic story of the New York/New Jersey waterfronts and the racketeering unions controlling it. Produced by the Brave New World Repertory Theatre, www.bravenewworldrep.org. May 29 doors open at 7pm; Tickets are $18, includes Complimentary wine & cheese

MUSIC: “The Fuzzy Lemons” – Family-Friendly Rock & Roll, www.fuzzylemons.com. May 30 at 2:30 pm. Tickets $12 in advance; $14 at the door.

MUSIC: “Sunset Music Series” featuring sea shanties and bluegrass music. Drinks and light refreshments available. May 30 8–11 pm. $10 in advance; $12 at the door.

CIRCUSundays 2009: featuring performers from around the globe who will dazzle with dexterity and delight. Hosted by Artistic Director Karen E. Gersch. May 31, 1pm & 4 pm. Advance tickets: Adults $14, Kids under 12 - $10; or at the door on day of show: Adults $18, Kids under 12 years $12.

ILLUSTRATED LECTURE: “How They Honored Hudson and Fulton in the Celebration of 1909” by Bob Foster, Executive Director, Hoboken Historical Museum. June 2 at 7 pm. Advance tickets $5; $7 at the door.

TUG & BARGE FUNDRAISER: Come relax and enjoy an evening of fun and festivities bringing history to life while supporting the Tug & Barge. Complimentary food, wine, beer & entertainment. June 3 5:30–8:30 pm. For more fundraiser information visit www.tugboatpegasus.org or call (212) 406–2225.

Advanced Tickets for all shows can be purchased at www.smarttix.com or toll-free (877) 238-5596.


OPEN BARGE TOURS: Visit the Waterfront Museum’s 1914 covered, wooden railroad barge and step into another era. Hear first-hand the rescue story of a one-of-a-kind vessel by a clown and juggler and discover how food and commercial goods were transported prior to today’s bridges and tunnels. See “SHOWBOAT – ‘Round the Bend”, an exhibition co-produced with The Theatre Museum which tells the history of the showboat as an indigenous and popular form of American entertainment -- along our nation’s waterways and within the New York Harbor. May 27, 28 and June 2 from 5pm -7pm. Free, donations appreciated. No reservations necessary. For more information, visit www.waterfrontmuseum.org.

(Easily accessible by PATH, NJ TRANSIT’S trains & buses, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, and NY Waterway Ferries)

For More Info:

David Sharps, dsharps@waterfrontmuseum.org; tel. (718) 624-4719, Ext. 11

Pamela Hepburn, pamela@tugpegasus.org; tel. (212) 406 2225

Geri Fallo, gfallo@att.net; tel. (201) 420 2207

(for Barge Photos:) http://www.waterfrontmuseum.org/scans

(for Tug Photos:) http://www.tugpegasus.org/scans

The Hoboken stop of the “Tug & Barge” Quadricentennial Tour is made possible in part by funds from Applied, United Water, Hoboken Brownstone Company, the Hudson River Improvement Fund of the Hudson River Foundation, Explore NY 400, Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development, Thomas A. DeGise, County Executive & The Board of Chosen Freeholders. Special Thanks to Mayor David Roberts and the City of Hoboken, Geri Fallo, Danny Gans & George Vallone and NJ TRANSIT.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The Irish Society of Boston organized what was the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the colonies on 17 March 1737. The first celebration of Saint Patrick's Day in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1756, and New York's first Saint Patrick's Day Parade was held on 17 March 1762 by Irish soldiers in the British Army. In 1780, General George Washington, who commanded soldiers of Irish descent in the Continental Army, allowed his troops a holiday on 17 March “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence." This event became known as The St. Patrick's Day Encampment of 1780. Today, Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike.

Americans celebrate the holiday by wearing green clothing. Many people, regardless of ethnic background, wear green-coloured clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched.

Some cities paint the traffic stripe of their parade routes green. Chicago dyes its river green and has done so since 1961 when sewer workers used green dye to check for sewer discharges and got the idea to turn the river green for St. Patrick's Day. Indianapolis also dyes its main canal green. Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green. Missouri University of Science and Technology - St Pat's Board Alumni paint 12 city blocks kelly green with mops before the annual parade. In Jamestown, New York, the Chadakoin River (a small tributary that connects Conewango Creek with its source at Chautauqua Lake) is dyed green each year.

The longest-running Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in the U.S. are:

* Boston, Massachusetts, since 1737
* New York City, since 1762 (247th Consecutive Parade in 2008)
* Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since 1771
* Morristown, New Jersey, since 1780
* New Orleans, Louisiana, since 1809
* Buffalo, New York, since 1811
* Savannah, Georgia, since 1813
* Carbondale, Pennsylvania, since 1833
* Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since 1843
* Chicago, Illinois, since 1843
* New Haven, Connecticut, since 1845
* Saint Paul, Minnesota, since 1851[35]
* San Francisco, California, since 1852
* Scranton, Pennsylvania, since 1862
* Cleveland, Ohio, since 1867
* Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, since 1869[36]
* Kansas City, Missouri, since 1873
* Butte, Montana, since 1882

Picture: Irish flag flies below Old Glory- Hoboken City Hall, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hoboken Curriculum Committee Update by Discipline

The following is a quick summary of where we are with the revised curriculum. As you can see we are essentially completed with the initial draft with some individual units remaining to be completed. The list below indicates what remains to be completed--all other grades are now completed with a first draft. What remains is a cycle of edits and feedback where we plan to include external and internal reviewers as well as involvement from parents and community members. -Dr. Petrosino

VISUAL ARTS (Fran Cohen)
Open: Grades 1 & 2, Big Ideas (Progress Needed) MYP (Completed)
Grades 3, 4 & 5 both PYP & Big Ideas. (Progress Needed)
Grades 11 & 12 IB - MYP & Big Idea (Progress Needed)

MUSIC (Stephanie Safko)
Open: Grades 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 - PYP & Big Ideas (Progress Needed)
Also, no binder has been put together….

THEATRE ARTS ( Jared Ramos)
Open: Grades Kindergarten, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – MYP & Big Ideas (Progress Needed)
Binder on the shelf.

SCIENCE (Meghna Patel, Jayshree Amin)
Open: Grade 12 – MYP & Big Idea (In Process)
Primary Grades 1 – 5 (Complete) Binder on the shelf.

SOCIAL STUDIES/HUMANITIES (De Benedetto, T. Donnelly, Metcalfe, Munoz, Taraszkiewicz, J. Suyut)
Open: Grade 7 – MYP & Big Ideas ( In Process)
Grade 12 Elective year: Courses need to be slated
Binder on shelf.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION (M. Rosenblum, M. Kolmer, R. Sorafine, B.Tomlinson)
Grade 2 completed except for Chess
Grade 10 completed except for Drivers ED
Binder on the shelf.

MATHEMATICS (McKenzie, M. Sofonis, B. Teller, M. Schartner, L. Taglieri)
All grades completed. Binder on shelf.

WORLD LANGUAGE (Bruno, DelaRosa, Trinidad, Leggard, Perez, Chodos)
All grades completed. I am just finishing typing up grade 12 IB HL & SL and then I will enter onto the “L Drive”.
The binder is on the shelf with K-10. I will put grade 11 & 12 in the book on Monday.

Picture: Hoboken Little League Field (Looking South) Circa 1962

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Free Programs and Offers from the Hoboken Public Library

The following is a note from Ruth Charnes (rcharnes@ix.netcom.com;201/659-0956) of the Hoboken Public Library concerning programs and classes for all children of Hoboken:

Here is the information regarding some Library programs that might be of interest to Hoboken students and parents....

As you will note, some programs are available only to those with Hoboken Library cards (easy to get), but others are open to all... if you have any questions, or would like to get this information by fax as well, please let me know ... Many thanks for your help in getting the word out... Best, Ruth

FIRST SATURDAYS FAMILY PROGRAMS: The Library’s popular monthly First Saturday programs, designed to appeal to both adults and children of all ages, are held on the first Saturday of each month at 2pm. These free programs are open to all, with no advance registration or library card required. On March 7, Robert Rogers' Circus on a String puppet show will appear. April 4 brings Planet Science, an educational program featuring live turtles and where they come from. On May 2, Rogue Bear Press’ Monster Detective Agency will work with the audience to create and perform a Monster Story Play (for children ages 4 and up) The June 6 program will feature magician John Carlson. (Funded by the Friends of the Library, First Saturday programs go on hiatus during the summer.)

LIBRARY PROGRAMS FOR YOUNGSTERS: There are a number of on-going Library programs for young children. Baby & Me, for those 6-18 months, takes place on the second and last Monday of each month at 11am. Toddler 1 Storytime, for those between the ages of 19 and 30 months, runs every Tuesday OR Thursday at 10:30am (children may attend either program, but not both). A Toddler 2 Story/Craft program, for those between the ages of 31 months and 4 years, runs every Wednesday at 10:30am. Each of these programs is open to the first 15 attendees who present a valid Hoboken Library card with a Hoboken address belonging to either the child or the child's parent. (the card may be shown by a sitter or nanny). Please note that if fewer than five youngsters register, the program will be cancelled.

In addition, there is an after school Storytime for children 5 to 7 years of age on the first and third Thursdays at 3:15pm. Neither pre-registration nor a Hoboken library card is required for these half-hour programs.

FREE MUSEUM VISITS AVAILABLE: The Library offers passes from three museums for Library patrons’ use. The membership passes, which may be checked out like books and other materials, provide free entrance to each museum for two adults and up to four youngsters. Passes may be reserved the day before they are needed and then checked out for 24 hours. Though the passes are free to all Library patrons, please note that there is a late fee of $5 per day if passes are not returned on time.

Passes are currently available for the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th Street, New York City; www.amnh.org); The Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue, New York City; www.mcny.org); and The Paley Center for Media, formerly The Museum of Television & Radio (25 West 52 Street, New York City; www.paleycenter.org). The latter, by the way, is not a museum of vintage appliances; in addition to mounting a variety of special exhibits, it houses an archive of old programs that can be viewed or listened to on the premises. The passes have been purchased for the Library by the Friends of the Library.

Picture: Hoboken Public Library, Oil on canvas, 30 x 24" Artist: CHRIS KAPPMEIER

Friday, March 13, 2009

Letter to the Curriculum Committee

The following is a letter Dr. Petrosino sent to the Curriculum Committee on Friday, March 13, 2009...

Dear Curriculum Committee,

I wanted to send a general update on where we are concerning the curriculum project and how I would like to proceed. There is much to cover but I will try to make it as concise as possible.

1) The push we had recently was very successful and many of our subject areas are now completed. Thank you for all your efforts.
2) We still have some areas that are in need of improvement and articulation. This includes technology, music, theater and science.
3) I believe it is safe to say that we are finished with the initial draft of the curriculum and we did so by the mid February deadline.
4) We are now in the process of soliciting both internal and external review of the mapping and the curriculum. I’m hoping this process takes about 1 month.
5) When we receive comments back from the reviewers, I would like to count on another quick iteration of incorporating feedback into the curriculum writing process.
6) My goal is to have a finalized curriculum ready for submission to the Board of Education by the May meeting.

Some other items:

a) I would like to have a series of presentations of the curriculum to the community. My thought is to use the auditorium in Brandt for some opening comments and then have the curriculum teams go up to your individual rooms on the 3rd floor. Community members (mostly parents) will then go to each classroom (subject area) and talk about the curriculum I call this the “parents night” model---similar to how we usually do Parents Night in the district. I am in the process of planning this and will be in contact soon with more details.
b) In your next pay check should be any “retro” money you should receive due to your new contract. This will include hours submitted after July 1, 2008. If you have any problems with this please e-mail Carol Whalen asap and I’ll be sure to address the matter.
c) As part of Institute Day next week, I am coordinating with the Principals to give an overview of the Grade 4-8 curriculum to all district teachers. If you would like to help out as a representative of the Curriculum Committee I would really appreciate it. Please e-mail me and let me know if you are interested. This is essential and vital work.

I will e-mail you early next week with more specifics. I would like to schedule a general meeting with everyone as soon as possible.

Have a nice weekend and congratulations on completing the initial draft.

All the best, -P

Dr. Anthony Petrosino
Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools
1115 Clinton St.
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 356-3604

Picture: In the Harper's Weekly of 15 October 1859, a spread was devoted to two games being played on Hoboken's Elysian Fields. Across the top was an image of a cricket match. Across the bottom was this image of a baseball game.

IB Students Send Off Their Extended Essays

The following is a note from Ms. Kate Dominique, our district IB coordinator.

Every spring the seniors at HHS who are attempting to earn the full International Baccalaureate Diploma begin preparing for the May exams, but another part of the IB Diploma Programme is the Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge paper and the subject area internal assessments. Each student is assessed in part by his or her teacher, as well as by IB examiners. The exams are sent to specified international locations so IB can ensure consistency between all IB programs around the world.

Last weekend the students completed their 4,000 word Extended Essays, which were sent to Miami, FL and Edinburgh, Scotland to be assessed. The Theory of Knowledge papers were mailed to Nairobi, Kenya and the World Literature papers were sent to Southeast England. The first of April all internal assessments will be sent to the specified locations and the first three weeks of May all students (those attempting to earn certificates and diplomas) will be examining.

Picture: Four generations of the Greene family (no pun intended) came back to Hoboken to watch the parade this year. Their uncle, Roy Huelbig, was honored this year with the St. Patrick's Day 2009 Community Service Award, after he created Hoboken's WWII memorial. Photo Credit and Text: Carly Baldwin/Hoboken Now

Academic Program Committee

The Academic Programs Committee met Wednesday afternoon from 12:30 to 2pm. The following is a short summary of the discussion items.

John Hopkins Expansion Program- Ms. Hillebrand discussed some current issues with some students apparently not having the full set of skills (study skills, comprehension, logic) to take full advantage of the program. Extra tutoring will be done as well as cross checking with classroom activities. Some discussion centered on how pervasive this situation seems to be. Currently, it appears to be limited.

Saturday U- Cycle 1 is almost complete. After Cycle 1 is complete classes will switch into the next 8 week cycle. Mr. Enrico reports that the Enrichment Program is doing well and off to a solid start. Discussion also centered on administration of a parent survey to get a sense of how parents feel the program is going so far this semester.

English/Social Studies- Kate Karmarsky reported on a June Book reading event at Barnes and Noble and there was some discussion about a possible pilot program using the Kindle.

Mathematics/Science- Mr. Mckenzie discussed Algebra Readiness for grades 6, 7, and 8 and some professional development issues related around these issues.

Also… March 18th is the day for SES (Supplementary Educational Services) providers to come to the district. This will be held at Brandt School at 6pm. It was also mentioned to invite Mr. David Bailey to our next meeting as he coordinates technology within the district and his attendance would be beneficial. Next meeting in 2 weeks on Wednesday, March 25. 

Picture: Opening of the NY-NJ Tubes (current PATH tubes). Hoboken, Feb 25, 1908

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Board of Education Agenda- March 17

March 17, 2009

DATE: Tuesday, March 17, 2009
TIME: 6:00 p.m. Ethics Training
7:00 p.m. Stated Session
LOCATION: Board Meeting Room
1115 Clinton Street
Hoboken, New Jersey 07030

1. Annual Board Ethics Update.
2. Introduction of 2009/2010 Preliminary School District Budget.
3. Review of Early Childhood Audit and Approval of Corrective Action Plan.
4. Approval of minutes.
5. Policy Manual Revisions – 6000 Series – 2nd Reading; 9000 Series – 1st Reading.
6. Revision of Mission/Vision Statement (QSAC).
7. Personnel: resignations, appointments, transfers and postings.
8. Possible closed session discussion on litigation settlement, current litigation, potential litigation and personnel items, discussion of negotiations with Hoboken School Employees Association and (HSEA) and Hoboken School Administrators/Principals Association.
9. Leaves of absence; Family Leave; Maternity Leave.
10. Utilization of facilities: outside agencies and community facility requests.
11. Fiscal reports, school reports, Board Committee reports, Board Secretary/Treasurer Reports, Fire Drill reports.
12. Possible discussion and/or action on the future of the school district’s facilities.
13. Attendance at workshops, field trips.
14. Approval of payroll.
15. Claims, regular and Workers Compensation Third Party Administrator.
16. School Choice Entry in Grades 7-12.
17. Possible participation in Henry Hudson Anniversary Tug and Barge Program.
18. Approval of NCLB Title 1 required SES Provider Contracts.
19. Approval of Pre-K Provider Contracts – FY10.
20. Amendment to 2007/2008 NCLB original application to include carry-over funds.
21. Apply for supplemental funds and extension of grand period – Reading 1st.
22. Cancel old outstanding checks.
23. Additions to contract awards.

Any matters relating to the above items may come before the Board. Please be advised that the Board may be required to go into closed executive session during this meeting to discuss litigation settlement, current litigation, potential litigation and personnel items.
Action may be taken on all agenda items.

Published by order of the Board of Education of the School District of the City of Hoboken.
Board Secretary
David Anthony

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Football Recognition Ceremony

Tonight at Hoboken High School students, parents, faculty, administration and Board members met to celebrate participation during the 2008 football season. The event was held at the High School library to a standing room only audience. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Academic Programs Committee- Feb 25th

On Wednesday February 25, the Academic Programs Committee met to discuss progress along a number of curricula and instructional fronts. In attendance at the meeting were representatives from the John Hopkins Program (Hillenbrand), International Baccalaureate (Dominique), Saturday U (Enrico), Mathematics and Science Supervisor (McKenzie), and Curriculum Revision (Petrosino). A summary of the meeting follows by topic area:

John Hopkins Program- Ms. Hillenbrand reports that the expansion efforts are fully underway and functioning well. The expansion efforts have seen an increase in this select program of 42 students. These students come from a fairly equitable proportional distribution between Wallace and Calabro Schools. Ms. HIllenbrand also reports that the technology is working well and that parent and student reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

International Baccalaureate- Ms. Dominique reports that progress on students community projects is pushing forward in a very good way. Discussions also centered on some concerns about the degree and extent to which MYP is being implemented. In response to this issue, Dr. Petrosino and Ms. Dominique have created an MYP Implementation Survey that is currently being pilot tested around the district with school administrators.

Saturday U- Mr. Enrico reports that the efforts to create the Saturday U Enrichment Program have been successful. Saturday U Enrichment is independent of Saturday U and is intended to be more inclusive of the needs for all students in the district. Initial courses will be in Yoga and Theater Arts. Saturday U Enrichment boasts the addition of over 50 new students to the "Gifted and Talented Program" and is intended to not have a strict academic requirement but rather to develop the ideas of "talent" that are often under-emphasized in most Gifted and Talented Programs. Students and parents can only belong to one program (Saturday U or Saturday U Enrichment). Plans are underway to expand course offerings for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Mathematics and Science- Mr. McKenzie has reported on efforts to accommodate the needs for mathematics instruction for all IB Diploma students. One idea that has gotten some traction recently has been to offer 2 mathematics courses during a single academic year in high school. Discussion was extensive and we hope to reach some conclusion within the next couple of meetings.

Curriculum Revision- Dr. Petrosino reported on curriculum revision efforts as well as discussion on implementation issues surrounding the adoption of the new curriculum. All agree that this is a very important issue and will take the concentrated efforts of many in the district.

Next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11th. 

Picture: Fabian Theater, Hoboken (Washington and Newark Sts) circa 1958.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hoboken Schools Closed Today- March 2, 2009

The National Weather Service said that the heaviest snowfall for the Hoboken/New York region swept across the area between 7 and 8 a.m. on Monday prompting the closure of all Hoboken Public Schools. Many areas then saw a two or three hour lull in the storm, but the snowfall resumed in late morning and was expected to drop at least another three inches across the Tri-state area. By the evening, total accumulations were predicted to reach as high as 10 inches in the city and 14 inches on Long Island and parts of Connecticut. Wind gusts could reach up to 35 miles per hour, which would classify the storm as a northeaster, meteorologists said.