IB in the Middle School
One of the most exciting additions will be in the city's middle schools, which will implement the well-respected International Baccalaureate Program for the first time. The IB curriculum is as challenging and difficult as any curriculum in the country, and already has been used for many years for top achievers at Hoboken High School. The IB, founded in 1968, is a nonprofit educational foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland that grew out of international schools' efforts to establish a common curriculum and university-entry credentials. Now these concepts are being introduced on the middle school level for the first time in Hoboken.
"This is a program that we're very excited about," said Mary Tremitiedi, who is the 12th Grade House administrator. She said the curriculum will better prepare students not only for standardized testing, but they will also be better prepared to enter high school.
She added that next year, the IB program will be introduced into the seventh grade and in the following year to the eighth grade. House system returns
For the second year, Hoboken High School will be divided into four separate houses, which makes one big high school seem more like four smaller schools. Based on the growing empirical evidence suggesting that smaller learning communities can raise academic performance, Hoboken High School has undergone the major restructuring to make the big school "feel" smaller. The "grade houses," one each for grades nine through 12, are joined by an "alternative school."
Each house has its own assigned administrator, guidance counselor, clerical staff, class advisor and parent liaison. Instead of a single high school principal, each house will report directly to the superintendent. The building's main office has been converted to the superintendent's office. Throughout the building, each house has its own separate office, except the alternative school, which is located at the Hoboken Boys' and Girls' Club.
Within the past decade, so-called "alternative schools" have been springing up around the country. The term alternative education was originally construed as an umbrella term covering a range of options in schooling. But recently, that term has evolved into an understanding of programming for at-risk youth; those who are likely to never finish school. Alternative schools and programs serve students who are at risk of dropping out of school for any number of reasons, including poor grades, truancy, and suspension.
New teachers and training
Tremitiedi said that the district has hired 25 new teachers for the school years. She added that those teachers are replacing teachers that retired or left the district last year.
Also, over the summer many of the returning teachers participated in training from Stevens Institute of Technology for how to better use technology in the classroom. For a fourth consecutive year, Stevens Institute of Technology's Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE), in collaboration with the Hoboken Public School District, conducted a Summer Institute aimed at helping teachers and school administrators gain an in-depth understanding about how effectively to integrate, support, and utilize educational technology to increase student achievement and create 21st century learning environments.
The Teachers' Institute, which was held in August, focused on the effective use of Internet resources in K to 12 classes and how to use Microsoft FrontPage to create Web sites designed to support Hoboken Public Schools' educational goals. For the first time this year, Stevens also offered the Administrator's Institute and provided Hoboken school and district administrators with an expanded perspective on the technology tools and resources needed to adequately support their teachers and students. Star-W returns
Another joint project between the school district and Stevens that will return this year is the state-funded, Star-W (Students using Technology to Achieve Reading/Writing) program, which uses Web-based projects to support New Jersey's language arts literacy curriculum standards. The standards are associated with the federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation to improve literacy in America. Stevens and the school district worked together to apply for the New Jersey Department of Education grant and to implement the program last and this year.
The Star-W program at Wallace Primary School uses "Savvy Cyber Teacher" approaches developed at Stevens to teach teachers how to incorporate interactive Internet lessons into their classrooms. These approaches were developed by CIESE, which has conducted teacher training for more than 100 teachers in the Hoboken School District over the last 16 years. The Star-W program involves teachers in the third, fourth grades and fifth grades at the Wallace Primary School.
Money for library improvements
Also this summer the district received a $100,000 Carnegie Corporation grant for improving the district libraries. According to school officials, about $50,000 of the grant will be used to automate the high school library and the two middle school libraries. This will include putting books in an online catalog as opposed to the card catalogs.
This will allow students to have a shared catalog across the district so students can see holdings in other schools and share materials more easily. The other $50,000 will go toward buying books and equipment for all schools, such as computer projectors for teaching online research, listening stations and a TV/VCR/DVD if the library doesn't have one already. Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." The corporation awards grants totaling more than $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.