As the warm summer months come to an end, parents, students, and school faculty begin to prepare for the upcoming year.
Following Labor Day, all North Bergen schools will begin Tuesday, Sept. 6. Anna L. Klein Elementary School, the only school in Guttenberg, will begin Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Older children in Guttenberg attend North Bergen High School.)
Both towns are undergoing different changes within the school districts, including transformations in the classroom, staff changes, and building renovations.
Major faculty changes
The Robert Fulton Elementary School, at 7407 Hudson Ave. in North Bergen, is still reeling after the recent retirement of their beloved principal, Patrick Capotorto.
“I miss ‘Mr. Cap,’ ” said Danielle Malazer, who will be entering seventh grade at Robert Fulton. “I’ve been with him since kindergarten and there’s never been a great principal like this.”
“I’m still like a kid. I still love the first day of school.” – Robert Dandorph, North Bergen superintendent of schools
Colleen Conroy will serve as the new guidance counselor for the school.
The Anna L. Klein School of Guttenberg will also undergo faculty changes. The school has hired Thomas Roberts as an interim superintendent to replace Dr. Joseph Ramos, who retired last June. Ramos had served as the Guttenberg superintendent for the past three years.
According to Anna L. Klein Principal Pedro Garrido, the school will place more focus on math and language arts in order to raise school assessment scores. The school hired a literacy and math coach to help teachers model their lessons and organize classrooms.
The school also added another teacher to the Reading Recovery program, which lasts roughly 12 weeks and helps instruct first graders who are below reading level in a one-on-one environment.
The North Bergen school district will also undergo several building renovations in order to accommodate the growing number of students and keep up with the latest technology.
Renovations include installing new windows within the different schools. Window installations have been completed in both Lincoln School and Franklin School.
The district also plans to cut energy costs by installing solar panels on each of the schools.
“We’ve completed a solar panel project for all of our buildings,” said Steven Somick, business administrator for the school district. Somick added that the panels will save roughly $400,000 this year.
Somick also indicated that the guidance facility in North Bergen High School has been opened up in order to allow more space for students who wish to fill out college applications.
“With North Bergen you’re going to see more technology,” said Robert Dandorph, superintendent of North Bergen Schools.
“For years what we’ve been trying to [do] is get all new computers in the schools,” continued Dandorph. “At this particular point, every elementary school and every class has a brand new computer for the teacher.”
Dandorph added that each computer has been installed with Realtime, a new software system that will allow teachers to take attendance, plan their lesson books, and record grades.
“We’re also going to open up a parent portal so they can communicate back and forth with the teacher, [and] they can see their child’s progress,” said Dandorph, who indicated that the parent-teacher portal will be set up towards the middle of the year.
Dandorph continued to state that the schools will be working with Rutgers University and St. Peter’s University to help encourage teacher development.
“We want to do a lot of work and increase the ability of the staff to reach the needs of students,” said Dandorph. “I think we do it well, [but] I think we can do it better. You always have to raise the bar in education.”
Garrido mentioned that the Anna L. Klein School has also worked with Rutgers University to adopt a social, emotional, and learning model to develop a more positive student environment. The model is part of Rutgers’ “Developing Safe and Civil Schools” initiative, which seeks to reduce violence and improve student success, according to the Rutgers website.
“We’re looking forward to training our teachers and developing a positive culture,” said Garrido.
Excitement for the new year
North Bergen and Guttenberg students expressed excitement for their favorite activities last week.
“I’m looking forward to the school basketball team because I’m the captain this year,” said Robert Fulton student James Perez, who will enter eighth grade this week. James has been involved with the yearbook and student council, and has been a member of the basketball team for the past three years.
Perez is not the only one looking forward to start a new year. His brother Joey will enter sixth grade at the Robert Fulton School Tuesday.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends again and seeing all the teachers I love and students [that] I’m best friends with,” said Joey.
Adding to the excitement this year is the milestone that North Bergen High School has reached.
“This year is particularly exciting, as it is North Bergen High School’s 50th anniversary,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco, who also serves as assistant superintendent of North Bergen Schools.
Sacco also mentioned that a ceremony is being planned for October.
“I’m confident that our students will continue to excel and that our faculty and staff will perform well, as they always have,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the basketball season,” said Danielle Malazer, “because I like to have a lot of fun with my friends.”
“What I liked about last year is that it was my first year playing on the girl’s basketball team and I got to start,” added Malazer, who also mentioned that she enjoyed last year’s pep rally.
The students are not the only ones excited to begin the new year.
“I’m still like a kid, I still love the first day of school,” said Dandorph. “I kind of get excited and I’ve been doing this for 40 years.”
He added, “So I think we’re ready. I know the kids are always ready. We’ve worked hard, and I think our staff will do a hell of a job.”
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at email@example.com.