Autumn may not officially begin until Sept. 22, but for kids in Union City, the summer effectively draws to a close on Thursday, Sept. 5, when they return to school.
This year they will find a renewed focus on technology. Smart Boards are available in all classrooms, providing more interactive learning. The Smart Board is a wall-mounted screen connected to a computer and is used much like a regular computer touchscreen, allowing files to be displayed and manipulated, or text written with the tip of a finger.
“We are making a big push to provide technology to enhance our educational programs, to enhance instruction and the delivery of all our curriculums,” said Stanley Sanger, superintendent of schools in Union City. “In grades three and four, all students will be working with iPads, including special needs students. Every teacher in Union City has been issued a laptop for planning and instructional purposes.”
Preparing for the future
The State of New Jersey continues to aggressively push forward with new specifications for student education, including delivery and monitoring of test results utilizing the internet, and standardizing content of classes across the state.
“We’ve made a big push to revise all our curriculums to meet the requirements of the new state initiative for college and career readiness,” said Sanger, “preparing all students for college, increasing the challenge and rigor in classrooms so students are best prepared for college and work opportunities.”
And that’s only the beginning. “We’re also working closely establishing college connections with Fairleigh Dickinson University, Seton Hall, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers and others, establishing college connections so students can be afforded college experience while attending high school,” he said.
Safety and security
Of course, student safety is a major concern everywhere these days. In Union City, school security programs are an ongoing focus, with upgraded safety protocols and procedures. Students and staff are trained to understand and address safety issues and respond appropriately if a situation arises. “We’ve upgraded existing camera systems and provided new ones where there was a need,” said Sanger.
To further address student needs, a new Union City Student Sanctuary at Union City High School opened in May of 2013. Located at the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and 24th Street, it is a colorful, peaceful oasis in the midst of the city. Sanger describes it as “a park, an outdoor setting, a sanctuary setting with a small amphitheater, a reading center, a performing center. It’s an extension of the school, an extension of learning.”
The 2012 school year saw significant changes to the campus structure in Union City. Two smaller schools, Hudson and Gilmore, were closed for renovations, with their students relocated to the new Colin Powell Elementary School on New York Avenue and 15th Street.
“This school year we will be carrying out renovations on the Hudson and Sara Gilmore schools,” explained Sanger. “Both facilities are over one hundred years old. We’re doing upgrading and putting on additions in our efforts to create the best possible safe learning environments for our kids. This will be taking place during the school year.”
While there is a possibility the schools will be ready for the 2014 school year, it seems more likely they will reopen in September of 2015. At that time elementary school students will remain in the Colin Powell School while the renovated facilities take on new uses.
“Right now we rent Woodrow Wilson School from Weehawken for our gifted and talented students,” said Sanger. Once the Gilmore school reopens, those students will transfer there. “Hudson will be used for an adult education center. We’ll also see what the needs of the district are at that time.”
The following schools in Union City open on Sept. 5:
• Eugenio Maria de Hostos Center for Early Childhood Education (Grades Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten)
• Jefferson School (Grades Pre-Kindergarten – 4)
• Veterans’ Memorial School (Grades Pre-Kindergarten – 5).
• Thomas A. Edison School (Grades Pre-Kindergarten – 6)
• Robert Waters School (Grades Pre-Kindergarten – 6)
• Colin Powell Elementary School (Grades Kindergarten – 5)
• Woodrow Wilson School (Grades Pre- Kindergarten – 8)
• Washington School (Grades Kindergarten – 6)
• Roosevelt School (Grades Kindergarten – 6)
• Emerson Middle School (Grades 6 – 8)
• Union Hill Middle School (Grades 7 – 8 )
• José Martí Freshman Academy (Grade 9)
• Alternative Design Academy (Grades 9 – 12)
• AEA (Enrichment & Advancement) (Grades 9 – 12)
• Union City High School (Grades 10 – 12).