Vacant school board seat filled

New board member appointed, students and staff recognized

The Hoboken Board of Education met for four hours on Tuesday and voted on a number of issues, including whom to appoint to a board seat that was vacated in December.
After going into closed session, they decided to appoint lifelong resident and current parent Elizabeth Walker. Walker fills a seat vacated by Brittany Montgomery in December. Montgomery said she had to travel more often for work.
Walker was sworn in by Business Administrator William Moffitt.
“I can’t stop smiling,” said Walker. “I wanted to be a part of something that was going to be for change. My kids go to school here and I am a product of the school district and I wanted to see what happens behind closed doors.”
She lives with her family in the Hoboken Housing Authority and her children go to Connors Elementary School. Walker works as an at home health aide.
“I think the board is doing a great job right now,” said Walker. “I know what they do in public session and I want to see what they are doing in closed session. Our superintendent is doing a great job and we haven’t had anyone like her who understands or is trying to understand the demographics of Hoboken and how that plays a part in how the students learn.”
Also at the meeting, Superintendent Christine Johnson made a presentation which discussed the district’s data-gathering initiative, to better understand the diversity of the district. The Reporter will follow up with a story this coming week.
The board also discussed new programs and achievements and honored the district’s students and staff of the month.

Achievements

During her superintendent’s report Dr. Johnson highlighted several achievements throughout the district, including new initiatives and programs, as well as awards won.
The high school will participate in the AP Capstone program next year. AP Capstone is a College Board program that equips students with independent research, collaborative teamwork, and communication skills.
It is comprised of two AP courses, AP Seminar and AP Research, and is designed to complement other AP (College Advanced Placement) courses. It will provide unique research opportunities and encourage students to master argument based writing skills. The AP Seminar will begin in the 2018-2019 academic year.
According to Johnsons and board Trustee Sheilla Dallara,who chairs the curriculum committee, the district will also enter into a new partnership with Stevens Institute of Technology Dr. Peter Koen to create an activity park and Hudson River Living Classroom at the middle school.
Two classes of students at Stevens will design an activity park in the back of the Demarest School Building where the Hoboken Middle School is located, as well as a Hudson River Living Classroom. Their designs will be used for the development and completion of both projects.
Johnson said that this weekend, district students in the Theater Arts Program competed in the NJ Thespian Competition against 1100 students from across the state.
“David Rivera, Hannah Mack, Daniel Safanova, Rebecca Weintraub, Demeara Davenport, Andrew Moya, Anthony Sparacino, and Sofia Melfi won Superior medal awards that allow them to compete against all other winners in the world at the International Thespians Festival in Lincoln Nebraska from June 25th to the 30,” said Johnson, who added that Rivera and Mack got college callbacks from multiple college theater programs.

Recognitions

Assistant Superintendent Gerald Fitzhugh presented the district’s students of the month for December to the Board of Education, awarding each a certificate.
Kindergartener Livia Gelinas was student of the month for Brandt Primary School. First grader Emily DeLaRosa, was student of the month for Calabro School. At Connors Elementary School, fifth grader Neya Freeman was awarded student of the month. At Wallace Elementary School fifth grader Paz De La Torre won student of the month.
Seventh grader Kai Hulstrom was the Hoboken Middle School student of the month and Senior Ricardo Colon was the Hoboken High School student of the month.
The district’s superintendent recognized three staff members for the month of December. They were Nory Rojas, Gwendolyn White, and Damien Arnone.
The Office of Early Childhood and the Brandt Primary School nominated Rojas as staff member of the month for December. Rojas has been working in Hoboken Public Schools since 2009. She is a Community and Parent Involvement Specialist.
In this role she provides families with information so that they may enroll in the preschool program, facilitates the enrollment process, interfaces with the preschool providers to provide professional development opportunities, and leads the placement of close to 900 students in preschool classrooms throughout the district.
“She is organized, accessible, engaging, thoughtful, and the consummate perfectionist,” said Johnson.
White is a special Education Resource Teacher at Connors Elementary School.
White has been working for the district since 2000 and she is also the coordinator for the Passport for Learning after school program at Connors.
Johnson said “She is completely invested in providing students with exciting opportunities during the after school program.”
“Mrs. White is well respected and appreciated by teachers, students, and administrators alike. She possesses commitment, dedication, and passion for teaching and learning. And, she loves this district,” Johnson added.
Arnone is a guidance counselor at Hoboken High School as well as the testing coordinator and he has been with the district since 2009.
“From seeking opportunities for his students to working alongside his counseling counterparts, Mr. Arnone’s dedication to students, 21st century learning, and college and career readiness is unparalleled,” said Johnson. “He is continually looking for new and innovative ideas to support students and teachers.”

Marilyn Baer can be reached at marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.