Could Weehawken residents one day get their morning news broadcasts from students at Weehawken High School?
Perhaps, if the school’s new media center/ TV studio has anything to say about it.
“It really sets up our kids for that industry,” said departing Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki.
Zywicki, who will leave the district in October, discussed some of the changes in store for public school students after they return on Sept. 6.
The district is also focusing on better parent engagement this year. Weehawken schools will use a modernized student information system, called Realtime. The Cloud-based system allows parents access to their children’s information without a need for in-house servers, software installs, or backup procedures, as some others do.
The district will save $20,000 on the new system, Zywicki said. Weehawken’s original student info system was “just dated,” he added.
On Oct. 20, officials will hold a “Parent University” for parents on how to use Realtime.
Curriculum wise, Weehawken schools won’t really see any major changes, but will let current programs like robotics, blended learning, and coding, “continue to grow roots,” Zywicki said.
As for the student media program, Weehawken students already broadcast daily announcements via YouTube, and the district has a program called Kid Witness News, which began in Weehawken in 1983. It now places students on four continents in over 200 schools as correspondents, producers, and camera operators for their own programs.
The new studio will help sustain both broadcasts, Zywicki said. It should be online when school starts on Sept. 6.
“I’m super proud of what we accomplished.” – Robert Zywicki
Zywicki recently accepted a superintendent position in Mount Olive, due to its closer proximity to his Sparta, N.J home. The Weehawken Board of Education has appointed Dr. Terrance Brennan as interim superintendent in his place, effective in October.
Brennan has 40 years of teaching experience, with half of those years including interim and regular school superintendent stints at districts such as Pompton Lakes, Middlesex Borough, and High Point Regional.
Brennan and Zywicki have some history. Two years ago, Brennan was an adjunct professor at St. Peter’s University, and Zywicki was one of his students in a PhD education course. He saw potential, and wanted to give Zywicki a hand.
“I recognized his talent and skills and I tried to help him, and basically it ended up where he got the superintendent [position],” Brennan said, of Zywicki, whom the board appointed in Nov. 2015.
Brennan recalled a talk he had with Zywicki during a visit to Weehawken after his appointment.
“I came and I said, ‘You know, Rob, Weehawken is like a gem of New Jersey that I found…’”
When Zywicki and Board President Richard Barsa approached Brennan and asked if he would take over superintendent duties, he gladly came out of retirement for a fill in, until a permanent replacement is found.
Brennan said he is interested in helping with the vetting process.
But don’t expect him to make any changes off the bat. “Right now, I have a lot of learning to do myself,” he said. “I want to get to learn the culture of the staff and student population. Once that’s accomplished, I’ll know what I’m going to do. I’m too new right now.”
Zywicki’s final comments
“The past three years, the board has been extremely supportive,” Zywicki said. He rattled off a list of accomplishments the district earned during his tenure, including a U.S. News and World report ranking Weehawken High School the 1,686th best school in the United States, out of 20,500 schools
“President Barsa is absolutely amazing to work for, and I’m super proud of what we accomplished,” he said.
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org