Welcome to the 2017-18 school year in the Lyndhurst Public Schools!
With just days to go before the opening of a new school year, your homes are likely brimming with new supplies: clean notebooks waiting for words, freshly sharpened pencils ready to calculate math problems, ink-filled pens anxious to bring your child’s thoughts to life, crisp folders ready to be filled with papers for your fridge, and backpacks eagerly awaiting the arms of our awesome students. New supplies in place, a new school year on the horizon, and a new chapter in your child’s journey is set to begin!
It is with dedication, enthusiasm and honor that I participate in this journey with your children and with you as I continue in my position as Superintendent of the Lyndhurst Public Schools for the 2017-18 school year. On a daily basis, my work serving this community is inspired and supported by the team of district educators who serve as active contributors in the educational success of your children. My service is equally supported by you, the parents, caregivers, and community citizens.
In this opening communication, I share with you my story, as well as the 2017-18 chapter in our collective story: The Story of the Lyndhurst Public Schools.
My own journey in education has been long, diversified, and has spanned teaching in classrooms from kindergarten to the twelfth-grade level in different school districts. During this journey I came to see the developmental stages of students at various levels: The wonder and awe of students in kindergarten; the desire to participate and be engaged in learning at grades 3 and 4; the challenges of the social scene and higher level thinking that occur in grades 6 and 7; the freshness – and anxiety – of a new environment in grade 9; the pressures of GPAs and the college preparation process in grades 10 and 11; and the reality check of “the real world” in grade 12.
In addition to a variety of grade levels, I have taught to a variety of student types. Such types include Advanced Placement students who were studying English at the college level while in a high school classroom, as well as students sweating it out in a summer school classroom trying to right their academic wrongs and move ahead with their grade level in the fall. These experiences, along with administrative experience as an elementary and high school principal, as Assistant Superintendent, and as a Superintendent are only part of the skillset and knowledge I bring to my work today: my offerings are not limited to professional experience alone, as my role as "Mom of Four" plays a huge part in my daily professional performance.
I have personally been the recipient of our students’ kindness and respect, the observer of their incredible work ethic and desire to achieve, the reader of their insightful words, and the listener of their analytical thoughts and rational reasoning. The values demonstrated by Lyndhurst’s students, indeed, continue to be supported by our teachers, nurses, counselors, and support staff, but the foundation of their values comes from their homes. Thank you, parents and caregivers, for granting the Lyndhurst Public Schools the pleasure of taking part in the work that you started, as you are the first and lifelong educators of Lyndhurst’s children.
The 2017-18 School Year
The initiatives of the Lyndhurst Public Schools for 2017-18 keep us centered on the fundamentals of success necessary for supporting civic-ready students: Attendance, Communication, Technology-Embedded Instruction, Academic Rigor and 21st Century Learning Environments and Experiences.
Such focus requires us, as a collective, to continuously work towards the future "2020 Vision" of the Lyndhurst Schools. We remain committed and active in our application of referendum funding to return to traditionally-structured neighborhood schools, to expand our instruction and programming to support the needs of all types of learners, to continue our aligned work with the township to design, construct, and outfit our forthcoming junior high school, and to renovate our current schools in ways that will result in increased house value, increased student and family opportunities, increased facilities, and overall, an enhanced culture, climate and community spirit within the town of Lyndhurst.
Right now, we are in the preparatory stages of major surgery. Just as medical tests need to be done and forms need to be completed prior to a surgical procedure, we are conducting the tests and submitting/issuing the forms necessary for our schools' reconstructive surgeries to begin.
In the early spring of 2018, you will see such surgeries underway, likely at Roosevelt and Columbus Schools first, followed by Franklin and Washington Schools. Surgery is always performed in safe, hygienic environments - so, too, will the reconstructive surgery on our schools be conducted in ways that keep students and citizens safe and healthy before, during and after its duration.
As a community, we must recognize that the process of reconstructive surgery is not pretty. There is typically pain, discomfort, exhaustion and frustration throughout the process. One of the greatest discomforts we face currently are class sizes greater than optimum and less than optimum space for students' active learning experiences. I encourage us all to remember that this will be rectified by our reconstructive surgery - stay strong and positive!
Educating our Students Together
As educators in the schools or in the homes, we must remain committed to staying connected in conversation. We must recognize that the classroom walls extend way out when it comes to our children’s learning: These walls extend onto the sidewalks, into your cars, and into your homes. We are all educators of our children every single minute they are in our presence.
As such, we must be sure we model the behaviors, values, and ideals we want them to learn and practice. The Lyndhurst Public Schools remains a district founded on a tradition of a working community with a strong work ethic that is trumped only by its love for our children and our desire to help them succeed. We see our students’ creativity, intelligence, talent, and spirit. We see their energy, potential, and beauty. We see their pride, laughter, and determination. In our students, we see Lyndhurst and this is what our district must recognize and celebrate each and every day . . . and, all the while keeping a finger on the pulse so we continue to identify our weaknesses and develop ways to improve them.
It is never too early or too late to join your child on his/her educational journey. Be an active participant in your child’s education simply by being active in his/her life – take time with your son/daughter to walk, to explore, to dream and to talk.
Remember, we are all characters in the same story, set here in the cozy neighborhood of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, with a plot that continues each and every school day. Your child’s principals, administrators, teachers, counselors, coaches and advisors are your greatest connection to our district story and I cannot wait to see the “places we will go” together!
In closing, I share one of my favorite quotes in celebration of your children and your work:
"Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one."
Have an exciting, happy and successful school year. Thrive in the love of your children, the wonder of learning, and the joys that await you as we turn the page and begin this new chapter in our story.
Shauna C. DeMarco
Follow me on Twitter: Shauna DeMarco@LyndhurstSupt