Jackson BOE Recognizes Staff For Grant Awards

Elms Elementary School Principal Michael Burgos, left, joins Board of Education member Sharon Dey and Elms Elementary School Asst. Principal Shawn Levinson in a presentation recognizing the school’s winning several grant awards during the Board of Education’s Jan. 16 meeting. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

JACKSON – Board members began their Jan. 16 meeting with a big thank you and recognition for those responsible for the Elms Sustainable Jersey for Schools $1,000 grant which was recently received.

Board member Sharon Dey noted a bit of de ja vu as she read a prepared statement at the podium before a presentation of a plaque.

“It is going to seem like we are repeating ourselves. This very team has been here before – most recently just at our last meeting to accept a $1,000 grant from First Energy for the Elms aquaponics program. They were also here last year for that same grant,” Dey said.

Dey added that “they recently received a $1,000 grant from the Toshiba America Foundation and they and their colleagues have been here to receive $10,000 in model classroom grants in the past.”

“This is a team committed to seeking out and earning ways to support our programs. Their efforts result in tens of thousands of dollars we can invest right into our classrooms,” Dey added.

“They are not alone in all of our schools. Our dedicated staff looks for ways to enhance instruction through grants. As a board of education we are proud of all their efforts and we thank them for going above and beyond for our students,” she said. “It is my pleasure to recognize the team from Elms (Elementary School) again. For earning a $10,000 grant from the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program and the New Jersey Education Association. The NJEA funded 11 of these grants to area schools, to allow communities to come together to improve outcomes for students, staff and the environment. They also funded 35 different $2,000 grants for the same purpose.”

Dey said that at Elms, these funds will help build a living science curriculum that includes agriculture, aquaculture and farming. Student learning will come alive through real-world problem solving in an authentic hands-on environment.

Teacher Danielle Parella wrote the grant and used information and assistance from her supervisors, Elms Principal Michael Burgos and Assistant Principal Shawn Levinson. Parella could not be present at the meeting but Burgos and Levinson came up to the podium to be recognized.

“Together, they worked to make this happen, and the students of Elms are the better for it,” Dey said.

Burgos said later in the week that, “the real credit goes to Mrs. Danielle Parella, who took the lead on this project and grant.”

“She goes above and beyond to find ways we can do more for our students here. We couldn’t be more proud of her or more excited about being able to bring this project to life for our students,” Burgos added.

Superintendent Stephen Genco said during the meeting that he had joined Burgos in formally accepting the grant award and had the chance to look at the other grants that were received by other districts. “Our award stands out,” Genco said. The Elms Elementary School has approximately 725 students.

Snow Day Change

Board members also discussed the impact of the Jan. 4 snow storm that closed the district’s schools on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5. The two snow days resulted in a calendar change.

Due to the two snow days, the district pushed its transition day two days so it could keep the proper number of days in each marking period. All staff will report Feb. 1 for the Transition Day/kindergarten through 8th grade in-service day.

These snow days also impacted the marking period end dates and dates report cards are released.

Genco said that to make up the snow days, the district was adding two days to the end of the year.

When asked by board vice president Vicki Grasso what the new last day of school would be, Genco replied “we aren’t talking about that yet as we are only in January,” noting that additional snow days could be required before the end of winter.

The new tentative last day of school for students however is currently June 19.