School District Focuses On Helping Students “Make Connections”

New Jackson School District teachers assemble following a recent teacher orientation session. (Photo courtesy Jackson School District)

  JACKSON – The township School District’s new school year has begun and this year, educators will be focusing on helping students make connections. That will be this year’s theme according to Superintendent of Schools Stephen Genco.

  District administrators and teachers started the 2019-2020 school year with an updated curriculum and an eye toward helping students and staff make meaningful connections with each other and with what they are learning.

  “Thanks to the hard work of our facilities team, I can honestly say that our schools have never looked better,” Genco said.

  “I am so proud to open our doors to students and staff and to begin another year of excellence in the Jackson School District.” Genco added that he was particularly excited about the theme of this year’s professional development, which is “Making Connections.’’

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  “Through my experiences as an administrator and teacher – and from my days as a student myself – I know the value of those connections in our classrooms, our athletic fields, on our stages and in our homes,” Genco said.

  This year the district will be focusing on making connections between what students are learning and how that learning applies to their future lives. It wants students to understand the relationship between their own progress and how they can use that momentum to set goals and map out their futures.

  The district also looks for ways to ensure they appreciate how varied cultures, traditions and backgrounds can bring us closer together in our diverse, evolving, global society.

  Genco said these themes of social emotional learning, setting goals using data, student engagement and diversity will be woven through all district efforts this year as the district continues to create a rigorous and robust educational experience.

  This year the district will be implementing curriculum updates in Social Studies kindergarten-12 and Guidance kindergarten-12 and will begin a review of English language arts K-12.

  The districts other initiatives include:

  • Expanding student engagement practices district-wide with the help of Title II Teacher Leaders;
  • Expanding problem-based curriculum and staff training that focuses on real-world applications;
  • Implementing a new middle school schedule and making recommendations on our high school schedule;
  • Expanding in-class resources to fourth grade;
  • Continuing our efforts to increase awareness of student mental health;
  • Implementing student social emotional learning approaches K-12; and
  • Expanding our AP/Dual Credit initiative.

  The administration has expressed excitement concerning the progress that its facilities department has made toward the school system’s new satellite transportation facility, which will help ease the burden for transportation staff.

  School building security upgrades were addressed through a district wide security vestibule project which is now complete.

  The superintendent said the successful opening of each of the district’s 10 school buildings and the school year as a whole “are impossible without the staff of the Jackson School District.”

  “I cannot possibly express the admiration I have for the people who work every day to make sure our students have the very best experience here,” Genco said. “From our teachers to our office staff, to the people behind the scenes who ensure our students are safe and secure, and all those who work to run this district day to day – we could not do it without them.”

  Genco said the respect he has for his co-workers and the connection he feels with students are the main reasons why a decision he made this summer was so difficult. At last month’s board meeting, the Board of Education accepted Genco’s notice of retirement. His current plan is to retire July 1, 2020.

  The board is just beginning to discuss the superintendent search process and more information will be discussed with the community when a plan is formulated.

  “I am, of course, grateful to be retiring after 34 years in education with a happy heart and on the best of terms with our board and staff,” Genco said.

  Genco added that he was, “eager, though, for the focus for this year to not be on me, but on the ways we can all work together to create the best year for our students.”