BARNEGAT – With a new superintendent leading the way, Barnegat School District plans on inspiring, encouraging, and supporting students by setting positive goals, ramping up the gifted and talented program, and providing new security measures.
This school year will be the first for Dr. Brian Latwis as the new superintendent of the district. Formerly the director of Special Education centered in the Cecil S. Collins School, Latwis was officially promoted in March of this year. He will be succeeding Karen Wood in the position.
One of Latwis’ main goals as the leader of the district was to “really establish what we stand for” by implementing the Barnegat #INSPIRES tagline, which stands for Individuals, Nurturing, Supportive, Pride, Inclusive, Rigorous, Engaging, and Succeeds.
This acronym sets new goals for all six of the district’s schools:
- “Individuals” refers to the practice of meeting individual student needs. This means that the district plans to challenge high achievers, while also supporting struggling learners.
- “Nurturing” refers to the act of incorporating empathy or sympathy into learning. Social and emotional learning can nurture and challenge simultaneously, he explained.
- An extension of that is “Supportive,” which touts the concept that Barnegat students and staff are “a family.”
- “Pride” hopes to encourage students and staff to be good representatives of the district and be proud of it.
- “Inclusive” aims to build relationships and encourage students to recognize their “right” to be a member of the district.
- “Rigorous” sets high expectations but also maintains the “individuals” ideology, that these expectations should be relevant to different levels of learning.
- “Engaging” simply asks students: Are you interested?
- And “Succeeds” refers to the “unwavering faith that we will achieve our goals,” said Latwis.
The #INSPIRES motto can be summarized in a single phrase, used by Latwis: “No problems, just challenges and opportunity.”
Students can also be recognized for their efforts with the new “Upstander Initiative.” This initiative chooses one student from each of the district’s six schools, including the high school, to be honored as the monthly “upstander.”
Students will be chosen by a committee made up of students and staff. If they are noticed performing acts of kindness or something that will qualify them as an “upstanding” member of the district, they can earn this title, according to Latwis.
He also noted that local restaurants have donated gift cards to be awarded to each winner, each month, “bringing back the idea of the family dinner.”
The Barnegat schools are also incorporating RTI, or Response to Intervention programming, into the curriculum this year. RTI is “a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs,” according to the RTI Action Network. Latwis referred to it as a system that links students to the support they need, whether they are struggling learners or not.
Important components of RTI include:
- High-quality, scientifically based classroom instruction,
- Ongoing student assessment,
- Tiered instruction, and
- Parent involvement.
Gifted & Talented
New and improved for the 2018-2019 school year is the Gifted & Talented program, which will be adopting a PBL, or project-based learning model.
PBL “promotes students’ problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills, as well as develops their content skills in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies,” stated the district.
Latwis explained that the program will be headed by one teacher who rotates through each of the elementary schools.
The G&T instructor will spend one day per week in each of the district’s four elementary schools:
- Monday: Robert L. Horbelt
- Tuesday: Cecil S. Collins
- Wednesday: Lillian M. Dunfee,
- Thursday: Joseph T. Donahue.
- Friday: Flex Day
Four school administrators and three officers from the Barnegat Police have been trained in ALICE for the new year.
ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training provides “preparation and a plan for individuals and organizations on how to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event,” according to the ALICE Training Institute.
Alongside this, four armed guards will be placed, one in each elementary school. The high school will continue to have an SRO (Security Resource Officer). Latwis explained that the armed guards are not classified as Class III Officers.
“We’ve really undertaken a lot,” he said. Latwis explained that the changes will help the district nail down “the fundamentals” so that they have a strong foundation to build upon in years to come.