The mission of the Verona Public Schools, the center of an engaged and supportive community, is to empower students to achieve their potential as active learners and productive citizens through rigorous curricula and meaningful, enriching experiences.
Summary for the 2016-17 School Year
The Verona Action Committee on Code of Conduct & Respect met monthly and worked collaboratively to raise public awareness about student code of conduct and respect. The focus of this committee centered around addressing the needs of our students as it related to student conflict, code of conduct, bullying and to identify and support education initiatives and programming for Verona youth that foster healthy, responsible lifestyles. The District has established this committee to consider community input and to make recommendations to the Verona Board of Education in an effort to develop a comprehensive support system of educational resources, both preventive strategies and interventions, to support children and families through collaborative partnerships within our community.
Our goal was to support our students in the area of code of conduct and respect in an effort to sustain social, emotional, physical, and academic learning with recommendations for continued growth aligned with the Verona Public Schools Strategic Plan. We feel that we have accomplished and learned a lot since our first meeting in December 2016.
In our first meeting, we reviewed the Verona Public Schools existing areas of strength, opportunities for improvement, and any obstacles that may present challenges to achieving our goals and solutions. We reviewed our programs, teaching and learning (curriculum), and our intervention and support services. We summarized our findings and organized them in a chart called Verona Public Schools Program Summary that we linked to our Health & Wellness link.
During the January and February meeting, committee members were divided into five groups and began researching these common threads (see Chart #1 below). Using chromebooks, the committee members developed a running Google Document that contained the information gained from small group discussions as well as whole group reflections.
Chart #1: Suggested Common Threads
Mission Statement with Common Language
Social & Emotional Curricula (Elementary)
Social & Emotional Curricula (HBW)
Social & Emotional Curricula (VHS)
Parent Education & Community Outreach
When the March meeting arrived, each group had put in a significant amount of time and research. The first group had created several examples of a mission statement that were positive and easy to understand for students of all ages. The whole group decided to share these slogans with our middle and high school students. Mr. Galbierczyk worked with his Safety Team students at HBW and Mrs. Lustig met with a group of VHS students. The second group focused on conflict resolution, our present program led by Dr. Lanzo, and discussed bridging the gap with our students from fourth grade into fifth grade. The third and fourth groups analyzed the adolescent child and the power of advisories, authentic praise, and promoting responsibility. Mr. Cogdill reached out to Mrs. Sharon Lohrmann from New Jersey Positive Behavior Support in Schools (NJ PBSIS), http://www.njpbs.org/PBSIS_Initiative/description.html, so that she could present to the group in April. The fifth group were researching how to effectively communicate and encourage the school district and the town of Verona to work collaboratively to ensure that everyone would support the committee’s mission statement.
During the April meeting, Mrs. Lohrmann led the discussion of NJ PBSIS with our committee. She shared the NJ PBSIS team provides training and assistance to school teams on how to implement a successful program that will lead to positive student behavior and a healthier climate. The forty-five minute presentation was informative and insightful and led to an hour reflection session where Mr. Cogdill and Mr. Miller followed up with Mrs. Lohrmann. The group learned that there a “number of published studies provide evidence that implementation of the PBIS framework results in positive outcomes including reduction in office conduct referrals and suspensions (e.g., Algozzine & Algozzine, 2007; Bradshaw, Mitchell, & Leaf, 2010; Horner et al., 2009; Lassen, Steele, & Sailor, 2006; Nelson, 1996; Scott & Barrett, 2004) and improvements in achievement (e.g., Luiselli, Putnam, Handler, & Feinberg, 2005)” (http://www.njpbs.org/PBSIS_Initiative/description.html). Additionally, the administrative teams at HBW and VHS will be contacted in June to complete an application that will allow each school to become eligible and hopefully selected to receive training and guidance from NJ PBSIS.The committee meeting in May focused on the mission statement and the caring, creative, and inspiring artwork from our middle and high school students. Mr. Galbierczyk and Mrs. Lustig shared several student examples that delighted the entire committee. Moreover, several group members in the committee recommended that Mrs. Sciacchitano, VHS’s graphic arts teacher, work with our students to create several drafts of our mission statement that will be presented to the entire committee in June.The links from Mrs. Lustig and her students are the following:
The link from Mr. Galbierczyk and his students is the following:
A theme that has been discussed during each of our meetings is the support or lack of support of a student assistance counselor or social worker at our elementary schools and middle school. The committee believes that if the school district is able to create a counselor at the elementary and middle school levels, then we could proactively empower students to effectively communicate with one another and avoid assumption and misunderstandings.