Dear Hopewell Valley Families,
The summer has been busy with referendum construction projects taking place in all of our schools and staff writing and revising curriculum. In addition to this work, I would like to share a number of areas that we will focus on during the 2018-19 school year. Specific details on each item will be shared throughout the year. In the interim, please take note of the following:
Student Schedules and Teacher Placements - In a slight change in format from previous years, schedules and teacher placements for all students K - 12 will be available in OnCourse on August 22.
- District families will receive an email from their building principal with specific instructions explaining how to access OnCourse to retrieve classroom teacher (K-5) or schedule (6-12) information.
- Bus route information will also be available in OnCourse (official bus passes will be emailed prior to the start of school).
- Please test your login information prior to August 22 to avoid any issues. For assistance accessing your OnCourse account, please email us at Registrar@hvrsd.org or call 609-737-4000 ext. 2304.
District Safety, Security and Communication - Over the course of this school year, you will see improvements to all school entrances and updates to our entrance practices. We are working with local and county-wide officials to review our response to emergencies and provide more training to our staff. Communication is essential in emergencies and we have updated emergency preparedness to include generators so that all school buildings can function during an emergency. In the event of an actual emergency (lockdown, evacuations or fire), families will be notified immediately via an automated system and will then receive follow-up communications with specific details. These proactive steps are part of a concerted effort to provide our students and staff with the safest environment possible.
Continuing Our Efforts Toward Student Content Mastery - As part of our multi-year plan to review grading practices and ensure student content mastery, this year we are piloting second-chance learning opportunities in all classes in grades 6-12. Every student, in every class, will be able to redo or retake selected assignments. This is a pilot, so there will be differences between departments as we review the effectiveness of the pilot. We are excited to take this step and we will share more details after the start of the school year.
Social Emotional Learning / Mindfulness - We are refining our social emotional learning programs by aligning our efforts with the CASEL framework and exploring restorative justice practices, particularly with our elementary students. We will continue to observe a “Mindfulness Minute” in each school where no announcements are made, no technology used and no talking among staff or students. It is my hope that this work, coupled with our continuing work on equity, will develop stronger, more resilient students.
Sustainability/Green School Efforts - Reducing our carbon footprint remains an area of focus. In addition to the installation of high-efficiency lighting and HVAC units, we have partnered with the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHOVS) to expand our outdoor classrooms and plant meadows that require minimal maintenance. Four of our schools were recently certified by the Sustainable Jersey program for our efforts. We are also trying to recognize students and staff who are making a difference through our Eco Warrior program. As we work to eliminate plastic straws in our cafeterias, we will also be encouraging students to reduce the use of single-use plastics such as bottled water. To date, we have installed over 70 filtered bottle filling stations in our schools.
Construction - Thank you again for your support of our recent referendum. Construction projects in all our schools are well underway and many will likely last into the fall. We ask for your patience as we ensure these projects are completed safely and to our expectations. Please be mindful of changing traffic patterns if you are picking up or dropping off students, particularly at CHS and TMS. Follow the referendum progress here and #bulldogreferendum.
I would like to leave you with a few important reminders:
- We have placed a “Hope and Help” button on our district website that provides contact information for local mental health resources and video links of our recent mental health presentations. No one should struggle alone.
- We established a district-wide confidential tip line monitored 24/7 for students and parents to share any concerns that may impact the safety of our students: 609-737-4000 x 8487 (TIPS) / Email: email@example.com
Thank you in advance for your continued support as we implement the strong vision of our Board of Education to continually improve our education programs and facilities for all students.
Thomas A. Smith, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools