NJ Teacher of the Year Announced As Board Gets Presentation On Future Ready Schools

Posted · Add Comment

The New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, Amy Anderson, was announced as part of the October State Board of Education meeting.  The Board also received a presentation on Future Ready Schools and adopted several code provisions related to school facilities and equivalency and waiver.  The Board additionally recognized October as National Parent Teacher Association Month.

NJ State Teacher of the Year

Amy T. Andersen, a high school American Sign Language (ASL) teacher at Ocean City High School in Cape May County, was named the 2017-18 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year by the NJ Department of Education.  The announcement was made as part of the October Board Meeting.

Anderson who was previously named the 2017-18 Cape May County Teacher of the Year earlier this year, grew up in Cape May County. She earned a bachelor’s degree in flute performance from Indiana University and a master’s degree in deaf education from McDaniel College. Andersen also achieved national board certification in Exceptional Needs Specialist: Deaf/Hard of Hearing.  After nine years in Boston, Massachusetts as a teacher of the deaf, she returned to New Jersey in 2004 to raise a family. It was then, with 42 students, that Andersen began the ASL program at Ocean City High School. It has since grown to 130 students under her tutelage.   Community oriented activities, such as ASL socials at local coffee shops and evening performances that raise funds for scholarships immerse students in deaf and hard of hearing culture helping them to build confidence. In the past three years alone, more than 85 percent of her students have achieved the New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy. Her popular and respected program has inspired a number of students to pursue ASL-related careers.

Amy began her career teaching deaf children to fall in love with reading, and now teaches hearing children to fall in love with ASL. She is a nationally recognized educator, who was named the Ocean City School District’s 2014 ASL Teacher of the Year and was honored by the New Jersey Association for the Deaf and Atlantic County Society for the Deaf. In 2015, the television program “Classroom Close-Up NJ” highlighted her program after her students’ ASL anti-bullying video went viral. As the 2016-17 Ocean City High School Teacher of the Year, Amy T. Andersen was featured in the New Jersey School Board Association’s School Leader magazine and was recently honored by the National Liberty Museum with the Teacher as Hero: Exceptional Teacher Award.

In her role as State Teacher of the Year, Amy T. Andersen will work closely with the New Jersey Department of Education, give presentations around the state and participate in national activities, including an opportunity to meet the President of the United States.

The six other finalists for the State Teacher of the Year were also recognized at today’s State Board meeting. They achieved the highest scores on their written applications and videos, and then reported for an interview that consisted of a performance assessment and a question-and-answer session. They include:

  • Mimma-Marie Cammarata, an Italian teacher at Sterling High School, Sterling;
  • Kristy DeFazio, a fourth grade elementary school teacher at James J. Flynn Elementary School, Perth Amboy;
  • Nicole Petrosillo, an English Language Arts teacher at West Milford Township High School, West Milford Township;
  • Diane Phares, an art teacher at Mount Olive High School, Mount Olive Township;
  • Kristina Phelan, a kindergarten through second grade reading teacher at Mahala F. Atchison Elementary School, Tinton Falls; and
  • Domenick Renzi, a basic skills mathematics teacher at Wedgwood Elementary School, Washington Township.

Future Ready Schools

In addition, the Board received a presentation on Future Ready Schools, a school-level certification program developed in partnership with the Department of Education, NJ School Boards Association and NJ Institute of Technology.  The program is based on the Sustainable Schools NJ certification program platform.  Currently 39 districts are focused on certification with another 82 participating at the commitment level.  The program seeks to:

  • Help school leaders plan and implement personalized, research-based digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential
  • Provide school-level roadmap to follow to implement Future Ready practices; and
  • Provide access to Future Ready resources developed by schools for schools

To facilitate this, the program uses seven “gears” to help schools update strategic plans based on new 21st century demands:

  1. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  2. Use of Space and Time
  3. Robust Infrastructure
  4. Data and Privacy
  5. Community Partnerships
  6. Personalized Professional Learning
  7. Budget and Resources

For more information on the program visit www.FutureReadyNJ.org.

Educational Facilities

In addition, the Board approved, at adoption level, minor amendments to emergency regulations adopted back in July of last year related to testing for lead in the drinking water of school districts, charter schools, renaissance schools, jointure commissions, educational services commissions, approved private schools for students with disabilities, State-funded early childcare facilities pursuant to N.J.A.C.6A:13A, and receiving schools as defined by N.J.A.C. 6A:14-7.1(a).

The Department worked in consultation with the NJDEP to develop guidance documents for districts.  The emergency adoption of the regulations was authorized by the Fiscal Year 2017 State budget (P.L. 2016, c. 10), which also appropriated $10 million to reimburse district boards of education for costs associated with the required testing. The regulations expire June 30, 2017.

Among the changes proposed are the following:

  • Addressing testing in ‘Twenty-four-hour school facilities’ which are facilities that host residents on-site year round, which require the availability of water at all hours, employ staff on site 24 hours a day, and/or are care facilities such as hospitals with educational programs provided at the facilities; and
  • Outlining rules for district boards of education granted an extension of time to conduct initial testing beyond the July 13, 2017, deadline to complete the initial testing no later than July 13, 2018. District boards of education that completed initial testing prior to July 13, 2017, must perform follow-up testing in accordance with a schedule.

Equivalency & Waiver

Additionally, the Board approved, at adoption level, changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:5, Regulatory Equivalency and Waiver.  These rules provide regulatory flexibility for school districts and other institutions regulated by Titles 6 and 6A of the Administrative Code.  The chapter is scheduled to expire on October 20, 2017.  The rules govern the equivalency and waiver process and provide the opportunity for regulatory flexibility for school districts and most programs regulated by the Department:

  • An equivalency is permission to meet the requirements of a rule through an alternative means selected by the district board of education.
  • A waiver allows a district board of education to avoid compliance with the specific procedures or substantive requirements of a rule for reasons that are educationally, organizationally, and fiscally sound.

The rules require a school district’s educational community, including parents, administration, and staff members, to be informed of the proposed equivalency or waiver and provided the opportunity to comment.  Among the amendments proposed are:

  • An amendment to N.J.A.C.6A:5-1.1(b), to affirmatively include renaissance schools, county vocational school districts, and county special services school districts;
  • A change to N.J.A.C. 6A:5-1.3(a)1, to require an equivalency or waiver demonstrate the spirit and intent of New Jersey Statutes Title 18A, applicable Federal laws and regulations, and the New Jersey Administrative Code Title 6 and 6A are served by granting the request; and
  • Changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:4, Appeals which define that an equivalency or waiver can be challenged by initiating a contested case before the Commissioner pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:3, Controversies and Disputes with additional appeal rights from a Commissioner of Education decision to the Appellate Division.

National Parent Teacher Association Month in New Jersey

The Board additionally recognized October as National Parent Teacher Association month.

Certification of School Districts

Finally, the Board approved 11 evaluations: 7 full reviews and 4 interim under NJQSAC.  Appendix A lists all of the districts and their DPR scores.  One district scored 80 percent or above in all five DPR areas and were approved for a period of three years.  Ten districts scored below 80% in one or more DPR areas and were required to develop and implement a QSAC improvement plan to address deficient indicators.