Todays Events - January 18, 2021


Upcoming Events

  • Jan 25th - Jan 25th, 2021 - BOE Regular Meeting
    6:30 PM - Mt. Olive Middle School

  • Feb 8th - Feb 8th, 2021 - BOE Work Session Meeting
    6:30 PM - Mt. Olive Middle School

  • Feb 15th - Feb 15th, 2021 - SCHOOLS CLOSED




Ian Perez designs a military medal

Learning from a veteran on Veterans Day

Veterans Day became a personal, detailed, and nuanced holiday for one class, thanks to a virtual visit from a real veteran. Third-graders taught by co-teachers Catherine Figueiredo and Amber Roselle heard stories about military life from Dr. Ashley Roselle-Hourigan, Roselle’s sister-in-law. A medical doctor with the rank of major, Roselle-Hourigan recently retired from active duty after 11 years of service in the Army. She spent the final years of her career stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

During her talk with the class, Roselle-Hourigan discussed the intense physical training she had to complete, her work with wounded soldiers, and the various awards and ribbons she received. She also spoke about the Army’s need for personnel with a variety of different skills to serve as teachers, architects, mechanics, and dentists.

“When you think about the Army, you think ‘soldier in the field,’” said Figueiredo. “But this really opened the students’ eyes to other military careers. Seeing a woman veteran was great for them too because it showed that women can be strong, smart, and tough.”

Prior to meeting Roselle-Hourigan, the students brainstormed qualities that they thought would be important for military personnel to possess. They then took those traits – which included brave, intelligent, kind, and selfless – and designed medals to honor the men and women who exhibit those qualities. Each medal focused on an animal that symbolized each trait.

To begin the lesson on Veterans Day, the class learned the significance of the holiday by watching a PBS video.

And the winner is…

Americans, wrought with anxiety, glued themselves to social media and television news on Election Day and the days that followed. But at CMS, there was no cause for nail-biting or hand-wringing. The vote was a landslide. 

Students in grades K-5 cast ballots on their choices for an upcoming spirit day; Pajama Day battled it out with Hat Day. To relate the CMS vote to the presidential election, each class represented one or two different states and had the same number of spirit day electoral votes as the states had presidential electoral votes. Just as in the presidential election, 270 electoral votes were needed to win. 

After the votes were tabulated, a representative of each state’s electors read on Flipgrid a certificate of the vote with wording similar to the document each state sends to Congress. 

Pajama Day won all of the school’s 538 electoral votes and was declared the winner. At Sandshore where the activity was also run, Pajama Day was the runaway winner with all 538 electoral votes too. 

Leading up to the vote, students learned about the three branches of government and their functions, and the many responsibilities that a president is tasked with. They also took a close look at how voting rights were expanded over the past 230 years to allow more citizens to have a voice in government. 

In addition, the students watched a short Khan Academy video that featured Sesame Street’s Grover explaining how the Electoral College functions.  

Pajama Day will be held some time this spring.

Creating a community when students aren’t together

From their classrooms, Monica Beaumont and Elizabeth DiMarzo remotely teach two classes of fourth-graders; Beaumont handles the math and science, and DiMarzo tackles language arts and social studies. From their experiences last year with remote teaching during the school closure, the two understood the instructional challenges. But they also understood the social emotional challenges caused by the absence of physical togetherness and by the digital walls separating their students from each other. They set out on a mission to bring their kids together.

At the very start of the school year, Beaumont and DiMarzo worked to establish comradery and connections. They purchased rainbow-colored rubber bracelets for their students which were distributed in August when parents came to pick-up books and materials for their children. A poem accompanied each bracelet:

A new school year

Is about to begin. And we’re in it together

Through thick and thin!

I’m glad you are on my team

And I think we’ll have fun

Laughing and learning

To get the job done.

Here’s a little gift

Straight from the heart, 

To wish you good luck

And a really good start.

Wear it as a reminder

That if the going gets rough

Just like this bracelet 

You are strong and tough! 

The bracelets provide a physical connection that helps ground the students and remind them that they are part of one class despite being in different places.

Time for social emotional learning 

All elementary classroom teachers in the district hold morning meetings and end-of-the- day recaps. The initiative is part of Mount Olive’s continued focus on social emotional learning to help which includes helping students develop self-awareness, self- management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills. (Those are the five core areas identified by the state department of education as essential for positive school climate and healthy social development.) 

Beaumont and DiMarzo found that these times have become invaluable in building a sense of community among their remote students, allowing their kids to express their individuality and feelings. They’ve broken their students into small groups and had them discuss their commonalities and the qualities that make a good friend, among other conversation starters. They’ve asked the students to express their thoughts about what makes someone “respectful” and the ways they can show respect for themselves, their families, their friends, their teachers, and their school. And a Student of the Week program that the veteran teachers recently began provides a student with the time to share a bit about his or her hobbies, family, and experiences.

All this sharing builds bonds among virtual classmates by showing that behind the disembodied heads lined up neatly in a grid on their computer monitors are real people with thoughts, opinions, interests, and personalities. 

“Students miss that idle conversation that happens in the lunchroom or while hanging up their backpacks or on the bus,” said Beaumont. “We want to give them those moments to giggle and be a kid, and that makes them feel more at home.”

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Sandshore Elementary School

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498 Sandshore Rd
Budd Lake, NJ 07828

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118 Cloverhill Drive
Flanders, NJ 07836

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Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
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Budd Lake, NJ 07828

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Flanders, NJ 07836

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160 Wolfe Road
Budd Lake, NJ 07828

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Flanders, NJ 07836

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