Superintendent’s Monthly Message
Now that we have settled into the 15-16 school year and “Back-to-School” routines have been established in your homes, our classrooms, and our schools, it is time to turn our attention to the many events we have scheduled for October - “NJ Week of Respect”, “Violence & Vandalism Awareness Week ”, “Fire Safety Week”, and “Halloween Safety”. Through these highlights we will be striving to engage students in meaningful learning by balancing fun activities with strong prosocial and safety messages.
“Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education”. We hold this vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. in our desire to create a safe and secure school for all of our students. Plenty of research exists citing the importance of teaching character education in schools and it is the Rumson School District’s commitment to creating this environment for our students.
“The need for character education lies in the fact that a sustained process of teaching, being shown examples of good character, and constant reinforcement by practicing what they learned are the things needed to instill good character traits in students. And since students spend most of their time at school, it is the perfect place to instill moral values in them.
The reason for teaching good character is to help prepare the students to face the many opportunities and unknown dangers that are in today's society. Character education gives the students the knowledge they need to know what these dangers in society are and deal with them properly.
Young people these days are exposed to literally thousands of negative influences through the media and their peers every day. Students need to know how to handle these pressures and character education will give them the tools that they need.
Building character also helps them to interact properly with their teachers and fellow students, turning their classroom into a better learning environment.”- Charactercounts.org
The Rumson Board of Education, district administration and teachers have made a commitment to this vision by adding additional time to the school day to allow for the creation of a 17 minute Morning Meeting during homeroom each day. During this “meeting” homeroom teachers and their special area/special education partners have been delivering instruction and generating dialogue around character education topics. These topics focus on giving students time and opportunity , under the guidance of trained staff, to focus on their role in their own and fellow students experiences in school, in the community, and in the world.
For example, in the first NJ Bar lesson students spent time understanding the differences between bullying and normal conflict. From here they will learn strategies for dealing with both situations as aggressors, victims, and bystanders. In addition to these new programs, a general sense of community is being fostered among the students and staff. We have used this Morning Meeting time to honor those who service the community on 9/11 National Service Day, honor our school staff on National School Custodian Day, and celebrate our great school on Rumson School Spirit Day. These are just three examples of the great service we hope to continue to instill in our students.
We will be reaching out to parents over the month to hold Administrative Team Talks to share more information about these programs and the district’s initiatives to support character education. All of these programs will take time to settle in and generate the shift among our students and the district will remain committed to the cause. In the meantime, we will certainly support our students as appropriate.
On a final note, there is one immediate way parents can help to support this effort. We ask all parents to do all they can to ensure students are in school on time- homeroom at 8:30AM- every day. Since we have a district-wide commitment to character education the first 17 minutes of the day, it is critical for students to be in homeroom to participate in the lesson and discussion. With this consistent and focused start to the day the important lessons can be carried throughout the school day and school year. All it takes is one student to miss one strong message for the impact to be lessened. We appreciate all you can do to support this important start to our day!
Dr. John E. Bormann