Press release from Rumson School District
The Rumson School District recently sponsored a Parent Academy session, for the purpose of outlining Social and Emotional Learning initiatives taking place in Forrestdale and Deane-Porter Schools. Over 90 parents of borough schoolchildren attended the event, held on the evening of October 26 and hosted by Superintendent Dr. John E. Bormann, Deane-Porter School Counselor Jessica Piernik, and Forrestdale School Counselor Jenn Crow.
“School is one of the few places where children are faced with social situations and conflicts that can be handled by working together with caring adults,” said Bormann. “This makes us an excellent proving ground.”
“We are supplying our students with a much-needed venue to make missteps in the presence of well-informed staff members who will correct them and guide them in the right direction.”
Piernik and Crow outlined programs currently taking place at both schools, including “Responsive Classroom” and “Second Step.” Responsive Classroom is a Kindergarten through fifth grade initiative this year, with intent to extend it to the grades six through eight next year. Regarded as one of the most well-designed social and emotional learning programs, Responsive Classroom is a research-based approach to education that is associated with greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement, and improved school climate.
Second Step has been introduced into the Rumson School District’s K-8 curriculum. The program helps students develop social and emotional skills — including making friends, managing
emotions, and solving problems — to set them on the path for social success and academic readiness.
The district is also setting forth many additional initiatives throughout both schools, all targeted to stages of social development at every grade level. These include setting guidelines for “Bullying vs. Conflict” situations, helping to build social skills through education and modeling, promoting character education and reinforcing good behavior, enhancing social awareness and relationship skills, improving conflict resolution, and raising students’ self-awareness and self- management to improve their coping skills.
The Rumson Board of Education, district administration, and teaching staff have also added 17 minutes to each school day to allow for the creation of a “Morning Meeting” during homeroom. During this daily meeting, homeroom teachers and their special area/special education partners deliver instruction and generate dialogue based on character education topics. The Morning Meeting is designed to help students build a sense of community within their classrooms, which is one of the cornerstones of “Responsive Classroom.”
“I can promise you that if students are not happy at school, you can forget about the academics,” Dr. Bormann said. “That is why we have not only Jess and Jenn but every single member of our staff involved in this initiative…(and) when our students complete the eighth grade at Forrestdale School, we want all of them to be able to graduate saying that they had a great experience.”
The well-received Parent Academy presentation concluded with a group activity designed to dispel some of the myths surrounding bullying behavior. Parents also completed a School Climate Survey to share their opinions on the school environment, as well as feedback on topics they would like discussed during upcoming Parent Academy events.
“I want to thank the three of you for doing this,” Jennifer Sullivan, parent of Deane-Porter second-grader Jack told the presenters to applause from the others in attendance. “This event has been educational, inspiring, and mind-blowing.”
Additional information on the Social and Emotional Learning initiatives — as well as a link to the School Climate Survey and information on upcoming Parent Academy sessions — can be found on the district web site, Rumsonschool.org.