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sean mcneil 050316 1New Fair Haven schools Superintendent Sean McNeil gets right to work, serving cake to students at a gathering to welcome him Tuesday night. His official start date is July 1. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


HOT-TOPIC_03The Fair Haven Board of Education kept it local in filling the superintendent’s job Tuesday night.

The board unanimously approved Sean McNeil, principal of the Port Monmouth Elementary School in Middletown, to replace Nelson Ribon.

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nelson ribon 042814 3Fair Haven schools Superintendent Nelson Ribon, seen here in 2014, plans to leave the district next July 1, following the school board’s acceptance of his resignation last week. In a letter to the school community, Ribon, who has led the two-school district since 2011, cited “exciting opportunities available to me in the very near future” as a factor in his decision. He didn’t respond to a request for comment last Friday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)



Press release from Fair Haven School District

AmyAfter serving as Assistant Principal for the Rumson School District since 2013, Amy Romano will soon be featured in a new role as principal of Knollwood School in Fair Haven. Romano’s hiring was made official at the November 18 meeting of the Fair Haven Board of Education, and she will step into her new assignment in January 2016, at the conclusion of winter recess.

Romano has served as Assistant Principal in the neighboring Rumson School District since 2013.

Prior to her post in Rumson, Romano (pictured with Fair Haven Superintendent of Schools Nelson Ribon at the November 18 meeting) taught various grade levels for ten years in the Plainfield and Howell school districts. She served as Lead Teacher in the Howell schools for two years, coaching teachers on instructional strategies and curriculum. Romano also stepped in as Principal of Rumson’s Forrestdale School, during the maternity leave of current Principal Jennifer Gibbons.

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knollwood 1Knollwood School is the place, and October 7 the date for “Fair Haven Pride,” the first of four public-welcome workshops in the borough’s Vision 2020 strategic planning initiative.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

The Fair Haven School District will host a series of four workshops to elicit suggestions from the community as it embarks on “Fair Haven Vision 2020,” a 2015-2020 strategic planning initiative. The first workshop, “Fair Haven Pride,” is scheduled for October 7 from 7 to 8:30 pm, and will be hosted in the all-purpose room at Knollwood School All-Purpose Room.

Additional 7 pm workshops are scheduled to take place at Knollwood School on November 11 at 7 pm (“The Vision”), on December 1 (“Defining Action Steps”), and on January 21, 2016 (“Data Night”). Each will adhere to a strict 90-minute time-frame, and those wishing to participate are not required to attend all four workshops.

“Our district’s goal is to engage school employees, parents, students, community members, business owners, and government leaders in the plans being made for the future of our school system,” said Fair Haven School District Superintendent Nelson Ribon. “I encourage attendance at any or all of these workshops, where we hope to engage the entire community in an important conversation about the needs and expectations of our schools.”

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knollwood 1Graduating third graders from Sickles School made the transition to incoming fourth graders at Knollwood School, in a ceremonial ride to their new school on June 11. Then on June 18, a separate ceremony marked the transition of Knollwood’s Class of 2015 to the next freshman class at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

From press materials furnished by Fair Haven School District

The Fair Haven School District celebrates the “transition” of students from third grade at Viola L. Sickles School into fourth grade at Knollwood School in a big way. Held on the afternoon of June 11, this year’s Transition Day saw teachers and students from Viola L. Sickles School cheering from the sidelines on Willow Street, as the third graders began their journey on bicycles and the big red trolley. Escorted by members of the Fair Haven School District staff and administration, as well as eighth-grade Peer Leaders, the students headed toward Knollwood School on Hance Avenue. They were greeted along the way by many well-wishers holding signs and shouting encouragement.

At the grades 4-8 Knollwood School, the third graders were given a tour by the eighth grade Peer Leaders, learned about the school’s music program, and attended a brief assembly hosted by Principal Kevin Davis, who remarked that “It’s always so much fun to greet the incoming students at Sickles School and bring them over to Knollwood.”

Then in a separate ceremony on the evening of June 18, the graduating Knollwood School eighth graders marked their own transition to the next stage of their education career — as incoming freshmen at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

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Knollwood Stock MarketPress release from Fair Haven School District

Knollwood School students George Clough, Patrick Malpass, and Charles Newbury of Fair Haven achieved the First Place finish in the Southern Region of New Jersey Spring Stock Market Game.

The three fifth-graders, members of the Knollwood School Stock Market Club, competed against over 100 other teams in the Stock Market Game, which ran for 10 weeks ending in May. With a “virtual” $100,000 to invest, they made a profit of $6,977.56.

As winners of the top prize, they attended an awards ceremony on May 26 at Stockton College and presented a short speech about their experience.

“Each of us had different ideas for choosing companies to invest in,” said George. “I chose General Electric during the week that it was number one on the Dow Jones; Charles chose Ford because the price of the stock was low and it was a solid company that had performed well in the past, and Patrick chose Sony because he loves gaming PS4.”

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fh boe 022515At a packed meeting, above, the board of ed voted to reinstate teacher Basil Henning, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


basil henning 2014Fair Haven’s school board reinstated a sixth-grade Spanish teacher Wednesday night, 10 days after he was placed on administrative leave over crass satirical web videos in which he appeared.

Following a recommendation by Superintendent Nelson Ribon, the board ended the administrative leave of Basil Henning, a tenured teacher whose paid removal, announced in an unusual Sunday night email to parents, was prompted by at least one parent’s complaints.

Henning is free to return to work Thursday morning, though an investigation continues, Ribon told redbankgreen following the meeting, at the Knollwood School.

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Warning: video featuring Basil Henning, also seen below in a 2014 photo, includes graphic language. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


basil henning 2014A Fair Haven middle school teacher has been placed on administrative leave following a complaint over satirical web videos in which he appeared.

Superintendent Nelson Ribon announced in a Sunday night letter to parents and teachers that Knollwood School Spanish teacher Basil Henning had been placed on administrative leave. No reason was given for the action, and Ribon declined to comment to redbankgreen Monday, citing rules concerning personnel matters.

But Henning’s administrative leave followed complaints by at least one parent about videos in which Henning plays a foul-mouthed Jets fan who keeps up a constant patter about hookers, oral sex and other adult matters in addition to football.

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RFH Dot DaySickles Art Teacher RoseAnn LaBrocca explains International Dot Day activities to her second grade students.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

The message board located near the entrance to Viola L. Sickles School in Fair Haven proclaimed, “International Dot Day – Make Your Mark.” Yet even after being forewarned, visitors to the school would still be pleasantly surprised by the level of excitement — as well as the sheer number of dots — creatively displayed throughout the building on September 15.

In the hallway outside Kerry Kennedy and Pamela Greenhall’s classroom, young Kindergarteners excitedly sponge-painted dots on a poster taped to the wall. Courtney Robinson’s first-grade class sat on a dot-embellished carpet while discussing the collaborative dot art project they would soon be displaying for the entire school to see. Nan Hagen’s second graders were thinking hard about how to represent themselves in individual name-glyphs, carefully marking colorful dots to represent their personal characteristics. The third graders had filled their hallway with a dazzling display of dot-centered artwork, displaying their talent and ability to “think outside the box.”

It was all part of International Dot Day, an initiative held each year on September 15, and inspired by the best-selling children’s book The Dot, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

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V__32A3Left to right, author and tech expert Alan November is pictured with Superintendent Dr. Peter Righi, Avon School District Chief School Administrator Christopher Albrizio, and Fair Haven School District Superintendent Nelson Ribon.

Press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

Alan November, world-renowned education technology expert and author of the best-seller Who Owns the Learning, wasted no time setting the tone for his keynote presentation on September 3 at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

“I would rather have good information than good technology,” November noted in his opening remarks at Staff Professional Day, the official “kickoff” to the new school year. “The real revolution taking place in teaching right now is not about technology, it is about information.”

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cuddihyCheryl Cuddihy has been appointed Principal of Viola L. Sickles School in Fair Haven.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

Fair Haven Superintendent of Schools Nelson Ribon has announced the selection of Cheryl Cuddihy, M.Ed, M.A. as Principal of Viola L. Sickles School. Cuddihy’s appointment was approved at a scheduled meeting of the Fair Haven Board of Education held at Knollwood School on the evening of June 25, 2014.

A resident of Middletown, Cuddihy most recently served as Vice Principal of Red Bank Primary School. Prior to joining the Red Bank Borough School district in August 2013, Cuddihy taught Kindergarten, first, second and fourth grade at Leonardo Grade School and Nut Swamp Elementary School in Middletown Township. In 2005, during her first year of teaching at Leonardo Grade School, she was the recipient of the “Teacher of the Year” Award.

“I am very excited to be joining a progressive educational community which embraces the achievement of literacy skills through the workshop model,” said Cuddihy, who was selected after an extensive search process, and who plans to become a familiar face at Sickles School well before her official start date of August 1.

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RFHmusketeersThe Tower Players at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, shown here in THE THREE MUSKETEERS — ALL SWASH AND NO BUCKLE, earned a number of nominations and awards for their 2013/14 season.

From press materials furnished by Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School and Fair Haven School District

A banner year for the Rowing team, a trophy case of awards for the Drama troupe, a collection of precious-metal medals for a Fair Haven swimmer, and an early welcome to incoming freshmen — all events that capped another memorable school year, as the 2013-2014 session at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School approached its close.


The RFH rowing community came together at the Ocean Beach Club on Wednesday, June 11, to celebrate the season, recognize outstanding achievements and sadly say goodbye to its graduating seniors. There was much to celebrate, as RFH Rowing captured three First Place and two Second Place finishes at the Saint Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware. At the Central New Jersey Rowing Association’s Wagner Cup, held on the Raritan River, the team won eight First Place medals and claimed a First or Second Place in all entered events. The Men’s Junior Quad (Brendan Edwards, Ben Cooper, Matt Bavuso and Sheridan Camarata) won The Bronze Medal in the 2014 New Jersey Garden State Championship, and also qualified for the semi-finals at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the largest Scholastic Regatta in the world.

Winning the “Hammer” award for the fastest ERG times were Paul Criscitiello and Ryan Kearney for the men and Maren Gierlatowicz and Emily Kean for the women.  The “Beast Mode” awards for outstanding determination to succeed in physical fitness were Kaitlyn Peitler, Helena Van Hemmen and Dawson Epstein. Claiming the “Most Improved Rowing” award were Greg Nixon and Mariah Parsons.

Finally, RFH Rowing said farewell to its graduating seniors including Madison Bess, (Ithaca College), Evan Callahan (Rutgers University), Mary Clare Condon (Boston College), Kate Edwards (Drexel University), Rayan Heard (Notre Dame), Kaitlin Hill (Rutgers University), Katelyn Kearney (Drexel University), Francisco Orejarena (Rutgers University), Elise Reynolds (Lafayette College) Todd Spencer (Drexel University) and Matt Valko (Delaware University).

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TransitionDay2The Fair Haven tradition known as Transition Day celebrates the progress of Sickles School third graders toward fourth grade at Knollwood School — and highlights the fact that a majority of students bicycle to school in Fair Haven.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

Amid shouts of “Knollwood, Knollwood!”, a red trolley full of third graders left Viola L. Sickles School on Willow Street, and headed toward  Knollwood School. The trolley, festooned with white bows and ribbons, was followed by the rest of the third grade class who were chaperoned by local law enforcement officers, administrators and teachers from both schools, and eighth graders from Knollwood School — all of them on bicycles.

Rounding the corner of Fair Haven Road and Third Street, they all headed uphill to begin the last leg of the journey. They were greeted along the route by supporters holding signs of encouragement and congratulations, and messages such as “Goodbye Sickles, Hello Knollwood” written in chalk on the pavement.

Welcome to Fair Haven, where Transition Day — the ceremonial progression of third grade Sickles School students to the fourth grade at Knollwood School — is a highly anticipated and celebrated event.

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nelson ribon 042814 3 Superintendent Nelson Ribon fielded pointed questions from parents about the teachers’ contract and other issues at two packed meetings in April. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

After two years without a contract, Fair Haven school teachers have approved a new collective bargaining agreement, the Asbury Park Press reports.

The unresolved contract was among several flash points when parents grilled Superintendent Nelson Ribon and the school board over the possible elimination of two full-time kindergarten teaching jobs in April.

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fh boe  043014 1 Students held signs with the names of teachers whose jobs they hoped to save. Board member Katy Frissora, below, fielded a question from a parent. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


katy frissora 043014Some 300 Fair Haven parents and students packed a gymnasium to protest a plan not to renew the contracts of seven non-tenured teachers Wednesday night.

“It breaks my heart to leave my school like this in two months,” eighth-grader Ellie Gibney told the borough school board, just 48 hours after a smaller crowd upbraided school Superintendent Nelson Ribon over the plan.

Board members, however, defended the decision as the outcome of an evaluation process that included elements they could not discuss publicly under laws governing personnel matters.

“We need people to stop with the vitriol and the Facebook nastiness – at me in particular,” said Katy Frissora, who’s been on the board for eight years.

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fh schools 2 042814Superintendent Nelson Ribon, center above, fielded pointed questions from parents, including one, below, who compared him to a CEO who had lost the respect of his employees. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


fh schools 1 042814Fair Haven school Superintendent Nelson Ribon found himself in the crosshairs of about 100 mothers and a handful of students Monday night.

Joined by about a dozen men, the women and kids challenged Ribon and the school board over the possible elimination of two full-time kindergarten teaching jobs, a plan to expand the half-time kindergarten program next September, and pending decisions on the jobs of more than two dozen teachers.

“Teachers are afraid to talk,” a woman who has four children in the district schools told Ribon during a two-hour Q&A at Knollwood School. “They’re fearful for their jobs, and that’s not what Fair Haven is about.”

“We’re asking you to reconsider” a plan to replace the two kindergarten full-timers with four part-timers, said another, echoing a sentiment voiced several times.

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