The Secaucus Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on March 23 at Huber Street School. Twelve “Showcase of Success” awards were presented to various individuals (see front page). All the board members were present in addition to the superintendent of schools, board secretary and business administrator, and board attorney. The large contingent of family members that filled the multi-purpose room emptied out following the presentation of Showcase honors, leaving mostly district staff in the audience.
Grace Yeo, administrator/secretary, polled the nine trustees on whether to approve a special meeting of the board on May 4. The vote was unanimous to approve the meeting that is scheduled to adopt the 2017-18 school budget. Board President Jack McStowe reported that the Shared Services Committee met with the Mayor and members of the Town Council the night before. “We appreciate the continued support of the Mayor and Council,” stated McStowe. The president extended thanks to Grace Yeo and her staff for their work on preparing and finalizing the budget. “I give her [Grace] all the credit in the world.” Trustee Joe Lewis chipped in, “When I saw her door shut with a sign saying ‘Do Not Enter,’ I knew not to disturb Grace, that she was busy with the budget.” McStowe also cited the high SAT scores of Secaucus High School students, pointing to the fact that the children who have gone through their entire K-12 school career in Secaucus do very well on their SATs. “I’ve always said that,” he proudly remarked.
Both trustee Lou Giele and interim Superintendent Kenneth Knops mentioned the “Coffee with the Principals” event that Dr. Bob Berckes and Rob Valente, principals, respectively, of Secaucus High School and Middle School, would be holding on March 30. The event is for parents of elementary school children and includes a tour of both schools and discussion about what their children can expect in the middle and high schools. Knops offered that it was ironic that neither principal had “ever sipped coffee in their lives!” It was suggested that maybe instead of “coffee” with the principals the event could be renamed “Punch with the Principals!”
Trustee Joan Cali acknowledged Huber kindergarten teacher Judy Jaeger in the audience, explaining that she (Cali) read to Ms. Jaeger’s students on “Read Across America Day” on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. “You have the patience of a saint,” Ms. Cali told the kindergarten teacher. The board member also asked Ms. Jaeger to put her down for the same event next year. Trustee Norma Hanley commented on the talented students in the district. “There is such diversity of talent in music, sports, and academics. It shows how much we offer in our district.”
Mr. Knops, an ardent proponent of exposing students to “primary sources,” announced that Jane Clementi would speak to the middle and high school students in April. Mrs. Clementi’s 18-year-old son, Tyler, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in September 2010. Tyler Clementi was a freshman at Rutgers University when he was “outed” by his dormitory roommate in a well-documented cyber-bullying attack. Superintendent Knops offered that when students hear firsthand accounts of life experiences, they tend to absorb it better and may be more sympathetic and empathetic. (A date for Mrs. Clementi’s talk was not available at press time.)