While MOMS was closed for mold remediation, middle-schoolers were taught at Mount Olive High School. The task of educating 1,100 middle school students at the high school was an extraordinarily complex undertaking that owes its success to communication, collaboration, and cooperation. Middle school administrators, teachers, support staff members, high school administrators, and counselors worked with personnel from transportation, security, buildings and grounds, and technology to coordinate the delivery of instruction and services.
The four core subjects were taught, in addition to music and physical education on certain days. Each grade level had its own homeroom/home base. Every morning at 8 a.m., the sixth grade met in the auxiliary gym, the seventh grade in the cafeteria, and the eighth grade in the auditorium.
After announcements and attendance, math teachers from each grade escorted students to available instructional areas in the high school for class. When each period ended, math teachers brought students back to their home bases and took other groups to other locations for math instruction. Language arts, social studies, and science were taught in the students’ home bases.
While middle school students were dismissed at noon, their work continued at home via Google Classroom, a web service that allows teachers and students to share files and communicate.
“Technology allowed us to extend school beyond the walls of the classroom,” said Matt Robinson, middle school principal. “Our teachers and support staff made the process a success. They worked incredibly hard during a difficult time and were completely dedicated to ensuring that learning continued.”
Through it all, students were understanding and cooperative.
“I can’t say enough about our great kids,” said MOMS vice principal Nick Cutro. “They came in every day and said ‘Where do I need to go, what do I need to learn? Let’s get it done.’”
Behind the scenes
Extensive planning was needed to implement the half day of middle school instruction at Mount Olive High School. Mr. Robinson, Mr. Cutro, and MOMS vice principal Chris Reagan divided responsibilities. Scheduling fell to Mr. Reagan.
When the decision was made to break math instruction into smaller groups, Mr. Reagan met with Rob Feltmann, the high school’s vice principal of student services, to list the days and times that high school classrooms and instructional areas were free. (Since the schedule at MOHS is on a four-day rotation, the times that rooms are open and available change every day.) Then, working with Vicky Cavaleri, MOMS guidance counselor and Excel wizard, Mr. Reagan was able to group students together and assign rooms for math instruction.
The high school also pushed back its block lunch so that the cafeteria would be available for group instruction until the noon MOMS dismissal.
“The high school administration, teachers, and support staff were extremely accommodating in the sharing of everything from space to paperclips to instructional supplies to copy machines,” Mr. Reagan said. “It was a team effort; however, it was not without challenge.”
Other work that needed to be done included setting up phone lines and computers so that the lobby of the performing arts center could function as the main office/guidance department, coordinating the daily transportation of students and teachers from the middle school to the high school, and arranging joint fire and security drills.
“The whole process brought our staff closer together,” Mr. Robinson said. “We made it work, but we're thankful we're back home.”
Sandshore Elementary School
498 Sandshore Rd
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Mountain View Elementary School
118 Cloverhill Drive
Flanders, NJ 07836
Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Mt. Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road
Budd Lake, NJ 07828