Safety, community are top priorities for JS School District
By LAURA JAMESON
JERSEY SHORE — At Jersey Shore Area School District safety is a top priority.
The district is continuing to “focus on providing a safe and supportive environment for our students, teachers and staff,” Superintendent Jill Weinrich said.
Although she hopes a dangerous situation doesn’t arise, the teachers and staff of the district are prepared.
In recent years the district began to incorporate ALiCE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training as a part of their emergency drill procedure.
The new procedure replaces their previous lock-down method which had students and teachers staying put wherever they were and barricading entry ways, she said.
ALiCE is a more proactive approach when it comes to an intruder.
If the ALiCE alarm is sounded, teachers must make the best decision with regards to the safety of their students, whether that means locking down a room or exiting the building, Weinrich said.
Currently, the staff of the district are trained and Weinrich plans to have a full training drill involving students in the fall of this year.
She hopes the training can become an instinct, similar to a fire drill procedure.
The district also received additional funding through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to make their part-time school resource officer full time, she said.
A sense of community and belonging is something that both the staff at the high school would like to instill within their students.
Principal Steven Keen has begun focusing on compassion, Weinrich said.
“(Keen) is hopeful that by focusing on compassion we, as a collective body, can become more appreciative, kinder, gracious, and understanding of one another,” she said. “In turn, we can build a stronger sense of community and civility.”
The school-wide mantra is “Be a VIP: Value everyone and everything, Individual responsibility, and a Positive Attitude.”
“Cultivating compassion is directly tied to the high school’s School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Program which promotes educational and cultural supports,” she said.
Recently, members of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) were able to show not only their compassion, but the entire districts as well.
The high school’s chapter of FBLA hosted a district wide food drive in November 2018, challenging every district building to collect food for the New Love Center.
Each building was tasked with collecting a certain number of non-perishable items to put into holiday boxes which would be given to members of the community in need. Monetary donations were also collected within the Jersey Shore community as well.
By the end of the month, the district raised a total of over $11,000 to donate to the center as well as exceeding the amount of food need at each building.
Weinrich is proud of how much the students and staff of the district, as well as the community, came together for the drive. All of it was the result of the initiative shown by members of FBLA.
While staff at the high school are emphasizing compassion, the middle school staff is hoping to bring passion back into learning.
At the middle school a popular movie has shaped a new campaign.
“This year we’ve challenged our students to find their passion,” Weinrich said.
What gets them excited? What is it they do that makes other around them recognize their joy? What makes you “Come Alive?”
The program is inspired by popular movie “The Greatest Showman” and incorporates the social media hashtag #JSAMSComeAlive.
“When we come alive, we’re doing what we enjoy and making those around us better,” she said.
The middle school’s focus this year is to capture as many of those moments as possible and share it through social media using the hashtag.
Through the Come Alive program, the staff at the middle school are attempting to create a positive culture, through murals, signs and posters as well as other methods.
Teachers and staff at the middle school hope to make the school a place students want to be.
To help with this goal, the school is continuing to make learning more personalized for the students.
“Teachers in the middle school recognize that education has shifted from what it once was,” Weinrich said. “No longer are we modelling practices after a more industrialized design, but instead moving towards ensuring all students are college and career ready.”
Through teaching practices such as 1:1 technology and using resources such as IXL, Moby Max and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) challenges the students are receiving a more personalized education.
Students are being encouraged to “own their learning” by completing their own progress monitoring in each content area as they progress through material, she said.
“It’s a work in progress, but one that we feel will best prepare our students for what lies ahead,” she said.
The school is combining both the #JSAMSComeAlive project with their personalized learning through Passion Projects.
Students have the ability to use personalized learning time to work on projects they are passionate about.
“(It’s) bringing students what they love to do in the classroom,” Weinrich said.
Whether it’s developing inspirational messages for student lockers, raising support for the American Rescue Workers and the SPCA or researching something of interest, the students are encouraged to explore their passion and learn for the sake of learning.
For many of the passion projects, a grade isn’t attached, but the benefits to the students and the community is profound.
The school’s English Language Arts teachers are also working with Mrs. Brooke Beiter from IU 17 on adjusting their curriculum by using The Spring Board, Weinrich said.
Through the this tool, teachers are able to utilize Learning Progressions to make sure they’re covering all eligible content within each grade level.
Science and technology has taken a front seat in the district’s three elementary schools.
Students in grades K-5 are participating in hands-on science exploration during class, Weinrich said.
In the 2019-2020 school year all students will participate in physical science and earth science investigations using Next Generation FOSS kits as well as utilize life science kits.
“The elementary students love the interactive lesson during which they perform investigations and explorations,” she said.
During their lessons, students keep science notebooks where they write and draw about the real-life science lessons they have experienced.
At Salladasburg Elementary, Mrs. Barth’s third grade students are learning about water and climate including observing water and how it reacts when it falls on different surfaces. They also developed a hypothesis and carried out investigations to explore how water moves on a slope.
Second grade students at the school are studying earth materials, making beaded necklaces out of the smallest earth material, clay.
At Jersey Shore Elementary students have been participating in earth science lessons as well. Mr. Welshan’s class has been studying different soil samples and recording their observations.
Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Engel’s second graders are working together to explore sedimentary rock collections as part of a Pebbles, Sand and Silt unit and Mrs. Neufer’s third grade class participated in an owl pellet investigation. The students were fascinated as they examined, identified and recorded the contents of their owl pellets, Weinrich said.
JSE also hosted several STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fairs, organized by high school teacher Mrs. Jennifer McKee.
“The purpose of these STEM fairs is for Mrs. McKee’s high school students to interact in small groups with (JSE) students, introducing them to various STEM activities,” Weinrich said.
Fourth and fifth grade students at JSE have had the opportunity to be peer tutors or mentors for younger students, Weinrich said.
Each older student is paired with a younger one to help them. For some students, this could mean helping practice letters, numbers, sigh words, or math facts with their mentee. Others may read aloud to them or help a student get organized and complete their morning routine to start the day off on a positive note.
“Peer tutors and mentors serve as positive role models for their younger buddies,” Weinrich said. “Teachers are very appreciative of the additional one-on-one time peer tutors and mentors can spend with their buddies improving their skills.”
“I love to see how much the kids grow,” fifth grade student Trinity Boush had said.
Jersey Shore Area School District
175 A&P Dr.,
Jersey Shore, Pa. 17740