Roadmap To Success

I’ll never forget the joy, pride and stress I felt after I was appointed Superintendent of Schools in Asbury Park, N.J. last year. After taking in the congratulatory comments and well wishes of getting a new job, I stole a few minutes that evening to reflect on what I had accomplished and the experiences I had gained on my journey of self-actualization. Abraham Maslow defines self-actualization as "the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for the individual to become actualized in what he is potentially.” During my moment of reflection, I realized that I had reached the pinnacle as an educational leader by being appointed the new Superintendent of Schools.

As I prepared for my first public meeting, the thoughts of someone raising his or her hand and asking me, “What’s next? What are your plans?” began to dominate my mind. Now that I have the job, the expectation is that I will “Know What To Do” and that people will be expecting me to “Lead” on day one. It did not matter if I was the new Superintendent of Schools, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Director of Special Education, or Building Principal; the expectation would be for me to live up to my resume and cover letter immediately.

Facing the district stakeholders for the first time was stressful as well as exciting. It was a defining moment in which the success of my speech would help shape the district and community’s perception of their new Chief School Administrator. My most pressing concern prior to delivering the speech was this: Which approach should I choose that will garner me credibility, respect, and trust? I opted to employ a systematic approach to lead my learning organization. A systematic approach is one that is repeatable and learnable through a series of step-by-step procedures. I named my approach A.C.E.  -- an acronym for Assess, Create, Execute.

Assess

Assessment is the process of collecting and evaluating data from varied sources in order to gain a better understanding. I used a mixed-method approach to assess my school district by collecting quantitative data (formative/summative assessments) and gathering qualitative data (interviews/focus groups/observations) in hopes of understanding the community as a whole, culture and climate of the district, and the internal/external challenges of student achievement. The process was very beneficial. It allowed me to use that rich information to support existing assumptions and develop a better understanding of the challenges ahead.

Create

According to Peter Senge (1990), “learning organizations are organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.” What are your mission, vision, values, and goals? Creating a plan of action is essential when establishing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goals. The strategic planning process should include all stakeholders when developing an action plan, which establishes high expectations and creates diverse strategies intended to produce desired outcomes.

Execute

The execution of the strategic plan is the most difficult aspect of the process. All well-conceived strategic plans that are not implemented are just dreams or wish lists. There are two components that are essential to the execution process -- deployment and reflection. Deployment is the implementation of the strategies. Reflection is the assessment of the strategic results. I call this process Plan, Do and Check.  

A.C.E

As I look back on that stressful moment of seven months ago, I recall standing in front of the large crowd in the auditorium delivering my first public speech in my new district. I felt comfortable. Subconsciously, I guess I knew I would A.C.E. this next chapter in the journey of my new self-actualization. 

Presently, I have completed the Assess process of my systematic approach and created action pillars to guide our learning organization. Those pillars are: Rebuild, Retool and Restore. Now I am halfway through my Create process of “Building A Brighter Future.” This systematic approach and subsequent experiences have taught me that leading an organization begins with understanding the essential questions of a learning organization: Where are we now? Where are we going? How will we get there?

NFL Player Timothy Wright looks to motivate Asbury grads

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Timothy Wright has a message for the city's high school graduates: success is attainable with action. Wright, the keynote speaker at the Asbury Park High School graduation, challenged the graduates to meet failure with perseverance and beat the odds in their community.

A Field of Promise at Bradley Elementary School

A group of unlikely partners may have come together Tuesday afternoon to celebrate Bradley Elementary School’s new state-of-the-art soccer field but it was the students that stole the show. When asked by Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund representative Eileen Kean what they thought of their new soccer field there was a resounding show of enthusiasm. When Kean asked, “Who’s going to score a goal on this field,” the entire elementary school children gathered there raised their hands and shouted “I will.”

A-Team Lawyer Appointed to Board of Ed

The Board of Education has appointed as Labor Counsel the attorney who represented two unsuccessful candidates on the A-Team slate in their lawsuit to open 343 vote-by-mail ballots rejected by the Monmouth County Board of Elections in last November’s election.

AP Schools Awarded Federal Healthy Food Grant

Three Asbury Park schools are among the 151 schools in the state awarded participation in the federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program. Barack Obama Elementary, Bradley Elementary, and Thurgood Marshall schools were chosen for the 2015-16 school year allocation that aims to set students on the road to improved lifelong dietary habits.

Planting is all in a days work for Asbury Park preschoolers

Thurgood Marshall Elementary School preschoolers are working diligently on their garden as the school year comes to a close. Currently, two pre-school classes -- Allison Guarneri and Nydia Fountaine and Brenda Freeman and Tracey Gatti -- participate in the program. The students typically plant sweet potatoes, strawberries, eggplant, tomatoes, green peppers and cilantro, to name a few. Planting usually takes place in late spring. Some crops will be ready when the students return to school in September, while others, like the sweet potatoes, wont be done until October.

Asbury Park girl follows Mo'ne Davis to baseball diamond

By last month, the deafening buzz surrounding Kayla Roncin's heroics for the Toms River Little League last summer — complete with a game-winning home run and text messages about her performances by local legend Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds — had died down.

Asbury Park Students Ready to Walk with Style

ASBURY PARK – The hot weather is approaching and fashion is changing.  For those who like to keep up with the newest trends, Asbury Park High School is here to show you the hottest clothing for summer with a fashion show.

Dubbed, “A Taste of Summer,” the APHS students are working to make this their best fashion show ever.  The event takes place May 20 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel located at 1401 Ocean Ave. in Asbury Park.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts promptly at 7 p.m.  

According to Fashion and Art instructor, Jean Johnson, “the goal of this summer show is for students to learn and participate in the business of creating and coordinating a professional special event fashion show.”  Working hard as a team, students will serve in the areas of press relations, marketing, music mixing, photography, modeling, networking, social media, promotion and other responsibilities of putting on a special event fashion show.

“Supporting and developing relationships with the community and businesses is another aspect of the learning experience,” Johnson said.  “We’ve designed opportunities to promote local businesses by modeling the clothes of Artisan Boutique located in Ocean Grove, Artifacts located in Belmar, and Lightly Salted located in the 3rd Avenue Pavilion in Asbury Park.  

The students also learn the value of giving back and have selected the Ronald McDonald House of Central New Jersey as the recipient of the non-perishable food suggested entry fee. The students selected the Ronald McDonald House because many of the Asbury Park community members have benefited from the services that the Ronald McDonald House provides.

“The students are excited to show the community the effort and dedication they have for the Fashion Classes at Asbury Park High School,” Asbury Park High School Principal Reginald Mirthil said.  “This is a new program initiative at APHS that offers a multitude of opportunities for students to learn about the fashion business and industry.” 

The students are ready to put on an inspirational show for you to see summer clothes from casual to formal in a fun, exciting and energetic event to convey their happiness towards warm weather and Summer Fun!

Support Asbury's Literacy Initiative

A proposal by Asbury Park schools Superintendent Lamont Repollet to pay Scholastic, a global educational services and children's publishing company, $3.4 million over the next four years to implement new reading programs in the district has been met with stinging criticism from some members of the community.

Will $3.4M Effort Teach Asbury Park Children to Read?

Superintendent Lamont Repollet views the Scholastic initiative as paramount to turning around the district, which underperforms even against peer districts with similar demographics. "If I can't improve test scores, my kids can't think critically, my kids can't comprehend if they can't read," said Repollet, who joined the district last fall. "This is a major component of what we are doing to improve student achievement."

Special Education Parent Survey Response Requested

To All Parents of Special Education Students:

You will be receiving a survey in the mail the week of May 4, 2015 from the NJ Dept. of Education.  The purpose of the survey is to get your input on parental involvement in special education programs.  Your responses will help in the improvement of programs and services to special education students.  Please take the time to complete and return the survey in the self-addressed envelope provided.  Please see the letter explaining the purpose of the survey on the Student Personnel Services link on the district website.

Asbury Park Students at the White House

Asbury Park High School students joined Monmouth University students Tuesday in meeting First Lady Michelle Obama during the educational workshop “The History of Gospel Music” at the White House. The event, part of the White House Music Series, paid tribute to the fundamental role gospel music has played in the American musical tradition and the important artists and repertoire that have marked its vibrant history, Monmouth University spokeswoman Petra Ludwig said in a written statement.

Asbury Park Middle Schoolers Become Entrepreneurs

They dip gummy bears in chocolate and iron different designs onto T-shirts. These kids aren’t just middle school students. They’re entrepreneurs with Asbury Park’s Junior Entrepreneur Training Program or JET. It’s designed to teach students how to start their own business.

Student Entrepreneurs En Route to Made in Monmouth

Junior Entrepreneur Training [JET] members are readying for their first business venture at Saturday’s Made in Monmouth Expo at Monmouth University. The group’s 17 middle school-aged students, who were divided into two groups, will sell their handmade chocolate covered treats and fashion forward tees during the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. annual vendor event.

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