Day of Learning – January 29, 2014

I plan on posting pictures that highlight great learning experiences from accross the entire UFRSD. I believe the great things happening in our district should be captured and shared in the community. My hope is that you will find these pictures as an opportunity to see great teaching and learning happening throughout our district. Although I will not have pictures from each school everyday, I believe you will get the gist of what learning looks like in the UFRSD.

NES – Grade 3 – 


Today, in 3J, Mrs. Gleason worked with Mrs. Jacobs to teach a Reading Workshop lesson. The focus of the lesson: using our notes from text to teach others what we know and read. Team teaching was at its best in the classroom and our kids were tremendously engaged throughout the lesson.




SBMS – (last Friday)

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I was surprised by the staff and students of SBMS last Friday. It was my last day as the Principal of this wonderful middle school. I LOVE the kids, the staff and the parents of SBMS. One of the highlights included a rendition of “Stone Bridge” our alma mater by the Redbird Singers. 

10 Years Later…thanks UFRSD.

I remember my first interview in the UFRSD. Superintendent Dr. Connolly, Principal Mimi Peluso and Asst. Superintendent Maybeth Conway and me. At the time, I was ready to accept another job offer, but something was different about this interview – joy, humor, passion, and an unmatched commitment to kids were clearly present. I found a match. I wanted to be in this great district; a district whose first impression was, in fact, the reality.

10 years later, I consider myself so fortunate to be a part of this district. Things have changed – a new building, curriculum revisions, changes in staff….but, what hasn’t changed is the one major focus of our district (the focus that drew me here in the first place)… I had a professor in my first graduate class when I was attending Seton Hall who would always tell us about a sign she placed on her desk, “The answer is ‘YES,’ if it helps kids.” I love this thought and love that fact that Dr. Fitzpatrick, the administration, the teachers and staff all have this belief; it is one of the culturally synchronistic traits of our district. This is why I feel so proud to say that I am a part of this district – a common belief in doing whatever it takes to help, support and teach kids.

10 years later, I am embarking on a new part of my journey. I have been truly blessed to be the Principal of Stone Bridge Middle School. SBMS is a chapter in my professional and personal life that will remain closest to my heart. The students, staff and parents have taught me so much about excellence, resiliency, passion, and love. Lasting friendships have been formed. Stone Bridge is a special place. Today, I am transitioning to a new position, Assistant Superintendent, a position that will afford me the opportunity to work closer with the wonderful staff and students of Allentown High School and the talented staff and students of Newell Elementary School,  while I continue to work with the fantastic people at Stone Bridge. It is a position that will give me a chance to work with educators and kids in all of our schools as we continue to move forward as a district.

I leave Stone Bridge with confidence in the staff and students; they are truly a gift. I have supreme confidence in our new Principal, Ms. Negro – there is no better human being, educator, and advocate for kids. She is excellent in every sense of the word.

10 years later, time has flown by, but what hasn’t changed is this district’s primary focus – doing our best for kids. The answer in the UFRSD is “YES,” if it helps kids. Thank you UFRSD for having that same focus 10 years later – joy, humor, passion and an unmatched commitment to our kids. Carpe Diem!


Middle School Students Excel at Debate

2013-12-26 / Front Page
The English-Speaking Union, in collaboration with ClaremotMcKenna College, sponsored the Garden State Debate League tournament for middle school students on Dec. 7 at Stone Bridge Middle School in Allentown.
Competing for trophies in the categories of Best Speaker, Top Team and Best Overall School were 86 students from Barkalow Middle School (Freehold Township), Bolger Middle School (Keansburg), the Hun School (Princeton), Mother TeresaRegional School (Atlantic Highlands), Our Lady of Sorrows (Hamilton), Rumson Country Day School (Rumson), Stone Bridge Middle School (Upper Freehold Regional School District,and the Wilberforce School (Princeton), according to a press release.
The 29 teams all posed well-researched arguments on both sides of these topics: the atomic bombing of Japan was justified; single sex schools are good for K-12 students; raising the minimum wage causes more harm than good; and surveillance measures by the U.S. government are warranted.
Stone Bridge earned the first place school trophy for mostteam wins with 15, and the Hun School earned second place with 12 wins. The Wilberforce School took home the tournament trophy for highest percentage of wins and Stone Bridgeearned second place.
Students were also awarded individual speaker points for their debate performances.
The following students earned the top speaker award for their schools: Andrew Salm (Barkalow), Bernie Comey (Bolger,Michael Alonzo (Hun), Steven Claggit (Mother Teresa), Lauren Wright (Our Lady of Sorrows), Taylor Harrison (Rumson Country Day) Deven Kinney (Stone Bridge) and Andy D’Alessio(Wilberforce).
Nelson Lin, a first-time debater from the Barkalow Middle School, won the gavel for earning the most points for the entire tournament.
The Garden State Debate League is part of a national network of middle school debate programs established 10 years ago by Claremont McKenna College to integrate public speaking and debate into the school curriculum for young adolescents, according to the press release. Through middle school debate leagues, the English-Speaking Union promotes the art of public speaking and debate, and improves the state of civil discourse among the nation’s younger citizens.


Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids?

by Mickey Goodwin


 Warning signs

When a college freshman received a C- on her first test, she literally had a meltdown in class. Sobbing, she texted her mother who called back, demanding to talk to the professor immediately (he, of course, declined). Another mother accompanied her child on a job interview, then wondered why he didn’t get the job.

 A major employer reported that during a job interview, a potential employee told him that she would have his job within 18 months. It didn’t even cross her mind that he had worked 20 years to achieve his goal.

 Sound crazy?

 Sadly, the stories are all true, says Tim Elmore, founder and president of a non-profit, Growing Leaders, and author of the “Habitudes®” series of books, teacher guides, DVD kits and survey courses. “Gen Y (and iY) kids born between 1984 and 2002 have grown up in an age of instant gratification. iPhones, iPads, instant messaging and immediate access to data is at their fingertips,” he says. “Their grades in school are often negotiated by parents rather than earned and they are praised for accomplishing little. They have hundreds of Facebook and Twitter ‘friends,’ but often few real connections.”

To turn the tide, Growing Leaders is working with 5,000 public schools, universities, civic organizations, sports teams and corporations across the country and internationally to help turn young people — particularly those 16 to 24 — into leaders. “We want to give them the tools they lack before they’ve gone through three marriages and several failed business ventures,” he says.

 But why have parents shifted from teaching self-reliance to becoming hovering helicopter parents who want to protect their children at all costs?

“I think it began in the fall of 1982, when seven people died after taking extra-strength Tylenol laced with poison after it left the factory,” he says. Halloween was just around the corner, and parents began checking every item in the loot bags. Homemade brownies and cookies (usually the most coveted items) hit the garbage; unwrapped candy followed close behind.

That led to an obsession with their children’s safety in every aspect of their lives. Instead of letting them go outside to play, parents filled their kid’s spare time with organized activities, did their homework for them, resolved their conflicts at school with both friends and teachers, and handed out trophies for just showing up.

 “These well-intentioned messages of ‘you’re special’ have come back to haunt us,” Elmore says. “We are consumed with protecting them instead of preparing them for the future. We haven’t let them fall, fail and fear. The problem is that if they don’t take risks early on like climbing the monkey bars and possibly falling off, they are fearful of every new endeavor at age 29.”

Psychologists and psychiatrists are seeing more and more young people having a quarter-life crisis and more cases of clinical depression. The reason? Young people tell them it’s because they haven’t yet made their first million or found the perfect mate.

Teachers, coaches and executives complain that Gen Y kids have short attention spans and rely on external, instead of internal motivation. The goal of Growing Leaders is to reverse the trend and help young people become more creative and self-motivated so they can rely on themselves and don’t need external motivation.

 Family psychologist John Rosemond agrees. In a February 2 article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, he points out that new research finds that rewards often backfire, producing the opposite effect of that intended. When an aggressive child is rewarded for not being aggressive for a short period of time, he is likely to repeat the bad behavior to keep the rewards coming.

 Where did we go wrong?

 • We’ve told our kids to dream big – and now any small act seems insignificant. In the great scheme of things, kids can’t instantly change the world. They have to take small, first steps – which seem like no progress at all to them. Nothing short of instant fame is good enough. “It’s time we tell them that doing great things starts with accomplishing small goals,” he says.

• We’ve told our kids that they are special – for no reason, even though they didn’t display excellent character or skill, and now they demand special treatment. The problem is that kids assumed they didn’t have to do anything special in order to be special.

• We gave our kids every comfort – and now they can’t delay gratification. And we heard the message loud and clear. We, too, pace in front of the microwave, become angry when things don’t go our way at work, rage at traffic. “Now it’s time to relay the importance of waiting for the things we want, deferring to the wishes of others and surrendering personal desires in the pursuit of something bigger than ‘me,'” Elmore says.

• We made our kid’s happiness a central goal – and now it’s difficult for them to generate happiness — the by-product of living a meaningful life. “It’s time we tell them that our goal is to enable them to discover their gifts, passions and purposes in life so they can help others. Happiness comes as a result.”

 The uncomfortable solutions:

“We need to let our kids fail at 12 – which is far better than at 42,” he says. “We need to tell them the truth (with grace) that the notion of ‘you can do anything you want’ is not necessarily true.”

Kids need to align their dreams with their gifts. Every girl with a lovely voice won’t sing at the Met; every Little League baseball star won’t play for the major leagues.

• Allow them to get into trouble and accept the consequences. It’s okay to make a “C-.” Next time, they’ll try harder to make an “A”.

• Balance autonomy with responsibility. If your son borrows the car, he also has to re-fill the tank.

• Collaborate with the teacher, but don’t do the work for your child. If he fails a test, let him take the consequences.

“We need to become velvet bricks,” Elmore says, “soft on the outside and hard on the inside and allow children to fail while they are young in order to succeed when they are adults.”