Since the introduction of the first high school academy in 2019, Superintendent León convened the principals of the comprehensive high schools, their magnet school partners along with their post-secondary education and industry partners on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. The meeting began with a re-introduction of the Superintendent’s “Reinvest, Reinvigorate, and Return” Strategy which focuses on successful high school redesign. “Within this design, the focus will benefit middle, primary, and early childhood schools,” stated Superintendent León. “The point in all of this is impressing upon everyone the importance of children being in school healthy and ready-to-learn.”
The Superintendent provided the group with an overview of the district’s feeder schools strategy and school choice, using Science Park High School as a model. He explained how students enrolling in the newly-opened Sir Isaac Newton Elementary School, would automatically be granted admission to Science Park High School once they completed 8th grade. This will ensure that those students who were involved and interested in pursuing the sciences could continue their pursuit until they applied for college. This feeder pattern allows students to have more opportunities for career advancement, starting at a fundamental point in their academic journey.
Through the Newark Enrolls process, students and families have the option of choosing what works best for them; allowing for long-term planning. For example, students interested in pursuing a career in education have a choice of attending the Teacher Academy at East Side High School, or its magnet school partner University High School. Through a partnership with Montclair State University and their Department of Teaching and Learning, students can earn up to 30 college credits through a dual-enrollment program. Among other things, students are provided academic coaching and given the tools to properly prepare for a career in academia. As a result of this program, Newark Public Schools has been able to employ its former students to return and teach within the district.
Dr. Mayida Zaal, of Montclair State University, shared “This year, we will be surveying students and inviting them to focus groups to understand their aspirational goals and to gauge their interest in the profession, and also to help us think about how we remove a lot of the obstacles and barriers. We will be working on enhancing the curriculum for the Teacher Academy. Now that we are at the three-year mark, this is an opportunity for teachers to get together and co-construct the curriculum, observe each other's classrooms, share resources and ideas.”
Other partners such as Giselle Morell of Parsons School of Design, Sue Gibson of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and President, Darrell Terry of Beth Israel Medical Center – just to name a few, spoke about the many ways they are currently working as partners to ensure that the students of Newark Public Schools have as many opportunities as possible. Through the High School Redesign Strategy, the resources provided to these students will change how they interact with education forever. Keeping in line with the district’s mission statement, as seen in The Next Decade 2020-30; Newark Public Schools is keeping up with their promise to “deliver an academically rigorous and culturally responsive instructional program that prepares every student for success and builds knowledge, strengthens character, cultivates ingenuity, and fosters leadership.”
District Partners in attendance were Beth Israel Medical Center/RWJ Barnabas Health, Dirty Soles Footwear Group, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Google Creative Lab, Kean University, Macro Hall Designs, Mattel, Milestone, Misa Hylton Fashion Academy, Montclair State University, National Medical Fellowship, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, PSE&G, Rutgers Business School, Rutgers Law School, Rutgers School of Health Professions, Turner Construction Company, United Airlines, United Planet, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.