The New Michelle Obama Elementary School Opens Its Doors in Newark For the 2021-22 School Year

Community, Leadership, and Wellness

[Newark, NJ, September 28, 2021] Today marks yet another historic day for the Newark Board of Education as Superintendent Roger León officially opens the doors of the Michelle Obama Elementary School, named in honor of the former First Lady.

The school services students in pre-kindergarten to second grade and will grow one grade every year until it reaches the eighth grade. While the school’s theme is “Community, Leadership, and Wellness”, students will also be immersed in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Social-Emotional Awareness, and Science. The science curriculum is guided by Project Lead the Way's “PLTW Launch”. Project Lead the Way is the nation’s leading STEM institution, and the inclusion of PLTW Launch interdisciplinary modules bring learning to life for students. The program empowers students to adopt a design-thinking mindset through compelling activities, projects, and problems, that build upon each other and relate to the world around them. As students engage in hands-on activities in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, they become creative and collaborative problem solvers ready to take on any challenge.

By opening this new elementary school, Superintendent León is honoring his commitment to give parents more school choices. Students attending the Michelle Obama Elementary School will automatically be admitted to University High School, one of the district’s magnet schools, which is aligned with the priorities outlined in The Next Decade: 2020-30. “We are ecstatic to introduce our youngest learners to transformative learning, deliberately focused on the knowledge and skills needed to help them grow into transformational leaders” stated Superintendent León.

Principal LaShanda Gilliam, leader of the new school echoes in the excitement, sharing “Being Principal of a school named after First Lady Michelle Obama, sets daily reminders for me on what needs to be at my core to lead and succeed.”

Board President Dawn Haynes said, “As an individual who focuses on creating healthy habits, I am excited that our students are introduced to content like Yoga, which will enhance their ability to manage stress as they grow into adulthood”.

Among the school’s partnerships is AeroFarms, a sustainable indoor agriculture company based in Newark. “We are excited to be partnering with the Michelle Obama Elementary School to bring indoor vertical farming to the next generation of young leaders and learners. Students get to engage in healthy eating because they grow the greens they harvest, further fueling their curiosity and spirit of discovery with hyperlocal food production. First Lady Obama visited one of our school farms as part of her National Garden Tour in 2016 and it is an honor to continue her legacy of childhood nutrition and health and wellness education here in Newark” said David Rosenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of AeroFarms.

In the words of Michelle Obama, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving the community and world better than you found it” and the staff at Michelle Obama Elementary School is ready to lead and succeed.

Joining Superintendent León and Principal Gilliam today were Board Vice-President Johnson, Board Member Gonzalez, Mayor Baraka, Senator Ruiz, Councilwoman McIver, Nurse Emenaka, Mr. Ginsberg of AeroFarms, Deputy Johnson, Chief of Staff Nazario, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Harrington.

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