Friday, December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor Day

Today in school, we took some time to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day.  Here is the message that was read:

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, 71 years ago today, America’s naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked by the forces of Japan. 2400 Americans were killed and another 1000 were wounded in the attack. 14 Naval vessels were either sunk or damaged. 188 aircraft were damaged.

The day after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II.

Listen to these words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he addressed Congress the day after the attack:

"Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives: Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

President Roosevelt went on, in his speech, to say, “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.”

The United States went on, with our allies, to defeat Japan, Italy and Nazi Germany after nearly four years. 16 million Americans served in the military during the war. Nearly 300,000 were killed in action and almost 700,000 were wounded.

Today, let us remember those who perished at Pearl Harbor as well as those who served and gave their lives during World War II. Let us also remember the brave and selfless men and women who continue to serve today in order to preserve freedom here at home and around the world.

Our flag was flown at half staff today in remembrance of those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11

Today, in school, we took some time to remember the events that took place in our country on September 11, 2001.  One of the things that struck me this morning was that our oldest students were only 2 years old and our youngest students weren't even born at the time of the horrific attacks.

Below you will see what I read in school this morning as we started our day.

As you undoubtedly know, today is September 11.  We want to take some time today to remember what happened on this date 11 years ago.  I know that some of you were not even born on September 11, 2001, so listen carefully.

On September 11, 2001, the United States was the victim of a series of suicide attacks carried out by militant al-Qaeda terrorists.  On that day, hijackers intentionally flew two planes into the World Trade Center in New York City.  Both the north and south towers collapsed within two hours of being hit.  Hijackers also crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, just outside of Washington, DC.  A fourth plane, intended for the United States Capitol was crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when passengers on the plane attempted to take control of the plane.  Nearly 3000 people died in the attacks that day.

Today is the eleventh anniversary of September 11.  "It can be important to set aside time to remember this tragedy, even though remembering may make you feel sad or angry.  One reason we remember is that we want to preserve the memory of the victims who lost their lives and those who died in service to others."*

"In the face of this disaster, we saw courage: firefighters, police officers, and paramedics rushed to help.  We saw selflessness: strangers helped strangers.  We saw love: people from around the world sent cards, supplies and comfort."*

Out of an evil act, we were able to see so much good.  Today, we want to recognize and remember the good.  Twelve of 27 firefighters from the New York City Fire Department's Ladder Company 3 lost their lives that day trying to save others.  Robert Lynch, James Barbella and Edward Calderon, three men who worked in the World Trade Center lost their lives while caring for others.  Lynch cleared out a daycare center, Barbella led rescue workers upstairs because he knew where people were trapped and Calderon ignored the order to leave the building, instead rushing back in to help because he, "was a Marine, and Marines never leave anyone behind."  There were courageous women who were heroes that day as well.  Moira Smith of the New York City Police Department, Kathy Mazza, a Port Authority Policewoman, and Yamel Merino all lost their lives when the towers collapsed on them as they were saving others.  Ms.Smith was searching the building for people who were trapped and Ms. Mazza used her 9mm sidearm to shoot out glass walls as she led people down a stairwell towards safety.  Ms. Merino, a 20-year-old single mother was an ambulance driver.  When she and her male partner arrived at the scene that day, they were told that one of them would have to stay behind with the ambulance.  Without hesitation, it was Ms. Merino who rushed into the building to rescue others just before the tower collapsed on her.

Today is an opportunity to find something good in something that was so bad.  It is a chance to turn a negative into a positive by recognizing the work of others and doing good things ourselves.  Today, I encourage you to find ways to be courageous, selfless and loving.  I also encourage you to say thanks to those who keep us safe each day.

If you haven't done so already today, I would encourage you to take some time at home to talk about September 11.  While the gruesome details may be too much for some of our younger children, as you can see, it is always possible to find good amidst evil.  If you want to find a positive way to deal with the issue, talk about those who sacrificed and those who continue to sacrifice for us all every day.

On September 11, I want to remember those who were victims, but I want to celebrate those who are heroes.

* these marked portions come from our character education program, Project Wisdom.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Welcome Back

On behalf of the faculty and staff of Woodglen School, I would like to welcome all of our students and parents back for the 2012-2013 school year. 

Our returning students and parents will notice that we continue to have great stability at Woodglen, with few changes in staff or programs.  We do welcome two teachers back from maternity leaves, Casey Bean, who is teaching eighth grade language arts, and Jen McGuigan, who will be teaching special education.  We also welcome back Estherlee Luteran who will be serving as a paraprofessional.

One of our ongoing facilities projects is our bathroom renovation.  Started in the summer, we will be upgrading our original bathrooms to make them all handicap accessible.  The three student bathrooms will be completed in three phases throughout the school year, starting with the "eighth grade" bathrooms up near the gym and PAC, followed by the "sixth grade" bathrooms near the cafeteria, and ending with the "fifth grade" bathrooms in the back wing of the building.  When completed the new bathrooms will be very nice and accessible to all current and future students regardless of any special needs.

At the beginning of each school year, goals are set for our staff and students.  This year, we have to major areas of focus.  One is communication and the other is respect.  We will be focusing on positive communication throughout the school year.  I have challenged everyone to use their words to build each other up rather than to tear each other down.  We will be paying attention to body language and tone of voice in addition to what is actually said.  In this age of technology, we also spoke in detail about electronic communication.  Whether using Facebook, text messages, GIF-Boom, YouTube, KIK or any other forms of social media or electronic communication everyone needs to remember that once something is put out there, it stays out there forever.  I urged students to think about what they say, send or post before they say, send or post it.  My challenge was to ask yourself if you would still say, send or post it if your mother were standing next to you.  If the answer is no, it is obviously not positive communication.  Respect is always an ongoing goal at Woodglen School, but the focus this year will be on "Respect for the School."  Staff and students were urged to take better care of our equipment as well as the physical building in which we spend more of our waking hours than anywhere else.  We talked about the importance of treating our technology with respect.  As we continue to update what we have, adding two new laptop computer carts to the school this year as well as the possible addition of more iPads, it is imperative that our students handle equipment with care.  I have no idea why students get joy out of disabling computers by removing keys or parts of computer mice, but it continues to be an ongoing problem, one that puts technology out of commission for everyone for at least some period of time.  I also informed students that school lockers would be required to be kept clean and neat.  When a student's locker is in disarray, he or she often cannot find things that he or she needs to be prepared for class.  In addition, when students cannot find assignments, books or other items, it also leads to increased and unnecessary stress.  Students were told that if their locker was in an unacceptable condition that they would need to come in on their time - lunch, recess, study hall, before or after school - to clean it.  Finally, I challenged everyone in the building to keep things cleaner by picking up things they see on the floor.  I myself never walk by a piece of paper on a hallway floor when I see it, and I've asked everyone else to join me in meeting the goal of keeping our school as clean as possible.  I would ask that all parents get involved in helping us to achieve our goals by talking about them and reinforcing them at home.  You may even want to join us in this quest in your own households.  I'm sure every parent would love to see their kids picking up stuff off the floor, particularly in their own rooms!

As we go through the school year, our goals will be reinforced and reviewed at school.  My big-picture goal is to make our school a nicer place to be.  By taking care of the facilities, we will all share in an improved environment.  By communicating more positively, we will all feel better about ourselves and others.  Thanks for your ongoing support of Woodglen School.  I look forward to seeing you all throughout this year.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The "Week of Respect" at Woodglen was a success.  Throughout the week, students read about, wrote about and talked about respect.  We looked at respecting ourselves, respecting others, respecting differences, respecting the environment and respecting our futures.  Students read articles, read poems, watched a video.  They wrote essays, ideas, plans and answered questions.  They looked inward, they looked outward and they looked to the future.

In the end, our students were able to understand what respect truly means.  They were able to understand what respect looks like.  They were able to understand why respect is important.

All this is well and good and it was a great week.  But what happens next?  As we shared with students, respect must go beyond the Week of Respect.  Respect is not just a week long thing ... respect is a lifelong thing.  We encouraged students today to use the lessons learned last week as they go forward.  We want them to put everything they read about, wrote about and talked about into practice in their own lives.

If respect doesn't become part of their everyday lives, the Week of Respect cannot be considered a success.  Please join our staff as we continue to promote and live out respect every week.

Friday, October 7, 2011


"Develop a passion for learning.  If you do, you will never cease to grow."  Anthony J. D'Angelo

As we wrap up the "Week of Respect," today's theme is Respect for Your Future.  While the future may seem far away to middle school students, we, as adults, can tell them that it will be here sooner than they think.  We reminded students, though, that even though the future may seem far away, it is never to early to dream or to set goals - that is where respect for your future begins.

Our students need to dream and dream big.  They were encouraged today to dream without limits.  They were encouraged to set lofty goals that may be tough to accomplish.  While the dreams and goals are important, respecting the future means that you must act on them.  Working hard, being responsible, making good choices and continually learning are all part of making dreams come true and respecting the future.

Today, our teachers wore a t-shirt or sweatshirt from the college they attended.  We wanted to provide a visual representation of a commitment to learning and what it takes to accomplish goals and dreams.  Our teachers not only had dreams, but they followed through and developed a life-long love of and commitment to learning.  Education is an important part of our students' future and we want them to respect it.

In math classes today, the students are being asked to take some time to think about their own futures.  They read a couple of poems - You Can Be Whatever You Want To Be by Donna Levine and Awakening... by John McLeod.  Using the poems as inspiration, students will be writing about their own hopes and dreams for their futures and what they think they will need to do to work toward them.

While it may be difficult for middle schoolers to be certain about what the future will hold for them, it is imperative that they have dreams for the future.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."  -Native American Proverb

Today at Woodglen we turn our attention to respecting the environment.  We need to remember that what we do to the earth today impacts future generations.  We often take for granted the fact that clean drinking water is just steps away in our faucets or water fountains.  We rarely think about the air we breathe in with each breath we take.  We look around us and see the wonders of nature, but often are too busy to stop to appreciate them.

In science classes today, students and teachers will be talking about respect for the environment.  They will discuss our responsibilities to the earth and to future generations.  Students will be writing down ways that they do or plan to be more environmentally conscious.  Their ideas will be written on leaves which will be used to create a tree of ideas that will be posted outside of the guidance office.  The 360 leaves will serve as a reminder of what we can and should be doing each day to preserve what they've been entrusted with in order to pass it on to their children and grandchildren.

In addition, today we kicked off a campaign to save energy.  While one small school in Hunterdon County cannot save the whole world, we can do our part.  Students and staff are undertaking a campaign to turn off the lights and the computers.  We are urging the "last one out" to make sure everything is off.  Hopefully we can make a difference.

Good planets are hard to find ... don't blow it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


"Ecidujerp is prejudice spelled backwards.  Either way, it makes no sense."  - Unknown

Look around you, whether you are at school, at work, even at home, and you'll see a lot of different things.  You'll see a lot of differences.

Some of us are young, some are older;  some are athletes, some are artists.  We are black and white, male and female.  We practice different faiths and we come from different places. 

Someone once said, "Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common."  There may be some truth in this, but despite our differences, we have many more things in common.  We share dreams of success - even if we define success differently.  We share a desire to be happy, healthy and to belong.  It seems that we might have more in common than just diversity.

If you take a look at our money, you will see the phrase e pluribus unum, which means, out of many, one.  Whether we are talking about a school, a town, a country or the world, we need to remember that while we may look different, act different and sound different, we really are more alike than we are different.  There may be many of us, but we truly are one.  Hopefully, we can act that way toward others who we see as different.

Today, our students are being asked to read some quotes on diversity and differences.  They will be writing an explanatory piece based on a quote that they choose.  This activity will not only allow students to think more about respecting differences, but will also ask them to write in a fashion that they will see on the NJ ASK testing.

The following quotes were used in different grade level classes:

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”
- Anne Frank

“People may be said to resemble not the bricks of which a house is built, but the pieces of a picture puzzle, each differing in shape, but matching the rest, and thus bringing out the picture.”
- Felix Adler

“We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.”

- Kofi Annan

“What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.”
- US Senator Edward Kennedy