Every month, I meet individually with Administrators across the District for updates regarding District initiatives, such as our implementation of a Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) for students, our ongoing revision of the Student Code of Conduct rooted in Positive Behavior Support in Schools (PBSIS), and the work of our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in which the faculty focuses on “essential content,” effective instructional strategies, reviews assessment data including individual student performance and develops academic interventions to support students. These Administrator meetings are invaluable for managing the day-to-day operations of the District, but more importantly, it is my opportunity to ensure that our collective efforts continue to focus on the needs of ALL students.
In addition to the aforementioned, these meetings provide an opportunity for each Administrator to share the successes and challenges they encounter as they lead the faculty under their direction, but on Monday, February 10, 2020, I felt the need to ask another question as we embark on the second half of the school year, “What excites you about Mainland Regional?” Candidly, my excitement revolves around developing and implementing programs that support ALL students rooted in prevention, intervention, enrichment and, for some, remediation. I get it, you are asking why does that get you excited? Why are you not excited about the incredibly competitive athletic and co-curricular programs or the District’s ongoing recognition for its efforts in the areas of equity, social emotional learning, and student performance on standardized testing as well as industry valued credentials and dual enrollment courses? Obviously, I am proud of our High School’s successes in those areas, but truth be told, developing systemic, programmatic opportunities for ALL students to support their development of the skills and content knowledge needed for post-secondary success is the “grind” in education and that is what excites me.
Vice Principal Javhan O’Neal loves, “the fact that it doesn’t matter about your position in the District, but when a student is in need, someone always steps up to support and help.”
English Language Arts and Social Studies Supervisor of Instruction and 17-year Mainland Regional veteran educator Kathleen Villano stated, “how new people are supported in the classroom and encouraged to take on challenges outside the classroom,” is what excites and inspires me. For example, special education aides Veronica Fath and Erika Melhorn organized an opportunity for special education students to attend “Night to Shine” which was a prom sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.
Director of the High School’s Child Study Team, Jo-Anne Goldberg is excited “work with a dedicated group of special educators who are laser focused on giving our special education students not only an academically enriching high school experience but meaningful interactions with their non-disabled peers.”
Mathematics Supervisor of Instruction Dennis Singleton is excited by the “proactive approach to meeting the needs of every student. We are not waiting for a problem before we respond to identified needs of individual students.” Mr. Singleton also indicated that the community aspect of the High School is exciting as compared to previous Districts where he has been employed.
According to Dorsey Finn, Coordinator of Planning, Instruction, Evaluation and Technology, “In my experience, it is rare for a school to make a dramatic change to how it operates, especially one that has had the kind of success that Mainland has had over the years. But here at MRHS, we are constantly looking to evolve, to improve not only what we do but how we go about doing it. Whether it is looking at new ways to schedule time in the day or unusual course offerings, this district does not rest on its laurels or feel satisfied upon completion of a project. Instead, it takes on the next challenge, finds the next student that has a unique need and tries to meet it, and attempts to be better than it was before. Nothing is more exciting than working in a school that embraces challenges and change.”
Mike Gatley, Mainland Regional Athletic Director is excited about “coming to work every day because of the great relationships he has developed with the faculty and students at Mainland Regional High School. The culture of dedication, commitment and kids first is exciting day in- and out.”
Nathan Lichtenwalner, Vice Principal and Director of School Counseling, “is excited by the incredible number of faculty members that have great energy and passion to help students. In addition, he is enthusiastic about the restructuring of the School Counseling Office to include a designated freshmen counselor, a post-secondary development counselor and four upperclassman counselors to provide targeted supports to meet the needs of individual students.”
Kim Robinson, a 23-year veteran in the District and the High School’s Business Administrator likes the, “team effort to support programs and being responsible to the taxpayers of Linwood, Northfield and Somers Point.”
Supervisor of Science, Business, World Language and Performing Arts, Kristen Lavery, a 20-year educator in the District is inspired and proud of, “how caring, compassionate and empathetic our students are towards others, especially those that are struggling and in need of support. Students can get a bad rap, but I can not begin to list the countless times I have personally witnessed students at Mainland Regional be there for one another.””
As you can see, there is much to be excited about at Mainland Regional High School. We are thankful for the collective efforts of our Administrative Team, our Faculty and Staff, as well as the support we consistently receive from our Mustang community.