Training for school-based resiliency teams in Atlantic and Cape May counties to help students suffering from negative childhood experiences expanded this year, Cape Assist announced.

The training is provided through Cape Assist and the Cape May County Pride Committee, Cape Regional Wellness Alliance, the New Jersey Department of Education, the Southern Regional Institute and Educational Technology Training Center at Stockton University and Atlantic Prevention Resources.

Cape May County’s three-day training was held July 1 at the Millman Center in Lower Township and focused on the latest research and strategies concerning educational neuroscience, the brain and stress. This is the second year of training for these local educators.

“Schools in Cape May County are doing amazing things to support the health and well being of their students,” said Katie Faldetta, executive director at Cape Assist. “Since the first training in July of 2018, the School Resiliency Teams have been growing, and more teachers and administrators wanted to be educated on the science of stress and its effects on the teaching and learning process. So there was clearly a need to continue the training.”

This year, the training has expanded to include Atlantic County school districts, with training this week at Stockton University in Atlantic City.

N.J. law inspires federal legislation

A New Jersey law to protect students during emergencies has inspired federal legislation recently introduced in Congress.

The bipartisan School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019, introduced by Texas Rep. Roger Williams and Florida Rep. Ted Deutch, would require all schools to install at least one silent panic alarm, which when activated would directly alert the closest law-enforcement agency.

The law mirrors New Jersey’s “Alyssa’s Law,” named after a former New Jersey resident who died in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting last year. The law requires public schools to install silent panic alarms to protect students during emergency situations and was originally introduced in 2013 in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

Mercury vapor in school flooring adressed

Manufacturers will now be required to provide certification to the New Jersey Schools Development Authority that rubberized or urethane floors installed on SDA projects do not contain phenyl mercuric acetate or other mercury catalysts, which emit dangerous toxins.

These floors, which have been installed since the 1960s, and items that have been in contact with them, emit harmful mercury vapor indefinitely.

Mercury vapor can damage the central nervous system, kidneys, lungs, skin and eyes and is especially harmful to young children and fetuses whose bodies are still developing. Studies show children with autism have an even harder time excreting toxic metals, further increasing the health risk.

It remains unclear as to how many of these floors exist in New Jersey schools. Rubberized flooring needs to be tested to rule out toxic exposure.

Rutgers president retires

Rutgers University President Robert L. Barchi recently told the Board of Governors the 2019-20 academic year will be his last as president.

Barchi, who was named Rutgers’ 20th president in 2012, will return to the faculty during the 2020-21 academic year. Board of Governors Chairman Mark Angelson said the university will embark on a national search for Rutgers’ 21st president.

Barchi began his tenure at Rutgers leading one of the largest integrations in American higher education to form Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and later oversaw the partnership with RWJBarnabas Health to create New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive academic health system.

Since he joined Rutgers in 2012, more than $2.5 billion in construction has provided new facilities for chemistry, nursing, engineering, life sciences and student life and more than $1 billion in fundraising in the past five years set records.

Rowan College of S.J. theater department receives accolades

The Department of Theatre at Rowan College of South Jersey-Cumberland has received six 2019 Perry Award nominations from the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters for its April production of “Play On,” the comedic story of a theater group trying desperately to put on a play.

The 2019 Perry Award nominees include Outstanding Production of a Play, Deborah Bradshaw, Director and Producer; Outstanding Direction of a Play, Deborah Bradshaw; Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play, George Scully; Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play, Britney Jones; Outstanding Costume Design of a Play, Deborah Bradshaw, Linda Scully and Brooke Luciano; and Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play, Chris Totora and Patrick Ahearn.

This year’s Perry Award winners will be announced Sept. 15 during an awards gala at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway.

Big Brothers Big Sisters launches new mentoring program in Cumberland

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties is hoping a new mentoring program will help high school students in the region become college-ready.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is partnering with iMentor to implement Mentor2.0. The program is designed to teach leadership, careers and social skills and has been used in 16 other Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations.

“Mentor2.0 takes the core of BBBS programs, including the emphasis on one-to-one mentoring and the role of professional support, and builds upon them through technology-enriched curricula,” said Donna Bennett, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties president and CEO.

As part of the program, mentors and mentees get to know each other through a combination of weekly messages on a secure web-based platform and monthly group events.

“Applications of this model in other cities have demonstrated significant increases in on-time high school graduation, college acceptance, enrollment and persistence rates,” Bennett said. “For example, the data shows 97% of Mentor2.0 students completed college applications, and 88% expect to earn a college degree.”

She said students also are more likely to enroll in college when involved in the program.

Contact: 609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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