Egg Harbor Township High School students Alex Cohen, 16, Leo Shao, 16, and Vicky Zheng, 15, all from Egg Harbor Township, team up during Stockton University’s StockHack, a 24-hour computer science competition that drew high school and college students from around the state to create an original app, website or service to help solve a problem, in 2017.

With more than 15,000, high-paying computing jobs in the Garden State and only 1,642 computer science majors who graduated in 2017, Gov. Phil Murphy this week unveiled a plan to increase interest in the field.

Murphy’s Computer Science for All plan includes $2 million in state grants to help schools establish advanced, high-quality computer science programs.

“Expanding and improving computer science programs in our public schools will help provide our students with the critical thinking skills they need to succeed in today’s global economy,” Murphy said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations nationally was $86,320 in May 2018, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $38,640.

The plan, an expansion of an initiative he began last year, calls for the adoption of computer science standards for all grades, professional development for educators, pathways to increase the number of educators teaching computer science, community engagement, and establishment of metrics for each of the goals to evaluate progress and remaining gaps.

The plan was drafted with the guidance of a Computer Science Advisory Board that included educators in the computer science and STEM fields, leaders in higher education, school administrators and other stakeholders.

“Our mission is clear: We are committed to providing equitable access to a high-quality computer science education for all students,” said Lamont O. Repollet, commissioner of education. “Through our state plan, we are making a statement that we want New Jersey to be a leader in equipping students with high-level computer science and technology skills.”

In addition, Murphy announced three Expanding Access to Computer Science grant opportunities for $2 million in computer science funding to be awarded by the spring of 2020.

N.J. lags nation in providing nutrition for young children

A new report from the Food Research and Action Center and Think Babies campaign found New Jersey lags nationally when it comes to tapping into federal programs to feed young children in low-income households.

“This is just unacceptable,” said Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “Hunger and poverty are especially damaging to very young children. Children grow most during the first three years. Without proper nutrition, that growth is severely threatened, requiring expensive interventions later in life.”

According to the organization, 67% of eligible New Jersey infants benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), compared with 77% nationally.

For the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), New Jersey also lags, reaching only 57% of young children, compared with 66% nationally.

The state did increase in participation by 4% in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which provides meals to young children in child care, but remains below the national increase of 25%.

Locals to be honored as Women of Wonder

Three locals will be honored this month as Women of Wonder for their dedication in helping others reach their full potential.

The Atlantic Cape Foundation and Cape May County Women’s Commission will present the 2019 Women of Wonder award to microbiologist Stormy Freese, Ocean City Library Director Karen Mahar, and Delaware River and Bay Authority Commissioner Shirley “Becki” Wilson on Nov. 14 at the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City.

The Women of Wonder League event helps at-risk high school students in Cape May County attend Atlantic Cape Community College and become future community leaders.

The event is co-sponsored by the Cape May County Women’s Advisory Commission and Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation. Representatives from Atlantic Cape and the Women’s Commission will speak, and attendees will hear stories from Atlantic Cape students during the fundraiser luncheon.

Tickets are $40. Sponsorships are available. For more information, visit atlantic.edu/wow.

Big Brothers Big Sisters to host Rise and Shine Breakfast

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland and Salem Counties will host a fundraiser breakfast on Giving Tuesday.

The organization is taking reservations for its annual Rise and Shine Breakfast on Dec. 3 at The Grove at Centerton, 1022 Almond Road in Pittsgrove.

“The one-hour program will include breakfast and a range of speakers who will testify to the positive impact one-to-one mentoring has had on their lives. It is an opportunity to strengthen current relationships and build new ones throughout the community in support of the BBBS’ new mission and vision,” Director of Development Melody Montgomery said.

Guests are encouraged to make a contribution, but there is no minimum and no maximum gift requested.

“By investing in putting a mentor in the life of a child, you are helping them grow socially, emotionally and academically. If you are unable to contribute financially, you will definitely leave with new information about the program and maybe a desire to participate as a mentor or volunteer yourself,” Montgomery said.

Due to limited space, guests must register by Nov. 26 at 856-692-0916, mmontgomery@southjerseybigs.org or RiseAndShineBreakfast.com.

Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program forming alumni association

A new alumni association has been formed for Governor’s Hispanic Fellows, Sara Pena, director of the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development, announced during Hispanic Heritage Month.

First established in 1988, the Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program is an eight-week summer program attracting high-performing students with an interest in diversity and inclusion, seeking the skills necessary to succeed in a professional workplace. The program combines quality internship opportunities for practical, hands-on experience with traditional classroom instruction, guest presentations by leading professionals, as well as other unique skill-building opportunities. For more than 30 years, the program has helped prepare young Latinos to lead in their own communities and throughout the state.

The establishment of the Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program Alumni Association will offer the program’s 900 alumni a formal network empowering their continued growth as leaders, community advocates and mentors.

Atlantic Cape’s Gaba named ‘Woman of Achievement’ by Boy Scouts of America

The Garden State Council of the Boy Scouts of America recognized Atlantic Cape Community College President Barbara Gaba as the 2019 Woman of Achievement for Cape May County.

The annual event recognizes outstanding women leaders in South Jersey for their dedication, loyalty and commitment to the communities they serve.

Gaba was one of six women honored at the Women of Achievement Awards reception in October in Almonesson.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award and to be recognized for making a difference in the lives of those we serve in Cape May County,” Gaba said. “I believe it is up to all of us, as leaders, to use the power and influence we are given to lift up our communities and create positive change.”

Menendez Autism CARES bill signed into law

A law authored by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., extending federal support for those with autism throughout their lifetime, has been signed into law.

Menendez’s bill builds on his previous legislation and considers for the first time the needs of individuals with autism well into adulthood.

Contact: 609-272-7251


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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