#MPSWC Opening Day 2013-14

Every year our district hosts an Opening Day celebration for all staff members. Approximately 1300 employees from all areas descend on our Performing Arts Center to reflect on the previous year, welcome new staff members and set the agenda for the new year. Want a sneak peek at the trailer for this year? I can share it with you (but you can’t tell anybody). Enjoy!



Missed last year’s trailer? Check this out



Welcome Back, are you ready?

August is that kind of month where I always wonder if I’m ready for the school year. Guess what? I never am fully ready. One of the hardest parts of being a principal is the mental checklist that sifts through the brain as you consider the opening of school. Here are some of my random thoughts about the opening of school.

The Building 

I start with the building… I constantly ask myself if everything in its right place? Did I make sure that all my promises were kept? During the summer, I usually do weekly checks, but as the end of August approaches, I am doing daily, sometimes 3 and 4 checks of the building. This summer we had major projects such as wi-fi throughout the building, a new cafeteria, redesigned faculty lounge, painting, offices moved and renovated. Thankfully, I have an awesome crew who continues to deliver a clean, organized building.

The Schedules

Then I continue to labor over the various schedules… Does everyone have a prep? Do we have enough sections? What about morning, afternoon, lunch?  Have I optimized instructional time? Will the students have what they need? This year, we will opening the building without our full staff. As of now we have three positions that need to be filled (or are in the process of being filled). Students continue to transfer in and out on a daily basis.

The Changes

What a year we have planned… New Teacher Evaluations, Student Growth Objectives and a Model Assessment that will help us transition to the PARCC. Our teachers (and fellow administrators) are feeling the crunch as we ensure to be compliant with the state mandates. Am I fully prepared for the new evaluations? Can I articulate the rigor needed for an appropriate Student Growth Objective? Are we prepared for assessments every 6-8 weeks and do we have enough time to analyze the data to improve student performance?

The Dreams

So far I have had a few “back to school” dreams. In one dream I realized I was wearing two different shoes. In another dream I was at my school (but it really wasn’t my school) and I was checking on the process of the teachers and their classrooms. One teacher had decorated their entire ceiling and it was a dome shape. In another dream, I was greeting students on the first day but I was not at the correct school! I know we all have crazy back to school dreams, but this year they have been intense!

The Reality

The reality is that when we open for business next week that I will be supported by an amazing administrative team, fabulous teachers, excited students, supportive parents, un-replaceable secretaries, and a dedicated support staff that will work collaboratively to achieve our goals. So I am done reflecting and I have to get back to working…. late!

The Power of Lurking and Learning!


As always, trying to stay behind the scenes

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a “lurk and learner.” For those of you who do not know, a “lurker” is someone on Social Media who tends to sift through information, blogs, tweets, posts, or videos and quietly learns. They tend to follow more people then they have followers. They have become astute at checking hashtags for ideas and recommendations. But, rarely, if ever do they tweet, blog or put something out into the Social Media landscape.


Do you know how hard it is to get a lurk and learner to share their story?


There are many reasons why people lurk and learn. The lurk and learner I spoke with for this post was Celese Nolan, who is a curriculum coach in my district, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program. She is researching the connected administrators phenomenon through Social Media, and has attended numerous conferences, skypes, edcamps and webinars to both study and learn. When I asked her about lurking and learning, she said, “Lurking and learning has enabled me the opportunity to expand my horizons as a future educational leader as well as a way for me to provide resources to the school district through my current capacity as a coach. When I complete the doctoral program, I will most likely continue lurking and learning, but I also plan to pay it forward through blogs and other web 2.0 tools.”


According to Celese, she is able to lurk and learn almost everywhere. As a mom, wife, student, coach, athlete and friend she is very busy. She utilizes time to learn while she waits for her son to finish practice, waiting in line at the grocery store or while waiting at various appointments. All it takes, she says, is about 10 minutes a day. Often times, she will read her daily paper.li The Curriculum Connection which is generated from the stories circulating on twitter. She designed the paper to populate areas that she is interested in such as Common Core, Instructional Leadership, Language Arts Literacy and Math.


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Celese with High School Principal, Eric Sheninger

While at conferences, Celese has met many of the edutrailblazers she learns from on twitter. At ASCD in Chicago she met Tom Whitby, Eric Sheninger, Bill Sterret, Erin Klein, Jessica Johnson, and the infamous Will Richardson. A few weeks ago, while at NAESP in Baltimore she met Joe Mazza, Vicky Day, Tony Sinanias, Peter DeWitt, as well as Michael Fullan and Todd Whitaker. She felt a kinship with these educators because they are all part of her PLN. Knowing them through twitter enhanced her conference experience. She said that each have encouraged her to keep lurking and learning.


Celese credits her district administrators Dr. David Gentile and Dr. Pamm Moore for paving the way for educators in the Millville Public School District to become “connected.” “Dr. Moore and Dr. Gentile have modeled the way for innovation, systems thinking, and appropriate use of web 2.0 tools. They have show us the importance of being connected locally, statewide, nationally and globally.”


Here are some helpful hints about Lurking and Learning:

1. Start small. Follow a few educators and read their tweets (see list above).

2. Find a hashtag (#) to follow. Jerry Blumengarten (aka Cybrary Man) has a comprehensive list

3. Follow a twitter chat. Here is the Schedule that Jerry posted 

4. As you learn, pay it forward in your organization

Know someone who is lurking and learning? Make sure to support them and encourage them to continue!