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It's Been One Week...

Posted by on in School Culture
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It's been one week since I said good-bye to the staff and students of Brookfield Elementary School. It's been one week since I started as a science teacher and department head at Camden's Promise Middle School, which is a part of Camden's Charter School Network. I know that nothing will ever be able to replace the experiences, staff, and students of my previous school and they will always hold a special place in my heart. With that being said, I could not be happier with my decision to move to the Camden's Charter School Network! 

If I had to sum up my new school organization in one word, it would be progressive. I have spoken with a lot of colleagues in my professional learning network about our mission and practices. The most popular word that these educational professionals use to describe my current situation is progressive. If you have followed my educational career, you know that I have been in charter schools, regular public schools, and private schools, but nothing seemingly compares to this. Ready to learn why?

  1. Useful, well-paced, & timely PD - All new staff members started last Monday. We learned about our mission, the plan for achieving the mission, the history of the program, and what makes us unique. We also had ample time to learn about the different tech initiatives and all the necessary job requirements in a way that was not rushed. We received instruction in all the specifics before the returning staff came on Thursday. Our kids return on 8/29, which means 10 days of PD for new staff and 7 days for returning staff. How many schools offer staff those kind of developmental opportunities? None that I have ever been a part of...
  2. Experienced veteran staff - I have worked in charter schools before and have always seen a high amount of staff turnover. There are a lot of factors that contributed to this issue, but Camden's Charter School Network boasts a significant part of their staff that have been there for years. When I met with returning staff, it was immediately clear why this is a reality for our schools. Staff believes in the mission and want to help change the lives of our students. Did I mention that there are many teachers and staff who were once students in our schools? Talk about enacting generational change and reinforcing a mission!
  3. Progressive goals - On our first day of full staff professional development, we talked a lot about our mission and goals as well as our focus for this upcoming school year, trauma-based education. To begin this discussion, all staff gathered in our high school gym to watch the film Paper Tigers. The movie focuses on the lives of several students in an alternative high school setting, their adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and what the school staff did to work with them. We followed the movie up on Friday with round-table discussions with our grade-level staff, a development session about working with students with traumatic experiences, and a panel conversation with former students, parents, and staff. This really set the tone for the school year by ensuring that all staff were aware of what our goals are and what we are up against.b2ap3_thumbnail_Paper-Tigers-Movie.jpg
  4. True innovation - We pride ourselves on being innovative in what we do for the students of Camden and it is evident in everything that we do. First, we are a 1:1 Chromebook school for grades 6-12. The best part about this is that these students get to take their devices home! How awesome is that?! There is 1:1 technology throughout the K-12 schools as well, with various iPad and Chromebook carts. Second, we are moving our schools in a STEAM direction at all grade levels. In my experiences, this is unprecedented! We have a partnership with Adventure Aquarium that allows our students to develop and create underwater robotics. I am extremely excited to work within this program and all staff will actually be visiting the aquarium this week to learn more about how this magnet partnership is developing. Our schools also have two swimming pools that we are planning on using to teach all students how to swim. It is no secret that students in urban areas are not often given that opportunity and we want to use our facilities to help teach necessary life-saving skills to our population.

Can you see why I am so excited yet? I have spoken with many educators last week, both new and returning staff, and I can see the same thing in all of them. There is a genuine desire to help an underrepresented group of students in a city that has been largely overlooked by public education. Camden's Charter School Network has been at this since 1998 and they have found new and innovative ways to support their children ever since.

I became an educator for one reason. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students in the same way that my teachers did for me when I was a student. Kids have always come first for me and I am ecstatic to see this reflected in the vision and mission of my new school. I know that it will not always be easy, but I am ready for the challenge. I am ready to help be the change for our students. I am ready to be a part of a team that is doing amazing things for the students of Camden. I cannot wait to meet our kids and get this school year going!

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Born and raised in Cumberland County, New Jersey, Sean not only has remained, but has continued to grow with his community. He now resides in the same county with his wife and their two young sons. Sean currently serves as an administrator at Camden’s Promise Charter School, where he focuses on the professional development of teachers and building various social-emotional skills with students. Graduating from Rutgers University with an undergraduate degree in Communication as well as a graduate degree from the University of Scranton in Educational Administration helped open the doors to what has now become nearly a decade long career in education.


 


 


 


As a result of connecting with people everyday of all ages, ethnicities, cultures and beliefs, Sean has learned how to listen and meet the individualized needs of different groups of people. In order to help organize parents and educators to come together in academic spaces, it has required him to search for innovative, functional, and inclusive ways to solve problems.


 


 


 


Despite Sean's childhood aspirations of one day becoming an attorney, he has since become an unwavering advocate for positive youth development and education. Growing up, Sean experienced difficulty financially and emotionally in an unstable household while also battling a sometimes crippling learning disability (ADHD). School became both a place of refuge and a source of trouble for Sean. If not for certain teachers and school faculty encouraging him as a young person, he would not have pursued higher education and would not have been able to impact countless students the way he does today.


 


 


 


Throughout his career as an educator in New Jersey, Sean has based every decision solely on what is best for youth and their futures. He has worked to create new, effective programs as well as supports for students and parents addressing social issues. Sean has demonstrated his student-first approach by never being afraid to privately and publicly question decisions that impact teachers, students, and the educational process. As a result, he has been able to create strong, lasting relationships across our state with the students, families, and communities that he has served.


 


 


 


As a leader in education, Sean has rooted his success in incorporating three major values that he applies to every facet of his life: honesty, integrity, and transparency. All great leaders exhibit honesty regardless of how difficult a situation may be. In these times, we need someone who will honor the trust of their constituents, despite possible backlash. Sean has displayed his commitment to integrity by maintaining a strong moral basis in all decisions, never being swayed by personal gain, and combating corruption wherever it exists. Transparency is also something that is not frequently witnessed in politics. Without it, it is easy for elected officials to lose touch with the people they serve. Having worked in education, Sean understands the power of collective responsibility while encouraging collaboration and the inclusion of diverse opinions to impact change. His unique background matched with his life experiences have allowed him to truly understand the struggles and needs of so many American people.


 


 


 


As the next United States Congressman from the state of New Jersey, Sean promises to apply the most effective policies to positively influence the collective growth of all New Jerseyans and Americans. He intends to only put the best interests of his constituents, state, and country first, regardless of how unpopular that may make him within the political machine. This is how we give politics, power, and our country back to the people. This is how we place our future first.

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Guest Sunday, 19 November 2017