After the second of two public hearings on the issue of naming rights, the West Windsor-Plainsboro school district Board of Education Administration and Facilities Committee (A&F) announced that the question of whether to name the High School North baseball field after David Bachner will move forward to the full board for review.
The ad hoc committee comprised nine members: School Board Member and A&F Committee Chair Michele Kaish, Superintendent David Aderhold, Assistant Superintendent Gerard Dalton, Athletic Director Jean Marie Seal, parent representative Heather Nielsen, High School North Principal Mike Zapicchi, North Baseball Booster Club representative Ted Phalen, and two high school students.
The ad hoc committee held three meetings, one to review the request and feedback submitted by e-mail and two that were open to the public.
“There were 12 members of the public at the first meeting, and 14 at the second. Many were present at both meetings, and several individuals spoke at the meetings,” Kaish said. “Generally, the input, which was useful, was similar to statements that had already been presented at Board meetings held earlier this year. The Bachner family, which no longer resides in New Jersey, did not attend either meeting.”
“Dalton will be making a presentation to the Board at the Tuesday, August 26, meeting, and then the Board is expected to vote on the issue at the Tuesday, September 23, Board meeting,” Kaish said.
Another topic discussed by the A&F committee is the new attendance policy, which is yet another mandate from the State Department of Education and that goes into effect September 1. According to Dalton, the concept of “attendance” was re-codified and readopted, with several significant changes.
Generally the new code, establishes three types of absences: excused absences, unexcused absences that count toward truancy, and unexcused absences that do not count toward truancy. Under the new state law, the only excused absences are absences for observance of religious holidays and Take Your Child to Work Day. Every other absence will be considered “unexcused,” though not every absence will count toward truancy.
An important caveat is that the excused and unexcused absence requirements should not be confused with a high school district policy to deny course credit to a student for missing a certain number of classes regardless of the reason for the absence.
The district will finalize the policy in the coming months, but will follow the state’s new directive beginning with the start of the 2014-’15 school year. Explained Dalton: “Even though there is no district policy in place, state law trumps local policy.”
Two new state laws that go into effect on September 1 will require New Jersey school districts and students to be more prepared for potential cardiac emergencies, such as heart attacks.
One, signed into law on August 20, requires that, beginning with this year’s entering freshman class, all graduating seniors will be required to pass a CPR course as part of their high school curriculum.
In a statement on August 20, WW-P assistant superintendent for curriculum Martin Smith said that the district “just learned of the new requirement late this afternoon. Certainly the district will review the just-signed legislation and determine where we need to re-align our curriculum to met the new mandate.”
The second law, known as “Janet’s Law,” seeks to better prepare schools in case of a sudden cardiac emergency. The law was enacted in 2012 to commemorate Janet Zilinski, an 11-year-old cheerleader from Warren who died in 2006 after suffering sudden cardiac arrest at her school.
According to the American Red Cross, Janet’s Law requires all schools (public and private) have an AED (an automatic external defibrillators) on site; at least five school employees certified in CPR/AED; an emergency action plan for a sudden cardiac event; signs throughout the school directing people to the AED; and EMTs or other first responders at all practices or events if trained school employees are not available.
The WW-P school board discussed Janet’s Law shortly after its passage, noting that all schools in the district were already equipped with AEDs.
The Red Cross in New Jersey has been working with school districts to offer them a “one-stop solution,” that includes training; emergency action plans; and access to AEDs. For more information, visit RedCross.org/JanetsLaw.
New Data Director: Christine Capaci
In another of the administrative changes made by the WW-P school district, former Village School principal Christine Capaci has been appointed to the newly created position of director of data, assessment, and accountability. The new position was created to help the district prepare for a new era of testing and accountability, with the implementation of the state-mandated online PARCC assessments.
Though the position is new, Capaci is not new to the district, either professionally or personally. She has served as the principal at Village School for the past six years, overseeing the school expansion project. In addition, Capaci lives in the district, and she and her husband, Sam Hendrickson, principal of Frank J. Dugan Elementary School in Marlboro, have a blended family of six children: Dalton Williams, Liam, Shane, Meghan, Erin, and Braden Hendrickson. “Our children enjoy the WW-P schools,” says Capaci.
Prior to coming to WW-P, she had served both as an administrator and an educator. She was the vice principal at Cranbury School (pre-k through 8) for four years. Before that Capaci was a mathematics consultant in Jersey City, where she led in-service training sessions, curriculum writing, and assisted fourth grade teachers in implementing the math curriculum.
She began her career in education in the Norfolk, Virginia, public schools, where she taught middle school-level language arts for 10 years. “In my last three years at Norfolk,” Capaci says, “I was also assigned to address issues with the underprivileged children and build stronger relations between the community and the school.”
While teaching, Capaci wrote a book titled “Pennywinkle, Oral Histories from Tylerton, Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay.” “What is so special about this book is that it was authored with the help of 23 of my students and my colleague, Judy Gulledge, as part of a middle school writing project and grant we were awarded from the Virginia General Assembly.”
Capaci’s parents played a role in her career choice. “My parents live their lives based on their ability to see the possibilities in everything around them. When others say why, they say, ‘why not?’ I’ve naturally adopted this philosophy of life and enjoy the adventures that have come my way,” she says.
She earned a bachelor of science degree in middle level education from Old Dominion University, as well as a master’s degree in education and principalship K-12, also from Old Dominion. She earned her professional licenses: New Jersey Administrator K-12, New Jersey Principal K-12, after moving to New Jersey.
Capaci went into education “to make a difference,” she says. “I know that sounds trite, but it’s true.”
She recently received a letter from a former student. “He told me that he’s become a stand-up comic — he was quite a serious student. In his letter, he told me about his unexpected path. ‘You probably don’t remember this, Ms. Capaci, but one day I was feeling pretty defeated, sulking outside of the lunchroom. You sat down next to me and told me that I was smart and funny. No one had ever said anything like that to me before. Coming from you, it meant the world. Thank you.’ You just never know how you can inspire another person. It was another quiet affirmation that I’ve done the right thing with my life.”
Capaci reflects on her time at Village school. “I’m anchored by the hope of my memories. People coming together, always around a common goal, to do the best we can for our children,” she said, offering as an example the temporary classrooms set up at St. David’s Church after Hurricane Sandy.
Capaci also looked forward to her new position as director of data, assessment, and accountability.
“With the changes and growth of new state assessments, WW-P needed an individual who would be responsible for the development and implementation of a vision and strategy to help guide the district’s approach to data, assessment, and accountability; and such a position offers me the chance to have a district-wide impact on all students and teachers.”
The position’s responsibilities “are all exciting and present a new and stimulating challenge,” she says. Those responsibilities include: assessing innovative ideas or models; designing an accountability system to monitor improvements in student outcomes; recommending, developing, and validating student assessment procedures; and serving as a resource for administrators, parents, and others.
As for her personal goals, Capaci says she would like to run her second 5K race; teach each of her children to prepare a meal of his or her choice, from grocery store to table; to continue to eat dinner as a family as often as possible; and to have tons more adventures.
Educational Program Seeks Local Housing
Abroad Hand-in-Hand Education Services, an international high school and college student placement program, is looking for help from residents in the WW-P area. “We are looking for American families to host Chinese college students who are attending Mercer County Community College through their American Honors Program,” says co-founder and CEO Haijun Hu.
Continues Hu: “While there are many housing options in the Princeton area for the international students, staying in someone’s home is the best one. Gaining exposure to a new culture is easy and exciting when families host international students.”
“We are seeking English-speaking hosts who can provide the student with their own furnished bedroom and meals. Since most students don’t drive, the ideal host family lives close to MCCC or is able to provide daily commute for the student. My company would pay a $1,200 per month stipend to offset the costs of hosting a student.”
“There are many benefits to having English-speaking families serving as host families. The Chinese students will become fluent in English, and become exposed to American culture and customs. And there are benefits for the host families as well. They will learn more about Chinese culture and customs, as well as gaining satisfaction from helping a college student realize his or her dream. Plus, many of our students become close friends with their host families.”
Noting the large Asian population in the area, Hu adds that this “is an ideal situation for new students from China as well. They can get involved in American activities, but have access to more traditional ones as well. That is why we are especially interested in finding host families in West Windsor or Plainsboro. We have already placed one student with a family in Plainsboro, and hope to be able to place several more,” Hu says.
Abroad Hand-in-Hand, located at 252 Nassau Street in Princeton, is an educational service agency that cooperates with educational institutions in the United States to help place foreign national students, including those attending high school, college, and graduate schools. Abroad Hand-in-Hand’s philosophy emphasizes that learning English is an essential part of an international student’s education, both at an academic institution and beyond, because it allows students to succeed in the workplace as well.
Hu has been working with the American Honors program since May, 2013, though this is the first year that she has recruited students from China.
MCCC will begin enrolling students in the American Honors program this fall. American Honors is a selective two-year program that provides students seeking bachelor’s degrees an opportunity to complete their first two years at a community college at a reduced cost.
“We believe that the American Honors Program is the best choice for beginning international students studying in the U.S. The program provides for tutors, ESL courses, and English immersion courses to allow students to learn English fluency as quickly as possible,” says Hu. “The fact that this program is offered at MCCC, which is in such a great location, is a real plus for the students.”
High-achieving MCCC students will be able to transfer to top four-year universities.
For more information about hosting an international student contact Haijun Hu by E-mail: haijun.hu@YYJH.us.