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  • Writer's pictureRobin Chieco

Perspective/Hammonton Schools

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Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year. Our year will begin with staff reporting on Aug. 28-30, and Aug. 31 for students. We are excited about the new school year and are anxiously awaiting the return of students and staff for another productive year.

As you arrive at our elementary schools, you will notice the construction beginning behind the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) for the addition to the building. The new section will accommodate eight classrooms along with spaces for related services. Once completed in September of 2024, our Pre-K- Grade 1 students will be housed at ECEC, allowing additional instructional space at Warren E. Sooy Elementary School (WES) to better meet the needs of our students. Please check the district website and Facebook page for updates on the construction project.

In May of 2023, the district applied for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act-Stronger Connections Competitive Grant. This grant provides $1.38 million for mental health supports across the district. I am happy to report that Hammonton was one of 16 districts in the state of New Jersey to be awarded this grant. With these funds, we will contract four clinicians to provide intensive counseling and therapy to students experiencing difficulties. In addition to daily interactions with students, these clinicians will also provide family counseling sessions.

Professional development on topics related to student depression, addressing challenging behaviors, stress and emotional well-being will be available to staff to give strategies on how to address certain behaviors and recognize warning signs of problems. The grant period runs for the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 school years. As we continue to respond to mental health concerns, these additional counselors will provide the necessary intensive support that some of our children need. Other grant opportunities are also being pursued related to high impact tutoring for grades 3 and 4 and professional development offerings.

In coordination with the Town of Hammonton, our Memorandum of Agreement and Shared Services Contract for police officers in our schools has been renewed for the next five years.

Hammonton High School and Hammonton Middle School will have Student Resource Officers (SRO) assigned to each building. At WES and ECEC, Class II Officers will be assigned to both buildings to provide a police presence. As a result, all buildings will have a member of law enforcement present for the entire school year. We are fortunate to have these officers provide protection along with positive interactions with our students and staff.

To maintain our high standards of providing an exceptional education for all students, we will continue to implement research-based instructional programs throughout the grade levels. Benchmark data along with state assessment scores will be utilized to identify areas of growth. Additionally, all district curricula have been updated over the past few years and are accessible to the public on our district website under the Departments Tab-District Curriculum. For parents of students in grades 2, 5, 6 and 8, information will be shared at a later date related to “opt-out” procedures for specific health topics.

Each year is a new beginning providing many new experiences and opportunities. Helen Keller once said, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.” As we embark on the 2023-2024 school year, I look forward to the many milestones we will reach throughout the year.

Robin Chieco

Superintendent of Schools


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