NEWARK, NJ — On Sept. 1, Superintendent of Schools Roger Leon and the Newark Board of Education hosted District Staff Convocation 2020. The annual convocation is a celebration to start the school year, where the superintendent convenes all employees in one venue to share the state of the district, review multiple measures of data, celebrate accomplishments, set the tone for the new school year and charge the staff. As last school year ended in a historic way, so started this school year. The District Staff Convocation 2020 was held virtually for all 6,300 employees.
Leon charged the district “to continue to be flexible, exercise patience, build confidence and demonstrate resilience” as it opened this school year remotely. He shared that last school year, prior to the emergence of the pandemic, attendance was the highest ever, student achievement was soaring and record numbers of seniors were on track to graduate. Despite historic obstacles at the height of the pandemic, schools and homes joined forces unlike ever before. Higher demands on students enrolled in advanced placement courses resulted in record participation numbers on AP exams, seniors in dual enrollment courses graduated with high school diplomas and associates degrees, and the Class of 2020 earned more than $40 million in college scholarships resulting in the graduation rate reaching its highest level in Newark’s history.
Mayor Ras Baraka welcomed the teachers and staff to the start of this virtual school year and noted, “We are at a different moment, a different point in time in history. We need you now, in this pandemic, to help encourage, inspire, to educate them, to advance them, to take care of their mental state of mind.”
“This is my third convocation, and it is a convocation like no other,” Newark Board of Education President Josephine Garcia said. “We know that out of adversity, comes opportunity. We have the opportunity to improve on the great instruction that we have been providing over the past couple of years, we have the opportunity to strengthen relationships with our community partners and we have the opportunity to be second to none. Staff, you are seizing the moment, and together, we will continue to show everyone how it’s done, because we are ‘Newark Strong.’”