Newark superintendent meets with High School Redesign Strategy partners

Photo Courtesy of Nancy J. Deering

NEWARK, NJ — Since the introduction of the first high school academy in Newark in 2019, Superintendent of School Roger León convened the principals of the comprehensive high schools, their magnet school partners along with their post-secondary education and industry partners on Wednesday, March 2. The meeting began with a reintroduction of the superintendent’s “Reinvest, Reinvigorate, and Return” strategy, which focuses on successful high school redesign. 

“Within this design, the focus will benefit middle, primary and early childhood schools,” León said. “The point in all of this is impressing upon everyone the importance of children being in school healthy and ready-to-learn.”

The superintendent provided the group with an overview of the district’s feeder schools strategy and school choice, using Science Park High School as a model. He explained how students enrolling in the newly-opened Sir Isaac Newton Elementary School would automatically be granted admission to Science Park High School once they complete eighth grade. This will ensure that those students who were involved and interested in pursuing the sciences can continue their pursuit through at least high school.

Through the Newark Enrolls process, students and families have the option of choosing what works best for them, which allows for long-term planning. For example, students interested in pursuing a career in education have a choice of attending the Teacher Academy at East Side High School or its magnet school partner, University High School. Through a partnership with Montclair State University and its Department of Teaching and Learning, students can earn up to 30 college credits through a dual-enrollment program. Among other things, students are provided academic coaching and given the tools to properly prepare for a career in academia. As a result of this program, Newark Public Schools has been able to employ its former students to return and teach within the district.

“This year, we will be surveying students and inviting them to focus groups to understand their aspirational goals and to gauge their interest in the profession, and also to help us think about how we remove a lot of the obstacles and barriers,” MSU associate professor Mayida Zaal said. “We will be working on enhancing the curriculum for the Teacher Academy. Now that we are at the three-year mark, this is an opportunity for teachers to get together and co-construct the curriculum, observe each other’s classrooms, share resources and ideas.”

District Partners in attendance were Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and RWJBarnabas Health, Dirty Soles Footwear Group, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Google Creative Lab, Kean University, fashion designer Marco Hall, Mattel, Milestone, Misa Hylton Fashion Academy, Montclair State University, National Medical Fellowships, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, PSE&G, Rutgers Business School, Rutgers Law School, Rutgers School of Health Professions, Turner Construction Company, United Airlines, United Planet Organization, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.