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Passaic Valley Regional High School support site

Superintendent Details Plans for Passaic Valley High School to Little Falls Council

- Jul• 20•17

By TINA PAPPAS
July 13, 2017 at 12:40 PM

LITTLE FALLS, NJ – Dr. JoAnn Cardillo, superintendent of Passaic Valley High School, gave a presentation to Little Falls Council members at their July 11 workshop meeting. Cardillo gave a synopsis of the high school’s direction, entitled “Visioning a 21st Century High School of Excellence.”

Prior to the presentation, Cardillo held a meet and greet was held inside Town Hall. In attendance during the meeting was Passaic County Freeholder Sandi Lazarra, Passaic Valley Board of Education President Luke Damiano, Little Falls Board of Education Superintendent Tracey Marinelli and Little Falls Board of Education member Michael Russo.

Cardillo noted she recently completed her second year as the high school’s superintendent and gave an overview on the high school’s implementation progress highlighting several program development strategies. One of the purposes of her visit was to get feedback from the community and announce a survey for community members where they can submit responses directly via a link on a Google doc.

“A committee was put together last summer and we began to investigate different core beliefs that we have,” Cardillo said, adding that the committee is revamping a vision, mission and core belief statement and is introducing a strategic planning road map, as well as moving into a five-year plan.

Among the things being focused on is improving the quality of education and experience for students at PV.

“It’s moving ourselves to the 21st Century student experiences. We need to reflect that and change it a bit to be sure we are on track to giving the students the best educational program,” she added.

Some of the areas that the high school is in the process of redefining is their special education services, STEM and humanities, including activities and athletics. She emphasized that the special education services to include “a broader range of elective offerings for special needs students.”

“Philosophically, we’re moving in the direction of servicing all of our special needs students the best we can here in Passaic Valley. Research will tell you that children of special needs often make contributions to their communities, therefore, I believe that they should stay at PV,” she explained. “They come through the elementary schools in the area and we should be providing what they need so that they will become educated and ready for citizenship.”

She added that including a special education and general education teacher in the same classroom has been met with success. She also focused on many students coming into the high school who are struggling readers.

“This is new to PV but it’s really happening all of over the nation,” she said. “Students not as well prepared with their reading instruction and you can give a lot of reasons for that. I was a primary teacher and I believe it was when a shift was made from a structured reading program at the elementary school level, and trying to place programs that really did not focus on students – really trying to learn to read the structured way. At PV they will have those services. Research tells me we can raise their reading levels on or two years to help them.”

Another highlight was the push to expand STEM – science technology, engineering and math.

‘We’ve updated the rigor and relevance to 21st Century college and career standards,” she said, adding that a supervisor for the department, who hails from a similar district, was recently hired.

“We were one of a small group of high schools that was able to reorganize itself and being to offer these courses right away, which are going to be mandated by the state department soon. It’s about exploring different STEM careers so that they will make wiser choices when they choose what areas they’d like to concentrate in.”

Dual enrollment has been paired with NJIT and Berkeley College for the 2017-2018 school year. Students can earn college credits and those credits could be applied to any college that they want to attend.

“One of our pushes next year is for parents to understand the value of dual enrollment courses,” she added.” We could save parents so much money with up to 15 college credits per semester here at PV. These credits are transferable to most colleges.”

Additionally, she touted the new math and writing labs, and business course updates through the 2018-2019 school year.

Cardillo also highlighted a series of accomplishments that the high school attained including some in the works. Among them New Jersey Monthly’s recent rankings for PV, which showed the high school went from number 225 in 2014, to number 160 out of 600 high schools in the state.

She also said that the high school increased its PARCC scores in mathematics, which placed it in the top 10 schools for most improved statewide. There was also an increase in students who take advanced placement courses and tested out successfully. The advanced placement test results are up in a two year trend. The high school is also replacing outdated coursework with new programming in order to benefit the students, she added.

“There are choices that parents can make that no longer direct them to their high school,” she noted. “Now there are choices within the county and it’s very difficult for us here at PV to compete unless we do what we need to do. You pay your taxes here and everyone deserve a great high school and we’re on our way.”

Cardillo thanked Mayor James Damiano and council members for their support of the high school’s initiatives.

Councilwoman Maria Martini Cordonnier, liaison to the Little Falls Board of Education and the Passaic Valley Board of Education, thanked both Cardillo and Marinelli at the for their partnership.

Lazarra also lauded the partnership between the high school, local school district and the township.

“Kids get more than just the academics,” Lazarra noted. “You’ve got some wonderful kids coming out of PV. I thank you all for what you’re doing for our kids.”

Cardillo responded by stating, “I don’t think people realize just how important high school is and the decisions kids make. It affects the rest of their lives so we’d really like to give them as many options at this point as possible.”

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