There’s no doubt about it; spring’s a busy time.

All of us in the New Brunswick Public Schools community – students, teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and families alike– have a lot keeping us busy. Along with regular classes, there are PARCC tests, the spring  athletic season, field trips, dances, and graduation. With so much going on, it can be difficult to stay focused.

I think each of us needs to find some inspiration.

March was considered Women’s History Month, an ideal time to consider the accomplishments of many great Americans who made the world better for others; people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Coretta Scott King, Sonya Sotomayor, Maya Angelou, Sandra Day O’Connor, and many others. Further, I do believe Women’s History Month should resonate more strongly in education circles. It’s important to note that recognizing the achievements of women in all facets of life (science, community, government, literature, art, sports, medicine) has a huge impact on the development of self-respect and new opportunities for girls and young women.

As soon as I blinked, the calendar turned to April. I had an opportunity to visit Cuba for the first time in my life, as part of a delegation of 21 school administrators from across the country. I was only one from New Jersey.  We went to learn about Cuba’s literacy campaign,  which is one of the most successful in the world.  Students are taught to use high cognitive skills and conceptual models when still quite young (K-6). Teacher evaluations are transparent and constructed collectively with their peers. The backbone of Cuba’s education system is the wrap-around services that is provided for all children; parents are required to be involved in the learning process and are taught to be the child’s first teacher.  After school programs exist in every community, with a goal of keeping students of all ages engaged in constructive activities.  Parents, artists and performers volunteer to work with the children to ensure their academic, cultural and socio-emotional needs are developed.  I pondered how they got all this done with such limited resources … and concluded that when education is a priority and everyone is involved, there are no limits to progress.

Whether we’re recognizing great women of the past and of today, or actively engaging with a nearby land with which our country is forging new ties, this spring has given me many reasons to enjoy the present and look forward eagerly to the future. I trust all of you will do the same as we continue to work ahead to Prepare, Empower and Inspire our students to be lifelong learners and leaders.

 

Dr. Aubrey A. Johnson

Superintendent of Schools