Winter 2018 Edition


Special EDition is a publication highlighting the latest student centered events and activities to keep families and educators informed throughout the Jersey City Public Schools.


That's the Spirit!

By: Candace Coccaro

As parents, we all know that a student's self esteem affects their learning and often their behavior. In watching some of our special education students participate in a summer program, we observed that so many of them had such low self esteem that they often approached tasks with the same "I can't" attitude. As a result, we were motivated at the district level to assist teachers in building self esteem using special rewards.

Lead Teachers will give students special key-rings that can be attached to a backpack. In addition, every lead teacher will be provided with content related "Spirit Sticks" that can be given out when a student is observed accomplishing a task or exhibiting an appropriate behavior that is being taught. It is much the same as the "caught you being good" campaign from previous years but with a reward that can be more prominently displayed. These "Spirit Sticks" will be awarded by Lead Teachers and teachers throughout the school district.

Students at PS #17 earn Spirit Monkey Sticks from L.I.N.K.S. Department after their Sonday System lessons to showcase their hard work and determination!

B.I.G. T.O.P.

By: Janel Alonzo and David Telado, P.S.26

Recently, we at the B.I.G. T.O.P. (Because Inclusion Grows Through Outstanding Performance), grade 3, classroom 219, sent a Thank You message to Donors Choose. We are so proud to learn that we will be receiving a full subscription to Scholastic News for this school year!

Even though we have access to reading material provided by our district, Scholastic News will contribute a different experience. Our Scholars get excited when they receive their readers because it's like they are getting their own "newspaper," which is becoming rarer with digital resources becoming so popular.

With this donation, we have been able to read, listen, and discuss several topics. Scholastic News has allowed us to take our scholars to Australia and explore how koalas are cared for, Puerto Rico to remember the effects of Hurricane Maria a year later, and get informed by many more interesting places or topics. Since many of our students are visual learners, the vibrant photographs catch their attention. The headings, captions, and key words continue to help the students and the teachers identify text features better, especially helpful for our Inclusion students.

Our scholars have expressed that they want to visit the places they have read about or see the creatures featured in their Scholastic News Weekly Readers in real life. They have given their own reviews and opinions about the articles they read to their peers and the whole class. In addition, as teachers we are grateful the articles that they read in Scholastic News will activate prior knowledge.

We, at the B.I.G. T.O.P. are so grateful for the thoughtful generosity of our Donor! Without a doubt, this gift continues to impact our students with every new Scholastic News issue.

Diversity Thriving In Jersey City

By: Mr. Frank Piccillo, Principal, P.S. 33

First grade students of room 7 at P.S. 33, proudly display their family trees.

Jersey City was named the Most Ethnically Diverse City in the United States in 2018. Jersey City represents a melting pot of nations, ethnicities and cultural traditions. Our City maintains its reputation as America’s Golden Door which has served as a gateway for all walks of life with Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop. Linguistic diversity also sets Jersey City apart, with 75 different languages spoken throughout our school district.

The enthusiastic first grade students of room 7 at P.S. 33 led by Ms. McLaughlin and Ms. Jones, proudly display their family trees. This is an example of a segment of the new Social Studies curriculum which focuses on melding the culture of students’ families with their school cultures. Students are from Algeria, Guyana, Egypt, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

By: Amanda Philp

Project Discovery is a career exploration and job skills curriculum for students in grades 6-12 and adults in transition. The curriculum uses hands-on activities and integrated functional/academic instruction that aligns with the Core Curriculum and 21st Century Learning Standards that provides the students with foundational skills to many careers. Project Discovery is designed to give students, of all ability levels, exploration of many career fields that they may have never thought about.

Students in the T.E.A.C.H. program and Leaps and Bounds program at the high-school level, across all campuses (McNair Academic, Ferris High School and Dickinson High School), have begun using the Project Discovery curriculum to explore careers and develop skills that will prepare them for life after high school.


By: CASP-Bonnie Shultz-Art Therapist

Students from PS 5, PS 6, and PS 34 getting started on their very own Danmalas.

It’s been an exciting start of the year for the C.A.S.P program. In the Art Therapy groups, students explored and manipulated different colored and shaped flowers. The students attempted to create a Danmala, which is a geometric shaped Mandala made out of colorful flowers. The Danmala is considered an image that visually brings a sense of peace and appreciation for nature. This image represents whole, group, working together, which is important skills when working in a group setting.

The students will then refer to a variety of visual aides to help create this beautiful, cohesive image. Once the student creates the image and practices breathing techniques, some of the students will draw a pattern-like image on white paper and watercolor paper. The student will then cut out layers and add the pedals to the Danmala and display it. The students will continue to work on fine motor skills, self-expression, and organizational skills.


(Children's Adapted Physical Education)

By: Mary Hussey

Students at P.S. 15 doing breathing techniques and yoga poses.

Welcome to a new year of our Adapted Physical Education classes. For the new school year, we’ve incorporated yoga and technology.

The objective of Yoga is to apply basic body mechanics to help with alignment and proper posture. We instructed our students to slow down and connect with one’s inner self. Yoga helps the students to relax and release tension. Through Yoga, we encourage our students to utilize specific techniques to manage stress.Yoga also encourages graceful movement and helps one understand and regulate breathing in challenging situations.

Usually, the instructional sessions are teacher driven and the students generally follow. This time we incorporated a website, cosmickids.com, where the Physical Education teacher went over the breathing techniques and some of the yoga poses. The students decided on a Moana themed story to go with our yoga poses. The students loved the story and followed along with the instructor who was dressed as Moana. This allowed the physical education teacher to help each student with their movements. The students loved the new yoga activity.

Supporting Our Teachers

By: Sean Healy

Lead teachers from the Special Education Department visit schools across the district to provide support, resources and model lessons for students, teachers, administrators and parents. Model lessons allow a teacher or group of teachers an opportunity to observe an intervention, lesson or strategy demonstrated with their students by a lead teacher.

Lead teachers Sean Healy (left) and Cara Van Note (right) model a Sonday lesson for Ms. Laughlin’s class at PS #33.

Lead teachers from the Special Education Department visit schools across the district to provide support, resources and model lessons for students, teachers, administrators and parents. Model lessons allow a teacher or group of teachers an opportunity to observe an intervention, lesson or strategy demonstrated with their students by a lead teacher. Prior to the model lesson, the lead teacher meets with the teacher to discuss the students; their strengths and weaknesses, interests and challenges, and the class as a whole; number of students, behaviors, strengths and weaknesses of the teacher. The lead teacher then designs and prepares a lesson that demonstrates the strategy that will be the most effective and meet the needs of the class. Model lessons have been conducted since almost the first week of school and will continue throughout the school year.

Dickinson High School Graduate Soars To The Top!

By: Pedro Lopez

Upon competing in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington, Miranda Mendoza, a graduate of Dickinson High School, received a call from the Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ) organization, and was asked to attend a week long training and workout at the University of Delaware, where she would later qualify to compete as part of the 2019 Team USA Special Olympics World Games in Dubai. Miranda would be one of three N.J. athletes competing in the upcoming world games.

Pictured above, Miranda Mendoza with Coach Pedro Lopez.

"It was an unforgettable experience to witness Miranda’s achievements in the USA Games in Seattle, Washington.", said, Coach Pedro Lopez. Coach Lopez has worked very hard with Miranda since she was 8 years old and said that he and his coaching staff are dedicated and always willing to help their athletes succeed.

Coach Lopez thanks program coordinator, Dina Kosc-Ferrari, and coaching staff, Osvaldo Claudio, Eric Pawlowski, Jamie Smith, Jaime Merced, former assistant coach Carla Perez and all the coaching staff for their support. Coach Lopez also thanks retired SONJ Area Director, Anita Nedswick for her endless support throughout the years.

Thanksgiving Feast At P.S. 15

By: Melissa Cook

On November 20, the primary, grammar, and middle school C.H.O.I.C.E.S. classrooms at P.S.#15 hosted a fantastic feast. The students worked with their teachers Mrs. Policastro, Mr. Cipkin, and Mrs. Flegler to form a guest list, design and send out invitations, make a menu and assign people to bring food. On the day of the feast, the students decorated the room, set the tables, and greeted all of their guests.

Students at PS 15 hosting a Thanksgiving feast for guests.

The guests incuded the administration, supervisors, child study team members, coaches, and some of the students’ officer pen pals. We enjoyed turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans, collard greens, baked ziti, fried chicken, rolls, and plenty of dessert; including Ms. Lobello’s carrot cake. While eating, the students spoke about what they were thankful for, they discussed their favorite and least favorite of the Thanksgiving dishes, and some of the students made toasts to each other. It was a great experience for all of the students as well as the staff.

Created By
Jaime Merced


Jersey City Public Schools, Special Education Department

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