Conti Chatter Dr. Michael Conti School PS 5

2018 ~ Close of Marking Period 1


'Literacy Matters' Book Drive

At Conti, the importance of reading to future success is conveyed daily to students, who are lucky to have access to excellent programs and resources for literacy development. Through discussion and literature, students in 3rd grade have been learning that not everyone is as fortunate. This led our students to initiate a book drive to benefit the kids at York Street Project, a non-profit designed to help families in need break the cycle of poverty... PS5's student-led drive was a huge success, collecting an overwhelming amount of books. Our 3rd-graders sorted the donations by reading level, placed them in decorated boxes, and then created personalized bookmarks to send along with the books...Conti students are grateful that they were able to share the love of reading with children and families in our community.

Nelly Tabora of York Street Project expressed deep gratitude for the wonderful collection donated. She said that as struggling families arrived on Thanksgiving to pick up food, they got to take books home too.

Raising Awareness: Type1 Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and Conti students Sophia Velez (Grade 7) and Sofia Seminowicz (Grade 3), who both have Type1 Diabetes, created an informational bulletin board for our school lobby to help spread the word about this condition. The girls have also been raising funds for the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation, and our school held a school dress-down fundraiser in honor of Sophia and Sofia to raise funds for diabetes research...Earlier this month, the two girls got to attend a Hudson County Freeholders meeting as the Freeholders passed a resolution making November Type1 Diabetes Awareness Month in Hudson County.

Student Voice & Representation

As Conti 6th graders read George Orwell's Animal Farm, they are also in the process of setting up a PS5 Student Council. Analyzing the role of a representative body, and deciding how to best implement governance, they sought advice from current Jersey City School Board member Mussab Ali. As the youngest person ever elected to the local school board (and possibly the youngest elected official ever in Jersey City), Mr. Ali brainstormed with our students about ways to implement an effective student government.

Mussab Ali was first elected to the Jersey City School Board in 2017, when he was then a 20-year-old Rutgers University student. During the recent visit with PS5 6th graders in Ms. Spino & Ms. Wright's class, Ali assured students that their voices and opinions matter. In fact, there is an (appointed) high-school student member serving on the JC School Board this school year.

climate of cultural responsiveness

Promoting Inclusion

While reading The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton, our 7th graders are taking concrete steps to combat bullying that is too common among adolescents. They have formed a student-led Inclusive Community Council, whose mission is to encourage mental health and address social isolation among their peers. The council assumes the work of social workers by counseling and coordinating events such as the Know Your Classmates Event. During this event, middle school students sat with someone they normally would not sit with during lunch. They engaged in casual conversation and got to make new connections.

Unity in Kindness

PS 5 has also instituted a Kindness Council comprised of middle school representatives from grades 6, 7, & 8, to plan activities promoting unity and sense of belonging among the entire student body. After visiting primary-grade classes to present read-alouds of the The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen, members of the Kindness Council are now creating a PS5 Mitten Tree by collecting new winter mittens/gloves, hats, socks, and scarves to hang on the tree. The winter wear and any cash donations collected will be donated to the Hudson United Way.

Kindness Council members met to draft a mission statement, and planned activities such as surprising kindergarten students on Halloween with treat bags, and organizing the PS5 "Mitten Tree" drive.

Culturally Relevant PBL

As part of PS5's "Inclusive Community" initiative, our 8th graders are reading Aisha Saeed's bestselling novel Amal Unbound, where a Pakistani girl’s dream of an education falls apart when she is forced into indentured servitude. Inspired by Malala Yousafzai and countless girls like her, this book has our students pondering issues like class & gender inequities, resistance, and social justice.

"Amal Unbound" also led students to explore ways to take an active role in their community to build pride and a sense of ownership. They plan to transform a blighted area (above) near our school into a lush community garden, installed with "buddy benches" to remind visitors about the importance of inclusion.

The above projects are just a few of many that encourage a culture of empathy at Dr. Michael Conti School. Check out this link to a recently published KnowledgeQuest.org article, "Advocating for Those Without a Voice" authored by PS5 Librarian K.K. Sexton, where she highlights some PS5 student projects promoting kindness and social justice awareness - projects facilitated by Conti teachers including Omar Alvarez, Taylor Jackson, CIT Lou DeCarlo, along with parents like Divya Dodhia, LCSW. In the article, Ms. Sexton also writes of her journey as an immigrant who arrived to this country as a youngster, and personally attests to the power that kindness & culturally relevant teaching can have on a child.

PS5's "Promoting Social Justice & Culture of Kindness Through Literature & PBL" project and PS5 librarian K.K. Sexton (above right) accept the National Roald Dahl Social Justice Award from Penguin Random House Director Carmela Iaria at the 2018 American Library Association conference in New Orleans. The award includes a $5000 grant to our school for books (such as "Amal Unbound" and "The Outsiders") from Penguin Random House.


Integrating culturally responsive pedagogy is an ongoing process that begins with building trust and creating social-emotional partnerships with students in order to help them acquire higher levels of learning. After reading Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain by Zaretta Hammond, Principal Rivero has promoted on-going dialogue and reflection about the importance of integrating CRT. In order to make learning meaningful for our diverse population and to promote success among all students, culturally responsive teaching is critical.

In addition to a faculty book club where Zaretta Hammond's book has led to important discussions, grade-level teachers meet regularly to seek ways to increase student engagement and build trust.


Our Sensory Room is 95% ready - stay tuned for our Grand Opening in January 2019! Special thanks to Director of Special Education Gerry Crisonino and Supervisor Candace Coccaro for securing a grant that made this sensory room possible.


Conti teachers Michael Markman and Omar Alvarez teamed up with their former student, Daniela Coca, to create a new comic book Arthman (pronounced "Art-man), highlighting the adventures of a new superhero who promotes and protects creativity. You may recall Mr. Markman and his graphic novel on surviving Hurricane Sandy was featured in an Emmy-winning NJTV Classroom Closeup segment entitled "Comic Relief." Viewers saw our students learning how to write and illustrate comic books, as well as learning ways to overcome personal obstacles...With Arthman, Mr. Markman says the goal was to teach kids to have the courage to be themselves.

Mr. Markman & Mr. Alvarez with "Arthman" - featuring a new superhero (a decendant of Egyptian and Mayan cultures which used "th" at the end of names) with extreme artistic vision and a "reality brush" which transforms or alters 3d objects.


Students in the PS 5 Dual Language program enjoyed showing off their Spanish skills while performing songs and dances celebrating Hispanic culture.


Achieve 3000 is an online reading program designed to improve comprehension of non-fiction text, and our students continue to win recognition for using this program diligently. For the 3rd straight year in a row, our fourth-grade Dual Language students are Read to Succeed National Winners for the most activities completed on Achieve 3000.

The goal for students is to have completed at least 80 Achieve 3000 activities by the end of the school year. Student Gabe Caminer in Ms. Davila's class completed 100 activities in just the first marking period!




Middle School Symposium

PS#5 parents of students in grades 6-8 were invited to a workshop where they learned about the high school application process, along with tips to help their child succeed in school. This symposium, organized by Conti Guidance Counselor Emma Santiago-Hernandez, included guest speakers from district high schools who apprised parents of the programs available to students.

Thank you to (from top clockwise) McNair Academic Principal Kathleen McCabe, Dickinson Vice-Principal Gekson Casillas, Ferris High School Counselor Carmelina Carbone, and Infinity Institute Vice-Principal Kimberly O'Neill, for participating!

Math & Literacy Symposium

PS5 parents with kids in grades K-5 attended a symposium to help them navigate programs like Math Edge, Go Math, Achieve 3000, and get strategies they can use to support their child's learning at home. Presenting at the workshop were 3rd-grade teacher Maryann Curti, 5th-grade teacher Jackie Truesdale, Reading Specialist Janice Alvarez, and Math Support teacher April Fowler.

Cyber-Safety Workshop

According to a 2016 study, 95 % of teens witness bullying on social media and ignore the behavior. 32% accidentally land on adult sites. 40% chat with a stranger online, and of that percentage, the majority reveal their phone number. To combat these chilling statistics, PS5 invited parents to a cyber-security workshop presented by JP Morgan Technology professionals, who covered ways to combat cyberbullying and keep kids safe on social media, texting, and gaming sites.


Financial Literacy

Pershing BNY Mellon employees recently visited the 8th grade classes to provide the first of several financial literacy workshops. This is the 4th year such workshops are being given to our students. Future workshops will include saving for college, managing the first paycheck, debit vs credit, mock job interviews, and a scholarship contest. The program will be expanded to include 7th graders later on this year.

Book Donations & Story Time

Thanks to Subaru for their generous book donations to our special needs department...and a shout-out to JCPS Special Ed. Director Gerry Crisinino and Supervisor Candace Coccaro for helping make this happen.

Pershing employees visited our Pre-K 3, Pre-K 4 and Kindergarten classrooms to read a story and complete activities related to Thanksgiving. As an added bonus, each Pershing employee donated the book read to each classroom's library.

Pumpkin Carving With a Cop

Students had an afternoon of fun with Jersey City Police Department officers, in a program where kids get to carve pumpkins alongside fellow jack o’ lantern enthusiasts.

Walk to School Rally

Aligned with PS 5's other wellness initiatives (e.g.Meditation Wednesdays, Conti Olympics) the recent Walk-to-School Rally, sponsored by the Hudson County MTA,  encourages families to reduce their carbon footprints, while also promoting a healthy lifestyle.


Conti's 1st Annual Snowball Fundraiser was a resounding success! Students described it as "the best party ever"... "amazing"... "awesome"... "so much fun"... and "can we have another party?!" Many thanks to our PTA for their hard work and commitment to our school. All proceeds from the event go to PS5's Nimbus Dance to Learn Program


The following teachers, new to PS5 this year...3rd grade educator Amanda Wright, 3rd grade teacher Tamica Cherry, and 2nd grade teacher Michelle Omara...have just completed their first Marking Period here at the Dr. Michael Conti School! May there be many more!

Left to right: Ms. Amanda Wright, Ms. Michelle Omara and Ms. Tamica Cherry


Dress Down Fundraiser for PS5 Family in Need


PS5 ContiChatter @2018 PS5 Created by K. Sexton, Library Media Specialist

Principal John J. Rivero

Assistant Principal Alan LaMonica


cover photo "autumn forest woods" by V. Lunic

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