Jackson School District’s elementary science curriculum earns award

From Left, Director of Curriculum for STEM Robert Rotante, Assistant Principal Shawn Levinson and Superintendent of Schools Stephen Genco accept the Outstanding Program Award on behalf of the Jackson School District at the annual New Jersey School Boards Association Workshop and Awards Ceremony.
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From Left, Director of Curriculum for STEM Robert Rotante, Assistant Principal Shawn Levinson and Superintendent of Schools Stephen Genco accept the Outstanding Program Award on behalf of the Jackson School District at the annual New Jersey School Boards Association Workshop and Awards Ceremony.

JACKSON – When it comes to creating an innovative and engaging program that allows students of differing abilities to thrive, it turns out there is a “science’’ to it.

That is why the Jackson School District’s elementary science curriculum recently earned the School Leader Award for Outstanding Program from the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) for the 2019-20 school year.

The award is part of the School Leader Award program, in which school district programs are evaluated for their level of innovation, how well they meet the specific needs of students, the relationship of the program to the state’s curriculum standards, and program results, according to a press release from the school district.

“Our curriculum was written by our staff, applying the very best lessons and approaches that are proven to really connect with the students of Jackson,’’ said Robert Rotante, director of curriculum for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in the Jackson School District.

“Instead of multiple choice exams and vocabulary quizzes, students engage in problem-solving sessions that result in answers limited only by their imagination,’’ Rotante said.

In the district’s science curriculum, every design challenge is constructed to allow groups of students to synthesize ideas and determine the best possible solution, according to the press release.

Team-based decisions are used to scaffold concepts – which means breaking up the learning experience into separate parts – and then providing students support to learn each part. This helps to ensure educators are reaching students of differing abilities, according to district administrators.

“We are certainly proud to have earned this award because it recognizes the hard work by our staff to imagine and implement this innovative curriculum,” Rotante said. “Creating it was both an art and a science – and the results in our classrooms have been extraordinary. Our science classrooms are truly alive with innovation, exploration and learning.”