Hopewell Valley Regional School district to focus on mental health training, grading consistency, diversity

The Hopewell Valley Regional School District administration building in Pennington.

Consistency in grading, more mental health training and diversity among staff are just some of the goals the Hopewell Valley Regional School District has for the 2023-24 school year and beyond.

During a work session in August, the school board established goals in the areas of academics; civic engagement and building community; diversity, equity and inclusion [DEI]; facilities; and mental health, according to Schools Superintendent Rosetta Treece at a Sept. 18 board meeting.

“Under academics, one of the things we have been working on very hard for years [but] not have successfully done is consistency in grading,” she said. “I promise that by the end of this year you will have consistency across departments. One grading policy for how we grade.”

One of the changes in the policy is how much projects and assignments are worth, Treece said.

Other academic goals include counseling students about AP (advanced placement) and Honors courses, examining the alignment of new Language Arts standards and mathematics, and setting a new elementary master schedule.

“Under DEI, we have curricular development,” Treece said. “We continue to find ways to diversify our curriculum, not just to create those mirrors where you see yourself no matter what walk of life you come from, but also addressing neurodiversity.”

She explained that the district will continue to train staff on how to deal with the different learning styles that may come in their classrooms.

Under DEI, another goal is seeking diverse candidates to staff the buildings.

“It is not easy. There are not a lot of people of color from various walks of life or anybody entering education,” Treece said. “People are just not rushing to be teachers anymore.”

The district administration said they are trying to make sure there is diversity across the district’s faculty.

“Not just people of color, but that we have men at the elementary school level and that we have women represented in some of the sciences, STEM fields,” she added. “We want our students to experience people from all over.”

For mental health, the district will provide more mental health training for staff, parents and students.

“Last year, we were fortunate enough to get a grant. We were able to provide mental health training for not just staff and parents, but a whole grade level of students,” Treece said.

“We are going to be doing the same things this year. The Digital Wellness Committee is going to put together some more opportunities for parents to learn how to make sure their kids are being safe and healthy online as they engage in social media platforms.”

There are also more community forums in the works on mental health, wellness and awareness for parents and students.

“They were very well received last year,” Treece noted.

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