Flash Features: September

Diverse Educators Recruitment Day:

On August 14, the Princeton Public Schools held a Diverse Educators Recruitment Day as part of a commitment to build a more diverse staff reflective of Princeton’s diversity. During the event, the 94 applicants in attendance, including general and special education teachers, administrators, and other education professionals, were interviewed by PPS administration.

photo by Brenda Sewell

For the 2017-2018 school year, the district hired a total of 56 new staff members, consisting of 28 teachers, seven administrators, and 21 support staff. 22 members—nearly 40 percent—of these new hires were people of color. Prior to the recruitment day, just 14 percent of the staff was of color, compared to 44 percent of the students in the district being of color.

“When you look at the percentages of individuals of color in our community, you always like to have individuals in the teaching system that you work in [to] represent the community profile … slowly but surely we have been [moving toward] that goal, and we look to continue,” said Assistant Superintendent Lewis Goldstein.

The district plans to hold more recruitment days in the future. Because the recruitment day occurred in mid-August and nearly all of the 56 hires occurred earlier in the spring or summer, few openings were available. However, two aides from the recruitment day were hired for the new school year. The district plans to host more recruitment days later in the school year in April and early May. As word of the recruitment day was spread through community organizations and networks, Superintendent Steve Cochrane also hopes to draw more potential applicants by reaching out to more organizations in order to further advertise the event.

To further emphasize the importance of racial equity in the district through the hiring of educators of color, there are plans to visit recruitment fairs at historically black colleges and universities in late September, early October, and potentially in the spring as well. The district will also participate in the Central Jersey Program for Recruitment of Diverse Educators job fair, held at John Witherspoon Middle School in March, along with 17 other school districts.

“It’s critical that all students benefit from seeing educators of color in roles of leadership,” Cochrane said. “It’s empowering for students of color to see themselves represented among the professional staff, but it’s also powerfully important for all students to see the diversity of cultures that represent quality teaching and our world.”

 

New Gym Floor:

Over the summer, the PHS New Gym underwent renovations in order to give the gym a fresh appearance for the new school year. New floor lines and logos were painted on a fully resurfaced gym floor, banners on the walls were reorganized, and personalized chairs were purchased for players at home events.

photo by Aaron Wu

Because the polyurethane finish on the hardwood floors builds up over time, the gym floor needed to be sanded down to bare wood, a process which typically occurs every ten to 15 years, and then resurfaced.

“I saw the [resurfacing] as an opportunity to change the colors and the logos on the floor to something that’s much more contemporary than what we [had],” said Brian Dzbenski, Health and Athletic Director.

The renovation, costing about $27,675 in total, was done by Classic Floors. In addition to new lines and logos, the new gym now has a designated volleyball court and both half and full basketball courts. The PHS Tigers logos on the floor also match the logos on the new athletic chairs.

Many students felt that the addition of logos and the repainting was a welcome change for the gym.

“I think the gym floor really shows the spirit of PHS better [as] the color scheme is a new aesthetic for incoming students,” said Maeve Singer ’20.

By October 15, the tennis courts are also scheduled to undergo resurfacing and repainting. In the future, Dzbenski hopes to have electric bleachers and to renovate the Old Gym as well by resurfacing and repainting the floor similarly, redoing the walls, and replacing the backboards. However, these renovations are dependent on budget restrictions.

 

Book Bag and School Supplies Drive:

From August to early September, Princeton Human Services hosted the eighth annual Book Bag and School Supplies Drive, a program that aims to distribute backpacks full of school supplies to students from low-income families.

photo illustration by Aaron Wu

Typically, the supplies are given to children in grades K–6, but this year, the event was able to expand and provide backpacks and school supplies to students in John Witherspoon Middle School and PHS as well.

In the past, the event has been able to provide over 100 backpacks to students in grades K–6. The donations come from individuals in the Princeton community in addition to various organizations such as the Princeton Police Department and Committed and Faithful Princetonians.

Leah Williamson ’18, in her third year working with Princeton Human Services as part of their Summer Youth Employment Program, saw a significant increase in the number of donations compared to previous years due to an increased awareness of the event. She was responsible for keeping an inventory of the backpacks, filling them, and distributing the backpacks.

“The event gets bigger every year. This past year, it was so much bigger than what I was used to the other two years …we had extra materials left over, so certain students, like the [English Language Learners] students at the high school and seventh and eighth graders [received backpacks],” Williamson said.

To further the success of the community event, the Human Services department will continue to raise awareness of the drive through flyers and other marketing techniques.

“I think [community outreach events like these] are important because a lot of the children here [are] really not financially stable. As affluent as Princeton may be, that gets gilded over very quickly,” said Williamson. “What we try to do is raise awareness for that by providing necessary benefits for these people.”

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