New Milford Public School District (03-3550)

New Milford Public School District

New Milford Public School District continues to be a district on the move. Student performance reports place the two elementary schools, middle school and high school in league with other high performing county and state districts. New Milford High School is ranked in the top third of the state and the momentum continues. Test scores are on the rise; the professional advancement of faculty is increasingly manifesting in enhanced lesson design; and ongoing program development is characterized by intelligence, imagination and sense of purpose. The administration and faculty think in terms of possibility. Young at heart, vibrant and open to new ideas, they value working collaboratively and understand the importance of maintaining consistent focus on the central mission of educating children. Organized into professional learning communities, teachers are dedicated to the advancement of student achievement and the enrichment of the total school experience.

The District is proud of its positive educational climate and the commitment of staff, students, parents, administrators, board members and the community. A stable administrative team with a common long-range vision is in place. Sustainable reform is at the heart of that vision, which embraces the creation of partnerships with local, county and state institutions, including higher education, regional arts and cultural centers and civic organizations because they are essential to the goal of connecting students with resources not readily available within the confines of a school setting. New Milford schools enjoy partnerships with Bergen Performing Arts Center, Fairleigh Dickinson University and St. Thomas Aquinas College.

For the long term, the District is facing significant progressive change in the ways that schools provide relevant, innovative and challenging educational opportunities to students at all grade levels. Drawing upon best practice models, for example, the high school through the Academies @NMHS offers career-focused concentrations in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Global Leadership (international business & entrepreneurship, diplomacy, language, travel), Environmental Studies, Performing Arts (drama, music, dance), Digital Media, Arts & Letters (interdisciplinary studies in the humanities) and a cross-disciplinary approach to Teaching as a Profession. To that end, the Academies@NMHS, which opened in September 2011 with an inaugural class of 47 students, and has grown to a current enrollment of 155 students spanning grades 9-12.

Understanding that the implementation of these programs cannot occur in a vacuum, complementary curricular components are offered at the elementary and the middle school levels. A Junior Academy, comprehensive after-school enrichment program, specialized programs addressing the needs of our most challenged students, comprehensive programs in science, math and literacy at the elementary and early childhood levels have systematically been implemented. Of particular note is the Inner Bridge Crossing program, designed to serve children with social, relational and communicative disabilities including Asperger’s Syndrome, high-functioning autism, and nonverbal learning disabilities. Additionally, the newly established Wings Academy provides a community-based program for students requiring educational services through age 21. A Director of Elementary Education works alongside K-5 teachers to oversee the implementation of research-based programs and guide ongoing, targeted professional development. A balanced literacy program includes elements of phonics, reading, writing, and word study. Research-based programs include Project Read and Teachers College Reading and Writing Project model. And this year with the introduction of the FOSS Science Program, the district reenergizes its commitment to science education in the early grades.

The emergence of maker spaces in all four schools recognizes the importance of tinkering and play. Providing students with access to places in which imaginations can come alive and ideas can grow, these immersive, collaborative spaces inspire creativity and innovation. District maker spaces are influenced by what M.I.T. Media Lab director, Joi Ito, describes as principles which “emphasize resilience over strength, pull over push, risk over safety, systems over objects, compasses over maps, practice over theory, disobedience over compliance, emergence over authority, and learning over education.”

Whether we are looking at decisions impacting health and wellness, including food, exercise, and behaviors, or the introduction of engaging, interest-oriented educational programs, New Milford Schools are well poised to become models noted for accomplishment, drive, creativity, integrity and innovation. New Milford Schools are resolute in their attention to the development of the whole child. District programs prepare students to think critically, master the challenges of life-long academic, cultural, social, economic, emotional and professional advancement, as well as constructive participation as citizens of the world.