Vernon Township School District (37-5360)

Vernon Township School District

The Vernon Schools strive to provide a rigorous academic program while simultaneously offering students opportunities for emotional and social growth through a wide-range of extra-curricular, athletic and scholastic experiences. The Vernon School District believes that all students can learn, as it is committed to providing educational environments that are developmentally and academically tailored to help students reach their fullest potential. Through the recruitment and retention of a supportive, professional and highly-skilled staff, the district strives to create a student-centered environment that builds students' self-esteem. Of equal importance is its dedication to ensuring that students develop citizenship, responsibility and independence through respect for themselves and others.

Located in the rolling hills of Sussex County, the district is comprised of three primary schools, two middle schools and one comprehensive high school. Beginning in a Pre-K setting and culminating in the student's 12th grade year, a carefully crafted and scaffolded curriculum helps to ensure that our students attain the skill sets outlined by the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Each curricular area is supported by highly-qualified teachers who are assisted by content-area supervisors to certify that our students receive a challenging, competitive, and research-based education.

From kindergarten onwards, the Vernon Township School District emphasizes a strong math and literacy program. Instructional interventionists and reading specialists service our primary-aged students by providing small-group instruction to support those in need of remediation and to offer enrichment opportunities for high-achieving students. A balanced literacy K-8 initiative is in place, including the best practice programs of Writers Workshop and Readers Workshop from Columbia University, the reading-based Wilson FUNdations Program and Title I funding that is allocated to teachers for assisting emergent readers, to help guarantee a comprehensive reading experience for all students. Our K-12 math program, Math in Focus, is similarly identified as a cutting-edge program and prioritizes learning that allows students to explore and understand mathematical communication, problem solving, and critical thinking in grades K-7.

Despite the concerted focus in the areas of language arts and math, the district also celebrates and recognizes the need for strong programs in other curricular areas, including science, social studies, world language, as well as fine, performing and practical arts. Together, these areas serve to develop "the whole child,” and the culminating years of high school offer nineteen Advanced Placement classes in these core and non-core academic fields.

To help support student growth, a thorough K-8 world language program has been implemented to focus on cultural awareness and real-world application of language skills. These classes are offered in Spanish and French, in an effort to prepare students for Spanish, French, German and Italian courses at the high school. Likewise, a carefully-hewn fine and performing arts program caters to all children, helping to advance developing musicians and artists. General music and art classes in the primary grades, along with uniquely crafted college preparatory music and art classes at the high school, focus on developing artistic skill sets, such as critical thought, analysis, and aestheticism.

Each of our academic programs takes into consideration and, as a result, supports those students who have special needs. Special education learners follow the same curriculum as their regular education peers but receive support via their individualized education plans. A full array of related services is available to students, as warranted. These services include, but are not limited to: counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language therapy. Self-contained settings are available for students whose needs will be met in the district’s pre-school disabled program, behavioral disabilities program, autism program and learning language disabled program. Pull-out replacement models are also available, as well as in-class support models for academic areas that have ten teachers presently working towards Wilson certification in the 2016-2017 school year. All program options are offered to meet the special needs of students in an environment of least restriction.

The focus on innovative classroom technology that is used to enhance teaching and learning is a point of pride for our school district. A well-structured IT Department supports skill integration, as do two full-time coaches whose roles are, in part, to keep the district up-to-date on emerging technology. Nearly all classrooms are equipped with SMART Boards and document cameras, and every child in the district from grades 4-12 has access to Chromebooks, computerized world language labs, digital music labs, engineering design labs and maker stations. These innovative devices and facilities, along with important industry-grade programs such as Revit, Newsela, Reading Ally and Schoology, provide instruction in ways that are in-sync with the ways in which we understand students learn best in the 21st century, within differentiated, student-engaged, active learning environments.

As children progress through their middle school and high school years, the district provides a plethora of venues for students to explore their physical, social, and potential career interests with like-minded peers through athletic and extracurricular activities. From field hockey to lacrosse and football to tennis, students are potentially able to gain membership in a host of athletic championship teams at the interscholastic, freshmen, junior-varsity and varsity levels.

Some of the same benefits that students are able to reap from participation in athletics, such as building self-esteem, exploring talents and interests, and learning team work and goal setting, are also available to students via the rich selection of extra-curricular and club-based activities. The Young Astronaut's Club, Builder's Club, Key Club, Chess Club, various coding activities, robotics, DECA, drama and musical clubs, and PRIDE are only a few examples of the various extra-curricular activities that we offer to our students, which facilitate social development, academic engagement, and peer interaction.

Lastly, a progressive C.T.E. school-wide initiative has been instated at the high school, with five programs in the process of becoming accredited. These programs offer students with pathways to either a four-year college, a two-year college, technical training or professional work experiences within the five fields that have been identified by the state of New Jersey as experiencing significant job growth. All of the classes in these programs provide students with the opportunity to earn concurrent college credit with such universities as Rutgers, Farleigh Dickinson, Temple and Sussex County Community College. Our partnership with S.C.C.C. has enabled opportunities for concurrent class offerings in new high school classes, such as Cosmetology, and in night classes offered on our school campus. The focus of the district has shifted toward transitioning our students to an affordable college experience in the face of societal changes that have previously made four-year degrees financially prohibitive.

The Vernon Township School District prides itself in its progressive, student-centered, actively-engaged school community that offers new programs through the continued dedication of its venerable staff.