New Jersey Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet visited with students and staff at McManus Middle School on Monday, May 7. Here he gets a lesson in coding drones from seventh-grader Tyler Albuja and technology teacher Howard Schulz. 

commissioner and superintendent with teacher, and with board president

At left, McManus technology teacher Russell Marchica talking with Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet and Superintendent Danny A. Robertozzi. At right, Dr. Robertozzi and Dr. Repollet touring the school with Board of Education President Raymond J. Topoleski.

By Gary Miller

New Jersey Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet visited McManus Middle School on Monday, May 7, as the third stop on his statewide listening tour.

Dr. Repollet was particularly interested in viewing some of McManus’ innovative technology programs, including robotics, green-screen photography, and the coding of drones. He also toured the school, making surprise visits to several classes, and sat in on a roundtable discussion in the school’s media center about the future of standardized testing in New Jersey.

“It was a great honor to have Dr. Repollet choose Linden as one of the first stops on his listening tour,” said Superintendent Danny A. Robertozzi. “We were all so proud to show him some of the amazing teachers and students at McManus as well as the great programs being taught throughout Linden Public Schools. It was encouraging to see Dr. Repollet listening to our faculty as well as our students, taking input that will influence his vision for the future of education throughout the state.”

Dr. Repollet was accompanied on his visit by Dr. Robertozzi, Assistant Superintendent Denise Cleary, McManus Principal Peter Fingerlin, Soehl Middle School Vice Principal Gwendolyn Long, Board of Education President Raymond J. Topoleski, Board Vice President Theresa Villani, Director of Technology Michael Walters, Union County Superintendent of Schools Juan Torres, Linden Education Association President Eloy Delgado, and several members of his staff from the Department of Education.

The visit started in the school cafeteria, where technology and computer students from the classes of Mark Decastro, Jennifer Detrolio, Russell Marchica and Howard Schulz demonstrated what they’ve learned, including giving Dr. Repollet lessons in their technology. He joked with the students and asked them questions about what they are learning.

Mr. Fingerlin then took the group on a tour of the school, and Dr. Repollet popped into a few classes — much to the surprise of the teachers — and wished them a happy Teacher Appreciation Week.

commissioner in room of students, teachers, administrators and parents

Dr. Repollet took part in a roundtable discussion about state assessments in the McManus Media Center. At left, he listens as Board of Education Vice President Theresa Villani, far left, speaks. At right, he discusses his plans, under the direction of Gov. Phil Murphy, for the next generation of assessment.

The roundtable discussion in the media center consisted of administrators, teachers, students and parents and focused on what stakeholders like and don’t like about the PARCC assessments that schools throughout the state are currently mandated to give. Dr. Repollet said he will be overseeing the transition to the next generation of statewide assessments, as directed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“We’re doing this because the governor has made it very clear to me that we are ending PARCC and transitioning to a better state assessment,” Dr. Repollet said. “This exercise right here will give us a snapshot of things that we like about it and things that we don’t like about it. Then we’re going to take the things that we like – consensus across the state – and that will be the framework of how we craft the next generation of assessment. The Department of Education will deliberately and methodically move toward an assessment that meets the needs of students.”