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Is There a Doctor of Ed in the House?

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The Red Bank Borough Public Schools are a thriving school community based on a Best In America mindset and the philosophy that it is the job of everyone in our organization to inspire our students to Dream BIG, and then help them get there. Our Mission and Vision Statements clearly articulate our focus.

Mission Statement

  • Driven by the needs of our children, we provide a safe, nurturing and challenging learning environment for every student every day. 

Vision Statement

  • We believe our children should dream big. We will inspire. We will challenge. They will achieve.

Together, these concepts create a distinct culture, a unique story, and an attractive climate, all of which, enable our district to hire and retain many of the best educators in the country. Currently, nearly 60% of our staff members hold advanced degrees and nearly 60% hold two or more teaching certifications.  Each of these facts exemplifies a commitment to lifelong learning and professional growth while demonstrating the depth and breadth of our staffs' expertise. The Red Bank Borough Public Schools are all about serving, supporting, and inspiring our students and their families.

We are proud of the athletic, artistic, and academic achievements of our students and we are especially proud of their kindness and dedication to the community. Their work ethic, resilience, and determination earned us the prestigious 2019 Lighthouse District recognition from the New Jersey Department of Education. We also know, that their achievements are inspired and supported by great role models. From a staff with the Best In America, here is a look at just a few of our superstars.

 

LL

Dr. Lucy Lakata, District ESL Coach - @MrsLakata

Ever since completing my undergraduate studies in Early Childhood Education at The College of New Jersey I have been passionate about contributing in a significant way to the teaching profession and continuing my journey as a lifelong learner.  As an educator, I have never missed an opportunity to continue my professional growth. Throughout my years working in the Red Bank Borough Public Schools, I have had the opportunity to continue my professional growth by attending conferences, reading the latest books and research best practices, and presenting at conferences to network with other dedicated educators. 

My first experience as a classroom teacher began at Red Bank Primary with an amazing group of 25 English Language Learner (ELL) students. Having a class of 25 ELL students made me realize that although I was certified and well versed in Early Childhood and Elementary education from my undergraduate studies, I would need to further educate myself to better meet my students’ needs. During my first year as a classroom teacher, I enrolled in a Masters program through Rider University, which resulted in receiving my ESL, Bilingual, and Supervisory certifications along with a Masters in Teacher Leadership.

The Teacher Leadership program provided me with the opportunity to establish myself as a teacher leader within my first three years of teaching. My experience with the Teacher Leadership program not only allowed me to further my education within my field but also identify needs within my school and implement plans to address those needs based on research and data collection. One of the most significant projects I undertook as a teacher leader was co-creating a Kindergarten Curriculum Guide to meet the needs of our students at the Red Bank Primary School. My colleague, Dr. Alyssa May, and I wrote a developmentally appropriate, standards-based guide that all Kindergarten classrooms at the Red Bank Primary School continue to implement.

The curriculum project sparked my passion to continue my education by enrolling at Rutgers University to pursue my doctorate of education. I chose to pursue my doctorate in hopes of becoming an agent of change in the future of education. I am an advocate of education and I want to ensure that those entering the profession are prepared for the diverse needs our society requires. I believe the purpose of education is to foster emotional, intellectual, physical, and social growth in children, adolescents, and adults. Education should be a tool to empower individuals to achieve social, emotional, and intellectual success in order to contribute to the community they belong to. Education is the most important tool in our world in order to continue to improve our society.

My dissertation study, Vertical Professional Learning Community: A Focus On Vocabulary Instruction, was conducted at the Red Bank Primary School. For my research, I piloted a vertically aligned professional learning community (PLC) to improve teacher collaboration across grade levels and to inform effective vocabulary instruction. A collective case study design was utilized to explore and examine teacher experiences while participating in a vertically aligned PLC focused on vocabulary instruction. Data sources in the study included an initial questionnaire, facilitator observations of each session, a collection of documents and artifacts, participant reflection forms, and two final focus group interviews.

This study reinforced my belief, and what research studies on vertical PLCs have discussed, that vertical articulation can greatly impact teachers’ knowledge of the progression of learning, which in turn, can have a direct influence on student learning. Creating vertical PLC groups within primary schools can help inform curricular cohesion and better integrate the progression of learning into the school-wide curricula. Vertical articulation holds great promise for curriculum planning across grade levels. I dedicated my dissertation to the Red Bank Borough Public Schools, in particular to the supportive administration for encouraging teachers to step into teacher leadership roles. The empowerment I received as a teacher leader led me towards pursuing my doctorate and the design of my study. Throughout all my years working in the district, I have grown tremendously as a professional and I have been surrounded by staff and administrators that also show passion for professional growth. Currently, as the ESL Instructional Coach, I continue to work with students, staff, and administrators to support best practices for all of our students. I could not have come as far in my educational journey had it not been for the influences and experiences I have had as a member of the Red Bank Borough Public Schools community.

 

AM

Dr. Alyssa May, Kindergarten Teacher (@missalyss714)

I attended Monmouth University for both my undergraduate and graduate studies.  I was an anthropology major with minors in sociology and psychology.  During my undergraduate time, I was fortunate enough to have an experiential education placement at Long Branch Public Library teaching ESL to adult learners.  I then decided to enroll in the MAT program with ESL endorsement to make the most out of my interest in language, culture, and learning.  I was lucky to be placed for student teaching in a Red Bank Primary School kindergarten classroom in 2010.  I taught third grade briefly, ESL K-3, and then was excited to return to kindergarten!

I have been a kindergarten teacher at the Red Bank Primary School for nine years. I have had tremendous support from my instructional assistant, Liliana Carvajal, throughout these years.  During my tenure, I have served many different roles as a teacher leader in my school district including curriculum developer, grade level leader, presenter, and PD facilitator.  I have presented at NJTESOL, NJFEA, NJAET and numerous other University conferences.  I was named teacher of the year for Red Bank Primary School in 2013, a Teacher Who Rocks in 2018, and Exemplary Elementary Educator in 2018 from the NJDOE.  I hold Elementary Education, Teacher of English as a Second Language, and Supervisor certifications.  

In 2018, I began an educational consulting business, Together is Better, with a colleague, Lucy Lakata, to support other school districts seeking support in curriculum development, collaboration, and effective practices for English Language Learners.  I am currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Monmouth University.  I am teaching a course: Teaching Students with Diverse Needs for both undergraduate and graduate students.  In this writing-intensive course, we address issues and research-based pedagogical strategies of teaching English Language Learners in today’s mainstream classrooms.

I am a recent graduate of the Rutgers University Ed.D. program with a concentration in education, culture, and society.  The purpose of my dissertation, The Effects of a Teacher Designed Kindergarten Curriculum on the Reading Performance of English Language Learners, was to investigate the effectiveness of the kindergarten curriculum that Lucy Lakata and I co-developed.  This study was a formative evaluation in that these findings are being used to help my district rethink our use of PLCs to support curriculum and instruction to further increase student achievement.  I believe that my study reflects the great work we have done in kindergarten with the support of our district to respond to our students' needs.  I dedicated my study to the Red Bank community of students, families, leadership, and staff. 

I truly believe that the teacher collaboration, leadership, and mindset in Red Bank Borough Public Schools is a BIG part of why I have stayed so committed to lifelong learning.  BIA is our mindset. BIA is our journey. BIA is what our students and community deserve.  We are committed to being our best and are passionate about supporting and challenging our students to be their best.

 

Brett

Dr. Pamela Brett, Mathematics Consultant - @pamela_brett

I began my career at Red Bank Middle School as a Mathematics teacher and noticed that students, parents and even some colleagues were apprehensive about their mathematical abilities.  This made me curious about the interaction between learners’ affect and their engagement with mathematics.  This curiosity led me to the Leadership Program in Discrete Mathematics, a summer professional development program, at Rutgers University, funded by the National Science Foundation.  

My teaching experience in Red Bank sparked my interest to learn more about how children develop mathematical understanding and about equitable practices in teaching mathematics. I received my Bachelor of Science from the University of Delaware, my Masters’ Degree and my Doctor of Education from Rutgers University. My dissertation focused on the affective interactions between urban middle school mathematics teachers and their students’ engagement with mathematics. 

I believe every child should have the opportunity to engage in cognitively challenging problem-based mathematics. As a Math Coach, my focus is to support teachers in providing strategies that make math accessible to all. During my over 20 years of experience in K-12 mathematics, I have presented at State and National conferences sponsored by the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and American Educational Research Association. Most recently, I worked with teachers in New Jersey public schools as an instructional consultant and coach. Specifically, my work has focused on bringing research-based practices to K-8 teachers to engage their students with rich mathematics. I provide classroom-based professional development, working directly with teachers and their students so that I can guide teachers with in-the-moment instructional coaching.

 

CC

Dr. Cheryl Cuddihy, District Mathematics Coach - @CherylCuddihy

With an excellent teaching record, strong leadership qualities, and experience in school administration, I am an avid believer in lifelong education. My varied educational experiences along the peninsula in Middletown, Fair Haven, and Red Bank, combined with my corporate experience in public relations, allow me to be a results-driven, student-focused educational leader, problem-solver, and strategist.  

As I observed my three sons and their individual paths to learning, I made the decision to pursue my Masters of Elementary & Early Childhood Education at The Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University (2003). While I worked as a teacher in Middletown Township in Grades K, 1, 2, and 4 (2004-2013),  I implemented a variety of initiatives related to student-driven learning including project-based learning, technology integration, Reading and Writing Workshop, and mathematical investigations. In my first year of teaching in Middletown, I was recognized as Teacher of the Year, and throughout my career there I participated in various district-wide curriculum committees, served on the district’s strategic planning committee, and provided professional development for colleagues. 

In order to further inspire and scaffold learning for both children and adults, I became a school administrator, completing my Masters in Administration and Leadership from Georgian Court University in 2011, where I was presented with the Professor Emeritus Joseph Cino Award for Administrative Leadership. My first administrative position was in the Red Bank Borough Public Schools, serving as the Vice Principal of the Primary School, the District ESL/World Language Supervisor, and the liaison for a formative assessment grant between the Red Bank Borough Public Schools, Rutgers University, and the NJ Department of Education for the 2013-14 school year. From 2014-2018 I worked as the Principal and Curriculum Supervisor of Viola L. Sickles School in Fair Haven and then became Director of A Child’s Place School in Lincroft (2018-19).  

Throughout my career, I have transformed antiquated learning models and environments into cutting-edge, technology-driven, and progressive schools. In collaboration with my administrative teams and teachers, I have significantly improved standardized test scores and student performance by expanding offerings to meet the needs of diverse learners while also supporting their social and emotional well-being. The cornerstone of my leadership philosophy is continuous professional development, and throughout my career, I have implemented PLCs and championed technology initiatives, which resulted in improved staff morale and retention, greater student achievement and engagement, and highly personalized learning experiences for adults and children. I have been invited to present about best practices at the local level (NJ Association for Educational Technology (2018), Monmouth County Curriculum Consortium (2017), Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (2015), and various school districts), and to a national audience (Association for  Constructivist Teaching (2018), Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (2016), and the International Reading Association (2004)). I have also participated in the Principal Institute at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop Project (2014-2017) to learn how to successfully implement and sustain the workshop model of instruction.

A believer in lifelong education, I recently completed my doctoral degree at Rutgers University in the Design of Learning Environments focusing on the emergence of student agency in the elementary school makerspace setting. As our society continues to become more reliant on a global economy and digital resources, it is important for adult learners to evolve and continue to grow in their skill sets. Educators must be fluid and flexible in their thinking to serve our society’s changing needs. Pursuing a doctoral degree in the Design of Learning Environments has been an inspiring process and I look forward to sharing the vast experiences and research I have studied to cultivate learning opportunities for both children and adults. 

Committed to fostering creativity and curiosity for all learners, I enjoy working with children, adults, and community members to cultivate best practices and pedagogy. Currently, I work as an adjunct professor at Rider University and a part-time lecturer at The Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University. In addition, I am so excited about the opportunity to return to Red Bank Borough Public Schools for the 2019-20 school year as the Math Instructional Coach. This position allows me to work with both students and teachers to help cultivate best practices in education and transform learning environments to personalize learning. It feels like a homecoming of sorts for me as Red Bank has always been a place that embraces each individual regardless of background to join the community and philosophy of positivity, self-efficacy, and dreaming big!