A lot of good things are happening at Cedar Mountain School and in the Vernon community. Once again, the school celebrated its annual Fall Harvest Open House on Saturday, September 17.
Principal Rosemary Gebhardt said that the open house brought parents into the school and gave them an opportunity to get to know the community, stakeholders, and teachers.
Gebhardt also said, “Hopefully, we are post COVID.” Additionally, she said, the school has many plans to bring families frequently into the building in order to work with and partner with them in the early stages of learning.
Cedar Mountain teaches kindergarten and first grade students.
During the open house, parents and students toured the building, explored the Library Media Center, and visited the computer lab.
The tech director and tech coach were available to meet families and answer questions about Genesis and the programs they use online. Furthermore, Cedar Mountain gave away books during the open house.
Gebhardt explained that the school is switching to the “HMH Into Reading” program, which uses the “science of reading.” Through the new program, teachers will receive unique data for each student, which gauge the student’s reading levels. Then teachers will be able to provide individualized reading instruction at the student’s literacy level, while monitoring the student’s progress.
In the Literacy Room, attendees received literacy information to help emergent readers at home. Literacy specialist Kristina Krops shared what the program looks like, and how children learn to read. She provided parent-friendly information, websites, and decodable books that focus on a phonetic (sound) pattern, which can be read online for free. Krops also reviewed the school’s phonological program, showing how they teach the students to separate the beginning, middle, and end sounds of words in fun ways with hands-on activities.
In the math room, students and parents attended a math lesson to understand the techniques and language of “math in focus,” a multi-sensory math program used at Cedar Mountain. Parents learned how math is taught, from the concrete, blocks and number lines to jump on, to games and handouts explaining the math program.
Glen Meadow National Junior Honor Society students and Vernon High School’s Key Club participants ran all the events, including creating crafts and playing games in the gym with the children.
The Vernon Township Education Association supported the family event by providing refreshments, supplies, and activities, along with a New Jersey Education Association Grant.
In-town activity vendors were available to speak with parents about ways to involve their children in outside activities.
Some of the vendors included: the Vernon Coalition, PAL, Cub Scout Pack 183, Girl Scouts, youth sports opportunities, and the United Martial Arts Center.
School Community Association officers and many teachers attended and volunteered to help support the event.
Students enjoyed a “Touch-A-Truck” event, which included vehicles from the Vernon Volunteer Fire Department, Vernon Police Department, and Volunteer Vernon Township Ambulance Squad.
School Resource Officer Sean Perry showed students the police car and Gator ATV. Perry explained that they have retired police officers in each school for student safety. He also said that the Vernon police work hand-in-hand with the officers.
On designated Wednesday nights, Gebhardt said they will have the “Principal’s Forum,” where parents can learn about the academic programs, ask questions about language development, and go much deeper into the curriculum.
In October, she said, they will have an “Adopt-a-Policeman” program, where the police will come and present a Halloween safety program and eat lunch with the children.
Also, Gebhardt said the school will have an upcoming international night, where parents will come into the school and show their culture by making food, wearing cultural clothing, or demonstrating a dance. She said they have seven or eight different languages in the school community, including Arabic, Italian, Polish, Spanish, and French.
Additionally, Cedar Mountain was awarded a three- to five-year grant through the NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education. Director of Programs Michelle Lockwood said the grant will help fund professional development programs and determine the best education practices for students. She added that only three schools were awarded the grant in northern NJ, three in central, and three in southern NJ.