By Nicole DeMentri
Robbinsville Public Schools superintendent Steven Mayer wants to try something different.
So, this month, he’s hosting the township’s first ever State of the School address, an event where the community can ask questions and see what’s going on at Robbinsville Schools. The speech will take place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Pond Road Middle School cafeteria. Mayer hopes to make it an annual occurrence, with one large meeting in November and two to three smaller gatherings scattered throughout the year.
A student showcase will kick off the night, followed by a short speech by Mayer. After his speech, the superintendent will field questions from those in attendance. Mayer hopes everyone in town will show up, not just those with children in the schools. The idea behind the event, he said, is to get the community involved in the district, everyone from banks and businesses to parents and grandparents.
Although the State of the Schools will be new this year, it has been in the works for some time, and branches off of the work done by the school board’s community relations committee.
“We want to lay out for the community, ‘Here’s what our schools are about, here’s what we stand for, here’s what our vision is,’ and then listening and seeing if this is what’s consistent with what you want when you move to Robbinsville,” Mayer said.
Mayer admitted that part of the idea came from Mayor Dave Fried’s annual State of Robbinsville address. Each spring, Fried—like most mayors—gives an overview of his town’s health, and discusses his ideas for the future of the town. Mayer said the goal of both events is to have the diversity of Robbinsville come together, and are opportunities to talk big picture with the community.
Mayer said this event is different from a schools perspective because it will give a direct overview of the school district. Topics to be discussed include the new Common Core standards, his hopes to partner with more businesses and non-profits, and a behind-the-scenes look at how teachers prepare and engage their students. Mayer stressed he wants to recognize the “amazing, incredible and talented work” the faculty of Robbinsville schools are doing.
“I would like our community to know where our heart beats with regard to the work that we push in the classroom,” Mayer said. “What is school like in Robbinsville? What is it that we are trying to have our teachers do when they work with kids?” Mayer said.
Mayer is sure to highlight some of the district’s achievements and accolades, as well. Earlier this year, financial website nerdwallet.com named Robbinsville the 6th best “Bang for your Buck” district in New Jersey. The district has a 95 percent graduation rate, which outshines the national rate of 82.2 and New Jersey’s 87 percent. And Mayer takes pride in the accomplishments of Robbinsville students after they graduate—something Mayer views as a report card for the district itself.
“Where our graduates go is sort of the scorecard at the end,” Mayer said. “But along the way we’re hoping to create kids that identify, address and solve problems at their level because that’s the kind of kid we want. We want kids to come out of here that are engaged citizens that see what’s up in the world and contribute to making this world a better place.”
Not coincidentally, that’s exactly the type of person Mayer hopes to draw out Nov. 18, as well.