An engaged community and proactive educational efforts are the keys to success for the Wyckoff School District, according to a keynote address Superintendent Richard Kuder gave to a group of the township’s business leaders at a Chamber of Commerce meeting last week.
Kuder updated the business sector on the state of education in Wyckoff, and why he feels changing curricula, policy, and technology are all positive moves for local students.
Kuder started with his assessment of the Common Core standards, currently being implemented in schools across the country. Though the standards are not without controversy, Kuder said he feels they will help better prepare students for the changing work force they will enter.
“The benefits outweigh what’s troubling about [the Common Core],” Kuder said.
“The emphasis is on application,” he explained. So, not necessarily memorizing facts that can be easily researched thanks to mobile devices. But, teaching kids how to process and use that information, he said.
The district is also looking to foster student creativity, he said.
“We need creative kids. We need innovation.”
And, it’s implementing tactics to improve students’ communication skills.
“Communication is everywhere, but are we really better communicators?” Kuder asked. “We are reduced to sound bites and bumper stickers.”
Some of the other focuses in Wyckoff, he said, include teaching students critical thinking, collaboration, adaptability, innovation, entrepreneurship, and resiliency.
“We’re never status quo in Wyckoff,” Kuder said. “We always want to improve so we can help kids do better and be better.”
Kuder gave several examples of the district’s new initiatives, like the “right tool, right job” technology initiative, emphasis on restricting class sizes to 20 students to promote individualized learning, and an increase in online Professional Development courses available to staff. The district is also engaged in developing its own assessment system, which Kuder said will “allow us to define excellence.”
Kuder also thanked the parent and business communities in town for supporting the district both financially, with donations to the PTAs and Wyckoff Education Foundation, and in terms of supplementing the curriculum.
“As business leaders, you can help us build community, and be involved in mentorships and partnerships,” with staff and students, Kudor told Chamber members. "As parents, you can help engage our students."
The district is "so grateful [to be in] such a generous community," Kuder said.