Students flourish in the numerous activities offered by Matawan-Aberdeen

Staff Writer

ABERDEEN – As students get ready to enjoy the holiday break, Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District officials reflected on the year so far.

The officials highlighted some of the new and returning programming and extracurricular activities that many have signed up to enjoy.

“We have a tremendous number of opportunities for all of our students during the year,” said Joseph Jerabek, principal of Lloyd Road Elementary School.

The discussion, which took place at the Board of Education’s Dec. 14 meeting, comes several months after school officials reviewed the district’s Gifted & Talented/ Enrichment program, opting to move towards a model that provides even more enrichment opportunities for all students.

“We had a district committee that got together and they reviewed our entire Enrichment and Gifted and Talented program district wide, and what came about through that, was the decision to go to a Tier 3 model,” Jerabek said.

The Tier 1 model services the top five percent of district students in grades three through five through one self-contained class per grade level district-wide.

The Tier 2 model lends itself to be more of a pullout program where high achieving students in grades two through five are placed in math and/or language arts cluster groups where teachers provide them with enrichment opportunities inside and outside the curriculum that extend learning and build critical thinking skills.

The Tier 3 model encourages enrichment opportunities for all students by providing time to come together with peers to engage in real-life learning experiences such as before/ after school clubs and school-wide programs and assemblies.

“It is one thing to see and plan it out during the summer, but to see it live and in a concrete way, how it materializes and how it takes off, is fantastic,” Jerabek said.

“Lloyd Road is about offering as many opportunities to our students as possible.”

According to Jerabek, the Tier 2 Language Arts Enrichment program, while offered previously, has taken on a new form this year.

“Students in grades four and grades five [are pulled-out] two times a week for enrichment activities and some of the things they are working on involve creative thinking, integrated technology,” Jerabek said. “The unit [they are] working on … is specifically focused on Greek mythology and trying to identify heroes within Greek mythology and as they research those through reading different myths, they then … start to compare and contrast them and then start to move onto looking at current day heroes and starting to compare and contrast them to heroes from Greek mythology.”

Students partaking in the Tier 2 math program meet once a week and have a variety of different activities throughout the year that they are exposed to and get to participate in.

“Last year we had some students who participated in a stock market game where they worked together to create and manage a virtual investment portfolio of real world stocks,” Jerabek said.

“There is also our Continental Math League which is a national competition that students get to participate in where they take an assessment of non-routine questions which help to develop creative problem solving skills.”

Every Day Math Enrichment activities Jerabek said are tied directly to the districts Every Day Math Program and curriculum.

“We also have different math projects that the students participate in such as our Scholastic Math Magazine … and our Wells Fargo Hands-on banking program, which is something new that came about last year to tie into financial literacy and to give the students another tie to real world and to just focus on good money management skills,” Jerabek said.

According to Jerabek, with moving towards a Tier 3 model, the school and district want more opportunities to be available to all students that would like to participate.

“We are fortunate enough to build into the schedule a math and reading club during recess and lunch. Both are themed based cause there is a whole lot of value to having students simply play a game and get skills through those games as well as the social interactions they have and that they develop as well,” he said.

Students from all grade levels were also able to participate in a Doodle 4 Google program where they had a chance to create their own Google doodle for the chance to have it featured on the Google homepage and the opportunity to win various prizes – such as a $30,000 college scholarship.

“I have to admit, I had no idea what it was, so this was something that I learned as well,” Jerabek told board members. “It is an artistic version of the Google logo … so students were given the opportunity to participate and we had to cap the number of participants at lunch and recess at a certain point, but we still sent it home for all students to participate … and to see that come together was amazing.”

Also new this year, 30 students will be attending the New Jersey State Bar Foundation Law Fair where they will get to act as jurors in mock trial cases with real life judges and attorneys.

“I think it is going to be great to see the students reactions after that,” Jerabek said.

From an after school homework program, 60-plus students signed up to take part in, to 70 students and more than half the school signing up to be part of chorus and band, respectively, Jerabek said there is something for every students at Lloyd Road Elementary School to enjoy.

“Typically you see this more in middle schools and going into high school all of the extracurricular activities, but we believe we are rather fortunate to be able to offer all of this to our students here,” he said.