ABOUT WALNUT AVENUE SCHOOL
Walnut Avenue School is a primary school setting serving kindergarten through grade two students. We also serve as home to the district’s special needs pre-school program. The Walnut Avenue School staff is committed to providing a child-centered, family oriented learning environment that recognizes and values the individual differences of our young learners. Our school seeks to nurture and support their special abilities and talents through a program dedicated to continuous improvement and growth.
Our school community strives to provide students with the academic and social skills required to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Fundamental to our efforts across the curriculum is an approach that seeks new and effective ways to encourage cooperation, problem solving, creative thinking, respect for others, and a lifelong love of learning.
Walnut Avenue School has fully integrated the New Jersey Student Learning Standards and the Curriculum Frameworks into all subject areas. This past year we focused on improving student literacy skills through an increased emphasis on timely formative assessments combined with extensive professional development targeting effective strategies to strengthen critical reading skills.
We are strongly committed to providing a highly individualized program that speaks to the specific needs and abilities of our students. Over the past year, we have continued to refine and improve a balanced reading program that regularly provides children with small group instruction in order to target and improve beginning reading strategies.
We are also proud of our on going efforts to enrich our primary classroom curriculum through extensive use of technology. Our teachers have an impressive array of hardware and software available in their classrooms that allows them to infuse technology into all aspects of the curriculum. Widespread Internet access, combined with an ambitious professional development program, has made it possible for teacher, parents, and students to share ideas and collaborate in new and exciting ways.
As home to the district’s special – needs pre-school program, Walnut Avenue School provides an early intervention program that addresses the needs of children, 3 – 5 years of aged who, through an initial screening and Child Study Team Assessment, have been identified as having one or more of a wide variety of developmental delays. Staffed by fully certified teachers with specific training in early childhood issues, the program addresses the goals and objectives of each student’s Individualized Education Plan. A typical daily regimen is built around creative and purposeful play activities designed to help young learners develop and expand emerging language and reasoning skills. Related services provided by speech and occupational therapists help to round out a highly individualized program that provides the early intervention needed for students to successfully enter the mainstream learning environment.
Our staff and parents alike have also been active in exploring models for thematic planning. In recent years, we’ve achieved considerable success by framing instruction within a multicultural theme entitled, “It’s a Small World,” itself divided into four sub-themes:
Related activities help students build feelings of self-worth and self-esteem by leading them to appreciate their importance within their family and school. Their awareness of the commonality of families should, naturally, begin with their own family and extend to others’. An important aspect of this awareness is an understanding that there are many different types of families, and that each type provides a source of love, learning, encouragement, and support.
Related activities reinforce multicultural topics. Children are guided to the discovery that each of us is special, and that the differences of race, religion, and culture make for a richer world. A core lesson: we must resist the tendency to label as “odd” or “wrong” cultures and customs that are different from our own. Indeed, once we look deeper, we realize that our differences serve only to underscore our shared humanity.
Friendship and Communities:
Related activities are a natural extension of the “Celebrating Differences” theme. Children examine their relationships – especially those with friends – to better understand the commonalities we all share. Students also examine how people organize and support one another in communities, and explore the importance of friendship to all people worldwide.
Save the Planet:
This final theme includes activities designed to help students consider problems we all face due to increasing population and diminishing resources. The primary learning objective is to raise student awareness of ecological issues. Children are guide to the discovery that the earth must be shared and respected, not exploited or used for shortsighted ends. The importance of preserving natural resources for future generations is similarly stressed.
Taken together, these four themes are designed to promote the belief that all people share the common bond of humanity, and that all of us, regardless of differences in race, religion, or culture, are brothers and sisters who can learn to share, cooperate and respect one another.