Toms River Regional Schools certified as part of first state Future Ready cohort

High School East, West Dover Elementary Known for Thinking Outside the Box

Toms River Regional Schools was one of only 20 New Jersey districts and charters to be certified as “future ready” in a new program co-sponsored by the Department of Education (NJDOE), the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).

The Future Ready Schools New Jersey (FRS-NJ) certification process is designed to promote digital learning throughout the state's public schools through the national Future Ready Framework. Schools applying for certification were required to complete a lengthy, rigorous, and evidence-based document indicating strengths and effective practices in the areas of curriculum, instruction, finance, leadership, assessment, facilities, professional learning, and community partnerships.

For the past four years, the Board of Education and Superintendent David Healy have specifically targeted improvements in these areas to increase opportunities for students to be more college and career ready. According to Superintendent Healy, Board investments in curriculum, technology, and staff training over the past several years are increasingly producing dividends for all students.

“Toms River has a rich history of great schools and a closeknit community,” said Healy. “We have been able to build on that to become leaders in the state for transforming classrooms and learning, in spite of significant budget challenges.”

At a ceremony in Atlantic City on October 24, FRS-NJ Project Coordinator Jeremy Reich and Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington recognized 63 schools for implementing effective digital learning policies and practices.

"We launched the Future Ready Schools New Jersey program as a road map for schools to help students meet the demands of today's technology-based economy," said Harrington. “I am excited that so many schools achieved certification in the first year of the program."

Among the initiatives the district was recognized for were a kindergarten center model, high school career academies, makerspaces, innovative grants, and increased access to online learning. Each was developed to meet new state student learning standards and to address issues of student engagement, new technologies, and the dynamic nature of the global economy and workforce.

Toms River High School East and West Dover Elementary School, whose principals and staff agreed to participate in the application process, are known for thinking outside of the box. HSE began a STEAM Career Academy this past September. “We see technology as a resource to increase rigor and support student engagement, critical thinking, and the interpersonal skills necessary to solve real world problems,” said Principal Patrick Thomas.

West Dover Elementary Principal Michael Pallen added, “Elementary teachers connect learning in all subject areas, including character development. Students of all ages get to experience how different skills and ideas fit together. We have seen children as young as kindergarten able to do coding during the December Computer Science Education Week and beyond.”

The list of 63 schools that were honored can be found on the FRS-NJ website

West Dover will proudly display its Future Ready Schools of New Jersey banner in the school's front entranceway. Pictured with two outstanding fifth-grade students are Principal Michael S. Pallen and Technology Teacher Tara Smith.

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The Future is Now at TRRS

The Future Ready Schools application was led by Toms River Regional Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Marc Natanagara, here shaking hands with NJ Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington.

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