Saturday, February 28, 2015


MMS Principal Jerrill Adams
Maplewood Middle School principal Jerrill Adams hinted that he would counter the controversial strict rules instituted this week that ban sandals, hats and bookbags in the building with what he termed "positive reinforcers" to reward acts of kindness.

In a note to parents, he wrote:

Dear MMS Families, 

We are several weeks into the weekly messages that your children hear in on Fridays and that get emailed home to you for additional discussion with your child. We’d like to say that these messages are part of a bigger initiative at MMS. The PBIS, which stands for Positive Behavioral Intervention System, became a committee of dedicated teachers, administrators, and community members. There are several spokes to the PBIS wheel: one spoke is the weekly positive messages about behavior and how we will make our school a kinder and more inclusive place. Another spoke is the Mentoring Program, designed to pair students with a faculty or staff mentor. Research has shown that having one identified individual to guide a child during the school day leads to better decision-making and academic performance. Another aspect of PBIS at MMS is the new Code of Conduct implemented just this week. Our goal is for students to do the right things and to improve our climate by respecting self and others. The PBIS group is committed to finding positive reinforcers that can be delivered when students are “caught doing something good”. They will be developmentally appropriate for our population. The PBIS plan is a work in progress. We will assess and review progress as time moves ahead. Sincerely, Jerrill M. Adams Principal



2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Main Library * All ages * Drop in
Meet the women of the North Jersey Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and celebrate their history and Black History Month. Hear about the programs and activities they sponsor throughout the year and participate in a variety of activities. A Winter Booknic with storytelling and crafts for children will go on in the Children’s room, as well as a Spoken Word Poetry writing event for Teens and presentations on important members and work of this historic African American sorority.

Friday, February 27, 2015


From the school district:

MMS Community:
The Maplewood Police Department has lifted the lockdown.  They have assured us that there was not a threat to student or staff safety at any time.  Classes have resumed.
We appreciate the full support of the Maplewood Police Department in responding to the alarm, and the cooperation of our students and staff in following appropriate lockdown procedures. 
James Memoli
Acting Superintendent


From Acting Schools Superintendent James Memoli:

MMS Community:

A “lockdown” was activated at Maplewood Middle School.  All students are safely sheltered and we are looking forward to resuming our schedule for lunch and the rest of our academic day shortly.  Maplewood Police are on-site and routine inspections and procedures are being followed.  Additional details will be provided as soon as they are available.

James Memoli

Acting Superintendent

From Maplewood Middle School Principal Jerrill Adams:

Dear MMS Families,

We are currently in a Code Red Lockdown due to a
security alarm. Maplewood police department is 
in the building and has confirmed that every room 
in the building is secure. 

Students will be returning to class shortly.

Thank you,

Jerrill M. Adams


With one day left for candidates to submit their nominations for endorsement by the Maplewood Democratic Committee, party chair Ian Grodman says none have come in.

This is somewhat surprising given that TC member Kathy Leventhal has opted not to run again, leaving one seat open. TC member Jerry Ryan, also up for re-election this year, is running.

But Grodman says some would-be candidates have shown an interest and candidates often wait until the last day to seek the endorsement, which is tomorrow, Feb. 28. Interested candidates should email Grodman at

Remember, however, the party endorsement is not required to run in the June Primary.

See the Essex County clerk's deadlines below;

Primary Election (1st Tuesday after 1st Monday in June) - June 2, 2015
  • Last day to file petitions for June Primary (64 days prior to election), March 30, 2015
  • Last day for Party Declaration (55 days prior to election), April 8, 2015
  • Last day for registration and transfer (21 days prior to election), May 12, 2015
  • Last day to apply by mail for a Vote-By-Mail Ballot (7 days prior to election), May 26, 2015


In case you missed it, the Board of Education on Monday night approved the reappointment of baseball coaches Joe Fischetti and Matthew Brecht despite claims of abusive language and unfair treatment.

The board voted, 8-1, with board member Johanna Wright the lone opposing vote.

We wanted to find out what these two are being paid for their work that is allegedly problematic.

The resolutions approving their reappointments reveal Fischetti's stipend is $5,969, with Becht making $4,251. 


This week's charity: February 27: Casa – helps abandoned, neglected or abused children. Items they need and would appreciate:Small things for teenagers: books, socks, hair ties, makeup and any other beauty items/toiletries for girls and boys, water bottles, wallets,  back packs, hats, scarves, gloves, etc. 

Participating Businesses
Here is a sneak peek at participating businesses.  Check back soon for more businesses and detailed information including special offers.

ATA Martial Arts 1843 Springfield Avenue
Receive 1 free class with donation
Blue Life Karate 1809 Springfield Avenue
Receive 1 month free of Karate Classes (kid’s or adult) or 1 month of Extreme Kickboxing for women with a donation
CKO Kickboxing 1933 Springfield Avenue NO enrollment fee when you an annual contract and bring a donation. $49 savings
Express Yourself Studios 1877 Springfield Avenue
$5 off our Friday art workshops with a donation: Crafty Kids Class offered Fridays, 10 AM to 12 PM (on the hour) and Cocktails and Canvas Class (adults only) Fridays, 7 PM to 9 PM. Advance registration required:
KnitKnack 1914 Springfield Avenue Free Sheep Rewards Card with donation. Get it punched with every purchase and your 5th purchase is 25% off
Lifestyle Personal Fitness 1497 Springfield Avenue 3 Free Classes with a donate
Parkwood Diner 1958 Springfield Avenue 10% off your bill with donation; fourth fridays only. Not to be combined
Parteaz 1860 Springfield Avenue A New Moms Group 11-12:30 FREE* w/ donation. February Speaker Sydney Davis: Get Your Groove Back! Bring your infant and meet other new moms, have a cup of tea and learn something new!
Pimento Grill 1908 Springfield Avenue 10% off your bill with donation; Fourth Fridays only. Not to be combined.
Puppy Love 1835 Springfield Avenue Free spa treatment for your dog, a $25 value
Shakti Yoga 1861 Springfield Avenue FREE 9:30 am Vinyasa class when you bring a donation
The Rack 1844 Springfield Avenue 10% off your bill with donation; Fourth Fridays only. Not to be combined.
Viva Z Club 1874 Springfield Avenue Free Classes:
5:30 pm Train & Sculpt
6:00 pm African Indian Fusion
6:30 pm PIYO
7:00 pm Zumba®
7:30 pm Hip Hop Fit
* All offers subject to availability and subject to change. Please contact individual businesses with questions.


11:00 am – 11:30 am

Main Library * Ages 2 1/2 – 5* Valid Maplewood Library card required.
No registration required * All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Acting Superintendent James Memoli commented at the Monday night school board meeting on the concerns raised about the new Maplewood Middle School rules and restrictions that have drawn concern for the barring of hats, bandanas, use of book bags and requiring students to walk on the right side of the hall or face penalties.

After being asked about the situation by the School Board Monday night, Memoli stated:


Even though the libraries are opening late, still a lot going on there today.

Hilton Black History Month Trivia

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

* Hilton Branch: Thursdays in February 3:00-5:00 pm
Each week there will be a new question about the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965 and its participants. Answer the question correctly and win a prize!

Hilton Open Computer Lab/Maker Space

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Maplewood Library’s MakerSpace at Hilton Branch is open! Drop in EVERY THURSDAY from 4:00pm – 6:00pm. Patrons can use Rhino 3D software to build a model, print an object on our 3D printer or use our new color printer.  Printing times may vary, depending on file size and demand. Please contact for more information about printing your objects. And get more info on Lab procedures and policies at

Hilton Read! Build! Play!

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Hilton Branch * Ages 3-6 * Drop in
Come to the library, hear a story, build a caterpillar, and play with duplos!

Black History Month Family Movie @ Hilton

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Hilton Branch – Drop in and watch clips from a landmark civil rights movie. Stay for the whole hour or just a few minutes. SNACKS!

SCORE Small Business Seminar

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Main Library – Marketing Your Business on the Internet
The Internet is a cost-effective marketing and selling tool for small business. This seminar will focus on the importance of developing a website and when to seek professional help, and will give an overview of the intricacies of E-Commerce in developing an effective Internet Marketing Plan.
Register by emailing, or drop in


From the Maplewood Library:

Staff Development Day – both libraries open at 1:00

Thursday, February 26

1:00 pm

Staff Development Day – both libraries open at 1:00


Following this week's claims by some middle school teachers that the International Baccularatue program is a bad way to teach students, Maplewood Middle School Principal Jerrill Adams is offering an open house to assuage parents.

See his letter sent to parents Wednesday below:

Dear MMS Families:

I am excited to offer you an additional opportunity to
learn about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program (MYP) at

Please join us on Wednesday, April 8th from 7:00pm until 8:30pm for our
Spring 2015 IB Open House. You will learn about the Middle Years Program (MYP)
by experiencing an IB Demonstration Lesson, in addition to learning the nuts and
bolts of the IB Framework. There will be several breakout sessions, with
important topics covered related to supporting students with disabilities,
supporting students facing academic challenges, and utilizing parent-home
communications through PowerSchool. 

This is also a great opportunity to
learn about how to get involved with the Home School Association (HSA), and to
take a tour of the new science wing if you missed the last MMS parent night in

Food and beverages will be served for your convenience.

I hope
to see you there!


Jerrill M.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Someone made the real thing, an actual igloo on this front yard along Prospect Street.

Good work!


Concerns over alleged improper treatment of some players on the Columbia High School baseball team took center stage at Monday night's school board meeting as several parents and players claimed harassment, bullying and name-calling by coaches Joe Fischetti and Matthew Becht.

The claims prompted Acting Superintendent James Memoli to make sure athletic coaches and other staffers in extra-curricular events be properly advised of anti-bullying policies.

"I've instructed our in-house counsel who serves in the role of anti-bullying coordinator to dedicate all of the resources of his office to ensure that all of our athletic and extra curricular staff continue to receive training and support to comply with all relevant laws," Memoli said.

His comments followed public testimony from several residents who claimed that under Fischetti, players had been mistreated, called names and bullied. They had complained as far back as last fall, but an internal investigation found no proof of improper behavior. Some parents, however said it did not go far enough.

Below are comments from two parents who spoke out.

Also showing concern was senior CHS student Malcolm Stern, who said he was berated and called "a pussy" by one of the coaches.

"I really wish you guys would look into investigating," Stern told the board. "It's not fun playing baseball here."

Later in the evening, Fischetti address the board, stating, "In 16 years in this community I've never been accused of any of the things that were said about me tonight by some people. If there was a history of some of the things I have been accused of I would think they would have showed up before tonight."

Also in attendance were numerous parents and former players who praised Becht and Fischetti. Their views are below:


Free Tax Preparation from AARP

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Sponsored by AARP Foundation Tax Aide and IRS.  February 9 through April 15, 2015. Every Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.
Call Gail at 973-669-4660 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. for appointment.  Leave clear message for call back.
Documents to bring to your appointment:
  • Government issued photo identification
  • Social Security cards for yourself and all dependents
  • Last year’s (2013) Federal and State tax return
  • W-2 from each employer
  • All 1099 forms, Social Security benefits, Interest, Dividends, Pension, Sale of assets (with basis for gains or losses), Railroad Retirement benefits
  • Unemployment compensation statement (you must download and bring)
  • Proof of any that apply: a. Mortgage interest; b. property tax; c. medical/dental expenses, medical insurance costs, 1095A ACA; d. receipts for contributions to charity; e. records of tax refunds, Dependent care provider information (name, employer ID or SS#); f. Receipts; g. canceled checks or 1098 forms related to continuing education; h. Lottery winnings form.
Bring a blank check for routing informationif you want to do a direct deposit of any refund(s).

Hilton Baby Lit

11:00 am – 11:30 am

Hilton Branch Library * Ages birth – 2 1/2 * Valid Maplewood Library card required
All children must be accompanied by an adult * No registration required

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Several Maplewood Middle School teachers spoke out at Monday night's school board meeting against the international baccalaureate program that has been slowly instituted for middle school grades, claiming it is too costly and does little to help teaching.

A notice posted on the district website when the program began several years ago states, in part:
What is IB? 

IB stands for the “International Baccalaureate” – an international program that has, at its core, performance criteria designed specifically to prepare students for full participation in an increasingly globalized world.  It includes courses in all of the traditional subject matters, but taught in a way that guides students to a deeper, more student-driven, trans-disciplinary exploration into issues, questions and problems of global importance.

IB has three components – a Primary Years Programme for elementary students, Middle Years Programme (MYP) for grades 6-10 in the US, and the Diploma Programme for grades 11 and 12.  We propose implementing the MYP for all students in both Maplewood Middle School and South Orange Middle School 6th grade in September 2013, 7th grade in September 2014, and 8th grade in September 2015.  The MYP does not provide a curriculum but a set of principles to guide districts in aligning their curriculum to meet key objectives.  The IB MYP principles and philosophy are very much in tune with the new national Common Core standards adopted in recent years by New Jersey and 44 other states.
But for several teachers who spoke out Monday night, it is not working:


UPDATE: We have a winner!

Time for another South Orange Performing Arts Center giveaway.

This week you can win a pair of tickets to see the great Abba tribute group, Arrival from Sweden.

Be the first to email your name and email to

The show is 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 26.

Good luck.

Check out some of their work below:


The controversial PARCC tests, which include a lengthy schedule of standardized testing for our students, includes an option allowing the students to opt out if their parents do not want them to take the tests.

But rather than allow then to be taught in regular classes during that time and actually engage in some learning, they will basically be kept in a room during the test periods.

They will not even be allowed to stay home where they might do something more productive.

In a letter to the district Monday, acting Superintendent James Memoli stated: 

       We ask you to have non-test taking students bring a book to keep them occupied during the hours of testing. They will remain in the classroom with the other students who are being tested. We cannot provide a separate space for non- testing students due to lack of personnel and space. 

(See the entire letter below)

The logic in this is amazingly misguided. And some school board members agreed, declaring at Monday night's board meeting that not only is it a waste of time for students not taking the test to be in school with nothing but a book, but it puts them in an unfair situation to potential ridicule.

In a related move, the board tabled a policy change that would have put its approval on the opt-out plan after noting their blessing is not needed.

See the full letter to parents below:

February 23, 2015

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As you may know, this year New Jersey has mandated a new assessment for all public school districts to administer to students called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC).  The PARCC will be administered in place of the NJASK for English Language Arts and Math in grades 3-11.  A FAQ is attached providing additional information about the PARCC, and SOMSD’s preparation to administer this state-mandated assessment. 

Our goal is to ensure that testing administration is stress-free, smooth and orderly. 
        The 2015 PARCC will have no academic consequences for students.  It will be used as baseline data only, and will not be used for academic placement.
        Testing will take place in March; the testing dates are on the attached calendar.  There will be a second round of PARCC testing in May.
        The testing time will vary from day to day, but all tests will be administered in the morning.    
        Students are encouraged to get a good night’s rest, eat a healthy breakfast, and to arrive at school on time.

SOMSD recognizes that some families have concerns about their children participating in PARCC testing, and we have received some questions about what happens should a family refuse to allow their child/children to be tested.  We respect personal parental concerns about this assessment, while at the same time we are adhering to state regulations. This year, the state has left it up to local school districts to decide how to handle those situations in which parents choose to have their children refuse to take the standardized assessment. If you are planning to refuse to allow your son or daughter to take the test, please note the following:
        There will be no negative consequences or disciplinary action for any student who is not taking the assessment. 
        Please send an email or a letter to the building principal as soon as possible indicating that you are refusing to have your child take the PARCC test.  Please do not keep your child home from school. We are required to follow all attendance rules and regulations.
        If you choose to not have your child take the state test, one letter will suffice for a refusal of the Performance Based Assessment in March, including make-up testing. 
        Students must be on time for school regardless of whether or not they are participating in the testing.
        We ask you to have non-test taking students bring a book to keep them occupied during the hours of testing. They will remain in the classroom with the other students who are being tested. We cannot provide a separate space for non- testing students due to lack of personnel and space. 

There is additional information about PARCC on the district website 

Thank you for your partnership in helping SOMSD meet our state-mandate.  

James G. Memoli
Acting Superintendent