(September 28, 2021 -- Jersey City) In preparation for the upcoming school year, the Explore staff met throughout the summer to revamp the curriculum and develop new thematic units.
Principal Krone led department meetings along with Explore’s new Instructional Supervisor, Ms. Lauren Norcia. Math Supervisor, Mr. James Murduca, joined the math department in analyzing last year’s math data, establishing goals, and discussing best practices. Instructional Coach and English language arts teacher, Ms. Justine Franco, met with the social studies and science departments to discuss writing across all disciplines and integrating informational text.
The social studies department gained a new member, Mr. Adrian Nocum, a high school history teacher for 8 years at different schools in the Jersey City Public Schools district before joining Explore. Although he is new to the Wolfpack, Mr. Nocum has been part of the HCST family for over 20 years as a graduate of County Prep High School. Mr. Nocum shared, “Some of the best years of my life occurred during my time as a student at County Prep HS. I still remember the names of my teachers and the impact each of them had on me. When I heard there was an opening in HCST, I didn't hesitate at the opportunity to return home. Now that I sit on the other side of the desk, I hope I can mimic a fraction of my teachers' influence on me to this generation of students.”
Ms. Mariel Teschlog, Explore’s counselor who previously taught math and science in Bayonne, joined the Explore science department as the 7th grade science teacher. Ms. Teschlog, Ms. M Norcia and Ms. L Norcia worked tirelessly this summer on updating the science curriculum with standards-aligned, hands-on activities, as science, engineering and technology influence and permeate every aspect of modern life.
Principal Krone shared, “This summer was exciting and intellectually stimulating. As a faculty and staff we really embrace a “think tank” culture and we were fortunate to be able to do so over the summer. We are so happy to be back in school full-time with the students. I hope everyone feels as revitalized as I do!”
This year’s thematic units include Olympics, Planning for the Future, and Survival. The Science department already kicked off the Olympics Unit for the first quarter.
Ms. Lauren Norcia shared, “Students will explore the science behind various Olympic events and, with the help of District Media Specialist Ms. Balsamo, will write a research paper to investigate their topics of interest while using the scientific method and the engineering design process. In November during the culminating event, select students will showcase their work in the Explore Middle School Olympics and all students will have the opportunity to participate in various Olympic events.”
The CTE teachers will take the lead on the Planning for the Future unit in quarter 2 and the English language arts and social studies departments will take the lead on the Survival unit in quarter 3.
On Wednesday, August 25th, Explore Middle School held a 6th Grade Meet and Greet in Hamilton Park. Students, parents and guardians got to know one another through various ice-breaker activities. Afterwards, students played a variety of sports as parents and guardians discussed the upcoming school year with staff. This eased some of the first day of school jitters for the new members of the Wolfpack.
On Tuesday, September 7th Superintendent Lin-Rodriguez and the Central Office Team welcomed the Explore Staff back to school and Principal Krone followed with staff orientation. The following day, Explore kicked off the school year with the 6th grade class; shortly after breakfast, students went to their homeroom advisories, their homebase for the next three years. There, students became acquainted with their advisors, had Orientation with Principal Krone, received their chromebooks and were given a tour of the building.
Gianna Baselice, 6th grader, shared, “Being back in school is terrific because I like making new friends and learning more about all the new things Explore has to offer. I have really enjoyed being back in school because I have made new friends and the teachers are amazing. I have been having a really fun time!”
The following day, the 7th and 8th graders were welcomed back, marking the first time the entire student body has been in Explore since March of 2020. 8th grader Isabella Escobar stated, "I love being back in school, seeing friends, and finally being in person. The staff at Explore have done a wonderful job keeping order and making sure everyone is safe and comfortable."
Explore celebrated the end of the week with a field trip to Hamilton Park. The students had the opportunity to choose from a variety of activities including basketball, badminton, and jump rope. Because this was the first time every student was back in person, it was a great opportunity for the students to reconnect with classmates and make new friends.
6th grader Skyla Miller exclaimed, “I was nervous at first because I wasn’t sure if I would connect with anyone but I got to meet new people and I made new friends. Also, the teachers were amazing and very interactive!”
On Monday, September 13th, students did a run through of their schedules for the first time, meeting their teachers and reviewing their syllabi. The teachers were excited to hear the familiar chatter of students in the hallway and to see every student back in the building. The students appreciated the return of their classmates as well. 7th grader Melody Hartman-Kelly remarked, “I really enjoyed having all classes in person and I am really looking forward to the CTE classes and after school clubs this year.”
Principal Krone shared, “The Explore Staff worked incredibly hard this summer, from completely upgrading our gym to updating the curriculum, and we are so excited to have the entire Wolfpack back in person each and every day. We have been looking forward to the opening of the school year for quite some time, and it did not disappoint! Thank you to all the staff who collaborated this summer and thank you to all students for putting a smile on our faces everyday.”