January Community Award Spotlight: Hoboken Public School System

Every day, members of our communities rise to meet unexpected challenges. From children to parents and from caregivers to businesses, we have all been asked to step up and become leaders. We’ve faced and pivoted to adapt and grow through our everchanging world due to unforeseen events that affect our daily lives. No action is too small, and together our impact is large.

Your actions should be recognized and celebrated. Our communities are the foundation of our society, and we stand stronger together. PLTW is proud to celebrate diverse communities and its members who exhibit collaboration, leadership, and entrepreneurship in service across the nation. As a result, we have created the PLTW Community Celebration Awards to recognize communities that have come together to care for each other in times of need. Join us in celebrating the following community this month!

The quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic hit the City of Hoboken in New Jersey hard and fast. While families and staff members were dealing with ill loved ones, the Hoboken Public School System, like many districts across the country, was forced to quickly shift from onsite learning to remote education.

The Hoboken Public School System serves just over 3,000 diverse PreK-12 students. The administration and staff, along with the district’s board of education, rolled out a comprehensive, equitable plan to ensure that all families and students were informed, engaged, and educated.  

“Many of our students and families were without access to technology for remote learning, internet connection, and school supplies,” Director of Innovative Programs Christopher Della Fave said.

Rather than discontinuing the 2019-20 school year or going to the paper packet model, the Hoboken School District immediately deployed all of its Chromebooks, Verizon Internet Jetpacks, and supplies to ensure that all students could participate in a rich remote learning program. With the start of the 2020-21 school year remaining fully virtual, the Hoboken Public Education Foundation has supported the school districts initiative to have a Chromebook distributed to every student. 

Teachers post authentic daily video lessons in all subject areas in Google Classrooms every Sunday. Schedules for all students included Zoom-based teacher guided independent instructional practice time and small group reinforcement groups, as well as social emotional learning days. In an additional effort to stay engaged and connected with students and their families, each school’s principal and the district’s superintendent sent out newsletter messages to every family each school day.

The district also created a YouTube Channel so that anyone from the community could watch virtual board of education meetings, teacher story time, band and chorus concerts, and yoga and mindfulness sessions. The YouTube channel even featured a district-wide talent show to benefit the Volunteer Ambulance Corp.

Other groups and individuals in the district pitched in to support the community. Examples include:

  • The Parent Teacher Organizations (P.T.O.) from each school came together and initiated gift card drives for economically disadvantaged families in the district.
  • Hoboken High School’s Media Specialist Michelle McGrievey made masks that she donated to first responders, staff, and families.
  • The district’s food service provider served grab-and-go breakfast each day to all children in Hoboken.

“This truly was a total team effort in order to come together and maintain our solid sense of community,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Johnson said.