Dr. Simons

Welcome to University Elementary School! Home of the HAWKS!

We are excited to lead our scholars under the guidance of dynamic scholar leaders support staff, and supportive parents. At University Elementary School, our educational community strives to provide our scholars with an academically rich environment, implement character-building opportunities, and engage scholars in courses that are aligned with New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) in a differentiated setting. Our goal is to instill in scholars the University Elementary School’s HAWKS expectations to be Helpers, Achievers, Worthy, Kind, and Scholars. University Elementary School is housed on the first three levels in the Irvington School District’s Board of Education facility and is one of eight elementary schools located in Irvington Township. University Elementary School consists of approximately 370 prekindergarten through 5th-grade scholars who receive instruction from a team of highly qualified scholar leaders using research-based strategies that will prepare them for college and career in a 21st-century global environment. 

At University Elementary School, our first step to preparing our scholars for college and career is to provide them with instruction that will ensure that they meet all academic requirements.  We continued in our efforts to meet this goal during the 2020-2021 school year through implementing hybrid learning using a Google Classroom virtual platform where teaching and learning took place for all required content areas. 

The 2021-2022 school year has once again presented us an opportunity to join together to cultivate and encourage scholars’ talents and voice while helping them grow and develop academically, socially and emotionally. We are committed to embark upon the District’s mission, Building Our Community, One Student at a Time

University Elementary School’s English Language Arts (ELA) program effectively supports our goal to ensure that scholars are prepared for 21st-century college and career. The English Language Arts curriculum is aligned with NJ Student Learning Standards and focuses on the areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and grammar. Our ELA program integrates social studies, science, and technology subjects. Additionally, our staff instructs our scholars by utilizing a wide range of informational and narrative genres in a Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop setting. Our scholars learn in a differentiated and balanced literacy environment that addresses their individual learning needs. It is imperative that all scholars are able to read and write on level. English Language Learner scholars are supported by our English as a Second Language (ESL) program, which adheres to the guidelines and standards of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. The lessons are based on English Language Development (ELD) Standards that are correlated to NJ Student Learning Standards. We also offer iReady; an adaptive diagnostic for reading that pinpoints scholars’ needs to the sub-skill level and provides ongoing progress monitoring to track if scholars achieve end-of-year targets. To further assist our English Language Learner scholars, our highly qualified instructors are well versed in SI, Sheltered Instruction. Instructors teach lessons that support our English Language Learners to become proficient in speaking, reading, and writing in English using SI strategies. 

University Elementary School continues to provide an educational experience rich in mathematics, science, and technology that grooms our scholars for successful roles in society. In the area of Science, our program is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The standards focus on moving scholars toward a deeper understanding of scientific concepts and their application. The NGSS are aligned to offer a comprehensive and developmentally appropriate approach to learning science. Our Mathematics program is taught in a differentiated environment and addresses instruction and learning using concrete, pictorial, and abstract approaches that cater to the various learning styles of our scholars. Scholars use manipulatives, technology, and problem-solving techniques that prepare them for 21st-century requirements and state assessments. Additionally, we implement the iReady Mathematics Program, an adaptive online assessment that consistently tracks scholars’ growth to identify gaps and provide customized remediation. Technology is integrated throughout the curriculum and can be found embedded in our library media arts program, math, English Language Arts, science, and social studies curriculums. Every class has an interactive whiteboard and each grade level class has access to laptops to support instruction and learning. University Elementary School also has a dedicated computer lab that houses desktop computers for focused technology practice and instruction. 

Teachers and scholars prepare throughout the year to ensure successful outcomes on all assessments. In addition to regularly scheduled academic skills assessments that communicate scholars’ progress, scholars are also administered the annual New Jersey Student Learning Standards Assessment, NJSLA, that tests the skills of 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade scholars as it relates to English Language Arts and mathematics and the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment for Science, NJSLA-S, which tests our 5th-grade scholars’ science skills. 

While in our traditional setting, University Elementary School offers extra-curricular activities that serve to enhance interpersonal and decision-making skills, personal growth, and leadership through its programs and organizations as we are committed to educating the whole child. In these endeavors, HAWKS are given opportunities to become active and productive members of the world community.  University Elementary School is home to one of four Intellectually Gifted programs in the Irvington School District and serves scholars in grades 1 through 5. Our Intellectually Gifted Program is housed in our IG Resource room and led by a highly-qualified scholar leader. The IG program serves scholars whose cognitive abilities require special education to meet their unique needs. The National Elementary Honor Society is comprised of 4th and 5th-grade scholars who have an A average in all major subjects and A’s or B’s in all other subjects and adhere to the following characteristics: scholarship, leadership, service, and character. University Elementary School also has rising 3rd-grade scholars who shadow inducted Honor Society members. Student Council Members are the voice for all HAWKS. Members meet to review the concerns of their peers, raise monies to support Student Council Members’ programs, and discuss ideas presented to the principal. 

In our brick and mortar building, our scholars contribute to the culture and climate of University Elementary School by serving on sports teams, such as our HAWKS basketball and soccer teams. HAWKS cheerleaders teach their peers school songs, school cheers, and encourage scholars to get excited about taking exams, such as NJSLA, during school rallies and sports events. Scholar leaders, parents, and volunteers lead our Girl Scouts program. Our scouts are trained to adhere to scouts’ law and pledges, which are aligned with the values of HAWKS expectations. Our scouts are actively involved in community service projects that include providing food and clothing to those in need. Safety Patrol members support scholars and staff in University Elementary School’s efforts to ensure that school community members are safe and secure. A safe and healthy learning environment is necessary for scholars to learn and achieve academic success and many programs are established to serve them. University Elementary School’s guidance counselor, health and social services coordinator, and nurse are on staff to assist with the emotional, social, and physical well being of our scholars. This includes our Harassment, Intimidation or Bullying (HIB) Specialist who serves scholars in need of support. Our School Safety Team meets monthly to review HIB data to develop, foster, and maintain a positive school climate by focusing on the ongoing, systemic processes and practices in the school and to address school climate issues. The Positive Behavior Support, PBS, program lends itself to the promotion of a safe learning environment. Our PBS Team acknowledges scholars who adhere to HAWKS expectations by rewarding them with HAWKS tickets, Class Dojo points, school store items, school parties, school trips, and more. Our expectations of scholars to Be HAWKS are not only University Elementary School’s expectations, but they are also our mantra and play a major role in our scholars’ daily school experience. This year, our scholars will learn Self-Regulation through the implementation of self-regulation strategies using our mentor text, Soda Pop Head

The stakeholders of our school’s educational community have a shared vision of high expectations for all scholars and our parents play an integral role in our success. Our parents are members of the Parent and Teacher Association (PTA), School Leadership Council (SLC), Scouts programs, and more. Also, parents serve as classroom parents, volunteer, assist with fundraising initiatives, and attend our many public programs. These partnerships are essential to our scholars’ academic success. 

University Elementary School will continue to strive to meet the needs of our scholars, parents, and the school community by creating an environment that cultivates and challenges every scholar to be contributing members of their school community. University Elementary School is proud to contribute to the growth of scholars who will serve, support, protect, invent, heal, teach, and lead our expanding global and technological community. 

Educationally yours,

Dr. Chinaire Simons