Portrait of Nicole GilmoreIn this unprecedented time, there is no blueprint for managing the current public health crisis, nor is there one for how to respond to the national outcry for racial justice. Working together, we can rise to meet this moment. The second half of the 2019-2020 school year was like no other, though it has been my honor and privilege to serve as your principal during these uncertain times. 

Although this year looks different, the Mt. Vernon Avenue School Learning Community is dedicated to providing your child with a memorable, interactive and engaging remote learning experience. We are invested in providing learning experiences to ensure that all scholars from Kindergarten to grade five, have opportunities for Success, will take Ownership for their learning and actions, will maintain a positive mindset and Attitude in all academic and social interactions and will demonstrate Respect for each other as well as the learning process. Eagles SOAR! 

Our mission is to provide a superior academic education in a caring environment. As we enter the 2020-2021 school year, our focus will still be to ensure that every child feels connected to the school community, every child is challenged by new learnings and experiences, and every child knows that they have a caring educator they can turn to. 

Our K – 5 curricula is aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards and evidenced in inclusive classroom environments where we employ current and research-based pedagogy. Our literacy program follows a balanced literacy framework infusing key components such as phonological awareness, fluency, rich vocabulary instruction, speaking and listening, comprehension and writing. All of which promote a love for reading, scholarly inquiry and the challenge that comes with thinking critically and creatively to solve problems. We will continue with i-Ready Reading for our literacy program. i-Ready Reading is an intervention-based, adaptive learning program using an online platform, which serves to address each student’s unique learning needs. 

enVisionMath, our Math program, supports our work in ensuring that students develop an understanding of math concepts through problem-based instruction, small-group interaction, and visual learning with a focus on reasoning and modeling. The goal of the K-12 Mathematics Programs is for every student to achieve proficiency by developing both conceptual understanding and procedural fluency through rigorous instruction and authentic assessments. The curriculum includes concepts and processes of mathematics upon which technical and scientific progress depend. Therefore, provisions are made for students to collaborate and share different ways of reasoning and modeling to make sense, to question, and to think critically about the world of mathematics and beyond. The intellectual curiosity about the study of mathematics will promote the standards for mathematical practices, and students’ abilities to engage in discussions around concepts, and apply mathematics to solve problems in real-life contexts. 

Mount Vernon is dedicated to producing STEM proficient scholars who can answer complex questions, investigate global issues and develop solutions for challenges and real-world problems while applying the rigor of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students participate in an integrated science program aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Science, based on the Next Generation Science Standards, exposing them to topics within the physical sciences, life sciences, and earth and space sciences each year. The science program is focused on moving students toward a deeper and richer understanding of scientific concepts and their application by engaging students in authentic, relevant learning experiences. Scholars participate in Virtual Learning Labs where they conduct experiments and engage in learning opportunities with a scientist. 

The Social Studies curriculum is organized thematically around the central concepts of civics, geography, and economics for kindergarten through third grade. In the fourth and fifth grades, the historical understanding of the United States and New Jersey are studied. Interwoven throughout each grade level are learning objectives that involve social scientific problem solving, decision making, social political participation skills, critical thinking, cooperative skills, and personal skills. Through these learning experiences, our scholars will develop the ability and inclination to employ critical thinking and decision-making strategies and an understanding of the uniqueness and interdependence of regions and nations in a global age. 

Fine arts and physical education are an integral part of a comprehensive curriculum and are essential for 21st-century learning. All scholars engage in Visual Arts, Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, and Physical Education. Our arts education program enables students to develop an appreciation of the arts, broaden their perspectives and understand their world and the diverse cultural influences that surround them and sharpen their critical and creative thinking skills. Our physical education program provides a motivating and enriching curriculum that meets the physical, mental, emotional, and social needs of our scholars. The curriculum takes on an interdisciplinary approach addressing the core subjects in various forms. The overall goal of our physical education program is to provide scholars with the necessary skills to improve and maintain their health and wellness for a lifetime. 

Technology literacy is an integral component of a balanced educational experience. As such, technology is infused in all aspects of our curriculum. Our scholars interact with Smart Boards, Google Chromebooks, and instructional software present in our core curricular programs. Lesson components include student and teacher use of technology employing interactive SMART Exchange lessons to increase engagement and promote collaboration. 

Mount Vernon celebrates and recognizes the diversity that exists in our learning community. As such we are intentional in our practices in ensuring our curriculum and school climate is culturally responsive, allowing opportunities for each student to succeed. To this end, our teachers teach transferable life skills and provide instruction that is differentiated, fosters high student engagement, communicates high expectations, connects students’ prior learning experiences and involves parents in the school community, all which promote a sense of belonging while preparing them to be problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and confident learners. 

Irvington Public Schools is an inclusive school district. Our Special Education program is designed to meet the specific needs of scholars with disabilities in the least restrictive setting. The school-based Intervention & Referral Services (I&RS) Team provides support and services to general education scholars suspected of having academic, social or behavior difficulties. For the 2020-2021 school year, we will continue to integrate Restorative Practice as a part of our PBSIS initiative, further supporting students social and emotional learning. 

Mt. Vernon Avenue Elementary School addresses the whole child and offers scholars a unique opportunity to play a larger role in the school community, forming stronger relationships with teachers, and their peers. Research has shown that structured extracurricular activities support academic achievement, high attendance rates, positive behavior, and identity development. Scholars can participate in the National Elementary Honor Society, Student Council, Newsletter Club, Digital Learning Club, School Safety Patrol, Chess Club, Cheer Team, Literacy Academy and/or Eagles Academy. Additionally, our scholars are also able to attend several exciting field trips aimed at enriching their curricular experience. Scholars have ventured to the Liberty Science Center, Turtle Back Zoo, The Bronx Zoo, NJPAC, SOPAC, Medieval Times, Jenkinson’s Aquarium, along with visiting the beach and Washington DC. 

Only by working together, will we ensure the success of our children. Our parents and community partners are active participants in the education of our scholars. They coordinate with the school on various events in collaboration with the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Parent Coordinator workshops, and volunteer and fundraising events and programs. With community partnership playing a vital role in what we do, Mount Vernon has afforded the community a myriad of after school events to increase parent and community presence within the school. A few of our events include, Family Movie Nights, a Multicultural Dinner, Scholar vs. Teacher Basketball Games, a Family Dinner Dance, Game Nights, Skating and Bowling outings culminating in our annual Field Day with the inclusion of parent volunteers. These events aid in a comprehensive collaborative atmosphere between staff and the community at large. 

Mount Vernon’s dedicated staff work to build a strong school culture and climate that plays a role in improving student performance by maintaining a safe and positive learning environment, that expects staff and scholars to perform at high levels, celebrates accomplishments and believes in a shared system of accountability. Students reflect daily on our school mantra, Where Scholars Learn to SOAR and, recite the Eagle’s Oath. They are rewarded for modeling outstanding behavior through our Student of the Month award, raffles, Class Dojo points, and Eagle Bucks. We adhere to a school wide behavior program following the principles of Positive Behavior Supports in School (PBSIS). 

Student success is the goal of every staff member at Mount Vernon Avenue Elementary School. We are devoted to utilizing research-based best practices to guide every student, every day, to reach their full potential. Through intentional and reflective practices, we will continue to be a learning community that values collaboration, lifelong learning, and collective responsibility, evidenced by increased student achievement. 

Nicole Gilmore Principal