ELIZABETH – One special K through 8 school in the city has taken a bold step in preparing students for college, with, of course, a little encouragement from college alumni from Montclair State University.
The Elizabeth public schools takes pride on preparing students for postsecondary education, and they start early.
In many ways, the school district believes it is never too early to get students interested in college so they are vested in their own future, especially at iPrep Academy School Number 8.
Elizabeth Superintendent of Schools Olga Hugelmeyer believes the commitment to preparing students for a college education comes naturally to those who have had a positive college experience themselves.
“I am proud that many of our teachers embrace the role of preparing our students for college education,” the superintendent said, adding that attending college is such a wonderful experience that teaches so many important, lifelong lessons.
“It is great to see our teachers sharing their passion for the colleges and universities they attended with our students as part of classroom instruction as well as encouragement to attend college,” Hugelmeyer added.
The iPrep Academy emphasizes college readiness in a highly technological learning environment. In fact, when the doors opened for the first time in 2013, it happened to be the first K through 8 school in the district to offer one-to-one learning or “anytime, anywhere” learning where each student is given a laptop or tablet at the door to use throughout the school day as a learning tool.
The use of the latest technology, Hugelmeyer said, in conjunction with innovativelessons, has students at iPrep Academy “well on their way to acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to attend America’s most prestigious colleges and universities.”
One Montclair graduate, Steven Criscuolo, now a teacher at iPrep, took the in-school postsecondary preparation one step further by arranging for his students to actually visit Montclair State so they could experience the campus for themselves.
Students, he said, had the opportunity to tour the campus and askquestions about the different programs offered.
“It was amazing to observe the discussions they were having on their own about the significance of campus artwork and the building names. They had so many questions about what majors are available because at their age, they want to do everything,” the teacher said, adding that his students quickly discovered what major’s match up with specific interests that allow them to fulfill their dreams.
Criscuolo said that as a student, Montclair State taught him to be a “lifelong learner.”
“I studied new concepts, explored places that I never knew existed and ultimately discovered that everything is worth learning,” said the iPrep teacher, adding that he felt his students could take what is taught at iPrep and go on to further their educational goals.
As a middle school language arts teacher at iPrep, Criscuolo said he incorporates technology into his lessons every day and as a result has seen the growing passion for learning in his students. The teacher said it is this very passion for learning that his students can take with them to Montclair State or other colleges and why he proudly displays his Red Hawk pride by posting Montclair State magnets and posters throughout his classroom.