The Vision of Flocktown-Kossmann School
Our vision is to maximize the learning experience of every student, every day by guiding and challenging every child to reach their fullest potential. We strive to nurture creative minds and young hearts that seek imaginative solutions, have a sense of understanding and compassion for self and others, live the qualities of effective leadership and have the confidence to make good decisions, enabling each child to find their place in the world, and promote positive change.
Flocktown-Kossmann School is known in the community for its vibrant and welcoming atmosphere, its caring and professional faculty and staff, its high level of student achievement and active parent involvement. We are committed to an educational program that recognizes individual student needs and the responsibility to develop each student’s full potential towards becoming a lifelong learner, a productive global citizen in the 21st century, and most importantly – a young person of high character. Our school prides itself on having high expectations for every child, meeting students where they are and taking them to the limits of their potential, while nurturing both the cognitive and social-emotional skills that are necessary for both school and life success. We honor the dignity of our learners by valuing their individual talents, understanding their whole-child needs, and making a personal connection to each child in a positive, emotionally safe and supportive environment. We deeply understand that the affective needs of children are closely related to their cognitive needs and we accept the challenge of providing a whole-child education – of both the heart and the mind.
Located atop “the mountain” of Long Valley, Flocktown-Kossmann School is the learning community for over 460 children in grades Pre-K-5 supported by over 90 professional, compassionate, and dedicated faculty and staff. Our seven acre ‘campus’ is home to two facilities: the grades Pre-K–2 Walter J. Kossmann building and the intermediate elementary Flocktown Road building, comprised of grades 3-5. This year’s kindergarten class is our second class of full-day kindergarten.
The New Jersey Student Learning Standards are the foundation for our challenging and engaging curriculum. At Flocktown-Kossmann School we recognize that advanced literacy skills are a significant indicator in determining the future success of our students, in addition to persistence, resilience and positive social skills. The time and effort we dedicate to literacy instruction throughout the subject areas reflects our commitment to every child learning and applying those skills to the best of their ability and at a high level for those ready for the challenge. Our Language Arts curriculum in grades 3-5 integrates the essential Social Studies standards through the literature chosen at each grade level. Writing skills are learned and applied not just in the literacy block, but in the context of science, math and the related arts as well.
The Flocktown-Kossmann faculty has embraced the balanced literacy approach to reading and writing instruction in the literacy block. The components of the balanced literacy classroom are implemented using the structure of the reader’s and writer’s workshop. Formative assessment is used throughout the school year to determine individual student progress and provide students with text at both their independent and instructional reading level. Classroom instruction in all kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms is supported by a team of knowledgeable and enthusiastic literacy instructors, reducing the student-to-teacher ratio in the critical years of reading skills acquisition. This support is also provided in targeted upper grade classrooms based on identified needs of our students.
The Everyday Math program was recently completely aligned to the Common Core State Standards at each grade level, K-5. In the hands of our skilled and well-trained faculty, our math program meets the needs of our students along the readiness spectrum and prepares them well for the sixth grade program at the middle school. The goal of this program is for students to understand the mathematical concepts underlying application of fundamental math skills in life situations accurately, mindfully, and efficiently over time. Essential math skills are also reinforced in our inquiry-based, hands-on/minds-on science program in grades 3-5, appropriately integrating the scientific method and foundational science skills in the course of exploring grade level specific topics.
As a Community of 21st Learners, our faculty has embraced the opportunity to develop their professional skills by learning and applying the principles of the learner-active, technology-infused classroom. This approach to learning and educating children is based on recent research of how 21st century students learn best, creating the type of environment in which they do so, and using the impressive technology we have available to us as a tool for learning, as well as applying and communicating what was learned. Our educators’ participation in professional learning communities is also a means by which they extend their own learning to positively impact student learning. Our teachers see themselves as students of our students.
To address our responsibility and the need our children have to nourish the right brain and their bodies, our enthusiastic and dedicated related arts faculty educates students on their standards, while collaborating with the grade level teams on various projects at each grade level that extend the learning of the academic areas. Health and physical education emphasizes team work and cooperation, good sportsmanship and the benefits of life-long wellness, as they work with our school counselors to infuse our character education principles of respect, self-control, positive decision-making and overall productive citizenship.
Our approach to school-wide character education requires that every educator in each corner of our schools is speaking, teaching, integrating, and reinforcing the vocabulary and language of our research-inspired program. Our vision and mission statements are our action and decision making compass, and identify four principles – based on collaboratively defined shared values and beliefs – that are integrated throughout the school and curriculum. As a means of enhancing school climate and emphasizing positive habits and behaviors, the “Four Paws of the Wolf” guide students to shape positive student habits, social skills, and character traits that make our school physically and emotionally safe, and encourages every child to take responsibility for an environment where students can explore their academic potential, establish connections to peers and adults, and are cared for in their school. In our ongoing efforts to enhance school culture and climate, we implemented the “Pawbucks” school-wide positive behavior supports recognition program. The program recognizes students who are caught living the principles of our norms and values throughout our school. Students then donate their “Pawbucks” on an ongoing basis to their choice of one of three charitable causes. Three local donor organizations then convert our Pawbucks to dollars and make a donation in the name of our school. Our local food pantry, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and our PTA for playground equipment received donations in our school’s name last year.
In further recognition of the future skills necessary to thrive, our school has been honored in recent years as the recipient of two grants from the Crayola Corporation for our infusion of creativity across the curriculum. Our creativity leadership team assists our faculty with engaging students, making learning more active and creating learning experiences that provide different pathways and possibilities for a wide range of learners. We sustain the infusion of creativity with our school-wide Creativity Leadership Team. We encourage our educators and students to take risks, embrace making mistakes, seek novel solutions to challenges and reflect critically on the learning process with the goal of making creativity a habit of our instructional practice.
All students benefit from our whole-school enrichment model in which each faculty member provides an enrichment course of their “passion” and students select the courses they would like to attend. Students identified as academically or gifted are recognized as having unique and varied cognitive and affective abilities and needs. These distinctive qualities require that gifted students in our care be offered opportunities and challenges to meet those needs which ensure academic rigor and a healthy overall development for this unique group of learners. At Flocktown-Kossmann, this is accomplished via the district’s Talented and Gifted program (TaG). The educational experiences offered within the realm of this program encourages students to become more self-directed in their learning, as well as assists them in developing their impressive abilities to their fullest potential through a rich and varied educational experience.
Rounding out the experiences of our children is the support and involvement of our energetic and dedicated PTA. Our PTA provides funding and volunteer support for many co-curricular and enrichment activities that provide additional educational experiences, further extending the curriculum. Their Teacher Mini-Grant program invites our faculty to submit proposals for projects in the classroom that also enhance learning which they may not otherwise be able to provide. Our PTA was recognized by the NJPTA with the 2009-10 Education Excellence Achievement Award based on the impressive level of service and support provided to the children and faculty of our school. The recently renovated courtyard in the Flocktown building converted an unused space to a beautiful outdoor learning center and new equipment on the Kossmann playground this fall is a testament of their dedication to our school.
As a result of the compassionate, mindful and devoted efforts of many, Flocktown-Kossmann school is a very special place for our children to learn and grow. We are proud to be the Flocktown-Kossmann Wolves – Leading the way and making a difference, every day!