When choosing a community to live in, there are many different factors that come into play such as affordability, taxes, lifestyle, recreation, commute, employment opportunities, real estate values, crime rates and statistics, climate and culture. But there is one question that I am asked most frequently, "How are the Schools"? 

To be able to answer this vital question properly, I invited Elizabeth Jewett, Watchung Hills Regional High School's District Superintendent, to sit down and chat with me on what goes on behind the walls of WHRHS and the current initiatives that have been put in place over the last 5 years while as Superintendent.

👀Here is our interview!
Enjoy our 1st episode...#001.


Our goal at Weiniger Group, is to be your trusted local resource for all things Warren Township. And people are so passionate about the topic of schools. We are committed to providing you with real, conversations and local insights about many things. And today, it is about our school system that won't be found on any school ranking website like Great Schools or national portals like Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com. How could any of those companies know what we know as residents living here? They can't. They don't.Below, are some of our show notes and resource links to more details on what was discussed in our chat.

WATCHUNG HILLS REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL website

Superintendent page on the district website

During my interview with Elizabeth, we discussed particular points on what makes Watchung Hills special.

WATCHUNG HILLS REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL PERFORMANCE:

In the recent New Jersey Monthly Ranking, Watchung High placed 11 spots higher than its previous rank of 50 last year. According to Elizabeth, the sudden spike in ranking is a product of the staff, parents, and students coming together to reach their full potential. A supportive community that considers the school their centerpiece, great students, very supportive parents and world-class teaching staff are all the ingredients for this success story. As Warren forms a big community, opportunities for students to explore their passion for robotics, musical arts and athletics are being offered due to its large resources. In some cases, avenues or clubs which are nonexistent are being proposed by the students, therefore, providing a niche for every student.

Warren, Watchung, Long Hill and Green Brook are all part of the large community contributing to its resources.

WHAT MAKES WATCHUNG HILLS SPECIAL?

Part of what makes Watchung HS so successful is the students' willingness to participate and take the wheel when it comes to their own education. For example, 80 students volunteered to participate in a Coding Program "Hack-a-Thon" event. This event encouraged student teamwork to program and code real websites together in a fun environment!

Teamwork and collaboration are two major themes that can be seen at this school. The students appreciate being able to learn from each other's differing backgrounds and talents. Last year, the high school put on a production of “Beauty and the Beast” that brought together several different departments including Drama and Music, the Culinary Arts, Accounting and Graphic Design. This collaborative effort amongst students is part of what makes this school stand out.

Current initiatives related to our three overarching Strategic Plan goals.  

  • Wellness
  • Post-Secondary Planning
  • Creative, Innovative, Interdisciplinary Learning

Wellness 

  • Healthy Edge (recently formed district Wellness Committee)
  • Homework free holiday breaks
  • Flex Schedule - piloting this year
  • Professional Development for Staff focused on Wellness in the classroom
  • District-wide Wellness Day
  • Substance Abuse/Mental Health Awareness Education Programs for Parents & Students

Post-Secondary Planning

  • Expand 9th/10th Grade Parents Nights for HS and College Planning
  • 8th Grade Parent Workshop in collaboration with all four K-8 districts to ensure smooth transition to WHRHS
  • Summer college application workshop for rising 12th graders
  • Expand relationships with College Deans of Admissions visitations of our counselors to campuses in a wide geographic area
  • Senior Career Exploration

Creative, Innovative, Interdisciplinary Learning

  • New courses in Robotics, Music Technology,  Guitar, Keyboarding, Mobile App Development, Genetics.
  • Upgrade to Culinary Arts Lab - currently designing new courses
  • Expansion of cross-curricular collaboration to help students make real-world connections to classroom learning
  • TEDx Youth Event
  • HillsHacks Hack-a-thon - all day coding event