September 2, 2020

School Matters 9/2/2020

Remote Learning in PPS

With Princeton Public Schools’ phase-in hybrid program delayed, students will not be going into the schools until October 12, but teachers and administrators are honing their virtual learning plans, and the schools are “well prepared to provide a robust educational experience remotely,” starting on September 14, according to a recent PPS email bulletin.

PPS Interim Superintendent Barry Galasso emphasized that the new Canvas online learning management system (LMS) would provide “a uniform learning platform for all students, and, according to the PPS technology department, it’s 99 percent reliable.”

Admitting that the unreliability of the system used last year caused difficulties, Galasso pointed out that the Canvas system is compatible with both Google and Microsoft, it provides access to a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week hotline for support, and that 60 different teachers and administrators in the district investigated the system before it was chosen.

All of the PPS staff is being trained in the use of Canvas, with 400 starting training earlier this summer and the rest of the staff currently being trained in professional days leading up to the September 14 opening day.

“Teachers appreciate how so many programs, including Zoom, are integrated within the program, so students won’t have to navigate outside of Canvas when using a lot of these tools,” said PPS Technology and Innovation Director Krista Galyon.

“For students, all of the classwork will be in one location,” she added. “In the spring, when our other LMS was not proving to be reliable, teachers moved to various platforms. This was often hard for students who had multiple teachers. Canvas brings all of their learning to one location.”

New Learning Circles Program at YMCA

Whether children are engaged in remote learning, hybrid learning, or in-person learning, the YMCA will be helping Princeton’s students make the most of it with informal, cooperative Learning Circles.

Supervised by college students, these groups will provide a positive and safe setting in which young people can be with their peers and focus on their studies together.

From September 14 through November 6, students entering grades six through nine will be able to gather under the tents on the YMCA field for three-hour sessions. Screened and trained college students and recent graduates will serve as advisers and role models, providing leadership and facilitating fun, structured activities.

Financial assistance will be available. More information will soon be posted on the YMCA website at

Villa Victoria  Team Wins National Math Championship

Villa Victoria’s math team, known as the VIL2ABE2S, has won a national championship in the Catholic Math League Advanced Division.  Villa Victoria graduating senior Jane Fan placed first among all competitors in the country.

Coached by math teacher Ann Conway-Konzelman since 1991, the VIL2ABE2S have won 41 awards over the years and placed in the top four schools nationally 12 times. In 11 years in the Advanced Math Division, team members have submitted 29 perfect scores and have consistently placed among the top five schools in the league. 

Student Writes Mental Health Guidebook

Preeti Chemiti, a rising sophomore in Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, has created a free mental health guidebook for students, teachers, and administrators in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Titled Mind Matters and focusing on student perspectives, the guidebook includes sections for high school students, college students, the BIPOC community, and teachers. There are more than 150 student interviews.

For more information or to download a copy of the book, visit   

Pennington School Teacher Wins Fellowship

Pennington School English teacher Erin O’Connell has been accepted to the 2020-21 Leadership+Design Fellowship. As one of a handful of educators selected, O’Connell will engage in a year-long collaboration with Leadership+Design, an organization committed to creating the future of teaching and learning.

“Addressing the challenges of distance and hybrid learning requires flexibility and focus on what’s most important: in our case, the student,” said O’Connell. “I am looking to Leadership+Design to challenge my own thinking, open me up to new ideas and approaches, and help me move my ideas into realities. At Pennington, I am hoping to further enhance the mentoring program and overall faculty support services.”