Last month, Morris School District
Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ficarra lauded the work of Reverend Sidney Williams and his wife Teresa who helped create the Student Outreach and Academic Reinforcement
(SOAR) program to help improve NJASK scores. According to Ficarra, the program
also invites students' families to be part of the learning process and share a
meal with them.
But supporting the program went beyond a certificate and lip service. On Dec. Ficarra put his lasagna where his mouth is by baking enough to feed 50 students and their parents and doling out the dinner himself along with other members of the administration.
The meal, served at the Bethel AME Church where Williams is the pastor, was to help reinforce the message that good nutrition, parent support and family meal time goes a long way toward helping students soar.
Students were surprised to see the family style meal served and cleared by members of the school administration.
“It is important that our students know we care about them after the school day is over,” said Janet Kellman, Principal of Alfred Vail School. “The SOAR dinner provides a great opportunity to do that.”
The dinner was the culmination of the first seven-week session of SOAR, which is a partnership of the Morris School District, the Spring Street Community Development Corp, Prevention is the Key, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the College of Saint Elizabeth. And of course, the Williams.
“We are grateful to our community partners for their commitment to our children and their families,” Teresa Williams said. “The students are performing better academically and their parents are increasingly involved and committed to their success while working to strengthen their family.”
The plan is for SOAR volunteers to continue to work with students and their families throughout the school year, something Ficarra said is already having an impact.
“SOAR in an exceptional program which, in a short period of time has had a tremendous impact on the students it serves. We are confident these students will continue to thrive,” Ficarra said. “The SOAR family meal was a great way to celebrate the success of the program and its students and honor the critical role families play is students’ success.”