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Fernbrook Elementary Hosts NJ Literacy Leaders’ Network Conference


Each year, Stony Lane Elementary School (Paramus) Principal Tom Marshall hosts a New Jersey Literacy Leaders’ Network event at schools across the state. The gathering is hosted 5 times per year as a way to build networking opportunities for principals and supervisors who want to deepen their understanding of Balanced Literacy. Fernbrook Principal Michelle Bernal graciously offered to host the event on behalf of the district. Educators from 16 other school districts were in attendance including Ramsey, River Vale, Clark, Elmwood Park, West Orange, Nutley, Bloomfield, Parsippany, Verona, Mahwah, Ridgefield Park, Millburn, Newark, Nutley, Montvale, and Paramus.


Mr. Marshall is an incredibly accomplished educator. He devotes a great deal of his time to working on literacy education.  He conducts staff development and writes literacy curriculum for his district in Grades 3 and 4, teaches after school workshops, leads a course for literacy coaches, coordinates the Lit Together Teacher Leader Project, and is the founder of the New Jersey Literacy Leaders' Network. Mr. Marshall has presented at NCTE, NJIRA, and other organizations, and served as the chair of NCTE's Elementary Section Nominating Committee in 2013.  He is the recipient of NCTE/CEL's 2017 Innovative Leadership Award, and the author of the upcoming: Reclaiming the Principalship, Instructional Leadership Strategies to Engage Your School Community and Focus on Learning ​(Heinemann 2018).


Having Mr. Marshall facilitate this tremendous learning opportunity was incredibly valuable. The attendees visited with our Fernbrook Elementary students to practice teaching and observing lessons. They also conducted learning walks where each participant walked through and looked at the school from a specific point of view. Based on their observations, they were able to provide feedback and discuss best practices. The remainder of the conference was spent as a group learning many areas of literacy and instructional leadership.


Engagement with learning communities outside of Randolph and professional development are key components for student success. We would like to sincerely thank Mr. Marshall for bringing this program to the district and to all of our peer educators for making this such a lively professional development experience.