Lighthouse Award brings ‘great pride’ to Palmyra schools

The district was one of five that earned the distinction

This is an excerpt from an article published in the Sun Newspapers’ Palmyra News on February 13, 2024.

By Kathy Chang, Managing Editor

School officials in Palmyra could not help but feel a sense of pride as the district earned a New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) Lighthouse Award for 2023.

The award recognizes school districts and charter schools in the state who illuminate the path toward educational improvement and equitable outcomes, according to the NJDOE website. The Palmyra district – with its 984 students – earned the award for increasing equity in advanced placement (AP) and international baccalaureate (IB) enrollment.

The NJDOE launched the Lighthouse Award in 2017 to recognize the advances made by state school districts and charter schools. The selection process takes place every two years. Palmyra was one of five districts to earn the prize.

In its narrative for the award, the district noted that Palmyra’s board of ed prioritized equity as a five-year strategic goal and partnered with Equal Opportunity Schools, an organization that works with New Jersey local education associations to increase equitable enrollment in rigorous courses.

Through that partnership, the district solicited feedback from students and educators with a focus on improving enrollment in advanced courses, in addition to establishing open lines of communication with families. The district’s administrative team includes a new coordinator of accountability and data analysis.

“This role plays an integral part in dissecting the current district data and disseminating that data to teachers and staff members to drive instructional decisions in the classroom,” a district statement said.

Equal Opportunity Schools gave the district a targeted participation rate for minority students based on the outreach list it provided to the district, which was in turn based on the survey results. It proposed enrollment of 30 African American students, 18 Hispanics and eight white students. Based on spring 2023 enrollment requests, the district has 34 African American students, 23 Hispanic and 11 white students who’ve requested AP or dual credit courses next year.

Read the full article here.