Back to Middle School–It’s not Elementary

Written by Stacy Havens. Posted in Positive Discipline, Whole Child Education

By Alethia Stone

Parents who have children in the lower and middle school probably noticed the difference between the two back to school nights. It was hard not to notice. Back-to-School Night for the primary school was everything you might expect—warm and nurturing. Fast forward a couple of days and there’s a completely different tone. If there was one word to sum up the evening, it would probably be “passion.”

A lead in from the Camp Speers information meeting already had the energy level running high, but then the orientation to middle school began and with it came the realization that this was not elementary school. It wasn’t even your traditional middle school. This was something special. Each teacher presented their class overview with energy and enthusiasm. It was clear that these were teachers who loved their jobs. Even the need to align to the common core standards doesn’t diminish their commitment to building commUnity.

In the end the evening was about the Unity difference—building commUnity. The middle school curriculum invites students on a voyage of discovery. A journey where they explore who they are, what they believe and what their legacy will be. These are themes that are interwoven throughout the middle school experience from encouraging students to learn about themselves and their peers at Camp Speers to the end of year Sustainability Showcase where they have the opportunity to explore issues that affect them on a larger scale.

Back-to-School Night reinforced something many of us suspected when we chose Unity Charter School for our children’s academic home. Our children are in the care of individuals committed to helping us raise children who can think; children who can learn; and children who care. Their passion is real and so is their commitment to our children.

Middle school represents the beginning of the transition from childhood to adulthood. Seeing the curricula and meeting those who will be guiding the journey showed that for parents of middle schoolers Back-to-School Night was the time to share a plan to not just get them there, but to get them there with confidence, caring and awareness.

Unity Charter School Teachers visit the Urban Farm in Morristown, NJ

Written by Stacy Havens. Posted in 07960, Uncategorized, Whole Child Education

About every other Wednesday during the school year, Unity Charter School has scheduled half days for the purpose of teacher development.  You can read more about the goals and reasons for this here.

This past Wednesday, our staff visited the Urban Farm in Morristown as a Professional Development Workshop.  The teachers walked to the farm on Hazel Street and were taught numerous ways to integrate our garden into all curricular areas.  The teachers were inspired by all that Farmer Shaun had to share and have a better grasp on how to utilize our garden more effectively.

Our 4th Grade teacher, Amy Vanderstad, and our 1/2 teacher, Amy Hoffman, took some photos along the way.  Enjoy!

Photo by Amy Hoffman Photo by Amy Vanderstad Photo by Amy Vanderstad Photo by Amy Vanderstad

The Bees’ Knees: Bobcats Field Trip to Community Garden

Written by Peter. Posted in Education, Sustainability, Whole Child Education

– by Peter Minde

In June, the Unity Charter School Bobcats traveled to the Morristown Community Garden on Early Street to learn about bee keeping.  In addition to the community garden plots, Farmer Shaun keeps bees at the far end of the Early Street plot.


The Bobcats started with a lesson from Farmer Shaun, complete with photographs.  He described the queen bee, the drone and the worker and their respective roles in a colony.  The Bobcats then had a spirited discussion over the relative merits of drone and worker bees.


After his presentation, Farmer Shaun brought the Bobcats down a narrow path on the overgrown back half of the lot.  In the furthest corner were two beehives.  Farmer Shaun ordered three pounds of bees by mail to start the colony.  Who knew one ordered bees by the pound?  His colony is now up to 60,000 bees.

Farmer Shaun dons protective clothing before handling the beehives.

Farmer Shaun dons protective clothing before handling the beehives.

Bobcats watch as Farmer Shaun works his magic.

Bobcats watch as Farmer Shaun works his magic.


The bees’ knees: how many bee knees can you see?

The queen is in there somewhere.  Can you find her?

The queen is in there somewhere. Can you find her?

The beehives stood on an old cement foundation in a lot overgrown with brush.  Farmer Shaun told us that we were standing in an abandoned scrap metal yard.  It had been reclaimed by nature, so to speak.  It’s possible that in the not too distant future, the back lot will be cleared to provide additional garden plots for the neighborhood.


p-minde-alt-portrait  Peter Minde is a father of a Unity 5th grader. A member of Unity’s Board of Trustees, he chairs the Whole School Viability committee.  He is a freelance writer and a personal trainer.


D.A.R.E. comes to Unity Charter School

Written by Peter. Posted in Health and Nutrition, Whole Child Education

– by Tanya Seaward

Did you notice that police cruisers were often parked in front of the school during April and May?  No, it was not trouble brewing.  Quite the opposite: officers from Morris Township here to teach the D.A.R.E. program for the very first time to our 5th and 6th graders.  D.A.R.E. which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, is a 6 week long internationally recognized program that aims to educate children about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.  The D.A.R.E. program is taught by specially trained police officers in order to foster positive attitudes between the police and students.  We were fortunate to have Officer Heather Jones, a Unity parent, teach the program to our students.  The students had fun watching Doug demonstrate the “drunk goggles,” but they also tackled more serious issues such as drug abuse, bullying and internet safety.  

The program culminated in a graduation ceremony on May 10, 2013 which was attended by a number of local dignitaries including Chief of Police John K. McGuinness, Deputy Mayor Bruce Sisler and Morris Township Councilman Scott Rosenbush.  The students also received a D.A.R.E. diploma signed by State Senator Anthony Bucco.  Later, they enjoyed a fun-filled morning at Collinsville Park followed by a pizza party hosted by the Morris Township Police.


portrait of Tanya Seaward  Tanya Seaward is a Unity mom to three students; Jeremy, Abby and Theo.  She served on the Board of Trustees and chaired the Communications Committee.  Tanya is a Chartered Accountant who enjoys gardening and leisurely rides on her bike (no hills please!).