Hoboken Public School District – Hoboken, New Jersey

March 26, 2024

Hoboken Public School District

A First-Class Education


Leading Public School District Exemplifying Innovation, Inclusion, and Growth

Hoboken, a vibrant and growing city in the state of New Jersey, is not only known for its picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline but also its exceptional school district. With a mission “to prepare confident and resilient graduates who value academic achievement, embrace challenge, honor diversity, appreciate collaboration, and respectfully contribute to their local and wider communities,” Hoboken Public School District embraces a holistic education, fostering curiosity, and instilling a love of learning.

Superintendent, Dr. Christine Johnson

Superintendent, Dr. Christine Johnson, states, “We are a district that prides itself on innovation, diversity, and inclusion, as well as opportunities for all of our students. Our Board of Education and our administrative team and staff all work diligently to ensure that we include every child in each educational opportunity that we put out there.”

Early Childhood Education and Literacy

The district’s commitment to early childhood education is evident from its free full-day Pre-K program for three and four-year-olds, serving approximately 1000 preschool children. Using the national curriculum “Tools of the Mind,” Dr. Johnson says, “Our goal with preschool education is to provide equal opportunity, equal access, and early education to as many three and four year olds in our community. When it’s time to enroll in kindergarten, we want as many of them as possible to have experienced  educational, social, emotional, and play opportunities, so that they can be successful in the early elementary years.”

At the elementary level, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Sandra Rodriguez-Gomez shares that the district has continued to collaborate with impactful programs in the ELA space, including Orton Gillingham, and the Institute of Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE), to ensure students have the foundational skills necessary to be successful readers.

“We are lucky enough to have an organization like the Hoboken Public Ed Foundation (HPEF), who has heard us and vetted our thinking around what we intended to do in the content area of literacy. Because of their support, we have trained 100% of our K-2 teachers, 3rd through 8th Grade Leads, and Special Education Teachers in the Orton Gillingham protocol throughout the district,” she says, noting that this encompasses professional development, coaching, and the provision of necessary materials.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Sandra Rodriguez-Gomez

“What we have found is that there is a lot of thought that goes into new applications and new modalities at the classroom level. However, if we do not provide the resources, materials and the professional development, then those applications will not have the impact that we are seeking. We have seen such an amazing trajectory of student achievement progress. We are now a leader in Hudson County and outperforming New Jersey averages.”

Johnson says the district takes a similar approach to mathematics, with a focus on discovery-based and project-oriented learning. “There are many exciting things happening in our early childhood grades. Socially, emotionally, and academically, our students are transitioning from our primary classrooms to our elementary, middle, and high school learning environments with a greater sense of confidence. We are seeing this in our mathematics student achievement data, as well.”

“Right now, we’re in a really interesting place. Districts from across New Jersey and from other states are visiting us and reaching out to learn more about the systemic approach we are taking to curriculum development and implementation and data-driven instructional practices,” Rodriguez-Gomez boasts. “While we still consider ourselves mid-way through the journey,” Johnson claims, “the data tells us we’re moving in the right direction.”

On the subject of funding these initiatives, Jackie Dowd, Co-Founder and President of the HPEF, conveys, “Our main goal is to support the district in its move to become the best schools that we can be. We work very closely with the district around the goals that they have, in terms of how we can best use the funds. We raise the money, and we work with Dr. Johnson directly around what her goals are, what she sees as gaps that need to be filled, what new programs can be offered.”

A Learner Centric Experience

Chris Dellafave, Director of Innovative Programs, underscores the district’s commitment to nurturing enthusiastic learners, sharing that Hoboken Public Schools offers a diverse range of programs encompassing everything from biomedical science, computer science, engineering, aviation, urban farming, and entrepreneurial start-up support, to River Explorers, a program that conducts true to life scientific research on the Hudson River.

“These programs do not pigeonhole children into studying just for a test. What we’re doing is we’re creating thinkers,” he maintains. “We can’t necessarily guess what’s going to be on the cutting board for a kindergartener when they graduate from here. But we could surely bet that when they graduate from here, they’re going to need to know how to think for themselves, they’re going to need to know what to do to ascertain the skills to move forward.”

Furthering the efforts to move beyond traditional program models, the district is continuously developing certifications and programs for interest-based learning. These initiatives go beyond school hours, offering global experiences, like a previous biomedical science trip to Japan and an environmental studies tour of the Galapagos Islands.

“The idea is to pinpoint places that our students can visit and have authentic learning experiences outside of the classroom. Our goal is to have all students in the Middle School and High School participate in at least one Classrooms without Walls trip before they graduate.” Dellefave says. “It’s all about the principle of creating learners. Rather than teaching what to teach, we teach how to learn.”

DEI Initiatives

Hoboken takes pride in its diversity, as Stephen Dickerson, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion acknowledges, “It’s not something we do, it’s not something we focus on, it’s who we are. Diversity is our superpower.”

He says that the focus of the district’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives is to integrate equity into all aspects of the school experience to ensure students feel seen, and have pride in their identity and an understanding of their connection to the broader community. The district promotes diversity not only through specific initiatives but also by building it into the cultural framework of each building.

Professional development, collaboration, and inclusive programming are key components.

“We’re working with a team of educators on how to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy, not just that he exists, but the messaging and how that lives within us. We are blessed with teachers and this work resonates with them. So, they’re constantly bringing thoughts and ideas into the picture,” he portrays. “But I think the biggest piece is we’re constantly asking the question of whose voice is not heard and making sure that we’re raising those voices, and finding creative ways to ensure that those perspectives are shared.”


An Accomplished District

Hoboken Public School District shines in the arts, particularly theater, with awards at local, state, and national levels. The department consistently competes at the International Thespians competition, recently securing a record 10 awards at an event hosted by Montclair State University. The department is also the first school district in the United States to stage the epic Broadway hit ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’. Additionally, Hoboken boasts a vibrant music program and an acclaimed marching band. The Rocking Red Wings regularly participate in the Memorial Day parade in Washington DC.

In athletics, the district competes and excels in various sports, with over 67% of high school students participating.

“Over the last eight years, our high school has been awarded the New Jersey, NJSIAA Sportsmanship Award a few times. We have won various conference championships and have been co-champions in sports such as baseball, and soccer. The way it looks this year, our swim team and boys’ basketball team is doing extremely well too,” Johnson, describes. “We’re very proud of our athletic program. It’s just continuing to grow.”

Hoboken’s debate program also stands out, as Dr. Johnson recounts, “They are extremely accomplished, winning multiple awards in Harvard Model Congress both in San Francisco and in Barcelona, Junior Model UN, and also Mock Trial. This school year, the team will head to Paris, France to compete. It’s an extremely popular program.” Stating that well over 100 students participate, she adds, “Both advisors to that particular program are very in tune with our district’s goals associated with inclusion, diversity, equity, and opportunities for all students. They are continuously seeking students to join the program that might not necessarily do it on their own.”

Looking Ahead

Moving forward, Ailene McGuirk, President of Hoboken Board of Education, says the focus remains on student achievement, providing unique learning opportunities, and our growing enrollment. Keeping our school district open during COVID-19 did not come without challenges, but it certainly paid off. Our students continue to succeed.

“We are seeing such balance across the board in the district. It is exciting to see Advanced Placement and NJSLA scores on the rise. However, it is just as amazing to watch our orchestras perform at our winter and spring concerts and our students participate in our Urban Farming Institute. We congratulate students each month at our Board of Education meetings for their accomplishments. Yet, our entire district knows the value of celebrating the incremental growth made by each child. There is something very special happening here in the Hoboken Public School District,” says McGuirk.

BOE Vice President Sharyn Angley concludes, “As a board, we want to make sure that we support the momentum that our entire school community is feeling. Our administration and staff work tirelessly not only to meet the needs of our students but also to bring them more. Our work could not be more gratifying. We evaluate recommendations and establish policies associated with staffing, grants, curriculum, instruction, buildings, and programs that contribute to the overall success of our district. It is amazing. In the true spirit of our district’s hashtag, “Here We Come Hoboken.”

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Hoboken Public School District

What: A high-achieving K-12 school district with a focus on diverse student experiences and achievement

Where: Hoboken, New Jersey

Website: www.hoboken.k12.nj.us


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