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November 21, 2012


Great Night for Essex County Vocational Technical Schools District
As a District Teacher and School are Recognized During Ceremony at the Hall of Records

Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold (far right) presented the Board’s Commendations to Bloomfield Tech teacher Indira Bailey (2nd from left) and West Caldwell Tech Principal Chetram Singh (2nd from right).  They were joined by Dr. Michael Pennella, Superintendent of the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools District (far left).  PHOTO BY GLEN FIRESON

(Newark, NJ) – In a ceremony held on Thursday, November 20th, at the Hall of Records, the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders highlighted excellence in the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools, a regional school district, by honoring one of its teachers, Indira Bailey of Bloomfield Tech, and one of its schools, West Caldwell Tech.  Indira Bailey, an art teacher at Bloomfield Tech, was honored for being named the 2012-13 “Essex County Teacher of the Year” by the N. J. Department of Education, and West Caldwell Tech was honored for being named a 2012 “Blue Ribbon School” by the U. S. Department of Education.  The Board’s commendations were sponsored and presented by Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold of Livingston.

Freeholder Sebold opened the ceremony by saying, “Tonight I am delighted to honor a special teacher and a special school in our Essex County Vocational Technical School District, and especially because education is so dear to my heart; I was an English teacher for 30 years and also served six years on the Vo-Tech Board of Education.”

Indira Bailey, who teaches Commercial Illustration at Bloomfield Tech, grades 9-12, was named the 2012-2013 “Essex County Teacher of the Year” through the N. J. Department of Education’s “Teacher of the Year Competition”, a program that recognizes and honors the contributions of outstanding classroom teacher leaders, Pre-K through Grade 12, who possess a special talent for inspiring a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.  The initial phase of the competition is at the local level where individual school districts select their “teachers of the year”, who are then eligible to be named their county’s “teacher of the year”.  A New Jersey “teacher of the year” is then selected from the 21 county “teachers of the year”, who then becomes a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Program.

Ms. Bailey was first named the “Essex County Vocational School District Teacher of the Year” before being selected as the 2012-2013 “Essex County Teacher of the Year” by representatives of the education community under the guidance and direction of the New Jersey Department of Education, Essex County Office, which is led by Executive County Superintendent Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod.

Ms. Bailey has taught at Bloomfield Tech for the last 12 years, where she has successfully taught students to communicate their ideas by using creative methods through art education.  She also serves as an elected member of the district’s Professional Development Committee and started the district’s first National Art Honor Society.

Bailey earned her B.F.A. degree from Pratt Institute and her M. A. degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Kean University.  She also received Fulbright-Hayes Fellowships to study in South Africa and Morocco; a Fulbright Memorial Scholarship to study in Japan; was the first co-recipient of the inaugural “South African Initiative Vision Award” from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education; and has also been the recipient of other awards for her outstanding work as an educator and artist.  She is an accomplished professional artist who has exhibited her artwork throughout the tri-state area, and also publishes a newsletter, “Indira”, to inspire art and education.

Receiving her Commendation, Bailey said, “I enjoy what I do, I believe in what I do, and if not for my students, I would not be standing here today.”  District Superintendent Dr. Michael Pennella and Bloomfield Tech Principal Eric Love joined Freeholder Sebold for the presentation, expressed their pride in Ms. Bailey’s accomplishments and in having her as a member of the District’s staff.

West Caldwell Tech is the second high school in the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools District to be named a “National Blue Ribbon School” by the U. S. Department of Education (Bloomfield Tech was honored in 2009).  The U. S. Department of Education named 269 schools across the nation as 2012 Blue Ribbon Schools, and West Caldwell Tech was one of only 17 schools in New Jersey to be so named, and the only school in Essex County to receive this prestigious recognition.

West Caldwell Tech was specifically honored for making progress in improving student academic achievement levels, an accomplishment that is all the more impressive because a vast majority of the students enrolled in the school are classified as special education students.  The improvement in High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) results has been dramatic, especially in light of the fact that HPSA proficiency rates in both math and language arts was 0% in 2004.  Beginning in 2007, however, the scores have steadily improved: Math rates increased to 23.7% in 2007 and to a very impressive 85% in 2012; and Language Arts rates increased from 23.7% in 2007 to an astounding 97.5% in 2012.  These improvements can be credited in part to new strategies instituted at the school under the leadership of its Principal, Mr. Chetram Singh, including: the attendance of students identified as needing extra help at a 5-week summer program; the extension of the school day from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM; and weekly meetings of administrative and teaching staffs to assess each student’s progress and to intervene with specialized help at an early stage when needed.

West Caldwell Tech has an enrollment of 325 students who are offered a wide range of programs, including: Cosmetology, Retail Careers, Automotive Technology, Culinary Arts, Business Technology, Agriscience, Digital Communications and Mobile Application Development.  The Essex County Vocational Technical Schools District, founded in 1914, is the oldest in New Jersey, and has an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students at four high schools: Bloomfield Tech, Newark Tech, North 13th Street Tech and West Caldwell Tech.  The District offers high level state-of-the-art career and technical skill development opportunities in more than 25 career areas, and is led by Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Pennella.

Dr. Pennella introduced the West Caldwell Tech staff by saying, “These improvements didn’t occur overnight, it took a lot of work.  Not long ago, West Caldwell Tech was classified as a consistently failing school, and now to be declared a ‘Blue Ribbon’ school is a fantastic achievement, and we are just so proud of them.”  Principal Chetram Singh added, “We are a very strong family at West Caldwell Tech, and we really enjoy working with our students and our colleagues.  It is an honor to be recognized as a ‘Blue Ribbon’ school and to be honored by the Freeholders.  Thank you very much.”  Mr. Singh was accompanied by staff members Dicxiana Carbonell, Director of Curriculum & Instruction, and Boaz Laor, Supervisor of Student Achievement.

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For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders



Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695