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Page 16 • The Branchburg News • May 2011

Branchburg Artist Sends Her Creation Heavenward

Branchburg artist Debora Sims crafted a black glass bead with a silver crescent moon and a spray of tiny white stars for the Beads of Courage “Beads in Space” charity. The bead was among 39 chosen to travel with the April 29 space shuttle mission.

Debora Sims of Branchburg is a bead artist who contributes to “Beads of Courage,” an arts-in- therapy program in hospitals for children who are undergoing long- term treatment for illnesses such as cancer, burns or sickle cell ane- mia. One of her beads was selected to go into space April 29 with the space shuttle Endeavour. Beads of Courage, based in Arizona, had the privilege of placing 39 beads on the shuttle, and Debora was thrilled that one of her creations was among them.

Under the Beads of Courage pro- gram (, when a child enters treatment, they get a cord with their name spelled out in beads. Each time they get a procedure done, they get a colored bead which represents that particu- lar treatment. For example, a white bead represents a chemotherapy in- fusion. If the child reaches a mile- stone, or undergoes a particularly difficult event, they are awarded a special bead handmade by art-

ists like Debora. A purple heart is awarded for completion of treat- ment. Most of the children have cords of beads 12 feet long. “Beads of Courage is a charity dear to my heart for more than one reason. Our oldest boy, Jason, lost his battle with leukemia in Febru- ary 1998. Jason’s dream was to be- come an astronaut,” Debora said. “Even though Beads of Courage did not exist at the time of Jason’s illness, I know how beneficial this kind of program can be for the kids. And making beads for the children brings me great joy and peace of heart. It is gratifying to know that I can still help other children like our Jason cope with the rigors of serious illness. Having my bead sent into space is. . . I’m sorry, words fail me. It’s something akin to sending a memory of him up there. . . among the stars with the astronauts.”

See Debora’s work at www.jer-

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Branchburg Lacrosse Opens in Hoboken – The Branchburg Lacrosse Club 3rd-4th grade team opened its 2011 season on Saturday, March 26 in Hoboken as guests of the nationally ranked Stevens Institute of Technol-

ogy Ducks. Branchburg resident Gene Peluso is the Stevens head coach and Branchburg’s Garrett Joyal is a freshman member of the squad. The youth players took part in a round robin tournament against the Nutley Raiders and Brooklyn Crescents. The photo above shows the Branchburg team as seen in a huge panorama photo of all tournament players. Branchburg team members are: Evan Barr, Mark Benaquista, Casey Bumgarner, Matt Cianfaro, Jack Corridon, Jack Dailey, Joey Furino, Patrick Hagerty, Gabe Harris, Brett Palmer, Patrick Peluso, Ben Philp, Ryan Pierson, Nolan Quade, Mikey Rosen, Max Rothschild, Ethan Russell, Michael Salvo, TJ Sanchez, Joe Shaub, Daniel Shen, James Toolan, Quinn Tovey, Julian Varona —item submitted by David Barr; photo by Mark Benaquista

Teacher Collaboration Seen As Way to Improve Schools

Traditionally, teachers work in isolation in their individual class- rooms. Students’ benefit and learn from the teacher they are assigned to. Now. the Branchburg Board of Education has committed to devel- op “Professional Learning Com- munities (PLCs), “ in the district. PLCs are a nationally recog- nized innovation that encourages teachers to collaborate to deter- mine what will be taught in a study unit, how it will be taught and what students need remediation or ac- celeration in the topic of study. PLCs are designed to raise student achievement and to give teachers the ability to work together to plan instruction.

Old York School Principal Mat- thew Barbosa wrote the following observations about PLCs: “One example of how PLCs are beginning to impact Branch- burg Schools and student learn- ing is at Old York School. First, a team from Old York joined other teachers and administrators from the district for training in PLCs. Following the training, the school schedule was changed to imbed time for teachers to collaborate and to provide a resource period for each grade level. the resource pe-

riod allows teachers to break down the students into grade level groups based on a specific need.

“At this time, teachers are us- ing their clarified expectations to determine student needs in writ- ing. They are planning to use their scheduled resource period to pro- vide students with support in the identified area with a teacher who has demonstrated success with this expectation of writing. The teams are scheduled to begin using the resource period to support specific

students needs shortly.

“The next step for the Teams is to design an assessment to mea- sure the identified area in writ- ing. These assessments help tar- get student learning, professional development and instruction. By next year, similar procedures will be used in all subject areas by all teachers K-8.”

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