by Toms River Schools
TOMS RIVER, NJ-In spring 2017 the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation, led by philanthropist Edele Hovnanian, made a $255,000 investment in Toms River Regional Schools, funding a Real Estate and Business Incubator at High School South and an Anatomy & Physiology Lab at High School East, part of the schools’ respective Business and STEAM Academies. On Friday, Jan. 18, Edele Hovnanian was able to see the fully-formed model spaces, and the fruits of her investment.
Beginning at HSS’s state-of-the-art Business Incubator, Ms. Hovnanian– joined by HSS Principal Mike Citta, Superintendent David Healy, Board Vice President Russell Corby, and other school and district administrators– witnessed a student-led class managed by teacher Ron Zenker. In the sizable redesigned space that features flexible, collaborative furniture, an interactive display, and even a stock market ticker board, students presented group projects and then convened to a “Socratic circle,” where they discussed, with varying opinions, a number of business, political, and social topics.
HSS students then presented Ms. Hovnanian– who was clearly impressed with the space she helped fund and its positive impact on classroom discussion– with a signed photo thanking her for the classroom.
From there, Ms. Hovnanian visited the Anatomy & Physiology Lab at HSE which, thanks to her investment, was transformed from an outdated and inefficient space to a streamlined, bright, flexible classroom. Inside she witnessed a class led by Amanda Gregorek and Marybeth Kretz, which broke into groups, allowing Ms. Hovnanian the chance listen in on peer discussions and to interact directly with students. On behalf of the students and school, Principal Pat Thomas presented Ms. Hovnanian with flowers and a plaque thanking her for her generosity and support.
At the conclusion of her site visits, Ms. Hovnanian joined administrators to discuss the future of her partnership with the district. All in all, it was a fulfilling, productive day where an invaluable district partner was able to witness her generous investment manifested in the smiling faces of students.