TOMS RIVER – Toms River Regional School District has received grant awards from the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation in support of two high-impact Career Academy initiatives.
Edele Hovnanian heads the foundation established by her parents and which has as part of its core mission the support of health, educational, and charitable programs throughout New Jersey, with a focus on Monmouth and Ocean counties. After reviewing an in-depth and custom proposal that outlined the district’s short- and long-term goals, including its upcoming Career Academies, Hovnanian opted to invest $125,000 in the district’s Real Estate Incubator and $130,000 in its Anatomy and Physiology Lab for the 2017-2018 school year.
“Catching the attention of such a prestigious and nationally recognized organization as the Hovnanian’s is remarkable,” said Superintendent David Healy, “But most importantly an affirmation of our school district’s many efforts to improve instruction and create opportunities for our students to excel in college and careers. We are immensely grateful for Ms. Hovnanian’s support, which is an investment in our children as well as the long-term economic and cultural health of the entire Toms River community.”
As part of the Business Academy at High School South, the Real Estate Incubator will offer a direct career path, helping students develop a passion for a lucrative, challenging, satisfying, and constantly evolving industry. Students will learn about real estate ethics, listing services, the nature of markets, licenses, mortgages, marketing, contracting fields, and more from qualified teachers and local professionals. The Incubator remains true to the district’s integrated learning philosophy, and blends market science with tech, engineering, art, and math. Students will work with and even create mobile real estate apps, client portfolios, and databases; get introduced to applicable and rewarding trades; and produce 3D home tours, home photography portfolios, and podcasts that cover market trends. The Real Estate Incubator will in turn produce more qualified local real estate professionals and contractors, and more informed future home and business owners.
The Anatomy and Physiology Lab will anchor the biomedical strand at the STEAM Academy of High School East. The grant will support a state-of-the-art lab with anatomy models, appropriate technology, digital and physical resources, and science-oriented furniture, to be used by all students in the School of Biomedicine, as well as others studying the biological sciences. The Lab and its curriculum are supported by existing and developing district partnerships with local medical institutions such as Hackensack Meridian. Over time, the district will track cohorts of students to see how many enter local medical fields and college programs.
College and career readiness define the direction of Toms River Regional Schools in 2017 and beyond, and is an initiative fully supported by its Board of Education. The Hovnanian Foundation grants address a number of Board-approved district goals including student achievement, budget, and facilities.
“Ms. Hovnanian is herself a reflection of real world experience, education, and the success that combination engenders,” said Board President Ben Giovine. “Simply put, these awards will enable more of our students to be college and career ready when they graduate, which is the core of our district’s mission. These grants are even more significant because, coming from Ms. Hovnanian, they say to our students, ‘You can achieve great success, and you can do it right here in Ocean County.’”
Both the school district and the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation envision these awards as the beginning of a longstanding relationship. Successful implementation of these programs at their respective academies in 2017-2018 may lead to their establishment at each high school in the coming years. Toms River Schools’ long-term goal is to host all three Career Academies at each high school.
“There are so many kids who graduate college and say, ‘Now what?’” said Edele Hovnanian. “I think the earlier you start figuring out what you want you do, the better chance you have to be successful. Our students need real-world, legitimate options.” The philanthropist and foundation director acknowledged that the district’s efforts in innovation helped earn her investment. “Others need to start looking at the ingenuity of what Toms River is doing,” Hovnanian said.
Support from the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation highlights the notable impact of grant funding on the district. Now that the 2016-2017 school year has come to a close, Toms River Regional Schools has been awarded nearly $625K in federal, state, and private funding that supports a wide array of Board-approved goals and district initiatives including literacy, transportation, arts-integration, active learning, environmental science, and college and career readiness.