Welcome to the Gateway School
The Gateway School of Carteret, NJ currently serves approximately 55 students from nineteen school districts representing five counties in central New Jersey. It is staffed with 42 dedicated special education instructional and support service professionals. The warmth and energy that permeate the school creates an outstanding learning environment to provide the students support and structure to grow and progress both academically and socially. The program currently serves children, adolescents and young adult students ranging in age from five years old up to twenty-one.
Of the 55 students approximately 70 % are classified as Multiply Disabled or Cognitively Impaired. Over 23% are students with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The remaining are students with learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury or other health impairments.
The goal of Gateway School is to provide an individualized learning environment that fosters the total development of each student and prepares them for future adult settings. We build academic skills, increase motivation and strive to bolster children’s self-esteem. Gateway School provides each child with a solid foundation that serves as the basis for future success. Gateway begins by establishing an important bond between parent, sending district, student and school staff. The experience of a Gateway School education offers a definite advantage in preparing students with disabling conditions to lead satisfying, productive and independent lives.
Principal, Gateway School
Spring is just around the corner and on Thursday, March 13th Gateway School will be having a single session day for students due to Parent -Teacher Conferences. Conferences will be held in the afternoon from 2-4 p.m. and in the evening from 6:30-8:30 p.m. so that parents/guardians may come and discuss their child's progress with their teachers and related service providers. Transportation will be provided for afternoon conferences on a first-come, first-serve basis.
On Friday, March 14th, students of all ages will participate in our Valentine’s/St. Patrick's Day Dance. The dance has been rescheduled due to a previous snow day and will be held at Harbor School. A DJ will be at the dance and our students will partake in festive treats and dance the afternoon away.
Continuing with our intra-mural sports activities this year, Gateway School will compete against students from Harbor and Alpha schools in a Floor Hockey tournament at the Center Circle in Rahway on Tuesday, March 25th. Competitions will include varsity, junior varsity and a girl’s team. GO GATORS!!
On Wednesday, April 2nd, Gateway School will be hosting a Transition Fair from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, in our multipurpose room. Representatives from Federal, State, and County Agencies will be here to answer questions about what services are available for your child now and when they graduate at age 21. For more information you can contact our Transition Coordinator, Pat Gutowski.
Gateway School will be closed for Spring Recess from Monday, April 14th to Friday, April 18th. Classes will resume on Monday, April 21st. This is a change from our original calendar due to the excessive snow days we have had this year. If we have additional snow days going forward, we may have to alter the school calendar once again so stay tuned.
On Wednesday, April 30th, we will be holding our Annual Gateway School Alumni Day. This year Alumni will have a chance to meet with future graduates, as well as their parents, to talk about what they have been doing since graduation and their experiences with adult service agencies. Following this discussion alumni will participate in an athletic event and then sit down for lunch to meet with former teachers and old friends to reminisce . If you know anyone who is a graduate of Gateway School and may not have been contacted for Alumni Day, please have them call Pat Gutowski at Gateway School (732)541-4400 so that we may add them to our mailing list.
Now that Spring is here we are enjoying the warm weather after the winter that hardly was. We used absolutely no Snow Days this winter meaning the last day of school for students will be on Friday, June 15th.
There are several exciting events coming up in the next few weeks for our students. For example we are holding our semi-annual Talent Show (our Gateway Idol!) on Tuesday, March 27th.
Also later on that week, on Wednesday, March 28th Gateway is holding a Transition Fair for parents and their son and daughters, as well as professionals in the Special Education community. We have literally dozens of agencies coming to share information about the crucial transition from school to adult life. Part of our mission is to bring information and resources to our families in order to prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead.
Ms. Uddin’s class took a Community-Based Instruction trip to Wegman’s in Woodbridge to explore the market and get a tour of the various departments. They utilized the school vans to make the short trip to the market and the entire activity lasted about 2 ½ hours. Another group of students has planned to go out on Friday, March 23rd to take a Community-Based Instruction trip to Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen in New Brunswick, NJ. One of the OTs – Fran Sobon – has designed an activity that has students preparing bag lunches and donating them to this worthwhile community organization. We received more good news this past week when we found out that the RKS Annual School prom that is typically held at Harbor School in Eatontown will be sponsored by our friends from Holiday Express! All three schools – Gateway, Harbor & Alpha – have been invited to Gibbs Hall (on the grounds of the old Fort Monmouth) to hold our prom in high style. Music and food and fun will once again be sponsored by all the wonderful volunteers under the awe-inspiring humanitarian Tim McLoone. Needless to say the students (and staff) our looking forward to what I am sure will be a magical day.
Pat Gutowski is currently our SLE (Structured Learning Experience) and Transition Coordinator whose primary focus is preparing our adolescent and young adult students to make the adjustment from school programs to adult services. Ms. “G”, as she is affectionately known by her students, is entering her 25th year here at Gateway School, having first started teaching here in 1987.
Initially Ms. Gutowski was in the classroom as a Teacher of the Handicapped working with students of all ages. Later she began to concentrate on the high school classes, and in the early ‘90’s we started talking about making important new changes in the school curriculum, such as implementing more community-based instruction, developing work sites outside of school where the students could learn real work skills, and conducting situational vocational assessments. Enthusiastic about the new direction, Ms. Gutowski changed her role from Teacher to Transition Coordinator. She began to investigate what does actually happen to our students after they graduate from Gateway. She started to learn more about the adult service system and sought out active participation from DDD case managers and DVR counselors to develop comprehensive transition plans for our young adults and those ready to graduate. She began networking with professionals and quickly developed good working relationships with other Transition Coordinators throughout the county and eventually the state.
Ms. Gutowski started using vocational interest inventories to determine students’ own interests, and with the input of teachers and family members, developed positive student profiles to focus on students’ strengths, especially in terms of their work skills and job behaviors. She began purchasing age-appropriate materials to teach students these skills so critical to future success in adult environments. She began reaching out to employers in the area to find work sites where our students could perform job shadowing in real work environments. Soon she had developed a comprehensive program to teach our students the value of work, both in school and in community-based locations.
She began working closely with our high school teachers, coaching them on the importance of preparing our young adults and adolescents for transition and the world of work. At the beginning of each school year now, Ms. Gutowski in-services the teachers on how to develop transition plans that are meaningful, relevant and pragmatic. She develops in-school work jobs and on a daily basis goes out to the work sites with our employment specialists.
Outside of the school program Ms. Gutowski continued to network with other educational professionals throughout the state and the country. A few years ago she was elected to the national board of APSE (Association for Persons in Supported Employment), and currently, she continues to serve on the NJAPSE Board of Directors. She continues to represent our school and New Jersey every year at the APSE conferences, both at the state and national level. Just recently Ms. Gutowski was asked to participate on a new statewide committee – the New Jersey Employment First Initiative, which believes everyone, even those with disabling conditions, can become employed.
Ms. Gutowski embodies all of the best characteristics of a dedicated educator and human service professional, displaying compassion and a vision of transforming society to a better place in which people of differing abilities are treated with respect and dignity and allowed to reach for the stars. She is a tremendous asset to our program and we are fortunate to have her on our team!