Principal's Message, Mr. Shane Schwarz

  • Sussex Middle School is committed to working with our partners in the Sussex-Wantage community in order to achieve our goals. We support and challenge our students so that they have the opportunity to achieve their personal best academically, emotionally, and socially in order to help them develop all the skills that they need to lead successful and productive lives.

    Sussex Middle School teaches grades six through eight. Our teachers are highly qualified in their subject areas and are dedicated to ensuring a positive learning experience for all of their students. Our staff uses an array of instructional strategies and methodologies to create a student-centered environment. These strategies include differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, integration of technology, authentic assessments/problem-based learning, and the teaching of research skills. Academic core classes include language arts, math, social studies, and science. The students’ learning is rounded out with instruction in music, chorus, art, Spanish, physical education, and health.

    A new initiative this year at the Sussex Middle School is the implementation of Focus classes. Situated in the middle of the day, these periods tailor instruction to student’s individual learning goals. Our aim is to provide each student with the appropriate focus of instruction to help them reach their full academic potential. Students, depending on demonstrated needs, were enrolled in one or two of the following course options: Focus: Basic Skills Instruction, Focus: Study Skills, and/or Focus: STEM. These classes have been enhanced with the use of newly purchased chrome books which the students utilize to collaborate on a myriad of projects. Gaining access to Google apps has provided our students with an opportunity to explore technology in ways they have never done before.  


    This year we have also instituted a Reading and Writing Workshop model. This program fosters a love of reading and allows each child to reach his or her full potential. Students are actively engaged in authentic reading and writing experiences on a daily basis, while teachers continuously conference with all students assessing their progress and providing targeted instruction.

    Furthermore, specialized instruction is provided to students with learning disabilities. In-class support, resource room, and self contained teaching are utilized in order to benefit our students. Further, students are scheduled with a speech therapist, occupational therapist, and/or physical therapist, as appropriate.

    To facilitate and support these programs, Sussex Middle School provides a guidance counselor and a Child Study Team, which includes the roles of school psychologist, social worker, and learning disabilities teacher’s consultant (LDTC). These professionals consult with students, teachers, and parents in order to address all needs of our students.

    The faculty and staff are committed to the idea of practicing the concept of life-long learners. To this end, we have incorporated and practice the idea of this school being a professional learning community (PLC). A PLC is a group of people that share a common vision and goal. They meet collaboratively in order to discuss, learn about, and implement strategies to attain that goal. The middle school staff continues to refine this practice as we move forward.


    This year we have also instituted grade level teams. These teams meet daily and focus on creating formative and summative assessments, engaging parents, analyzing student data, sharing innovative teaching techniques, coordinating units of study, maintaining team websites, and participating in child study team meetings. Grade level teams give our students a sense of belonging. They understand that a group of teachers is invested in their academic, social, and emotional growth. This sense of community results in success for students, both in, and out of the classroom.

    In addition to academics, our students also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. These include athletic, scholastic, and community based programs. Athletically the school offers field hockey, cross country, basketball, cheerleading, track, intramural bowling, and intramural volleyball. The scholastic and community based programs include National Junior Honor Society, Student Council, Spring Musical, and Builder’s Club. In addition, some of our partners in the community also come into our school and offer tremendous learning experiences for our students.


    Our PTO is extremely active and committed to being a partner in working with our school to benefit students. They are critical in the area of fund raising to supplement the total instructional program of the students. They organize an extremely successful Book Fair annually to sponsor the purchasing of classroom supplies, assemblies, and instructional materials.


    The Sussex Middle School’s administration is committed to opening and improving opportunities for the students and staff of the school to meet success. Our school continues to follow its mission and vision of providing an academically, physically, socially, and emotionally safe environment for students to learn. We continue to look at creative ways of offering specific, targeted staff development and scheduling classes and teachers to enhance student learning opportunities. We ensure that all of our teachers’ lesson planning is in line with district curricula and that the curricula are in line with New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards and/or the Common Core Curricula.

    The administration, along with our guidance counselor, investigates every report of bullying. Appropriate measures, both proactive and reactive, are implemented to try to eliminate all present and future incidents of bullying behavior. Another one of our community partners, New Jersey Child Assault Prevention, provides our students with a program that also aims at reducing the incidences of bullying.

    We believe that through our diverse array of staff development, developmentally appropriate learning experiences, instructional strategies, and commitment to the safety of our students, we are providing the tools that our students need to be successful in the 21st century.


    Shane Schwarz

    Sussex Middle School
    10 Loomis Avenue
    Sussex, NJ 07461
    Phone: (973) 875-4138