Absegami ‘likes’ positive social media

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Absegami Principal Jeri-Lynn Gatto GALLOWAY – The principal of Absegami High School is determined to prepare students to properly use social media on the Internet.

“I’m promoting positive use of social media, Jeri-Lynn Gatto told The Current Tuesday, Aug. 21, with a copy on her desk of “lol…OMG!: What Every Student Needs to Know About Online Reputation Management, Digital Citizenship and Cyberbullying” by Matt Ivester.


“English teacher Greg Rynkiewicz will explain to kids appropriate ways to use Twitter,” Gatto said. “He’s going to use social media to give assignments.”

She said the Ivester book will be used in class.

“Kids need to know,” Gatto said. “They should be using Facebook in appropriate ways. They don’t realize it’s so public.”

She said that parents of incoming freshman are being told to read their offsprings’ Facebook pages.

“If we’re using technology. If we’re teaching technology,” Gatto said. “We need to teach them what’s appropriate.”

Gatto said she expects the project will expand through faculty meetings as other teachers come on board and take on the challenge of making students and parents more aware.

“There are potential employers reading your Facebook,” Gatto said. “Our students need to be very aware of that.”

The principal said she’s working with a very secure faculty.

Of 140 faculty members only eight are non-tenured, she said.

“New faculty include Amanda Baldgya, culinary teacher; Jonathan Porco, music teacher/band director; Cheryl Hullihen, special education teacher,” Gatto said. “There’s new school resource attendance officer Rich Huenke; and new secretary, Luz Pestritto.  We have two new supervisors, Lauren Gunther, supervisor of English, world language, reading and English language learners; and Jason Susko, supervisor of science.”

Building improvements for fall include a new digital alarm system.

“Roof repairs and HVAC replacement units will benefit running food service in the cafeteria,” Gatto said. “The library and two computer labs are completely upgraded. We’ve got Comcast broadband and iPads for special ed.”

World languages teacher Laura Barry won $25,000 in technology, according to the principal.

“That’s a big deal,” Gatto said. “She’ll be able to do a lot with that.”

A pet project for the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District which runs Absegami, Oakcrest High School in Hamilton Township and Cedar Creek High School in Egg Harbor City is a dual-credit program with Richard Stockton College.

“That’s expanded from math into AP biology,” Gatto said. “The students will get credit at Stockton. Our relationship with Stockton just grows.”

Technology training is also affected, Gatto said.

“We have revised the MS-Office course to include Google applications,” she said. “People expect you to be not only computer literate – but computer savvy.”

Abnormal psychology has been added as a class, she said.

“A teacher, Dan O’Brien, was very interested in it. And the kids bought into it,” Gatto said. “It’s another interesting course in psychology. It’s much more interesting to teenagers to study the whys of bad behavior rather than – say – child psychology.”

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