Below is a letter from 21 Camden City leaders who are voicing their support for Camden Schools Superintendent Katrina McCombs. They note the “tremendous growth” in the public schools over the past five years, including a graduation rate that has risen 20 points under her leadership, increases in student performance in reading and math, and the investment of more than $465 million in school facilities. “Together in Camden,” they write, we are creating a brighter future for our students.”
March 24, 2021
We hope this letter finds you safe and healthy.
We are writing to acknowledge and commend the accomplishments of Camden Superintendent Katrina T. McCombs.
Over the last five years, we have seen tremendous growth in our public schools. Our graduation rate has risen 20 points, student performance in reading and math has increased each year, and over $465 million has been invested in school facilities. This fall, Camden City School District’s brand new $133 million, state-of-the-art Camden High School will open its doors in Parkside. Together, in Camden, we are creating a brighter future for our students.
Today, you as parents, enjoy a variety of public school options and are empowered to pick the school that is best for their child. That decision and choice belongs solely to the parent.
Superintendent McCombs is a 30-year educator. She has seen our District from multiple angles over these three decades, including as a teacher, a principal, the Director of the Early Childhood Department, the Deputy Superintendent, and now, Superintendent. There is no substitute for this experience.
Superintendent McCombs is a graduate of Camden High School, Lehigh University, and Teacher’s College at Columbia University. She is a talented, committed, and grounded leader, and we are extraordinarily lucky to have her leading here at home.
Thank you, Superintendent McCombs, for your example, your leadership, and your commitment to putting the children of Camden first. Thank you for returning home to take care of your own.
Under the leadership of Superintendent McCombs, Camden City School District has:
- Launched a gifted and talented program for students across the district. Our district had not had such a program in over ten years.
- Provided every K-12 student in Camden with a laptop to facilitate remote learning during the pandemic, making Camden a model for the rest of the state and even the nation. Superintendent McCombs was among the first to call out this issue –rightly naming it an equity issue — as soon as the pandemic closed schools. Her quick action to address the digital divide earned positive national attention for Camden, including coverage on CNN.
- Provided hundreds of thousands of meals during the pandemic, serving 25,000 meals per week with 16 pickup locations and a delivery option. Camden City School District earned the #1 spot in meals served out of the 240 districts in its region.
- Provided academic and social emotional resources to families via regular “In the House” learning sessions that cover topics such as Google Classroom, School Based Youth Services programs, Academic Parent Teacher Teams, and How to Support Your Child’s Academic and Social Emotional Learning at Home. Sessions are offered virtually and can be watched live or taped.
- Led a comprehensive, inclusive, and transparent long-term school planning process anchored on the question on how the district can be best structured to provide the strongest opportunities for students. The planning process opened in June 2020 with a public call for committee members and continued with 18 meetings over the course of 6 months, including planning committee meetings, community input sessions, and community forums. Meetings were attended by families, educators, Board members, City Council members, faith leaders, and more.
- Kept the $133 million construction of Camden High School on-track, despite the pandemic. The building will open this fall to students from Camden High School, Brimm Medical Arts, Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy, and Big Picture Learning Academy. We cannot wait for our students to enter this beautiful facility.
- Launched the Welcome Center at the Veterans Memorial School, through the Labor Management Collaborative with DOE and in partnership with New Jersey Education Association, Camden Education Association, and the Department of Education. The Welcome Center offers program and resource offerings, adult literacy workshops and supports placement into language assistance programs.
- Promoted equity and access for immigrant and Spanish-speaking families by partnering with ImmSchools and The Latino Spirit to provide staff and family workshops and to ensure live Spanish interpretation of Board meetings. Approximately 30% of students speak Spanish as their primary language at home.
- Launched a new college preparation program to open college doors for high school students and support students in the transition to college. The program includes participants from all district high schools and offers the opportunity for students to take college courses, earn college credits, and develop college-ready skills.
- Partnered with community leaders to enable Yorkship school to serve as a warming center during Code Blue. The building was used around-the-clock for nearly a month to provide shelter, meals, clothing, and case management assistance to those in need.
- Partnered with the Camden County Health Department to offer free, walk-up Covid-19 testing at three district school sites: Cooper’s Poynt, Veterans, and Brimm. These testing sites were utilized by hundreds of Camden residents, promoting safety and limiting Covid-19 spread in our community.
Camden City is proud of the outstanding accomplishments of Superintendent McCombs.
Francisco “Frank” Moran Mayor, City of Camden
Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Senator, Fifth Legislative District
William F. Moen, Jr., Assemblyman, Fifth Legislative District
William E. Spearman, Assemblyman, Fifth Legislative District
Pastor Jose Martinez, Congregación De Yahweh
Pastor William Heard, Kaighns Ave. Baptist Church
The Rev. Chris Collins, Anointed New Journal
Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, Sheriff, Camden County
Curtis Jenkins, President, Camden City Council
Marilyn Torres, Vice President, Camden City Council
Shaneka Boucher, Councilwoman, Camden City
Victor Carstarphen, Councilman, Camden City
Sheila Davis, Councilwoman, Camden City
Angel G. Fuentes, Councilman, Camden City
Minister Wasim Muhammad, President, Camden Board of Education
Theresa Atwood, Member, Camden Board of Education
Nyemah Gillespie, Member, Camden Board of Education
Clayton Gonzalez, Member, Camden Board of Education
Falio Leyba-Martinez, Member, Camden Board of Education
Karen Merricks, Member, Camden Board of Education
Pastor Odessa Edmond, Hope Community Outreach