Daniel Layton


Principal's Message - 2022-2023


It is my pleasure to serve as the Proud Principal of Highlands Elementary School for a fifth year. I look forward to having the opportunity to continue moving Highlands Elementary forward in a direction that promotes student achievement, social emotional learning and safety. 


Along with the Highlands Board of Education, Dr. Beams and I are so excited to be unveiling the newest additions to our educational plan. This upcoming school year we are going to continue to build upon our Quest programming for enrichment learning, social emotional learning and differentiated education in each of our classrooms.  


The further enhancement of our innovative learning opportunities, lab and materials, will provide all of our students with high quality experiences that reinforce and enhance learning in all content areas.  All of our STEAM programming has been made possible by pivoting federal funding in a meaningful manner. This school year we will be unveiling a redeveloped Enrichment and Innovation Lab for our students to engage in authentic project based learning. In addition to our recently purchased, 3D printers, robotics equipment, coding software, virtual reality headsets/programming and STEAM kits to support a well rounded approach to project design and learning/experimenting through the use of high quality materials, we have also added green screen technology for digital production and a laser printer to further support youth entrepreneurship. All of these learning opportunities are available to all students through their weekly Enrichment and Innovation class. Additionally, students who are selected to participate in our EXCELerate program will receive approximately one to two periods a week of pull out enhanced learning opportunities. EXCELerate is anticipated to begin in October and conclude in June. If you are selected you will receive written correspondence inviting your child to participate. Participation in EXCELerate is voluntary and all students will be required to maintain their primary coursework with adequate proficiency throughout the entire school year. Another layer of our Quest programming titled Explorations will also be open to all students in grades 2-6. Students will have the opportunity to identify what they want to learn about, how to research, discover the topic of interest, create a hypothesis, and generate new knowledge, ideas, products, or solutions. These can be individual or small group passion or capstone projects. Students will engage in self paced projects with support from teachers and experts they choose. Culminating presentations will occur at the end of the school year. 

Social and emotional learning has been thriving at HES. This past school year, we have fully implemented and plan to continue with our school character education pillars. We also are welcoming a new part time Guidance Counselor to our staff to assist with student needs as they arise and to support SEL instruction in the classrooms. As Highlands Ospreys, we felt that embracing an acronym that related to our school mascot was crucial in supporting our culture of pride and tradition. The acronym selected is S.O.A.R (Safety, Overcome, Acceptance, Respect). Adopting a school wide character education program is crucial for students and their consistency as they transition from one grade level to the next.  This upcoming school year, students will be implementing our Feel Good Fridays to support SEL instruction and project based learning initiatives.  We are also continuing our partnership with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care to implement School and Community based programs to promote social and emotional wellness for all. 

As more federal funding sources become available, we anticipate that we will be able to provide extended day learning opportunities for our students in need. Participation in these academic after school programs will be invite only and the structure of a students program option will be determined by the severity of need. All students' academic learning will be reviewed at the onset of this upcoming school year using multiple measures. If your student is qualified, they will be invited to participate through written correspondence.  We are hopeful to provide small group instruction as well as 1:1 instructional opportunities for those students determined most “at risk.” The anticipated start dates and length of these programs will be determined by the amount of funding. More information regarding this will be provided throughout the 2022-2023 school year. 

The faculty and I continue to be so very proud of the hard work of our students, and we look forward to seeing continued academic growth.


We anticipate another school year of fun family events sponsored by the PTO as we had in previous years. I know that the events and fundraising opportunities will surely please all of our families. Your support by joining the PTO goes directly back to your children and their teachers through activities, events and supplies.

Highlands Elementary School continues to provide a quality education. Pride, Tradition and Excellence are the tenets, which have made Highlands Elementary the best it can be. We are very proud to be a part of its century old legacy.

Mr. Daniel Layton