Joshua Enyeart, who made news earlier this year when he went public with the district’s plans to reduce Journalism at Columbia High School to a half-year, non-graduation-credit course, has resigned. Enyeart will leave the South Orange-Maplewood School District in January to begin teaching at a private special needs school in Little Falls, NJ.
In a statement to Village Green, Enyeart called teaching at CHS post COVID “a sapping and soul-sucking, flat-tail spin of an experience, but students and community members … have been the reason why I stayed.”
“I’m excited to move on to a more supportive, stable, and safer work environment,” added Enyeart. “That being said, I’m incredibly proud of all the students I’ve worked with over the years at CHS and I wish the best for The Columbian, it’s staff, and [new faculty advisor] Jen Dalton.”
Before the 2023-24 school year, Enyeart taught the full-year Journalism course for 10 years, often teaching multiple sections. He also was co-advisor to The Columbian, along with Cindy Malhotra, when the paper won a 1st place award from the American Scholastic Press Association as one of the best student-run high school newspapers in the nation for six consecutive years from 2015-2020. (The paper won a second place designation earlier this year.)
Enyeart’s resignation, which was accepted by the Board of Education in the personnel resolution at the November 30 meeting, follows on the departure of 25-year CHS English Language Arts teacher Joseph Lombardo, who resigned in September. Lombardo had served as advisor to The Columbian in recent years and was teaching the revamped full-year Journalism course this year. The district hired Sara Glemaud to replace Lombardo in late September. Longtime CHS teacher Jennifer Dalton is now serving as faculty advisor to The Columbian.
In March, Enyeart went public with the district’s plans to reduce Journalism to a half-year course that did not fulfill ELA credits for graduation. He inspired a petition and impassioned pleas from current and former students. District officials argued that the course did not meet state requirements.
After intense pressure from alumni and the community, the district agreed to restore Journalism as a full-year course but revamped the curriculum to include more literary analysis in order to meet state requirements for graduation credits. The district reported in a news release that “all ELA Department members – teachers and administrators – had the opportunity to help write the new curriculum for the class.”
Despite the restoration of the course, Enyeart has expressed concerns that it is no longer a working journalism course that feeds into The Columbian and that it has attracted only one section of approximately 10 students. Over the years, Enyeart said the course attracted scores of students annually and as many as seven sections (in 2019-20) with some taught by now-retired ELA teacher Janet Bustrin.
“I have no reason to believe the district cares about journalism the way they’re advertising considering the way they handled this whole affair,” Enyeart told Village Green in a statement, “from the board [of education], to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, to the ELA supervisor. [ELA Supervisor] Jane Bean Folks was cutting the program without ever speaking to or including me before the decision was made. Hell, I didn’t even get a heads up that there was talk about anything happening in the first place.” Enyeart said that due to various factor (outlined in his full statement below), he did not participate in rewriting the Journalism curriculum.
In an interview facilitated by District Communications Director Paul Brubaker, new faculty advisor Jen Dalton said that The Columbian remained a robust club — with 40-50 members — and thanked Lombardo and CHS alumna Hannah Gross for helping to smooth the transition.
“I was sitting in with Joe [Lombardo] from the beginning of the year, ” said Dalton. “He had informed us that he was likely leaving and wanted to make sure the club didn’t fall by the wayside.”
Dalton says the club meets once a week as the paper gets going, then as often as needed as each issue comes together, with reporters working with editors. Dalton noted that Lombardo had shared the report card from the 2nd place award by the American Scholastic Press Association in order to help guide the club in meeting the ASPA’s standards.
Dalton also shared that two superstar alumnae of CHS have been lending a hand.
“I’m working with alumna Hannah Gross who was at the University of Pennsylvania with Hadriana Lowenkron.”
Gross graduated from CHS in 2019 and Penn in 2023; Lowenkron is a 2018 CHS graduate and 2022 Penn graduate. At Penn, Lowenkron was the editor of The Daily Pennsylvania; she now works for Bloomberg News.
Gross is now covering education and child welfare for NJ Spotlight News via a partnership with Report for America. “Part of her job is to give back two hours a week with youth news,” said Dalton, adding that Gross has been meeting with the club each week. “It’s a perfect, sent-from-heaven gift,” said Dalton. “I don’t really have experience with the club, and she has been an invaluable resource for the whole club.” Dalton reports that Gross recently brought Lowenkron in via zoom to “talk to the kids.”
Reached for comment, Lowenkron wrote to Village Green, “Mr. Enyeart was an invaluable teacher at CHS and I have no doubt he’ll continue to make an impact on his students’ lives wherever he goes next.” Gross declined to comment due to her role at The Columbian.
As a followup to the Dalton interview, Brubaker sent the following statement: “The administrators at the District and Columbia High School greatly appreciate the dedication and accomplishments of Josh Enyeart and Joe Lombardo and thank them for their service. Looking forward, we have every confidence in Jennifer Dalton as faculty advisor to The Columbian. She is a 28-year veteran teacher who has an institutional understanding of what the student newspaper is capable of achieving. We are also very fortunate to have Sara Glemaud who applied to teach the redesigned journalism course that fulfills the ELA requirement for graduation. Both teachers are dedicated to developing our students’ understanding of the skills and ethics required to be a good journalist.”
Full statement from Joshua Enyeart:
I have no reason to believe the district cares about journalism the way they’re advertising considering the way they handled this whole affair- from the board, to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, to the ELA supervisor. [ELA Supervisor] Jane Bean Folks was cutting the program without ever speaking to or including me before the decision was made. Hell, I didn’t even get a heads up that there was talk about anything happening in the first place. She was consistently evasive to my questions and hopelessly vague when she did respond, and she never once (still to this day) actually showed me what was driving the demand for these changes. She just said they needed to happen and wouldn’t discuss it beyond that point. [CHS Principal] Frank Sanchez ended up meeting with me but those meetings were fruitless as he was simply passing along what Jane sent him. I appreciate that he took the time to have them but those conversations went nowhere.
The board was reflexive to a vocal community. The kids, alumni, parents, and others involved in the petition made it clear they were unhappy with the proposed changes so the board responded. Had the community not stepped up the way they did I don’t think the board would have listened to me or engaged me in conversation. Heck, even after the petition caught the ear of the board the only way I was included was being told to rewrite the curriculum by Jane. Between being so angry at that point, the absurd deadlines I was given to write the curriculum, and SOMEA stepping in to say that it wasn’t a contractual ask (writing the curriculum that is), I ended up not doing it.
CHS has always been a challenging place to work, and post COVID it’s been a sapping and soul-sucking, flat-tail spin of an experience, but students and community members like the ones who helped usher the petition to the board have been the reason why I stayed. The students I’ve worked with over the years were all I needed to ignore the constant din and clamor of the everything happening outside of my classroom. I’m stealing a quote I heard from another educator here but “working as a teacher in that building is like staying in a bad marriage – you stay in it for the kids.”
I’m excited to move on to a more supportive, stable, and safer work environment. That being said, I’m incredibly proud of all the students I’ve worked with over the years at CHS and I wish the best for The Columbian, it’s staff, and Jen Dalton.