Corrections or additions?
These articles by Fran Ianacone, Bart Jackson, Jack Florek, were
prepared for the April 12, 2006 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
Ever think about making extra money by working as a substitute
teacher, but aren’t sure you’ve got the moxie to lead and control a
classroom of 22 students?
For the serious or the curious, the school of continuing education at
Mercer County Community College offers an eight-week course, "Becoming
a Substitute Teacher," starting on Monday, April 17, at 7 p.m. Cost:
$180. Call 609-586-9446.
Julia Larkin, who has taught the substitute teaching course for four
years, also taught literacy in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps, as well
as in a public school in the Bronx. "I love teaching this course," she
says. "I think it’s a great class, and it seems like the people who
take it really enjoy it. I get wonderful people from many walks of
life who are really interested in teaching."
Some of her students are pursuing a degree in education, while others
are considering it. Some stay-at-home moms who enjoyed helping out in
their child’s classroom develop an interest in substituting, while
others are either changing careers or questioning their present job’s
security. Some are childcare professionals or nannies. Others are
retired seniors hankering for a new career. Few people are doing it
for the money – the pay scale for substitutes varies by district but
usually is in the $75 to $100 a day range.
Having earned a dual master’s degree in 2001 from Columbia University
in international educational development and in specialized curriculum
and teaching, Larkin shows the influence of both disciplines when she
points out that "in Ethiopia, it’s the same as it was here for most of
the 20th century – autocratic. But here we’ve changed culturally over
the past few decades. In my opinion, it is not necessarily the best
approach to teaching to rule with an iron fist."
Larkin and her three brothers grew up in Hamilton with their father,
Jack Larkin, a state employee, and their mother, Barbara, a first
grade teacher currently on leave in West Windsor. Larkin met her
husband, Seamus Dowling, in Ethiopia, where he was also stationed with
the Peace Corps. Together they taught in the Bronx for four years
before moving to Hamilton in 2002, where they live with their daughter
Jillian, and son, Shane. Dowling teaches sixth grade social studies at
the Thomas R. Grover middle school in West Windsor.
Perhaps the most valuable part of Larkin’s course is the mental
preparation for what the substitutes will encounter, and an awareness
of how things are done.
"Today we try to work with the students, instead of disciplining
them," says Larkin. "The days of `Do as I say and be quiet,’ that we
remember from our childhood are over. That is not the way it’s done
these days. We now know the benefit of allowing children to be at the
center of their own learning. As the saying goes: `they are not a
vessel to be filled, but a lamp to be lit.’ We encourage students to
question, make decisions, and explore. The responsibility of the
substitute is to facilitate, organize, keep to the routine, and be
vibrant and engaging."
The course introduces students to changes in the classroom, including
diversity, accommodations for special needs students, and the need to
manage by walking around.
"We require everyone to create and lead a 10-minute lesson in front of
the group," says Larkin. "If they come from a background of public
speaking or making presentations, they’re fine. But some of my
students don’t have that experience, and it’s daunting. People are
reluctant at first, but it increases their self-confidence."
The only prerequisite for taking the course is proof of 60 college
credits, the equivalent of two years of college. The state also
requires those 60 credits before awarding certification, so it’s best
to know that up-front.
While Mercer County requires very specific documentation before
certifying substitutes, once granted, the substitute is qualified in
each of the county’s school districts. To get that certification, the
county expects a completed application, a form permitting a criminal
history/background check, fingerprinting, an official college
transcript, and a $75 money order.
In addition some, but not all, schools require a physical exam,
provided at no cost by the district medical doctor.
Larkin says that the biggest challenge for substitutes is the class
management aspect, because management is more difficult than
discipline. "I get many requests to teach a course focused solely on
management techniques," she says. "It’s hard to walk into someone
else’s classroom where you don’t know the routine, don’t know names,
and don’t know who leaves for reading, but stays for math. You also
don’t know which students will assist you, and which will sabotage
you, although teachers usually leave a note relaying this information.
"I liken it to the Mommy Swap show," she continues. "It’s as if you
were dropped into someone else’s house and expected to keep everything
running smoothly. You don’t know the routines and patterns of the
classroom, and how everything goes. On top of that, today’s classroom
can be loud and messy, and some people equate loud with out of
control. It could mean that the students are energetic and excited
about what they’re learning. It doesn’t necessarily mean the classroom
Here are some tips for the classroom newbie:
Get there early and set everything up. Carry the schedule on a
clipboard to keep from being tethered to the desk.
Review the lesson plan and teacher’s instructions. Most teachers leave
explicit instructions such as start and end times for lessons. They
specify page numbers, and provide piles of handouts and work books.
Stick to the routine. If math comes before science every day, there’s
Praise positive behavior. Use a student’s good behavior as an example.
Work at "catching" someone doing well, and point out the behavior.
Keep things moving. "Teachers leave very specific lesson plans, and
since students will have had substitutes approximately 10 percent of
their school life, it’s important to keep the lessons moving."
Larkin shares actual lesson plans to prepare the students for the real
world. "I tell them no one walks in as a perfect substitute," she
says. "I use my own past mistakes as examples. If you make a mistake
it’s okay. Just do the best you can. I can only prepare them up to a
point, after that it’s the on-the-job experience that counts."
– Fran Ianacone
Tuesday, April 18
Small businesses and cash crunches go together like rising Fed rates
and higher cost loans. It’s always something. Customers take their
time paying. Commodity prices jump. Foreign shipments are delayed,
thereby pushing back production schedules. All too often there is a
real need for a quick cash infusion. Since 2001 an increasing number
of technology businesses have found that infusion coming, believe it
or not, from the state government.
New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) now allows
qualifying high-tech and bio-tech companies to sell off the potential
tax deductions from their net operating losses (NOLs) to other
in-state corporations in need of those very deductions.
There are rules attached to this transfer and the New Jersey
Technology Council explains them in a workshop taking place on
Tuesday, April 18, at 9 a.m. at the Technology Center of New Jersey at
675 Route 1 in North Brunswick. Cost: $40. Visit www.njtc.org to
register. Panelists for the event, titled "Selling Your Net Operating
Losses," include Jay Shah, CFO of the East Windsor-based software
development company, CareGain (www.caregain.com); John Rosenfeld,
assistant director of program services for the NJEDA; Iris Chung, tax
manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers; and Will Steffens, area development
For over two decades, Shah has been worrying over and struggling to
manipulate the cash flow of various companies – both his own and
others. Born and raised in Bombay, India, Shah crossed the Pacific to
attend New York University, earning a bachelor’s in accounting in
l980. After earning his MBA from Columbia University, he took his
accounting and business skills to several publishing firms along the
East Coast. At one point he was CEO of Buckle Down Publishers in
For the past year Shah has served as CareGain’s CFO. As a developer of
custom software systems for the healthcare industry, CareGain
qualifies both as a "provider of emergency service" and as a
"new/expanding technology or biotechnology company," two of the
designations required for New Jersey’s Tax Benefit Transfer Program.
CareGain’s decision to mortgage their future tax savings for quick
cash now was, for Shah, the right and obvious choice. "We simply
needed the capital to meet our operating expenses this year," he says.
"The sale gave us what we needed with the least risk and allowed us to
Buying time. CareGain’s operating profile made the company an ideal
candidate for the program. Developing software involves intensive (and
expensive) manpower, but it may not yield a profit for a long time.
Even after the product is finally ready, it does not move quickly off
a retailer’s shelf, with quick cash returns. Instead, each software
package is individually installed by CareGain staff, which translates
into a slow, drawn out payback. So, even in its fifth year, the firm
faces long dry spells.
Lowering pay-back strain. As opposed to hunting for VC funding or
applying for a loan, Shah applied to the NJEDA, reasoning that the Tax
Benefit Transfer Program would provide a lower pay-back strain and
less intrusion from outside sources.
"You are getting money from a sale of your deductions, but it is not
at all free money," says Shah. After CareGain’s application was
approved by the NJEDA, Shah hired a specialized, independent
accounting firm to determine exactly what operating expenses could be
declared as tax losses. Technically, any time a business’ deductions
exceed its income, it can claim a net operating loss (NOL) and it can
carry that loss forward or back, applying it to years with a net gain.
In the Tax Benefit Transfer Program, however, only unused losses to be
carried forward may be sold. Under the same program, companies may
also sell their Research and Development Tax Credits, dating back to
January 1, l999. The seller pays a flat fee to the NOL auditor. Then,
if the seller can successfully hawk his tax deductible NOLs, the
purchasing company will pay the seller a preset rate of 75 cents for
each dollar of usable NOL.
Creating a win-win situation. While the party selling NOLs gets only
75 percent of their value, minus auditor fees, remember that these are
tax deductions traded in for real dollars – in hand, today. Shah was
thrilled with the deal.
Not surprisingly, the largest purchaser of tax benefits such as
CareGain’s, is PSE&G. Energy companies have harvested a bumper crop of
taxable profits this year, which they would like to shelter. PSE&G
qualifies as a state-residing S or C type corporation, and meets other
legislative strictures. As a result, it may purchase NOLs up to 50
percent of its actual tax liability. These are applied, dollar for
dollar, against the company’s own tax bill, at the same rate as would
have been used by the selling company.
Helping out New Jersey. It doesn’t much matter to the state’s tax
coffers whether a legitimate tax deduction gets subtracted from
CareGain’s tax liability or from PSE&G’s. Further, by ensuring that
companies like CareGain can continue and expand, the state has hopes
of gleaning even more tax income as the firm grows. More taxes, more
new technology, more emergency services provided in the state: it’s a
Federal limits. Many of the high tech companies, particularly
dot-coms, which recently rose and suddenly crashed, have lying within
their rubble excellent, usable technology and top-notch talent. They
also have huge operating loss statements, which have set their more
healthy counterparts salivating with the urge for acquisition. But
beware. The potential for applying a newly-purchased firm’s NOL to
your own tax statement is extremely limited according to the federal
tax code. The federal tax code currently allows that, at best, a mere
5 percent of the newly acquired company’s NOLs can be used as
In the end, Shah made the right move for CareGain. As of January,
2006, CareGain experienced every software developer’s dream outcome.
It was purchased by the Fiserv Inc., a complete medical administrative
service provider, which is based in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, CareGain
is planning to keep the plant located in East Windsor, with virtually
all its current staff. The proceeds from its NOL sale helped to keep
it afloat and healthy until the acquisition was complete.
– Bart Jackson
Wednesday, April 19
To paraphrase a famous contemporary adage: conflict happens. But what
businesses and corporations do when it does happen can make all the
difference in the world. "People often come to my course with the
expectation that they can somehow eliminate conflict," says Leigh
Isleib, former human resource executive at Permacell. "But conflict is
going to happen, and when it does it’s important to develop the good
things that can emerge out of a conflict situation."
Isleib leads a five-session course on "How to Manage Conflicts Within
an Organization" at Mercer County Community College, starting on
Wednesday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m. Designed by the American Management
Association, it is part of a certificate program in project
management, and is also offered as a standalone course. Cost: $270.
"There are usually people there who are currently working in clerical
or low management positions and are interested in strengthening their
skills for advancement," says Isleib.
According to Isleib, there are two main types of conflict that
regularly occur within organizations and businesses. The first, and
the one most easily rectified, is structural conflict. "You often will
have structural conflict when you have one department in an
organization that is treated differently than another," says Isleib.
"Employees tend to learn about this situation through casual cafeteria
conversation. One department might get away with more than another and
this can be a poison to a work environment."
The key to resolving this sort of conflict is to bring in the human
resources department as quickly as possible in order to provide a
baseline for the discussion. "The important thing is that everybody
needs to be on the same page and feel they are being treated in the
same way," says Isleib. "You try to come up with ways to resolve it
early so that it doesn’t fester into a situation that is untenable in
the business environment."
The other form of conflict is the interpersonal variety and, says
Isleib, this can be a bit trickier to settle. "Often this type of
conflict occurs when somebody walks into the room and you just don’t
like him," he says. "But really, I’ve seen this type of conflict take
on forms too numerous to count."
The key to settling interpersonal conflict is to allow human resources
to hold an honest discussion with the parties involved firmly based on
the reality of the situation. "Serve as a mediator by sitting down
with the folks, discuss what the problem is, and try to get everyone’s
opinion," says Isleib. The final answer usually boils down to the
simple fact that co-workers do not need to be buddies. "Building that
all important work relationship is imperative even though the
relationship may not go any further," he says, "and in fact you
probably don`t want it to go any further."
Often combatants, and those who try to counsel them, forget to get the
HR department involved early in the conflict situation. "So many folks
wait until the last step when they want to fire somebody," says
Isleib. "That is absolutely wrong. You have to build a case, a paper
trail. All those kinds of things are necessary today if you want to
terminate someone. Otherwise you will end up with a nice lawsuit on
Born and raised in Westwood, Isleib is a graduate of Farleigh
Dickinson University. After earning his degree he served in the Navy,
attending officer candidate’s school in Newport, Rhode Island. "I was
onboard ship for four years as an executive officer," he says. "I
learned a lot about dealing with conflict there."
He then worked in manufacturing at Permacell for the next 20 years,
working his way up the ladder from supervisor to plant manager to
director of operations. Finally having enough of manufacturing, Isleib
moved to the human resources department. "One of my strengths has
always been getting along with people," he says. "So I ended my career
in human resources, where I did labor relations, negotiated contracts,
did arbitration, grievances, all that kind of stuff."
Retired for the past four years, Isleib is married and lives in East
Windsor. He and his wife have four grown children and three
grandchildren. While occasionally teaching, he continues to work as a
consultant for Permacell. "People ask me why I still bother to teach,"
he says. "It’s certainly not for the money. A few bucks are nice and I
call it my mad money, but I do it because I’ve always had the
philosophy of `get a mentor, be a mentor.’"
While managing conflicts is just one of a myriad of duties any
supervisor must address, it is something that can quickly get out of
hand. That’s why it is important for all managers to develop their own
style in advance of any crises that may emerge. "Work out what is best
for you and stick with it," he says. "One of the things I learned when
I was in officer candidate’s school was that you need to be
consistent, every day. If you are going to be a hardass, then be a
hardass every day. Same thing with being a nice guy. Your people need
to know what to expect."
Dealing with organizational clashes can be overwhelming to a manager
who is unprepared. Isleib offers these tips for those supervisors and
managers looking to head off a potential river of conflict.
Observe with fingers crossed. While it is often good to deal with
erupting conflicts early, it is important to first know what you are
getting into. Sometimes you get lucky. "Everybody seems to want to get
involved in conflict right away," he says. "But really, avoid it if
you can. Stand back, take a look at what is going on. If it is
something that you need to deal with, then go ahead. But avoiding it
is a good way sometimes."
Really listen. When wading through a conflict situation, be sure to
speak with all parties involved. Allow everyone to have his or her
say, and be sure to listen and respond where appropriate. Keep an open
mind. Going into a volatile discussion with your mind already made up
will usually only add to the problem.
Create a paper trail. It is always easier to bring a troubled employee
around than it is to go out and hire a new person, chiefly because you
never know what you’re going to get. But sometimes firing an employee
is the only solution. "In order to avoid lawsuits, document in advance
your employees’ transgressions, so that if push comes to shove, you’ve
done your homework," says Isleib.
Be a mentor. "When you are young and learning and you want to get up
the corporate ladder, get someone in front of you who has done it and
can help you through the effort," says Isleib. "On the other side of
the coin, once you have earned it, you can help the younger guy and
give him a chance. When I teach this course I like to inject a bit of
my philosophy. I only get one shot at these folks."
– Jack Florek
Even though you have two extra days this year (with April 15 falling
on a Saturday), some procrastinators are sure to miss the April
filing deadline for federal tax returns. The good news is that you can
get an automatic six month extension of time to file from the IRS.
Here’s the IRS checklist of things to remember about filing
* The extension will give you extra time to get your paperwork to
the IRS, but it does not extend the time you have to pay any tax due.
* You will owe interest on any amounts not paid by the April
deadline, plus a late payment penalty if you have paid less than 90
percent of your total tax by that date.
* File Form 4868, Application for Extension of Time to File U.S.
Individual Income Tax Return, with the IRS by the April deadline, or
make an extension-related electronic payment.
* You can E-file an extension request using tax preparation
software on your own computer or by going to a tax preparer who has
the software. The IRS will acknowledge receipt of the extension
request if you file by computer.
If you ask for an extension via computer, you can also choose to pay
any expected balance due by authorizing an electronic funds withdrawal
from a checking or savings account. You will need the appropriate bank
routing and account numbers and must also have available the adjusted
gross income from your 2004 federal income tax return to verify your
If your return is completed but you are unable to pay the tax due, do
not request an extension. File your return on time and pay as much as
you can. The IRS will send you a bill or notice for the balance due.
To obtain a copy of Form 4868 or other forms and publications, call
1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676), or you can download them from
For Searches, Records
Beginning this month the office of the Mercer County Clerk, Paula
Sollami Covello, will extend its hours for title searches and records
research. The Records Room, normally open from 8:30 to 4 p.m., is now
open Wednesday nights.
Said Covello: "This change will benefit both residents and businesses
of Mercer County who may not be able to use the public record room
during normal business hours. My goal is to make government more
accessible and business-friendly."
The Records Room, now open on Wednesday nights until 6:45 p.m., houses
recorded deeds, mortgages, tax liens, other liens, and business trade
names. Most of this information is contained in books and on
microfilm, but information from 1997 forward is also searchable by
computer. The Clerk’s Office recently added six new public search
terminals and is presently working on computerizing its business trade
The Clerk’s Office is located at 209 South Broad Street in Trenton in
the Old County Court house. For information call 609-989-6353.
New Jersey Transportation commissioner Kris Kolluri has announced that
NJDOT will continue its aggressive efforts to repair potholes across
the state. To report a pothole on a state highway, motorists can call
1-800-POTHOLE or log on to the DOT’s website
(www.state.nj.us/transportation/) and click "Report a Pothole."
"NJDOT began repairing potholes as soon as they appeared this year and
will fill over 21,000 per week as the number of potholes created by an
erratic winter mounts," said Kolluri.
NJDOT uses nine "pothole killer" machines to rapidly and
cost-efficiently eliminate potholes on state roadways. The pothole
killer machine can apply approximately six tons of patch material per
day. Each pothole killer contains all of the material needed to patch
a pothole. A single person operates each machine by using a joystick
control inside the vehicle’s cab. This reduces the number of staff
needed to patch potholes and increases employee safety by enabling
pothole killer operators to work from the safety of the vehicle.
NJDOT also employs 400 maintenance staff to manually patch potholes.
Over 100 DOT maintenance crews are available to repairs potholes
throughout the state.
Potholes are created by major fluctuations in temperatures that cause
moisture in roadways to freeze and thaw, breaking up the pavement.
Such temperature changes typically occur in the spring as days become
warmer, but temperatures have fluctuated during recent weeks.
NJDOT will primarily perform repairs on weekends and during evening
hours to minimize disruptions to traffic flow.
For students, it’s natural to wonder when you might ever need to know
what an iambic pentameter is or the exact date of the Louisiana
Purchase. So businesses and teachers have teamed up to make some of
the lessons taught in public schools more meaningful.
Business leaders from across the state have joined together with
teachers and educational experts to develop a curriculum that adds a
dose of real world business to the reading, writing and arithmetic
lessons middle school students are taught now. The lesson plans,
called Teaching Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs Today, were developed under
the auspices of the NJ PRO Foundation Inc., the research affiliate of
the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), and will be
showing up in classrooms this fall.
The curriculum addresses aspects of small business management and
entrepreneurship-business planning, finance, marketing, regulation,
and communication. The lessons are designed to combine material
required by the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, which
outlines what all students must be taught, with the business skills
students will need in real work settings. The project has been
endorsed by the NJ Department of Education, the New Jersey Education
Association, as well as numerous corporations, including AT&T and
"This curriculum is not intended to replace the material middle school
students learn now, but to teach it in a way that has a more
meaningful context," said NJBIA president Philip Kirschner in a
Lesson plans cover topics like branding and graphic design in
marketing; the history of entrepreneurship and its function in
society; what communication skills employers look for when hiring a
new employee; how to formulate a budget for a start-up business; the
process of creating a marketable invention and bringing it to market;
and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
In the technology curriculum students are asked to develop and design
a new product. Working in small groups, the students will list
problems they could solve with inventions, develop a solution to one
of those problems, create patent drawings for their ideas, and develop
business plans for bringing their new product to market.
Each lesson plan takes approximately five class periods, assuming a
45-minute class schedule. The plans include plenty of hands-on
activities and allow for maximum flexibility for implementation in
middle schools throughout New Jersey.
Teachers will be able to access the lessons free of charge at
www.njprofoundation.org. Each lesson plan contains a lesson overview,
specific learning objectives, the resources and materials needed to
deliver the lesson effectively, a list of new business vocabulary
words, the Core Curriculum Content Standards addressed, student
activity sheets, and related career information. Teachers could also
use one of several New Jersey Business vignettes, which are examples
of real businesses and how education is important to them.
Corrections or additions?
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