Sunday, February 27, 2011

Coalition on Race Talks about Maplewood Neighborhoods

Coalition on Race Educates Realtors on Hilton, Clinton Neighborhoods

Representatives of the two neighborhoods touted their communities to local residential realtors.
The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race would like to thank all the local realtors who attended the Coalition’s first Coffee and Conversation for Realtors event of 2011.
The February 17 session featured guest speakers Carol Buchanan, President of the Hilton Neighborhood Association, and Clinton PTA President Jung Lee Masters and Vice President Elizabeth Aaron.
As part of the Coalition on Race's effort to help build a strong housing market and maintain good real estate values, these information events for realtors are designed to increase their effectiveness in addressing issues of interest or concern for prospective home buyers. The Feb. 17 session focused specifically on giving realtors information on the Hilton and Clinton neighborhoods.
Carol Buchanan, a resident for over thirty years, described the Hilton area as vibrant and diverse in many ways: racially, ethnically, by age, by profession, and more. The area boasts an active community center; refurbished park grounds with night-time lighting, tennis courts and walking path; the well-loved Hilton Branch Library; and proximity to a range of restaurants, businesses, and two art galleries along Springfield Avenue. The town jitney provides easy access to the train for commuters and bus lines run up Springfield Avenue. There are Catholic, Methodist and Baptist churches as well as an Orthodox Synagogue, all within this walkable area. Neighborhood children attend either Tuscan or Seth Boyden elementary schools.
The Hilton Neighborhood Association is one of the most active in our towns and has been so for 15 years. Neighborhood events organized by the association include movies and music in DeHart Park; community-building gardening awards and a holiday decoration award; community forums on important issues affecting the neighborhood and town; and an annual Board of Education candidates debate.
The Association also provides feedback to town leaders on residential concerns.
Just as we marveled at all that Hilton has to offer, we were equally impressed with the excitement and love expressed for Clinton Elementary School and its neighborhood by parents and PTA members Jung Lee Masters and Elizabeth Aaron.
Clinton School is proud of its particular diversity of nationalities and languages represented in the student body. As the English Language Learning School for the district, Clinton School educates children from 15 different countries were English is not the national language. It is a true ‘neighborhood’ school; with the exception of ELL students who can come from any part of the district, all of the students can walk to school and parents can take advantage of the local jitney to get to the train.
Clinton has an active PTA that runs programs and events throughout the year, many geared toward celebrating the variety of cultures at Clinton. The popular International Dinner, cultural arts programs, cultural heritage month, and the publication of the newsletter in Haitian Creole—the language spoken in the homes of quite a few families—are all part of the rich experience offered to Clinton families.
Part of their core value is to “celebrate our differences and share our similarities,” which we think is a great motto for the whole community.
In addition to all of the wonderful aspects of these two neighborhoods, we talked candidly about issues that have been stumbling blocks for realtors in marketing homes. Buchanan explained that racial steering adversely affected Hilton 15 years ago and credited the work of the Coalition along with some local realtors for reversing that trend. Clinton School can fail to get the positive attention it deserves, explained Elizabeth Aaron, if prospective homebuyers only look at aggregate test scores; those scores include the results of kids who are new to English and new to the district. The good news is that students at Clinton School show the most dramatic gains on NJASK tests.

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