Asbury Park, NJ

Asbury Park’s literacy initiatives lead to impressive results 


Challenge: District-wide, low-literacy rates
Initiative: Commitment to High Quality Intervention and Professional Learning
Results: 44% of students showed a full year’s growth in one semester.


Two years ago, Dr. Lamont Repollet walked into his Superintendent of Ashbury Park School District interview wearing a suit and a hard hat. He said he wanted to show the district that he was willing to work hard and was “not afraid to get [his] hands dirty.” Needless to say, he got the job.

A few years earlier, he and fellow colleague Dr. Gray, the Director of Curriculum for Asbury Park, attended Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Model Schools Conference where the idea first came about to create their own intervention program, Hard Hat Nation, back in New Jersey. While much of the Hard Hat Nation’s success is attributed to its leaders, the administration also credits HMH’s intervention programs for helping theirs turn into the success story it is today.

Since implementing his Hard Hat Nation program in his school district, Dr. Repollet has seen his school go from some of the lowest literacy rates in the state to back-to-back years of increasing reading rate amongst his students. The district went from students in Grades 3 to 12 with an average of .5 years of growth annually to 44 percent growth in just one semester. Furthermore, 23 percent of students exceed two year’s growth in that same semester, causing the student course failure rate to drop 27 percentage points.

“We have embarked on an educational renaissance. That is why we talk about rising up, about building a brighter future,” says Dr. Repollet.

The program’s success was validated again when the district won the Innovate NJ honor by the Department of Education, praising them for innovation in their schools.

What does the future have in store for a district like Asbury Park School District? Next, they plan to offer self-guided courses that teach students more real-world applications that they can use outside of the classroom. Furthermore, they’re implementing other initiatives like the College and Career Readiness program through outside partnerships with community colleges and local centers.

While the $3.4 Million price tag might look steep on paper, there’s no price that’s too high for an intervention program and professional learning that works district wide.

“Repollet’s Hard Hat Nation is the metaphorical reminder that the district and its supporters are committed to building a brighter future for its students and their community.”