Progress toward Goals and Superintendent’s Professional Growth
In the past two weeks I have visited Forest Avenue and Mulready Elementary schools. Coincidentally in each school, our classroom visits were focused on third grade. I was able to observe Fundations lessons. Fundations is our phonics/spelling program for students in grades K-3. I observed lessons where students were completing dictation exercises and practicing the skill of adding vowel suffixes and consonant suffixes to closed syllable (1-1-1 words). Students were able to state what happens to the root word when each type of suffix is added. In addition, they could tell you why that happened and then could apply the rule. I also continue to see math lessons where students are actively engaged. Our third grade students are currently engaged in Module 2 of the EngageNY program. “Module 2 uses place value to unify measurement, rounding skills, and the standard algorithms for addition and subtraction” (https://www.engageny.org/resource/grade-3-mathematics-module-2). The approach that the program uses for determining elapsed time is one that I wish I knew when I was teaching. The linear model would have made much more sense to my students.
Presentation at Literacy for All Conference
I will be presenting, with a team of colleagues from Newton and Franklin along with our literacy consultants Tammy and Clare, at the Literacy for All Conference in Providence, Rhode Island on the morning of the School Committee meeting. This conference is a premier northeast region literacy professional development event for teachers, administrators and literacy coaches for students in grades PreK-8. The title of our presentation is, Meeting the Needs of All Readers: Making Response to Intervention a Reality (Grades K–6). I will be speaking about supporting RTI from a Central Office Perspective. I will be sharing specific strategies for developing a District-wide RTI plan. I will also discuss how to develop a sense of urgency around RTI and ways to organize professional learning. A central theme of my presentation will be the technical and adaptive challenges of large scale change. I look forward to providing you with an update at our Tuesday evening meeting.
Finance and Operations and Facilities
MSBA Conference Call
Len Belli, Patty Lange and I participated in a conference call with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) and RDA Design regarding the Mulready roof replacement project. We reviewed the project timeline and pending town meeting approval, we should be well positioned to present the design at the January 14, 2015 MSBA Board Meeting.
At Quinn Middle School, the contractor has been selected for the modifications to the casework to improve the performance of the heating system. Contracts still need to be signed. The work will take place during the evening and they plan to complete one room per night.
Parent and Community Groups
Community Conversation: Raising Healthy Teens
Earlier this fall, Representative Kate Hogan approached the Hudson Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and the Hudson Public Schools to partner with her on a community forum in Hudson about raising healthy teens. The event was attended by approximately 50 people. Representative Hogan introduced and closed out the evening, and I had the honor of facilitating the panel discussion. The expert panelists were knowledgeable and compassionate while providing important resources and information to our community. I was also very impressed with the number of District employees who attended the event and were on call to answer any questions in addition to the expert panel. This event was a true example of why I am proud to lead this District and be a resident of this community. In addition to school employees, Town officials Sam Wong, Fred Lucy and Executive Assistant Tom Moses were in the audience. Mr. Moses even asked a question of the panel. Local businesses, the Horseshoe Pub, Harvest Café, and Smyles Frozen Yogurt donated food for a wonderful reception following the event. This is truly a community that cares about its children.
Lions Club Sight and Hearing Screening
I would like to express the appreciation of the District to the Stow Lions Club. Stow Lions volunteered in the EyeMobile to conduct annual vision and hearing screenings for our students in grades K-5, 7 and 9. This service reached approximately 1,600 Hudson students. The efforts of the Lions allows all of our students to be screened earlier in the year. This earlier screening results in earlier follow-up by school nurses when potential issues are discovered.
Invitation to Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Team
I extended invitations to 14 parents to join the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Team. Building Principals will nominate 3-4 parents from each school to serve on the S-PAT. The purpose of this team, The Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Team (S-PAT), will consist of parents whose children attend K through 12th grade. While other parent groups are school-based or community-based, the S-PAT offers District parents an opportunity to study and discuss District-wide challenges facing students and families in the Hudson Public Schools.
The purpose of the S-PAT is to provide two-way communications between the Superintendent and families. The S-PAT will review actions taken by the School Committee and District Leadership Team. The meetings will give parents and family members an opportunity to meet with the Superintendent, and other District leaders, throughout the school year. Meetings will enable the Superintendent and parents to discuss matters which affect the learning of our students, as well as the overall operations of our schools.
The S-PAT will meet the third Tuesday of each month from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Meetings will be held at the District Administration Building, 155 Apsley Street, in the School Committee Room.
Goals for this group include, but are not limited to:
• Being a cohort of parents that advise the Superintendent by making recommendations and encouraging brainstorming around issues that affect the learning of our students, as well as operations of the District. This is an advisory team, not a decision making body;
• Providing the Superintendent with feedback and insight from the parents’ perspective on District and school related issues to ensure that the needs of parents and families are included as decisions are made in the District;
• Providing information to the Superintendent about existing and emerging issues expressed by parents at the school they represent, in the community, and on social media;
• Serving as ambassadors by sharing accurate information about District activities, initiatives, and decisions with other parents and community members; and
• Facilitating communication between and among the parents and community members from different District schools and serve as a forum for sharing innovations and best practices from around the District.
Boys’ and Girls’ Club Visit
I was able to do a “club walk” at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club Tuesday afternoon as the elementary students were arriving. Chris Duane, Vice President of Development, Rosemary Corley, MetroWest Boy’s and Girl’s Club Board Member and Gary Violette, Cellucci Clubhouse Director, guided me on the tour. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful community partner. I was very impressed with how well-run and organized the club was. Our students were excited to be at the club and were clearly anticipating the activities that were planned for them. The interactions of the students with club staff was clear evidence of the warm supportive relationships that have been established.
Installation of UNESCO Mosaic on Rail Trail
On Saturday, November 2nd, I will be attending the installation of the UNESCO mosaic on the Rail Trail. This mosaic was completed by Hudson High School students who will be attending the UNESCO conference in Portugal. Hudson High School students, Annalise DiFolco, Alyssa Cabral, Jeffrey Terra-Salaomão, Joshua Teixeira, Kyle Fontes and teacher, Peter Vacchina created a 3’x5 ‘broken-tile mosaic “One World, Multiple Cultures,” to honor and celebrate the cultural diversity in the Town of Hudson as part of their project to be presented at the 17th International Meeting of Young Scientists of the UNESCO Associated Schools held in Lisbon, Portugal in January, 2015. Many Hudson High School students of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, reflecting the diversity in our Town, added tiles to the mosaic, making it truly a community-made public art installation. http://vimeo.com/107858295
Personnel and Celebrations
During each School Committee meeting, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight an excellent teaching practice that I have seen in a classroom during my school visits. During a visit to Forest Avenue I was privileged to see an exemplary execution of differentiation in a third grade classroom. When I envision what differentiation looks like, this classroom checked all of the boxes. There were three educators in the classroom: the classroom teacher, the math specialist, and a special educator. Each teacher was actively engaged with a group of students giving that group what they needed and students, that were able to, worked independently after receiving whole group instruction with the teacher. What made this exemplary is that EVERY student was working on the same learning outcome. The teacher had differentiated the path that they took to get there and provided the scaffolding that they needed to get there. Often we equate going slower with struggling students as meeting their needs. If we think about this logically, it does not make sense. The true way to close the achievement gap is to identify the strategy that works, give the student what they need to be successful and have the same expectation of ending point. This is a very simplified explanation of a very complicated, labor intensive process that requires the professional expertise of the teacher. This particular teacher has 50% of her students falling into a high needs category (SWD, ELL, or Low Income) and was meeting everyone’s needs, including those students that are “typical” learners.
On Friday, October 17, 2014, Ryan Dailey, Josh Otlin, Megan Dubay, Rebekah Whitesel, Eric Ahearn, and Ellen Schuck attended the fall Massachusetts’ PLTW Conference hosted at WPI’s campus in Worcester, MA.
Participants were able to select from a variety of workshops ranging from reviewing new program changes, creating a PLTW program, increasing the rigor of student engineering notebooks, and promoting your PLTW program. Both Ryan Dailey and Ellen Schuck presented at the conference. Ryan presented on “Promoting Your PLTW Program to Students, Parents, and the Community”; Ellen on “Building PLTW Partnership Teams—Bringing the Community into the Classroom”.
Visiting Teacher from Wellesley
We received a thank you note from the reading specialist at the Hardy School in Wellesley. The Hardy School is where Charlene Cook is now a Principal. Charlene asked if her reading specialist could come over and observe how our staff conducted data meetings. This was a wonderful validation of the great work that our teachers do. I have included the text of the note below.
I wanted to extend a BIG thank you for welcoming me to your data meetings last week! As I walked into the building, I was immediately impressed with the calm, purposeful tone at Mulready. My sense was reinforced as I sat in on - and was even included - in data meetings from grades 1-4. What a skilled, dedicated and collaborative group of professionals and a lucky bunch of students! I walked away with much new learning.
Earlier this week, I facilitated data meetings at my school with Charlene Cook; I was able to put my new learning directly into action.
Thanks again for opening your doors to me. I hope to cross paths professionally again!
Follow-up to School Committee Items of Interest
Quinn Homework Club
Mr. Webster has conducted a thorough evaluation of the after school homework club in the Quinn library. His findings include that a paraprofessional supervised a group of students from different middle school teams as they worked on assignments, gathering materials from other teachers, as required by whatever students were working on at the time. Teacher feedback identified some behavior concerns with students at times, as it often appeared to be more of a social focus than academic. In the absence of the homework club this fall, a few teachers have reported an increase in numbers of visiting students for after school help, sometimes crowding the classroom. Upon further inquiry, these teachers are on a team that services ELL students, which used to be held consistently after school with the ESL teacher last year. The change in ESL staff this year resulted in a long needed change in after school services for English Language Learners. Our new Director of English Language Learning, Erin Goldstein, is working on a plan to offer after school services to students using Title III grant funding.
After concluding his evaluation of the Quinn’s current after school situation, the overall finding is that the after school homework help situation is manageable and will become more so after the ESL support services begin. Numbers are up a bit, but we take that as an indicator that our kids want to get extra help—a good sign. The analysis of our current situation did not result in the conclusion that we need to actively seek another option for after school academic support for our students. It appears that those in need are accessing their teachers appropriately after school at this point.
Family Math Nights
I wanted to provide you with the following update:
I mentioned that we would be having Family Math Nights to provide parents with practical strategies to help their students with math. These nights will be held on the following dates and locations.
Wednesday, December 3rd at Forest Avenue School from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Thursday, February 5th at Mulready Elementary School from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 15th at Farley Elementary School from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
All enrollment numbers are up-to-date as of the writing of this report. They are unofficial numbers. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education collects snapshots of enrollment data three times per year October, March, and June. I will provide you with monthly enrollment numbers so that you can be aware of the amount of fluctuation that may or may not be occurring on a monthly basis.