Monday, January 20, 2020

NewsNotes 1/20/2020

Dear HM Families,

I hope that you all had an enjoyable weekend, with the added day in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and work.   Classroom teachers spent time prior to today talking about his life and his approach to creating an equitable society of all.  We've also talked about Dr. King's belief in and commitment to service. If you'd like to check out some resources to extend your conversations at home, check out Teaching Tolerance...they've got some great resources for all ages:

Culturally Responsive Teaching - I’ve spent the past couple of years talking about our responsibility as a school to address gaps amongst traditionally marginalized populations. Despite all of the focus on the facilities this year, we have made a daily effort to continue this work.  I wanted to remind the community of our efforts and provide an update about what we’ve been doing recently.

The first component of our equity work is one I have mentioned frequently.  It involves making the school a welcoming place for all.  Teachers contribute to this effort by building relationships with students and creating a safe space for them to learn.   The goal is to get children to an emotional space where they can accept risk, be given critical feedback, and persist through challenges. Only then can we truly focus on improving learning outcomes.

The second aspect of our equity work is focused on instruction.  Using Zaretta Hammond’s book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, we have turned our attention to expanding our instructional practices.  While there are many complex components of this instructional piece, the overarching goal is to create learning experiences that make the most of what we know about the brain and how it learns.  This means designing lessons that address differing learning styles, are engaging, and that allow students to build neural pathways through repetition, critical thinking, and collaboration.  Over the next two months, our staff will concentrate their new learning on student engagement.  Teachers will learn more about the science of engagement, gather additional activities, modify existing lessons and/or units, and share their learning with one another. 

Looking for a super-easy way to build your awareness of race and social justice as a Horace Mann parent or caregiver?
Join us on Feb 2 at the Newton Public Library for just ONE hour-from 3:30-4:30, to discuss the amazing YA novel “Love, Hate, and Other Filters.” YES, this means you should read the book first – but it’s worth it.

For more information, email Cedar Pruitt at or Kate Carpenter at

Facilities Update 

  • Acoustic Tiles have been installed in all of the classrooms and small spaces that we had requested.  It is worth mentioning again that this has made a huge improvement to the sound quality in the classrooms and a profoundly positive impact on the learning experiences for our students.
  • Modular Classrooms - Both modular classrooms now have power, heat, entrance hardware, and decking.  Network infrastructure installation is underway.  New technology has arrived, and we have placed orders for other furniture and equipment that will be needed.  Inspections should happen next week.  We hope to move in the week prior to February break.
  • Design Selection Update - We learned this week that two of the three design companies slated to present on Thursday night have decided not to pursue the Horace Mann Project.  They both recently acquired other work and could not commit to taking this one on as well. We will, however, proceed with the presentation from the remaining company (RDA associates).  They are well respected in the construction community and they have experience working with school districts.  It will be well worth hearing their ideas about how they will envision both the design and management of this project.  I will update families on the status of the design search shortly after.
  • 5th Graders: Jhosh Bhatt, Noah Gebreysus, Max Felipe Lopez, Eiden Margalit, Nicolle Meneses Viana, and Pearl Neafsey
  • 4th Graders: Isabela Cuervo Paez, Augustin Delacroix, Ryan Li

For those new to Science and Engineering Night, here's what it's all about:
  • Science and Engineering Night is an interactive, kid-propelled, noncompetitive evening of science fun, driven by the notion that every child who has ever asked "why?" is an innate scientist.
  • Kids (working alone or with siblings or friends - just have at least one adult) can do an experiment (e.g. how does temperature affect how well popcorn pops?) or build a gadget (e.g. a periscope or balloon rocket). The only requirement is that it fit on half a tabletop, and that there be some kind of written explanation of the science behind it - a poster, a drawing, etc. Do not get hung up on complexity or sophistication! We want kid-quality work!
  • On the evening of January 24, participants will set up at tables in the gym. Mr. Nardelli and several teachers will emcee. In past years there has been a wonderful 'buzz' as people milled around each table, asking questions and trying out the hands-on demonstrations.
  • This is also EASY ON PARENTS! You can design your own project, or choose from our “cookbook” of pre-selected projects, each with step-by-step instructions and an explanation of the science involved.
QUESTIONS / REGISTRATION: Registration deadline is Friday, January 17, 2020. To register, fill out the GoogleDocs registration form:   

Geography Bee - This past Friday, a group of 9 finalists competed for a chance to represent Horace Mann in the National Geographic Geography Bee, a competition that is held annually across the country.  Below is a list of this year’s finalists. Congratulations to all.

In the final round, Ryan Li competed against Nicolle Menese Viana, with Nicolle emerging as the Horace Mann champion.  Congratulations to Nicolle!  She will now go on to take a written test to see if she qualifies for the national competition.

Peek Week - Thanks to Mr. Tynes and to all of the students for their efforts over the past several weeks to learn and practice a wide range of skills. The children could be seen doing core exercises, climbing ropes, scaling the new rock wall, tumbling, walking the balance beam, and more.  Thanks to all of the parents, grandparents, friends, and more who came out to support the children and the program.  

Join us for a night of science fun in the gym on Friday, January 24, 2020 from 6 PM to 8 PM.

To register for Science Night, go to  

NEED IDEAS FOR A PROJECT? Look for project ideas on these websites:

Registration for The 12th Annual Horace Mann Science and Engineering Night is now OPEN!!

To pre-order a pizza for dinner at Science Night, Click Here and order from our on-line store. The pizza will be ordered from Pini's Pizza in Waltham ( 

ANY QUESTIONS? Contact Kari Jensen at

You are cordially invited to the Horace Mann Mystery Dinner

Saturday, February 1, 2020


We all begin the evening at the Appetizer Party where we receive our dining assignments

We split up and head to our new hosts’ houses for dinner

After dinner, we all reconvene at a surprise location for dessert and coffee

The Appetizer Party will be hosted by
Kate and Greg Ploussios
11 Eden Avenue

Select your three favorite dinner menu themes from the following:

French Country Homey Italian Spanish Dinner

Winter Cozy Comfort

Indian Vegetarian Cabin Fever

Hearth and Home

Stew and Vermont Brew 

A Night in Peru

Thai Dinner (with Seafood)

Choose your dinner themes then sign up and pay below.
Deadline is Friday, January 24th

Suggested Donation is $30/person or $60/couple

"Screenagers" Event

Please join us for this important showing of "Screenagers" followed by a discussion on technology and our children.
Moderated by Principal Nardelli

Tuesday, February 11, 7 p.m.,

Newton North Auditorium

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Next Steps in the Addition/Renovation Process

Dear HM Families,

As we complete the acoustic work and install the modular classrooms, we now turn our attention to Horace Mann's longer term space needs. As the next part of our addition/renovation project, the city will engage in the process of selecting a design firm to work with the our community to improve our facility over the next several years.

On Thursday, January 23rd from 6-9pm at the Newton Public Library, members of Newton's Design Selection Committee will gather to hear presentations from three design firms who have expressed interest in working on our school improvement project. Each of the firms will have the chance to make 15-20 minute presentations followed by 10-15 minutes of questions.

We will have a small group of staff and parents in attendance to view the presentations alongside the members of the design selection committee. The design selection committee will listen to the presentations, consider our input, and then send a recommendation to the mayor. The mayor has the final say regarding which firm is ultimately selected.

Below is a memo I sent to the Design Selection Committee and to the firms who will be presenting next week:

To Members of the Design Selection Committee:

Below is a brief description of the things we would like the design team to think about as they prepare their presentations next week…

1. The most important element of this partnership is for us to have a good working relationship with the design team. This means having a team that will work with our teachers and other stakeholders around design ideas - both from an educational perspective as well as practical considerations. Related to this, the design team should also be comfortable and competent in working with a knowledgeable, supportive and engaged parent community.

2. We are also looking for a team that can be creative and ingenious with regard to their design ideas, given that we need to make modifications to existing spaces as well as adding new space. The design should include concepts that will make the space more welcoming and illustrative of an elementary school environment. The things that we are looking to improve in our building are included in the list below: 

  • Creating larger classrooms and adding new classrooms.
  • Adding/creating small group breakout spaces.
  • Adding/creating teacher work spaces.
  • Creating additional staff and student bathrooms.
  • Adding some kind of community/performance/cafetorium space
  • Adding storage options
  • Adding playground elements

3. Finally, and equally important, we are looking for a team that can manage a school site that will be in session throughout the renovation process. The design team should be effective in working with the school-based team to create and manage a schedule that minimizes disruption to the learning process for students as well as to the other essential aspects of the school experience.


The Horace Mann Community

After the design firm is selected, we will assemble a committee of parents and staff who will work with the newly hired firm to collaborate on this renovation. I will share details about that process when we are ready for that step. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Mark Nardelli


Monday, January 6, 2020

NewsNotes 1/5/2020

Staffing Update:  

I’d like to offer a warm welcome To Helen Guzzi as Horace Mann's new librarian.  Helen has spent the last 17 years at Brown Middle School teaching English.  In recent years she discovered a passion and desire to work as a librarian and began preparations.  Helen began teaching classes at HM last week and is now working hard to learn new routines, a new age group, and the names of almost 400 students!  Let’s try to make the transition as easy as possible by offering our support, encouragement and experience.

Thank you to Meagan Hallaran for her work as a literacy aide this fall.  She will be heading off to teach in Spain later this month. Best of luck to Meagan.  Meredith Andrews, Newton resident and parent and former teacher, will be coming on board as our new literacy aide.  Please welcome Meredith to Horace Mann.

Finally, prior to the break we celebrated Patti Karam's career as the HM librarian for the past fourteen years. I wanted to offer some thoughts about Patti and her career as a librarian, educator, and as a person:

Patti's is one of the kindest and positive people I know. She engages with staff and students in a way that is respectful, encouraging, and loving.  Patti always has a smile and a supportive word for anyone she comes across.  It is no wonder that she has built some lasting connections with everyone she has met, and there’s no doubt that Patti's impact on our school will endure well beyond her time at Horace Mann.

Patti's approach to running the library has been one of creativity and shared ownership. She put all of her energy into offering fun and inspiring projects for the children. On any given day, students could be seen constructing mini-golf courses with book based theme, recording their voices, ideas, and their love of literature into iPads, reading in the dark with nothing more than a flashlight, or waiting with anticipation to see what was in their mystery bags. She redefined how we think of librarians and what a library is supposed to be for kids.

Patti has always recognized the importance of providing an environment where students feel safe and welcome.  She has invited students into the library to take breaks after a rough moment, or as a proactive way for students to make a connection with a trusted adult.  She has created a safe haven for middle school students having difficulty with their transition to a new environment.  She has offered book groups for students to talk about books and relate them to important themes in student lives.  Her willingness to invest in and engage with students on a one-to-one basis has been a trademark of her work.

Finally, Patti has always been committed to diversity and encouraged students to be proud of who they are.  She expanded and diversified both our school library and classroom collections to be more representative of our student population, and did the same for our book fair as well. She often talked to the students and our staff about life as a series of windows and mirrors and she used literature as a way for all of us to learn from one another and appreciate what we have to offer each other as human beings.

As you can see, Patti has been a model for everything we try to teach the children (and the adults) on a daily basis at Horace Mann. Her kindness, her willingness to connect with children, and commitment to diversity, are all part of her legacy. Her impact will endure at HM well beyond her time. Best wishes to Patti in her retirement.

School Safety Procedures: This coming Friday, January 10th, Horace Mann students and staff will participate in a series of school safety drills that have recently been updated by the district.  Staff have spent two sessions this fall learning about the new procedures and planning for a range of events. With adults only, we practiced all of the drills and drafted scripts to share with students that are developmentally appropriate. For Friday, we have selected drills that we feel would be important to practice with students. This will include a lockdown drill for times when we want to keep everyone safe inside the building as well as an evacuation drill for those occasions where we need to quickly and safely evacuate our school.  Later this spring when the weather is nice, we will practice procedures for relocating to our designated evacuation site (Day Middle School).

Please be aware that your children will be talking about the drills in class this week. It is possible that the discussion of these procedures may raise questions. If your child comes home with a question that you aren’t sure how to answer, please let your child's teacher know.  The superintendent also shared resources earlier in the fall and you can access them here: Safety in the Newton Public Schools.  If you have questions about any of this, please email me at

Drop-off and Pick-up Reminders:

A few reminders and suggestions about the area around the school…

  • PLEASE DO NOT ENTER THE REAR PARKING LOT for drop-off or pickup.  Staff vehicles are the only vehicles allowed there.  This is especially important now given the tighter space we have with the addition of the modulars.
  • In you park on the opposite side of LINWOOD near the rear entrance, I would urge people to use the CROSSING GUARD at NEVADA/LINWOOD, rather than crossing LINWOOD.   Cars are often double parked amidst two way traffic making this area dangerous, particularly in the morning.


  • Since the last update, we’ve made tremendous progress on our classroom acoustic upgrades. As of today, we have completed tile installation in all classrooms on the second floor and almost all of the rooms on the first floor. I would anticipate that the entire classroom acoustic work will be done by the end of this week. We will still need to address the cafeteria and the music room, which will happen later this spring or this summer.
Modular Classrooms:
  • Electrical power has been connected to the cafeteria modular. Data lines are being run today.  Electrical power is being connected to the library mod today as well.
  • Decking has been begun for the cafeteria mod.   Here’s a photo:

  • Work on the library mod deck starts this week.  

Interior Work:

As Lisa Moore moves out to the modular classroom, we will have an opportunity to make her classroom larger. To make this happen, we need to relocate some wiring/network cables and a projector, and we need to remove a portion of the wall between 200 and 202. The wiring and relocating of the projector took place during the break.  Some lighting and wiring was also done in Room 202. The complete takedown of the wall will happen during February break. In the end, we will relocate a 4th grade classroom to this newly enlarged space (hopefully take place a week or two after the February break).

Playground: Our first meeting took place on Thursday, December 17th from 3-4pm. We discussed options for expanding and improving our playground space and agreed upon the following:
  • We will likely leave the existing structures in place. However, a priority will be to add shade to this area (hopefully this spring).
  • We are planning to add a second play structure area (separate from the existing playground). This second area would be located under the trees in place of the currently existing swing sets near the Gaga pit.
  • Over the break, we are going to look at structures from a variety of vendors. All of the designs we look at will be geared towards providing upper elementary students with age appropriate equipment.
  • We will also look at options for outdoor equipment that children can use to build and be creative.
  • Our goal will be to install the new playground structure this summer.
  • Based on conversations with teachers and city staff, we’ve modified the design for our water/sink stations along the second floor hallway. We will now have four (4) stations that are logically spread out along the length of the hallway.
  • These stations will allow students to wash hands, fill water bottles and allow grade 3-5 teachers to access a water supply for the science curriculum.
  • We are currently in the design phase of this work. Due to the scope of the work, we anticipate that two of the four stations could be installed during the February break, while the other two stations would be installed this summer.

Culturally Responsive Teaching - The core of our work to become a more culturally responsive school will continue with our January staff meeting.  In my next edition of NewsNotes, I will share the details of what this work will look like. 

NewsNotes 12/16/2019

Dear HM Families,

A heartfelt thank you from our staff to all of the parents and caregivers who contributed in some way to this year's wonderful staff appreciation breakfast.  There were many amazing dishes to choose from, and the mix of hot and cold treats kept us well fed throughout the week.  As always, we feel tremendously supported by all of our families.  Thank you for everything you do!

Staffing: This week, Katie Deehan, special educator, will begin her maternity leave as she and her family anticipate the birth of their child. I’ve arranged to have Lexy Triest fill in for Katie for the time that she is out (roughly January - March).  Lexy is currently licensed as a special educator and has been working as a graduate intern in our 5th grade co-taught classroom.  Prior to working at Horace Mann, Lexy worked in a preK-Grade1 school, working with a variety of student needs, including academic as well as social-emotional.  Her experience with this younger age group will serve her well in this new role.

Lexy and Katie had the benefit of working together the over the past two weeks to support the transition.  Lexy has met the students on Katie's caseload, has gone over current progress and instructional plans, and has been reading IEPs.  Holly St. Peter and I will be meeting with her this week as well to solidify her service plan.  We expect that there will be no interruption to any special ed services. I’m confident that Lexy will be a solid addition to our team.

Lexy will be reaching out to families within the next day or two to introduce herself and establish a plan for communication moving forward.

Modular Reminder:

TWO large MODULAR CLASSROOMS will be DELIVERED and INSTALLED behind the Horace Mann School beginning TOMORROW (MONDAY 12/16).  Because of this, we are implementing several changes to some procedures for this week:

1) THERE WILL BE NO PARKING or WALKING INTO THE REAR PARKING LOT during specified times. We will have barriers/cones put up to remind and prevent people from using the rear entrance.


3) PLEASE ENTER and EXIT the building from NEVADA ST. ONLY.  This includes classrooms who are having presentations next week.  


5) DAY AFTER DAY will also be impacted by this installation.  You should have receive a separate email describing the change of procedures for DAY AFTER DAY.

Playground Meeting Reminder: Our first Meeting is Tuesday, December 17th at 3:00pm.  Members of the playground committee are Cedar Pruitt, Jenna Ceddia, Wendy Vietor, Christina and Karl Abele, and Stephanie Lapham (Parks and Rec) .

  • This weekend, we had ceiling tiles installed in two classrooms: Room 201 (Akdag/Dias) and Room 202 (Moore).
  • Work will continue tomorrow afternoon with two more classrooms on the 2nd floor.
  • The contract with the installer includes a specific plan to manage any lead paint that may be present in the ceilings, in accordance with state and federal regulations.  I can provide more detail about this plan for anyone who would like to see it. Just send me an email.

F.A. Day Middle School Student Services - Parent Info-Session:

Parent(s)/Guardian(s) of students at F.A. Day Middle School feeder pattern elementary schools (Horace Mann, Burr, Franklin, Cabot, Peirce) are invited to meet with Mike Thurm, Assistant Principal for Student Services, for a discussion about the transition to middle school process for 5th grade students with IEPs.

DATE: Monday, December 16th

TIME: 6:30pm – 7:30pm

LOCATION: F.A. Day Middle School Library

No RSVP Necessary

Hour of Code: Students across the world will participate in the Hour of Code 2019 during Computer Science Week December 9-15. This is the sixth year that Newton Public Schools will participate.

The Hour of Code is a “global movement reaching over 100 million students in over 180 countries.”   During the Hour of Code, NPS students and teachers can choose from a variety of activities at their learning level. Our Information literacy/IT dept. will provide resources to classrooms that include a range of challenging activities beyond the prescribed hour. Lessons can be done at any time, not just the globally designated week. 

NPS Gift Policy - The following message is a reminder from NPS: 

Newton Public Schools allows a group gift to an individual staff member only if the gift is identified as being from the entire class, the identity of the givers and the individual amounts are not disclosed to the recipient, and the gift does not exceed $150 per school year. This differs from a gift for the classroom. 
Individual gifts of appreciation in the form of sentimental tokens are allowed. Gifts of commercial value are not permitted.
Newton Public Schools allows and encourages giving to charitable organizations such as school PTO's or the Newton Schools Foundation's Honor Thy Teacher Program which honors staff while supporting our schools.

This policy, as well as all of NPS' policies and several protocols, guidelines and practices, can be found on the NPS website, on the School Committee page, at
Please contact the Human Resources or the Law Department with any questions regarding this policy.

Thank you and wishing everyone a restful and healthy Holiday season. 

Jill Murray 
Legal Counsel/Interim HR Director

SEPAC Meet and Share Social

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
7-9 pm

95 Elm Street
West Newton

Join your fellow parents and guardians for the 2019 Newton SEPAC Social! We have reserved space at Paddy's in West Newton on Tuesday, December 17 from 7-9 pm. Come reconnect with old friends and meet other Newton parents and guardians. Share your stories from the first half of the school year and raise a glass to the holidays! There will be a cash bar.

Please RSVP at so we can ensure we have enough space.

Contact with any questions.

Ms. Karam and 5th Grade Mini-Golf CourseMs. Karam, as a final promise to this year's 5th grade, spent the last several weeks working with students to a create book and topic themed mini-golf course.  The students choose a theme (like this year's Harry Potter, Creepy Carrots, or Black Hole themes) and then design a single hole, using a variety of materials.  Students have to be creative, have to collaborate to make decisions and divide up responsibilities, and work through design challenges. Below are a couple of examples.


Once set up, the students in all of the other classes get to come to library and play mini-golf.   Thank you to Ms. Karam for this fan favorite experience.  This is one of the many things we will miss about you! 

Creative Arts and Sciences:

We have had several guest speakers this past week as part of our CAS program.

The first was Cory DiPina, poet and rap enthusiast.  Cory spent time with our 5th grade students talking about the power of writing. He encouraged students to look at their challenges, interests, experiences and strengths to construct poems that conveyed something about who they are as a person.  Corey spoke with a love and a passion for writing (something he did not experience growing up) and did his best to pass on this passion to our 5th grader students.


Kindergartners also had two programs over the past couple of weeks:

  • Kemp Harris came to speak to our K classes to share his own brand of storytelling.  Kemp focuses on oral storytelling tradition while also incorporating movement into his stories.  His repertoire includes African folk tales, original stories and familiar stories in literature.  He is truly captivating!
  • The NE Aquarium also brought their Tidal Pool program to our K classes. Students learned about a variety of tidal creatures including clams, sea stars, hermit crabs, and more. Students had a chance to learn about physical features and living conditions, while also getting to see and touch live specimens.


Finally, 4th graders had the pleasure of seeing the GENKI SPARK drumming performance. "The GENKI SPARK is a multi-generational pan-Asian women’s arts and advocacy organization that uses taiko (Japanese drumming), creativity, and personal stories, to build community, develop leadership, and advocate respect for all. For centuries, taiko has played a prominent role in Japanese culture. Featured in everyday life, from cultural celebrations and religious ceremonies, to theater and dance productions this energetic and exciting art form has been highly developed and includes choreographed movement, voice, rhythm, and form.”  Children got to participate by playing the drums in a powerful and inspiring group performance.


NewsNotes 11/24/19

Staffing Update:

  • Chelsea LeBlanc will be filling in as our Occupational Therapist for Melanie Chan while she is out on maternity leave. Chelsea started on Monday of last week and has settled right in. Please help me welcome Chelsea to our team.
  • As I mentioned in the last edition of Newsnotes, with Patti’s imminent retirement, we are charged with finding someone to fill Patti's very large shoes as the HM librarian. Since that time, we have screened resumes and met with a strong candidate who is currently teaching English at Brown Middle School. Last week, Helen Guzzi toured classrooms, met with Patti, chatted with students and a parent, met with several staff, and talked about carrying on Patti’s vision for the library (Patti thoughtfully asked the students to offer their thoughts about what they want to see in their next librarian). Below is an announcement about the library position:
  • With Patti Karam retiring at the end of December, we posted her position as a full-time opening about 3 weeks ago. We had few applicants, most of which were not certified and/or were lacking in library teacher license, and we had one great candidate, Helen Guzzi. Helen was one of three finalists for the two open positions we had last spring as we were planning for this year. Given Helen already went through a full interview process including delivering a sample lesson, Eileen and I decided to do an abbreviated process with Mark Nardelli, principal of Horace Mann.
  • Mark, Eileen and I believe Helen will be a good match for Horace Mann and for our library team. Helen has been an ELA teacher at Brown Middle School since 2004, and earned her library teacher certification through Simmons College in 2018. Throughout her time at Newton, Helen has demonstrated a commitment to culturally proficient practices, increasing diversity in texts students are exposed to, and incorporating technology into her teaching practices. She looks forward to working at the elementary level and working with all of you to enhance student learning through the library.
  • One additional piece that factored into the timing of this decision was the impact on Brown Middle School. Because Helen is currently teaching 7th grade English there, I wanted to be able to provide them with time to enter into their own hiring process and get a new teacher in place after the December break. 
  • Helen and I have scheduled two additional dates to have her come to visit HM to see the library and other classes in action. I will do my best to introduce her to staff and parents on each of those visits. Finally, Helen will also spend some time before the break shadowing a librarian in another Newton school to help get her acclimated. 

Facilities Update:

Modular Working Group - The modular working group met last Tuesday to talk primarily about logistics related to the addition of these two classrooms. The following people were in attendance: Ms. Moore, Ms. Bard, Ms. Berardi, Ms. Chatfield, Ms. Oldmixon, Mr. Feldstein, Ms. Hylander, Ms. Rose, Ms. Martin, Ms. Dias, and Ms. Mariano.

Without going into all the details about the conversation, I wanted to share a few key outcomes/agreements:

1) We have lots of questions about the modulars that will need to be answered, including, but not limited to:

Will there be more than one entrance to the modulars?
How will we plan for technology needs?
How will the modulars be furnished?
How will the placement of the modulars impact how we get into and out of the building?
How will placement impact deliveries or access to the playground?

2) We are still in conversations about who will move to the modulars. Right now, we are only considering older students…likely 4th or 5th graders. We will use the empty classrooms upstairs to explore options for getting more space for other 2nd floor classrooms.

3) We would like to subdivide each modular into a large classroom space (850-900 sq. ft) and two smaller spaces: one for storage and one for office/small group space.

4) We plan to move several storage spaces on the first floor out to the modulars. By doing so, we hope to create more flexibility for our first floor classrooms while also expanding breakout space options.

None of the above is set in stone. The arrival and installation of the modulars could happen within the next few weeks, and then we will need several weeks to get them ready on the inside. I will keep you all posted as the plans for this become clearer.

Other Updates:

Playground - I have a small group of parents and teachers who have agreed to be part of our playground working group. The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 3rd at 7:45 am.

Horace Mann FORJ Book Group - A small group of parents have organized an adult book group as one of the activities for this year. The first book being explored is called “Ghost Boys” You can find a link to the book here:

If you are interested in attending, the book discussion is scheduled for Sunday, December 1st in at 3:30 pm at the Newton Free Library.

Understanding Our Differences - On November 13th, the Chronic Medical Conditions unit of the Understanding Our Differences program was presented to the 4th grade. Students learned about how to help someone having a seizure and various triggers for asthma episodes. They were enthusiastic to meet Molly Reza who shared her own personal story about living with epilepsy and answered all of the students' thoughtful questions. We would like to thank our volunteer team of Julia Aledort, Anne Cedrone, Sara Pollock DeMedeiros, Somchay Edwards, Jacqueline Freeman, and Tara Furlong. We would also like to thank the 4th grade teachers, Principal Nardelli, Ms. Mariano, and Mari Young from UOD for making the program possible. Ms. Bard and Mr. Feldstein also offered tech support.

Please email Emily Cagwin ( if you are interested in volunteering for other units. The upcoming 4th grade unit, Learning Disabilities, will be presented on March 4th.

For more information:

November is National Diabetes Month

Become familiar with the warning signs of diabetes.
Knowledge is an important weapon against this disease and its complications.

Warning Signs of Type 1 Diabetes

These symptoms can occur suddenly and must receive immediate medical attention:

* Excessive thirst
* Frequent urination sometimes exhibited by bedwetting (in large quantities)
* Blurry vision
* Extreme hunger
* Unexplained weight loss even though eating and feeling hungry
* Sweet, fruity odor on breath
* Abdominal pain
* Nausea/vomiting
* Fatigue
* Drowsiness, lethargy
* Irritability/mood changes
* Rapid, heavy breathing
* Confusion, Stupor
* Unconsciousness

Many of these symptoms can be related to illnesses that are not associated with diabetes. This should be discussed with a health care provider.

Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Different factors, including genetics and some viruses, may contribute to type 1 diabetes. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults. Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. Treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications.

Jordan Weiss, a nine-year old from Newton, Massachusetts, passed away in 2003 from complications related to undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes. To honor Jordan's memory, the JBW Fund was established by his family to foster awareness and education of the warning signs of diabetes. Sometimes the signs are obvious and sometimes the signs are subtle, limited and attributed to another illness. The latter was the case for Jordan.
Familiarizing yourself with the warning signs could help save a life. For more information, talk to your school nurse or visit:

TYNES TIMES: Gymnastics is Back! 

Dear Families,

As we now approach a busy season for all of us, I want to send home this reminder of what to expect during the next 2 months.

Clothing and Attire: Children should wear comfortable attire and sneakers on the days they have Physical Education. With winter coming a lot of children will be wearing boots. Please remember to pack sneakers on P.E. days.

What is going on in Physical Education? All grades are now into their 2nd week of gymnastics. During the first two weeks we work entirely on flexibility, upper body strength, and strengthening the abdominals. We also covered basic gymnastics positions: Tuck, Pike, Straddle, Layout, V – sit, etc.

Homework: The children are asked (not required) to do 20 sit-ups or planks, 10 -15 push-ups and 5-10 minutes of stretching 4 to 5 times a week. These can be done while watching T.V., before bed, or any time they have a free moment.

Modified push ups and sit ups – The children are being taught two types of push ups and sit ups that are appropriate and safe for kids ages 5-12. Please ask them to demonstrate. Here are a few things to remember when doing sit ups and push ups while working with children.

Sit ups – Please never instruct a child to put his/her hands behind the neck or the head area. Children tend to pull on their necks, risking injury to a developing body. Instead, with knees bent, have them cross their arms (like a mummy) or hold their arms over their heads. Both of these positions are safe, age appropriate, and work the core sufficiently.

Push Ups – Push-ups can be tricky. I have seen some children do 5 to 7 perfect pushups and then begin to lose the correct form. After a while, they raise their bottoms (the camel), raise the top part of their torsos (the seal), or just go 2/3 or 1/2 of the way down. My general rule of thumb here at the school is to have children do modified push ups to get the maximum benefit to the targeted muscle groups: back, arms, shoulders, and chest. So at school, we do “knee pushups” and “1 second push ups.”
Knee Push Up – Lie flat on your tummy, bend your knees, and cross your legs at the ankles. Put your arms and palms down, parallel with the chest into the mat. Begin pushing up until your arms are fully extended and repeat.

One Second Push Up – Lay flat on your tummy. Put your toes into the ground, palms down parallel with the chest, and push up, bringing everything off the ground together until arms are fully extended. Slowly lower to the ground with all body parts even and tight, wait one second, and repeat.

What we use: For the next 10 weeks your children will be using Balance Beams, Cargo Net, Rock Wall, The Vault, The Pommel Horse, Even Bars, Uneven Bars, The High Bar, Ropes, A Climbing Pole, The Pull Up Bar, A Rope Swing, Floor Mats and Wedges.

Sneakers – Please send sneakers on days your child has class. Boots and shoes are NOT safe.

Equipment: The equipment is only for the children at Horace Mann. It can only be used when I or another certified gymnastics employee of the City Of Newton is present. Sorry, this is for safety purposes. Please do not touch the equipment: children or adults!!!!!

Peek Week: At the end of this 11-week unit all families are invited in to see their child’s class. Peek week will be the week of January 13th– 17th during your child’s class. Please mark your calendars now.

Thanks, Mr. Tynes

Sunday, October 27, 2019

NewsNotes 10/27/2019

Hi all,

October has been a busy month for our family.  My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary, we've been busy with volleyball, gymnastics, and cheerleading, and we are gearing up for Halloween later this week.  The big news for us focused on our daughter Eliana.  We learned last week that she passed both the Math and ELA portions of the MCAS test . After passing Biology last year, she will now be able to concentrate on her high school course work so that she can earn her high school diploma.  For those of you who don't know, Eliana has Mosaic Down Syndrome and did not participate in the traditional MCAS all through middle school. Upon entering high school, there were few people on her school team who felt that she could pass these tests. However, with the right supports and lots of hard work, Eliana earned enough points on both tests to pass on her her first attempt.  She continues to surprise all of her doubters, and we are tremendously proud of her!

October Assembly - At last Friday's assembly we focused on a few items:

First, Happy Diwali for those of you celebrating today!  We shared some photos of this traditional Hindu celebration, which is celebrated primarily in India, but also in several other countries around the world.  Hema Rao, one of our Kindergarten aides, kindly shared a few important ideas about the origins and the traditions that are celebrated.  Here are a few photos of the light displays that are a big part of the festivals:


Second, we talked about our mascot...the Horace Mann Hawk.  We shared a little about how the mascot name came to be, and also shared some important  characteristics of the hawk, as told by several eastern and mid-western Native American tribes.  These characteristics include items in the list below.  Hawks are...
    • observant
    • guardians or protectors
    • courageous
    • wise
    • good at seeing the big picture
    • good problem solvers
    • magical
We then talked to all of the children that they can BE a Horace Mann Hawk by living out the ideals above, as well as some that we added (aligned with our school values).  A HM Hawk is...
    • helpful
    • compassionate
    • hard working
    • accepting of others
From now until Thanksgiving, we will be looking for daily examples of the students living like a Horace Mann Hawk...feel free to reinforce these ideas at home.
Creative Arts and Sciences - Below is a photo of a recent visit from Saadia Faruqi, author of the popular Yasmin series. Saadia talked to the students about the inspiration for her work - her daughter's desire to see characters like her in children's literature. Saadia was informative, funny, and inspirational. Thank you to the PTO and our Creative Arts and Sciences program.

Horace Mann FORJ Book Group - A group of parents have organized an adult book group as one of the activities for this year.  The first book being explored is called “Ghost Boys”.  You can find a link to the book here:

If you are interested in attending, I have two remaining free copies in my office.  Stop by and pick one up. You can also purchase one for a modest price ($6.99).  The book discussion is tentatively scheduled for December 1st in the afternoon at the Newton Free Library.  I will share specifics as we get closer to the date.

Early Release Wednesday - This Wednesday, October 30th is an early release for all students. Children will be dismissed at 12:30.  This is in addition to our normal Tuesday 12:30 dismissal. Classroom teachers will use this time for parent/teacher conferences.  Special education aides and BTs will be participating in a series of city-wide workshops on a variety of topics.

Staffing Update -  I wanted to share that last Thursday was officially Melanie Chan’s last day at Horace Mann.  She’ll be home resting as she and her family await their new arrival. Carolyn Hajte (OT coordinator) will be arranging for Melanie’s substitute.  I’m not sure for how long, but OT services will be interrupted until Melanie’s replacement arrives from another Newton assignment.

Facilities Update - 
  • Last week we had acoustic ceiling tiles installed in a classroom on the 2nd floor.  The good news is that this system seemed to work well to improve the sound quality in the room. On November 9th ( a Saturday), the city will conduct an acoustic assessment of all of the classrooms in the school.  The results of these tests will be used to determine how we will proceed with additional sound improvements.
  • Also, a reminder about the special meeting to discuss the issues related to our move to Nevada St.  The meeting will take place on Monday, October 28th at 6:00 p.m.  in the gym.  Parents will have an opportunity to hear details about the current facility concerns, ask questions, and learn more about potential solutions.  This is an adult only meeting. 
From the PTO
Community Meeting about our School
October 28, 6 p.m.
After meeting with the teachers and staff,
the PTO Board has put together some facts about
the state of our building. 
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns and plan on attending the community meeting with Superintendent Fleishman at Horace Mann on October 28th at 6 PM.

You may also reach out to the following:

Please continue to share feedback ( and get involved with the process.  We look forward to seeing you on October 28th.

Spirit Wear is on Sale Now
through October 31!
All items are only available in blue. Please note that there are NO refunds and that sweatshirts run very small. 
It is available in our on-line Membership Toolkit store.
Thanks for the flowers!
Be sure to thank Horace Mann gardeners Ashley Sullivan and Helen Jakubowski who planted hundreds of bulbs over the weekend. We will all enjoy the beautiful blooms this spring!
Thanks for a great 
Arctic Adventure
Thanks to everyone's support we raised almost $16,000 at this year's book fair and put thousands of dollars worth of books in our classrooms. Special thanks goes to Mr. Tynes for lending us his gym during the fair.
Pay your Dues! 
The PTO is looking for 100% participation. Please help us achieve our goal. While we offer suggested amounts ($50 per student, $150 per family) ANY amount is welcome. 
Calendar Highlights
Meeting with Superintendent David Fleishman
Monday, October 28th, 6 p.m.
Early Release
Wednesday, October 30, 12:30 p.m.
School Committee Mtg. 
Monday, November 4, 7 p.m., rm. 210, Ed. Center
No School-Veterans' Day
Monday, November 11