Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Responsive Home Workshop - Tonight - December 1st

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Metco Jazz Brunch

On Sunday, December 11th, several staff and families will be attending the Metco Jazz Brunch as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Metco Program.  We have a limited number of seats available for any families who might be interested in attending.  Details of the event are posted below. If you are interested, please send me an email at with your name and the number of seats you are requesting. Seats are first-come first-served. Thank you to the HM PTO for sponsoring family attendance at this event.

Monday, November 28, 2016

High School Start Time Presentation

On Monday, December 5th at 8:20 a.m. at Horace Mann, Ellen Gibson, School Committee Member and member of the district's High School Start Time Working Group, will present information on potential later high school start times in Newton.  A change in high school start times has the potential to impact start and end times at ALL schools in the district. Several potential scenarios will be presented (review them here.) More information can be found on the district website. Please come to learn more and provide feedback. Or, email your thoughts to

The presentation will take place in the music/assembly/DAD space.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Home Discussion Activity - Empathy and Kindness

Featherless Friend
A Mexican Fable

Ku was tired of being bare. Like many other birds, he was born without feathers. But while his sisters and brothers sprouted feathers of brilliant red and yellow, Ku was left in his bare pink skin. When the nest got too crowded, Ku's brothers and sisters flapped their wings and flew away. But when Ku tried to fly, he plummeted to the ground beneath his tree. While he was dusting the dirt off his beak, he heard laughter next to him.  

"You can't fly without feathers," laughed a gray and brown bird.

Embarrassed, Ku ran deep into the forest. When the sky grew dark, Ku took shelter in the nook of a tree trunk. Without his family's feathered bodies to keep him warm, he shivered so hard that his chattering beak caught the attention of an hawk, which hopped down from a tree branch.

"Who are you?" asked the hawk.

"I'm Ku."

"You must be freezing," said the hawk. Instead of laughing at Ku, she extended a wing and wrapped it around his cold body.

"I can't help but noticing," the hawk said, "I have plenty of feathers, and you have none." She shook her body, and a spotted feather came loose. "So take one of mine."

"Thank you!" Ku said, wrapping the feather around his cold skin. Already he felt a tiny bit warmer.
In the morning, he opened his eyes to see the hawk speaking to a large flock of birds — some big, some colorful, others tiny. "My new friend Ku has no feathers and is very cold. If each of you would give him just one of your feathers, he could cover his body and stay warm."

A cardinal walked up to Ku, noticing how different he looked compared with most birds. Imagining how that must feel, the cardinal plucked a beautiful red feather from his head and handed it to Ku. A parrot came next, offering a long blue feather. An eagle, a canary, a duck — even a hummingbird gave Ku a tiny feather.

Ku was overwhelmed by their kindness and thanked his new friends as he placed the feathers in his wings, around his head, and on his chest and feet. He topped off his new plumage with the peacock’s gift: a shimmering green-and-blue tail feather. Ku had never felt so warm, and he’d never felt so ready to fly.

Possible Discussion Questions
  1. How was Ku different from the other birds?
  2. How did the bird feel in the beginning? In the end?
  3. What do you think about the birds who laughed?
  4. What might you say to the birds who laughed?
  5. How did the hawk help?
  6. Can you remember a time when someone helped you? How did it make you feel?
  7. Can you think of a time when you helped someone? How did you know that the person needed help?
  8. What are some ways that you can help out around the house or at school? 
  9. What does it mean that Ku ended up with all different colored feathers?

NewsNotes 11/20/16

Post Election Thoughts: I wanted to take an opportunity to offer some thoughts about our work at Horace Mann in the uncertainty of the post-election environment.  I know that nationwide there are varying opinions about what is right for our country, yet regardless of   policy changes that are created in Washington, the rhetoric that persists in the media, or the challenges we may face in our own community, the staff at Horace Mann remain committed to fostering a welcoming and supportive learning environment for all. We will continue to emphasize and focus on the things that are most important to us...compassion, equity, integrity, citizenship, empathy, kindness, respect, and a celebration of diversity...our collective commitment to acceptance and success for all has not changed, and if we can stay focused on these ideals, we will do right by the children.   I look forward to working with all of you to make this a reality...
Staff Professional Development Update #3: In this third installment of our professional development plan for teachers, I wanted to share the work that our Family Engagement group has been doing.  As the title suggests, this groups is committed to building new ways to bridge the work we are doing at school with families. Here is a brief description of their work:
  • ELL Literacy Morning -  This past Friday, our ELL staff (Ms. Baseggin, Ms. Spence, Ms.Tamaki), in conjunction with our literacy specialist (Ms. Martin) and our librarian (Ms. Karam), talked to families about how we teach literacy and how parents can foster good reading practices at home.
  • Family Buddy Program - see below.
  • Difficult Conversations Seminar for Parents(March date - TBD) - Preparing parents to talk to children about race, privilege, disabilities and other topics.
  • Providing computer access and tutorials for parents at Progress Report time.
  • Math workshops by grade span (Dates/Times TBD)
New Home/School Values Discussion Activities:   As part of our efforts to be more transparent and communicative about our school values, members of the HM School Council met last week to create a series of home discussion activities. The activities will come out roughly once per month and will include a story, fable, or folktale based on one of our values.   This month’s topic is Empathy/Kindness. At our all school assembly on Monday, I will share the story with the students.  We will then send home hard copies (and e-copies) later in the week so families can read the stories together and discuss.  Thanks to school council members for working to narrow the story options and for creating the discussion questions. 

Horace Mann Buddy Families: Horace Mann is looking to start a Buddy Families program in which HM families help one another feel connected to and supported by the school community. As a first step, our staff are looking to identify families who would like to participate in the Buddy Families program as either:
  • A family receiving mentorship from another HM family
  • A family providing mentorship for another HM family
A family might choose to receive mentorship from another HM family if they are new to the HM community, if their child/children have unique needs, if they live outside of Newton, if they speak another language, or if they experience any difficulties otherwise connecting with the school.
A family might be in a position to provide mentorship through the Buddy Families program if they have been in the HM community for some time, tend to be actively involved in school-based activities, or otherwise feel connected to and knowledgeable about the school community.
Please contact one of our Buddy Families staff-members if interested in participating in either capacity:
Stephanie Coplon (

Free reading resources available:
  • This past spring, in support of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, The New York Public Library, the Digital Public Library of America and First Book joined forces to launch Open eBooks, an app that provides FREE access to a library of thousands of eBooks for children from Title I schools and children served by special education teachers to use in school and at home. Follow these instructions to get started.
  • ConnectED has additional free resources that have been committed by companies that include things like professional-grade software and mobile broadband. 

News from the Newton Early Childhood Program:

NECP Open house for prospective parents 17-18 school year
December 6th 10-11 am
January 11th 5:30-6:30 pm
Parking/Entrance from 150 Jackson Road Newton, MA 02458

We still have openings for the 2016-2017 school year.  Please call 617-559-6050 or visit the Newton Public Schools/Newton Early Childhood website for more information. Financial assistance is available.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving Break!

Mark Nardelli

From the PTO

Thank you to all the families that participated in the gift wrap fundraiser. Your items will be delivered on Wednesday. Enjoy!

Don't forget to check out the playground pavers! Thank you to Always Green Landscaping for donating their installation services.  A special thank you to all the families who donated.

We will be kicking off our second annual food pantry drive this week. On Monday, each student will receive an empty grocery bag displaying a suggested donation. You may contribute more, less or something different. ALL DONATIONS ARE WELCOME  !!

For those families who are able to contribute we encourage your child's participation as much as possible so that they are fully connected to the act of giving. If you can, please take your child shopping with you when buying the products or have them select them from the kitchen cabinet, and then deliver the bag in the lobby themselves.

Please bring donations to the front or rear lobbies of HM between 11/22 and 12/2. Thank you!

Mark your calendars for the Staff Appreciation Breakfast on Thursday,December 8. More information on how you can help will be sent after Thanksgiving. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

NewsNotes November 6th, 2016

A visit to our Kindergarten classrooms from the NE Aquarium!
Veterans Day: This week and next,  Mr. Tynes has initiated an effort to honor all Horace Mann families and staff who have served in the military.  If you or a family member has served or is actively serving please bring in a couple of photos for us to display in the front lobby next week. You can bring the photos directly to Mrs. Mariano.  We will return all photos the following week.
Staff PD Update #2: As I mentioned last time, I will share some details in each newsletter about the small group work teachers are engaging in around issues of equity and connectedness.  This week focuses on our commitment to expanding our core curriculum to be more reflective of our diverse student population and to provide a more well rounded perspective of historic events. Specifically, teachers are...
  • gathering books and resources that will be used to foster classroom discussions about a variety of issues related to diversity.
  • developing lessons that promote discussions about inclusiveness, bullying, identity development, and more.
  • expanding the focus of our social studies curriculum to include multiple perspectives.  For example, in our 5th grade European explorer unit, one teacher is working to develop lessons that also incorporate exploration efforts from China and Japan.
Our plan is to have at least two new lessons at each grade level.
Article: Given that we are in the midst of perhaps the most contentious and unpleasant election season in recent history, I thought I would share an article that describes the dilemma teachers face with regard to sharing values/beliefs vs. remaining neutral in a classroom setting. 
School Council Summary: At our first School Council meeting last month, we made the decision to focus our energy on family engagement.  At our next meeting we will work to identify several monthly themes centered around concepts that are in line with our theme of connectedness and equity.  We will identify a focus (like empathy), find stories that align with the focus, and create a discussion-based activity that will be designed for parents and children to share at home. For anyone who wants to be part of the process of developing these activities, our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 16th.
Book Fair: Thank you to all of the families who came out to support our Book Fair, either by making purchases or offering to help out in some way.  A tremendous thank you goes out to Jacqueline Freeman and Megan Anapolle for their efforts to coordinate this year’s event. 
Building Updates: Thanks to John Mendecina for arranging for the purchase our new Hawk Flags at the front and rear of the building.  They look great! You also may have noticed that we’ve finally had the damaged letters replaced on the front of the building!  Both are a welcome improvement.
Social Media Release Settings: This year, Newton changed its approach to the way parents provide permission for a variety of social media settings.  In Skyward, you can decide if you want to provide permission for the school to post photos on our website, on Twitter, etc.  The default option is NO for all settings.  So far, only 85 families have updated their preferences.  Please click on the following link to login to SKYWARD and update your settings.
Have a great week!

Mark Nardelli

From the PTO

The Bookaneer Bookfair was a HUGE success! Thank you to our wonderful Librarian, Mrs. Karam, for her support and to Mr. Tynes for generously sharing his gym with us. We raised more than $15,000 and reached our goal of selling more than 3,000 books! Thank you to all of the families who came and supported the book fair. We hope you had fun and keep reading!
Mystery Dinner—thank you!
Our 2016 Mystery Dinner was a success and we want to send a big thank you to Aude Henin and Valerie Pirri for all of their efforts in planning this year’s event (and hosting a dinner!).  And we appreciate all the other wonderful hosts for wonderful cocktail and dinner parties!  Thanks to the following families: Ploussios, Lubbe-Lynch, Ryan, Sinnett, Mantell, Freeman, Haueisen, Russo, Cedrone, Symonds, Gleason, Lemire, Kaufman, Anapolle, Mirman, Moore & Christianson.

PTO Dues
Thank you to families that have paid their dues to date—we are off to a great start but we can do better!  47% of HM families have contributed their dues and we appreciate it!  If you have not yet paid, please contribute $50 per child you have at HM as your annual contribution.  As a reminder, dues fund many of the programs integral to the school’s curriculum (Creative Arts & Sciences, e.g.).  Simply visit our website (—click on ‘support’ button) or pay by personal check. 

Horace Mann Directory
It’s time to get connected! The Horace Mann PTO is pleased to announce that this year’s Student Directory will be online and accessible with your mobile device. In order to make sure all information is accurate please update your information no later than Friday, November 11th. If no updates are made we will assume your information is correct.
Next Steps
1. You will receive an email with a secure link to the information we currently have for your family.
2. Click on the link and review your information. (The form is organized in sections.)
3. Click on the header(s) in the form to view and make any necessary changes.
4. Save in Step 5 to update and confirm your data.
If you have any questions, please contact or Thank you for helping us to make this year’s Directory a success! 

Social Action Committee
BIG thank you to everyone who donated to our Coins for Kids/All for Books drive during the Book Fair! We raised $400 and bought NEW books to donate to the Martha Elliot Center in Jamaica Plain.  Our 4th/5th grade committee members will hand deliver them next week and they are very excited!!
You will hear from us again in the coming weeks with another great cause for our community and look forward to your continued support!
Many thanks!
Sharon Russo

Sunday, October 23, 2016

NewsNotes October 23rd, 2016

International Night 2016!
Update on Staff PD: In each edition of NewsNotes, I will share some details about the small group work teachers are engaging in around issues of equity and connectedness.  This week focuses on a group focused on building strategies for those who look and act differently.  The conversation in this group has focused on Building capacity for empathy amongst our students by...
  • Teaching more typical students skills to interact with all students regardless of disability.
  • Creating a buddy bench (you can read more about that here).  
  • Conducting whole class lessons that are developmentally appropriate at each grade level.
  • Providing classrooms with a question jar so that students can safely ask things that they are curious about.
I will provide more details about our efforts in this group as well as others.

Flu Clinic -  This is a reminder about the FREE FLU CLINIC at the Horace Mann School.  Our flu clinic will be held this Friday, October 28th beginning at 8:30 am.  Parents may sign up to receive the flu shot at no charge by returning consent and screening forms to the school nurse.  The forms are due October 26th.  Forms and additional info are available online at or in the school nurse’s office. 

School Council - School site councils are a mandated initiative created by the State of Massachusetts created as a way to ensure that staff, parents, and community members have a chance to engage in discussions about important school issues. At Horace Mann, we have used the group as a way to advocate for building improvements, to organize evening events and parent coffees, to survey the community about a variety of issues, and to review the school improvement plan.  We typically meet 5-6 times per year and meetings generally last about an hour.  We have several parents who have committed to participate this year, but the meetings are open to everyone.  If you are interested in attending, our first meeting is this Tuesday, 10/25 from 6:15-7:15 pm.

PARCC Scores- Over the past couple of years, Massachusetts has been in a state of flux regarding our standardized assessment system.  That trend will continue this year, as 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders will again be taking a new test in Math and Literacy.  The new test is being called the Next Generation MCAS exam.  I will provide more information on this later in the year.  I did want to mention that during the 2015-2016 school year, the City of Newton participated in the PARCC exam, and results were recently sent to current 4th and 5th grade families.  If you have questions about PARCC or about the results, please let me know.  As a school we are not putting much emphasis on the results, in large part because we rely on our own internal assessments to stay informed about student progress and related instructional decisions.  

Please see the important information below!!!!

Ahoy Readers!
Next week is the Horace Mann Book Fair!
New Location! New Format!
This year our book fair is TWO DAYS ONLY!
It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26 and Thursday, October 27 in the Gym.

*Breakfast with Books BOTH days – 7:30-8:30 a.m. October 26 & October 27
*Family Night – 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, October 27

Online Book Fair!
Can’t find your favorite book? Can’t make it to the fair? Want to get a jump-start on your holiday shopping? Visit the ONLINE BOOK FAIR Open from October 19-October 31.
Books will be delivered for FREE to Horace Mann.

Family Night
Bring the whole family, order a pizza, and visit the famous Day After Day Haunted House! For $1, visit as many times as you like, both scary and non-scary options. Proceeds benefit the DAD scholarship program.

There will be plenty of Games, Crafts, and Good Times!
You MUST pre-order you pizza on-line by noon on Wednesday. ORDER HERE

Show your Book Fair SPIRIT!
Wednesday, October 26 — Matey Mix and Match Day!
Mix and Match your craziest patterns!
Thursday, October 27 — Bookaneer Bandana Day!
Grab your bandanas buccaneers!

All proceeds benefit the Horace Mann and Classroom Libraries.  Shop anytime between 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26 and Thursday, October 27, or go ONLINE. What AAARGH you reading, Matey?

In the next two weeks we will be rolling out our new on-line directory and communication system, My School Anywhere, which was created by parents for parents. Thousands of parent associations and schools have chosen MySchoolAnywhere to manage their organization and go "paperless". Day Middle School and Newton North use this system so your data will follow you as you graduate to the next school!
Our school directory is just a few clicks away and on-line data management, shopping and volunteer signups update the system instantly.  This new system uses the highest level of industry standard security to make sure your information is protected. It also reduces errors because you enter your information yourself, you can be guaranteed that it’s what you want. You will be receiving an email in the next two weeks with directions on how to log-in and update your information.  Whether you are travelling, trying to sign up to Volunteer or looking to find the address to your child’s playdate, MySchoolAnywhere will get you there.

PTO Dues
Thank you to families that have paid their dues to date—we are off to a great start!  Almost half of HM families have contributed their dues and we appreciate it!  As a reminder, dues fund many of the programs integral to the school’s curriculum (Creative Arts & Sciences, e.g.).  We ask that each family contribute $50 per child at HM as your annual contribution to PTO dues.  There are many ways to do this easily—website (—click on ‘support’ button), personal check, or any PTO Board Member can take credit cards.

Gift Wrap Fundraiser
Thanks to all of those who participated in our Charleston Gift Wrap fundraiser! Sales were more than $5,000!  We hope you love the Charleston products and enjoy using them this coming holiday season.  You can expect your order right before the Thanksgiving break. Any questions, please contact Sarah Arcese at

International Night—A success!
A special thank you to Manisha Trivedi and Kristen Gleason for organizing such a celebratory evening!  Once again, the display of diversity and culture was amazing—well done!

Mystery Dinner—November 5, 2016—Invitations are out!
Our 2016 Mystery Dinner is Saturday, November 5th—coming right up!!  An evite has been sent and the first 70 people that rsvp will be able to attend.  Those of you who have been a part of the Mystery Dinner in previous years know how much fun it is.  It's a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old acquaintances, meet new friends, and connect with other HM parents; all while enjoying delicious food and supporting the school. Hope to see you there!

Social Action Committee
We are starting back with a "Social Action Committee" for 4th/5th graders.  It has been a few years since this existed at HM and we are hoping to garner parent/child interest to get it going!  This small effort can make a BIG impact for local organizations we support PLUS the involved students see directly how their efforts can make a BIG IMPACT for others in our surrounding communities. It starts this month with our Book Fair.  Scholastic matches our donation up to $1million nationwide with the "All for Books" Program that we collect for during our Fair. Patrons can donate change/dollars directly during purchase at the Fair or the kids on this committee will have Bins for loose change to be collected.  We then add up these dollars at the end of Fair and directly purchase NEW books to be donated.

We chose a great local charity that provides desperately needed books to kids without.  Martha Eliot Health Center is a community satellite of Boston Children’s Hospital. They serve the inner city of Jamaica Plain, primarily low income population. They have a strong Reach Out and Read program at their site, and work closely with the Massachusetts Reach Out and Read team. They give books out from infancy through early/mid adolescence with a strong mission of increasing academic success and enjoyment of reading.

After this Fall effort, we will be looking for a few parents to help out with two more efforts, Winter and Spring.  Together, we will find other local organizations in need and mobilize in an effort to help. We want to teach/send home the message that we ALL need to make a difference no matter how small to help out others.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

NewsNotes October 9th, 2016

Professional Development Groups for Teachers -  As I mentioned at Curriculum Night, staff professional development this year will focus on efforts to build connections with students and families, with the overall goal of expanding our capacity to provides students with an equitable educational experience. Here are the topics teachers have chosen:
  • Building diverse classroom libraries
  • Advocating for building accessibility
  • Developing classroom lessons related to diversity, race, and equity
  • Planning Family Engagement Events
  • Strategies for including children who look/act differently

Understanding Our Differences - This week, 5th graders took part in learning about Autism as part of our UOD program.  Students got an overview of the characteristics associated with Autism and also engaged in an exercise that emphasized the challenges of reading non-verbal social cues. They watched a video and had a visit from an adult with Autism, all of whom described their experiences in school and in life.  Thanks to the parents who volunteered their time to be part of this program.

“I AM FROM” - A selection of students in 5th grade shared a portion of their “I Am From” poems at our all-school assembly on Friday.  Each year, some of our 5th grade students write these poems as part of an effort to share what makes each of us unique…here are a few samples...
  • I am from the barnacles that cover the damp rocks on the beaches of Maine and the bustling streets of Manhattan whose livelihood is my second home. I am from the honking of India where bony stray dogs pace viciously back and forth in search of food.  I am from the great lakes of Michigan, where my heart still remains.   - Arushi
  • I am from polychromatic carved Norwegian figurines, each old and unique and hosts a tale as old as time itself. I am from the looseness of my muscles after jumping into a split, my toes pointed like the arrows on a compass.   - Maddie
  • I am afrom a family who is screaming at the top of their lungs at the TV screen when they watch a special event like the Superbowl or World Cup. I am from soccer heroes like Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo, Pele.  - Victor
  • I am from pirouettes to leaps on the sooth dance floor. I am from magical voices coming out of a piano.  I am from flipping pages of magic and adventure.  - Lorene
  • I am from muchas gracias and Spanish songs in the car.  I am from a quaint neighborhood in Guatemala with flowering trees and my grandmother waiting with tasty food for me. -Chris
  • I am from a picture of my family taken in the past, seen in the present, and forgotten in the future, but most of all I am from a family that’s future is still unclear but will always love me. - Angela

50th Anniversary of the Metco Program -   NPR is doing a series on their All Things Considered show on the METCO program. Today they featured two Newton students. Heres a link to the program

High School Start Time  - Recently, families received an email from the superintendent detailing Newton’s work on high school start times. This fall, the district is asking for your thoughts on the benefits and costs of moving the high school start time later, as well as feedback on several potential scenarios. Some scenarios change only the high school hours, while others impact our school and others in the district.
Research, reports, and scenarios can be found on the district website: I encourage you to attend the community forum at Angier on October 19th at 7:00 p.m. You can also provide feedback via

How Was Your Day at School? - I know firsthand how challenging it can be for parents to find out how your child’s day at school went; here’s an article that offers suggestions on how to get your children to open up.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

International Night


Friday, October 14th, 6:00-7:30PM

Horace Mann Gymnasium

What is it?

The gym is transformed into a global fair with tables, hosted by HM families, to celebrate their countries OR countries they are interested in and have chosen so that people can learn more. Tables have food, activities and cultural items from many countries around the world. Children are given a “passport” so that they visit all the countries and earn a prize!

How can you participate?

1. Host a table! Celebrate your heritage OR choose a country of interest and sign up to host! Co- hosting with friends or other Horace Mann parents is fine too. Simply click the link to the google doc below and sign up! Also Attached is few tips for the event. It is FUN to host and usually very popular. Be prepared to share a table with someone! aring

2. Be a guest and simply visit the tables and sample the food offerings!

We hope to have an evening filled with music, food, artifacts, culture, and fun for all! Looking forward to seeing you all.

Table Tips & Food Guidelines
Food guidelines
  • Display items from your chosen country
  • Bring books, posters, banners of your
  • Hang your flag
  • Come dressed in traditional clothing
  • Create a game or art/craft
  • Create a ppt slideshow and have it
    playing on laptop
  • Bring all supplies needed to “dress up”
    your table and to serve food (scissors, tape, markers, display cases, plates, spoons, fork, cups etc.)
  • Be prepared to share a table with someone—this is a popular night!
  • Bring what you need to display/serve food (tablecloth, plates, utensils)
  • Avoid any raw or undercooked meat, chicken, fish or eggs. No raw sushi please.
  • Label dishes for any allergens: dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, fish, shellfish, etc.
  • Bring food already cooked; plugs are few and far between and first come, first served; bring extension cord if you need outlet.

If you have questions, please contact Manisha Trivedi ( or Kristen ( Come and join the fun! 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

NewsNotes September 25th, 2016

Classroom/Library Swap: I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all of the staff and central office people who helped to pull off the classroom/library swap last week.  We had over 60 people on hand to move books, furniture, classroom materials, technology, etc. as well as to recreate the bulletin boards, supply centers, and learning spaces that make for welcoming and productive learning spaces.  Thanks also to the parents who’ve been in to help with re-organizing the library. I feel proud to say that I am a part of this team of dedicated and generous professionals. Both of the new spaces look amazing…A huge thank you to Ms. Gower and Ms. Karam as well.  They’ve been flexible, positive, and open minded throughout the process.  

Literacy Program Summary/Overview: Below is a summary of our school-wide approach to literacy instruction in:
 grades K-3:
  • We have new instruction that takes place in a whole group lesson format.  This includes letter ID, phonics, comprehension strategies, etc.
  • Students then are provided with small group instruction call GUIDED READING.  This is typically a 20 minute period where a teacher works with groups of 3-6 students 4x per week.  Students are typically grouped at a similar reading level.
  • For some students additional supports are needed.  We determine the level of need based on our September assessments. There are two options:
    • LLI - groups of 3 students work with a teacher 5x per week for 30 minutes. (not available in K)
    • Reading Recovery - 1-1 instruction with Sara McSwiggan, our Reading Recovery teacher.  This is 5x per week for 30 minutes and includes a home reading component (this is available for first grade only)
Our belief is that the vast majority of our literacy supports should be allocated twoards supporting our younger students.  Students develop at different rates and often respond to systematic and intensives supports that set them up for great success in their later elementary school years.  I will provide an overview of our grade 4-5 literacy program in the next NewsNotes.

Curriculum/Back To School Night

Curriculum Night will take place this Thursday, September 29th. We encourage everyone to attend  for several reasons.  You will have a chance to...
  • learn about the beliefs that guide our work here at Horace Mann.
  • hear from the PTO about how you can contribute and be involved in your child’s school
  • learn about our various programs like Title 1, CAS, and Understanding Our Differences.
  • gain insight about the academic and social curriculum connected to your child’s classroom experience.

Below is the format for this year's Curriculum Night.  Please note that we will have childcare available.  Day After Day staff have offered to supervise children during the evening.  We will also have an option to eat dinner (pizza) prior to the event.   

  • 5:30 pm - Pizza and childcare in the Day After Day space AND open time to meet specialists (art, music, service providers, etc. ), pay dues, sign up for committees
  • 6:00 pm - PTO/Principal Presentation
  • 6:45 pm - K-5 Classroom presentations
  • 7:30 pm - End of Back to School Night/Childcare pickup 

Please click the following link to sign up for childcare and/or pizza: 


  • I did a quick inspection of the playground last week with a rep from Newton’s Parks And Rec Department. We found a few issues that need to be addressed and this week, we expect to tighten up and replace any loose or missing components. We do not feel that there are any immediate safety concerns.
  • Our staff also met last week to share observations and gather input from students to help us make recommendations for how we could improve safety during recess.  Taking into account the guidelines provided by the playground manufacturer and by the city, we are committed to providing students with a recess experience that is not overly prescriptive or rigid with regard to rules.   We did, however make the following recommendations:
    • Students may not play TAG or engage in any rough play on any part of the new structure.
    • Students must slide all the way down the slides (and not climb them).

CAP Program: Each year Child Assault Prevention (CAP) Specialists come to the elementary schools to teach children vital skills to help them stay SAFE, STRONG and FREE. CAP will be conducting kindergarten, second and fifth grades workshops at Horace Mann School in December.
So that you can learn more about this program, we invite you to attend the Child Assault Prevention Program parent meeting on Wed., Oct. 26, 2016 at Cabot School from 7-8 p.m. Alternatively, you are welcome to join us at Bowen School’s parent meeting on  Fri. October 7, 8:45 -9:45 a.m. in the cafeteria.
More information will be sent home in the coming weeks.