Thursday, July 14, 2016

Blog Update June 23rd, 2016

Mini-Golf Courses designed and built by 5th grade students in Ms. Karam's library classes.  The project involved critical thinking, design, presentation, and much more!
Graduation Recap - It was a privilege to take part in last week’s 5th grade graduation ceremony.  The ceremony was a celebration of the growth that has taken place over the past six years, and we are proud of their accomplishments. We heard several student speeches that focused on themes like acceptance, learning new language and culture, and overcoming fear.  I was impressed at the positive messages that the students were able to convey.   I have no doubt that this group will be successful moving forward.  We wish our graduates the best as they move on to middle school.

Reflections on the Year

This year, we focused on creating a professional development model that aimed to provide teachers with choice in their learning. We had a wide range of topics including several that centered on the importance of fostering an inclusive school environment.  Topics included stereotype threat and the achievement gap, gender identity and expression, working students with trauma, developing strategies for students with ADHD, and more.  Out of this work came the decision to form a new working committee of teachers aimed at creating a school environment where all students feel that they are welcome regardless of their challenges, beliefs, traditions, physical characteristics, etc.   This new group will focus on developing professional learning opportunities, school assembly themes and school-wide cultural experiences, parent workshops, and more.  Our first meeting will take place this coming August. I look forward to sharing more details with you as this evolves.

In addition, we have spent time this spring reflecting on our literacy intervention model.  With our on-staff literacy aides, ELL staff, LLI and Reading Recovery programs, and flexible grouping model, we have seen tremendous success for students in our targeted areas in grades 1 and 2.  We have seen growth for all students, with far fewer children ending the year below benchmark, and a significant reduction in referrals for special education.  Our hope is to expand this plan into 3rd grade for next year.


  • Shayna Packer will join Claudia Hoover as the special educator in one of our 5th grade cotaught classrooms.  Shayna has been teaching grade 3 at the Underwood School for the past four years and comes to us as a well respected teacher who brings creativity and energy to the classroom, as well as a toolbox full of strategies to support a wide range of learners.  We wish Shayna a warm welcome to the HM community.

  • Julianne Adams - After spending this past year as the speech and language teacher for our cohort, Julianne has recently accepted a position as the AAC director for the district.  We wish Julianne the best in this new opportunity.  I have already begun working with the Director or Speech services to hire a strong replacement.

Playground - I have a tremendous feeling of pride for the community effort that went into building our new playground space.  Moms, dads, city workers, and other volunteers came out over a three day span to dig holes, pour concrete, assemble complicated structures, and more.  A huge thanks goes out to John Oliver, Todd Symmonds, and David Wiborg, who were in charge of finalizing design plans, organizing volunteers, coordinating onsite work, ordering materials, providing lunch, and more.  Thanks also to everyone who contributed to the funding for this project, as well as your patience in what has been a long journey. I’m just sorry that we didn’t have the playground open in time for the end of the school year.  The good news is that our Parks and Rec staff have reassured me that they would have the playground open in time for the 4th of July holiday!  Enjoy!!

Creative Arts and Sciences - I wanted to acknowledge the efforts of Cedar Pruitt in coordinating the Creative Arts and Sciences program this year.  She has brought passion and commitment to bringing in a diverse set of experiences for our children and we look forward to having her in this role again next year.

PTO Board - Please join me in thanking the PTO board for all they did this year for our school.  There were regular monthly meetings outside of school (as well as with me), along with all of the other planning that went into individual events.   This group is truly dedicated to making our school a better place.  Thanks to them,  as well as  all the other volunteers who offered their time to the school in some way. 

Sharon Russo and John Oliver
Vice Presidents
Sarah Arcese, Jenn Conley, Jacqueline Freeman, Karen Solari
Melissa Vaughn
Susannah Wardly
Technology Liaison
Sandy Malec

Enjoy the summer!

Mark Nardelli