Thursday, August 25, 2016

Important Staffing Update

I wanted to share the news that Michele Bilodeau, learning center teacher, has recently made the decision to accept a teaching position at the Diamond Middle School in Lexington, where she will be a special educator teaching 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. This new opportunity will allow Michele to be much closer to home to support her family, and will also offer her the chance to broaden her experience in education. 

I want to thank Michele for her work these past five years at Horace Mann (and over 20 years in Newton).   During that time, she has made strong connections to staff, students, and families, while working to support some of our most fragile learners.  She has been invested in the special ed process, is a collaborative team member, and a caring individual.  I hope you can join me in wishing Michele the best in this new opportunity.

Over the next few days, I will be working with special ed administrators to talk about how this change will impact our staffing needs...more details to follow. 

Enjoy these last few days of summer!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Welcome Back 2016-2017

Dear HM Families,

I hope that this letter finds you well as we enter the latter part of August and begin to turn our attention to the start of a new school year. It has been an eventful summer for the Nardelli family and we have been thankful for the slower pace to life and the chance to spend quality time together. Compared to other years, this summer has been fairly low-­key. One highlight was the discovery of an estuary/beach in Sandwich called Boardwalk Beach that offers crab hunting, bridge jumping, and exploration of the estuary at both low and high tide. We also spent some time in Central Park in NYC (not playing Pokemon Go!), as well as watching the Olympics (mostly gymnastics and soccer). I am always amazed at the growth that occurs during these few short months. Vincent (now almost 10 months old) is crawling, eating everything in sight, and playing the “Uh­ Oh” game as he smiles and drops toys and food on the floor over and over again. Alora (almost 6) learned how to ride a two­-wheeler and also learned how to swim. She will start Kindergarten in a few short weeks. Julia (11) took a risk and signed up to participate in Julian Edelman’s football camp, and was one of four girls (out of over 300 kids) to participate. Having never played football, I’m proud of her willingness to pursue something she was interested in doing, regardless of social norms. Eliana (13) was busy with gymnastics and will enter her final year of middle school as an 8th grader! We also learned the hard way that Eliana is allergic to pine nuts (and more, as we will likely soon find out). Thankfully, she was able to get an Epi­pen shot and recovered without too much trauma. Finally, my wife Christine returns to the classroom, working part­-time this year as a pre­school teacher in our hometown of Medfield.

Of course, all of our experiences came amongst the backdrop of a tumultuous time in the nation and across the globe. The polarizing political season, along with the tragic, emotional and thought­ provoking events in Orlando, Baton Rouge, Nice, Turkey, Minnesota, and Dallas have provided ample opportunities to have discussions with our older girls about political candidates, civil rights, police, and more. For those of you who are also facing the thought of talking to your children about world events, here is a good place to start:

Summer is also a time for my own learning and growth. I try to read both for pleasure and knowledge and this summer’s titles included The Divide ­ American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Thanks for The Feedback by Doug Stone and Sheila Heen, as well as a selection of adult sci­fi and fantasy novels, and young adult texts. As always, my hope is to bring a bit of what I learned as a new lens on our efforts to create a school environment that is welcoming and provides an equitable experience for all of our students. I will share more details about our plans for the year at our Back To School/Curriculum Night at the end of September.

Moving on to more practical matters, I have several updates about the upcoming year:

Staffing News​ -­ We did not have much hiring to do this summer, but there are some changes, nonetheless.
  • With the departure of Julianne Adams, we had an opportunity to hire a new speech pathologist for our autism cohort. I’m excited to share that Kelly Johnson will fill that role. A graduate of UMass/Amherst and Emerson College, Kelly comes to us from the Perkins School, with several years of experience working with students who share a variety of communication needs. I am confident that Kelly will be a strong addition to our team. 
  • We also had turnover in our behavior therapist team. Jason Ochsner, Kelly Stanton, and Joanna Ghilardi have all moved on to other opportunities. Also, Nicole Levasseur will be out on maternity leave until just after Halloween. Despite these changes, we are fully staffed for the fall and are looking forward to another terrific school year. Christina Rossi and Michelle Hallaran will be full time BTs, and we added Kate Parker to our team, who comes over to us from Brown Middle School as a BT. Lorelei Mann will take over for Nicole during her maternity leave. 
  • Lisa Pagana will be working as our Title 1 aide, alongside Ellen Kelner. Carol Harrington will shift over to early literacy, taking over Ahava Rosenthal's spot. 
  • Colleen Talbot, Cassandra Clark, and Sarah Morgenthaler will be our co­taught interns for the upcoming school year.
  • Congratulations to Beth Orzano and Katherine Breen, both of whom landed teaching jobs at the same school in Reading!

Facilities​ ­- Given the water issues at Burr as well as the remodeling work required to open the pre­school on the Aquinas property, there were limited funds to do summer jobs at other locations. At Horace Mann, we had our power/electrical capacity upgraded, upgrades to our wi­fi network, and had new hallway door hardware installed to our closets in the upstairs hallway. As always, please take a few minutes to thank Bill Pepicelli and Billy Brady. They did a great job managing camp and limiting access to the building. They did a ton of cleaning and shifting of storage and already the the building is looking great for the arrival of the children. Thanks again for all you do!!!

Placement​ ­- Information about class placement will go out on Friday, August 26th. I will send placements out electronically via email and also post class lists on the front and rear doors of the school. Here’s the complete list of classroom teachers for the upcoming year:
  • Bonzey, Ferland, Seyferth ­ K 
  • Chatfield, Fischer, Gower ­ Grade 1 
  • Bartley, Lewis, Sandison ­ Grade 2 
  • Bard, Harris, Rosen ­ Grade 3 
  • Berardi/Conley, Blanchard, Kenyon ­ Grade 4
  • Akdag/Dias, Feldstein, Hoover/Packer, Moore ­ Grade 5
Food Service​ ­- The three year contract with Whitson’s ended this past June, and a new company has come on board. I’ve met with representatives about the possibility that we will be changing our lunch service approach. I don’t have all the details about the new plan, but we will likely be piloting an effort to serve lunches out of the kitchen/prep area. K and 1 students will have lunch delivered to classrooms. I’ll provide more details soon.

School Supplies
​ ­- If you participated in the school supply program last spring, kits are scheduled to arrive soon and will be distributed to classrooms prior to the first day of school. If you chose not to participate, a copy of each grade’s supply list is posted on the Horace Mann website at . You can take advantage of sales and buy the items on your own. Please be sure to send your child into school with these supplies ready to start a great year of learning. The PTO can sponsor any student for whom the purchase of supplies would create a financial hardship. Please contact me for information.
The school calendar has been integrated into our website and will be updated regularly. You can access the calendar at this link:​ ​ You can also follow us on Twitter @HoraceMann687.

Important Dates
  • August 30th ­ K Playdate* (please note that this is a PTO event, teachers will not be present) 
  • September 6th ­ 1st Day of School ­ Grades 1­ 5 and Group A Kindergartners 
  • September 7th ­ 1st Day of School ­ Group B Kindergartners 
  • September 21st ­ Back to School Picnic 
  • September 26th ­ School Pictures 
  • September 29th ­ Early Release/Curriculum Night