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.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Curriculum Night Details

Dear HM Families,

Below is the format for this year's Curriculum Night , which will take place on Thursday, September 29th. 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.   

Curriculum Night Format:  

  • 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

We hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

NewsNotes 9/11/2016

From Mark's Desk

Dear HM Families,

I want to express my thanks to all of the staff, students and families who helped to make for a relatively smooth opening to school, despite the challenge of having to start day one in the dark! Since that first hour, we’ve been hard at work sharing summer stories, getting to know one another, developing routines, and easing into academics.  We place a strong emphasis on talking about our school-wide beliefs, modeling appropriate behaviors, setting goals, and developing a sense of belonging. Here's a link to the book I shared at Assembly on Friday:  The theme was about the importance of embracing differences and recognizing that each child at HM is special. I look forward to sharing more with you at Curriculum Night on September 29th.

Playground: We are excited to officially begin use of the new playground after completing construction in late June.  We purposefully began the year with very few guidelines about how the new structures should be used…we wanted to give the children a chance to explore without making assumptions or creating limitations.  Now that we’ve had a few days to try things out, we are going to take Monday and Tuesday this week to talk with the students and gather observations from staff about what’s working and what isn’t.  Our plan is to use the feedback we receive to make some recommendations about rules and/or guidelines that should be in place to ensure the safety of the children.  If parents have any observations, questions or suggestions they would like to share, please email me this week

Food Service Changes:  Newton has recently entered into an agreement with a new food service company (Sodexo) and with this new agreement comes several changes.  Below are two important highlights:
  1. The menu has changed district-wide. We will no longer have a day devoted to serving pizza.  In addition, snacks will not be available as an additional purchase option. Both of these might be worth mentioning to your child; they’ve already been asking!
  2. The food purchase and service system at HM has changed.  We’ve removed the lunch service setup from the upstairs hallway and relocated to the kitchen at the rear of the building.  This new system helps minimize noise and congestion during instructional time in the halls, and also reduces the considerable effort it takes to continually stock and restock food and other items from downstairs. We had our first run Wednesday-Friday this week and things went very smoothly!  The students did a terrific job and I think this change will be a positive one.

Staffing Update:

With the departure of Michele Bilodeau, I have decided to shift our inclusion facilitator, Katie Deehan, into the learning center position (joining counterpart Lucy Couture). In this role Katie will be responsible for delivering the specialized academic instruction that Michele provided in her time at HM.  While there is no doubt that Katie has done a terrific job with our inclusion program over the past three years, she also has a broad range of specialized academic skills to offer our learning center, including extensive experience delivering Wilson Reading Instruction.  I am confident that Katie's skill set will serve our school well in the learning center.  

While Katie will primarily be a learning center teacher, she will also retain a small inclusion caseload.     In addition, I am excited to share the news that the majority of the inclusion facilitator role will be fulfilled by Siobhan Mikolajewski.  Siobhan has spent many years at Horace Mann serving as a Behavior Therapist, working hard to service individual students while advocating for inclusion.  She has a strong background in supporting social and behavioral challenges, and has recently completed licensure requirements that will enable her to tackle the administrative side of the job.  Siobhan knows many of our students, staff and families, which will help make for a smooth transition.

We will work hard to support both Katie and Siobhan in their new role.  Please join me in congratulating them!

SEPAC:  The Newton Parent Advisory Council for Special Education (NewtonPAC) is an all-volunteer organization of parents of children with disabilities in the preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, and in private schools who meet to learn more about special education programs, issues, policies, regulations, and resources. We sponsor monthly informational meetings, maintain an online discussion group, and work with the school administration regarding our children’s education.

Liaisons to the PAC are in place for each Newton public school and for those attending private and out-of-district schools.  The liaison for Horace Mann is Lisa Estes, Horace Mann parent.  Lisa created an email address for parents to ask questions and get info when needed. You can reach Lisa at the following address: Thank you to Lisa for offering to spearhead this home/school connection.

From the PTO

Back-to-School Picnic—Wednesday, September 21, 5:30pm
We hope to see you all at the Back-to-School Picnic on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 5:30pm.  This is a casual and fun way to reconnect with old friends and meet some new Horace Mann families.  There is nothing formal here--people congregate in the field behind HM with chairs, blankets and dinner for their families.  And all will enjoy free ice cream from Cabot’s!  A pre-order pizza option will be available on—stay tuned for more info.
From the PTO Board

Hello and welcome to the 2016/17 school year!  We hope that everyone had a great summer and is excited about another wonderful year at Horace Mann.  One of our main goals is to have many opportunities for families to create connections across our school community. This Fall we have a jam packed calendar filled with fun and meaningful community-building events.

Each year we strive to create a rich experience for our students and families and we need your support to make this happen. Whether it is volunteering for a couple of hours or leading a committee, your involvement makes the Horace Mann stronger as a community school.

Please do not hesitate to contact any board member about getting involved or with questions, thoughts and suggestions. Your voice and involvement will help us build upon our strengths and bring fresh ideas that will benefit all HM families!

: John Oliver and Adam Brown
VPs: Sharon Russo, Karen Solari, Jacqueline Freeman, Sarah Arcese
Communications: Sandy Malec and Jacqueline Freeman
Co-Treasurers: Melissa Vaughn and Jon Mendicina
Secretary: Susannah Wardly

PTO Dues

Dues are an important line item in the HM budget to fund many of the programs integral to the school’s curriculum (e.g. Creative Arts & Sciences). We ask that each family contribute $50 per child at HM as your annual contribution to the PTO. There are many ways to do this easily—including our website (—click on ‘Support’ button), personal check, or any PTO Board Member can take credit cards.  You will hear more about this on Curriculum Night (below) – we will be raffling off a Family fun night - a $300 value - and all you have to do to enter is contribute your dues by the end of Curriculum Night!

Curriculum Night—Thursday, September 29

After the picnic, our next big school event is Curriculum Night.  This is a great opportunity to hear from principal Mark Nardelli on the Horace Mann school philosophy, meet teachers and hear more about their classroom environment/curriculum.  You will also hear from the PTO Board on programs and events for you to participate in throughout the year.  Please come prepared to pay dues that night if not before to be entered into the raffle!

International Night – Friday, October 146-7:30PM

Help celebrate the wonderful diversity of the Horace Mann community! Get out your cookbooks and prepare your taste buds for a treat. One of the most popular events of the school calendar is around the corner.
•             International potluck dinner
•             Country tables with food, photos and cultural items
•             Multicultural music, activities and prizes
If you would like to host a country table, bring a dish, or help with the event in some other way, please contact Manisha trivedi (

Horace Mann Garden
The PTO would like to recognize and thank the "Summer Watering Folks" for helping keep our little "work in progress" garden alive over the HOT summer! We hope to continue to expand and revitalize the garden through the school year for the kids to learn and enjoy.
Gift Wrap Fundraiser—starts Friday, September 23
Our first official fundraiser kicks off 9/23 and we hope everyone will participate! The Charleston Wrap catalog (which your kids will bring home) is full of gift wrap, kitchen items, jewelry, and chocolate to sell to family and friends. This year's sale runs through October 10th. Out-of-town family and friends will be able to order online—HM account info to come soon— so please share with all for the holiday season. We will receive the products by mid-November, so consider that these could be holiday gifts/wrap.  And HM will receive 40% of the proceeds!  Please email Sarah Arcese ( or Melissa Vaughn ( with questions.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Drop Off and Pick-Up Procedures

Below is a summary of guidelines for morning arrival and dismissal time. Please keep in mind safety is the priority, and we ask that families do their best to follow these guidelines.

  • For anyone enrolled in our morning program, we will be open on Tuesday 9/6 at 7:30 am.
  • For everyone else, students can enter the building at 8:20 am.  School doors will automatically unlock at this time.  They will lock again at 8:35. Families may enter the building from either the front entrance or the back entrance between 8:20 and 8:35.  After 8:35, students should report to the main office. 
  • Family members may walk their children to class.  Over time we will encourage students to become more independent and go up to class on their own.

  • Grade K-2 students are released at the rear entrance.  There will designated spots for each class under the overhang. 
  • Parents/caretakers should remain at the bottom of the ramp so as to provide us with enough space to allow students to clear the building.
  • Staff members must make eye contact with a parent/caretaker before we release your child.
  • Grade 3-5 students will be dismissed at the front entrance.
  • Remember, no child is ever left alone after school. Teachers stay with children until they are picked up. If you are late arriving for pick up, the child will go to the school office to wait for you.
  • We also have specific dismissal procedures for any students who take a bus (Boston, YMCA), attend DAD, or go to the Boys and Girls Club. 


  • The Blue Zone is a designated area that allows parents to temporarily park while dropping off or picking up students.
  • Drop-off and dismissal time are often congested.  Arrive early to get a spot.  
  • Please DO NOT park on the grass. 
  • Please DO NOT double park.
  • Alternate parking is available on nearby streets: Page Rd. , Warwick Rd., Brookside Ave., and further down on Albemarle Rd.
  • Walk if you can!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Home/School Communication Update

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year.  We are excited to welcome our students back to school this week!  Remember, Group A kindergartners start on Tuesday, Group B on Wednesday.

For the start of the year, I’m going to send out a short announcement each day or two, with important information about our school.  I hope this will be easier than reading through a long email…

Today's message is about HOME/SCHOOL COMMUNICATION.  You can expect to receive communications from the school using several methods:

  • NewsNotes: A summary of important and recent events from the principal and from the PTO.  This will be delivered through our MailChimp account to your inbox roughly every two weeks
  • Blog Updates: Content from NewsNotes as well as other time sensitive information will be added to our blog.  Anytime I add to the blog, you will automatically get an update in your email.  The blog can be access directly by clicking on this link:
  • NPS/School Messenger: Reminders about early release days, snow days, progress reports, and other district info will come to you through our School Messenger system.  This will include emails and phone calls.
  • Twitter: I will occasionally post photos, videos to give you insight into your child's school day, along with articles relevant to the field of education.  You can follow us @HoraceMann687

Best Wishes,

Mark Nardelli

Coming Next: Drop-Off and Pick-Up Procedures