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!