Saturday, June 30, 2018

NewsNotes 6/30/1028

A Tribute to the 5th Grade Class of 2018 - At last week’s graduation, we celebrated the culmination of a six year journey for a wonderful group of 5th grade students who will now be moving on to middle school.  At this year’s ceremony, the focus was on kindness, inclusion, and making mistakes in order to learn.   Below is a poem I shared that captures what I felt was the spirit of this group.  Best of luck to our graduates!

The Power of One
by Ashish Ram

One song can spark a moment
One flower can wake the dream
One tree can start a forest
One bird can herald spring
One smile begins a friendship
One handclasp lifts a soul
One star can guide a ship at sea
One word can frame the goal
One vote can change a nation
One sunbeam lights a room
One candle wipes out darkness
One laugh will conquer gloom
One step must start each journey
One word must start each prayer
One hope will raise our spirits
One touch can show you care
One voice can speak with wisdom
One heart can know what’s true
One life can make the difference
You see, it’s up to you!!

Art Show - Thank you to Mr. Dailey for working hard with the students over the course of the year to pull together this year's art show.  Students in 3rd through 5th grade displayed what they've learned in art through drawing, painting, clay sculpture, weaving, paper mache, and more.  We also had a selection of musical pieces (performed by our students).  Thanks to all who were able to attend.

Reflections on the YearAn essential part of what we do at Horace Mann is reflect on our goals, celebrate our accomplishments, and think about ways we can make improvements next year.   I've tried to capture a few snippets of what we tried to accomplish this year as a school…
  • Family Outreach:
    • FORJ - Out of a citywide effort to promote conversations about race, a small group emerged at Horace Mann and met several times to react to and discuss readings and videos, and offer a way for families across our community a chance to connect.
    • October Workshop Scenarios/Discussion.
    • Science Night - Students who might not normally have a chance to participate in Science Night were partnered with a teacher to work after school to research and carry out a science experiment.
    • Our Friends/Our City - Boston students selected a friend to partner with for playtime on Thursday mornings before school.  We will also do an outing in Boston this fall.
  • Buddy Bench - Created, decorated and modeled the use of a new bench for our playground that encourages students to be more aware of others who might need a friend. 
  • Creative Arts and Sciences - We again made an effort to diversify our selection of guest performers and presenters, specifically bringing in people that defy stereotypes.  Our hope is to continue this work by bringing in more people of color from professions that are generally underrepresented.
  • Staff Learning and Professional Development - 
    • Used the framework provided by James Banks to guide our work to create a more culturally responsive school.
    • Brought in high school students to share their experiences growing up in the Newton Public Schools as students of color.
    • Held numerous activities, discussions and reflective conversations about concepts, videos and texts related to identity.
  • Small Group Staff PD Work - We had a number of teacher-led groups working this year to accelerate our goal of becoming more culturally proficient.  Some examples include:
    • Expanding our selection of read aloud and text talk books in grades K, 2 and 3 to include stories with more diverse characters and characters with circumstances that might be different from the stereotypical norm.
    • Broadening our selection of biographies in grade 4 to including less well known scientists, inventors, and other historical figures. 
    • Creating lessons to support student discourse of thought-provoking topics through the teaching of targeted listening and speaking skills. 
    • Publishing a series of lessons on anti-bias and prejudice reduction.
    • Creating a mural and poetry wall on the 2nd floor to act as windows and mirrors into the lives of our families and students.
    • Began the process of looking at student demographics in our IEP referral process, intervention, and behavior support.
    • Reading portions and discussed implications of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

  • STEM pilots - In 1st and 4th grade, we’ve been testing out a variety of materials and activities aimed at broadening the student academic experience while also fostering adult/student connections.  We’ve offered Snap Circuits, Lego challenges, Boat/float challenges, and more, to small groups of students during lunch.  The goal is to expand academic offerings to include more hands-on, inquiry based activities that increase student engagement and acknowledge varied student learning styles. The pilot went well and we are planning to purchase additional equipment and materials to expand this effort.

  • Flexible Seating pilot - Late this spring, Ms. Chatfield completely re-vamped her classroom to create more varied and flexible working and learning spots. Instead of traditional chairs and tables, we used PTO funds to purchase bands, ball seats, floor seats, net seats, and other alternative seating options to see how students would respond.  We also lowered tables and offered areas of the room where students could stand up to do their work.  Overall, the changes were well received by the children and seem more developmentally responsive to their needs. Our hope is to use what we learned to better inform our decisions about what we would like to see next year and at Carr School when we move.
Carr School - We will spend a good chunk of time next year thinking about and planning for our move to Carr in the fall of 2019.   I will continue to advocate for building modifications, and we will begin to think about a variety of things related to the move: room assignments, packing, arrival and dismissal procedures, traffic patterns, and more.  We will also think about how to bring closure to our time at the 687 Watertown St. location.  Stay tuned.

Moving Along - A few staff will be moving on from Horace Mann next year to pursue other challenges. Mohammed Adam, Janine Steinhauser, Sarah Morgethaler, and Sarah Pappo have all spent at least two years at Horace Mann as paraprofessionals, interns, and filling in for maternity leaves.  They are now looking to pursue the next phase in their careers.  We wish them the best.

Thank You - I'd like to share a word of thanks to the members of our PTO Board for their tireless efforts to support our school again this year.  Jon Mendecina, Adam Brown, Jess Schiefer, Sharon Russo, Jacqueline Freeman, Megan Anapolle, and Susannah Wardly.  I also want to thank all of the families who donated their time and money to the various programs we offer throughout the year.  Our school wouldn't function without the dedication and commitment of the families in our community.

Have a Great Summer!
Mark Nardelli

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Horace Mann/Carr School Move Update

May 31, 2018

Dear Horace Mann Community,

I write to share with you recent progress on the district’s long-range facilities plan, which is designed to ease overcrowding and improve learning environments in our schools. As you know, Horace Mann has been slated to move to the Carr building upon completion of the Angier, Zervas, and Cabot elementary school projects. With the Cabot project progressing on schedule, the School Committee voted last night to permanently move Horace Mann to the Carr Building at 225 Nevada St. in the fall of 2019.

The Carr building was fully renovated in 2014 and is a well-equipped modern elementary school with 20 core academic and student services classrooms, cafeteria, kitchen, art room, music room, media center/library, gymnasium, and extended day space. We are excited for Horace Mann students, faculty, and staff to experience and enjoy this excellent learning environment.

Over the next year, we will be working with Mark and our City partners to make additional modifications to the Carr building to ensure it is ready for use as a permanent elementary school. This will include development of traffic and circulation plans to ensure safe walks, bikes and rides to school. We will be working to ensure that the move, planned for summer of 2019, is seamless. Plans and timelines will be shared with you as we move forward.

Thank you for your patience during this planning process. We look forward to working with you over the next year to ensure a smooth transition to your new school building.

David Fleishman Superintendent

NewsNotes 6/3/2018

The month of June is filled with activity at Horace Mann.  The space below is an attempt to share some of what is going on these last few weeks of school:
  • Assessments - We are currently conducting a variety of assessments to measure student learning in math, writing, and reading.  This information will help teachers to write progress reports.  It will also serve as a starting point for assessments and instruction in the fall.
  • Progress Reports - Spring reports will be published on June 21st on the new Student Information System call ASPEN. Details will be coming soon.
  • Placement - We are well underway with regard to creating class placements for next year.  In many cases, teachers create class lists for a given grade 3 or 4 times.  In the younger grades, we also set up class “playdates” with the new groupings to get a sense of the dynamics.  If we need to make adjustments, we reconvene the team.  In some case, we start over again from scratch.
  • Celebrations - Lots of classrooms are inviting families in to see a culminating project, a variety of work samples, or a performance.  Some of the work taking place in classrooms is dedicated to 
  • Closure - Teachers are also engaging students in activities that offer a chance for reflection and closure to the classroom experience. 
  • Schedule Review - Each spring, we look at our master schedule and make adjustments to the way we systematically allocate resources to maximize how we use staff, how we run interventions, etc.

Fitness for Life - Another awesome day…as always, thanks to David Tynes for the inspiration for this event, as well as the tremendous effort it takes to organize, practice, setup, and put away all of the activities.   Thanks to the staff who ran activities, to Rose Mariano for helping with logistics, and to Elissa Matloff for tending to the children with allergies, scrapes and bruises, etc. Thanks also to all of our classroom teachers and other staff who worked with students to cooperate, take risks, and have fun. Finally, a huge thank you to all of the parents who contributed to organizing snacks, ordering water bottles and food, setting up grills and cooking, and for being present at the event. This event is a great way to summarize and showcase all that it means to be part of the HM community.

Carr School Planning - Now that the School Committee has voted to move us to Carr for September of 2019, we have begun to think about our planning needs in earnest. On Tuesday, June 5th, I will be bringing a small team of people (including central office staff) to do a walk-through at Carr to discuss requests around classroom space, storage space, and other things that might come up.  Shortly thereafter, I will update the community on what we hope to achieve.

Return Library Books - Because Ms. Karam is split between schools, I’d like to support her efforts to collect library books from students over the next two weeks.  If you have a book signed out, please remember to turn it back in as soon as you can!  Thank you!

Articles -  Came across a few articles over the weekend that I thought were worth sharing…might make for some interesting discussion out on the playgrounds or sports fields this spring...
For the first one, I thought sharing might provide families with a window into our philosophy and thinking about what is important in making schools a productive place:

The second two articles are on a completely different topic but related to one another.  I know my wife and I struggle with decisions around access to screen time, independence, decision-making, responsibility, and more.  The two articles delve into both.

The first features an interview with the author of a new book titled Why Children Aren’t Behaving and What You Can Do About It

The second talks about how little independence our kids truly have these days.  If you can’t access it directly frorm the link, try searching for it in your Apple News app on your IOS device