Saturday, August 18, 2018

Welcome Back - Opening of School Year 2018-2019

August 18th, 2018

Dear Horace Mann Families,

I hope that this letter finds you well during these hot and humid late summer days. We’ve done our best to keep busy and keep cool. Earlier in the summer we enjoyed a trip to Florida to visit Christine’s parents before returning and spending most of our time in and around New England. While the kids had their fair share of camps and day trips, it isn’t easy to entertain a group that has teens and toddlers and everything in between. Santa’s Village in Jefferson NH would be one exception, where everyone seems to have fun. A quick shout out to the Svartstrom family who we saw taking in the same attractions with their group of four! - it is always fun to see HM families in unexpected places.

A quick update on our household as we enter the new school year: Eliana (15) will be entering her sophomore year of high school as we now await her Biology MCAS scores. This year math will be her focus, while also taking a couple of dance classes and participating in the school theater program. Julia (13) will be in 8th grade and continues to make soccer her almost full time commitment (in addition to her phone - social media, Fortnight, etc.). Alora (7) will be in grade 2 (which means a new school in Medfield). She has also officially caught the gymnastics bug (which is a very good outlet for her seemingly limitless energy); she spent most of the summer climbing things and turning herself upside down. Vincent, who will be three in October, made several important and life changing leaps this summer...he is potty trained (mostly), no longer takes a nap, and learned how to hold his breath for a few seconds under water. He can also effectively intimidate each of his sisters, which he happily does throughout the day. Finally, my wife Christine will be continuing her work as a half-time integrated preschool teacher. As always, we are now dreading the return to the busy fall schedule of work, soccer, gymnastics, dance, making lunches, daycare, and more!

A few of us also spent time this summer trying to support the Mendez family. For those of you who are unaware of the story, Rigoberto Mendez, father to 4th grade student Max Felipe-Lopez, is set to be deported in mid-September. A number of staff and families have tried to offer their support in keeping the family together. At the time of this writing, we still have no change in status for Rigoberto. 

Here’s a link to a recent news story:

While we don’t know if other efforts could change the outcome of this situation, I do want to acknowledge the support from the HM staff, from many of our families, and from the broader community. The efforts have only served to reinforce my faith in the direction of our work at our school. It further strengthens my resolve as a school leader to ensure that we are doing all we can to teach each other and our students to listen, to be kind, to be compassionate, and to appreciate all that a diverse community has to offer.

As always, a good portion of summer involves my own commitment to learning, and reading is an essential part of that process. Below is a selection of books I was able to digest these past few weeks. I included links if you want to find out more about the titles...

In addition, several staff spent time working on a variety of continued initiatives for the upcoming school year. I will be writing in more detail about that in the coming weeks.

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

Staffing/Programming News -

  • A hearty welcome back to Courtney Bonzey as she returns from maternity leave. Good to have her back to lead the next group of HM Kindergartners!
  • This year, we WILL again be a Title 1 School (we are 3rd on the list in terms of socioeconomic measures). This typically means we will have additional funding to hire staff who can provide intervention in both literacy and math. 
  • Stephanie Parent (inclusion aide) - Stephanie will be working as a paraprofessional in 3rd this year, bringing along a background in speech and social pragmatics. She is a graduate of Bard and Boston College.
  • Late this summer, Chris Green informed me that she will be re-retiring and won’t return to Horace Mann this fall. Chris spent many years as an early literacy aide before shifting into inclusion where we were able to utilize Chris’s sign language skills. I want to thank Chris for her caring and dedicated years of service.
  • Congratulations to Morgan Harper, who will be working as a full time librarian at both Peirce and Franklin. A big thanks to Morgan for his efforts to work in all grade levels with all kinds of children at HM over the past four years. We wish him the best in his new role. 
  • On a related note, Morgan’s departure has offered us the opportunity to keep Mohammed Adam at HM. Mohammed will work as a paraprofessional in a 4th grade classroom this year. 

Carr School

The big undertaking this year will be our impending move to Carr. Here are several things to think about in getting ready for the move. This list will be sure to grow:

  • Meeting with Diana Beck (principal at Zervas) to talk to her about her experiences with doing a move. 

  • Meeting with Eric Sprung (principal at Cabot), to talk about our staff can spend some time at Carr this year.
  • Room and space assignments.
  • Creating a plan for purging and packing.
  • Think about closure at HM.
  • Creating procedures at Carr - arrival and dismissal, lunch, etc.

Placement - Information will go out to families on Friday, August 24th. I will send placements out electronically via email and also post class lists on the front and rear doors of the school.

Facilities - As always, please take a few minutes to thank Bill Pepicelli and Al Zelmann. They worked a lot of hot and humid days on the second floor, making an already tough job even harder. The building is already looking great for the arrival of the children. Thanks again for all you do!!!

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 at 5:30pm - K Playdate (please note that this is a PTO event, teachers will not be present)

September 4th - 1st Day of School - Grades 1- 5 and Group A Kindergartners

September 5th - 1st Day of School - Group B Kindergartners

September 10th - No School - Rosh Hashanah

September 11th - Back to School Picnic

September 17th - PTO Open House (specialists, special ed, literacy, ELL)

September 19th - No School - Yom Kippur

September 24th - School Picture Day

September 27th - Early Release Day and Back to School/Curriculum Night

Finally, the following article might be helpful as you think about transitioning from the end of summer into the more structured (and hectic) school schedule).

Enjoy these last few days!

Mark Nardelli