November 3rd, 2011

posted Nov 3, 2011, 10:27 AM by   [ updated Nov 3, 2011, 10:32 AM ]

Upcoming Events to Report:

Maynard Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) 

Meeting Announcement - Brain Balance: 

Please join Brain Balance Achievement Center and Maynard SEPAC on Monday, November 7th at 7:00 pm at the Fowler School Library in Maynard as we strive to educate our community about the causes of ADHD, autism, aspergers, Tourette's, and other disorders.   In 2011, nearly 25% of all children will struggle through the school year with the challenges of ADHD, autism, dyslexia, aspergers, and other learning and developmental disorders.  For many students, this means daily medications and ongoing battles with academic and social tests.  One of the greatest challenges of these disorders/delays; however, is the lack of understanding - on the part of teachers, parents, and specialists - of exactly what is happening to our children.  Our informational lecture will introduce the concept of positive neuroplasticity, the importance of integrated brain function, and the reality of remediation through hemispheric stimulation.  The Brain Balance Program is a drug-free, multi-modal approach to the remediation of developmental disabilities rooted in the science of life-long brain development.  Using advanced assessments, we work to identify the areas of weakness in a child's brain.  We then develop a customized program of sensory motor activities, academic work, and hemispheric stimulation to encourage brain development and reverse the challenge!  Beyond that work, however, we work closely with parents throughout the process to explain the workings of the brain in each child, and how our work is beneficial.  Our talk will include helpful hints for working with children of every challenge both at home and in the classroom, as well as advice on identifying areas of weakness in your son/daughter.  Contact Jennifer O'Leary at or 978-897-2705 for RSVP or more information.  This workshop is free and open to the public. 

Academic Success:

We have a half day for students scheduled this Friday 11/4/2011.  I'll bet many people wonder: What do teachers and administrators do on those professional development days?

In an effort to shed light on what teachers and administrators do on professional development days, I will share an abbreviated version of an email from our Assistant Principal at Maynard High School, Mr. Charles Caragianes.  Chuck has chosen as his administrative project to address the articulation and alignment of our curriculum from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12.  He is working with the Elementary Principal of Green Meadow, Donna Dankner, and the Interim Director of Curriculum, Don Holm.

Good afternoon all--

As you know, on Friday November 4th the district will be having an Early Release Day for all schools.  On this date the district will be taking the first step in what promises to be a challenging, but worthwhile venture:  The articulation and alignment of our curriculum from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12.

As you likely have heard or read, with the acceptance of Race to the Top funding, the Commonwealth has agreed to realign our Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks to the new national Common Core Curriculum.

Every district must accomplish the task, and many districts are likely to approach this work from a top down perspective, or will be heavily segmenting the work by school type--elementary, middle and high schools separately.  Here in Maynard the goal is to do much better than that.

As we realign the curriculum in Maynard, all 3 of our schools and all of our teachers will be working together to create an updated and unified curriculum from grades K to 12 with maximum teacher input.  It is understood that this is a large undertaking and that proper time and resourcing will be required.  It is also understood that revisiting the curriculum is an ongoing process of continual assessment and revision by all of the professionals within our district.

Friday November 4th, teams of teachers and leaders will be meeting at the Fowler School from 12:00 until 2:00 to begin this work.  Teachers from Kindergarten through grade 5 will be working together and teachers working with students from grades 6 to 12 will be working together.  Please stay tuned for upcoming emails in the next few school days as we prepare for Friday November 4th.

Thanks very much!

Chuck Caragianes

Sent October 28, 2011

This email highlights that this work is being done collaboratively with teachers and administrators working side by side.  Also note that teachers from all levels will be able to share with their counterparts, a grade above and a grade below, what they expect students to know and be able to do entering and leaving their class.  This articulation does not often happen in all school districts and it is a sign for our community that you have a highly functioning Maynard School Department that is working collaboratively to reach its goals.

Update on the Millis MA Public School Site Visit and more:

At our October 27th School Committee Meeting, we had a great discussion about the visit to the Millis Public Schools.  School Committee Chairperson Gay discussed the innovative programs that we saw including: a TV Production program that operates during the day, an iPad pilot program that put an iPad in the hands of every 8th grade student in Millis, and a Kindergarten through 12th grade Immersion Foreign Language program. 

Of the three initiatives, we focused more on the TV Production Program and the Immersion Foreign Language program.  We discussed the benefit of greater technology integration in all classrooms that appeared to be the result of a TV Production program that runs during the day as an elective class.  We also discussed the benefits of an Immersion Foreign Language program which appear to be the attainment of a foreign language with more fluidity.  Also a side benefit in Millis is that the Foreign Language Immersion program also brings in an additional $100,000 of choice money without increasing expenses.

We almost made the leap that evidence of the effectiveness of these individual programs could be found in the fact that 99% of Millis students achieve proficient or advanced on the ELA MCAS and 95% of Millis students achieve proficient or advanced on Math MCAS.  Those are incredible statistics from a town with nearly identical demographics to Maynard.  After a discussion with school committee member Ken Estabrook, we came to the conclusion that success of that magnitude cannot be attributed to only one or two initiatives but must be linked to greater systemic vision and mission aligned with excellence.       

In my last Superintendents notes, I mentioned that the 21st Century Learning Skills Advisory Committee will continue with more visits and will also meet to review the findings.  I did get additional interest and would just like to leave an open invitation for participation.  If anyone is interested in participating on this committee, please contact me at

A poem that I believe reflects the positive mindset and potential I have found in Maynard:

I once had a professor at Boston College who started every class with a poem.  I never considered myself a great interpreter of poetry but I always admired his ability to bring poems to life in ways that were pertinent to each of our classes.  A funny thing happened to me the other day where a poem just jumped to life for me.  Therefore, I would like to end this Superintendent’s Notes with a poem.

The poem I will share in this email was initially described to me by our Fowler Assistant Principal, Sharon Seyller.  She described it in passing after a Maynard Leadership Team (MLT) meeting.  Within minutes after that conversation Don Holm, our interim Curriculum Director, had given me a “good book” that he thought I would like to read.  The book is "The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life".  I could not believe the coincidence that on the page before the table of contents I found the very same poem Sharon had just told me that she liked so much.  I instantly identified my meaning of this poem with how I feel about Maynard.  I hope that all of you get the same feeling as I did.


I dwell in Possibility

A fairer House than Prose-

More numerous of Windows-

Superior-for Doors-

Of Chambers as the Cedars-

Impregnable of Eye-

And for an Everlasting Roof-

The Gambrels of the Sky-

Of Visitors-the fairest-

For Occupation-This-

The spreading wide my narrow Hands-

To gather Paradise-

-Emily Dickinson