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Superintendent's October Newsletter
Superintendent's October Newsletter
Mary Jane Rickson
Monday, November 04, 2019

                                 

                               SUPERINTENDENT’S NEWSLETTER 

                                                  October 2019


       I am honored to be chosen as the Interim Superintendent of Schools for the Maynard School District. As a new superintendent, it is important that I obtain a clear understanding of the district so that I can develop a comprehensive plan to ensure the districts success. To that end, I will be working to create an entry plan that involves all stakeholders in the process. In order to effectively do this I will gather information, garner feedback, and collect data from a variety of stakeholders, which will include surveys and interviews. 

Since joining the Maynard Family, I have been visiting the schools on a regular basis, attending extracurricular events and meeting with faculty, staff, and students. I have seen engaged and happy students, excited to show me what Maynard Public Schools has to offer. Now that I’ve had the chance to look at the internal mechanisms of the district, I am interested in eliciting external feedback from other stakeholders. I would like to invite family and community members to a roundtable discussion to find out what Maynard Schools are doing well and what we can do better. 

I will be holding a Roundtable Focus Group meeting on Wednesday, November 13 from 5:30 to 7:00 in the high school library. In addition to the Roundtable I will be offering “Coffee with the Superintendent” in the central office conference room on Tuesday, November 12th from 8:30-9:30.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to participate in these forums, it is important that I engage in open dialogue to ensure the future success of the Maynard Public School District. 

                                         

                          ATTENDANCE MATTERS- HERE'S WHY! -KEVIN CARUSO

           Attendance and effort are the main drivers of students’ course grades, grade point averages (GPAs), course failure, high school graduation, and college readiness—much more so than test scores, demographic factors, or which classes students take.  It may seem like it’s OK for students to miss class now and then, or to miss an assignment here or there, but it seems OK because nobody sees what would have happened if the student had been in class or finished the assignment. Even just a couple of days of absence or a few missed assignments can cause students to fall behind, and once students fall behind, it becomes increasingly harder to catch up.   Often, students and their families don’t realize how much school they’ve missed. Missing just a couple of days a month adds up to almost a month of missed instructional time over the year and makes a student chronically absent. Students who are chronically absent are at high risk of failing classes when they get to high school and, eventually, not graduating. Students who are chronically absent in pre-k and the elementary grades make smaller gains on tests and are likely to score at levels that put them far behind proficiency levels.  At the same time, students who have high attendance show higher learning gains than other students, while schools that improve attendance rates show increases in students’ test gains, grades, and pass rates.  

CONSIDER THESE FACTS:

• Students who earn high school GPAs of 3.0 or better—the grades that indicate readiness for college—tend to have attendance rates (on average) of 98 percent in the middle-grade years. Their test scores in the middle grades are much less predictive of how they do in high school than their grades and attendance in the middle grades.

• Missing just five days of school in the first semester of ninth grade decreases the likelihood of eventually graduating high school by 25 percentage points.

 • GPAs decline by almost one-half of a GPA point, on average, when students enter high school, and this decline is almost completely explained by increased absences and weaker study habits compared to students’ behaviors in the middle grades.  This decline in attendance and effort takes many students offtrack for college, even among students with strong achievement in middle school.

Information is from an educational journal written by Uchicago Consortium on School Research: Supporting Social, Emotional and Academic Development.

                                SCHOOL CANCELLATION AND DELAY INFORMATION


                                           

    Inclement weather or unexpected emergencies may require the district to cancel/close/delay school. Decisions regarding emergency closings or inclement weather are typically made in the morning. The Superintendent will work with local town officials which include DPW, and highway department personnel, as well as area superintendents to determine if the roads and sidewalks are safe for our staff and students. There may be times when decisions to close schools are made in the evening prior to the next school day if the forecast warrants closure. 

Communication:

Information regarding school cancellations/delay will be communicated to all families through our Thrill Share Online Media Portal. It will be conveyed to families via:

  • Automated phone system 

  • Email

Social Media Platforms

  • District Webpage

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

Local Media Outlets 

  • Boston 10 & NECN  

  • WBZ-TV 4    

  • Boston   25  

  • WHDH Channel 7

  • WCVB-TV 5

Maynard Public Schools Phone APP

 

 

                                    Wellness and Safety Committee Update

                                             

 

This past month, members of  Maynard's Wellness Committee and members of the District's Safety Committee met  jointly to discuss progress on the various goals and initiatives the committees have adopted.  We are very fortunate to have an outstanding relationship with both the Maynard Police Department and the Maynard Fire Department.  Thanks to this collaboration, a great deal is happening. A few highlights include: 

  • Fowler School will be hosting the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School Summit on November 20th.  Activities will include a morning walk audit and an afternoon dismissal observation.

  • Members of the Wellness Committee are reviewing questions for the bi-annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by Emerson Hospital; the data gathered will be very beneficial in setting priorities for the Committee.

  • Massachusetts Partnership for Youth will be presenting four evening programs for parents this year.  Members are examining ways to promote greater parent involvement in these presentations

  • On November 12th, five Maynard educators will be participating in an all-day conference examining  promising practices throughout Massachusetts in trying to curb the vaping academic. in addition, Maynard will be joining with other school districts throughout Massachusetts as an anti-vaping curriculum aimed at grades 6-12 is being formulated

  • A subgroup of the Safety Committee is putting the finishing touches on a revised Emergency Response Plan.  This revised plan will aid us in our plans to apply for new federal school safety grants

  • We recently benefited from a no-cost safety plan for each of our three building conducted  by SERV-PRO

As you know the Maynard School District has implemented the ALICE Program to address issues of school safety. ALICE, which stands for ALERT, LOCKDOWN, INFORM, COUNTER and Evacuate is a nationally recognized program which has received the support of the Massachusetts Department of Education as well as national and local law enforcement. Each school in the district will be responsible for ensuring that students are aware of the ALICE protocols and will be working with Maynard Public Safety Officials to practice drills as they relate to the protocols.



 

 

Notes from the Curriculum Office 

Maynard Public Schools staff began the professional development session in August with a celebration of “We are Maynard Public Schools” sharing the strengths and diversity of our programming in Maynard.  On October 25, all faculty and staff continued that celebration by exploring two central questions:

●      Who makes up the Maynard School Community?

●      What do I bring to the Maynard School Community?

The morning sessions provided an opportunity for staff to share in a moment of reflection about these questions through a creative process.          

 

 Products from all of these sessions can be displayed in the buildings and the school grounds in the coming months. 

These sessions laid the groundwork for some deeper exploration of cultural proficiency in education and what learning we as a Maynard School Community need to engage in to help move the needle towards a more inclusive community.  Led by Assabet Valley Collaborative Executive Direct Cathy Cummings and Educational Equity Specialist Kiesha Lamb, staff discussed various stakeholder groups and their impact on moving our strategic plan forward. Using the analogy that cultural proficiency can feel like a heavy tree in our path forward, staff discussed what barriers and opportunities there were to move the tree.  Staff had the opportunity to sign up for a three-day workshop to strengthen their own learning and to bring that learning back to their colleagues. There will also be other professional learning experiences throughout this school year to help strengthen our ability to ensure that all families and stakeholders can see themselves as valued members of our School Community  

Why Cultural Proficiency? 

The National Education Association defines Cultural Competence as “having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and view about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families,” (Why Cultural Competence, n.d.).  It is important to understand that the term culture is not a euphemism for racial or ethnic differences. Noted author Zaretta Hammond states culture can be best understood as a tree. All individuals have surface culture that is immediately apparent to others, like the leaves or fruit of the tree.  Examples of surface culture are things like the holidays we celebrate and the food we eat. Elements of shallow culture are the unspoken rules that we live by. Visualized by the trunk of the tree, these are things like concepts of personal space and ways of dealing with emotions. Deep culture is represented by the roots of the tree, where our beliefs and norms lay.  These elements have significant impact on our decision making and include things like our world view, notions of fairness, and concepts of spirituality. Hammond asserts that by focusing on patterns of deep culture people in educational systems can help all students to become independent learners, (Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain, 2014). The development of independent learners is a core component of our district’s strategic plan. 

So why cultural proficiency?  In essence cultural proficiency is the catalyst that will ensure that Maynard Public Schools is a truly inclusive educational community that promotes individual growth and success.  The development of this community will allow all students access to a superior academic experience filled with practical and relevant learning opportunities, helping them become contributing members of our global society. 

 

 “I am Maynard Public Schools”                           

                                                   Video Campaign

 

As part of Maynard Public Schools effort to create an inclusive community, we would like your help to show who we are as a school community. We are asking students, alumni and community members to share their “Maynard School Story”.  In telling your story you may want to consider questions like:

 

  •  How did my Maynard School experience help me become who I am?

  •  What do I bring to Maynard Public Schools that is special?

  • How do I make Maynard Public Schools a better place to be?

Some Notes:

  • For students or alumni and community members- take a moment to make a video telling us your Maynard Public Schools story.  Videos should be no longer than 30 seconds.  

  • Parents of younger children may want to discuss the questions above with your children and brainstorm how they could share their school story.  Then help them film their video.

  • At the end of your video, say your name and state “I AM MAYNARD PUBLIC SCHOOLS” 

While videos are the encouraged medium for sharing your story, we certainly welcome other means of sharing your story.

Submit your story!

Stories can be submitted in two ways:

  • Submit your video in Flip Grid!  Click this link and enter the Password is IamMPSPublic (case sensitive)

  • Email your video or any other representation of your story to Assistant Superintendent, Jennifer Gaudet jgaudet@maynard.k12.ma.us The subject line should indicate, “I AM MAYNARD PUBLIC SCHOOLS”.

We will be sharing compilations of submissions throughout the school year on our website and other platforms!

           Vapes and Cigarettes: 

                Get the Facts

Different products. Same dangers.

Vapes and Cigarettes. Different products. Same dangers. Addiction. Nicotine. Cancer-causing chemicals.

Did you know?

  • Vape pods can have as much nicotine as twenty cigarettes? 

  • Nicotine can harm your brain, including your memory and ability to learn. 

  • Vapes and cigarettes may be different, but they have the same dangerous for young people.

Get the facts at mass.gov/vaping

https://www.mass.gov/video/vapes-and-cigarettes-get-the-facts

For young people:

Follow us on Instagram @GetTheVapeFacts

The 84, a youth movement

The Truth Campaign

For parents, teachers, and adults

Get the facts and learn what you can do to protect young people from the dangers of vaping: 

Source: Mass.gov/vapes

Please join us on November 14 at 7:00 in the Maynard High School Auditorium for a community forum

What are you puffing?  Vaping and our Youth 

Vaping has recently become a troubling trend in our schools and communities. This workshop focuses on how to recognize vaping devices and products and the physical impact vaping has on the body.


WELCOME TO THE FAMILY

This week we are pleased to welcome Ryan DeFoe as our new Theater Director at Maynard High School and to the Maynard Community. 

Ryan has extensive experience working with youth and community theater groups with an impressive list of productions across a variety of theater genres.  Along with his hands on experience, Ryan also holds a B.A. from Marist College in Theater Arts & English and a M.Ed. from Emerson College in Directing & Theater Education. 

His first meeting with students will be this coming Tuesday November 5th at 3:00pm.