Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Principal Notes

Principal Notes

Each time we get to this point in the year, I think “…my gosh…” is it the Holiday Break already? But as I look back through the calendar I realize that teachers and staff have been amazingly busy teaching and learning while keeping up with Bullying Training, Safety Drills as well as professional development activities. And although this break is not the end of the second quarter or the first semester, symbolically it feels like the half way point in the school year. I can say that as I make my way into class observations and talk with students that teachers and kids are looking forward to the well needed break. Mrs. O’Connell and I wish you and your children Happy Holiday’s and best wishes in the New Year!

Parker Community Service Projects

Both the Peer Leaders and Student Council have been busy this season continuing service projects here at Parker. We have collected over 200 coats for the Coats for Kids organization. Students have been exceptionally helpful, coordinating, collecting and advertising the need for winter coats on Parker News Live and throughout the school community. The drive ends January 8th, if you have any gently worn winter coats that you would like to donate to a wonderful cause, please feel free to give them to your son or daughter to drop in the collection box in our main foyer. Additionally, our Peer Leaders have worked with the Reading Fire Department to collect toys for the Toys for Tots organization (see the picture below). The idea of service is alive and well here and students are encouraged to think big about helping others and they know we will support them and help them develop their ideas.

The Library Media Center

The Parker Library Media Center has been transformed this year, starting with the hiring of Robin Ferrazzani. Robin did brilliant work at the Killam Elementary School and when a position became available here at Parker we were fortunate enough to have her make the transition from elementary to middle school. Even before the school year started we knew that things in the LMC were going to be a bit different; Robin came into school in July and re-arranged the library to accommodate more students and to allow more activities and classes to be in the LMC at one time. Moreover, Mrs. Ferrazzani began teaching classes and collaborating with Meg Powers, our Technology Specialist, to further integrate technology in each grade and across all curricular areas. Mrs. Ferrazzani and Mrs. Powers co-teach technology electives and our Documentary Films Classes.

Mrs. Ferrazzani can be seen in the picture below with sixth grade students (from left to right) Siobhan Dowcett, Katie McKenna, Meghan Daley and Olivia Pavao. This picture was taken at the end of a technology integration class where sixth grade students worked to create a Wiki to chronicle information about the book A Tugging String: A Novel About Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era (more information can be found at The author David Greenberg will be visiting Paker and talking to students about writing and also his book.

We will also be having a Book Fair, which in the past has been held in the LMC where students would visit during the school day and purchase books from a limited selection. This year the Book Fair will be held January 6th at Barnes and Noble, Burlington.

As mentioned above, Happy Holiday’s and Best Wishes in the New Year! If you have any questions or we can help with anything please do not hesitate to contact us.

Doug Lyons and Cathy O’Connell

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 10

It's the week before the week before and the kids are all very excited about the upcoming winter break.  I think the teachers are excited as well.  I know I am!  The Parker Peer Leaders are sponsoring a toys for tots drive so please consider bringing in an unwrapped gift.  The Parker Student Council is collecting coats for the annual Anton's coat drive.  This is a great opportunity to clean out your closets and keep a child warm this winter.  Please also consider donating a gently used board game for indoor recess.  Our days of going outside after lunch are limited.  Progress reports were sent home this week on Edline.  Please be sure to check Edline for an update on your child's progress.  Please also ask your son or daughter to check the lost and found at Parker for misplaced sweatshirts, hats and jackets.  Speaking of sweatshirts, your last chance to buy some really cool Parker clothing will be next week.  Check out our online store for some great new items.

As always, if you need anything please drop a note or give a call.  --Cathy

Friday, November 26, 2010

November News

Principal Notes
November 2010

This is a great time of year at Parker Middle School. The first quarter is complete; Report Cards were posted to Edline on November 12th. Our seventh trip to Nature’s Classroom trip in the Berkshires has taken place. The French trip to Quebec City is complete and the Veterans Day Assembly held on November 10th and was again a great success. November is a very busy month. We are speeding through the first semester; teachers and students have been working hard, and the Thanksgiving break is well deserved for all. A special thanks to teacher and parent chaperones who made our school trips to Quebec and the Berkshires possible. Thank you!

Nature’s Classroom

Our seventh trip to Nature’s Classroom took place November 3rd to the 5th and was again an exciting trip. I made the cut list this year and was able to chaperone; Mrs. O’Connell lucked-out and got to go last year. Each time I attend the NC trip, I learn more about the outdoors and nature and marvel at the experience our students have living in dorms and learning on the heavily wooded property of the Chimney Corners Camp in the Berkshires. Students are challenged to manage their day on a tight schedule of outdoor and enrichments activities.

Meals are a bit of a challenge for some; students learn quickly that there is nothing like a home-cooked meal. I had the good fortune of staying in the Four Seasons Lodge (Upper) where 22 students, myself and my fifth grade son, Joseph, spent the three days and two nights. We didn’t spend a lot of time in the dorm, students were shuttled in and out quickly between activities. The rain and the cold weather presented a bit of a challenge this year but students persevered and made it work, sharing boots and rain gear to stay dry. You can see from the picture below that Charlie Robinson makes good use of a trash bag to stay dry, very fashionable by Nature’s Classroom standards.

This year, 152 students and 11 chaperones made the trip. Participation increases by about eight percent each year. Teachers and staff like the fall trip and really enjoy getting to know the kids outside of school. Special thanks to staff chaperones Ms. Halsey, Ms. Favazza, Mr. Twomey, and Mr. Spinali. As I mentioned above, without parent participation, we would not be able to make this trip, thank you to Mrs. Scouten, Mrs. Powers, Mrs. Lomanno, Mr. Smith, Mr. Walsh and Mr. Bergeron. Thank you!

Veteran’s Day Celebration

I am pleased to report we held our second annual Veteran’s Day Celebration on November 10th. The event was organized by sixth grade Team Leader, Brienne Black and seventh grade ELA teacher Donna Martinson. Mrs. Black, a Parker graduate, is keenly aware of the historical significance of this day. By inviting veterans who are relatives of our current students, members of the community, employees of the Reading Police force and the Reading Public Schools, Mrs. Black and Mrs. Martinson created a unique way for students to connect with, learn about and understand Veterans Day. Our goal was to create an event for students so they could slow down and think about the service and sacrifices that men and women in the armed forces made and are currently making so we can live our lives and follow our dreams here in the United States. Our guest speakers, Dr. Jack Delaney, Mr. Dynan and Mr. Hammond were remarkably effective talking about their experiences and also what the day means to them. Mr. Bedingfield, father of eighth grader Jimmy Bedingfield, read an inspiring poem as part of a stirring speech that summed up the costs of freedom.



The Veteran’s honored at the celebration were Mr. John Barbati, Mrs. Kelly Bedingfield, Mr. Jim Bedingfield, Mr. Brian Bergeron, Mr. William Brown, Mr. Bill Burditt, Mr. John Demoy, Mr. Robert Dorrington, Mr. Paul Dynan, Mr. Ernest Henry Faust, Mr. Jack Hammond, Mr. Robert Richards, Mr. Corey Santasky and Mr. John Williams.

Mrs. Black and Mrs. Martinson did a terrific job coordinating this event; Mrs. Black worked continuously, sending updates to the program guide right up until the start of the assembly. This was no small task, seeing that Mrs. Black did all this work while on maternity leave. Student masters of ceremonies, Meghan Nelson and Quillen Bradlee did a fine job keeping adults on track. The eighth grade choral performance of the Star Spangled Banner and the playing of Taps by Ryan Friedman were exceptionally executed. The assembly ended with a brilliant slide show put together by Nick Stevens and Mrs. Ropple. The slide show will be accessible through Edline shortly.

Turkey Trot

Parker held the 35th Annual Turkey Trot to raise money for Turkeys 4 America. The event was organized by teachers and staff to help promote a sense of community and giving among the middle school students. The event has evolved over the years from giving turkeys locally to now making a donation annually to Turkeys 4 America. This organization assists families that need a turkey for the holiday. This year’s winners or the Parker Turkey Trot shown in the above photo are Christina O’Connor, Mike Keogh and Ruthie Wilson. Special thanks to Mr. Hiltz and Mrs. Copeland for keeping this tradition going.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving Break!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Parker News and Info

Fall in Reading; this is such a great time of year. The trees are turning, the weather is constantly changing and our students are, for the most part, fully acclimated to their fall schedules. At this point in the fall, teachers are putting the finishing touches on lessons and assignments that will be included in the first marking period. Teachers are also working with students to help them prioritize their time and effort to complete the first quarter with grades that represent their best work and effort. Report Cards will posted to Edline on November 12th at

We have been working this fall trying to take opportunities to help students make their work public. The theme we talk about is “…producing work for an audience greater than one…” The reason we chose this phrase as a reference for our work is that is creates different entry points and opportunities for teachers to help students make their work public. Depending on your experience in school, most students in the past, produced work that was only viewed and commented on by one teacher and no one else. The work was usually graded and returned and time went on without much fanfare. Teachers here at Parker are working to help students share their work with greater audiences…different audiences. We find that when students know that an assignment or project will be viewed by others they put forth their best effort and they want their work to be the best it can be. There are a number of different ways that we have structured this at our school. Some students simply share their projects or written work with other students, while other classes use technology to create blogs, wikis and or podcasts to share their work. Students have had the opportunities to publish their work on the internet and allow the world to see work that represents their thinking, their ability to communicate about the subjects they are learning.

Other examples of students producing work for an audience greater than one can be found on-line at:

The Quill is the on-line Parker Middle School News and Arts Journal

Mr. Olivo’s English Class keeps a daily journal

Mr. Musselman’s Science Blog and

Mr. Williams Science Blog

Sixth Grade Student Book Reviews can be viewed at:

Our First Dance of the Year

This past Friday evening we held our first dance of the year, with 126 students in attendance. Special thanks to the Student Peer Leaders and the Peer Leader coordinators Chris Copeland and Vonda Gauthier for organizing the event. It was a great way to start the year. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Reading Food Pantry. Thanks to all!

Parker’s Friday Night “Minute to Win It”

Parker’s “Minute to Win It” was part of the Friday Night Activity series and the PTO Magazine Drive where about ninety students had a great deal of fun competing for prizes.

Upcoming Events

Veterans Day Assembly – We will be honoring veterans at our all-school assembly on November 11th. Parker students and staff will have an opportunity to hear from veterans, some of whom are relatives of our students and others who are Reading residents. It is a terrific day for our students and teachers to recognize and honor the service of so many that have sacrificed while serving the United States. It also highlights for many the fact that our country is still actively involved with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cyber Bullying and Cyber Safety Presentation – Katie LeClerc former Intelligence Analyst with the Massachusetts State Police and Internet Safety Program Coordinator for the Massachusetts Attorney Generals Office, educator and national presenter will be speaking to students on November 9th and parents on the evening of November 10th. This enrichment presentation is part of the PTO enrichment series for students and also part of the PTO Speaker Series for parents.

Nature’s Classroom – One hundred and fifty one of our seventh graders will be traveling to Becket Massachusetts in the Berkshires from November 3rd to November 5th to participate in an outdoor learning experience where students live in cabins and spend their days learning about nature in the great outdoors. The address of the camp is 748 Hamilton Road, Becket, MA 01223, if you have time please send your son or daughter a letter while they are away. For most kids it is the first time they have received a letter from home. You may have to send the letter ahead of time so it arrives when we are there.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thinking Big when planning Service Projects

In a recent lunch with twenty two 8th grade Peer Leaders, students were tasked with defining their service work for their final year at Parker Middle School. The guiding questions were fairly simple: What service work do you as Peer Leaders want to do this year? And what activities or projects do you think would make a difference in the lives of people in our community, in the state or possibly in other parts of the world? Students were encouraged to think big, to think about how they could lead or participate in an activity that could have a positive effect on our school community.

The talk started slowly, some students thought of and talked about activities that we have participated in the past, and then one quiet young student asked, “…Wait a minute, can we do something to help someone at our school?...” And I replied “absolutely!” Meghan Barry, Kate Mignosa, Sarah Bond and Meghan Zeigler suggested that they could lead and organize a student group to participate in the ALS Walk for Mrs. Peach. Mrs. Peach was our cafeteria manager who was diagnosed with ALS last spring. They continued to talk and plan and asked further if something could be done here at Parker; in addition to the walk. At the end of the conversation we had the beginnings of a two-part plan that became a school assembly to present the first annual Parker Middle School Hero’s Among Us award to Mrs. Peach and also a student group that participated in the ALS Walk on October 3rd. At the assembly, students led the ceremony speaking brilliantly about Mrs. Peach, her dedication, service and commitment to “…her kids…” the students of Parker Middle School. It was a wonderful day!

At the ALS Walk (see the video below), we had 44 students and 10 teachers who participated as part of the 137 person team that represented Cheryl Peach. The team raised over $17,000.00 for ALS research and it was a terrific day to be part of such a thoughtful service project that touched someone so close to us.

A take away here for our student leaders is, think big, be committed to what you want to do for yourself and others. Share your ideas and your enthusiasm for the work and great things can happen. The school assembly and the service walk would not have taken place had it not been for our student leaders. We are so very proud of our Peer Leaders and especially eighth grade student leaders, Meghan Barry, Kate Mignosa, Sarah Bond and Meghan Zeigler. They are such a fine representation of the community and of our work here as educators!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Colombus Day weekend.  The weather is perfect.  The trees are stunning and I’m waiting for my son’s soccer game to start.  Perfect time to reflect back on the week at Parker.  It was a busy week.  The magazine drive is wrapping up.  The kids have been really terrific about participating in the fundraiser.  They have sold hundreds of magazines.  This event ends this week with a culminating activity on Friday night.  Parker’s own Minute to Win It game show will be held on Friday night from 7-9.  All are welcome to come and watch.  Students who have sold at least six magazines will be allowed to participate in the event.  We had another team breakfast this week.  Thanks again to Michelle Biggio for coordinating these early morning get togethers.  She is expert at creating the perfect ambiance.  We have one more breakfast next week.  Also this week we held our first school council meeting on Wednesday night.  Dr. John Doherty came to speak with us about his entry plan for year one of his superintendency.  Immediately following school council we held our second PTO meeting of the year.  Dr. Doherty also presented to this group.  He is looking for feedback and suggestions from the Reading community as he plans out the year.  On Wednesday afternoon the district committees met for the first time.  This is a great opportunity for teachers in the district to get together and collaborate around a common goal.  On Thursday the Black team visited Plum Island and the Spencer Pierce Little Farm.  This is a great trip and offers students the opportunity to experience what its like to be an archaeologist and to do some birding with our building expert, Mr. Williams.  Also on Thursday Doug Lyons and Stacey Sherpe attended a MARC training on bullying.   More to follow on Parker’s efforts to integrate the new bullying legislation.  Finally, on Friday progress reports for first quarter were updated to edline.  Please be sure to check edline regularly for news and information.  If you are having trouble accessing edline please contact Meg Powers.
As always, if you need anything please just let us know.  Thanks and have a great week.  –Cathy & Doug


Friday, October 1, 2010

October 1st

It's hard to believe that it's October 1st.  The weeks seem to really fly by.  This past week we had a lot of excitement with the magazine drive.  It's not too late to participate in this fundraiser.  Ask your son or daughter about it or visit Edline for more information.  On Sunday many of our students are participating in the ALS walk to support Mrs. Peach, one of our cafeteria managers.  It is so great to see the Parker Community help each other in times of need. Next week we have a PTO meeting on Wednesday night at 7:00.  Please join us if you can.  Next week we also have several more team breakfasts.  A big thank you to Michelle Biggio and her crew for organizing these wonderful events.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns please just give a call or send an email.  --Doug and Cathy


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Hello Parker Community.  Doug and I would like to use this blog to periodically update you on what is happening at Parker.  It was great to see so many families at Back To School Night.  It was also great to have so many student ambassadors helping.  The feedback from parents was very positive.  Thank you to all of the staff who worked hard to make this night a success.  On Monday of  next week we have the kick off for our biggest PTO fundraiser of the year, the magazine drive.  We also have our first parent breakfasts on Wednesday for the Jacobitz team and Friday for the Jordan team.  On Sunday October 3rd a group of students and teachers from Parker will be participating in the ALS walk in honor of Cheryl Peach our cafeteria manager for many years. If you have questions about any of these events please feel free to drop us a note: or
       Stayed tuned for more information and updates.  --Doug and Cathy