Thursday, August 30, 2012

Please Welcome our new teachers to Parker Middle School

Our new teachers are:
Daniel Shanahan, Grade 7 Health at Parker and Coolidge – Costa and Martinson Teams For the past four years Dan has worked as a K-6 PE/Wellness Teacher in Boxborough, MA M. Ed. in Educational Administration from AIC and an undergraduate degree from the University of Maine in Kinesiology Physical Education
Sarah Gilbert, Grade 8 Earth and Space Science – James Team – Room 212 Program Director for Dynamy, Inc. an experiential gap year program for 17-22 year olds. Experience teaching grades 5-7 in Detroit, MI at Michigan Technical Academy and Marilyn F. Lundy Academy. M. Ed. from the University of Michigan and an undergraduate degree from SUNY Syracuse in Forest Ecosystem Science
Noreen Rogers, Grade 8 Spanish – Olivo Team – Room 210 Experience teaching Spanish to grades 7-8 at Athens Middle School in Athens, Ohio and has spent this past year at BC completing her graduate work. MAT from Boston College in Hispanic Studies, completed a double major in Spanish Education and English Education with a minor in English degree from Ohio University.
Amanda Tetreault, Grade 8 French – Olivo Team – Room 210 Last year Amanda was the French teacher at Wilmington Middle School. Completed her undergraduate degree in French, with a minor in Middle School Education and is half way through the Master’s program at Merrimack College.
Julie Passeri, Grade 6 ELA – Merrill Team – Room 219 Several years’ experience coaching soccer and teaching seventh grade ELA in Rockport and Marblehead. MAT and undergraduate degrees from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. in Art History and English
Megan Kiser, Grade 6 ELA – Walsh Team – Room 119 Experience working as a Site Coordinator and Outdoor Educator for Nature’s Classroom in Becket and Charlton, MA. Completed her student teaching and Field Work at Kennedy, and High Rock Middle School in Natick and Needham, MA. M. Ed. from Lesley University, completed her undergraduate degree in English with a minor in Psychology at the University of Missouri - Columbia
Andrea Baer has been an inclusion specialist and an elementary teacher in Lawrence for the past 15 years. Andrea holds an undergraduate degree in Elementary and Special Education from Providence College and a graduate degree from Lesley University in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Literacy. We feel very fortunate to have such a talented group join the Parker Community.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School at Parker - 08/29

Students arrive promptly before the bell rings for day 1
There are few things better than 8th grade lunch...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Principal Notes - April 2012

Spring and the Start of the Fourth Quarter

We were fooled, for a moment into thinking that we would skip spring and jump right into summer with the warm weather earlier in the month. In the last few weeks things have gotten back to normal with cooler temps and the changing of sports seasons for our students. The spring stretch, that is the six-week period between February vacation and the start of April vacation, is packed. Teachers and students have been working hard to complete the English Language Arts MCAS, as well as final assignments to be included in the third quarter grades. Report cards for the third quarter were posted to Edline ( on Thursday, April 5th. We end this week with a highlight of the year for teachers and administrators with the “The Blueprint for Educational Excellence National Institute” held here in Reading. This Institute is an opportunity for the teachers and administrators from Reading and around the country to share and learn about best practices in education from one another. I am pleased to report that several teacher teams will be presenting from Parker at this year’s conference. In our next newsletter, I will be posting more information about what we are learning and how we will use this information to improve our school and our professional practice.

Understanding Disabilities and Travis Roy

Understanding Disabilities continues to be an amazing resource for us at the middle level, bringing speakers that really help students and adults learn more and make sense of the world around us. In the last few years, Understanding Disabilities has been able to secure State and National presenters that have included, Autism Spokesperson, Gianna Hitsos, Endurance Swimmer and Downs Spokesperson, Karen Gaffney, and Author Shonda Shilling. Each presenter left us thinking about how we treat others, how we live and what we can do to make a difference in our school and our community.

On March 28th, former Boston University hockey player, Travis Roy spoke to our students and staff at Parker. Travis was tragically paralyzed in an accident while playing hockey for Boston University. He was skating into the corner, which he had done thousands of time before and accidentally fell and hit his head on the dasher. His book “Eleven Seconds” chronicles his experience and his life after the accident. Today he travels around speaking to communities and schools about his experiences.

Travis shared his story about telling his parents in their living room about his goals that he wrote in middle school. He shared with our students that his parents listened intently, as he read goal after goal that only focused on hockey achievements. Finally, his parents spoke up and told Travis that if he didn’t get good grades that he would not be able to fulfill the goals he had written. So reluctantly, up-stairs Travis marched to re-write his goals that included academic and life goals that guided him to be one of Boston Universities top hockey recruits in 1995. Travis encouraged students to write their goals down, to pay attention to them and to work steadily toward what they would like to achieve. He shared that it is about hard work and having the courage to adapt to challenges and circumstances to be successful and happy.

Student Ambassadors, Alanna G. and Julia D. introduce Travis Roy.

Student Leaders Ryan M., Jay G. and Pat D. had an opportunity to visit with Travis before his presentation.

Travis’ honesty, his kind demeanor, coupled with his measured, deliberate speech allowed students to really focus on his words and his message that emphasize the importance of love and relationships. In the question and answer session, students asked, would you play hockey again if you had the opportunity? He answered absolutely; he would love to have the opportunity. He also assured students that he believes hockey is a very safe sport and his accident was just that, an accident. Students also asked, if you could walk again what would be the first thing you would do? Travis paused for a moment and answered “…I would hug my mom! You see when you are in a wheel chair those are the things that you really miss…” It was a great day at Parker and a privilege to have the opportunity to hear such wonderful messages. Thank you to Ruth Clogston and Understanding Disabilities for arranging this presentation.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

News and Info

Principal Notes

We are certainly back in the swing of things after the February Break. We have completed high school course selection with eighth graders, we have started visiting elementary schools to prepare for the grade 5 to 6 transition and we have completed a wonderful musical production of Guys and Dolls. Progress reports were posted to Edline last Friday and it looks like we will escape the winter season without a snow day!

Grade 5 Transition Meetings

We (Beth and I) will be traveling to Birch Meadow, Eaton, Barrows and Killam in the coming weeks to meet in the evening with fifth grade parents, to talk about the transition from grade 5 to 6. As you will hear me say “…sixth grade is one of the best things we do here at Parker…” The sixth grade teams are expert at setting students up to succeed in their learning. Significant time is spent at the beginning of the school year getting students organized, setting up lockers, binders and notebooks and getting students acclimated to the middle school. In addition, to the parent meetings, the spring and summer calendar with opportunities for fifth grade students and parents are as follows:

Parent Meetings:

May 3rd – 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. - Open House for Parker students and families (Grade 5 families are welcome to walk through)

May 10th at 7:00 p.m. - Parent Information Evening at Parker

April 4 @ 7:00pm - Welcome to attend PTO Meeting

May 2 @ 7:00pm - Welcome to attend PTO Meeting

Student Meetings/Opportunities:

May – Grade 6 students visit elementary schools to talk to fifth graders

May 14th – 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. - Instrument Petting Zoos @ Coolidge – Barrows & Birch Meadow

May 15th – 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. – Instrument Petting Zoo @ Coolidge - Joshua Eaton,
Killam & Wood End

June 4th - Move-Up Day - 5th Graders visit Parker

July/August – Parker Tour Dates TBD

August 13th to 16th Welcome to Parker Program

August 20th to 23rd – Welcome to Parker Program

The first day of school is Wednesday, August 29th.

Guys and Dolls:

The Guys and Dolls Production was amazing. The play was so well cast, just when you were struck with the performance, the acting or singing of one of the students, you would ask, “…wait a minute, is that is really Cam Dieselman, Haley Malstrom or Jane D’Entremont? Or, did you or anyone know for that matter, that Mark Lucas could sing like that?” The conversation went on like that each time the show was performed. The audience members were checking and re-checking their programs to see who they were watching. Convinced that they had never seen or met the student, one staff member shared, they had to check to check the program to see who Miss Adelaide was? The kids were sensational, their hard work and the work of Jenny DiMuzio, Leigh Barrett and Nancy Katz Stone was evident throughout the production. The idea and creativity on the part of Jenny and Rick DiMuzio to include live music or a music pit was brilliant.

Jane D. and Travis G. as Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit

Chris M. and Tim O. as Benny Southstreet and Big Jule and the gangsters “…shooting craps…”

Haley and Cam as Sarah Brown and Sky Masterson

The cast of Guys and Dolls Jr. Parker Middle School –March 2012

Thank you to the drama parents, teachers and chaperones who made the production go off without a hitch. And special thanks to all members of the cast and crew for demonstrating remarkable focus and commitment to put together a memorable three days. Thanks!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Exchange Students Visit Parker 2012

Kathryn, Mia, Ella and Olivia

The months of January and February were alive with cultural exchange. Students in grades 6-8 from Korea attended classes at Parker, lived with host families, visited the YMCA each afternoon and took many trips around the Boston metro area. Later in January, the school welcomed six rising 8th graders from Ecuador for three weeks who also stayed with a host family. Both sets of students had experiences they won’t soon forget. Similarly, Parker students had daily opportunities to learn about the cultures and traditions of two nations, very different from our own.
Highlights from their visit:

• 6th graders visited the Boston Science Museum to see the Pompii Exhibit
• Parent Visitation Day
• Many Parker students attended the Korean Cultural Celebration Night at Coolidge
• The Parker Dance at the end of January was a big hit with many of the Korean students

The visits ended last week with a pizza party, good wishes, and hopes to stay in touch. When I reminded students to exchange email addresses, many said they already had been talking on Facebook.

Julie, Tae Won, Kayleigh and Ida

Declan, Michael, Ben and Simon

Dan, Sara and James

Sara, Emma and Haley

Students writing good wishes.

Parker with friends from Ecuador

Marcela, Maria Isabel, Christina and Claire

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

School Reform Initiative (SRI) Winter Meeting by Beth Beaulieu

Notes from Winter Meeting:

Each winter, educators who are a part of the School Reform Initiative (SRI) convene to, “create transformational learning communities fiercely committed to educational equity and excellence.” While my interest and connection to this organization spans many years, this winter was my first experience at the Winter Meeting held in Atlanta, Georgia. With financial support from the Parker Middle School PTO, Taylor Pelletier and I traveled on Wednesday evening from Boston to Atlanta to work with small groups of teachers, administrators and higher education faculty to look at our practice as educators and delve into the dilemmas that are faced and used to effect positive change in schools.

Protocols are the structural basis for the activities at Winter Meeting. Protocols are tools used by schools and educators to structure conversations in order to engage most meaningfully on complex issues. Using these protocols we aim to increase collaboration, reflection and analysis of student data. This work as professionals solidified the concept that for children to learn well, the adults working with them must be learning as well. SRI models the concept that professional learning may not always be formal like a college course, but it must be collaborative and set within the context of students’ work and educators’ practice.

The culmination of the weekend was a viewing of the recently released film, Louder than a Bomb. This documentary chronicled the writing lives of four teenagers participating in a poetry contest called a slam in Chicago. For the group assembled at Winter Meeting, the take-away from this film and the discussion led by one of the poets, was that students’ voices must be present in their work and life at school. These four young people created powerful pieces that reflected the lives they were living. None of the writing they did was assigned through a class but was often cultivated through supportive coaching relationships with teachers and family members.

How does all of this connect to our work here at Parker? The intersections were many. As you may know, on early release days as well as during daily meeting time, teachers use protocols from SRI to examine student work, data and assignments. Many teachers in the building are part of a structure called a Critical Friends Group, which is a collection of professionals that come together to improve teaching and learning through looking at student work. In addition, teachers modify protocols to use with students to include their voices and opinions in the work they are completing. Most of all, use of protocols from the School Reform Initiative helps to provide the basis for a rich professional learning community.

Principal Notes 01/05/2012

It is amazing to think that I was writing the “Welcome to Parker” letter in what seems like days ago, and now it is January 2012. Welcome back, I hope you and your families enjoyed the holidays and the break. Students seemed ready to return to school on Tuesday 01/03. They looked a bit tired; the change in schedule can be difficult after staying up a little later all week. I will often mention to students who are dragging themselves to class on the return from vacation, that “…it is difficult getting old.” Students usually agree and share how hard it is being 11-14 years old, which from their perspective is true. The second quarter is coming to a close and report cards will be sent out on Edline on January 26th. The next few months will be packed with events and activities please keep an eye out for the Parent Weekly Preview sent out on Edline.

Thinking and Rethinking Homework

Several teachers and teams have been looking at their homework practices here at Parker. The teachers and teams have discussed what types of homework best prepares students for class, supports and extends topics being taught and also provides extra practice for students to reinforce their understanding of concepts. The teachers are also keenly aware of the many demands and schedules that students maintain outside of school, and what we sometimes think extends and supports learning in the classroom can cause stress and anxiety. This has led teachers to being a bit more thoughtful and reflective about what and when homework is assigned. For example, math teachers in grades 7 and 8 are making a concerted effort as a team to assign fewer problems that require students to learn the big idea or concept being taught within sections as opposed to practicing thirty problems in one sitting. The math teachers have monitored quiz and test results to see if there has been a dip in grades and the opposite has happened. Students have appeared less stressed about homework and rates of homework completion are up. We will continue to keep a close eye on homework and how it affects our students. Additionally, teachers have agreed to assign no homework or projects over the holiday break to give our students a well deserved rest and to allow families an opportunity to spend some uninterrupted quality time. Please let us know if you think the break in the homework schedule has made a difference for your child.


With the end of second quarter, this starts the second semester and transition planning for grades five and eight. We are planning spring parent meetings with Eaton, Barrows, Killam and Birch Meadow Elementary Schools. In addition, to the spring meetings at each elementary school, we will also have a grade five parent night here at Parker where the sixth grade teachers, our school psychologists and the administrators talk about academic programs, extra curricular activities and academic support for our incoming fifth graders. Class sizes in our sixth grade next year look to be 26:1 at each middle school. We will be communicating meeting dates and locations at the beginning of February.

The eighth grade will start the high school course selection process at the end of January. The RMHS Course catalog will be published this week. We will be posting more information to Edline as we receive it from the high school. Eighth grade parents should mark their calendar for Future Freshman Night for students and parents, January 25, 2012 at the RMHS Fine and Performing Arts Center.