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.

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