Tuesday, October 29, 2013

News and Info - September 2013

Principal Notes
September 2013
Welcome Back!  We are back at it and Parker is fully operating.  We are especially happy to have students back in the building.  Faculty and staff have spent the last few weeks welcoming students back, and are really focusing on learning about how your children learn.  As we progress and learn as a school community, it is clear that our ability to engage your children in their learning is directly proportional to our ability to connect with your children.  So the past few weeks has been dedicated to teaching students about team expectations, organization, and students sharing about what they are working on, as well as setting goals for themselves.  The grade level teams are small learning communities, or small schools within the larger school community.  If you have questions about your child’s progress or about activities happening on-team, I would encourage you to contact your child’s team leader or me. 
We look forward to a great school year.

We welcome five new staff members to Parker Middle School
Jessica Brehaut will be teaching 8th Grade Social Studies on the Olivo Team.  Ms. Brehaut has experience teaching in private and public schools, and most recently was teaching US and World History at Ludlow High School in Ludlow, Mass.  Ms. Brehaut completed her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst receiving a BA in History and an M.Ed. in Education.  Jessica volunteered at Parker last spring for a number of days which has helped greatly in her transition to Parker.       

Special Education Teacher, Marti Neugarten comes to us from the Brookwood and Carroll Schools.  Mrs. Neugarten completed her undergraduate work at Boston University receiving a BA in Public Relations and an M.Ed. in Special Education from Lesley University.  Marti’s experience teaching reading and special education will be a great addition to our learning centers and language based programs.
Our new Assistant Principal, Brendan Norton is new to the AP Position but distinguished himself early in the interview process as a teacher leader, who has had great success working with students while teaching Social Studies and coaching hockey.  Mr. Norton completed his undergraduate degree at Assumption College receiving a BA in History, and his graduate work at Fitchburg State University receiving a M.Ed. in Education Leadership. 
We also welcome two exceptional paraeducators to the staff, Laurie Ward, an experienced paraeducator, who comes to us from Barrows Elementary School, and Katherine Anderson, a newly certified Social Studies teacher and who will be supporting classes as well as working in the eighth grade learning center. 
Additional HR News and Info: We were exceptionally fortunate this summer to be able to hire Adam Crook and Sandra Noack to cover two long term sub positions.  Mr. Crook has been in for Ms. Quackenbush and is teaching physical science in the sixth grade.  Ms. Quackenbush will be returning to the Goldstein (Upstairs) Team on Monday.  Mr. Crook will be here for the remainder of next week to support Ms. Q in her return.  Mrs. Noack has been in for Mrs. Fox and is teaching eighth grade Spanish.   Mrs. Fox welcomed her new son, Colin David Fox to the world on August 22nd and is recovering well.  She is scheduled to return to Parker in mid-October. 
The Work
It has been a great start to the school year.  After completing our annual administrative retreat in August we are recharged and excited to start the work of teaching and learning at the middle level.  We have limited new initiatives at the school and district level this year, and are focusing resources and efforts on curriculum and assessment, technology integration, behavioral health, and safety planning. 
The “work” around curriculum and assessment includes supervision and evaluation, common assessments (or District Determined Measures) as well as preparation for the transition from MCAS to the new State PARCC Assessments. 
Technology integration includes the “Bring your Own Device” (BYOD) initiative where we are changing how we teach and support students in classes with technology. 
Our work this year in Behavioral Health or Systems of Support is a continuation of the collaborative community forums that took place three years ago.  Since that time we have formalized the health and wellness curriculum, including a new health course at the middle level, and have increased counseling and screening services for students who may be at risk.  The work in this space is most promising and acts as a guide for us to think and learn about supporting students by intervening early with academic, social/emotional and behavioral supports. 
Safety of students and Safety Planning continue to be our most important work.  We are examining and learning about safety planning with our professional organizations at the State and local levels and will be reviewing and refining how we complete our safety drills.  This brief overview of the “work” is just that, a brief overview, with more to follow.     

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