Monday, November 4, 2013

Principal Notes
Doug Lyons 11/04/2013

The first quarter is closing out this week and the kids are recovering from a great week of activities. We had the Nature’s Classroom trip, class field trips, a Red Sox World Series Victory and of course Halloween.  We were fortunate to be able to get anything done last week with all of the happenings.  Fall/winter has arrived and we are hearing from kids getting ready to switch seasons and start the second quarter.  Students have worked hard to complete all of their work for the quarter, as teachers have also been hard at work trying to support, engage and challenge your children.  Grades will be uploaded to Edline Friday, November 8th.  If you have questions about your child’s grades or a particular subject please do not hesitate to be in touch with their teachers or team leader.

Giving Students Time, Space and Most Importantly a Voice…

The Parker Peer Leaders and Service (PLS) group continues to lead the school in service work and activities that highlight our core values of Kindness, Community and Personal Best.  These values could not have been more evident at our annual Parker Heroes Among Us Award presentation.  This year, Kathleen Walsh and Olivia Reardon took the lead organizing the eighth grade peer leader luncheon to present the process and decide who would be the Hero that the Parker student community would like to recognize as this year’s recipient of the award.  After much back and forth several well deserving members of the Reading community were nominated but in time it became clear that students really wanted to honor and recognize, Shores Salter (Parker class of 2006). 

The following piece was written and presented by Kathleen Walsh and Olivia Reardon at the 2013 Heroes Among Us presentation on October 24th at Parker Middle School:

A hero can be described in many ways.  When you think of a hero, you think of someone you are proud to know, someone whose actions are an example for the people around them.  As the school year began, the 8th grade Parker Leadership & Service students began to think of someone in Reading who makes a difference.  Throughout the process one person truly stood out to the group.  This is a person the entire school is proud to recognize.  His actions at the Boston Marathon are actions that all of us should take as an example… 

When the first bomb went off, he knew it was something that wasn’t supposed to happen, but when the second bomb exploded just across the street from him, he knew they were in danger.  He says that he just stood there in shock as people ran around him screaming, but when he gathered himself he ran across Boylston Street to help.  As he reached the barricades he heard the cries of a woman, “Somebody help me!  Who’s going to help me?” He credits destiny for drawing him towards this woman, whose identity he would later learn was Roseann Sdoia.  She informed him that her leg was badly injured.  Under the instruction of nearby first responders Mike and Shana, Shores tied a tourniquet around her leg and then carried her down Boylston Street leaving the stranger (Roseann) with paramedics.  He wouldn’t learn whose life he had just saved for a couple weeks.

A few weeks after the tragic ending to what is supposed to be one of the best days in Boston, Shores and Roseann met for the first time with the help of the news media.  In a desperate attempt to find her hero, Roseann gave a picture of Shores to the media, and within hours she had his identity.  Shores had also spent that day in the wake of the tragedy wondering if the lady he helped had survived.  In addition to being connected with Roseann, he was also connected with Boston Police Department Officer Shana and Firefighter Mike.  He says that the relationship he has with these three is much stronger than the relationship he has with some of his close friends because of the fact they were all there for each other in the scariest moment of their lives.  Their relationship will be lifelong he says.

It takes a big person to do what Shores did, but it takes an even bigger person to reflect on it.  Shores says, “I have done my best to take this horrific and extremely sad experience and become stronger as a person through it.”  Shores is incredibly deserving of this award.  He embodies the aspects that a true hero carries, and despite all the sad, tragic moments of the day, when asked he says he would do it all again without a second thought.  He has done what we all like to think we would do in his situation: take action.  Shores is not the only hero that walked away from the Boston Marathon that day.  However, we would like to think that he is a very good representation of all of them.  Although Shores doesn’t feel comfortable being recognized for his actions, we here at Parker and in the Reading community could not be more proud of what he did.  Despite all the good things said about Shores, none of them amount to the power of two words, so Thank You! Shores Salter, winner of the Heroes Among Us Award 2013.

Shores Salter and Roseann Sdoia stand as the Parker students give Shores a standing ovation during the 2013 Heroes Among Us presentation.

A highlight of the presentation was in listening to students talk about Shores Salter as someone who not only acted heroically but also someone who maybe could represent them in the future.   

Special thanks to Chris Copeland, Vonda Gauthier, and Leah Cristi for supporting and guiding Kathleen and Olivia through this presentation.  We also want to recognize and thank eighth grade student leaders.  We are learning here at Parker that when we give students time and space and an opportunity to create… they always exceed expectations.    

Learning from what we test…and why it works in Reading!
The teachers in all curricula areas have been working on common assessments called District Determined Measures (DDM’s).  These assessments are to act as an indicator or link between teacher professional practice and student achievement.  This is all part of the new teacher evaluation system in Massachusetts.  All districts are participating in creating assessments to use in this new process.  The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) have graciously given systems an opportunity to pilot new common DDM assessments this year.  Reading is taking full advantage of this opportunity to give teachers time to collaborate at the middle level to create assessments, and to genuinely learn from the process which will include really looking at student work and how that relates to instruction.  This work has not been reduced to an act of compliance, but has become an opportunity to participate in a professional learning community as it relates to each academic content area.  What is also unique in Reading’s DDM process is that the work is being led and facilitated by teacher leaders, teachers are given time within the professional development calendar, and most importantly we are committed to learning how kids learn based on what they produce on assessments.  While teachers lead and facilitate this work they are directly involved from the start of the assessment process to create and own what is produced.  This is not common throughout the state but is working for us here…more to follow.

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