Back to School Message from North Reading Superintendent Kathleen M. Willis
Superintendent Willis addresses parents and students before they head back to school.
The following was submitted by Kathleen M. Willis Superintendent of Schools:
Welcome back to school! I hope you enjoyed the summer months and will continue to do so through Labor Day. The start of the new school year is right around the corner and the schools are ready to open. Our teachers and staff join me in welcoming you to the new school year.
This year the first day of school for students in grades one through twelve is Wednesday, September 5, 2012. Preschool and kindergarten students and their parents are scheduled for orientation sessions on September 5th and 6th. All preschool and kindergarten students will begin their classes on Friday, September 7th. Please be sure to check the start and dismissal times for your school.
Details concerning bus schedules, class assignments, school hours, school calendar, and lunch menus are printed in the North Reading Transcript, posted on the District website, and were sent to Patch.com to assist parents and students as they plan for the first days of school. Schedules for High School and Middle School students were mailed home during the summer. If any adjustments were made after that time, students will receive another copy of their schedules on or before the first day. Elementary, Middle and High School handbooks will be distributed to students and I encourage parents to review this information with their children. Handbooks include important guidelines for school and district operations.
As is typical, the summer months were filled with activities. Our maintenance staff did an outstanding job painting and cleaning the schools from top to bottom. The Little School housed the Recreation Department’s Summer Camp and the Hood School housed Camp Triumph. The High School and the Batchelder School were home to MCAS support, reading, tutoring and special education summer programs. All summer programs have ended and we are now focused on the new school year!
Staffing Changes: An important activity that takes place during the summer months is the hiring of new staff. At the district level we welcome Michael Falcone as our new Technology Technician and Kristin Burke as the Special Education Team Chairperson for the elementary level.
Overall, sixteen new teachers, three paraprofessionals, a .5 school nurse, and one custodian join our school district to fill vacancies created by new positions, retirements and resignations. We welcome the following faculty/staff:
Batchelder School: Shannan Barry – Speech and Language Pathologist; Sarah Eckstein – Special Education Teacher; Carrie Pauletti – Special Education Teacher; Jessica Harris – Special Education Teacher; Christine Larsen – General Music Teacher Hood School: Jaclyn Kinsman – School Psychologist (year-long substitute); Jacqueline Mawn – Special Education Teacher; Kathy Gauvain – Grade 3 Teacher
Little School: Marielle Pacillo - .5 School Nurse; Jane Kerhulas – General Paraprofessional; Giuliana DiMascio – Inclusion Paraprofessional; Katherine Browne – Inclusion Paraprofessional Middle School: Jeanne Cappuccio –Special Education Teacher; Eric Archambault – Physical Education/Health Teacher; Michael Murphy – Spanish/French Teacher; Richard Smith - Custodian
High School: Catherine McDonnell – Mathematics Teacher; Jill Carpenito – Special Education Teacher; Justin Melville – Special Education Teacher; Christina Dennis – Special Education Teacher; Marc Turiano – Health TeacherEach of our new teachers will work closely with Patrick Daly, our Director of Academic Services, and our Mentor Coordinators in a year-long induction program supported by experienced teachers who have been trained as mentors in their area of expertise.
Secondary School Building Project: The Middle School was the site of significant change this summer with all of the activity beginning the day the students left last June. I am pleased to report that the ten modular classrooms are successfully relocated and are approved for occupancy. It was amazing to witness this transition first hand from morning well into the night for six days a week over the months of July and August. In addition, a new parking lot was created at the front of the Middle School and a new drop-off and pick-up plan for students was developed. The land in the back of the Middle School has also undergone a transformation to prepare for the permanent Middle School/High School parking spaces.
As you can imagine, it takes the work of many individuals to complete each phase of the building project. I commend PMA, Dore and Whittier, and Gilbane for their constant attention to detail. Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds Wayne Hardacker is ever-present on site and at meetings representing the interests of the District. Middle School Principal Catherine O’Connell and High School Principal Jon Bernard spend countless hours working behind the scenes to ensure a safe and orderly learning environment for our students. Finally, the extra efforts of our Middle School custodians are greatly appreciated as they complete the final preparations of the modular classrooms and the school building so that we are ready for the opening of the new school year.
The Secondary School Building Committee (SSBC), under the direction of Chairman Chuck Carucci, continued to meet over the summer with a focus on the Design Development Phase of the project. In addition, project meetings between the Owners Project Manager, the Architects, the Construction Manager-At-Risk, and the SSBC took place weekly to review progress and outline next steps in the process. The SSBC intends to make a presentation to the community at the October 1st Town Meeting to provide an update and timeline.
School Year: This year teachers will participate in two full-day district-wide professional development days scheduled for Friday, October 5, 2012 and Wednesday, January 2, 2013. In addition, four early release days are built into the calendar for the purpose of professional collaboration. Teachers will come together across schools to work on a variety of projects and to share best practices. Early release days are scheduled for parent conferences. The Batchelder will be the “early” elementary school and the Hood and Little will be the “late” elementary schools. With five days built into the calendar for snow days, the tentative end of the school year will be June 25, 2013 . Please check the school calendar on the school district website for more details.
Communication: The school district will continue to use the Alert Now rapid notification telephone and email system to communicate with parents and staff about emergencies and important school and district information. Early in September parents will receive information about updates to phone numbers and email addresses. The email address for all employees includes the first initial and last name of the person followed by @north-reading.k12.ma.us. For example, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check the school and district websites regularly for news and information at http://www.north- reading.k12.ma.us.
Strategic Planning: During the last year and a half, the Administrative Council, made up of building and district level administrators, engaged in a process that resulted in the development of a strategic action plan to focus all of our efforts in the district. This plan is titled NRPS 2016: A Plan for Strategic Continuous
Improvement. The existing district mission was reviewed and revised and a district vision statement was developed. The vision describes what the District is working toward while the mission describes how the District is going to get there. Three major strategy areas that we believe will provide the most leverage to support continuous improvement were identified as Teaching and Learning, Student Services, and Technology Integration. A theory of action, a small number of strategic objectives, and initiatives that frame the actions upon which the district will concentrate were then developed for each strategy area. The draft plan will be rolled out to members of the school community at the beginning of September for review and feedback. The Administrative Council will gather the feedback and make revisions as needed. The official document will then be distributed to the public at the beginning of October. By focusing our efforts, we believe we will maximize our resources and target improvement areas that support a high quality 21st century education for all of our students.
Budget: I am pleased to let you know that, as a result of resignations and retirements and the hard work of many people, there were no staff lay-offs last year or this school year due to budget issues. In fact, principals reallocated funds so that new positions were created to address new programs and to support technology integration. These continue to be challenging economic times but the members of the Finance Planning Team are committed to providing a high quality education to the students of North Reading. By working together on this team, representative members of the School Committee, the Board of Selectmen, and the Finance Committee collaborate as they plan for the next town budget. We will continue to work with members of the Finance Planning Team to develop a budget that supports both the needs of the schools and the community.
It is hard to believe I am about to begin my third school year in North Reading. Over the last two years I have come to understand the many factors that contribute to a deep sense of pride and commitment to the North Reading Public Schools. I continue to be impressed by the students, faculty, staff, administration, parents, and School Committee that are the essence of the North Reading School District. I am proud to be a member of this District and I look forward to my third year as your superintendent with excitement and enthusiasm.
Have a wonderful school year!
Kathleen M. Willis Superintendent