Dear Newton Community,
Over the past few years, the Newton Public Schools have undertaken the important work of addressing issues of race, bias, and culture. We have a number of exciting initiatives underway for both staff and students. Recent events in our community and across the country have made this work more important than ever.
Earlier this year, I was approached by a group of parents interested in learning more about how we extend the work we are doing in the classrooms to the home and to the larger Newton community. To that end, I am pleased to invite you to a community forum: “Talking to Children about Race: Why and How?” to be held on Wednesday, March 22 nd at 7:00 p.m. at Angier School (1697 Beacon St.).
The session, led by Horace Mann Elementary teacher Mike Feldstein and METCO director Maricel Sheets, is designed for a K-5 parent audience and will:
- Allow reflection of your own experiences around issues of race and racism
- Demonstrate the importance of early conversations with children on race
- Provide “how-to” help for guiding children and answering challenging questions
- Highlight resources available to help parents and families navigate the issues
As one who has participated in Mike and Maricel’s workshops, I can tell you that they are lively, engaging and meaningful. Our country is becoming more diverse and we are fortunate that many of our students are exposed to differences at a young age. As a school district, we must continue to help our students develop positive racial identities and attitudes so that they can comfortably and productively navigate in all settings. There is no greater gift we can give our children than ensuring that they are prepared to be active, engaged, and respectful citizens of our diverse world.
An RSVP is not required, but it will help us plan for materials and activities. Please RSVP here: https://goo.gl/forms/eDB56M2MEcUz7aUX2
I hope to see you on Wednesday, March 22nd .
The 2017-18 calendar is now available.
Your generosity can make a difference for thousands of Newton students. Donations from generous Newton businesses and individuals like you are enabling Newton Schools Foundation to fund a vast array of new and enhanced educational opportunities for our kids! Thanks to your support:
- 1,760 elementary school students have deepened their writing skills led by teachers trained by the NSF-funded Summer Writing Institute; this year middle school students are receiving similarly enhanced writing instruction.
- 780 tweens and teens have broader access to social and emotional supports through NSF-funded middle school advisory programs.
- 36 high school sophomores and juniors are taking exciting new interdisciplinary courses in STEAM through the DaVinci Program at Newton South, which was piloted last year and will continue to roll out to include seniors. At Newton North, 20 students/year are enrolled in an interdisciplinary Science and Society elective.
- More low-income students and students of color are achieving in advanced mathematics as 110 middle and high school students participate in the Calculus Project. An additional 30 rising seventh graders will enroll this summer.
Without your support, these programs—and many others funded by Newton Schools Foundation—would not be possible. Your partnership with Newton Schools Foundation will continue the good work of the Newton Public Schools to pilot and launch initiatives that promote academic achievement, social/emotional wellness and equity for Newton students across all grades in our 21 elementary, middle and high schools.
Please consider Newton Schools Foundation in your decisions about charitable giving this year. Donate today!
Last year, I shared information with you about the important work Newton is doing to examine the impact of high school start times on students. Since Newton began its work, several other districts across the state have begun to investigate whether a change in high school start time is right for their district. The growing interest in high school start time is a reflection of the compelling research demonstrating the unique sleep cycles of adolescents and the potential consequences of sleep deficit.
A working group spent the 2015-16 school year reviewing sleep research, investigating processes in other districts, and gathering survey feedback from Newton students, faculty, and families. Regular updates were provided to the School Committee, posted to the district website, and distributed via email. A final report with survey results and analysis was issued in June 2016. Click here for the full report End of Year Report.
From the research and feedback, the High School Start Time Working Group has created six potential “scenarios” for consideration. These scenarios move the high school start time later. Some impact only the high schools while others impact all schools in the district. These scenarios were presented to the School Committee on Monday, September 19, 2016 and can be viewed here.
The next step is for you, the NPS community, to provide your feedback on the potential changes to the start times. As a district, we want to hear your thoughts on the benefits, costs, and implications of any changes, as well as your feedback on the value of undertaking this effort. We have scheduled a community forum for Wednesday, October 19th at 7 p.m. at Angier (1697 Beacon St.) at which the Working Group will share information and listen to your feedback. We hope you will attend. We will also share information through PTO meetings this fall, as well as through school newsletters. To share you feedback directly with the Working Group, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit the district website at www.newton.k12.ma.us/page/2553.
I look forward to hearing your feedback this fall as we consider whether a later high school start time is right for the Newton Public Schools.
David A. Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools
Lyme Disease is an illness that can cause flu-like symptoms, sore joints, and chronic heart and nervous system problems. It is diagnosed in people of all ages, including children. Lyme Disease is endemic throughout Massachusetts, meaning it’s not something you get just on Cape Cod or when you go for a hike. You can get it from a tick in your own backyard.
Deer ticks, which spread Lyme Disease, range in size from a poppy seed to a sesame seed. They are most active during the warmer months, but can infect people at any time of year. They cling to vegetation, but cannot jump. Most are found in brushy, grassy or wooded habitats. Continue reading
8th Grade Parents and Students: Attend the Newton South HS Sports Night for incoming 9th Grade, this Thursday, May 31, at 6:30PM in the NSHS Fieldhouse. Get an overview of NSHS athletics, sign up for fall sports, and meet coaches and some current players.
6th and 7th Grade Parents: Get your school supplies for next year online, with just a few clicks. Skip the rush to the store in late August, and save at least $10 to $20 of the cost in local stores. You must order by June 30. Here’s how:
- Go to www.1stdayschoolsupplies.com. (If you don’t see Oak Hill Middle School listed, then enter zip code “02459″ and click “Go.”)
- Under Oak Hill Middle School, select your grade for next year (7th or 8th) and click “Select and Continue”.
- Enter the student’s first name, last name, and gender.
- Click “Add package to cart” and complete the checkout process with your credit card.
The school supplies kit you order will be available at Oak Hill on the first day of school, marked with your child’s name. The PTO has worked with OHMS faculty to develop a common list of supplies for both teams in a grade.
Would you like to volunteer for Newton’s Child Assault Prevention (CAP) program? CAP is looking for committed and dedicated child advocates to present its personal safety curriculum in local elementary schools. Join up with current and experienced volunteer Prevention Specialists to teach children to recognize and respond to verbal, physical, and sexual assault and abuse. Help make sure that children have the right information and skills and the support of adults. CAP offers a flexible schedule to volunteers who enjoy teamwork and can make a yearlong commitment of two or three mornings a month. To make it easier for people with busy schedules, the training is divided into two parts: Part 1 is scheduled for Oct. 17, 19, 24 (8:45AM to noon), and 26 (8:45-1PM.) It prepares you to present one of the three facilitations and participate in all of the role plays. Part 2, on Review Time (1:1 conversations), is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 2, 8:45-4PM. For information or to set up an interview call Gail Sommer, 617-969-5906, x143 or email, email@example.com. Newton CAP is a program of Newton Community Service Center. Visit our webpage at www.ncscweb.org for a description of the program and of the volunteer Prevention Specialist position.
Current 8th grade students and their parents are encouraged to attend an informational Athletic meeting at Newton South HS for incoming ninth graders. This will be held this Thursday, May 31, 6:30pm-8PM in the Newton South Field House, 140 Brandeis Rd. The Athletic Director, Scott Perrin, will open the evening by informing the students and parents what is expected in High School Athletics. There will be tables set up with every sport represented and a coach or student athlete there to answer any questions.
Stress can be both positive (e.g., preparing for school graduation) or negative (e.g., dealing with the death of a loved one). Stress is a condition that is often characterized by symptoms of physical or emotional tension such as irritability, loss of appetite, sleep difficulties, or crying. It is a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious. For children, simply the loss of the regular routine of the school year can be stressful, even if the days are filled with fun activities such as camps or vacations. Similar coping tips apply to families whether they are helping a child work through positive stress or something more traumatic.
It’s natural for children to worry, especially when scary or stressful events happen in their lives. Talking with children about these stressful events when they happen, and monitoring what children watch or hear about the events, can help put frightening information into a more balanced context. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers parents these suggestions to help children through their questions:
- Reach out and talk. Create opportunities to have your children talk, but do not force them. Tell your children you are there to listen to their thoughts and feelings. It is important for children to feel like they can share their feelings and to know that their fears and worries are understandable.
- Express yourself. Your children may be feeling different emotions at different times: Sadness, anger, fear, confusion, etc. These feelings are normal reactions to stressful events. Encourage your children to appropriately express how he or she feels. Acknowledge that you may have these feelings too, and model good coping for your children.
- Watch and listen. Be alert for any change in behavior. Are children sleeping more or less? Are they withdrawing from friends or family? Are they behaving in any way out of the ordinary? Any changes in behavior, even small changes, may be a red flag that the child is having trouble coming to terms with the event.
- Reassure. Stressful events can challenge a child’s sense of physical and emotional safety and security. Take opportunities to reassure your child about his or her safety and well-being and discuss ways that you, the school, and the community are taking steps to keep them safe.
- Share information with other parents. Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. Make an on-going effort to check in and talk to other parents about any issues or stress. You don’t have to deal with problems alone-it is often helpful for parents, schools, and health professionals to work together in providing support to and in ensuring the well-being of children in stressful times.
- Stay Connected. After a stressful event, it is easy to pull away from those close to you. Make sure that you are setting aside time to spend time with those who are important to you. Consider planning fun activities with your child to facilitate staying connected.
- Keep it going. Ask your children how they feel about the event in a week, then in a month and so on. Each child has his or her own way of coping under stressful situations. The best thing you can do as a parent is to listen to your children and allow them to express their concerns and fears.
May is Mental Health Month, which according to Mental Health America “began in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all.” This article was adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Violence Prevention.