Category Archives: From the Principal

Principal’s Update

Good Evening Memorial-Spaulding Families,

Greetings on this cold January evening. I have a few brief items for you this week.

Air quality at our school has been a topic of concern over the past few weeks. Earlier this month the mechanical engineers and air quality/balancing company returned to our building in order to increase fresh air flow into several classrooms. At this point I understand the work has been completed and a “dashboard” will become available shortly that will outline air specifics/details for each classroom and teaching space. You can access that information on the district website HERE.

FORJ (Families Organizing for Racial Justice) is looking for a coordinator. Should you be interested in learning more about this position, please click HERE.

Parent Information Night for incoming kindergarten families will happen on the evening of March 10, 2021. I will pass along more information as it become available.

Boston City Singers Youth Chorus is currently holding online auditions. If you have a child who loves to sing (or would like to learn), I highly recommend this organization. For more information click HERE.

NPS Elementary Family Forum happening TONIGHT @ 7:30 pm. Topic: Supporting your child during the 2020-21 school year. Click HERE for information and login details.

Happy Inauguration Day! Enjoy your evening.

Tom

Principal’s Update

Dear Memorial-Spaulding Families,

The M-S team has been hard at work augmenting our learning models based on parent feedback and new requirements from the Board of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for live, synchronous instruction (delivered either in-person or remotely). The changes are designed to increase direct staff contact time with students, maintain consistency and independence for our students, and build upon structures we already have in place. We are focused on keeping the student to staff ratio small enough to allow for meaningful engagement and connection whenever possible. 

These changes will start on Tuesday, January 19.

Overview of changes for K

  • The schedule for In-person days is 8:20 am – 2:00 pm (implemented January 4) 
  • Two specialist classes (art, PE, or library) were added for each cohort on their at-home days (from 2:00-2:30 pm)
  • Guided Learning blocks, with a kindergarten aide, will be added from 2:30-3:00 pm on students’ at-home days. 

Overview of changes for Grades 1 & 2

  • The schedule for In-person days is 8:20 am – 2:00 pm (implemented January 4) 
  • Two specialist classes (art, PE, or library) were added for each cohort on their at-home days (between 2:00-3:00 pm)
  • Guided Learning blocks, facilitated by a grade-level team member, have been added in the mornings and afternoons on at home days. Student’s weekly schedule will now include their Guided Learning blocks and added special times.

Overview of changes for Grades 3, 4 & 5

  • A Guided Learning block, facilitated by grade-level team member, has been added to each at home day.
  • Both cohorts will participate in synchronous remote learning with their classroom teacher from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Expectations for Student Participation, K-5

As part of the Hybrid Learning model, students are expected to attend, and actively participate in Morning Meeting and all of the teacher-assigned, synchronous and/or asynchronous learning activities. Additionally all students must engage in all classes on all days (both in-person and remote days). They cannot selectively opt out of certain classes, including those in the specialist areas. (Consistent absences from or lack of participation in specialist classes will be reflected in the student’s mid-year and/or end-of-year progress report.)

Classroom teachers will share the schedule changes for their class with families. Please be sure to note the additional ‘live’ teaching time for your child(ren). 

We are grateful for your partnership as we continuously seek to improve teaching and learning for all of our students during this very different, unusual school year.

All the best,

Tom Morris, Principal


Principal’s Update

Good Evening Memorial-Spaulding Families,

I trust you have had some time to relax and enjoy the December school break. Given the intensity of this school year, I completely disconnected from school-related work over the holiday – and encouraged all staff members to do the same. We will look forward to greeting cohort A tomorrow feeling refreshed and ready to go!

Reminder: All students in K-2 will stay until 2pm starting tomorrow (Monday, January 4). This will allow more in-person time with the teacher. As a result, the at-home cohort will now have their 2pm virtual live instruction with a specialist or other school personnel. DESE (The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) has issued mandates regarding the amount of live (virtual or in-person) we must now provide for students. We must have our new plan in place by Jan.19th. We will be working to meet those expectations between now and the 19th. Stay tuned for more information.

Did you travel out of state over the vacation? If so, you must abide by the Mass Covid-19 Travel Order. In that document you will find that children age 10 or under are not required to have a Covid test (“Testing for children, 10 years and younger, who are traveling with an adult from their household is not required.”)
However – any child (regardless of age) must have a recent negative covid test or must follow quarantining guidelines before returning to school. This is important information – please make note of it.

Thanks to Leah Kolidas who spearheaded our winter coat drive! She was able to donate 38 new and gently used coats to Boston Area Healthy Families. Leah partnered with a school in Dedham who donated an additional 27 coats! Many thanks for the generous donations from our families to make this happen.

Air quality at Memorial-Spaulding has been a recent topic of discussion and concern. In December we were presented with two air testing reports that contained very different/conflicting information. As you can imagine, this caused quite a bit of concern and worry. Our staff met with the Director of Facilities, as well as the Assistant Superintendent for Operations. Given the level of concern (and mismatched information), the City performed extensive maintenance work on the unit ventilators in classrooms. Additionally, they hired an independent air quality testing/balancing company who performed the tests on Tuesday and Wednesday before the December break. (While testing for fresh air intake, they can adjust the dampers to allow for greater air flow.) Josh Morse, Newton Public Building’s Commissioner, was on hand for the entire two days and he welcomed questions from staff about the state of our air quality and how it is being improved. I know many teachers (and some students) asked hard questions and I believe they were provided with answers and/or explanations. This past week I received a preliminary report from Josh Morse that indicates all spaces in our school are now in compliance with expected “fresh air intake” for 100% occupancy. Once the report is finalized, it will be uploaded to the district website.

Sonja Spears, Head of the Newton Police Task Force – and a social warrior, will speak this Thursday, Jan 7 @ 7pm. More information available HERE

I wish you and your family an extremely healthy, prosperous and happy 2021.

All the best,

Tom Morris, Principal

Principal’s Update

Greetings M-S Families,

I hope you are having a delightful weekend. I have just a few brief items to highlight this week.

We are currently working to plan for K-2 time at school (2pm dismissal) which will begin after the break (on January 4th). See district communication on this matter HERE.

There have been several questions about attendance throughout the course of the day, especially during remote learning times. In short, attendance is required for all remote programming provided by NPS – including specials (Art, Music, PE and Library). See district statement HERE.

As Covid-19 cases rise in Newton, I continue to receive questions/concerns about how we are maintaining our 4 Pillars of Health at Memorial-Spaulding. We have been working very hard to ensure we are abiding by these requirements. As an example our custodian now has an electrostatic sprayer which is used after school hours to disinfect surfaces throughout the building. We, of course, rely on parents to keep us abreast of any health issues that arise within your family – and to keep children home when they are not feeling well.

Are you planning travel out of state between now and January 4? Please remember to adhere to the Mass Travel Restrictions. This is an important way to keep us all safe – and keep schools open.

Did you know Newton now has an ordinance requiring residents to remove snow from sidewalks? I received this information from the city last week and thought I’d pass it along. Details HERE

Some PTO sponsored events coming up! Parent Trivia Night (there will be a teacher team!), Memorial-Spaulding Winter Coat Drive, New Year’s Eve Hat Making Contest.

Enjoy the coming week – and stay healthy.

Tom Morris, Principal

Principal’s Update

Dear Memorial-Spaulding Families,

I hope you have had a restful weekend. Just a few brief items of interest for this week.

Our next PTO Meeting will take place this Wednesday evening (Dec. 9th) @ 7pm. Please join us if you can. Here is the zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/96895035312?pwd=VWFSVU5UTXZQdmxBRTNRYm81OGdDZz09. Meeting ID: 968 9503 5312Passcode: 797806. I hope to see you there.

When a COVID case impacts our school, I am required to follow a protocol when notifying families and staff. I am including a link to the NPS Communication Protocol. This will give you some insight into the process we follow in order to ensure information is passed along in a timely manner.

Food insecurity is certainly growing in our community. HERE is a list of all the food resources available in Newton. If you need to access food pantries you will need to fill out an application, which is included in the page attached to the link. We are happy to assist any family working to obtain food resources. Should you have questions, do not hesitate to reach out.

Reminder that there will be no instruction happening at 2pm on Monday, Dec 7th and Thursday, Dec 10th. These two afternoons have been set aside for parent – teacher conferences.

DLA materials pick up day is Thursday, Dec 10th from 3:30-4:30pm in the bus lane. If you cannot make that day/time – please call Kim @ 617-559-9600 to retrieve your child’s materials.

I wish you a productive and healthy week ahead.

Tom Morris, Principal

Principal’s Update

Greetings Memorial-Spaulding Families,

I hope your summer is going nicely and this email finds you well! I have had a fairly quiet summer thus far with a few small trips around the New England area.

You may be thinking (worrying) about the upcoming school year and wondering what it will look like for students. I have been feeling the same thing – and wondering the same too. As you may know, each school district in Massachusetts has been asked to submit three plans to the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Those plans are due by the end of this month. I am told that we will hear which plan the district will be starting with sometime around August 1st. I know NPS Central Office administrators have been keeping a close watch on the evolving situation with COVID and they are prioritizing health and safety for all. I look forward to hearing a final decision so that we can start the work of planning for the Memorial-Spaulding community.

I would like to remind you of the upcoming Superintendent’s Update on Fall Planning forum for parents which will happen this Friday morning (July 24th) at 9am. HERE is the invitation from Superintendent Fleishman that includes details and links. I encourage you to attend if you can.

Once the district has made a decision I will be back in touch with specifics for Memorial-Spaulding. Until then, I wish you continued health and wellness.

Sincerely,

Tom Morris, Principal

Principal’s Update

Hello Families,

A few items for the last Principal’s Update of the school year.

Infinity March in Newton! Tomorrow (Friday) at 1pm. This event is being billed as “family friendly”. For more information click HERE.

Newton Public Schools has created Elementary Summer Learning Resources for students and families. You can access the information HERE.

The PTO needs you! There are many opportunities to get involved. One particular position (Treasurer) needs to be filled ASAP. Should you be interested in the treasurer position, you may email the outgoing treasurer to indicate your interest and/or ask questions about the position: treasurer@memorialspauldingpto.org Click HERE to view the complete list of all PTO volunteer opportunities.

Should you need to access food resources during the summer months, you can find a complete listing of Newton food banks HERE.

Newton North/South High Schools Robotics Program is offering an online summer experience for elementary students. Click HERE for more information.

Results from the NPS Distance Learning Survey are complete and the district is taking parent feedback into consideration as they begin to work on plans for the fall. You can access the survey results HERE

As the details of schooling in the fall become more clear, I will be sure to update you with any information that becomes available to me. I wish you a relaxing and healthy summer!

Tom Morris, Principal

Principal’s Update

Memorial-Spaulding Families,

I hope this email finds you well and enjoying the weekend.

I have had several questions about what the fall will look like for us. I can tell you that no final decisions have been made at this point. State officials in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) have been working to create guidelines for school districts. Once the guidelines are complete, Newton will develop a plan and the Superintendent will communicate the plan. At this time I am not privy to any timelines – however I know the state is working to get information out to school districts as soon as possible. I have been told that school administrators will be working during the months of July and August in order to prepare for September (whatever that may bring).

I have also had questions about 5th grade graduation ceremony and what that will look like. We are planning a ceremony via Zoom on Wednesday, June 17th and a “drive through” certificate awards event on June 18th. Even though this year is (obviously) quite different from the past – we are planning to make our event as special as possible. I have been asked if we can record the event on Zoom and share with the community. Unfortunately this is not possible due to privacy concerns. Should you know a 5th grade student who is graduating from M-S, please feel free to send them a congratulatory greeting.

Each teacher is currently offering “check out” conversations with parents. This is a not a typical parent/teacher conference (due to a lack of hard data to report). However, your child’s teacher has some general information about progress – as well as an interest in your experience with “distance learning”.

Have you borrowed a chromebook from the school district? If so, you may keep the device for the summer months unless you are moving or leaving the school district for any reason. Should you need to return it, you can do so on Monday when you come to school to retrieve your child’s belongings.

I understand that some schools in Newton are moving entire classrooms (in tact) to the next grade level. We carefully considered this idea at Memorial-Spaulding, however due to several reasons (Ex: Social-emotional concerns, Special Education service delivery and English Language Learning services, etc.), we simply cannot do this at our school. Therefore we are currently placing students in classrooms for next year. Given the fact that we are decreasing in size (going from 4 classrooms in 2nd grade to 3) we do have teachers moving grade levels. Ms. Cameron, Ms. DeKing and Ms. Ahlberg – who will (for the most part) take their students with them. Click HERE to see the teacher line up for next school year.

Step Up Day is coming on Monday, June 15th! Click HERE to see when your child/ren should log in.

Virtual Color Day is happening on Tuesday, June 16th! Click HERE for more information.

Did you have a chance to check out the Memorial-Spaulding Teacher Parade? If not, you can access it HERE.

Interested in SPACE Camp for the summer? More information available HERE.

Last reminder: Monday is “student item pick up day”. Click HERE for the details.

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

Tom Morris

Principal’s Update

Good Afternoon Memorial-Spaulding Families,

I hope you are safe, healthy and able to enjoy the warm weather we are having at the moment. I have a few brief updates for this week.

Our School Nurse, Ms. Sawyers now has a wesbite. Click HERE to check it out.

Does your family need assistance during this time? If so, click HERE for more information.

We have identified Monday, June 8th as a day for families to come to school to retrieve student belongings (including all this year’s art work). See specifics and details HERE

That’s it for now. I wish you a delightful remainder of the week.

Principal’s Update

K-4 parents, do you have input you would like for us to know about before we move forward with student classroom placement for next year? If so, you may submit your thoughts via this LINK. (*Note – Parent input is due by THIS Friday, May 8th)

Know of an incoming Kindergarten family? If so, please ask if they have already registered for school. If not, they should do so as soon as possible. Students registration is now online! Families with incoming students (of any age) can now register by visiting the NPS website link HERE

Our School Nurse, Ms. Sawyers, now has office hours! She will monitor her email and be available via phone between 9am-11am each Tuesday and Thursday going forward. Email: sawyersl@newton.k12.ma.us / Phone: 617-615-9687

Have you shared your thoughts regarding the Distance Learning Plan with the Superintendent’s Office? If not, you may access the survey HERE. (*Note – Survey closes Wednesday, May 6)

Did you know the City of Newton has a COVID-19 Fund? You can learn about the fund and/or donate by clicking HERE.

Have you seen the video called “The Great Realization”? It is powerful, hopeful and inspiring. Check it out HERE.

Did you know this is Teacher Appreciation Week? If you have not done so, please let your child/ren’s teacher know how much you appreciate their dedication and hard work. HERE is a short video that captures a bit about how our teachers are navigating life at the moment. I hope you know how very much our wonderful teachers care about your kids!

Have a wonderful evening. Stay safe and healthy.