Category Archives: From the Principal

Principal’s Update

Should you wish to provide information into the student placement process for the 2021-22 school year, please find information HERE.

Do you have an incoming kindergarten child or know of someone in the neighborhood who does? For staffing purposes, we need all incoming K students to be registered in our system. HERE is a link with more information. Should you need assistance, call Kim Rutherford in our office: 617-559-9600.

Artist-in-Residence coming to Memorial-Spaulding for an evening presentation on June 9th! Check out the information HERE.

MCAS is coming. HERE is the schedule for who will be tested, and in which subject, on each day.

Covid testing happens every Tuesday at Memorial-Spaulding. The more students who participate, the more information we have about possible cases within our school. If you have not signed your child up, please do so! More information HERE.

The Mayor’s Community Breakfast is coming up soon. More information available HERE.

This is Teacher Appreciation Week! A big thanks to the PTO for all the wonderful ways they have made our teachers feel special this week – and always.

Enjoy this wet, rainy week!

Tom

Principal’s Update

Now that April vacation has passed, it is time to begin planning for next school year. Placement of students into classroom for next year is at the top of our list and we will begin that process soon. HERE is a detailed letter that outlines the various aspects (and complexities) of the process. Should you wish to provide input into the placement process for your child, HERE is the link.

New arrival procedure to take place on Wednesday! Students will no longer wait on the dots until the teacher leads them in. Students will enter their respective doors as soon as they arrive onto the campus. This will help prevent crowding at lockers and cubbies once inside the building.

MCAS is coming up in May for grades 3-5. HERE is the schedule.

Thanks to Leah Kolidas for pulling together this year’s International Festival! You can access the events, happenings and recipes HERE!

I wish you a healthy and productive week.

Tom

Principals Update

Good Evening MS Families,

Thanks to the parents who turned out on Saturday morning to help get us ready for April 5th! We now have additional dots on sidewalks for arrival and dismissal and new stumps in Kayla’s Garden to accommodate 2 full classrooms outdoors. Thanks to Janna and Jon Sneider for facilitating delivery of the tree stumps! Parent volunteers also picked up LOTS of sticks, debris and trash on our campus. Much appreciated!

As we move toward more in school learning and/or your child is coming back into school for the first time, there will most likely be some level anxiety for students. HERE is a recent article on various ways to support your child as they transition into school – or into more in-person learning time.

Parent Information Night coming up tomorrow: Monday, March 29th from 7-8 pm. The information presented will focus primarily on the transition to full in-person learning. DLA families are welcome to join us, but most of the hour will be spent learning about, and answering parent questions about, the new in-person schedule. Zoom Link Meeting ID: 839 773 3797 No password required. Questions for us in advance – HERE.

Interested in signing your child up for weekly Covid testing at school? Students will be eligible to participate starting Tuesday, April 6th. Testing will continue every Tuesday between now and the end of the school year. HERE is the district’s webpage with more information. In addition, there is a webinar for families on Tuesday, March 30th from 6:30-7:30. Zoom link HERE Passcode: 401494

Bus registration is now open. Should you wish to sign your child up for the school bus, you can find more information HERE.

Blue Zone and Staff Parking Lot: Now that we are returning to full in person learning, please remember not to use the school parking lot to drop off your children. When vehicles pull across the driveway it poses a risk to those walking to school from the Oak Hill Street stop light. Blue Zone is STOP, DROP and GO (you many not park in the Blue Zone for morning arrival or afternoon pick up). Blue Zone Rules

Enjoy this chilly, rainy early spring evening.

Tom Morris, Principal

Principal’s Update

A few important items for this week:

Please join us on Tuesday evening of this week (Feb 23) @ 7pm for our annual meeting with Dr. Fleishman and members of the Newton School Committee. This meeting will be an opportunity for members of the Memorial-Spaulding community to speak directly with district leadership to learn about upcoming plans for our schools. There will be opportunity for you to ask questions of our superintendent and school committee members. Join Zoom Meeting https://newton-k12-ma-us.zoom.us/j/8397733797 Meeting ID: 839 773 3797

Join the Newton Public Schools in a discussion led by Dr. Edward Fergus, author of “Solving Disproportionality and Achieving Equity: A Leader’s Guide to Using Data to Change Hearts and Minds” to discuss these challenges and how to overcome barriers in implementing change in the practice of equity. Joined by a panel of NPS leaders, we will share some of the opportunities and obstacles that face us as we strive to be a more equitable and just district for all. Wednesday, Feb. 24th @ 7pm. More information HERE

The Resilience Project at Newton-Wellesley Hospital will hold a forum entitled “Parenting and Educating Children with Special Needs During Covid”. Friday, Feb. 26th @ 11:30am. More information HERE

Kindergarten Information Night to happen on Wednesday, March 10th @ 7pm. If you know of a family with incoming K students – please pass this information along to them. Details HERE

Memorial-Spaulding Extended Day Program to reopen in the fall 2021! For more information please contact Bonnie Croopnick @ memspauld@aol.com

If you travel out of state your children (regardless of age) must either be tested or quarantine before returning to school. Your cooperation on this matter is much appreciated and serves to keep us all safe.

Have a safe, productive and healthy week!

Tom

Principal’s Update

Good evening Memorial-Spaulding Families,

I hope you are enjoying the latest round of snow! Looking out the window is amazingly beautiful at the moment.

A few items for your attention this week:

The Memorial-Spaulding PTO has received generous gifts from Staples (Needham St) and Wegman’s (Chestnut Hill) for our students! This week, all students will receive a Valentine’s Day flower and a packet of school supplies, including a box of colored pencils, a box of crayons, folder, pack of erasers, and a bottle of hand sanitizer. These gifts will be given out as follows:
Cohort A – Tuesday, 2/9; Cohort B – Friday, 2/12 ; DLA – PICK UP on Friday, 2/12 (9am-12:30pm or 3-4pm) in the bus lane in front of the school; look for a PTO volunteer
The deadline to SIGN UP to be a Pen Pal to a fellow MS student is this Friday, 2/12. Those who have signed up already will receive their PTO-funded(!) supplies (paper, envelopes, stamps) this week. Don’t miss out!

Progress reports will be available to families in Aspen on Wednesday, February 10th. You will need to know your Aspen login information in order to access your child’s progress report.

Halfway spirit day is this coming Tuesday (Cohort A) and Thursday (Cohort B). Students are encouraged to come dressed in a way that represents the fact that we are 1/2 way through our school year!

The Memorial-Spaulding PTO will hold an open meeting for all MS families on Thursday evening of this coming week. The meeting starts at 7pm. Click HERE for the agenda and zoom link.

Save the date: Superintendent/School Committee Informational Evening for Memorial-Spaulding families. Tuesday, February 23rd @ 7pm. Zoom link forthcoming.

Stay safe in the storm!

Tom

Principal’s Update

Good evening M-S Families,

Your child has been (or will be) completing the district’s Connectedness Survey for the 2020-21 school year. We know that students learn best when they feel a connection to their teachers, friends and their school community. The information from the survey gives us valuable insight and helps us improve our ability to make connections with students – and support their ability to learn at school.

Not able to attend last week’s NPS forum on supporting children during COVID? HERE is the link to the presentation.

With winter fully upon us – and COVID keeping us at home more the usual, it is easy to be sedentary. However, we have Winter Walk to School Week coming up (Feb 8-12) This is a great opportunity to put on your walking shoes and walk to school! Click HERE for more information.

FYI: There are no crossing guards on duty during the 2pm K-2 dismissal time. Generally, K-2 students do not walk home alone, however I want you to be aware of the situation. I have called the Traffic Office and learned the issue lies with crossing guards availability to work more than 2 “shifts” per day. Please take note.

Student progress reports will be available in Aspen for families on February 10th. Please be sure you are able to log into Aspen so you can view your child’s progress report.

Next week is the 1/2 way point of the school year. Please stay tuned for activities/spirit days to celebrate the marking of the mid-point in this VERY peculiar school year.

I wish you a cozy, warm snowy winter evening.

Tom

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