Principal’s First Friday Post – Feb 2, 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The school year seems to be flying by!  Mid-year feedback reports have been be going home with all students.  We ask that you please review the mid-year feedback report(s) with your child.  The mid-year feedback reports provide an opportunity to have a conversation with your child about their progress this school year.  The second term ends on Monday, March 19.

As you have likely noted on your calendars, February 7th and March 8th are early release days for all students. On these days, our faculty and staff will participate in Courageous Conversations training, which is part of a district-wide initiative to create greater understanding about the impact of race and racial identity on the school experience. This training is part of our commitment to becoming a more culturally responsive district in which all students consistently feel connected to school and achieve at high levels.

The Courageous Conversations training is based on the book Courageous Conversations
about Rac e by Glenn Singleton and Curtis Linton and includes learning around the distinction between equity and equality, the definition of micro-aggressions, and the impact of race on academic achievement and social/emotional growth. To become more effective educators, we believe we must understand the development of racial identity and build our capacity to lead conversations on these issues.

The district is in year three of its six year professional development plan to provide training to faculty and staff at all school levels and at the administrative level. We are pleased that all four middle schools are receiving this training this year.

We know early release days present scheduling challenges for you and we appreciate your flexibility. It is our sincere belief that providing this training to our faculty and staff will lead to greater awareness of race and culture and improve the academic outcomes and the school experience for all students.  Let me know if you have any questions about our professional learning or would like to learn more about this work.

Our Musical Production:  The cast, crewmembers, costume & set designers, and directors of “Grease” are all working hard, and continue to be very busy focusing on final preparations and rehearsals for their upcoming performances.  We hope that you will plan to join us on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 and Wednesday, February 14, 2018. at 7:30 p.m. in the Brown auditorium for what promises to be two incredible performances of “Grease.”    Winter Vacation:  School will close at the end of the day on Friday, February 16 and will reopen the morning of Monday, February 26.

High School Course Registration:  After February vacation, our eighth grade students will be receiving registration materials from either Newton North or Newton South High Schools.  Their teachers will make recommendations for the courses they will take.  Please look carefully at your child’s registration sheet and the high school course catalog so that you may decide if the recommended course is appropriate for your child.  If you have any questions, please contact your child’s subject teacher and/or guidance counselor.

Parents of eighth grade students are invited to meet with Joel Stembridge (principal) and members of the Newton South High School faculty and staff on Tuesday, February 27 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Newton South. If your child will be attending Newton North High School, there will be a meeting on the Thursday, March 1 with Henry Turner (principal) and members of the Newton North High School faculty and staff from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Newton North.  These meetings will initiate the process of transition into ninth grade.  You will have an opportunity to learn about the high school’s academic program, the course registration process, school activities, as well as the orientation process that has been designed to support your child(ren) as they move into a new school at the end of this year.

2018 MCAS Testing: This year, students in all three grades at Brown will be participating in the computer-based version of the Next-Generation MCAS testing.  Last year, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) upgraded MCAS to better measure the critical thinking skills students need for success in the 21st century.  There will be two testing sessions in English language arts and two testing sessions in mathematics during April 4 – May 22, 2018.  Specific MCAS testing dates are listed in the schedule below:

Grade Tests Dates     Grade 6 ELA (English Language Arts) Tues., April 24
(ELA testing sessions on two days) Tues., May 1   Mathematics Wed., May 9   (Math testing sessions on two days) Thurs., May 10

Grade 7 ELA (English Language Arts)  Fri., April 27   (E LA testing sessions on two d ays) Mon., April 30   Mathematics
Tues., May 15   (Math testing sessions on two days ) Thurs ., May 1 6

Grade 8 ELA (English Language Arts) Wed., April 25   (ELA testing sessions on two days) Thurs., April 26   Mathematics  Fri., May 11   (Math testing ses sions on two days) Mon., May 14   Sci./Tech. Eng. MCAS  Mon., May 21   (Sci/Tech.Eng. testing on two days) Tues., May 22

Spring Ahead:  Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 11.  Yes, once again this spring it is several weeks earlier then in previous years!  Don’t forget to move the clocks ahead one hour.

Looking ahead to June:  Our “Moving On” Ceremony for eighth grade students (and their families) will be held on the last day of school.  In April, the specific date will be confirmed when the Newton School Committee votes to establish the last day for students.  Thus far, there have been two snow days and the “tentative date” is Tuesday, June 19 at 8:15 a.m. in the Newton South High School field house.  However, the date will change if there are additional snow days.  This morning, the “Ground Hog-Punxsutawney Phil” spied his shadow and according to popular folklore that means there will be six more weeks of winter weather.

John F. Jordan