Principal's Welcome and Welcome Back Letter

posted Aug 26, 2018, 3:08 PM by Mena Ciarlone   [ updated Aug 30, 2018, 6:29 PM ]

Dear Cunniff Families,

I hope this letter finds you enjoying this beautiful day and looking forward to the opening of school.  The excitement and preparation, in anticipation of a new school year, is noteworthy at Cunniff with staff and faculty putting finishing touches in place.

 The faculty and I will greet new and returning students and families outdoors and weather permitting beginning at 8:05 on Tuesday, September 4th. Our school day begins at 8:15 and dismissal takes place at 2:30.  Please note that Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students have been assigned appointments for a small group visit on September 4th.  This information can be found on a letter issued earlier in June.  Additionally, please see the attached staggered start schedule for PK and K students.  Extended Day (Before and/or After School) begins on September 4th for students in grades 1-5 and on September 6th for PK and Kindergarten students.

 Here are the entrance and dismissal locations:

In the event of rain, students will enter through assigned doors below and wait in the lobby area outside of their classrooms.

 Grades PK and K                                             Cunniff Courtyard entrance doors

Grade 1(except Ms. Breen’s class)                  Path side door adjacent to the cemetery

Grade 2                                                             Middle Warren Street door

Grade 3 and Ms. Breen’s first grade                 Cunniff Cove entrance facing Warren Street

Grades 4 and 5                                                 Front Main Entrance door

 There are a few changes that I would like to make you aware of regarding the 2018-2019 academic year.  I will begin with staffing changes:Mr. Michael Tempesta will be our Physical Education teacher.  Michael holds a Master of Education from Boston University and comes to us from the Dedham Country Day School.  Ms. Alex Caulfield will replace Special Educator Caitlin Sawyer who took a job closer to home.Alex holds a Master of Education with a major in Special Education from Bay Path University.  Ms. Amy Dempsey will also be joining us as a Special Educator.  Amy has worked as an instructional assistant at Cunniff for the past several years.  Amy recently completed a Master of Education program at Cambridge College.  Speech and Language Pathologist Ms. Kori Zorina will be with assuming  a full schedule at Cunniff while Ms. Lara Nicolau takes a year leave to be with her daughter.  We welcome Mrs. Melissa Rabbitt back as a half-time Reading Specialist.  Additionally, Ms. Christina Catanzaro, who worked as a reading tutor at Cunniff last year, will be joining us full-time as an instructional assistant.  Fifth grade teacher Mr. Lucas Donohue recently took a position closer to home.  We are currently in the process of selecting one of four finalists who will take on the role of grade five teacher.  

 With regard to number of classrooms per grade level and class size, I believe that we are opening in good shape.  We are running a Pre-Kindergarten classroom with a cohort of 15 students.  There will be three Kindergarten classrooms and three first grade classrooms each opening with enrollment at or under 21 students.  In grades two and three, we will run two sections of each, with enrollment at or under 24 students. In grades four and five, we will be opening with three grade four classrooms and two grade five classrooms each with enrollment at 22 or under.

 Our district-wide commitment to robust professional development continued during the summer months.  Many teachers and administrators attended workshops which focused on the Lucy Calkins Units of Study, Responsive Classroom, universal online tools such as iReady.   I participated in a three day leadership retreat which focused on the development of actions plans for our District Improvement Strategy.

 We will continue to strengthen our co-teaching model at each grade level.  Grade level teams will work together to plan and deliver tiered instruction to students.   I have been working with grade level teams to build daily schedules which will enable us to maximize opportunities for co-teaching during literacy and math. 

 Teachers will be utilizing the Responsive Classroom as they guide students through each school day. Responsive Classroom is an approach to teaching that integrates social-emotional skills and academics thereby creating an environment where students can do their best learning. There are four goals for the first six weeks of school worth noting:  Create a climate of warmth, inclusion and safety; Teach classroom routines and behavior expectations; Help students get to know and care for the classroom and school environment; Establish expectations for academic work.   Teachers will begin each day with a Morning Meeting which incorporates Responsive Classroom elements.  Please help your child get to school on time so that s/he can be part of this very important introduction to the school day.

 We hope that students have taken some time during the summer months to enjoy a good book to read.  In June we asked all students to participate in our summer reading focus with our partners at the Watertown Free Public Library.   Please remind students to return their reading log along along with their summer reading “bucket list” on the first day of school.  

 Our Cunniff Back to School Night will take place on Tuesday, September 25 from 6:30 to 8:00pm.  This is a wonderful opportunity to meet grade level teams and to hear about the exciting school year that lies ahead.  Please note that Wednesday, September 26th is an early-release day with a 12:15 dismissal for students.  Lunch will be served and there is Extended Day.

 The Cunniff website continues to be a useful resource and will be updated regularly.  For information such as the district and school calendar, Handbook, Principal’s Newsletters and other relevant documents please visit:

 A special thank you to Cunniff custodians Tony Massarotti and Dan Snow who worked diligently through the summer months in preparation for a new school year and to Judy Fallows and her team of parents who maintained our Cunniff Gardens.

 The faculty and I look forward to welcoming new and returning students and families on Tuesday, September 4th!

 With warm regards,

Mena Ciarlone, Cunniff Principal