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District Spotlight - October 21, 2016

posted Oct 24, 2016, 12:15 PM by Erin Mountain   [ updated Oct 27, 2016, 1:48 PM ]

From The Superintendent [Twitter: @WestSideSupt]

  • Recipients of the 16-17 West Springfield Partnership for Education Mini Grants were recognized at a reception on Monday.  A total of 24 West Springfield educators received funding for a variety of enrichment projects. Pictured below are the recipients and several WSPE board members.

  • WSPS - in conjunction with the WSPD and other surrounding communities - conducted canine searches of both WSHS and WSMS.  These searches yielded no drug discoveries of the areas that were searched, namely: the student parking lot at the high school, lockers and locker rooms at both schools, and a randomly selected group of classes at the high school.  Great work was done by all involved, and the district will continue to be vigilant in our fight against illegal substance possession, use, and abuse!

  • The district’s SAFE (Student Advocacy & Family Engagement) committee presented a College Campus Safety assembly to the Class of 2017 on Tuesday, featuring Lt. Thomas O’Donnell, UMass Campus Safety, and Molly Fox-Bryant, Elms College Nursing Department.  WWLP covered the event; the video is available on this link.

  • The Key Communicators group - an open meeting of interested parents and guardians - met on Thursday night to have open and honest dialogue with Mr. Richard.  The topics covered included: school safety, school curriculum, communication between schools and families, and more.  Watch future District Spotlights for announcements about when our next meeting will be held!

  • National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, October 22 from 10:00-2:00 in the Municipal Office Building lobby.  We join the CARE Coalition in encouraging the community to dispose of unwanted/expired medications and prescription drugs!

  • October 24 - Gr. 1-12 early dismissal (parent conferences & professional development).  No school for EC/Ashley students.

  • The School Committee meeting is Tues., October 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the Municipal Office Building auditorium on the 2nd floor.  Tune in to Ch. 15 and http://livestream.com/westspringfield.

  • Mark your calendar - the WSHS Annual Punkin’ Chunkin’ contest is Oct. 28, 2:30 at the HS!

  • Below are some highlights from various schools and departments...

Fausey School [Twitter: @WSPSFausey]

  • Please enjoy the September issue of Fausey’s school newspaper, The Falcon Focus, on this link.

  • AVMR:  The first and second grade teachers participated in a two-day professional development activity to learn how Add+Vantage Math Recovery (AVMR) will enhance their math instruction.  This program will allow teachers to pinpoint individual student understanding with shorter assessments.  The focus is on using data to differentiate and inform whole class and small group instruction.  More to follow as the school takes AddVantage of these resources!

  • BEAR HOLE VISITS:  The entire 5th grade enjoyed Bear Hole class visits on Monday, which prepared them to the related field trips.  Mr. Bailey’s and Mrs. Cameron’s classes had the best weather for the first set of field trips this past Tuesday.  Mrs. Stearns’ and Mrs. Birk’s classes are keeping their fingers crossed that the same will hold true for next Tuesday’s visit to Bear Hole, which is held rain or shine!

  • MAD SCIENCE -  This very popular after-school program began on Wednesday with a full roster of students.  They will be involved in the Secret Agent Lab, a fun and exciting look at forensics, detective science, spy techniques and gadgets!  The first session will run every Wednesday through January 18.

  • Kids night out - PBIS presents a Mad Science SPOOKTACULAR EVENT October 26, 6-7:30 p.m.  Cost is $5/child; space is limited (sign up soon).  Proceeds will benefit the Parish Cupboard.

  • Parents night out - Fausey PTO Scavenger Hunt FUNdraiser, November 10, 6:20 p.m.  All adults in the community welcome (teams of three or four - $50/team if registered by 11/9, or $60/team at the door).   Cash/ checks payable to Fausey PTO (please send in envelope marked "Scavenger Hunt, PTO").

High School [Twitter: @WSPS_WSHS and @WSHS_guidance]

Weekly Review:


  • 10/24 WSHS Early Dismissal 10 AM

  • 10/27 WSHS College Fair

  • 10/28 Annual Punkin Chunkin 2 PM

WSHS Democracy Club:

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Department Notes:

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Athletics [Twitter: @wshsterriers]

  • Please follow @wshsterriers on Twitter for daily WSHS Athletics updates of scores and highlights

  • Please refer to the High School's Weekly review section for scores and awards

  • Please visit the MIAA Schedule on the athletics web page

  • Registration is now open on Family ID for Winter Sports and Ski Club

  • Currently all of our teams either qualified for postseason play or still have a chance to do so

  • Upcoming Senior Nights:  Volleyball 10/27, Football/Cheer with Band and Color Guard 10/28, and Girls Soccer 10/31

Alumni News

Below are updates on a few of our WSHS alumni:

  • JP Hill and Devan French ‘11 built a successful business based in San Diego called "Boosted Shades" www.boostedshades.com, sunglasses designed for the "driving enthusiast."  

  • Matt Bernier ‘07 is a handicapper for the Daily Racing Form, where he hosts a weekly podcast

  • Louis Siano ‘11 is a manager at Firestone in West Springfield.

Memorial School [Twitter: @WSPSMemorial]

   Memorial School’s amazing and respectful first graders looking at books at during Scholastic Book Fair

  • The Scholastic Book Fair was successful this week, thanks to the great volunteers Jennifer and Dan Fleury, Ann-Marie Sarkis and Celinez Jodoin.

  • Teachers engaged in both AVMR and Singapore Math training this week and they are looking forward to applying  new strategies in their classrooms.

  • The first day of Parent-Teacher conferences was October 20, and the next opportunity to meet with families and their children to discuss learning and a home-school partnership is Monday, October 24.

  • Thank you to the West Springfield Partnership for Education for awarding mini-grants to Ms. Brunelle, Mrs. Calabrese, Mrs. Fiorentino and Mrs. Metallo!  A lovely reception was held at the Middle School on Monday afternoon.

  • A non-perishable food drive for the Open Pantry began this week and over 100 items have been collected already. Thanks to all of the generous families for supporting such a wonderful organization!

  • Students across grade levels have been working & identifying the “heartbeat” of their personal narrative writing as well as elements of fiction and nonfiction texts. The use of technology has made reading even more fun.  

  • In science, classes have participated in a variety of weather experiments such as making rain and a model tornado.  Students cooperatively gathered information about the difference between climate and weather through videos and discussion. They have also explored different kinds of rocks & the rock cycle. Students are fully engaging and sharing their ideas with each other.

  • Students began earning BEE Bucks to purchase items in the PBIS school store.

  • In physical education students are learning ball handling and passing skills.

  • AVMR groups in grade 3 are making and playing Treasure Hunt games to practice multiples.

  • Last, but certainly not least...thank you to Fausey School administration and staff  - the L1 cake you sent to our school meant a great deal... and it was delicious!

Middle School [Twitter: @WSPS_WSMS]

  • Ms. Tash’s 7th grade health students have viewed the documentary “He named me Malala” during their Prejudice and Tolerance Unit and have written a reflection on one of Malala’s most powerful quotes -- “Let us pick up our books and pens.They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

  • WSMS participated in a district-wide search of the three pods and locker rooms lockers using Police Department K9s.  Our own Pike, and two dogs from other communities, searched the building on Tuesday.  The entire search took about 10 minutes while students sheltered in place.  No evidence of drugs were found and the procedure went seamlessly.  

  • 6th grade students participated in a field trip themed along the lines of the “American Pickers” TV show.  Students traveled to area antique shops and selected an item to purchase.  They then began a project which researches its historical significance and use while incorporating Math, Science, and ELA into the History unit.  Final projects are shared with families at our annual Quality Fair.

  • Richard Dubuisson joined with teachers in their Friday content meetings to continue to align assessments to the Depth of Knowledge tool.  Richard will return next Friday to continue the work.

  • Monday 10/24 is a half day for students.  Dismissal will be at approximately 10:30.  This is a full day for staff, who will continue to work on creating common and Benchmark assessments.  

  • Tuesday 10/25 - Thursday 10/27 will be the first series of Curriculum meetings for staff after school.  They will continue to develop their use, implementation, and understanding of the latest educational technology available in their classrooms.

  • Thursday 10/27 is PBIS Hawaiian Day.

  • Friday 10/28 is a student-led “Pink Out Day.”  Students and staff will wear pink and participate in fundraisers and activities that benefit breast cancer research.  This 2nd annual event is 100% student driven and initiated!  

Mittineague School [Twitter: @WSPSMittineague]

  • Wednesday night was the first annual Family STEM Night!  Students and families (about 120 people!) attended.  From the first gasp as the participants mixed ingredients to make “snow,” the evening was a hit!  Mike from Top Secret Science demonstrated the snow-making activity (the mixture was water and sodium polyacrylate).  (pictures below)

  • The class of 2024 went on a team-building and outdoor education experience on Wednesday.  The weather, the setting and the participants were all fabulous! The students couldn’t say enough about their experiences.

  • Parent volunteer Robin Sayward manned the PBIS Paw Store where students could “spend” their paw tickets earned by following the school’s respect rules. Respect ourselves, others, learning and property.

  • Mrs. Doe was the fortunate recipient of a Partnership Grant to create a “Buddy Space” on our playground.  Over the summer SB landscaping helped define and create the space, and the next step will be decorating the bench with kindness and friendship words and putting in plantings. (picture below)

  • October is the Boys and Girls Club fundraising month at Ninety Nine Restaurant.  Ninety Nine gives the Boys and Girl club a percentage for all Boys and Girls Club menu items in October.  The Mittineague B&G Club group designed and decorated pumpkins to display and sell for this event!

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  • Upcoming events:

    • Parent/Teacher Conferences October 24 (11:00 dismissal)

    • Trunk or Treat Friday, October 28 (6:00)

    • Family Literacy Night November 3  

    • PTO Bake Election Bake sale  November 8     

Tatham School [Twitter: @WSPSTatham


  • The first school-wide math event, Arithme-Tricks and Treats, will be next Friday, October 28 at 1:15.

  • The fifth grade went to Bear Hole on Wednesday to learn about the forest and the history of the reservoir.

  • Tatham School was the recipient of two mini grants from the West Springfield Partnership for Education.  These grants will help fund  upcoming Science Night and another family night to be held in January.    

  • Second grade teachers were trained in AVMR which will help students build number sense.              

Community & Family Engagement/Outreach [Twitter and Facebook: @westspfldcfce]

  • Community Playgroup has moved to the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club!!!  Every Tuesday from 10:30 to 11:30. Free, drop in - snack included.

  • Free Parent/Child Date Night: Apple Tasting and Printing Ages 3-8 Only a few spots left!!

Thursday October 27 from 5:30-6:30 at the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club.  Registration required. Call or email Jen Brennan at 413-519-2511 or brennan@wsps.org

  • Raising a Reader: Registration is full. Program starts October 31st at the West Springfield Public Library.

  • Celebrate Literacy Month on the Story Walk!  Featuring The Mitten - Saturday, November 5 from 10-12 at John Ashley.  No registration required. Come enjoy literacy, the outdoors and some warm refreshments!

Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment [Twitter: @WSPSCurriculum]


  • (Above) Memorial and Coburn grade 4 and 5 teachers learn about the benefits of Number Talk.

  • Grades 1 and 2 districtwide began their training of Add+Vantage Math Recovery (AVMR) this week. Great job to the participating teachers and Instructor Emily O’Brien on this highly-intensive work. AVMR

  • West Springfield Middle School completed their Scholastic Reading Inventory assessment (SRI). We look forward to analyzing the data and developing a plan of intervention for the identified for additional support.

  • West Springfield Public Schools is preparing for Mastery Connect training for grade 1- 5 math specialists. Mastery Connect is a data platform that will provide teachers with immediate assessment results for prompt implementation of intervention.

English as a Second Language Department (ESL)

  • Theresa Buswell, a grade 4 ESL/SEI teacher at Coburn School, is learning Swahili in order to support and communicate with some of her newest students and families. Theresa tested out her newly acquired language skills with a robust conversation in Swahili with our Swahili translator! The translator was amazed at her ability to both understand and speak the language. Great job,Theresa!!

  • In order to enhance our translation supports we have hired a new Nepali translator. At this time we have translators available for Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Nepali, Hindi, Swahili, Kurdish, Turkish and Karen.

Health Services [Twitter: @cmviens]

  • Staff flu clinics have begun and will continue in the coming weeks at all schools. Read more about the flu vaccine here.  Please attend a clinic, see your provider or a local pharmacy for the immunization.

  • School nurses work throughout the school year to keep students safe and this includes students returning to activities after a concussion or head injury.  Read more about safe return here.

  • School nurses participate in planning prevention efforts with the SAFE team, CARE coalition, wellness efforts, field trip planning, crisis team, mobile dentist, screenings, fluoride mouthrinse program, health care planning for individual student needs and attend educational offerings outside on issues relevant to school nursing practice.

  • School nurses attend multiple field trips each week for students with medical needs.

  • Communication/educational activities through newsletters and Nurse’s Corner pages on school website.

Information Technology

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When printing 2-sided documents from uniFLOW (Google Cloud Print), choose "options", select "short edge" and then print the job. You have to do this AT THE COPIER, as there is no setting for this in the Chromebook print selections.

  • HelpDesk Status

    • 604 HelpDesk tickets received from 8/29/16 - 10/21/16 ( + 54 this week)

    • 425 of those HelpDesk tickets have been closed. ( + 118 this week  😀)

  • This week the IT Department has had the opportunity to focus on the backlog of HelpDesk requests.  The gap is slowly narrowing !

  • Google’s G Suite for Education, the new name for Google Apps, has announced some new features that will be added to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms.   Get a sneak peek of the new features here !

Special Services

  • The Elementary Special Education Staff were able to meet and discuss various issues that impact learning at this level. IEP writing, technology, and the upcoming MCAS testing were among issues addressed. It is very helpful for teachers across the district to get together to share ideas, challenges and strategies that work.

  • The special education staff continue to work to correct the specific issues noted in a recent state audit. As always, the special education staff are committed to providing services which address student specific needs in the areas of academics, communication, social/emotional development, and fine/gross motor skills.

  • This week, the district’s Evaluation Team Leaders facilitated 38 IEP meetings.  At each meeting, the ETLs were responsible for overseeing the development of comprehensive Individualized Education Programs.

John Ashley School [Twitter: @WSPSAshley]

  • Ashley had parent/teacher conferences (or as room 16 calls them parent/teacher “conversations”) Thursday October 20, 2016.  It was wonderful to see all the parents who were able to attend.

  • The “Pumpernickel Puppets” came to John Ashley on Tuesday October 18, 2016. This wonderful show was enjoyed by all.

  • Next Tuesday, October 25, 2016, a member of the West Springfield Fire Department firefighter Ms. Brina Fondi will visit John Ashley and give a presentation on Fire Safety.

Coburn School [Twitter: @WSPSCoburn]

  • Fourth grade students went on a Field trip to Skinner Mountain last Friday.  They had a beautiful day to hike up to the top and learn all about weathering, erosion and the history of the area.  Here are some beautiful pictures from their trip!  On a visit to the 4th grade classrooms, students were seen writing about their field trip to Skinner Mountain.

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  • On Thursday, Coburn School showed their support for Rays of Hope and The Cancer Society by walking around the school grounds and donating money.  Coburn collected over $1,300 for these wonderful charities.

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  • Third grade teachers held the first in a three-part series of family night events on Monday.  Families from third grade were invited to come and learn what their children are doing in class in the areas of ELA and math.  Teachers created take-home packets for parents and during the workshop, and all parents had an opportunity to actually complete the activities with the teachers so that they would know how to support their children at home.  A great deal of positive feedback was received from those who attended.

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  • Various teachers at different grade levels have attended some professional development this past week.  Grades 3,4, & 5 attended Singapore Math and teachers in grades 2 and 3 attended AVMR.

  • Congratulations to Lisa DeLong for being awarded one of the Partnership for Education’s mini grants!

Cowing Alternative School [Twitter: @WSPSCowingCAS]

  • It’s growing like crazy!!!!!  Soon vegetables will be ready from our hydroponic garden.  Room 9 is doing a fabulous job caring for the garden.

  • DreamBox Math is a favorite time of day for many of the CAS students.  The data is showing that the students are making progress in their math skills across grade levels.

  • A HUGE thank you to the wonderful staff at Cowing School for making “Boss’s Day” so special!

Cowing Early Childhood

  • Cowing welcomed the new secretary, Yabets Erkailo, this week.

  • Mrs. Kania’s class in Room 2 sorted and graphed fall items such as leaves, acorns, pumpkins and apples.

  • Look at all the firefighters in Ms. Maloney’s class!

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