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District Spotlight - September 2, 2016

posted Sep 4, 2016, 7:12 AM by WSPS Announcements   [ updated Sep 4, 2016, 7:28 AM ]

From The Superintendent

  • Convocation was a tremendous success with faculty, staff, and administration kicking off the year and embracing the theme of “Go for the Gold” and listening to a very inspiring talk by Ron Suskind.  It was also a great opportunity to recognize Ms. Amy Green as the Massachusetts Elementary Art Teacher of the Year!  The main event was followed by one and a half days of targeted Professional Development which highlighted: AVMR, Depth of Knowledge, Wellness and Self-Care, and more…

  • The first days of school were fabulous as students of all ages across the district returned with great excitement to see old friends, make new ones, and introduce themselves to new teachers and staff.

  • Thank you to all members of the district for their hard work in preparing for this school year - it’s going to be the best year ever!

  • Please note that next Friday, September 9, the entire district will observe a Moment of Silence at 8:46 am to remember the World Trade Center attacks that took place 15 years ago on September 11, 2001.

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

John Ashley School

  • John Ashley staff learned about behavior management from Alex Hirshberg, a psychologist from James Levine and Associates.

  • John Ashley school launched 180 days of Kindness with an inspiring video and an activity. Kindness is trending at Ashley.

  • Meet & Greet was wonderful. Parents and students visited classrooms and met with their teachers and some of their classmates.  Smiles were on the faces of everyone.

  • Mrs. Ricardi, Mrs. Michalek, Mr. O‘Brien and Ms. Bailer taught lunch and dismissal expectations to every class helping the students all know what to do on their first day at John Ashley.

  • Coming back to school on Tuesday, Ms. Bailer will be reading the book Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld to the students in every classroom.

Coburn School

  • The faculty and staff  reviewed data from PARCC and discussed the plan for improvement.  Everyone will be working hard this year to implement an RTI model of intervention at Coburn School where teachers and specialists will target students’ needs and progress monitoring will be at the center of our teaching.  

  • The attendance initiative/policy was discussed with our students and the importance of being in school each day was emphasized.  School rules and routines at recess and the lunchroom were reviewed.

  • On Thursday night September 8, the Town Council will hold a Study Session regarding the Feasibility of the Coburn School project

Cowing Alternative School

  • CAS would like to welcome Ms. Lindsy Canuel as our new 4th and 5th grade teacher.

  • A look ahead:  the students and teachers are working on our PBIS rules and are practicing appropriate behavior in the classroom, bathroom, hallway, and bus.

  • CAS is piloting a new online math program called DreamBox that will be introduced to the students next week.  They will be able to use their ChromeBooks to complete math lessons that are fun and engaging at their appropriate, independent curricular level.

Cowing Early Childhood

  • Cowing staff met with the district math coach to review the new math scope and sequence teachers worked hard over the summer preparing.

  • The Cowing staff launched 180 days of Kindness with an inspiring video and an activity.

  • Meet & Greet was wonderful. Parents and students visited classrooms and met with their teachers and some of their classmates.  Smiles were on the faces of everyone.

  • Thank you to the staff at Cowing for their long hours of prep, creativity, and their knowledge of working with this age group.

  • Ms. Hubbard has done great work as Cowing’s substitute secretary making sure every child has all that is required to start the school year - including a bus tag.  It is no small feat to get all the tuition documents processed and to make sure each parent’s needs are met.

Fausey School

  • Grade 1 Orientation was a huge success on 8/26.  The students were shy, but excited to meet their new teachers and friends.  After a short introduction and time for socializing, each child took home a balloon and a ‘learning’ goodie bag.  78% of our first grade Fausey families attended the event!

  • The first day of school was a huge success.  The halls and classrooms were immaculate thanks to the hard work of the custodial staff led by Mr. Navone.  The teachers had spent many hours during the summer getting the rooms ready for learning, especially since many of their classrooms had been moved to improve the flow of students.  The new arrangement of classrooms within the building will allow for more collaboration between similar grade levels.  The South wing now houses grades 3-5, and the North wing houses grades 1-2. The office staff had worked tirelessly to ensure that students and staff were supported.

  • Assemblies were held with grades 1-2 on Wednesday, and will be held with older students in the next few days.  Mrs. Morneau, Mrs. Skolnick and Mr. Doyle reviewed good manners, especially in the cafeteria to start with, and reminded them about LOOP behaviors throughout.  There will be further lessons to follow.  

  • Fausey has welcomed two new programs this year.  Students within these programs transitioned well into the Fausey community on the first day.  We will continue to support the students and teachers in these programs.  Our staff will use proven and innovative methods to ensure that all the students succeed in their new setting.

    • Functional Academics, led by Sarah Chalero

    • Co-teaching classrooms, Grades 2-5

  1. Mrs. Desilets and Mrs. Marshall-Moriarty, Gr. 2

  2. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Marshall-Moriarty, Gr. 3

  3. Mrs. Martin and Ms. Feeley, Gr. 4

  4. Mrs. Birks and Ms. Feely, Gr. 5

  • Fausey has many new staff that came on board this year:

  • Chris Bailey, Grade 5 teacher

  • Sarah Chalero, Grade 3-5 teacher

  • Shannon Chapdelaine, School Psychologist

  • Kensey Rhodes, Clerk

  • Karen Feeley, Grade 4-5 teacher

  • Karen Gaughan-Blake, Educational Team Leader (ETL)

  • Christie Glidden, Grade 3 teacher

  • Deb Luce, LPN, Applied Academics Rm. 10

  • Phyllis Marshall-Moriarty, Grade 2-3 teacher

  • Lisa Schill, Paraprofessional

  • Laurie Whelan, Paraprofessional

High School

 This Week in Review:
  • Freshman Open House

  • Chromebook Distribution

  • Concu

  • ssion ImPACT Testing

  • Band Camp

  • Fall Sports practices commenced

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Upcoming Events:

9/8 West Side Showcase 6:30-8 pm

9/8 WSHS Volleyball vs. Agawam 4-8 pm

9/8 WSHS Field Hockey vs. East Longmeadow @ Clark Field 7 pm

9/10 WSHS Boys Soccer vs. Mt. Greylock Regional @ Clark Field

9/10 WSHS Girls Soccer vs. Pittsfield @ Clark Field

From the Principal:

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WSHS Department Notes: Please click here

New Faces at WSHS: Please click below


Team rosters have been selected and the focus is now on preparation for the Fall 2016 season.  Football, Soccer B/G, Volleyball and Field Hockey have taken part in scrimmages either at home or on the road.  The HS front playing field is officially open this fall with soccer practice and games being scheduled there.  On Tuesday, September 6 we open our regular season with golf and volleyball traveling to Amherst and Girls/Boys Cross Country hosting Belchertown.  For schedules visit the HS athletic page and click MIAA Athletic Schedule (go to this link) or download the free MIAA app for Apple or Android devices.  

Memorial School

  • Welcoming all students and staff was the highlight of our week! Smiling faces and the desire to begin learning new skills have made for a smooth week.

  • We enjoyed a 95% participation rate at our Grade 1 Orientation on Tuesday, August 30th.  Families had a light snack, met all staff members, toured the building and visited classrooms.

  • On the first day, students were called to the gym by the year of their HS graduation. The entire school community then assembled to embrace our wonderful diversity and to learn more about one another through conversations.

  • Fifth grade students modeled lunchroom procedures for first graders.

  • Kim Heroux, John Ragno and Laura Sarkis were interviewed by Sy Becker of 22News to discuss the benefits of their wonderful new Chromebooks. We are proud of our three television stars (and here is the link to the news story)!

  • Students are being introduced to the routines, procedures, physical environment and materials of the classroom and the school. Cooperation, respect for others and the mindset of perseverance are our top priorities.

  • Our first School Council meeting will be on September 7th at 3:00.

  • Amherst College students will visit the school next week to introduce the fifth graders to the Reader to Reader Program.

Middle School

  • WSMS kicked off the school year with staff attending varied Professional Development programs.  Trainings on Depth of Knowledge, Scholastic Reading Inventory (for our new Gr. 6 Reading program), and Mindfulness highlighted the time following convocation.

  • Staff also received state mandated de-escalation and epi-pen trainings prior to some motivational words from administrators and some team-building work with prizes of gift cards donated by the Crest Room in West Springfield.  The day concluded with staff completing Global Compliance Network Training.

  • WSMS opened another school year smoothly!  The building looked great as students received orientations and welcoming from our staff.  Our PBIS program is in full swing and students also received their orientation on policies in the handbook on Friday from Vice Principals Mrs. Smith and Mr. Brown.

  • The Middle School’s partnership with the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club expanded with the debut of its after-school on-site Boys and Girls club program!  It will run every single day that school is open until 6:00PM.

  • State Preliminary Elections take place on 9/8.  WSMS is a voting site.  

  • The Middle School crisis team will hold its initial meeting to continue our work in providing a safe, secure, and supportive school building.  

Mittineague School

  • School started on Wednesday!! The custodial and maintenance staff got our school ready with hard work, fresh paint, some new furniture. The rooms were prepared, bright and newly decorated  as all staff eagerly awaited the students! Wednesday was a beautiful morning made even more special with all of the students and their families gathering together on the blacktop of Mittineague School.

  • Mittineague School is fortunate to welcome Mr. Jeremy Milligan as our new General Music Teacher and Ms Meg Largey as our Art teacher.

  • Mrs. Doe will be visiting all classes this week to share a story and a special message with all the students:

    • "When I got face to face with it, I discovered something. My problem wasn't what I thought it was. I discovered it had something beautiful inside. My problem held an opportunity! It was an opportunity for me to learn and to grow. To be brave. To do something."  ~ Kobi Yamada, from “What Do You Do With A Problem?"

  • Mittineague's Boys and Girls' Club Before and After School Program, under the direction of  Sue Gerardi, got off to a great start!  So far we have 11 children enrolled for the morning session and 22 for the after school session!

  • All classes are resuming their AVMR flashing - a technique that takes approximately 5 - 7 minutes daily and is used to help build visual memory in numeracy.

  • Miss Mantoni's fifth graders spent some time on an engineering quest on the first day of school! The task was simple; using teams of four and in only 18 minutes, they had to design and build the tallest freestanding structure using a marshmallow, 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape and a yard of string. This challenge showcased great teamwork, communication, innovation and organization. The thinking and creativity that went into the many designs was spectacular!! All teams did a great job. The winning team consisted of Dan Harty, Vinnie Douglas, Kelsey Mutyeiya and Logan Trainor. Their tower was just over 23 inches tall and was able to stand independently for 30 seconds!

mantoni 5.JPG

Tatham School

  • Grade 1 orientation was wonderful. Everyone was excited to see the building and meet the teachers.

  • Our building looks wonderful. There was lots of oohing and aahing from students and parents!

  • The staff reviewed released MCAS Science and Technology questions. Emphasis was placed on questions that gave students difficulty. Staff found gaps in old standards vs. NGSS.

  • The Tatham staff will be reading Teach Like a Champion to gain new teaching strategies to improve student achievement.

  • Smooth opening day! There were lots of smiling faces!!!!

  • PBIS Rules and Procedures were modelled and practiced- Hallway, Playground, Cafeteria

  • Students were shown cafeteria procedures as it relates to our recycling efforts. This continues to be a successful endeavor at Tatham School.

  • Teachers in Grades 1-5 began BAS testing to get students into appropriate reading groups.

  • School-wide safety drills (fire drills/lockdowns) were practiced.

  • We are of to a great start!

Community & Family Engagement/Outreach

What happened over the Summer….

  • Busy getting back into the swing of things with plans for Parent Cafe nights and Educator Mentoring.

  • Summer Community Playgroups continued throughout the summer and we were happy to have more friends join the fun!

  • The Educator Mentor Orientation took place on August 23rd with 17 mentors that were trained for the coming year. A special thanks to Roxanne and Elaine from the Federation for Children with Special Needs for their amazing presentation.

  • Community Playgroups will resume at the Merrick Substation at 389 Main Street from 10:30-11:30 on Tuesdays. An afternoon playgroup is in the works.  

Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment

  • Currently reviewing preliminary MCAS and PARCC data with a projected presentation to School Committee in October.

  • We launched our pilot of Dreambox Math program in an attempt to provided targeted Tier II interventions.

  • Building administration meetings have begun to look at how we can best support math instruction PreK-12.  

  • AVMR planning has occurred with plan to teach 19 teachers this year in grades 1, 2 and 5 (Coburn).

  • Building-based math meetings occurred at WSHS and WSMS to develop a plan to increase math achievement in grades 7-10.

  • The District continues to look for ways to further support hands-on science instruction in grades 3-5.

  • Computer teachers met to discuss the implementation of a keyboarding skills within the curriculum to better prepare our students for a change in standardized testing from paper/pencil assessments to computer based assessments.

English as a Second Language Department (ESL)

  • This first week of school has been a busy one for the ESL department, with language assessments for 24 students being done between Monday and Thursday. The students who were assessed were all late summer enrollments and ranged from kindergarten to high school students. In addition, another 21 students, again ranging from kindergarten to high school enrollments, had language assessments done over the summer. Seventeen of the 45 students assessed were kindergarteners and a total of 38 of the students will be enrolled in the ESL program. .

  • At the middle school, the ESL program took on a new look this year. The exciting new format allows for more inclusion of ELL students in grade specific, content classrooms.

Food Service/Nutrition

  • The Summer Meals program has concluded. The West Springfield School Nutrition Department, in working with Parks and Recreation served over 15,000 free meals this summer.

  • School lunch and breakfast will be served in all schools with one exception.  Tatham does not offer a breakfast option at this time.  The Middle School, Coburn, Memorial, Mittineague and now John Ashley are universal free lunch and breakfast.  There is no charge for meals at these sites.  However, there is still a .40 charge for milk.  There is no need to fill out a meal benefit application at these sites anymore.

  • The high school ($2.50), Fausey, and Tatham ($2.25) still charge for lunch.  Reduced lunch is .40  at all three schools.  Breakfast at the high school and Fausey will cost $1.00, and reduced lunch is .30.  Children in need of free or reduced priced meals will need to compete a new meal benefit application by September 30, 2016.  They can fill out the paper application which can be found on our website or in the school office.  We also have an online version at https://westspringfield.sdms2.com.  All School Nutrition Information can be found on the district web page at http://www.wsps.org/index.php/about-wsps/2013-02-19-01-58-59/food-service.

  • Tatham and Fausey have a charge limit in place for those students who forget or lose their lunch money.  After a child reaches ($20.00), he/she will receive an alternate meal.   We never deny the student a meal.  Online payments for school meals can be made at PayPAMS.

Health Services

  • This week school nurses completed EpiPen training with staff in most buildings (2 remaining buildings will be completed at the next faculty meetings).

  • At this time of year, school nurses work to ensure a safe and healthy start for all students.  This includes the following:

  • Communication/case management with parents, students, staff and MD offices to inform appropriate staff of student health needs

  • Obtain medications and permission slips from parents and MD orders for all meds at school

  • Processing a huge amount of paperwork including immunizations, physicals, notes, yellow emergency cards and new student records and transferring out old student records

  • Tracking down records, health information and immunizations for incoming students

  • Document compliance with all Massachusetts immunization requirements for all students/grades

  • Work out issues and compliance with all 504’s and medical related plans

  • Management of acute and chronic illness and injuries

  • This is an extremely busy and important time of year in the nurse’s offices as all nurses strive to communicate all student health needs, allergies, etc. to all appropriate staff as soon as possible.  This work will continue into next week and be ongoing throughout the school year as needs change.  We hope to get the bulk of this work done prior to beginning other projects such as screenings, etc. and before the offices become extremely busy.  We appreciate the patience and cooperation we receive from all staff and the support from administration in these efforts.

Information Technology

Chromebooks are EVERYWHERE !

  • During the summer,  a little less than half of WSPS teachers in grades EC-8 participated in Chromebook “Train-the-Trainer” sessions in preparation for the anticipated migration to the Chromebook in their classrooms.  These teachers were given an opportunity to pick up the Chromebooks and practice with them before the start of school.

  • The remaining teachers in grades EC - 8 received their new Chromebooks immediately following Convocation,  and have begun using them this week for instruction and to perform their administrative duties in PowerSchool quite successfully.  

  • New processes for printing from Teacher Chromebooks have been well received.  The copiers are chugging away nicely with our new uniFLOW system combined with Google Cloud Print sharing.  This new printing system features the most economically sound method for printing (printing to these large capacity machines has a much lower cost per page than printing to smaller LaserJet printers) while still maintaining document security (documents do not print until the teacher inputs a PIN code or swipes his/her ID card.  We will be adding additional printers over the next week,  providing additional printing opportunities for teachers.  

  • Many High School students participated in “early” Chromebook distribution days,  and the rest have been picking up their Chromebooks during these first days of school.  The vast majority of them are taking advantage of the Worth Ave. Group insurance option at a reduced rate ($20.00) compared with last year ($26.00).  

  • We will be spending much time over the upcoming weeks to present new and innovative Chrome tools to assist teachers with their daily instruction.  Chrome Apps, Extensions and Add-Ons will be analyzed, introduced and shared across our elementary schools and early childhood centers.