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District Spotlight - September 23, 2016

posted Sep 26, 2016, 6:36 AM by Erin Mountain

From The Superintendent

  • This week Cowing EC, Cowing Alternative School, and the middle school held Open House events.  Next week John Ashley will hold an Open House on September 29.  

  • I saw many excellent examples of student engagement this week on my visits to the elementary schools for the presentation and distribution of Pocket Constitutions (see photos below from Mrs. Bartolucci’s 3rd grade class at Mittineague).  

  • On Tuesday night, Mr. McQuillan and I participated in a Town Council Study Session relative to a new Coburn School project.  The focus of the session was to allow Councilors the chance to better understand where West Springfield stands in the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s process.  Also Tuesday night, I went before the Town Council to offer a “State of the Schools” presentation.  I am thankful for the opportunity and I look forward to providing more regular, personal updates to the Council.  

  • On Wednesday, a team of officials from the School Dept, Fire Dept, and Police Dept conducted unannounced lockdown drills in schools across the district.  I am pleased to say that everyone involved responded well and we will continue to conduct such drills to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff!

  • Monday, September 26 is CASA Family Day - Be Involved. Stay Involved, sponsored by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.  We encourage families to eat dinner together, or spend time playing a game, working on an activity (such as one of these) or reading together!  Check out this link for more info/ideas.   

  • On Monday, September 26 at 5:00 p.m., our most recent Accountability Status will be publicly available.  I will give the School Committee a quick briefing on Tuesday night and a more comprehensive report in early October.

  • The School Committee will meet on September 27 at 7:00 in the Municipal Office Building Auditorium.  Meetings are broadcast on local cable Ch. 15 and http://livestream.com/westspringfield.

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

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Mrs. Bartolucci teaches a lesson on the Constitution.     Mrs. Marcus gets a Civics lesson from students.

John Ashley School

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Mrs. Vedovelli, room 12 celebrating Citizenship/Constitution Day

  • Citizenship Day/Constitution Day was Monday September 19, 2016.  John Ashley students learned what it means and how it is used to shape our daily lives.

  • Room 2 celebrated International Day of Peace with a parade through the halls.

  • PBIS still rules!  Behavior expectations abound and are being rewarded with stuffed animal days, pajama days and lunch on stage with the principal.

  • Room 17 is studying how apple trees grow and students had a taste test to find out their favorite apple.

  • Ashley School’s Open House is September 29, 2016 from 5:30-7:00 p.m.  A Scholastic Book Fair sponsored by the John Ashley PTO will also take place that evening.

Coburn School

  • All classes participated in activities about the Constitution on Monday, Sept 19.  Grade 5 had a special presentation from Superintendent Michael Richard.  Mr. Richard spoke to students about the Constitution and passed out pocket Constitutions to each 5th grade student which were donated by the Big E.

  • Coburn School participated in the district Lockdown Drill.  Feedback was provided after the drill, and administrators will follow up with staff about adjustments to our practice.

  • Ms. St. George and Mr. Richard visited PLC meetings to discuss the importance of Core Instruction in the classroom as well as Tier I interventions for Coburn’s struggling students.

  • Teachers and administrators have been meeting to review goals and self-assessments

Coming Up

  • Coburn 5th graders will be participating in the MCAS Learning Lab where they will test potential MCAS 2.0 ELA questions.

  • After School Program for Coburn School will start on Monday for students

  • Coburn School Council will meet next Monday to review and update our School Improvement Plan

Cowing Alternative School

  • Open House was held on September 20.  It was wonderful to see the students and parents interacting in their classrooms.  

  • Mrs. Messier’s students are learning about their community, both in school and in West Springfield.  Officer Johnson will be visiting their classroom this week.

  • Two thumbs up for all of the paraprofessionals who have stepped in to assist in other classrooms as needed.  Your teamwork is GREATLY appreciated!!

Cowing Early Childhood

  • Open House was held on Tuesday evening.  Children participated in a scavenger hunt designed by the teachers.  The first task was to find their teacher and then complete activities in their classrooms.  Parents and children enjoyed the evening!

  • Mrs. Kania’s class will be learning a Peekaboo Apple poem next week with artwork to match.

  • Mrs. Bailer read to Mrs. Berenson’s classes this week.  The children absolutely loved it!

  • Miss Maloney’s class is learning the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • Mrs. T’s class is doing a great job Taking Care of Themselves, Others, and Our Things.

Fausey School

  • Constitution Day:  On Monday, September 19, our fifth graders assembled for a presentation by West Springfield dignitaries to reflect on the significance of the United States Constitution.  State Representative Michael Finn, Mayor William Reichelt, and School Committee member Nancy Farrell were in attendance for the ceremony.  Timothy Connor, Dir. of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment led and presented the group.  State Representative Finn gave a short discourse about the importance of the Constitution in our country.  The dignitaries then presented a pocket Constitution to the 98 students.

  • Backpack Awareness:  First grade teacher Mrs. Radon hosted a group of  Bay Path University students on September 21.  The event was promoted by the American Occupational Therapy Association, sharing guidelines for safe/proper backpack packing and wearing strategies. The four Bay Path students brought a poster board and student handouts to take home.  The first graders did a coloring activity and used a scale to weigh backpacks. The kids learned to ‘Pack it light, and wear it right!”

  • The Fausey School Summer Reading Celebration took place on September 23.

High School

Weekly Review:

  • 9/21 WSHS hosted the Police Academy graduation.


  • 10/1 SATs will be administered at WSHS.

From the Principal:

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8 Student Leaders You Should Definitely Meet:

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Department Notes:

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The  WS Athletic Department is pleased to offer a Fall Season Pass - $25 for students and senior citizens, $30 for adults; and a Year-Round Pass - $40 for students and seniors, $50 for adults.  The Full Year Season Pass will allow admission to soccer, field hockey, football, basketball, wrestling and lacrosse events at West Springfield High School.  The Season Pass allows entrance to home events, and excludes Ice Hockey, Indoor Track, Thanksgiving Day Football Game and all tournament events.  Passes can be obtained at the Athletics Office; call Glenn Doulette or Janis Sawyer at 263-3475 with any questions

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

  • Also for smart phone (Android and Apple), get the free MIAA app so you can follow your favorite team

  • This week’s Athletes of the Week are Freshman Soccer Max Amsden and Boys XCountry Caleb Jones.

  • Valerie Donskaya was nominated by MassLive as Player of the Week.  Valerie plays Volleyball, and last week the Terriers defeated Frontier in 5 sets.  This was the 1st loss to a Western MA Team for Frontier in 3 years.

  • Our teams continue to perform well and have some big games approaching.  Football will host Wahconah tonight  at 7 p.m. with both teams being undefeated. Please visit the MIAA Schedule on the athletics web page as we have home night games Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday the week of 9/26/16.

Alumni News

Below are updates on a few of our WSHS alumni.  We will highlight our alumni serving in the military in the November 10 issue (in honor of Veterans Day).  Please email alumni news to Erin Mountain at mountain@wsps.org.  For alumni in the military, please include year of graduation, military branch, job, and where stationed.    

  • Annie Bergeron ‘09 is an RN at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

  • Steven Madamba ‘08 is an engineer at UTC-Hamilton Sundstrand.

  • Riley Mattina ‘10 is a 3rd grade teacher in Chicopee.

  • Brendan Monahan ‘06 is a public relations manager at Baystate Health.

  • Caitlin Patruski ‘10 is an engineer at UTC-Hamilton Sundstrand.

  • Jennifer Sawyer ‘07 is an RN at Mercy Health Care.

  • Mark Sypek ’10 is a NY State Trooper.

Memorial School


  • Memorial School had a very successful Open House on September 15.  Thank you to the families for partnering with Memorial to support the education of their children.  Two children won gift certificates for successfully completing a scavenger hunt:  Keith R. in Gr. 1 and Sage R. in Gr. 2. Congratulations and enjoy your treats!

  • On September 19, Mr. Dennis Picard from the Big E spoke to our Gr. 5 students about the Constitution.  All students received a “Pocket United States Constitution” for easy reference.

  • Classrooms have participated in Writer’s Workshop in which students learned about Constitution Day and responded to a writing prompt in their journals:  What is the Constitution and why it is important?

  • Students in all classrooms focused on listening skills using whole body listening as well as their learning conversation skills in order to have deep discussions about what they have read.  Students participated in “Stand Back” and “Would You Rather in order to strengthen their listening skills.  

  • After listening to read alouds, students discussed story elements and vocabulary related to the read alouds. They are learning to “leave tracks” of their thinking including supportive evidence.  The students are carrying over strategies with their independent reading.

  • Reading Recovery lessons began and BAS assessments at all grade levels are continuing.

  • The first PBIS meeting was held, and the conversation included a common visual for the group.

  • Mr. Ragno and Mr. Panzanaro continue to present “Bullyproof” lessons to all classrooms.

  • Our new school Universal Design for Learning Team is meeting with CAST this week to plan yearly strategies to reach and enrich the learning of all children.

  • Mrs. Weldon, Ms. Sarkis, Ms Johnson and Mrs. Calabrese traveled to Wellesley College for a “Leading Together” workshop - thank you to DSAC for the financial support!

  • Teachers are looking forward to National Geographic Pilot training next week.

  • School picture day is Monday, September 26.

  • Mr. Panzanaro, School Adjustment Counselor, will complete the final week of his 29-year public school career next week.  He will be greatly missed in October.

Middle School

This Week:

  • WSMS held its annual Back to School Night Open House.  Over 500 families attended this great event.  Families heard about curriculum and programming for the upcoming year.  This was a wonderful evening to welcome our families to WSMS.  

  • Teachers at four content areas (ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies) worked with Richard Dubuisson this week on designing rigorous common assessments and benchmarks.  Richard has been working with WSPS around using the Depth of Knowledge tool to enhance rigor for a little over a year and WSMS is delighted to have him on the team.  

  • WSMS’ Universal Design for Learning (UDL) team attended workshops in Springfield under the leadership of Mr. Brown to develop and refine instructional practices.  

  • Mr. Gillen joined other WSPS leaders in participating in a conference call with the state Department of Education on implementing computer-based standardized testing in the spring of this year.  

     Next Week:

  • 9/29- The Massachusetts School Building Authority will conduct a site visit at WSMS to examine and review our building.

  • 9/30- The WSMS Guidance Department will host a New Student Social for all students who are new to WSPS this year in grades 6-8.  This social welcomes, orients, and answers questions for new students as they begin the year in their new district.  

Mittineague School

  • Thank you to all who attended Open House last Thursday.  Almost 90% of our families were in attendance!!  Winners of the Emoji Bingo drawing were the families of Dylan Morrissey from the class of 2028 and Eleanor Inacio from the class of 2025!  Each received a $30.00 gift certificate to Classic Burger.

  • Miss Mantoni’s class was visited by five Occupational Therapy students for a lesson on backpack awareness. They watched a short video, talked about the proper way to load and carry their backpacks and even weighed their backpacks to see how much weight they were carrying on a daily basis.

  • Monday, Senator Welch and honored guests visited the class of 2024 to talk with them about the Constitution and to provide students with a pocket sized copy courtesy of the Eastern States Exposition (Big E). (picture below)


  • Second grader, Jagger Sayward was awarded the first handprint of the year for exceptional kindness and thoughtfulness! Way to go, Jagger!


  • Next week, Mittineague fifth grades will have a classroom visit from a few science educators from the SEEC (Students Environmental Education Classroom) to prepare them for their upcoming field trip to Bear Hole.

  • Friday, September 30 is school picture day.


Tatham School                     

  • It was great to see so many families attend Tatham’s Open House (about 95% attendance!)!

  • Mayor Reichelt and State Representative Michael Finn took time out of their busy schedule to talk to fifth grade students about the US Constitution.  Each child received a pocket version of this important document.

  • During our Open House, the Student Council successfully took up a collection for Team Conor - Conor McCormick, a former Tatham Student.  Over $600 was raised to give to the family.

  • The banking program with Westfield Bank started back up this week.  Fourth and fifth grade student tellers are helping our younger students with their savings accounts.  This is real life math!

  • We now have two fifth graders putting up the flag and taking it down with the help of our custodian.

Community & Family Engagement/Outreach

  • Parent/Child Date Night featuring Amy Green, award-winning Elementary art teacher, will take place Thursday, September 29 from 5-6 p.m., location TBD.  Amy will work with families to create a fall masterpiece!  Now accepting registrations for children ages 6-9 and their parent(s).  Please call 413-519-2511 or email brennan@wsps.org. Twenty (20) slots are available for children.

  • Ongoing:

    • Community Playgroup for children 0-5 is every Tuesday from 10:30-11:30 at 389 Main Street. Free, drop in.  Snack included.

Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment

  • As mentioned in other posts, our Grade 5 students celebrated the 229th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution by issuing every Grade 5 student a Pocket Constitution.  We appreciate the support of the Eastern States Exposition/Big E and members of the Town Council who helped make this happen.

  • This week, WSPS invested in a data platform tool entitled Mastery Connect. This tool will allow for assessment data to be immediately accessed by teachers to make instructional or curricular decisions at the time of need. Mastery Connect will be rolled out to Grade 1-5 this fall.

  • WSPS has partnered with Lesley University to provide a series of math content courses for grades 3-8. The first course is entitled Fractions as Numbers, and will be held at West Springfield Middle School beginning October 21, 2016.

  • On September 29, 2016, our K-5 science pilot teachers will receive training on the National Geographic Science program. The pilot will work with the National Geographic program throughout the fall and a decision will be made and presented the School Committee for final approval.

English as a Second Language Department (ESL)

  • Administrators from the ESL Department as well as Coburn School, the middle School and the high School will be attending ACCESS Test Coordinator Training on September 30.

  • Michelle Kiah, ESL ELA teacher at the high school will be attending four days of Lindamood Bell training next week.  This training is designed to strengthen instruction in language and literacy instruction.

Health Services

Below are this week’s highlights from the Health Services Department:

  • Continue efforts to acquire health information, medications, create health care plans and share with staff to keep all students safe and healthy

  • Field trip planning for medical needs, communication with parents and staff for student safety and meeting health care needs on all trips districtwide

  • Work on immunization compliance, communicating with Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS), families, MD’s, community agencies and interpreters to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment

  • Involvement in school PBIS teams, crisis teams

  • Planning for CPR training for staff

  • Planning for future Mobile Dentist visits to Cowing Alternative School

  • Next week:

    • Continue efforts to ensure a safe learning environment

    • Attend Essential School Health Services statewide nurse leaders meeting

Special Services

  • This week, over 15 staff members took part in an initial Safety-Care training.   The Safety-Care Behavioral Safety Training program provides the skills and competencies necessary to effectively prevent, minimize, and manage behavioral challenges with dignity, safety, and the possibility of change.  Throughout the school year, a variety of initial and refresher training opportunities will be made available to district staff.

  • It was another busy week for the district’s school psychologists as 18 psychoeducational evaluations were administered to students across the district.

  • Co-teaching classrooms are being piloted at all levels in the district.  We are very excited to see the hard work and dedication of the teachers as they continuously seek to refine their teaching strategies to help ensure maximum gains for all of their students.