Volume 4 - Issue 6 February 1, 2019
The School Committee voted Thursday, January 31 on the FY20 budget proposal, so I thought I would briefly highlight the changes we have made for next year. These changes include:
- Three Elementary teachers to address class sizes and needs
- A half-time elementary reading teacher to provide targeted intervention
- A high school nurse
- A high school science/math teacher to expand offerings and/or accommodate student course requests
- Additional English Learner supports and middle school after-school programming
- A 20 percent increase to the Bradstreet leadership structure
- Expenses associated with the New England Association of Schools & Colleges ten-year re-accreditation
I want to recognize the key role that Town Manager, Andrew Maylor, has played as a strategic partner. Andrew has been extremely helpful and supportive in the development of these budget recommendations. I offer “best wishes” to Andrew Maylor as he transitions to his new job as Independent Comptroller for the entire state of Massachusetts. I will miss his insight, creativity, and his collaborative nature. Andrew has been extremely helpful and supportive, and our schools have benefited from his leadership.
DID YOU KNOW
Health and Fitness Expo - FREE to North Andover residents
You won't want to miss the Health and Fitness Expo sponsored by the Lawrence General Hospital which will take place on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at the NAHS Field House from 10 am to 1 pm. Featured topics will include CPR, Yoga, and Nutrition. The Expo will also include interactive workshops and
exhibits on blood pressure screening, heart health education, massage therapy, Project Adventure high elements, skin damage screening, stop the bleeding training, and zumba, in addition to yoga and nutrition.
Sargent Elementary School by Karen Murdoch Lahey, Principal
We are excited to give a glimpse into the hard work and fun that is happening within our school community! I remain grateful for the many who partner in supporting our Sargent family with their signature strengths. We believe our school is fueled on positive energy. We appreciate our engaged parents who partner with us to support and nurture the whole child in their learning. On any given day, our parent partnership appears in many forms such as our supportive PTO members, or volunteers who work in the library, in our classrooms, in our new computer lab, and in their supportive communication with our teachers about their child's needs.
In big and small ways our parent partnership is a vital connection to our goal in seeing every child reach their unlimited potential. I like to think Sargent is a reflection of all that is great about what it means to be a Scarlet Knight. Cheers to a remarkable 2019 of working together for each and every child who are the faces of our wonderful town!
Last Spring Sargent applied for and won an ST Math* - $65,000 three-year grant! ST Math is a standards-aligned computer program that creates opportunities to move away from mere digitized math drills and puts our students in the mindset to think creatively. Challenging games help our young Sharks explore non-routine problems and build number sense, and it aligns nicely with our Eureka math curriculum. With visual learning, our students are better equipped to tackle unfamiliar math problems, recognize patterns, and build conceptual understanding. Without language barriers, the problem is accessible to all students, regardless of skill level or language background. Pictured below right is “Ji-Ji” who is an animated penguin that appears in every problem used instead of language to improve understanding for our students. Our teachers value ST Math as yet another form of accurate assessment to see where their students are in their mathematics learning. On any given day, you may observe a student work through a concept by conquering cones which then allows the student to move on to tackle yet another challenging new concept. It is fun to watch our students rise to a new challenge in moving “Ji-Ji!” Often times our students are teaching adults who enter the classroom how to navigate through ST Math. This program reinforces our goal of engaging students in a way that lets them lead their own learning and gain confidence within the challenge. Or as we like to say at Sargent, we need only to “Try-try-try again!”
*The “ST” in ST Math stands for Spatial-Temporal Reasoning, which is a higher-order thinking skill that allows the mind to visualize and manipulate objects over space and time.
Adaptive PE Class
Sargent Hosts ST Math Symposium
Sargent was proud to be asked to host the ST Math Deeper Learning Symposium in January. We welcomed several neighboring school districts at this engaging symposium. Attendees were able to see our students in action using ST Math in their classrooms and hear about our current data for greater understanding of ST Math. Mrs. Coleman (1st grade) and Mrs. Morin (4th grade) were guest speakers in sharing their great work as ST Math Coordinators for Sargent.
It was exciting to welcome the keynote speaker of ST Math, Mr. Nigel Nisbet. Mr. Nisbet is VP of Content Creation for MIND Research Institute. He leads a team of content specialists in creating engaging interactive games for ST Math. He was a mathematics specialist for the Los Angeles Unified School Districts and speaks across the nation about the importance of engaging students in creative and rigorous problem solving to yield deeper understanding for all. It was a fun day of learning and showing off the great work our students are doing in ST math.
Not Your Average PE Class
Any Sargent Shark will tell you our #1 school rule is to be “Be Safe and Be Kind.”
When we connect that to our RAISE values, it is a winning combination. To see this modeled in a fun and engaging way you need to look no further than Mr. Jason Guarente’s Adaptive PE Class! During any given class you will see Sharks with all abilities being included in big and small ways. Mr. Guarente accentuates not what makes us different from one another, but what we share in common. He finds lively and engaging ways to navigate challenges into opportunities that build a child’s self-esteem, confidence, empathy. These classes also work on gross motor and fine motor skills that are adapted to the abilities of each student where they are at. It is a rockin-rollin fun and inclusive class for one and all!
STEM Excitement Among The Sharks!
The Sargent Sharks are wild about STEM! The dynamic duo of Courtney Ahearn and Jen Cresta have teamed up to bring new and exciting STEM projects to the Sargent school. Each have won a Northeast STEM Regional Grant for $750 to purchase new STEM supplies for their classroom and the library - including littleBits circuit kits and a classroom set of Bit Bots by Ozobot. Each Sargent class had a chance to try out the new STEM tools in the library, and it sparked so much interest that it’s clear we have a lot of future scientists, engineers, and artists in our midst! Ms. Cresta and Mrs. Ahearn may have something up their sleeves in the springtime to showcase all the wonderful STEAM activities happening at Sargent . . . stay tuned!
Elementary Libraries - This month featuring Thomson and Sargent Libraries
Thomson Library: Series Books Get a Makeover and New Books Galore!
The Thomson School Library is well used and well loved by the Thomson students thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers and a new library schedule that allows for check-outs every week for all kids. However, the series section was in desperate need of reorganization. Last year, Mrs. Ahearn worked to re-label all series books to make it easier to find them on the shelf. This year, colorful bins were purchased to house each individual series of books, allowing for students to remove an entire series from a shelf and browse through at their leisure. Kids are finding books easier, and are already reading more!
Additionally, there are more books to be had in the library, as the Thomson PTO approved a budget to purchase new books. Mrs. Ahearn is hard at work selecting books that will broaden the horizons and spark the imaginations of students of all ages. Already, we’ve added sixty new titles to the collection, including all of the books nominated for a Massachusetts Children’s Book Award! These changes add up to more reading in our school - we’ve already circulated 754 more books this year than the same time frame last year!
Sargent Library: New Schedule, New Tech
Great things are happening within the walls of the Sargent Library this year! With our kindergarten friends in their own wonderful building, the schedule was changed to allow for more library time for all Sargent classes. With this additional time, Mrs. Ahearn has created a special time slot every other week for typing and technology work. Students have been using our new typing program, Keyboarding Without Tears, to improve their typing skills and get them ready for test-taking and essay writing using our school’s Chromebooks.
Students are also able to use technology during their library lessons. Utilizing the new “green screen wall” in the Sargent Library, Mrs. Ahearn and the first graders have created videos about fiction and nonfiction to send to our friends at the new kindergarten building.
In December, we participated in the Hour of Code, a global initiative to introduce students to the basics of computer programming. Additionally, thanks to a STEM grant procured by the library media specialists and our STEM Curriculum Coordinator, Kara Larcome, the library is also outfitted with KEVA Planks and Code & Go Robot Mice, two innovative tools for helping students solve engineering and mathematical problems. It’s a wonderful time to be a Sargent Shark!
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AND ENDEAVORS
NAHS Teacher Chosen for World War I Study in Europe
NAHS history students using the Social Studies Dept. "History Lab"
Brian Sheehy, NAHS history teacher, is one of only 18 teachers chosen from 334 applicants from across America to participate in a program from National History Day called Memorializing the Fallen. Sponsored by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the program takes educators on a journey to rediscover the history of World War I in order to invigorate its teaching into America’s classrooms. The goal of this program is to refresh and augment the teaching and learning surrounding WWI.
In June 2019, Mr. Sheehy will travel to Europe to visit the American cemeteries and battle sites
throughout France, culminating in a visit to the Palace of Versailles to attend the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Throughout the program, teachers will attend virtual lectures, participate in discussions, and research a service member who never returned home in order to develop a Silent Hero profile. These activities will support the development of in-depth lesson plans by the 18 participating teachers that focus on the legacy of the conflict and the Silent Hero profile. Both the lesson plans and the fallen hero profiles will be released during the 2019/2020 academic year.
What's Happening at Stevens Memorial Library?
"Library of Things" Have you heard this term recently?
Stevens' Library of Things is growing. Over the years, the Library added books in more formats along with movies and music. Now, you can borrow a guitar, a ukulele, or a banjo. (Need lessons to go with the instrument? Go to ArtistWorks under E-Library.) Is astronomy an interest? Borrow an Orion StarBlast Astro Reflector Telescope. For the younger scientist, look for a STEM kit in the Children’s Room. Just a few choices are: a Shining Stars Projector, a Force & Motion Activity set, a Zoomy™ 2.0 handheld digital microscope, or an Ozobot® Evo robot kit.
Dyslexia- Early Identification and Intervention by Megan McGuirk
What is dyslexia and how can we identify it? Dyslexia is a specific learning disability in reading. Children with dyslexia have difficulty reading accurately and fluently. They may also have trouble with reading comprehension, spelling, and writing. Screening tools can identify students at risk for dyslexia before they fall behind in reading. With proper supports, students with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities can and do succeed academically.
The Massachusetts legislature recently approved a law requiring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to issue guidelines to school districts regarding screening of students for signs of dyslexia and other learning disabilities. The law also aims to give schools guidance on effectively implementing research-based recommendations around early language and literacy development.
Early identification of students who are at risk for reading difficulties allows for preventative intervention before potential reading problems result in reading failure. North Andover is working to incorporate screening for dyslexia risk factors as part of kindergarten screening for incoming students and already uses research-based screening tools to identify children in the elementary grade who may be struggling with reading.
Providing students at risk for reading disabilities with research-based reading instruction from an early age improves outcomes for students. Parents can be on the lookout for possible early indicators of dyslexia as well. Yale University and University of Michigan have great resources for parents on possible signs of dyslexia.
School Committee cORNER
Greetings! After a slower December, the School Committee dived right into its busy time of year--budget season--with three meetings in January. After extensive work with his leadership team and especially Assistant Superintendent Jim Mealey, Dr. Gilligan presented the budget to the committee, which includes a 3.75% increase over last year. The committee would like to thank Town Manager Andrew Maylor for his great assistance and cooperation with this budget. For the eighth year in a row, the committees are presenting a consensus budget at town meeting. At our last meeting in January, we enjoyed a lively discussion with our town’s newest state representatives, Christina Minicucci and Tram Nguyen.
We are excited in our first February meeting to hear from the faculty advisors of the Anti-Defamation League peer trainers at the middle school. This program, encouraged and researched by SEL Director Nikki Murphy, is new to
the district this year. NAMS students who have agreed to be peer trainers will undergo extensive training throughout the year, learning how to respond to racial slurs, name-calling, or other inappropriate comments, and developing skills to lead discussions and workshops with their peers. Join us on February 14 as we hear how this new program is being received.
Finally, we would like to extend the very best of wishes to Andrew Maylor as he takes a giant step in his career to become the next comptroller of Massachusetts. We will certainly miss his work ethic, dedication to our schools, and effective leadership. But we are extremely grateful for him coming to North Andover and leaving it in a much better fiscal situation.
Holly Vietzke-Lynch, Chair
Tweet of the Month
What a tremendous performance today at NAHS! Well worth the price of admission! Our kids were great.#HairSpray #NA Drama
February School Committee
February 14, 2019
February 28, 2019
566 Main Street