From the Principal's Desk - Dec 4th, 2015

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From the Principal's Desk
If your child took the PARCC tests last spring, you should be receiving results shortly.  We have been told that the state is moving toward a revised MCAS test, but next spring students will continue to take a version of the PARCC test. The test window for students in grades 3, 4, and 5 will be April 25 through May 27, 2016.  Our preference is to continue using the paper version, but that has not been verified by the state. At our PTO meeting on Friday, December 4, at 8:30, I will be discussing our results from PARCC testing.  Please bring your questions.

Our next school-wide community meeting will take place on December 14.  All students have been assigned a family which consists of about 12 students representing all grades.  Each family meets with a staff member prior to each monthly whole school meeting.  Our goals are based on the Responsive Classroom approach and include building connections with students from other grades and a trusted adult in the school.  At times we preview the topic for our Community Meeting.  If your child arrives between 8:30 and 8:45 on a community meeting day, your child should meet with his/her family. At 8:45, families sit together in assigned spots during our meeting in the gym  The topic this month is celebrating Inclusion.

If you wish to know more about the Responsive Classroom approach, the City is offering Responsive Home Workshops for families at the Newton Education Center on Walnut St., free of charge.  See the article below for dates and more information.

As we approach the holiday season, I realize that many families wish to express their gratitude to staff members. At this time, I want to remind you of the Newton School Committee's policy regarding gifts. The policy states, "No teacher in performance of regular duties shall receive presents from pupils under his/her direction."  In addition, the Massachusetts Ethics Reform law states that a, "municipal employees may not accept gifts and gratuities valued at $50 or more" (per year). A group gift for a teacher/classroom where individuals contribute smaller amounts cannot exceed $150. Classroom supplies/contributions do not fall under this policy.

I ask for your cooperation in adhering to this policy. Teachers feel awkward accepting gifts prohibited by the system, yet they also feel uncomfortable refusing a gift offered by a child or parent. This also creates a confusing situation for students that follow the policy and see teachers receiving gifts from other students.  If you wish to express your gratitude to a staff member, cards or notes are greatly appreciated.  We realize how much time and effort go into writing a sincere note of thanks and appreciation, drawing a lovely picture, or writing a poem. Teachers truly treasure the pictures and notes they receive from families. Other alternatives include purchasing a book for the library or at the Book Fair or a donation to the Newton Schools Foundation. Each of these can be dedicated to a staff member.
Audrey Parad Peller