Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee, 4.5.17

Thanks to Hamilton and Wenham Town Meeting

I want to say “thank you” to the voters at Hamilton and Wenham Town Meeting for overwhelmingly supporting the Hamilton-Wenham Regional District’s FY18 Budget at April 1st’s Annual Town Meetings. I also want to thank the members of the Boards of Selectmen and the Finance Committees from Hamilton and Wenham for their support for the FY18 Budget. This was an incredibly challenging budget season. This was mostly due to the shift in our enrollment from Hamilton to Wenham. I truly appreciate the spirit of collaboration that exists between the Towns and the H-W District. As we look towards next year’s FY19 budget development, which is shaping up to be an even more challenging process, we will need to rely on our shared dedication to providing the resources that prepare our students to be “future ready” more than ever.

 

Thanks to School Committee Member Deb Evans

Tonight is the final full meeting in the term of School Committee Member Deb Evans. For the past four years, Deb has been a true champion of education for the children of the HWRSD. Her passion, her willingness to ask the difficult questions and her ability to work collaboratively to find solutions will sorely be missed. I want to personally thank Deb for her service to the HWRSD, and wish her all the best in her “retirement” from public service!

 

Leadership Searches

The HWRSD is in the process of conducting several leadership searches. We have openings for K-5 Elementary ELA Coordinator, and Secondary Special Education Coordinator. The postings for these positions will close on April 21st. Applications can be submitted at www.schoolspring.com. Director of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction Peggy McElhinney is leading the ELA Coordinator Search and Director of Student Services Kathy Harris is conducting the Secondary Special Education Coordinator Search. In both searches, Ms. McElhinney and Ms. Harris will be assembling screening committees of relevant staff and members of the community to conduct initial interviews. Our plan is to have finalists selected by the end of May. Parents who are interested in volunteering to serve on the Secondary Special Education Coordinator Search Committee should send a letter of interest to the Special Education Department, 5 School St., Wenham, MA c/o Elaine Rogal (e.rogal@hwschools.net).

This week, I also received notice from Director of Student Services Kathy Harris that she plans on retiring as of June 30, 2017. I want to thank Kathy for her service to the students of Hamilton and Wenham. Student Services Director is an incredibly demanding position, which requires in-depth knowledge of special education law and procedure, mastery of the intricacies of special education funding and most importantly, compassion for the needs of some of our most challenged learners. To say that Kathy has all of these qualities and more is an understatement. She will be sorely missed.

We have posted position of Director of Student Services to Schoolspring.com with a closing date of April 28th and are in the process of developing a search timeline and list of search committee members. Parents who’d like to serve on the Director of Student Services Search Committee can send me a letter of interest m.harvey@hwschools.net

 

HW League of Women Voters Presents Eric Liu at HWRHS on May 2nd

The Hamilton-Wenham League of Women Voters is proud to present “Power and Citizenship in our Community; an Evening with Eric Liu” at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School on May 2nd at 7:00 PM. Eric Liu is the founder and CEO of Citizen University and executive director of the Aspen Institute Citizenship and American Identity Program. He is the author of several books, including You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen, A Chinaman’s Chance, The Gardens of Democracy, and The Accidental Asian. Eric served as a White House speechwriter and policy adviser for President Bill Clinton. He is a regular columnist for CNN.com and a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com. In his TED Talk, Why Ordinary People need to Understand Power, he says that it is our responsibility to ‘Make civics sexy again!’

 

School Choice Update

There were 39 grade nine applications for School Choice for 2017-2018 at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. There were also 16 applications from grades 10-12. Of these 39 applicants, we offered 24 applicants spaces in the incoming freshman class. As of today, 15 have registered. We are targeting 20 9th grade students in total.

 

National History Day State Competition Results

Congratulations to all of the 2017 Massachusetts State History Day winners and Honorable Mentions! On Sunday April 2nd, Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School and Miles River students competed against 25 other Massachusetts schools. Three of our projects are advancing to the National History Day contest, which will be held at the University of Maryland this June. The advancing projects are: “Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution: Taking a Stand Against Corruption and Imperialism,” a group website by Will Curtis, Lily Dixon, Nick Oo, and Parker Tocci; “William Wilberforce: Pioneer for the Stand Against the Slave Trade,” a group exhibit by John Farnham, Cameron Grinnell, Grace MacCurrach, and Alex Renaud; and “Gorbachev: Taking a Stand for Peace and Democracy,” a group documentary by Sean Li, Jack McMahon, Ian Park and Henry Smith

This year’s theme is Taking a Stand in History. A special thank you to all of the teachers who have worked closely with the students since September on their research projects: Kristen Borges, Brett Burnett, Vinnie Bucci, Rob Emmett, Johann Knets, and Tyler Walker. A very special congratulations to Vinnie Bucci who was named the recipient of the 2017 Massachusetts History Day Outstanding Teacher Award!

For the full list of results, please see:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B68YPBGpJJeJeC15UF9ibHNSM2c/view

 

MCAS Update

MCAS testing began this week for all students in grades 3-8. Students took the English Language Arts sections of the exam this week. Students in grades 4 and 8 took the computer-based version of the exam. Thanks to our Technology Department and Director Alan Taupier for their work in making sure this went as smoothly as possible. We had reports of a few minor glitches, but were able to quickly sort them out and complete the testing. I met with students in Grade 4 this week and they thought that they were well prepared for the computer interface and reported that they liked taking the test on a computer. Testing will resume in May when we administer the Mathematics portion of the MCAS.

 

MRMS Arts Night

Congratulations to Arts Curriculum Leader Kirsten Losee and the Middle School Arts Department for a successful Miles River Middle School Arts Night. On Tuesday evening, parents and members of the public were treated to performances by the Middle School Chorus, Jazz Band, Ukulele String Jam, and Theater Arts Classes. Additionally, student created artwork was on display throughout the building. It was a great night to celebrate the arts at Miles River!

 

Mr. Shailor Honored at METG State Finals

Congratulations to our beloved Drama Director Mr. Christopher Shailor who received the David Dooley Unsung Hero Award the METG State Finals!

 

HWRHS Counseling

Thanks to HWRHS Guidance Counselor Julia Cahill-O’Shea for organizing the presentation, “Mental Health Stability in College: A Panel Discussion,” which took place at HWRHS on Wednesday evening. The panel consisted of mental health and wellness professionals from several of our local colleges and universities and offered a great deal of information for parents and prospective college students on the resources available for students in these schools. The program was co-sponsored by the National Alliance in Mental Illness—Greater North Shore.

 

Joint Meeting with Hamilton and Wenham Selectmen

We are planning a meeting with the Hamilton and Wenham Boards of Selectmen to discuss the Regional Apportionment Formula. As of today, 11 of 18 people have responded to the poll. Currently the best date seems to be Thursday, May 11th. I have reached out to those who have not responded to the poll and will keep the Committee informed as we select a date.

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