Welcome to May! (Although it feels like July.) Next week, I will be formally announcing at our School Committee meeting that, barring any unforeseen event(s), the last day of the school year for students will be Wednesday, June 20th, which is a half-day. The last day for teachers will be Thursday, June 21st.
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the evolution of school reform in public education. In recent years, we have been working to integrate 21st Century learning competencies into our curricula. Project-based learning is a great example of how these competencies are being embedded within our classrooms.
So what comes next? Earlier this year, I was at a conference where our colleague Ken Kay was asked to look out over the horizon and predict the next wave of school reform. He responded not by framing a radical re-direction or substantially different vision. Rather, he talked about going deeper with an approach already being advocated by he and his colleagues at EdLeader21. In particular, he expressed his hope that schools will increasingly look to align their curricula with real issues and problems from their communities. I think there is great wisdom in this approach.
As we think about ways to create greater student engagement, it’s critical that students see relevance in the tasks we create for them. What better way to showcase relevance than to invite students into problem-solving on issues they are likely to see first-hand in their community?
This week, I was reminded of examples of this approach already in place in WPS. On Wednesday at Schofield, students took part in a “Day of Imagineering” in which they were challenged to deploy their creativity in solving problems present in their school community. The issues students chose to engage included addressing food allergies, accessing tall lockers, dealing with snowmelt on boots and shoes, and even student loneliness. Talk about creative problem solving!
Last month, WHS students in the Evolutions course showcased art installations based on themes present in the Town’s new Unified Plan. These creative expressions touched upon important topics including the need to protect the environment and consider sustainability, encouraging economic growth, expanding affordable housing, and developing better transportation options.
Another example is a great, cross-district collaboration this year between Irene Gruenefeld of Bates and Annie Gayner from Fiske. Irene and Annie were members of the first cohort of WPS teachers trained by the Buck Institute for Education to implement project-based learning in their classrooms. They collaborated on a PBL unit for their fourth graders to address ways to reduce erosion at Morse’s Pond. We just learned that Irene’s and Annie’s efforts will be recognized by The Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs at a ceremony at the State House later this month. Congratulations to Irene and Annie!
This summer approximately 80 WPS teachers will also engage in PBL training with the Buck Institute. It’s my hope that we will continue to expand this type of professional development that ultimately encourages our students to think critically and creatively about issues that affect their community.
Enjoy the weekend and thank you for all that you do to support our students each day.
4/23 to 5/18/18 Open Enrollment for Health Insurance – see below
5/8/18 School Committee Meeting- Town Hall- 6:30pm
Important Insurance Open Enrollment Information Sessions Scheduled
Open enrollment for health insurance and employee benefits began Monday, April 23rd. Enrollment counselors will be on-site at Town departments beginning the week of April 23rd and School Department beginning the week of April 30th. Additional enrollment hours (including some early evening sessions) will be available around Town between May 7th and May 18th. The calendar will be released next week.
All of the enrollment information you will need to make your benefit decisions can be found here. The remaining schedule of information sessions can be found here. In particular, please note the April 19th meeting where AFLAC will present the new additional insurance options that are being offered (detailed information on these is included in the linked packet). There is also a session scheduled for April 24th that will specifically address the Health Saving Account (H S A) option available with the new High Deductible Health Plans.
As a reminder, even those benefit eligible employees who do not take health insurance through the Town or School have to attend an enrollment session if they want to participate in any of Wellesley’s other employee benefits (i.e. dental, life insurance, AFLAC or Eyemed).
Countdown to Open Enrollment
Open enrollment for benefit eligible Town of Wellesley employees will be from April 23 through May 18th. This year, open enrollment packets will be emailed to employees through both their work and personal email addresses during the week of April vacation (April 16-20). Open enrollment packets will also be available at www.wellesleyma.gov/OpenEnrollment starting that week as well. Benefit counselors will be meeting one on one with employees to enroll them in benefits. Be on the lookout for more information.
White People Challenging Racism: Moving from Talk to Action
May 8 & 15, 2018, 4:00 – 7:00 pm – Wellesley Police Dept. Kingsbury Room
People of all heritages/identities are welcome to join us as we focus on dismantling racism and building a just society. Workshops are led by pairs of facilitators and aim to help participants gain the racial self-awareness needed for genuine participation in multiracial communities. Through readings, exercises, discussion, and real world assignments, participants’ build skills and confidence in confronting racism. We strive to keep the course timely, thought-provoking, and action-oriented. Co-facilitators: Steve Pereira and Michelle Chalmers. Additional information can be found at www.wpcr-boston.org. To register, please email Marie Cleary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graduate Course Reimbursement
Course reimbursement funding of $30,000 is available to distribute in FY19 among qualified teachers. This funding is for graduate course work done as part of a master’s degree program to fulfill a teacher’s obligations for the Massachusetts Educators Professional License and for course work required to achieve the next stage of licensure culminating in a professional license and/or when a specialist teacher’s immediate supervisor, subject to the approval of the Assistant Superintendent, verifies that there are no further in-district courses available for recertification in that specialist’s field, that specialist may apply for tuition reimbursement. Any Unit A member for whom no DESE license exists, including but not limited to occupational and physical therapists, so long as that member maintains appropriate certification and/or licensure required to perform his or her duties, shall be eligible to apply for tuition reimbursement. To apply for this course reimbursement, please send, by no later June 1, 2018 the completed spruillv. You will be notified of the amount awarded to you sometime prior to the first paycheck in September 2018. Please note: all information must be received by June 1, 2018 or you will be disqualified for reimbursement. All courses must have occurred in the summer of 2017, fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 and have been completed by June 1, 2018. Any courses taken prior to the summer of 2017 will not be considered for reimbursement.
Insurance Benefits Information
Health and Dental Insurance Benefits information is handled by the Town Hall Benefits Office. Inquiries should be directed to Joanne Liburd at JLiburd or by calling 781-431-1019 extension 2244.
WPS Internal Job Postings on District Website
Please be aware that we added a new feature called “Internal Job Postings” under the Faculty tab of the District’s website. We will post all of our internal jobs under this website tab. Therefore, you will no longer see internal job postings in the bulletin. This new way of posting will allow us to post internal positions any day of the week.