I’m happy to report a very positive outcome from Monday night’s Special Town Meeting, where detailed design funds for a new Hunnewell Elementary School were approved by an 82 percent margin. This overwhelming support was the result of work across multiple years by Principal Ellen Quirk and the team at Hunnewell, a very active Hunnewell parent community, great partners in other School and Town Departments (particularly the FMD), the School Building Committee, and our School Committee. This detailed design work will take approximately one year, with a request for construction funds slated for spring 2021. There is still much work to be done to secure the type of schools we want for the future, but Monday was certainly an important milestone in this process.
The other topic I want to share is a reflection on last week’s METCO Director’s Annual Conference, where Dr. Christopher Emdin gave an incredibly powerful keynote address. This is my second time hearing Dr. Emdin, and each time I have been both challenged and inspired by his words. This year in particular, Dr. Emdin gave us all much to consider. Some of my notes included:
- We need to have a vision for our equity work as opposed to simply engaging in constant revision of the same ideas, which may no longer be relevant;
- We need to consider the conditions that surround all students in our schools and think about the degree to which these conditions affect our students’ desire/ability to learn;
- We should be integrating knowledge of our students and their backgrounds/perspectives into our pedagogy;
- We must be open to the non-academic pathways that allow our students to show their academic genius. (I think a lot about the visual and performing arts as being great examples of these pathways.)
As I listened and reflected on these and other points that Dr. Emdin was making, I continued to think about our work in Wellesley and wondered if we are moving fast enough to address the equity challenges that are present in our district each day. On a variety of measures, we can point to achievement/equity gaps in academic indicators between students of color and white students. We can also see significant disproportionality in the percent of students of color and white students when reviewing students enrolled in advanced-level classes.
Students identified for IEPs is even more problematic. For example, at the elementary level nearly the same percent of white students (16.15%) and African American students (16.22%) are identified and receive special education services. When we look at the middle school, those percentages drop slightly for white students (16%) but climb significantly for African American students (28.85%). At the high school, the numbers again drop for white students (14.5%) but climb significantly again for African American students (44.27%).
Why is this? I believe these figures say more about our adult expectations of students than our students’ actual ability and potential. And we each must own this. We often talk about these challenges at a high level, but are we doing enough to address them in our daily practice? The truth is that we must do more, regardless of our roles. And that starts with me. I plan to be even more deliberate in remaining focused on the success of ALL students and pushing for greater progress than what we have been making. I also stand ready to advocate for the resources and tools that you need to be successful. I’m hoping that in this new year, we can all rededicate ourselves to a charge that I believe is within our reach. Our students deserve nothing less.
12/23/19-1/1/20 – Winter Break – No School
01/06/20 – WEF Grant Applications Deadline
01/07/20 – School Committee Meeting – Town Hall – 6:30 pm
01/21/20 – School Committee Meeting – Town Hall – 6:30 pm
Condolences to WMS Guidance Counselor Bill Craft on the loss of his mother, Delores Craft, on November 29, 2019.
2020 WEF Grant Applications
Deadline: Monday, January 6th Decision Notifications: Early April
Did you know??
● WEF funded over $224,000 through 29 grants last year!
● Grants funded at all WPS levels – elementary, middle and high school.
● WEF has a grant history 2010-2019 for review.
We welcome your inspiring and innovative applications. Please start the process at https://www.wellesleyeducationfoundation.org/ > the menu bar > Educators Tab > Apply for a Grant tab
Jessamy Harrington, Lisa Hicks, and Carrie Reepmeyer
WEF Grants Co-Chairs, 2019-2020
Seminar Day 2020 – Presenters Needed!
The holiday season is upon us, and on behalf of Student Congress at Wellesley High School, we would like to offer you an opportunity to avoid all those divisive conversations about politics around the dinner table. Instead, might we recommend you invite your loved ones to participate in this year’s Seminar Day!
If you’re a new teacher or need a refresher on what Seminar Day is, please scroll to the bottom of this post and read the short description. If you already know the gist, please consider presenting a passion of yours or reaching out to those who may have something valuable, interesting, and/or exciting for our students to hear about. We have included the sign-up form below for you. If you would like us to personally reach out to someone (family, friend, or acquaintance) who may have a topic to present to our students, please pass along any information to us. You can also feel free to send the link along to them as well. Speakers can speak for one block, two blocks, or all three! We are now pleased to be able to offer 10 PDP’s for presenting at Seminar Day!
Seminar Day 2020 Sign Up Form
Zach Nicol and Carly Matarazzo
What is Seminar Day?
Seminar day occurs on the March half day every year at WHS. Instead of classes, we plan three one-hour blocks of seminars, and our students (and staff) attend the ones that align with their interests and passions. The schedule for the day is as follows:
Block A: 8:20-9:20am
Block B: 9:25-10:25 am
Block C: 10:30-11:30 am
WTP Performances – Complimentary Tickets Available for WPS Staff – Upcoming Performance: Frozen Jr.
The Wellesley Theatre Project would like to offer Wellesley Public School employees up to two complimentary tickets to performances throughout the year! Seats have been set aside for all performances. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-235-1550 to let them know which performance you would like to attend. We hope to see you at a show!