Happy first day of spring! I know it doesn’t feel like it and won’t look like it after the dusting of snow we’re supposed to get on Friday night. Regardless, I am looking forward to warmer weather and brighter days.
As always there is so much going on at school, both in your children’s classroom and throughout the building. Last Friday, I read the book, A Walk in the Rain with a Brain by Dr. Edward Hallowell
. The book’s theme is that we are all “smart” in our own way. In other words, there is no one way to be smart. After reading the book aloud to all 347 students, I asked something they knew better than I, because after all even Fiske students can be smarter than their principal. I received answers like, “I know more Korean words,” as I asked around the gym.
Again, smart or what we measure to be smart can be subjective. Yes, we want students to understand mathematical concepts, to read fluently and with meaning, to understand our country’s history (warts and all) and how to apply the scientific theory, but we also need to make sure it aids in our students’ understanding of themselves and the world around them. This, wonderfully, is an individual pursuit whether it’s done for life, liberty or happiness.
Of course this story connects to the Fiske staff’s growth mindset work. I know I have shared resources with you from time-to-time and here’s a brief video from the Greater Good Science Center on parenting and how to discuss your child’s effort and process of learning versus outcomes or “smarts,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cB5yUPFLKI#t=193
Shifting gears, some of you know or have been keeping abreast of Fiske’s renovation plans for this coming summer. As we inch closer to the end of the school year, the Fiske staff is preparing to pack up and move out of the building for at least six weeks of the summer. (This, by the way, includes Ms. Watson and me, as we are scheduled to work from the central office for the coming summer.)
This packing up is in preparation for numerous upgrades including new plumbing, heating and ventilation, electrical, emergency systems, wireless internet connections, transforming a few interior spaces like moving the front office to the teachers’ room and vice versa. All in all it’s a tremendous of amount of work that will give our “older” school a much newer feel and usability. I hope you agree, as the town wide vote did, that this is a worthy investment to our children’s education.
Click here for a PDF attachment
(Fiske Faculty Presentation) that will walk you through the two-phase renovation. Phase one takes place this summer and as I just noted will include only interior construction and changes. Phase two is slated for completion during the summer of 2016 and will be comprised of improvements in the exterior surfaces around Fiske and the school’s lighting. Both phases of the plan are part of the PDF file.
There are some important points worth noting while you browse through the renovation slides.
- The last day of school for both students and staff will be Friday, June 19, which is also a half-day with noon dismissal.
- Shortly after the last day, the Fiske School becomes a construction site with fencing erected around its perimeter as seen on slide 21.
- Ball fields and primary playground will be accessible this summer.
- An elevator and elevator shaft will be constructed on the side of the building facing PAWS using construction materials that match the current Fiske building as seen on slides 5 and 6.
- Current Fiske spaces shown in red on slides 7 and 8 will be improved, changed or moved as shown in beige on slides 9 and 10.
- Current school lighting as shown on slide 13 will be improved as shown on slides 14 – 19. The lighting improvements will include timed, zoned lighting used for various school events to better light parking lots. Lights will also be shut down or dimmed when the building is not in use.
Preparation work has already begun on site with subcontractors creating plans and touring the building after school on Wednesdays and during February vacation. More prep work will be completed during April vacation. For our part, Fiske staff will begin the packing of classroom materials, as each room will be painted, have plumbing work and new bookcases added. For this reason, everything will come out of all the classrooms so the work can be done in the most efficient and effective manner.
As you’ll see in slide 24, there has been an outline on packing up classrooms presented to staff from the project manager. It is important to note that while we will begin purging materials that are old or outdated and the delivery of packing crates will happen in early April, this in no way signals the end of the teaching and learning year. In fact, I am working with staff to create plans that will provide minimal distractions while helping all of us get a leg up on getting ready to move. These plans include:
- Setting aside one Saturday and/or weeknight for staff to prepare and pack classroom materials for our pre-move scheduled for June 3.
- Pre-moving is planned to both alleviate congestion of boxes and the stress of moving everything in the final days of school as we still have important work to do like completing progress reports, cumulative records and class lists all while maintaining our high level of teaching and learning.
- Materials for the pre-move will primarily consist of books, curricula kits already taught, teacher’s editions of books and/or any other resources that have been exhausted or used prior to June 3.
- Using the staging area of the gym to store filled boxes, so they are safely out of the way in classrooms and the fitness and health classes.
At this morning’s PTO meeting, we started a conversation around how parents can help us pack up and move. We will be looking for parents who have the time and can assist teaching staff with the incredible amount of materials that will need our careful attention. All packing crates and furniture will be moved off site from Fiske by a professional moving company. Our job is to have boxes packed and labeled for both removal on or about June 3 and again on June 19 and return to school during the week of August 24 – the date we are scheduled to return after renovation work is completed.
Please know we will not unplug or push back from the school year until the final students head home on June 19. Yes, some materials will be removed, but books will still line bookshelves, student work will still be hung and Smartboards will still be in use up until the final moments of the school year. There will be a sense of less classroom learning materials, but the most important aspect of your child’s education will be actively engaged until noon on June 19 – her/his teachers!
The Fiske staff has responded to these plans with their usual resolve, good questions and a readiness to complete the move and the school year in the best possible way. As a principal, I cannot ask for anything more.
Please stay tuned for more important information about the days and times we may need your help, if you can offer it. Please send any linger questions my way. I will also devote my next principal coffee to update you about our move. I know we can do this together and the final reward for doing so will be a new look to the Fiske School that will also help us better teach and learn every day. You may direct any questions to me by calling 781-446-6265 or emailing me at email@example.com.
Anthony J. Colannino