October 11, 2018

From: Mary C. Gormley
To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: October 11, 2018


As a district, we are implementing a systematic approach to student behavior in our elementary and middle schools called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS). I have asked Social Emotional Learning Facilitator Laurie Stillman, with input from our principals, to share an overview here.

 When school faculty and administrators proactively change their everyday student disciplinary practices from an emphasis on correcting or punishing “bad” or unwanted behaviors to strategically explaining and praising good behaviors, amazing things can happen!

This approach is called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and the Milton Public School System has prioritized adopting this framework in its Strategic Plan.  With a grant that was secured by Pierce Middle School Principal Dr. Karen Spaulding, 45 elementary and middle school faculty and administrators attended an intensive three-day PBIS professional development session this past summer.  The session, conducted by the May Institute, a nationally renowned behavioral health consulting firm, demonstrated new techniques for managing school and classroom environments, and ways to tailor strategies to benefit children with a wide range of behavioral challenges.

The key to PBIS is prevention, not punishment. It seeks to proactively and consistently set out rules, routines and expectations for positive student behaviors in every school zone, and praise students when positive behaviors are exhibited. The approach uses the basic psychology tenet that humans learn best when they are rewarded for desirable behaviors.  

While PBIS may take on different forms in each school, the underlying approach is similar: schools develop and reinforce a clear set of expectations based upon the behavioral goals identified by the school’s administration and faculty.  The framework is used in the classroom as well as the schools’ common areas, such as in hallways, the cafeteria and on the playground. There is now a PBIS planning and implementation team in each elementary school and at the Pierce Middle School as well.  Staff are embracing these techniques, and some are already noting a difference in their school climate and student behaviors. Collicot teachers recently demonstrated their safe and unsafe walking behavior for students. 

Pierce Principal Dr. Karen Spaulding shares that it was particularly powerful  this past summer to see a gathering of approximately 45 MPS educators from the four elementary schools and the middle school with their principals for three full days.  Why were we there? To learn more about the power of coordinating school-wide efforts to ensure that all students not only know expected behaviors, but are given the support to learn and practice them. To be clear, PBIS is not a curriculum. It is a focused effort to work as a community to foster and recognize positive behaviors.  Data are used systematically to reflect on the degree to which those positive behaviors are being displayed and to drive future planning. Teachers, administrators, lunch staff, custodians, students, and every member of the school community commits themselves and supports each other in displaying positive behaviors.

When educators develop positive, predictable and safe school environments that promote a strong sense of belonging, students thrive.  When PBIS is implemented with fidelity, studies show that schools experience greater student and teacher satisfaction, fewer disciplinary problems, improved academic performance and less aggressive behaviors.  

Below you can see PBIS in action at Glover. 


The School Committee will be holding upcoming meetings in each of our schools, with the goal of involving more parents, touring each school and hearing the school’s Site Council Presentation. Please consider attending your own school’s date or another school that may interest you. The first school visit for the School Committee is on Wednesday, October 17th at 7pm, when they will visit Milton High School and hear from staff and parents. All are welcome to attend. 


The Calculus Project juniors and seniors took a trip to Worcester on Wednesday, October 3rd, to participate in the Ten80 STEM Innovators-in-Training Experience.  The event, hosted by Ten80 Education and sponsored by the United States Army, consisted of team-oriented challenges designed to help students cultivate 21st century skills. Students selected a career path for the day and options were race car design, computer science, leadership and enterprise, or unmanned aerial vehicles. Students worked collaboratively with over 600 other students from all over Massachusetts. Twelve of the 600 students were selected as dedicated leaders, and two of the twelve were our own Smith Charles and Nate Dickens!  This field trip was a great opportunity for Calculus Project students to see themselves in STEM related fields. 


On Wednesday, October 10th, all MHS 9th graders took part in a Digital Citizenship Day.  Principal Jette and Director of Educational Technology AJ Melanson shared that the mini-lessons with all freshmen were another way of educating our students about proper use of technology and supporting our BYOD initiatives. Students were exposed to sessions such as Digital Footprints, Cyberbullying, Sexting, Organization with Google and organizing their drive; Fake News – how to determine factual sources in the media (online and written); copyright laws and team building activities. It was a great day overall and the students walked away with a better sense of the pros and cons of using technology.  Assistant Principal Ben Kelly felt that the day was a huge success thanks to coordinator AJ Melanson and the session facilitators: Kathleen Kelley, Barbara Wright, JT Troy, Brendan Tobin, Dave Mazzuli, Brian Mackinaw, Pat Menard, Brian Mackinaw and Yvonne NeQuist.


On Friday October 5, our freshman and sophomore students gathered for an assembly regarding drug use prevention and responsible decision-making.  They experienced Drug Story Theater (DST), which is an innovative, evidence-based, peer-to-peer treatment and prevention program involving a performance troupe of teens in the early stages of recovery from drugs and alcohol.  The recovering teens learn about improvisational theater and they craft their story into a theatrical play about the seduction of, addiction to and recovery from drugs and alcohol. Thus the treatment of one becomes the prevention of many.  Incorporating neuroscience infographics between scenes, DST teaches the how and why young people get addicted and they go into detail regarding how the adolescent brain is wired for addiction. Dr. Joseph Shrand is the creator of DST and a leading expert in adolescent addiction, he is an instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and triple board certified.  Dr. Shrand introduced the program and then facilitated a question and answer session with the audience and the teens in recovery. Our MHS students completed a pre/post survey to determine if they have learned about the science of addiction. Preliminary data suggests a shift in student perceptions of the addictive power of drugs and alcohol including marijuana. We’d like to thank BID-Milton for the grant funding to help support bringing Drug Story Theater to Milton High School.  If you’d like to learn more please visit the Drug Story Theater website  or contact Director of Health and Physical Education Noel Vigue.


Milton High School SADD chapter held an awareness night last Friday at the MHS Football game vs. Weymouth. Athletes, cheerleaders, marching band members, and SADD members displayed banners announcing that: “Life is your journey, Travel drug free!”

The Red Ribbon campaign sponsored by SADD at MHS highlights National Family Partnerships, organized as a Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign, providing and supporting drug awareness through the campaign. SADD students promote the Red Ribbon Campaign by spreading awareness to their peers throughout the week and a school sponsored events. The idea to bring awareness at an MHS football game was student-driven and inspired by competing in a photo contest sponsored by the Red Ribbon Campaign.


Thank you to the MFE for the Starlab!

Pierce 6th graders visited the  Starlab last week as a connection to a novel they are reading.  Upon entering the Starlab, students were able to view the zodiac constellations. They were told some of the Greek Myths associated with each constellation and were given information about which constellations we can see in the night sky right now. The lesson was connected to the novel students are studying in English class, Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly.  The Starlab was purchased several years ago through a grant from the Milton Foundation for Education. 


Join your Pierce pals at the Cornhole and Celebrations! parent night at the Milton Club (formerly the Hoosic Club) on Saturday, October 13th at 7pm.  Only 5 Cornhole spots left! Let’s have fun and raise money to support some great Pierce initiatives! Our community will come together this fall to create and install a mosaic celebrating Pierce. The newly announced prize for the Cornhole winners will be two Patriots tickets for Sunday, October 14th , courtesy of Elliot Physical Therapy!  The money raised at this night out will support this amazing and important community art project. Join us for fun, music, cash bar, some light bites, raffles, friends and Cornhole!


Last week,  Glover and Tucker 3rd-5th graders had the privilege of meeting well known author, Varian Johnson. Mr. Johnson is the author of nine novels, including The Parker Inheritance, which received four starred reviews and was named a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, a Junior Library Guild selection and a Spring 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List pick. His middle grade caper novel, The Great Greene Heist, has been named to over twenty-five state reading and best-of lists. In addition, Varian has written for the Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts middle-grade fantasy series as well as novels and short stories for YA audiences​.

Mr. Johnson spoke with our young writers about the process of writing, editing, revising and inspired us all to follow our dreams, overcome our challenges, and be all that we can be.  We were able to bring him to Glover and Tucker  to inspire our students thanks to Glover parent Sara Crowe and a collaboration between the Tucker and Glover PTOs.


The 2nd grade architects of Walshville!

Mrs Walsh’s Cunningham 2nd graders were recently introduced to the word community through Reach for Reading Unit 1.  They learned that a community is a place where people live and work. Next, students explored the concept of what makes a town a desirable place to live, work, or even visit.  Students generated a list of buildings that are needed to make a town run, as well as a wish list of buildings that are wanted, ie. luxury buildings. All 25 buildings were put in a hat, and students selected the project that they were going to construct.  Students wrote an essay that explained the purpose of their building and became creative with deals and slogans to invite people inside to shop or browse. In addition, students wrote letters to people in the community requesting a visit to talk about their job in the ‘real world’. 



The Tucker School has a fun raffle calendar happening his fall. Enter for a chance to WIN over $2,300 worth of local prizes plus a Bonus Raffle of tickets to see HAMILTON! Raffle tickets can be purchased online.


Oct 17  Early Release Day (Grades K-12), PD Day
Oct 17  MHS Financial Aid Night
Oct 17  Milton School Committee Meeting
Oct 18  SEPAC Board Meeting
Oct 22  Special Fall Town Meeting
Oct 24  5th Grade Information Night – Pierce 
Oct 25  District Wide Diversity Event
Oct 28  MFE Monster Dash
Nov 1  MHS Les Miserables
Nov 3  Les Miserables

Please join us Wednesday,  October 17th at 6:30pm at MHS  for a presentation on College Funding 101. Todd Weaver, from Strategies for College, Inc. , will be discussing what types of funding is available, what forms need to be completed,  how to complete them, who should fill the forms out and the timeline for doing this. Every parent/guardian of a high school student should attend this event to learn how to get the most out of their student’s financial aid package. Yes, EVERYONE should file the forms, regardless of income. Do NOT assume you are not eligible! Learn the answers to these questions and more. Students are more than welcome to attend and we hope to see you there.


Governor Baker has announced the first STEM Week in Massachusetts will take place the week of October 22-26th. The MFE Monster Dash,  which supports science in our schools, will be a great finale to STEM Week on Sunday October 28th. As a district, we have STEM activities planned all week to highlight the rich ongoing K-12 STEM curriculum.

Kick off STEM Week and come celebrate International Observe the Moon Night at Framingham State University on Friday, October 19th. There will be planetarium shows and outdoor moon observations.

There is also an opportunity for families to visit the labs at Bridgewater State University On Wednesday, October 24th,  during STEM Week. The Center for the Advancement of STEM Education (CASE) invites you to Open Lab Night 2018, an event for the entire community, especially K-12 students.

Open Lab Night features hands on activities and demonstrations in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, geography and astronomy. The new BSU maker space will also be open for tours and demonstrations. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Parking is available in the Bridgewater State University Parking Garage. 


To kick off our PARENT Speaker Series in September, Jane Hardin presented Social Emotional Learning (SEL) at Home: Preparing Your Student for a Successful School Year.  Through her many years of working in education, and conducting research as a university professor, Jane’s expertise and wealth of knowledge provided plenty of poignant takeaways and practical strategies for parents/guardians. She discussed many of the SEL practices that Milton Public School educators are working on in our schools everyday. Jane provided MPS with six copies of her book, “SEL in the Home: A Practical Guide for Integrating the Development of Social-Emotional Skills into Your Parenting that will be available to lend out to  parents/guardians interested. Contact your school principal regarding availability.  Jane graciously allowed her presentation and slides to be recorded. Special thanks to Milton Public Access for providing this service.  Here is a link to her presentation: SEL at Home video.

We’d like to see if anyone would be interested in an “SEL at Home” book club for parents/guardians or educators.  Jane offered to lead the first session/workshop and to get things started. If you would be interested in participating, please contact Director for Health and Physical Education Noel Vigue .  

Save the date for the next speaker in the PARENT Speaker Series: November 6th: Healthy Relationships: Talking to Your Kids about the Birds, the Bees, AND the Butterflies with Casey Corcoran add fliers


The Wait Until 8th campaign is off to a great start!  Over the next few weeks, we will hold informational coffees with Educational Technology Director AJ Melanson at each of the elementary schools. You are welcome to attend any of the coffees and we look forward to seeing many parents/guardians for these casual, roundtable discussions.  Will you join us as we Wait Until 8th?

Collicot/Cunningham Coffee  – Friday, October 26th, 8:30am  in the cafe
Glover Coffee – Monday, October 29th, 9am
Tucker Coffee – Friday, November 2nd, 9am


It is time to get your Monster Dash costume ready to go! The Milton Monster Dash is organized by the MFE, a non-profit group that funds innovative programs and opportunities that are beyond the reach of the Milton Public School’s budget.  All proceeds of the Monster Dash benefit the Sam Cichello Memorial Fund which was created in 1999 in loving memory of Sam Cichello, a Tucker Elementary School student who died following a playground accident. To honor Sam’s love of science, proceeds of the Monster Dash-Sam’s Fund support science enrichment in all six of Milton’s public schools.Join the fun on Sunday, October 28th at 10am at Cunningham Hall.


32 backpacks full of socks,  long underwear, winter gloves, rain poncho, fleece blanket , gifts cards for food/coffee, various personal care products and a water bottle.

Our Pierce educators may be embarrassed that I am sharing this but I wanted to let you know about a spontaneous act of kindness that spread among the staff. Prompted by a simple email, “ Hi colleagues, Inspired by a recent documentary, I am planning to hand out backpacks with supplies to some of Boston’s most vulnerable , our homeless men and women” , a quick and generous response ensured that 32 men and women will be gifted a backpack full of supplies in the coming weeks. This reminds me of the famous Starfish parable and I am honored to work among such caring individuals.


Coming soon to MHS – Les Miserables, School Edition!  Four shows in three days, tickets are on sale now in the MHS office during the school day and online.

Pick your show  – Thursday, November 1st at 7pm; Saturday November 3rd at 2pm and 7pm; Sunday November 4th at 2pm – and join us at MHS for an unforgettable performance!


The MHS Marching Band is raising money to support the band. Through Sunday, November 4th, you will have the opportunity to purchase a variety of fair trade holiday gifts and other fair trade products and the Marching Band will receive 25% of product sales!  Please go to FairTradeCaravans.com; Log in to our fundraising event with “Participant Code” MarchingWildcats to participate in the fundraiser; Fill your shopping cart ; Check out and include your Fundraising Representative – the name of your student or staff member that will help us get your order to you (use Rebecca Damiani if you don’t know a member of the band or email Ms Damiani if you  have questions). All orders will be delivered to MHS the week of November 26th. Thank you for your support! 


This weekend:

Milton Junior Woman’s Club is holding an open house for new members on October 12th.

The first Teen Film Night at the Milton Art Center will take place Friday, October 12, 6:30-8:30pm.  Teens will create short films using a smartphone guided by instructor Marianne Murphy. This informal learning experience with friends and pizza has a drop in fee of $5 or register online here.

Next week:

Food, fun, and football will be on the menu on Wednesday, October 17th, at Granite Links Golf Club as the Milton Library Foundation presents its annual gala to benefit the Milton Public Library.   After music , hors d’oeuvres and dinner, legendary sports personality Upton Bell will regale the audience with some of the colorful stories contained in his book, “Present at the Creation: My Life in the NFL and the Rise of America’s Game”.  The Gala will also honor the citizen volunteers who served on the Library Study and Building Committees leading up to the 2009 reopening of the Library. Tickets, along with sponsorship and advertising opportunities, can be found here.

Tickets are available for Milton raised Evan Murphy of Mile Twelve,  opening the show will be Anthony Ratti. The show is on  October 19th at 7:30pm at the Milton Art Center, doors open at 7pm.

Run or walk Mike’s 5K to Crush Substance Abuse On October 20th! This is our second annual 5K to raise money for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. We are running in memory of Mike Mulcahy, a proud Miltonian and lover of the outdoors, who passed away in December 2016 after a heroic battle against addiction. Mike wants us to CRUSH substance abuse! Free t-shirts to the first 200 registrants, please register in advance here.  Race day registration starts at 9am at the Cunningham School Cafeteria and the 5k begins at 10am. We will follow the route of the Milton Road Race through the beautiful town of Milton.

There is a terrific opportunity for students to be introduced to tournament chess run by International Master David Vigorito , as well as for experienced players to participate in a competitive event for established players at the Milton Scholastic Chess Tournament on Saturday, October 27th 9am- 2pm at the Milton Public Library.



Milton Historical Society’s  is offering “Till We Meet Again – Songs of World War I” on Thursday,  November 1st.

Waking Up White: And Finding Myself In The Story of Race , written by educator Debby Irving, is a book widely considered to be an essential text on how to unpack racial privilege in the American context. Hosted by Courageous Conversations Towards Racial Justice, join us for a conversation with Debby Irving, Monday, November 19th 6-9pm at Milton High School. 


The Milton Public Library has great programs for children all month long.


After two weeks on the road, the Football Team returned to “The Cage” and continued their winning ways, dominating the Weymouth Wildcats 48-14 Friday.  The win was Milton’s fourth in row to bring their record to 4-1 and 2-0 in league play. Senior captains Luke McMenamin with 3 passing touchdowns and Smith Charles with 3 touchdowns lead the Wildcats. They will play 5-0 Needham High School on Friday at 7pm at home.  Come support the ‘Cats!

The Volleyball Team came back from 2-1 down to beat Wellesley 3-2. This improves their record to 7-4.

Both Jared Carney and Jack Boylan earned Bay State Conference 1st Team All-Star Honors.  They finished in the top 10 at the Bay State Conference Championships at Presidents Golf Course last Wednesday.

We are happy to announce our Milton High School Players-of-the-Month for September!

Grace Dwyer, Senior, Girls Cross Country

The Boys & Girls Cross Country teams are hosting their annual Kids Trail Run this year on Sunday, October 14th at Cunningham Park.

After suffering stress fractures in her shins her junior year, Grace is back to running this year and has started off her senior season strong. She keeps herself healthy by staying committed to her physical therapy and strength exercises. During practice, Grace is optimistic, motivated, and hardworking. Her hard work and commitment to training have paid off as she has raced in all of our varsity meets, coming in the top 5 for our team at each race. This has helped us to secure wins at all meets so far this season. Grace ran a personal best of 20:11 on our home course last week, which put her at #30 on the list of the top 50 Milton performers ever to run the Houghton’s Pond course!

Miguel Varela , Sophomore, Boys Soccer

As a sophomore, Miguel Varela is leading both by example and by his phenomenal play.  In September, Miguel had 8 goals which was tied for first in the Bay State Conference. With an additional 3 assists, totaling 9 points thru 8 games, he is second in the Conference.  He has scored in 8 out of the 11 games the Boys Team have played. His form has not dipped either, as he has netted 2 more goals in October!

Honorable Mentions; Mary O’Connell, Alex Caputo.

Please see the Milton Wildcats website for schedules, rosters, and updates!


As part of our E-blast, we highlight students, teachers or members of the community whose hard work deserves recognition.  Please read about some of their accomplishments below:

Alessandra celebrates with her mom, aunt and grandmother as well as cousins, Tucker students Brayden and Dylan.

Students: Congratulations to Tucker student Alessandra Tuozzola who is the winner of this year’s Monster Dash t-shirt contest! Alessandra’s drawing will be on all 700 Monster Dash t-shirts. Register now to be sure one is saved for you! Alessandra and her class are pictured at the top of today’s blog. 

Volunteers:  Thank you to the Milton Academy students who volunteer in our elementary schools. A small group of students volunteer on an ongoing basis in all 4 schools, and a larger group comes for larger volunteer days periodically. This week, our schools  hosted volunteers from Milton Academy for community engagement projects. The group had both advisors and students who assisted with hands on and interactive “people to people” activities. Volunteers assisted in the garden, library and classrooms at Collicot and Glover volunteers participated in walk to school day, helped teachers organize materials, and supported students at recess, while Tucker volunteers worked in the library and Cunningham volunteers supported students in the classroom. 

Thank you to my blog contributors this week:  Jon Redden, Holly Concannon, Karen Spaulding, Elaine McNeil- Girmai, Karen McDavitt, James Jette, AJ Melanson, Noel Vigue, Ryan Madden, Laurie Stillman, Karen Cahill, Kelly Losi, Rebecca Damiani, Michelle Kreuzer, Sara MacNeil, Zeina Hamada, Jaclyn Germano, Tanya Walsh, Karen Hughes, Jen Meunier, Amy Tom, Christie Chiappetta, Genevieve Martland and Ben Kelly.

The Milton Public School system does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, gender transitioning, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its programs, activities or operations. These include, but are not limited to, admissions, equal access to programs and activities, employment, provision of and access to programs and services, as well as selection of volunteers, vendors and employers recruiting at the Milton Public Schools.  We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, students, volunteers, subcontractors, and vendors. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Human Resources, 617-696-4812.

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