February 7th, 2019

From: Mary C. Gormley
To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: February 7, 2019


These are busy days in the Milton Public Schools and I want to call your attention to some important events and student accomplishments that are featured in more detail in the blog post below.

Parent Speaker Series 
Our next speaker is Tuesday, February 12th at 6:30pm at Milton High School. Internationally recognized clinical psychologist, school consultant and award winning author Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair will be speaking about The Big Disconnect: Protecting Family Relationships in the Digital Age. This is valuable information for parents of children of all ages and as always, the PARENT Speaker Series is free and open to the public.

Black History Month and Lunar New Year 
As you will see below, our schools celebrated the Lunar New Year this week and will be recognizing Black History Month throughout February. As Principal Jette recently wrote,” Black History is celebrated throughout the month of February in communities throughout the United States, however Black History is not an isolated history , or something that can be studied over the course of only 28 days.  Contributions of African American men and women are an important thread in all American history. African Americans play an integral role in the study of our political, economic, religious, technological and artistic history, and it would be impossible to squeeze all those contributions into one month of study so we do so over the course of the year, as historical and cultural context frame the story”. In February we may have a sharper focus on Black History and will share some of  these classroom activities and events throughout the month.

School Committee Public Forums on Space 
Please consider joining the School Committee at one of three upcoming Public Forums on February 11th at 1:30pm or 7pm or on February 13th at 7:30pm. Details are below under School Committee.

Milton Foundation for Education Celebration!
Save the date for the MFE Celebration “Beyond the Books”  on April 6th at Lombardos. The MFE has exciting plans for our libraries as we bring our libraries into the 21st century!

Milton Partnership for Arts and Cultural Enrichment
M-PACE is a program that brings art, music and drama opportunities to our MPS students at a level they might not otherwise experience. You will receive a communication from M-PACE in your excise tax bill this month. If you would like to donate, please check off the donation box at the bottom of your Excise Tax Bill. Add your donation amount to your payment. You can also mail a check in support of our students to: M-PACE, Milton Town Hall, Attn: Treasurer’s Office, 525 Canton Ave, Milton MA. Thank you for considering a donation so that we can continue to provide these enhancements for our Milton Public Schools students! 

Scholastic Art Competition and Southeastern School Bandmasters Association
The fine arts offer a multifaceted education known to link problem-solving and creative expression with teamwork and self-confidence. As our community increases in diversity, so do the arts benefit from this richness that each culture contributes, and which can be a vehicle to greater understanding and connectedness. While the Milton Public Schools offer arts programming that begin in the elementary years and continue throughout middle and high school, the Department of Fine and Applied Arts strives to provide further opportunities to ensure positive and meaningful experiences for students, engaging them in the greater artistic community.  I am delighted to highlight two recent accomplishments of Milton’s young artists and their teachers. Please see the Arts and Music section for information on our talented musicians and visual artists who have won recent honors.


On January 23rd, the School Committee welcomed almost 60 citizens to the Public Forum on Space held in the Cunningham/Collicot Library. A Public Forum allows the opportunity for an exchange between citizens and Milton School Committee members. Dozens of citizens spoke, expressing concerns, offering ideas and engaging in dialogue with the School Committee.  The School Committee has scheduled 2 additional Public Forums on February 11th and will be attending the East Milton Neighborhood Association meeting on February 13th. All Milton residents are welcome and encouraged to attend any meeting that is convenient.

Please join the School Committee on Monday, February 11th at either of these locations and times:

  • At 1:30pm at Fuller Village
  • At 7pm at the Milton High School Auditorium

Or on Wednesday, February 13th:

  • At 7:30pm at the East Milton Neighborhood Association meeting at Cunningham Hall.

How can you stay informed on this issue?


“Technology has changed the basic construct of our relationships. It has triangulated our connections with each other, becoming the ubiquitous third party in our conversations, sometimes connecting us, but often interrupting us and ultimately disconnecting us.” Catherine Steiner-Adair in The Big Disconnect.

On Tuesday, February 12th, MPS will be hosting internationally recognized clinical psychologist, school consultant and award winning author Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair at 6:30 PM in the MHS auditorium.  The title of the event is The Big Disconnect: Protecting Family Relationships in the Digital Age.

This session will resonate with adults with children of ALL AGES who want to learn more about how to navigate the social and emotional impact technology has on families. Here is more information regarding Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair.

In her public appearances, Dr. Steiner- Adair often covers topics such as:

  • developing a thoughtful approach to technology in school and life
  • insights and advice that help parents achieve greater understanding, authority, and confidence as they engage with the tech revolution unfolding in their homes
  • how to strengthen children’s social and emotional development to help them grow to be responsible, resilient, confident, and capable young adults
  • skills to deconstruct unhealthy messages from online culture and create space for nourishing deep attention, creativity, empathy, and healthy relationships

We hope to see everyone on February 12th! As always, the PARENT Speaker Series is FREE and open to the public. This presentation is relatable to parents/guardians of all ages.


The Young Men and Women’s Group welcomed speakers to MHS last week. Both speakers were dynamic and engaging!

Boston Police Commissioner Gross encouraged the boys to hold themselves to a higher standard, work hard, and always give back to their communities.  He encouraged the YMG to empower themselves through education. He also discussed his background and how he was able to overcome the challenges of growing up with a single mom in an area of the city that had its share of challenges and how he often engaged in difficult conversations with his childhood friends due to his desire to become an officer.  His story resonated with our young men and I’m sure encouraged them to continue working hard towards their goals.

Emmy-Award winning News Anchor Latoyia Edwards lit up the room with her energy, compassion, and obvious love of speaking to young people. She shared her stories of success, and some of the challenges she has faced as a black woman in an industry where there are not many that represent her culture or heritage.  She talked about the challenges of being a mother and wife, and how she has to balance this with her professional career. Mrs. Edwards encouraged the YWG to do all they can to prepare themselves for their professional careers and to start creating their experiences now. She even offered to host YWG on a field trip to tour the NBC/NECN studios!    


Milton High School is pleased to offer preparatory classes for the May 2019 SAT to students who are looking to improve their scores.  Students can sign up for Reading, Writing, & Language Prep, Math Prep, or both classes. All sessions will be held at Milton High School and are designed to prepare students for the May 4th SAT Exam. All details can be found here


Milton Junior Woman’s Club scholarship applications are now available. The club invites Milton residents graduating from high school this year to apply for scholarships to further their education. The scholarships will be awarded to qualified applicants who plan to enter schools or colleges in 2019. The scholarships are not limited to four-year accredited programs. 


Pierce Middle School is planning for the implementation of 1:1 Chromebooks for the 2019-20 academic school year.  Earlier this year the Milton Public Schools submitted a request to the Town of Milton to purchase nine hundred Chromebooks through capital funds for next year.  I have asked Director of Instructional Technology AJ Melanson to share the details here.

After researching districts who have implemented 1:1 initiatives at the middle school level,  Pierce has decided to change the approach for the distribution of Chromebooks if this initiative is funded.  Initially, the Chromebooks were going to be stored in core classrooms. Pierce believed this would help extend the life of the Chromebooks. Districts who implemented this approach quickly changed.  These districts reported students did not feel ownership of the Chromebooks and continuously damaged them. As a result, these districts assigned students their own Chromebook for their middle school years.  This change significantly decreased the amount of Chromebook damage. Student’s now have ownership of their devices and take appropriate care of them. Pierce will follow this lead and assign Chromebooks to students to take home throughout the school year.  At the end of each year the students will return their Chromebook to Pierce for summer storage and then have their device returned the following school year.

These additional Chromebooks will allow teachers to use technology any time a Chromebook is the best tool to help advance student achievement.  Currently, teachers compete with one another to use one of the twelve Chromebook carts available. Technology is scheduled and cannot be used on the spot when creative thoughts or ideas develop or when a professional resource is needed for a more profound understanding of a topic.  The new Chromebooks will allow teachers to improve student achievement through personalized learning, which leads towards closing achievement gaps, empowers students with student-centered learning, allows the opportunity to reinforce positive digital citizenship traits/actions, and starts to prepare students to be college & career ready.  The devices will also improve the teacher’s instructional practices allowing them to truly personalize learning, create interdisciplinary units, embed STEM into units, utilize Project Based Learning, empower students by providing multiple platforms for their voice to be heard, and most importantly provide teachers with instant access to data through formative assessments.  This data enlightens teachers with the current level of achievement of students and highlights specific areas that need to be reinforced while providing the opportunity for accelerated students to achieve at higher levels.

This exciting initiative, if funded, will help close achievement gaps, foster a higher level of thinking, empower students, and improve the overall achievement of Pierce Middle School students.


Happy Lunar New Year from Miss Smith’s Cunningham kindergarteners. This week the class welcomed Cunningham parent Baoying Qui who shared some Lunar New Year traditions and taught a Tai-Chi lesson to the class. The video of the Tai-Chi lesson can be found here.  Thank you Ms. Qui  for spending time with our kindergarteners this week.


Art teacher Jess Gillooly shares that students in the Tucker art room have been studying African American artists such as Faith Ringgold, Kehinde Wiley, and Amy Sherald for inspiration on their self portraits. Also this week, 1st graders created pig portraits in celebration of the Chinese New Year. You can see some of their impressive work below!


Students at Collicot enjoyed their Lunar New Year celebration with arts and crafts and a yoga session lead by professional yoga instructor. Students learned about family and community traditions around lunar celebrations and received a lucky red envelope and a clementine to bring them health and good fortune for this coming year. During the yoga session below, they learned poses that represent the 12 zodiac animals signs.


Mrs. McCarthy’s Glover 1st graders listened to the book Henry’s Freedom Box in library with our elementary librarian, Mr. Coben. A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom, Henry’s Freedom Box is just one of the many books read during Black History Month to engage students in thought provoking discussions and activities.


Cunningham families enjoyed a terrific Diversity Family Fun Night this week as families gathered to share a dish, a game and items representing  their family’s culture with the Cunningham community. Cunningham teachers who are a part of the Diversity Committee led cultural games and activities for the children, while the parents who are members of the Diversity Committee led low pressure and fun cultural awareness activities for the adults. 


In preparation for the upcoming Reach for Reading Unit on Justice, Glover grade 5 students visited the Massachusetts State House this week. During their visit, they toured the site, spending some extra time in the new Senate Chambers, and had a question and answer session with Senator Walter Timilty.  This was a great way to extend the learning from the classroom and build background knowledge for students in preparation for their upcoming reading unit. Thank you to Senator Timilty for helping to engage our students in the workings of state government! 


Happy New Year from our friends at Collicot!  


Pierce teacher Mr. Forge is thrilled with his recent MFE grant “Real life connections to coding using Makey Makey”. He shares what the project has meant to his students here.

Students have been enthusiastic in their efforts of finding creative ways of integrating the Makey Makey circuit boards with their knowledge of coding and software applications. This video shows the construction of an interactive steering wheel that is connected to the computer via a Makey Makey device. With this device the users are able to navigate through Google Maps Street View seamlessly, simulating the driving of a vehicle with the capability of moving forward, turning left or turning right.

In the photos above is a giant controller created by students to connect to a Scratch Coding Project via a Makey Makey board. Earlier in the year students worked on their coding skills using Scratch. With the Makey Makey boards they now have the opportunity to remix their coding for the newly connected controller. Thank you to the MFE for generously funding this exciting project for our Pierce students! 

The MFE can only continue to provide these enriching opportunities for our students with your help. Please consider attending the MFE Celebration, “Beyond the Books!” on April 6th. Tickets will be available soon! 


Milton Daffodil Days are almost here!  Help support the American Cancer Society in saving lives, celebrating lives and leading the fight for a world without cancer through Daffodil Days. Make a donation from now until February 18th to receive fresh-cut or potted daffodils in March to brighten your day or that of others through flower delivery to cancer patients at a local cancer center, hospital, or American Cancer Society Boston Hope Lodge® community.  Place your order by clicking “register” and be sure to select your school at checkout. Pick up will be at the school you have selected. Contact Kate Lockhart for more information. 


In recent years, studies have shown an upward trend in youth anxiety and depression.  In response to this trend, state education departments and school districts have put an emphasis on Social Emotional Learning (SEL).  The Milton Public Schools is no exception. I have asked Director of Health and Phys Ed, Noel Vigue to share the following about some of our efforts.

MPS has been implementing the well respected Second Step curriculum at our elementary schools, teaching students the skills they need to communicate, manage emotions, and advocate for themselves or others if they need help.  At Pierce, we look to address SEL by examining healthy relationships in health classes and digital citizenship as part of the technology curriculum. We had Jon Mattleman address, students, staff and parents (all separately) last year as part of the “Minding Your Mind” program to help recognize mental health sign and symptoms. At MHS, students have a mental health unit, as well as a conflict resolution unit, students work with an advisor twice a week, and there is the “Take 5 Room” with adjustment counselors present for students who may need extra support.

MPS can’t do this alone, our partners are our families, and we need to work together for the overall well being of students.  We’ve offered several events as part of our PARENT Speaker Series to address youth health concerns including: relationships;  drug/alcohol prevention; addiction and the teen brain; reducing anxiety in children; protecting boys’ emotions; addressing academic pressure;  digital safety and SEL in the home. On January 7th, we presented “Race to Nowhere”. In the film, a parent of an 8th grader who had committed suicide, shares that none of the signs or symptoms were present with her 13 year old.  We all need to be vigilant. This is a powerful article on suicide that I hope you will take a few moments to read. 


Milton Public Schools Adult Education aims to support lifelong learning by providing courses on a wide range of subjects and skills to adults in Milton and neighboring towns. Whether you want to try something entirely new or nurture an existing passion, we hope that you find what you are looking for in our new and returning courses. Registration for our Spring term ends February 22, 2019 online and by February 15th. by mail. The town-wide mailer features a listing of all 15 courses offered while our website has full course descriptions, dates, and online registration.  There are 2 new classes below that you won’t want to miss!  


Feb 7  Collicot K-2 Science Fair
Feb 7  MHS Winter Cabaret
Feb 11 School Committee Public Forum @ Fuller Village Re: Space /Enrollment 1:30 pm
Feb 11 School Committee Public Forum @ MHS Re: Space and Enrollment 7pm
Feb 12  Parent Speaker Series-Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, “The Big Disconnect-Protecting Family Relationships in the Digital Age”
Feb 13  Pierce Global Celebration
Feb 13  School Committee at EMNA Meeting at Cunningham Hall
Feb 18–22  February Recess
Feb 25  Special Town Meeting
Feb 27 School Committee Meeting
Feb 28 Tucker Activities Fair , Pierce Science Fair, Cunningham Science Fair
Mar 4 1st Grade Information Night
Mar 5 PARENT Speaker Series “Romaine Calm”
Mar 6 Milton School Committee Meeting
Mar 7 Early Release K-12
Mar 9 Minority Recruitment Fair
Mar 11 1st Grade STEM Night

The full 2018-19 calendar can be found here.  The recently approved 2019-2020 School Calendar can be found here. 


The Scholastic Art Competition is an annual event sponsored by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, and whose mission is to identify students with exceptional artistic talent and present their works to the world. It is the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7–12.

For decades, Milton schools have participated in the program to provide students opportunities for exhibition, publication, and scholarships. Regional recognitions advance to the national stage where medalists and their educators are set to be celebrated at a National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

This year, Milton High School entered over 100 submissions to the Scholastic Art Competition.  Of these entries, 19 students received 39 recognitions, earning Gold Keys, Silver Keys, and/or Honorable Mentions for their artwork.  Among the winners are MHS Seniors who competed with Senior Portfolios, requiring them to include a series of eight works as well as other, individual entries.

All Gold Key winners will participate in a featured exhibit held at the Transportation Building before advancing to be considered for National recognition. 


Last weekend, 67 Milton High and Pierce Middle School musicians travelled to Abington High School to audition for the junior and senior music festivals hosted by Southeastern School Bandmasters Association (SEMSBA).  

SEMSBA is a music educators’ organization that endeavors to raise the standard of, and to promote greater community interest in school music.  The organization was established in 1950 by local music educators; former Director of Music in Milton, Mr. Francis Tatro, was a founding member.

Each year, SEMSBA sponsors two festivals for which Milton students may audition, a junior festival for students in grades 7-9, and a senior festival for students in grades 9-12.  The audition process requires students to prepare a prescribed piece on their instrument/voicing as well a series of scales. Those who are selected for the festival prepare a program in advance, and meet at the festival to rehearse and perform in the festival concert.

Please join me in congratulating these  students who will represent Milton at the 2019 SEMSBA Junior and Senior Festivals. 


On Sunday, April 28th , Milton FAME is pleased to host a unique fundraising event, our fifth annual mattress sale! Our goal is to sell over 100 mattresses, with proceeds going directly to benefit music in the Milton Public Schools. If you, or anyone you know might be in need of a mattress, please save the date and visit our mobile showroom at the Pierce Middle School Gym. This is the time to buy and save up to 50% off retail, all while supporting our students. There will be 29 sets on display and a team of experts on hand to answer any questions you may have.  More details to follow as the date gets closer!


Believe it or not, it is time to start planning Milton Summer Enrichment (MSE) 2019!  Cat DesRoche and Ellen Lohan will be Co-Directors this year and are looking forward to a fantastic summer at MSE.  All the details of our fun summer ahead can be found here!


Please join us in recognizing our January Athletes of the Month!

Ryan McGroarty, Senior, Wrestling

Ryan has been a 4-year starter on the wrestling team. He has been the most improved wrestler this year and one of the big reasons for this year’s team success 12-5 team record and his overall record is 11-3. He is always helping the new wrestlers, communicating with the coaches and has overall been a pleasure to coach.

Mark Guerra, Senior, Ice Hockey

The Boys Hockey Team has found it difficult this season, in an extremely tough Bay State Conference, as well as coming up against some of the best teams in the State. They have turned the corner as of late with a few great wins, and Mark Guerra has been the foundation for that turnaround.  Guerra’s record in January was 2 wins, 4 losses, and 3 ties, while facing 338 shots (saved 308 of those shots) with a save percentage of .911%. He had 7 games where he faced 30 shots or more. He had 3 games where he faced 40 shots or more. He had one game where he faced 64 shots (saved 59 of them).

We are just over a month from the start of Spring Sports! Registration opens Friday, February 8th.  More information can be found here.

Thank you to Roy Chambers for many of these terrific photos of our athletes and to Heidi Graf for the great picture of the MHS Ski Team.


Milton Town Clerk Susan M. Galvin  announces that Nomination Papers for both Town Wide and/or Town Meeting Members will be available beginning January 22, 2019 in the Office of the Town Clerk. All nomination papers are due on March 12, 2019. Ms. Galvin would like to encourage all residents to consider running for office. “Citizen participation in Town government is essential to providing the residents of Milton with clear access to our Town government.”

The annual Town Election will be held on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. To be placed upon the ballot, Town Wide candidates must obtain a minimum of 50 legible signatures from registered voters. Town Meeting Member candidates must obtain a minimum of 10 legible signatures from the precinct in which they reside. All details can be found on the Town of Milton website.

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

The Year of the Pig begins in February, and the Forbes House Museum is celebrating with a series of fun and educational programs based on New Year’s traditions and animal symbolism in the Chinese culture. To register for any of our programs and to find out more, please  visit our website or call 617-696-1815. The museum is located at 215 Adams Street in Milton.

The Milton Young Musicians Festival is now accepting applications! For over 30 years, the Milton Young Musicians Festival has encouraged young people with an interest in music and fostered their developing performance skills.  All participants receive feedback from trained adjudicators, and a medal at the end of the day. Recipients of the Gold Medal are invited to perform in a concert the next weekend. The Festival will be held on March 31st, from noon to 5 pm at East Congregational Church, 610 Adams St, Milton.  The Gold Medal concert will be held the following Saturday, April 6th.  


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:

Students:  Congratulations to our MHS Students of the Quarter who were recognized this morning at Milton High School! In order to recognize those students who are making a contribution to our community, each department nominates two students who deserve commendation for the previous marking period.  These students may have shown marked improvement, may have done a significant project or may have shown outstanding effort. Students of the Quarter receive a certificate and their pictures are posted in a wall case near the main office. Because of these individuals, Milton High School continues to be an outstanding school. It is a pleasure to recognize these student.  


If you do not receive the Superintendent’s Weekly Update and would like to, please enter your email here to subscribe to this one weekly email.

Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Cat DesRoche,  Ryan Madden, Karen Hughes, Karen McDavitt, Larry Jordan, Mary-Bianca Mattocks, Sara Smith, Dawn Sykes, AJ Melanson, Noel Vigue, Greg Forge, Ben Kelly,Paul Ajemian, James Jette, Bernadette Butler, Holly Concannon, Jess Gillooly and Laurie Stillman. 

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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