From: Mary C. Gormley
To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: March 27, 2020
FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT
As I wrote to our teachers and staff last Sunday, as our world community is working to save lives, we as a small education community must do our part to help and care for each other in the weeks ahead.
As a school district we are working together to build and implement remote learning opportunities for our students to learn at home between now and May 4th. We received guidance from Jeff Riley, Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Department of Education regarding Remote Learning Recommendations and Guiding Principles for Supporting Student Learning and Holistic Needs. Principals, curriculum leaders and teachers will continue to work to develop quality remote learning opportunities while continuing to engage all of our students.
I know that all of you have hundreds of questions regarding everything from will MHS’s Prom still be held to MCAS, SAT and AP testing to when our schools will reopen. I am in constant communication with our principals and I promise you that we will work together to provide you with guidance and answers to your questions and concerns. Please continue to read our Frequently Asked Questions on the front of our website.
We were not prepared for the changes and challenges we are facing. If ever we needed to develop the resilience in each of us, it is now.
The Milton Public School pledge to our 600 employees, 4,500 students and their families that we will work together through this crisis and find strength in each other. The health and well-being of our students, families and staff have to be our priorities.
Once again, Maria Trozzi is sharing valuable resources and information. I encourage you to read her full communication here or in the link below.
Superintendent Gormley has asked me to share my thoughts with you as we face this unprecedented crisis together. Truth is, there’s no playbook here. For many and in many ways, this is uncharted territory. We are not facing the aftermath of Katrina or 9/11, but find ourselves needing to live in a different way due to a force beyond our control.
What I can offer is what my work has taught me to be helpful for families when facing a ‘chronic crisis’….one that is on-going and may impact our physical health, our mental health and economic health. Please read the full communication from Ms. Trozzi here.
Many of you celebrated Milton Goes Gold in Support of Childhood Cancer Awareness with us last September and we look forward to an even bigger effort in September 2020. One of the parents who spearheaded this town wide effort, on behalf of her daughter Hannah and all children with cancer, is Michelle Serpa. Hannah Serpa completed more than 2 years of treatment in the fall and yesterday, Hannah turned 5. She was supposed to be in Disney World celebrating with her family and instead, like all of us, is sequestered at home. Well, Milton showed up big for Hannah last night, with a big 5th birthday party! As Hannah says in the video below, this was the best birthday ever! If we have learned anything in the past several weeks, it’s that people are helpful, giving and good and we are seeing that play out every day in Milton. Thank you to Milton for giving Hannah the “best birthday ever” and thank to you photographer John Gillooly for capturing these moments for Hannah and her family. These videos will give you a peak at Hannah’s birthday. Hannah’s Rolling Birthday Party. Best Birthday Ever – 20200326-210530-1920.
IMPORTANT MPS CONTACTS
- Mary Gormley, Superintendent of Schools, email@example.com
- MHS Principal James Jette, firstname.lastname@example.org
- PMS Principal Bill Fish, email@example.com
- Glover Principal Karen McDavitt, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cunningham Principal Jon Redden, email@example.com
- Tucker Principal Elaine McNeil-Girmai, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Collicot Principal Holly Concannon, email@example.com
- Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Special Education, Susan Maselli firstname.lastname@example.org
- Director of Food Service Jackie Morgan, email@example.com
- Family Outreach Liaison Marti O’Keefe McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Milton Health Department Caroline Kinsella, email@example.com
Central Office is staffed every day (we are practicing safe social distancing) and you can reach the Superintendent’s office any time via phone at 617-686-4808 or via email.
We have compiled a comprehensive and ever changing list of Frequently Asked Questions linked here. It will be linked on the front of our website and shared in each blog post. Please refer back to it often.
A NOTE FROM THE NURSE
As the MPS community adjusts to their second week of social distancing at home, MPS Director of Nurses Kim Coughlin shares some resources about talking to your children about COVID-19.
Our Milton Public Schools school nurses have been in close contact with the local health department since the onset of COVID-19. All of our MPS nurses have volunteered to help Caroline Kinsella, Milton’s Director of Public Health, and began training this week to help with community outreach. We appreciate their commitment to the health of our community.
MPS STAFF NEWS
I am very happy to inform you that Zeina Hamada has been appointed as the Milton Public Schools Director of World Language. Ms. Hamada will assume the position on July 1st, as Dr, Martine Fisher has announced her retirement. I will share my admiration and appreciation for Dr. Fisher in the weeks to come. Dr. Karen Spaulding writes the following about this exciting appointment.
Zeina Hamada has been an educator for almost two decades. She began her career teaching both French and English immersion at the middle and high school levels in Lebanon. While there, Ms. Hamada took on teacher leader roles very early in her career, serving on accreditation committees and coordinating the French National Brevet . Once she moved to the United States, we were fortunate that Ms. Hamada found her way to Milton. For 11 years, Ms. Hamada was a highly respected teacher in our French Immersion program, earning the 2013 Milton Foundation for Education Teacher of the Year Award. Both an excellent teacher and leader among her colleagues she engaged fully in opportunities to develop her own skills, share ideas with colleagues, contribute to the development of curriculum and common assessments, and lead professional development.
For the last two years, Zeina Hamada has continued her track record of excellence as the Assistant Principal/Curriculum Coordinator of the Collicot Elementary School. In this role, Ms. Hamada has again impacted well beyond her immediate responsibilities as a school based administrator, serving on several committees such as the MPS Cultural Competency Committee, the MPS Professional Development Committee, and the MPS Instructional Council. Ms. Hamada holds a French Baccalaureat, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration, a Master of Arts in History, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Educational Leadership.
Please join me in welcoming Zeina Hamada in her new role as Director of World Languages. We know that Ms. Hamada will continue along the path of excellence laid by Dr. Fisher.
Thank you to those who served on the Screening Committee: MPS teachers Dr. Amal Radwan, Shelagh Frossard, Desiree Okoh; MPS parents Lindsay Hudgins and Alessandra Higgins; PreK-8 Literacy Director Cat DesRoche, (MHS Principal James Jette, and Assistant Superintendent Dr Karen Spaulding.
Thank you also to those who served on the Final Interview Round Committee: Superintendent Mary Gormley, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Karen Spaulding, School Committee Member Margaret Eberhardt, Principal Karen McDavitt, Principal William Fish, Principal Holly Concannon, and Principal Dr. Elaine McNeil-Girmai.
After serving to-go breakfasts and lunches on designated days since March 18th, the Milton Public Schools is moving to a new format to better accommodate family’s schedules.
Starting on Wednesday, March 25th, families can pick up 5 days of breakfasts and lunches at one time. Pick up times are 8-9am and 5-6pm at both the Tucker School (behind the school) and Milton High School (on the Canton Ave side of the building).
These FREE 5 day to-go bags will contain low sugar cereal, shelf stable milk, sunbutter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and snack bags. ANY Milton family is welcome to pick up a weekly to-go bag as the goal is to support any food insecure student.
This change to one day of distribution is a safer way to get more food into the homes of our food insecure students, while also minimizing contact between the MPS Food Service staff and MPS families.
This FREE service will be available throughout the school closure.
If you have a hardship and are in need of more convenient hours for pick up, please contact Food Service Director Jackie Morgan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 617-898-1051. MPS families in need of support during this time are also encouraged to email MPS Family Outreach Liaison Marti O’Keefe McKenna at email@example.com or by phone at 617-980-7343.
Congratulations to 7th grader Lydia Turner (pictured at right) who has won 2nd Place in the Will McDonough Writing Contest! The New England Sports Museum has just released this exciting news.
With over 1,100 entries, this is an impressive accomplishment. Lydia wrote a strong persuasive essay about keeping the age requirement for competing in the Olympics to 16 years old. Congratulations to Lydia!
INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
Many of our elementary students participated in a Color Wheel Challenge this week in their first distance learning activity from the art room. Students went on scavenger hunts around their house finding objects that matched all the colors in the color wheel and arranged them in a circle.Mrs. Gillooly, Ms. Baylon, Ms. Bernini and Ms. Tolleson collected many pictures and you can see the creativity of our students below.
Students at Tucker were disappointed to not be in schools for their annual Book Character Day, but that did not stop students and staff from celebrating at home. From Waldo to Harry Potter, these characters did not disappoint!
Mrs. Spitz’s Collicot students invite all of Milton to join them in a movement to support our healthcare providers during this very difficult time. The class began making small bright hearts this week and they are displayed all over Milton to let healthcare workers know that we appreciate their long hours, risks, and sacrifices.
You may also have seen rainbows in windows as many of our students are participating in “rainbow walks”. As you walk safely in your neighborhood, you may see some of these colorful reminders of our wonderful community. Thanks to these Glover kids below and the many more around Milton who are reminding us of the color and joy still around us.
Cunningham students and teachers have been sharing pictures of their workspaces this week. Our students have set up some great spaces with their families to support all the different ways we will learn in the coming weeks.
Many of our elementary teachers have begun doing read alouds for their students. We will be posting them on our Facebook page and Twitter feed (add links). You can see a few of this week’s read alouds here: Ms. Renehan reads a special book for World Down Syndrome Day.; Mrs. Butler reads Where the Wild Things Are; The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
read by 1st grade teacher Ms. Gallella; Mme Morton reads in French; Mrs. Kennedy and her “assistant” share a book.
ROCK YOUR SOCKS
Last Friday, March 20th, was Rock Your Socks Day at MPS! Our students and staff Rocked their Socks at home in support of World Down Syndrome Day and you can see their infectious fun below. Thank you to all who participated!
Google Classroom: Many teachers in the Milton Public Schools use Google Classroom to help manage their class. This is not a requirement for teachers. It is a common misconception that family members can join a Google Classroom. Only students and staff in the miltonps.org domain have the right to join a Google Classroom. Teachers can invite family members to receive summaries. For more information on Guardian Summaries please click here.
Families have asked how to help their students turn in assignments on Google Classroom. Here are instructions on how a student can turn in an assignment on Google Classroom.
Elementary families who need support with their student’s Google username and password, please email your student’s teacher for this information.
PlusPortal: If you need support navigating PlusPortals here are support instructions and tutorials. If you need help with your username and/or password please contact the following individuals: Elementary- Jen Van Hill; Pierce – Jess Royster; MHS- J Troy Add links
EverFi Remote Learning: EverFi has offered enrichment lessons for students at all grade levels. In these lessons, students will learn about real-world skills like career readiness, financial literacy, and health & wellness.
Your student can go through these online resources independently and will be asked to show learning through mini-quizzes at the end of each lesson.
Here is each school’s flyer with more information on the modules offered at each grade level along with how to create an account for your student. Collicot, Cunningham, Glover, MHS, Pierce, and Tucker
Educational Technology Director AJ Melanson shares the following enrichment materials you may find helpful in the coming weeks.
Administrator for Pupil Personnel Services, Susan Maselli, shares the following. She can be reached anytime via email.
The Office of Pupil Personnel Service continues to work in partnership with district and state leadership during this school closure. Rest assured that efforts are well underway to build upon resources and supports we have already begun, as we shift into an extended school closure.
Just yesterday, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provided guidance on how districts should begin to craft remote learning service delivery models for students in special education. Our office is actively pursuing this process and welcomes parental input on remote learning for special education students.
As we initialize our model of remote learning service delivery, which we realize will continue to be refined as we work together, we would like to open up an opportunity for parents to share their ideas and thoughts as we craft our service plan model.
We would like to invite families and stakeholders to a set of virtual meetings to share ideas and hear about your needs. If you would like to participate in a 1 hour meeting with our staff, please RSVP to Patty Lesenechal, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will assign you to the correct age group/focus group opportunity.
Thank you for all your support!
FAMILY OUTREACH LIAISON
As we all navigate this unfamiliar territory we want families to know that we are committed to being a resource for you. Whether you are unsure of how to connect with school staff or directly need a referral for services or supplies please don’t hesitate to reach out to Marti O’Keefe McKenna, MPS Family Outreach Liaison at 617-980-7343 or via email. All calls and emails are confidential.
While the Quincy Family Resource Center is not open for in person assistance, they are still available to support families Monday – Friday 9am-5pm. If you are in need of any assistance please contact: Samantha at 617-347-4962 or Caitlin at 617-750-3381 or email them at QuincyFRC@baystatecs.org
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Director of Health and Physical Education Noel Vigue writes the following.
Week one, done! We did it! I’m so proud to be part of this community! It has been amazing to see how quickly and effectively our school community banded together to help make things happen. While we continue to practice recommended at-home isolation and social distancing, it’s vital to continue practicing healthy self-care. Make time for wellness activities with your family, make it a priority in your day.
My family has been exercising and playing board games together which has helped us stay sane. Find a fun family activity that works for you and your loved ones.
We are all in this together! Here are some links that you might find helpful:
- Yale’s massively popular ‘happiness’ course is available free online
- Motivation: How to get it, keep it and use it, even during a pandemic
- Staying Active – Harvard School of Public Health
- Teaching Kids About Healthy Eating
- Ten Percent Happier Podcast
This is a FREE service to support Milton residents. Visit Interface here or call them toll free at (888)-244-6843 Monday – Friday between 9:00am – 5:00pm.
The Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition has asked us to share the following, written by Margaret Carels. Please take a moment to read if you have returning college students home with you.
The pandemic of the coronavirus is up-ending everyone’s lives, including our college-aged children. Many students have been sent home in order to finish out the semester with on-line classes. This may be a hard adjustment for the entire family, as students have gotten used to operating independently and experimenting with their new-found freedoms. This will be a good time to revisit our expectations around the use of drugs and alcohol. You can read the entire piece from Ms. Carels here.
FROM OUR LIBRARIANS
A message from Mr. Coben and the Milton Public Library for all K-8 Families:
Read whatever you like, and then log your minutes online, write book reviews, and complete fun activities in order to earn virtual badges. Once the MPL reopens, every participant will be eligible to receive a prize!
We’ll be using Beanstack, a free service which you may remember from Summer Reading. If you already have an account, you can use that to log in – and if you don’t remember it, feel free to set up a new one. It’s easy to set up one account for your whole family! There’s also an app for that: search for Beanstack in the App Store.
While schools and libraries are closed there are plenty of resources available remotely. The MPS librarians have compiled a list of links to access streaming of books, movies, music and more that you can find here! Thank you to Elementary librarian Josh Coben; Pierce librarian Jess Royster and MHS librarian J Troy for the many resources found here. Please reach out to our librarians if you have any questions about these resources.
“A connection is the energy that exists between two people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship” – Anonymous
Each week, one of our MPS Adjustment Counselors will share information or resources. Last week, Ms. Beliveau from MPS wrote to the MPS community. This week, Cunningham’s Ms. Germanno checks in.
As have all of the MPS Adjustment Counselors, I have been connecting with many families and students over the last week and a half. I think we all feel better after these check-ins – I know I do. One family wrote to me, “There was a lot of smiling and excited chattering about the video meeting afterward – a positive change from the boredom and missing of friends that have already set in on day 4. What a great idea and boost to the spirits your meeting was!”
A discussion I had with two students yesterday was an important one and I wanted to share it with you all. It was a discussion about balance.
In our normal lives there is a natural sense of balance. The balance of work and fun, activity and rest, thinking and doing, talking and listening, seeing and imagining. Currently this natural sense of balance is out of order and we have to work to recreate it, because we don’t have the same contact with the outside world that we would typically have.
Right now we all have a “new normal.” This “new normal” is one where we have to reach out to connect to others in a way we are not used to doing. We have to plan our days with activity so we are not only resting, organize our time to allow for both thinking and doing, and we have to connect with friends and extended family through the virtual world in order to balance out our time alone. I encourage you to find the time to think about what your “new normal” looks like and how you can create balance each day.
I find making a list helpful and you might, too! Ms. Germano’s Balance List:
Check my mail/post to my google classroom —- Do yoga and ride my stationary bike
Talk to students and families/friends and my family —– color/draw, cook dinner
Watch a TV show —– Take my dog for a walk to the beach
Your MPS school Adjustment Counselors: Jennie Beliveau, Mary Bianca Mattocks, Kenneth Adelmann (Milton High School); Myriam Francoeur, Kara Sheridan, Kelly Dearing (Pierce) Jaclyn Germano (Cunningham); Elizabeth Caruso (Collicot) ; Ramsay Cadet (Tucker) Brian Powers, Christine Howley (Glover)
As with most events, our 2020 Celebration for Education has been cancelled. Traditionally, this event funds a significant portion of the Foundation’s work. There are two ways that you can help ensure that the MFE can fund teacher grants going forward, despite the cancellation of our event.
First, tickets are still available for the jeep raffle. Only 500 tickets will be sold and the drawing will take place on April 4th and the winner has their choice of a Jeep Wrangler or $25,000. To purchase a ticket, please contact Liddie Sutter at Liddievs@gmail.com
Second, please consider making a donation to the Milton Foundation for Education. You can make a donation at this link. Thank you so much for your continued support.
We have exciting news and beautiful music to share with you!
The Pierce 7th/8th grade orchestra was awarded the honor of performing at the Massachusetts Music Educators Conference at the Boston Seaport Hotel on Friday, March 6.
The orchestra, under the direction of Mrs. Debra Miller, performed five pieces of music for music educators in attendance from around the Commonwealth. Last December, Mrs. Miller submitted an audition recording to the Massachusetts Music Educators panel of judges. Typically the panel will choose four top high school ensembles to perform at the conference. It is very unusual for a middle school ensemble to be awarded this honor, however this year our middle school orchestra was chosen as exemplary in the state.
Well done Pierce Middle School strings! You can enjoy their performances here.
Congratulations to the Pierce Grade 7/8 Orchestra: Lucy Asanza, Samantha Chiu, Stephy Dai, Camille Donovan, Kevin Gomes, Molly King, Lucie Lloyd-Farber, Alex McEttrick, Abby McMenomy, Louise O’Donoghue, Isabella Polanco, Sadie Ruth, Van Tran, Lily Wong, Amelie Barbier, Daschel Koh, Hanh-Xuan Nguyen, Juliette Yunger, Nora Hegarty, Tucker Korman, Rory Martin, Will Malec, Rachel McNulty, Ivy Miskell, Leila Morton, Daniel Thomas, Taylor Xu, Ida Zoll, Malachi Buchanan and Nicholas Miller
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:
STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS:
Amid this public health crisis, we have all seen so much of the good and generous nature of people on display. I would like to recognize that here.
In the early days of this national health crisis, the Milton Neighbors FB group, led by Melissa Fassel Dunn and Ruth Baltopoulos, approached me about supporting MPS families who may need help during this time. A plan was quickly put in place to collect much needed items for Milton families in need. Many Milton residents donated new items and Ms. Baltopoulos and her family quickly assembled shopping bags full of essential household items, food staples, and small games and puzzles. These bags are being distributed to families who are in touch with our Family Outreach Liaison, Marti O’Keefe McKenna. Thank you to the Milton Neighbors group for rallying so quickly to garner support for our neighbors in need. We have given out 44 bags to date, with more to come.
In the days following the school closure, I also heard from Dan Kerrigan from the local restaurant Steel and Rye. Mr. Kerrigan and Steel and Rye have moved to a take out only model as have all restaurants. He generously offered to support MPS families in need with a full dinner each week. This week, 15 MPS families are enjoying a full Steel and Rye dinner, delivered to their home, completely free of charge. Thank you to Steel and Rye for this generous gift, especially at a time when restaurants are struggling with this new model of business.
Neither of these initiatives would be possible without the coordination and support of our Family Outreach Liaison, Marti O’Keefe McKenna. Ms. McKenna plays a crucial role in our schools everyday, working as a liaison between families who may need support and the internal and external resources available. In this time of upheaval, Ms. McKenna’s role is heightened. She has worked to stay in contact with existing families in need while also realizing that changing circumstances may mean that more families need support. She has been the conduit for Milton Neighbors, both in coordination and then in delivering the bags to our families who need them. She has also delivered our Steel and Rye delivery meals (maintaining no direct physical contact with families in all cases) and reached out to many families alerting them to our weekly “to-go” breakfast and lunch bags. Our district is lucky to have so many employees going above and beyond, Ms. McKenna among them. Thank you to Ms. McKenna for her dedication to our students and their families.
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: Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum & Human Resources, Dr. Karen Spaulding, (617) 696-5040 ext. 5582.