November 19, 2020

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: November  19, 2020


During the week of Thanksgiving, we will celebrate MPS Spirit Week. We are asking all in MPS to show their school pride on Tuesday, November 24, by wearing red and white and their school gear, both at home and in school.  We also invite everyone – our hybrid and remote students, staff, families –  to share what they are thankful for right now. It’s a difficult time in our country and it’s even more important for all of us to focus on the good and what we are thankful for, whenever possible.

Next week, we will share some of the messages, pictures, and videos of gratitude that we receive. If you would like to share your message of gratitude – about your family, school, community, friends –  with the MPS community, I invite you to do it here. Notes, short videos, or pictures are all very welcome. 

Personally, I am grateful for the partnership of our six school Principals and the Central Office staff with whom I work closely every day. I am so thankful for our dedicated administrators, teachers, and staff who work tirelessly – in person or remotely – on behalf of our students. 

I appreciate and value the many creative and respectful emails and calls I receive from our MPS parents and guardians with ideas and encouragement to improve the school experience for MPS students during these unprecedented times.

I am the most grateful for our almost 4500 students, who range in age from 3 to 22.  These young people are funny and kind, hardworking and resilient and they motivate and inspire many of us in education to strive to be better each day. 

I have enjoyed my listening sessions with many remote families over the last few weeks and look forward to my school specific meetings with hybrid families in December and January. I am also pleased to have been invited to several PTO meetings this month. The exchange of ideas and thoughtful feedback is valuable as we constantly strive to adjust our best practices. 

I also want to acknowledge that November is Native American Heritage Month. The traditions, culture, and contributions to the nation from Native peoples cannot be overstated and I hope you will take a moment to read about Native American Heritage Month here and here

Massachusetts and MPS Thanksgiving travel guidelines are detailed under the HEALTH AND SAFETY heading below and MA guidelines are also linked here. These guidelines were sent to all families within the MPS testing email sent on Wednesday as well.

I wish you a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving holiday. I thank the many in our community who are forgoing traditional Thanksgiving plans in an effort to Protect the Paw and keep our MPS and Milton community as safe and healthy as possible in the weeks ahead. 


I encourage you to regularly watch Milton School Committee meetings. At each meeting, I give a comprehensive Superintendent update which includes COVID-19 updates as well as many updates about the general business of the Milton Public Schools. The School Committee discusses current business and plans for the future. School Committee meetings are open and transparent and in our virtual world, even easier to attend. You can watch live on Milton Access TV online, live on Milton Access cable channels (Comcast 22, RCN 15), via Zoom (link to attend found on the Town of Milton SC page), or on-demand in the days following the meeting.

The next School Committee meeting will be on December 2, 2020, at 7pm.


  • Nov 25-27 Thanksgiving Recess
  • Dec 2 School Committee Meeting
  • Dec 7 Special Town Meeting
  • Dec 10 Early Release, P/T Conferences K-5
  • Dec 16 School Committee Meeting
  • Dec 24-Jan 3 Winter Recess

The full MPS calendar can be found here.


Over the Thanksgiving holiday our health rooms will be closed from Tuesday, November 24 at 3pm until Monday, November 30 at 8am. If you have health questions during this time, please contact your pediatrician.

If you have any travel questions about your child returning to school on Monday, November 30, please email us by Monday, November 23. If your question arises over the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be responding to all new emails and calls on Monday, November 30. If you are unsure if your child should return to school, please keep them home until you speak to your school nurse on Monday, November 30.

Thank you to Manet Community Health Center who is performing COVID-19 testing for the MPS community on Friday from 10 am- 2pm at Milton High School. All details can be found here and here. If you did not register for testing, there will be limited additional tests available for those who did not register. You can also visit the Manet website and register for a test at their North Quincy location at any time. 

As Milton residents plan for the Thanksgiving holiday, we offer the following considerations to help keep our friends, families, and community safe during COVID-19.

We are about to embark upon the holiday season, which is typically a social time for many of us. In addition, many of our students’ siblings will be returning home from colleges out of state. Per MA DPH guidelines, these college students will need to quarantine until they receive a negative COVID test. I am also asking each of you to be mindful of your own social gatherings and the need to adhere to the health and safety guidelines set by the CDC and MA DPH. Small gatherings of family and friends have repeatedly been shown to be super spreader events.

If you are traveling, please follow Massachusetts Travel orders linked here and adhere to MPS Policy that all students and staff must provide a negative COVID 19 test taken upon 72 hours of arrival back in Massachusetts or quarantine for 14 days after travel prior to returning to in person learning.

These reminders for a safe and healthy Thanksgiving during COVID from MA DPH are important to read through. Also, this Thanksgiving Poster from is available in several languages.


There are two ways to take advantage of the FREE TO ALL to-go breakfasts and lunches this year.

Weekly Pick Up: Weekly pick up is available at two different times on Wednesdays. Come to MHS 9:30-10:30 or 12:30-1:30 (please don’t arrive before 12:15 to allow for MHS pick up) to pick up 7 days of breakfast and lunches for your child.

Weekly Pick Up will be available EVERY Wednesday in November, including the Wednesdays when there is no school at MPS – November 25 (Wednesday before Thanksgiving).

Grab and Go: Encourage your student to check out our to go lunch and breakfast bags. They (and you!) will not be disappointed. Multiple breakfasts, lunches, and snacks are included in each bag. Students can take a grab and go bag with several breakfasts and lunches as they leave school each day.

Free student meals have been extended through the school year. All details on pick up options can be found in this link.


Please join me in welcoming three new employees to the Milton Public Schools. Thank you to our all who joined our search committees and devoted their time to finding just the right candidates for these positions. 

Kimberly Kaplan is joining us as our Elementary Social Studies Coordinator. Ms. Kaplan has taught history at both the middle and high school levels in public and private schools. She is currently a professor and practicum coordinator at Lasell College where she both supervises pre-service teachers and teaches courses such as Teaching Social Studies in the Elementary Classroom. She holds an Undergraduate Degree in History and Marketing from Lehigh University and two Masters of Science in Education degrees from Boston College Lynch School of Education- one in teaching history and one in special education. Kimberly’s references described her as being committed to anti-racist education and social justice. The committee was impressed with her commitment to all children and her passion for history and teaching. We are all looking forward to benefiting from her expertise and leadership.

We are pleased to announce that our new Senior Director for Educational Equity is Somaly Prak-Martins. Ms. Prak- Martins immediately got our attention during the interview process- standing out from the other candidates. It was clear that she was knowledgeable, experienced in diversity, equity, and inclusion work as well as strategic leadership, and yet still connected with each of us on a personal level. We were drawn to how she wove together her personal and professional experiences as she shared with us her story. We were in awe of her courage, persistence, and compassion. We were impressed with her understanding of not only the critical importance of fostering an anti-racist educational system but also her experience in doing precisely that. Somaly holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business Administration from the State University of New York and a Masters in Education degree in Administration Management and Leadership from Phoenix University. Her references described her as a warrior, and we cannot wait to get to work with her.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Dr. Glenn Pavlicek is retiring from the Milton Public Schools in December after many years of service to our schools and town. I will share more about Dr. Pavlicek in an upcoming blog. I am pleased to share that Amy Dexter will be our new Assistant Superintendent for Business. 

Ms. Dexter has more than 10 years of financial management experience in municipal government and more than 15 years of experience in management experience with publicly traded and private companies. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Bentley College and an Associates Degree in Management. Amy is a certified public accountant and a certified government accountant. Amy is a long-time resident of Milton and knows first-hand of the excellent work of the Milton Public Schools as her children attend or have graduated from  MPS. We are really looking forward to working with Ms. Dexter in her new position. 


MHS student leaders will be hosting a virtual pep rally event on Tuesday, November 24 at 2pm for all MHS students. Students should check their emails and will receive a link to attend. Have fun, Wildcats! 


For a recent lesson, Mr. Manning’s 8th graders had to dig deep and reflect on their identity, who they are as a person, their family makeup, and cultural values in order to create unique identity tattoo designs. They were disappointed to learn there would be no real tattoos given at the end of the lesson!

Mr. Manning’s 7th grade artists focused on the work of Wayne Thiebaud and his simple but elegant food paintings. Thiebaud’s most famous work was a painting of four cupcakes that sold for over 2 million dollars. Students learned about shadows and highlights and how to draw with depth and dimension. Thiebaud’s most famous work was a painting of four cupcakes that sold for over 2 million dollars. Students said that those cupcakes were probably not at Montilios!


Cunningham 4th graders are reading A Boy Called Bat, an inspiring story about differences and acceptance. Students are asked to respond to a fun prompt on Flipgrid, where they record a video of themselves. They can view their friends’ responses and comment on their friends’ answers as they read the book together. 

With the challenges this school year, Mrs. Caswell, Ms. Hyde, Mr. Young, Ms. Harris, Mrs. McKay, and Mme. Mushin thought this would be a great way to have remote and hybrid classes mix for this inclusive group project. The Cunningham 4th grade is enjoying this fun way to come together and interact with friends who they are not seeing in person right now! 

Tucker 2nd and 3rd graders recently read the book Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin for inspiration for an art project. Students talked about how to draw a cow moving, by bending arms and legs and movement lines. Students went on a scavenger hunt in their yard or house to find objects that have texture to add to the grass of their project and they showed space in this project by drawing a horizon line.

Ms. McDermott’s 3rd grade Collicot class wrote this week about what they are thankful for this year. To complement their writing, they decorated fall thankful trees. Students all mentioned that 2020 was a year like no other and there were many hard parts and challenges. However, students were able to express gratitude for many things in their lives including family, friends, pets, teachers, frontline workers, and medical professionals. 3rd grader Brenna Monahan is thankful for more time with her grandparents who are helping bring her to school and who read with her, and she ended her essay best by saying, “2020 is a rollercoaster, but we made it work.”

The Glover and Tucker Diverse Reads Book Club had a fantastic visit with
Claribel Ortega,  author of The Ghost Squad.  Thank you to the Diverse Reads Book Club for a powerful discussion!

Ms. Lennon’s  3rd grade Cunningham class enjoyed having a  guest reader this week during their  virtual meeting. MHS senior Ilisa Risal shared some of her Nepali family traditions, Dashain and Tihar, by reading the book Dashain Aayo! Tihar Aayo! A Napalian Festival Celebration by Anita B. Adhikary. After listening to the story, the students enjoyed writing their names using the Nepali alphabet.

Mrs. Spitz’ Collicot 4th graders completed family trees to go with Reach for Reading Unit 1. Students asked: How important are traditions? Where do we learn about traditions? The family trees helped them visualize how traditions are passed down from generation to generation.


Administrator for Pupil Personnel Services, Sue Maselli invites you to read her monthly Special Education update at this link.  Information on the upcoming Glover Special Education Coffee, important contacts, and more can be found in the update


Each year the Milton Public Schools join together in partnership with Milton Residents Fund and My Brother’s Keeper to collect toys and gift cards for our Milton families who need a little extra support during the holidays. Due to Covid restrictions schools cannot have children bring gifts directly to school as had been done in previous years. The PTOs have come up with some alternatives that will still allow children to participate, and that will benefit our friends and neighbors in Milton and beyond, and even some of our neighborhood businesses. Despite these challenging times, we hope to make this year just as successful, perhaps even more so.

How can you participate?

Gift cards: We are hoping to have enough $25 Target gift cards to allow each Pierce and MHS student in need to directly receive a gift card through the school, and also to be able to provide families who submitted wishlists with a $25 gift card to purchase essentials like socks and underwear for their children.

Shop with a local business:  Shop in-person, online, or over the phone with The Toy Chest in East Milton Square or The Toy Box in Hanover (owned by an MPS family).  Mention your purchase is part of the MPS Holiday Giving Drive and the items will be held there and distributed.

Elementary families: Please see Cunningham School Sign Up; Collicot School Sign Up; Tucker School Sign Up; Glover School Sign Up.

Pierce and MHS families: We are collecting $25 Target gift cards. Please drop your gift cards to the drop box at the front of Milton High School by December 3. The locked drop box will be emptied several times each day.


Caroline Mannion, Inclusion Specialist/BCBA for Pierce and MHS, recently offered a session focused on how parents and guardians can support their middle and high school age children as they navigate through their Hybrid/Remote learning schedule.  Thank you to Ms. Mannion for offering this resource and thank you to all who attended. You can view Ms. Mannion’s powerpoint presentation here. 

The Milton Public Schools is committed to being a resource for you. Whether you are unsure 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 by email at All calls and emails are confidential.

All updates on Family Resources – food, heating assistance, health insurance, financial assistance, contacts – can be found at this link.


Milton Community Schools is pleased to offer a series of Virtual Family Events this winter. First up is Holiday Wreath Making on December 9. Attendance is limited so please sign up soon and join us for this fun family event!


At their meeting on November 18, the School Committee approved changes in the bus fees for the 2020-2021 school year.  Fees to ride for elementary students will be $150 and fees to ride for students at MHS and Pierce will be $90.  The family maximum will be $300.  Bills for transportation will be issued in December and January. 


Movement is a fun and important part of the elementary music curriculum. It is particularly essential for younger students and remote learning where students are often sitting for longer periods of time.  Movement is a great way to instill musical concepts kinesthetically for more involved, in depth learning.  

Our elementary general music team readily incorporates movement into each lesson in various ways such as adding hand motions and body movements to a song, performing simple folk dances, using body percussion to learn the form of a popular song, tapping rhythm sticks to march and move to the beat and purposefully moving using ribbons, scarves, and other household items to feel phrases, beat and flow. Cross-body movements help the left and right hemispheres of the brain to connect and coordinate, aiding in balance and stronger motor skills. The ultimate goals of incorporating movement with music are to internalize the beat, move rhythmically, develop coordination and confidence to move freely, gain an understanding of how music is connected to and can be expressed through movement, to find joy in dancing to music, and to understand that everyone can dance and make music! 

Currently, Ms. Martin is teaching warm-up dances to various songs such as  “Sunday Best“ By Surfaces with her grade 2-5 students. Here is an example of Tucker 4th graders  and Glover 3rd graders warming up to “Sunday Best.”  In the photos below, Mr. Good’s students are tapping and moving with sticks they’ve found at home as they march to internalize the beat.  Mrs. Allegrezza’s students created movements to the song “Wake Me, Shake Me.” Check out this link to see 2nd grade in action. Students are also learning a Chinese ribbon dance using scarves and ribbons found at home. Ask your students to show you some of the moves they are developing in their elementary music class!


Please see below from MHS Athletic Director Ryan Madden.

Thank you to all student-athletes and coaches for making this past fall season possible! A special thank you to our senior student-athletes who have helped to build our programs to where they are now. Though this is not how anyone would have imagined their senior year would look, our students made the most of their fall seasons.. The seniors have all set examples to the younger students on how to battle adversity.

The Boosters Winter Pop-up with limited-time only gear closes early next week. Don’t miss out! All details are here and once you place an order you will be contacted mid-December with local pick-up information.


The Milton Interfaith Clergy Association asked me to share information about their (virtual) Thanks for Giving Service on Sunday, November 22, at 4pm.

Please join us in gratitude for our many blessings, including this year’s Extraordinary Honorees from many of our Communities of Faith and Civic Organizations. Register in advance for this virtual webinar here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. 

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine… into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”  William Arthur Ward

Support our local businesses!  2020 has been an unusually challenging year for many, and this has been true for small businesses too. Many small businesses in Milton have been especially impacted. Though the Chamber of Commerce is doing all it can to help, as is the state, many are still struggling and are in danger of closing.

Small Businesses are at the core of every successful neighborhood, so the Milton Chamber of Commerce is promoting Small Business Saturday starting on 11/28. Small Business Saturday is a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. Many businesses have specials that they’re offering, and all details can be found here. 

Many of these businesses have been very generous in supporting Milton Public Schools through fundraisers and other events, and I know our support of our local businesses will be much appreciated.

Thank you to Milton Access Talk of the Town host Brian Kelley and  Tom Fahey for the Milton documentary “Remember This Year”.  This excellent documentary is a look at the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in Milton. Residents and local business people talk about their anxiety about coping with a looming public health threat.

Tom Fahey is one of New England’s most experienced television photographers. His work is seen regularly on some of America’s best-known TV programs such as 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, HBO Real Sports, and The Daily Show. He has performed principal photography on many documentaries and worked with corporate producers and international news agencies. Tom received a national EMMY in 2013 for a 60 Minutes feature and has shot other programs that have won national awards including the Peabody and Cine Golden Eagle.

The Cardinal Cushing 5K RUN/WALK (formerly the Best Buddies 5k) has gone virtual!

  • The where and what are up to you!
  • Complete your miles from November 18-21, then upload your results.
  • Create a personal or team page, then train and ask your friends and family to donate.
  • Share photos and videos on our Facebook event page.
  • Register here.

Thanks for participating and supporting our very important cause!

The Milton Public Library has some terrific programs for students of all ages. Check out next week’s activities here. 

Forbes House Museum is seeking volunteers for its new DEI Committee. The Forbes House Museum has formed a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. It’s vital that we include voices from outside the institution in this initiative. If you or someone you know would be interested in joining this committee, please send an email to Heidi Vaughan, Executive Director

Nature Tails! Children’s Program – Join us for the first of four free, fun, literacy and STEM Saturday morning programs with Trailside Museum staff. Programs are designed for children ages 2.9 to 7 years old and their parent or guardian and will include a story, guided movement, two live animal encounters, and a Q&A session! This program will be held on Saturday, November 21st at 11:00 AM and the topic will be Owls. These sessions will be held live, via Zoom. Registration is required to obtain the Zoom link and password. Please register here. Mark your calendar for the remaining sessions: January 23, 2021, Animal Habitats; March 27, 2021, Animal Movements; and May 22, 2021, Animal Five Senses. Many thanks to our kindergarten t-shirt sponsors. Their generosity has made this programming possible!

Cunningham 4th grader Sophia is back with her Sock Drive! The 6th Annual Sophia’s Socks for the Homeless has kicked into gear. 2020 has been a lot different than years in the past, but that is why we need your help more than ever! Please consider helping the homeless of Boston, by donating NEW socks to the drive. Every pair you donate will help the life of someone in need. We will be collecting socks until Friday, December 18 and will be dropped off at St. Francis on December 19/20. Let’s make this year the best and help brighten someone’s day. Sox Box locations are Cunningham School, 3 Phyllis Lane, and 178 Lyman Road.

Chess Club with Mr. Vigorito – Winter Session- Begins December 7th!

International Chess Master David Vigorito has been teaching chess in Milton for over 10 years. He teaches at all 4 elementary schools as well as Milton Academy and St. Agatha’s. He also usually teaches at the Milton Summer Enrichment program. For information and to register, please see this link.


Congratulations to the following MHS Music students who were accepted to the Massachusetts Music Educator’s Association Eastern District Senior Festival!

Barron Clancy- Orchestra; Timothy Fay- Band; Isabelle Feloney- Chorus;
Max Hollingsworth Hays- Band and Jazz Band; Michael Howard- Band; Nesta Ryan Malin- Chorus; Madison Massad- Band; Aislinn Mershon- Band Claudia O’Neill- BanD; Abigail Taugher- Chorus

Students spent time creating audition videos and were adjudicated amongst students from over 30 surrounding communities that make up the Eastern District.

Bravo to the following students who also received All State recommendations: Timothy Fay, Isabelle Feloney, Max Hollingsworth- Hays and Claudia O’Neill. These students will continue to a second round of auditions that will include students from all of Massachusetts. We are so proud of these talented students!

Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Kim Coughlin, Susan Maselli, Jackie Morgan, Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Caroline Mannion, Ryan Madden, Jon Redden, Elaine McNeil-Girmai, Rebecca Damiani, April Allegrezza, Jess Gillooly, Colleen Martin, Gary Good, Courtney Lennon, Patrick Manning, Liz Spitz, Karen Spaulding, Nawar Mushin, Ellen Lohan and Karen McDavitt.

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 a 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.

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