January 20, 2022

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: January 20, 2022

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

These are busy days in the Milton Public Schools and I have a lot of information to share with you today. Please take a few minutes to read through this week’s blog for Covid updates, traffic safety considerations, an update from the Equity Steering Committee, information about the hiring timeline and process for the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Curriculum and a valuable elementary presentation about talking with young children about structural racism happening TONIGHT. Beyond that, I am pleased to share STEM opportunities for MHS students, MLK Celebration work from our students, Elementary SEL work, an upcoming SEPAC presentation and much more. 

Covid Updates: As we continue to prioritize in-person learning and maintaining a healthy and safe teaching and learning environment, we will continue with our current mitigating strategies: mask wearing, and encouraging vaccination and testing.

On Tuesday, January 18th Governor Baker, along with Commissioner Riley and MA Department of Public Health announced the State’s new testing option for schools. In this new option, districts will provide students and staff with at-home Rapid Antigen Tests on a weekly basis. Milton Public Schools will participate in this new State Testing opportunity and I want to share some relevant information about the program. More details will come in a separate standalone communication.

  • DESE and DPH recommend that districts and schools select this new option, and if they choose to implement it, they must notify their local boards of health.
  • Districts and schools participating in symptomatic and/or pooled testing must continue those testing strategies and discontinue contact tracing and Test and Stay. Milton will continue with Symptomatic Testing and suspend Test and Stay once the new program is up and running.
  • Under this new Testing Initiative, all contact tracing will be discontinued.  However, school health professionals have permission to use their discretion if specific situations warrant contact tracing.
  • Districts were told that the at-home test for participating students will be shipped out the week of January 31st. MPS will continue Test and Stay until at home testing begins. 
  • This new testing initiative requires an opt-in vs. consent. Considering there is no third party involved and MPS is not sharing personal information, consent is not needed.
  • All staff and students are eligible to participate regardless of vaccination status.
  • The tests will be shipped to the district for internal distribution, and they are packaged in kits containing two tests per kit.
  • Participating staff and students will receive one kit (containing 2 tests) every two weeks so that they can test themselves weekly. The first kit should be distributed the week of 1/31.
  • Districts and schools should maximize the utility of the at-home tests by determining which day of the week they recommend participating staff and students take the tests.
  • When an individual tests positive on an at-home antigen test, they will be asked to inform their school nurse/administration of the positive result.
  • MPS is not required to report the results of at-home tests to DPH, but MPS will continue to include positive at-home tests in their weekly testing reports to DESE.
  • DESE and DPH will soon update their “Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios” guidance to reflect these changes.

As this new initiative was just announced 48 hours ago, we have to work out some of the logistics related to test kit distribution, day of distribution, opt in letters, etc. We will send a standalone communication in the coming day as these details are resolved. 

Covid Reporting: Although we still have a significant number of positive cases, I want to acknowledge that these numbers are greatly reduced from just two weeks ago. We are trending in a very positive direction. For the time period of Thursday, Jan 13 – Wednesday, January 19, 2022, MPS reported the following information to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as requested. 

  • Collicot: 26 student cases
  • Cunningham: 29 student cases
  • Glover: 23 student cases
  • Tucker: 7 student cases
  • PMS: 18 student cases
  • MHS: 3 staff and 24 student cases
  • MPS Totals: 3 staff and 127 students

All updated Covid guidelines and documents can be found on our website linked here. 

Equity Steering Committee: At last night’s School Committee meeting, the Equity Steering Committee gave a short background of the Committee’s work since being formed in July 2021. The presentation focused on the Steering Committee’s definition of Equity, which they are currently sharing with all stakeholders. A major recommendation from the Quality Review was that the district develop a common understanding and definition of Equity. We are seeking the community’s feedback on our definition to ensure the definition resonates for as many people as possible. We are asking caregivers and community members to provide us with that feedback in a 2 question survey linked here. The link for the survey will be available for response until February 6th.

Traffic Safety: Each day more than 4400 students and 600 staff members travel to and from one of our schools. Add in thousands of daily commuters and potential inclement weather, and you have a typical morning or afternoon commute in Milton. I have asked each of our principals to remind families about traffic safety and rules at their particular school in the coming days. Here I would like to remind you of several specific rules that MUST be universally adhered to to ensure student and staff safety.

  • If a school bus or a school pupil transport vehicle (van) has its red lights flashing and a stop sign extended, you must come to a complete stop as this is warning to motorists that buses are picking up and dropping off children. It does not matter which side the bus/van is on, motorists should come to a complete stop.
  • Please reduce your speed to a minimum once on or near the school campuses and follow all traffic signs.
  • Please stop at all crosswalks on school grounds and within the community to allow for students/pedestrians to cross safely. Please do not stop/park on the crosswalk when waiting to pick up your student. 

Thank you for your renewed attention to traffic safety. 

Assistant Superintendent Hiring Process: We have posted the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Curriculum position. All details on the search timeline can be found here. Information on staff, parent/guardian and community participation will be shared next week.

TONIGHT:  On January 20 at 7 pm, our elementary schools will host a virtual evening with Dr. Kimberly Cauley-Narain. Dr. Cauley-Narain will share her journey talking to her own children about structural racism and talk about what she has learned along the way. Finding no books that fit what she was looking for, she wrote a children’s book that explores structural racism in the United States: Cycle of a Dream – A Kid’s Introduction to Structural Racism. In the process, she integrated the broad evidence that supports talking to our preschool and elementary-aged children early and often about racism and other systems barriers that impede equitable educational, (mental) health and other experiences.

You are invited to submit a question or comment for Dr Cauley-Narain at this link. This evening is conceived and hosted by the Collicot DEI Committee and sponsored by the Collicot, Cunningham, Glover and Tucker PTOs. All details can be found here. 

Milton Public Schools families, staff, teachers and the entire Milton community are all welcome! The link to attend via Zoom can be found here and is posted on our website. This event will be recorded.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE 

The next regular Milton School Committee meeting is on February 2, 2022 at 7pm.  All information about attending School Committee meetings can be found on the Town of Milton webpage under School Committee. You can watch School Committee meetings live on Milton Access TV online, live on Milton Access cable channels (Comcast 22, RCN 15) or watch on-demand in the days following the meeting.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES 

  • Jan 20 Talking to Young Children About Racism 
  • Jan 27 Kindergarten Information Night; Kindergarten Pre-registration is open at this link.
  • Jan 28 Asian Culture Club Culture Fair 
  • Feb 2 Early Release K-12 
  • Feb 2 Milton School Committee 

Please refer to the District-Wide Calendar of Events for times and details. The 21-22 School Year Calendar can be found here. (Updated 1/7/22)

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Important Kindergarten Dates: Kindergarten Information Night will be held virtually on Thursday, January 27 at 6:30 pm, and Kindergarten pre-registration is open at this link. The Zoom link to attend can be found here.

Kindergarten registration for the school year 2022/2023 will begin in the early spring. All details and information will be shared at Kindergarten Information Night on January 27, 2022. 

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Culture Fair: The MHS Asian Culture Club is hosting a Culture Fair for all in the Milton Public Schools! We hope to respectfully celebrate the diversity in our community. It will be on Friday, January 28, 2022 from 6:30-8:00 PM in the Milton High School Library.

The Club welcomes all faculty and MHS students to create a presentation. To sign up to create a presentation, please use this link. All students and families in the Milton Public Schools are invited to visit the fair. 

HIGH SCHOOL HAPPENINGS

Thanks to MHS student Mia Gilmore for sharing the following opportunity for our MHS students.  Mia serves as the Director of Outreach for the Greater Boston STEM Program gbSTEM. gbSTEM is an enrichment program that has brought free mathematics, computer science, and engineering lessons to over 600 Massachusetts youth.

For the spring 2022 semester, gbSTEM is looking for dedicated student volunteers to teach Computer Science and Math classes. They are looking for passionate high school students to join the gbSTEM community and teach classes remotely through Zoom. Volunteering as an instructor will show initiative, strengthen your resume, and allow you to contribute to the community.

The semester will run from March 14 to June 12, 2022. The deadline for instructor applications is March 6, 2022. The application form and all course descriptions can be found on our website. If you have any questions, please contact gbstemprogram@gmail.com.

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Mme Lidell’s French Immersion students recently looked at a passage of MLK’s speech translated in French and held a discussion on our thoughts on segregation today. Is it taking place? Where? Why? The class concluded with students thinking about how they can be the face of change. Students were then tasked to be inspired by MLK and add their own dream for the world to one of the three murals throughout MHS. 

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Milton Minds Matter is a community-based, youth-led club promoting positive mental health for high school-aged teens. They are hosting a meeting next Tuesday, January 25th from 7-8pm at the Teen Center of the First Congregational Church. The topic of discussion will be seasonal depression and vision boards.  All details can be found here. 

 

PIERCE PAGES

Pierce students recently completed poems in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr Day. Literacy Coordinator Cat DesRoche shared that there were dozens of excellent examples of student work and she shares some of them here. Gemma Ansello MLK Poem; Emma Sutphin MLK PoemSage Scheller MLK Poem; Breigha Comeau MLK Poem; Patrick Mulhall MLK Poem; Michaela Oppong MLK Poem

 

INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS 

Cunningham 3rd graders recently participated in an SEL lesson focusing on self and social awareness. Students were encouraged to feel empowered and to find their voice and use it to make the world a better place. Our thoughts and feelings cannot only impact ourselves but also others when we voice them. Student’s listened to the book Say Something! By Peter Reynolds. Each student was given the opportunity to write and draw something they want to say to the world.

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Elementary students at every school read books, participated in discussions and created written and art work in honor of Dr. King.  You can see a sampling of their work at this link and also in the pictures below.

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Glover 3rd graders studied the artwork of Kenojuak Ashevak and other Inuit artists from Cape Dorset, a remote area of Northern Canada. Students then created their own artwork inspired by the textures, colors, and imaginative arctic animals seen commonly in the ‘Cape Dorset Style’ of printmaking. The results have been lively and beautifully unique!

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As part of this month’s Community Circle, Tucker students were excited to have a special guest speaker in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Circle focused on Dr King’s legacy and the importance of service. In particular, we noted that although it was a day off from school it should be a day on for service in whatever form we are able to offer. With Covid restrictions, Tucker was unable to do their annual service day in honor of Dr. King and they look forward to returning to that tradition next year. 

The special guest speaker was Kaamal Jarrett, owner of Hillside Harvest, which was recently named the official hot sauce of the Boston Red Sox! Mr. Jarrett is a Tucker School alumni and spoke to our Tucker Tigers about his experience moving to Milton from Jamaica, growing up and having big dreams as a Tucker student and turning those dreams into a successful career. Mr. Jarrett also spoke about how the kindness of friends and advocates in his own life allowed him to grow and he related this back to Tucker’s current citizenship focus on Advocacy.

Members of our new 5th grade service club, the Tucker Tiger Cub Club, brainstormed questions and formed the panel to ask Mr. Jarrett those questions. Students were curious about how he formed lasting relationships with Tucker friends, how he overcame racism and even what the special ingredients are in his unique products! We hope that Mr. Jarrett’s story will stay with our students and help them realize the value of their relationships, actions and dreams while here at Tucker. If you would like to learn more about Mr. Jarrett’s company you can visit his website here and if you are interested in purchasing or tasting one of his amazing flavors they are available online or locally at the Milton Fruit Center and Whole Foods.

MILTON COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

Registration for February Vacation Camp 2022 is now open. Camp runs from Feb 22nd to the 25th at Cunningham/Collicot, 8:30am to 3:30pm for grades K to 5. For more information and registration, please visit the Milton Community Schools website at this link. Check out some of our MCS fun below! 

FAMILY RESOURCES 

For families in the district with young children we want to be sure you know of a valuable resource within the community.  The Milton Early Childhood Alliance (MECA) is a community-wide group that seeks to support families and children and to expand access to affordable, high quality early childhood care and education.  MECA offers a variety of programming including preschool and toddler playgroups.  For information on programs and resources see their latest newsletter or visit their home page.

MECA contact Info: Susan L. Dolan, Director – email: cpcmecasld@verizon.net, telephone: 617-696-2262.  They can also be found on Facebook & Instagram at: Milton Early Childhood Alliance.

MPS knows that families may sometimes need resources for their children and family beyond the classroom.  In addition to the Family Resource Newsletter  please visit Milton Public School Resource Guide.  If you need additional assistance please don’t hesitate to reach out to Marti O’Keefe McKenna, MPS Family Outreach Liaison at 617-980-7343 or by email at mmckenna@miltonps.org. All calls and emails are confidential.

MPS JOB OPPORTUNITIES 

Substitute Teaching: On call daily substitute teachers are needed for all levels and the rate is $90 per day.We welcome all qualified applicants and encourage you to apply at the Apply for a Job at MPS link found on the front of the MPS website.  Substitute teachers must have experience and enjoy working with children, the minimum requirement is a Bachelors degree for Substitute Teacher and an Associates degree for a Substitute Paraprofessional. Citizenship, residency or work VISA in United States is required. If you have any questions about the requirements, and how they pertain to you, please email MPS Human Resources Specialist Laurie Dunn at ldunn@miltonps.org. In addition, all current posted jobs within MPS are posted on our website. 

PRESCHOOL INFORMATION

Children attending an MPS Preschool Program must be three years old on or before August 31, 2022. For more information, please call Marti O’Keefe McKenna, MPS Family Outreach Liaison, at 617 980 7343 or email Mrs. McKenna at preschool@miltonps.org

TECHNOLOGY 

In recognition of Data Privacy Week (January 24-28), Milton Public Schools is reaffirming its commitment to safeguarding student data.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) Data Privacy Week is an “international effort to empower individuals and encourage businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust.”

Data collection is essential for improving academic achievement in today’s modern digital learning environments—effective use of data measures student progress to steer personalized learning decisions to ensure that every child learns. While recognizing the importance of real-time data in guiding student success, school officials also acknowledge their roles as gatekeepers. As a school district, we have a moral and ethical duty to ensure that our students’ information is protected while using any online digital tools for learning. While technology may make accessing student data relatively easy, it needs to be maintained securely and confidentially, and that is a responsibility we take very seriously. Our partnership with TEC’s Student Data Privacy Alliance is vital to our district’s student data privacy efforts.

Please visit this link for more details about further steps MPS is taking to safeguard student data and information about a Cybersecurity Grant MPS received. 

SEPAC 

Save the date! SEPAC presents New Insights into Tourette Syndrome on January 26 at 7:00 pm. 

This informative and interactive workshop is open to any interested families in our community as well as all educators district wide.  As a district, we have worked hard to promote equity and inclusion in our community. Our goal is to change how we all look at kids with Tourette Syndrome and all other neurological disorders. Please join Milton Public Schools and the Milton SEPAC board in welcoming Ms. Susan Conners, M.Ed. Ms. Conners is currently President of the Tourette Association of America’s Greater New York State Chapter and an expert in Tourette Syndrome and other associated neurological disorder 

Many still believe that Tourette is a very rare disorder; however, the latest studies from the CDC indicate that one in 120 children have Tourette or a tic disorder. This workshop will discuss the criteria for diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome and will include an in depth description of all the symptomology. Tourette is now commonly referred to as a “spectrum disorder”. This workshop will also deal with the most common neurological disorders associated with Tourette, in particular, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Sensory Processing Disorder, Auditory Processing and Dysgraphia and the impact of all of these disorders on social emotional well-being, school performance and behavior. Ms. Conners will include specific strategies and techniques for working with children with Tourette and its associated disorders in a variety of settings. 

More details and the link to register can be found here. 

MILTON FOUNDATION FOR EDUCATION

It’s the MFE’s 25th Anniversary! Help us celebrate our anniversary by joining our Annual Appeal Campaign to give $25 for 25 years.

An education from the Milton public schools is the foundation for excellence and the Milton Foundation for Education (MFE) has been helping lay those foundations for 25 years with well over 50,000 students. Help us celebrate the MFE’s 25th year by taking part in the annual giving campaign! Donations from generous supporters like you have helped fund initiatives in all six Milton schools and every dollar donated to the MFE helps spark innovation and energizes the learning experience for students and educators in Milton. Your gift, in any amount, is welcomed and appreciated. All details and the link to donate can be found here.

 

ATHLETICS 

After a slow start to the Winter Season, we have had a great week!

First and foremost, MHS Athletics wants to thank George Holland and his work to help commemorate Francis J. “Buck” Finerty III. Buck was a hockey player and class leader who had a positive impact on the class of 1960, not only when they graduated but in years to come. The class of 1960 very generously funded the purchase of new flooring for the Ulin Rink and we had a wonderful ceremony last week with over 25 members of the class of 1960 and their families in honor of Buck. 

The Boys Hockey Team strung together back-to-back wins to improve to 6-5 on the season. They were down 3-1 to Newburyport on Saturday Night with 8 minutes left in the third period. Goals from Kevin McManus and Eoin Faherty forced overtime, and then James Fallon scored just 13 seconds into the extra period to seal the comeback in style! They carried the momentum through the weekend, beating Norwood 6-1 on Monday.

The Boys Basketball Team held on for a great win over Archies on Sunday. They will host Framingham tomorrow.

Track heads to the Reggie Lewis Center tomorrow for the Division III Relays!

The Ski Team will race at Blue Hills next Thursday. 

Our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will be taking over the Girls Basketball Game next Friday! The Girls take on Brookline and the student-run committee will have raffles, prizes, half-time contests and more. Be sure to come support the Wildcats on the 28th! 6:30pm tip.

Boosters Membership Reminder: Connie Henry is the winner of the first raffle basket of goodies from the Boosters for her family’s membership. Don’t miss out on your chance by joining the Boosters today. Next drawing will be the end of the winter season. Join the Boosters at this link today!  All details on the Boosters can be found on their website linked here.

COMMUNITY NEWS

Milton Parks and Recreation will be offering Spring Basketball running from March 6 to mid-April for Grades 3-8.  2 games a week are played at Milton High School Copeland Field House.  Games are Sunday mornings and weeknights. The cost is $130.00 and registration will be open on January 26 at 12pm. To access the online registrations click here

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Forbes House Museum welcomes the Year of the Tiger on Sunday, January 23, 1-3 pm. Registration: $30/members, $35/nonmembers; Art kits: $8

This interactive program begins with a tour highlighting the Chinese artifacts in the collection and discussing the meanings behind the various Chinese symbols found throughout the house. Then create your own lucky red and gold envelopes for gift-giving in a workshop led by Taiwanese-American artist Rayna Lo. The afternoon will conclude with a sampling of delicious Chinese dumplings!

Appropriate for adults and children ages 10 and up. No art/drawing experience necessary. Attendance is limited and advance registration is required. Art kits include red cardstock and gold paint pens. Visit our website to register or learn more.

Participants will be required to wear masks except when eating or drinking. We will continue to monitor developing COVID guidelines and adjust our program as necessary for the safety and wellbeing of everyone. 

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Check out The Milton Public Library’s calendars of January and February programs for kids.

Registration is open for our Author Event celebrating Thato Mwosa happening on Saturday, January 22 from 2:30pm to 3:30pm! Mwosa is a Milton author who will join us, accompanied by 14 elementary school girls, to introduce her children’s book, 14 African Women Who Made History. Registration is required and space is limited. Sign up today at this link. 

To learn more and to register for programs for kids, teens and adults, please visit the MPL website.

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Example of our weekly Choice Model for CSA

Brookwood Community Farm has opened 2022 CSA sales. The farm is located at the base of the Blue Hills. CSA or “Community Supported Agriculture” consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production”. More information can be found at this link: USDA National Agricultural Library.

Brookwood Community Farm aims to support the participation of members from all income levels. If you would like to request a discounted, funded, or SNAP share, please send a message to president@brookwoodcommunityfarm.org or call 339-502-0826.  For all the details about the 2022 CSA, go to the Brookwood website. 

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Courageous Conversations towards Racial Justice invites you to their January Conversation: RaceReels Milton- Mattapan,  “Memoirs of a Black Girl” by educator, filmmaker and Milton resident Thato Mwosa. This is a HYBRID event on January 27, 6:15-8:30pm

On Thursday, January 27,  a virtual and limited in-person courageous conversation will be held with Milton screenwriter, playwright, and filmmaker Thato Mwosa, as we watch and discuss her film, “Memoirs of a Black Girl”.

This film won the 2021 Best Feature Film at the Roxbury International Film Festival and is a coming of age story of a HS aged, Black student confronting the challenges of race, urban education and social/racial tensions that bring impact. This film does contain some strong contemporary language and slang.

This event is virtual with limited in-person space at the Milton Public Library Keyes Room. Join us at 6:15 for an introduction. The film will start at 6:30, and a panel and Q+A discussion will follow at 7:45 with Thato Mwosa and some of the film’s actors. The link to register for both in person and virtual attendance is here.

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The  Bridgewater State University College of Education and Health Sciences would like to invite all MPS families to their kickoff event for the 2022 Family Connections Series. Jamele Adams will present “Love, Inclusion and Trust” on February 3, from 7-8PM. Sign up at this link. 

Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Kim Coughlin, Kim Tolleson, Zofia Lodell, Mia Gilmore, Bernadette Butler, Cat DesRoche, Ryan Madden, Karen Cahill and AJ Melanson. 

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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: Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Human Resources Janet Sheehan, (617) 696- 4808/4809.

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