Dear Zervas Families,
Just three weeks ago we welcomed 320 students back to Zervas. This is about 20 fewer students than were enrolled at the end of the last school year. The difference is due to our graduating three classrooms of fifth graders in June while only two classes of kindergartners joined us this fall. This was actually very fortunate, because at this time there is absolutely no extra classroom space at Zervas to house any additional classrooms, and finding a space for a third kindergarten classroom would have been difficult. We continue to be challenged by the limited space we have for special education programming and other small group interventions. Unfortunately, this means that we must schedule individual and small group sessions in the hallways and in other spaces when they aren’t being used, such as the music room, art room, my office, and the teachers’ lunch room. It also means that the very small spaces currently containing our special education and intervention staff are incredibly crowded.
While we will continue to work under tight conditions for the next couple of months, I am happy to report that relief is coming. The process of installing two modulars at Zervas is still moving forward. A construction company has been chosen to install the modulars at three elementary schools in Newton, including Zervas, and work should begin in the next couple of weeks. The modulars will be placed at the end of the kindergarten/grade one wing. This will require moving a couple of pieces of the playground structure in that area to make room for the modulars. Construction is expected to be completed in December, with programs moving into the new instructional spaces in January. The programs that will be moving into these spaces will be speech and language, English as a Second Language, our literacy specialist and math coach, and our learning center staff. This will allow the staff that remains in the current special ed spaces to spread out. The new modulars will also provide us with potential classroom spaces in the future if enrollment should increase again.
Thanks to those of you who came to the first PTO meeting of the year last week. There was a very good turnout of parents, and they were treated to a wonderful discussion of family diversity led by a panel of Zervas parents representing a variety of backgrounds and points of view. The focus of the discussion was how to respond to questions children might pose about different family structures or family customs that they might notice at Zervas. I was quite impressed with the honesty and thoughtfulness of the panelists, and I again appreciated the incredible value that our students are gaining from being a member of such a diverse and rich community. This panel discussion was sponsored by the Zervas Respect For Human Differences Committee, led by parents Amy Behrens and Julie Robinson. Be sure to take advantage of the future events that this committee will be organizing.
Another similar program at Zervas is the Understanding Our Differences Program, which shares some of the same goals (and a similar name) as the Respect For Human Differences committee. Through dynamic hands-on activities and guest speakers, our third, fourth, and fifth grade students learn more about persons with disabilities and individual differences in our community. Third graders learn about deafness/hard of hearing and blindness/visual impairment. Fourth grades learn about learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and special medical conditions. Our fifth graders learn about students with autism as well students with developmental disabilities/mental retardation. The benefits of this program for our students will last a lifetime. This program relies on upon significant numbers of volunteers, so please consider helping us out. You don’t need to have a student in these grades to volunteer, and you will gain as much from the experience as the students. If interested in volunteering for the first unit, please sign up here:
or contact the UOD Committee Chair, Lisa DePalma at 781-254-9602 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .
The first School Council meeting of the year will be held October 11th at 7:00 pm in the library. The School Council is an advisory board for the principal and is comprised of a group of elected parents and staff. Parent members this year are Helen Haley, David Stolow, Julie Robinson, Craig Wacksler, and Stephanie Berzin. However, all parents are welcome and encouraged to attend school council meetings. Among the agenda items for meetings this year will be to create a new Zervas School Improvement Plan. We hope you can join us.