The latest announcements from the Principal and the PTO...

Teacher Appreciation Week: NSF Honor Thy Teacher

Looking for another way to celebrate your teacher during Teacher Appreciation Week? Consider donating in their name to Newton Schools Foundation’s Honor Thy Teacher program.

2020 Newton Schools Foundation Honor Thy Teacher

Over these past weeks, many parents have developed a deep appreciation for the job that our teachers do each day. If you are looking for a way to express that appreciation during Teacher Appreciation Week or after, here is a way to say thank you.

By donating to Newton Schools Foundation’s Honor Thy Teacher program in the name of one or more of your children’s teachers, you can show your appreciation for them AND support your children’s schools. NSF will notify each teacher honored of your gift and share their names with Principals and the Superintendent. A list of honored teachers will appear on the NSF website and in the Newton TAB.

Your tax-deductible donation will go towards funding NSF grants for promising educational initiatives, professional development, and programs that close gaps in opportunity and achievement.  In furtherance of those goals, in recent weeks NSF directed its resources toward the challenges of COVID-19 with a $85,500 grant for the Newton Public Schools to purchase 300 Chromebooks for students needing access to online learning during school closures. 

It’s easy to donate online (http://www.newtonschoolsfoundation.org/honor-thy-teacher), or  you can mail your donation  to Newton Schools Foundation, P.O. Box 590020, Newton Centre, MA 02459. Please be sure to include the names of the teachers and/or staff that you are honoring. 

To find out more about the programs NSF funds, visit our website at (http://www.newtonschoolsfoundation.org/programs-we-fund).

Zervas Zoom Friday Night Family Dance Party: Fri, May 1 @ 7pm

Join us Friday night 7:00-8:00 pm for our second Zervas Zoom Family Dance Party. We can’t think of a better way to start off our second full month of distanced learning then to let loose with good friends and good music. Join us for some or all of the party.

Please see your Tuesday 4/28 PTO Zmail for the Zoom info.

DJ Cate Menon has again made our dance party playlist. If you’d rather run the sound on your own or dance another time, you can find her Spotify playlist here.

Teacher Appreciation Week: May 4-8

Next week, May 4-8, is Teacher Appreciation Week and we all can’t express our thanks enough for our teachers! Let’s flood their inboxes with letters of appreciation and gratitude.

Please write to your student’s teachers and tell them thank you. Have your students to write to their teachers and tell them thank you. And don’t forget the aids, our specialists, and all the others that help our kiddos at the Zervas school.

Looking for email address? Contact your room parents for help connecting.

PTO Principal’s Coffee Zoom: Tues, May 5 @ 8:30am

Mark your calendar to join Dr. Beck for our May PTO Principal’s Coffee Zoom on Tuesday, May 5th at 8:30am. Watch for her email with the Zoom info and link.

Zervas Family Trivia Night: Fri, May 8 @ 7pm

Save the date for our first ever Zervas Family Trivia Night!
Friday, May 8th, Starting at 7:00pm

Remember when you used to go out and play trivia with your friends? Good news, now you can stay home and play trivia with your friends AND family at the first-ever, family-friendly, Zervas Trivia Night! Join us as quiz master Allan Telio tests your family’s knowledge on topics ranging from astronomy to American history to Taylor Swift.

This event is designed for the entire family so be there!  Where else are you going to go? Will there be prizes?  Who knows?  We haven’t planned that far ahead yet. 

We will send out detailed information on how to participate in trivia night next week.   

4/8 PTO Principal Coffee: Link to Notes

Thank you to Dr. Beck and Mr. Garlick, NPS Superintendent Dr. Fleischman, and School Committee Members, Ruth Goldman, Matthew Miller and Bridget Ray Canada for hosting and joining our PTO Principal Coffee Zoom last week Wendesday.

If you missed the coffee, the notes can be found here.

Zervas Walks: Walk Challenge Week #1

Newton Safe Routes Walk Challenge, Week #1

Basic: Over the course of the week, find doors that are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Remember their locations. 

Challenge: Now plan, and go on, a longer walk where you find them all in rainbow order. 

Extra Challenge: Now go on a walk where you find them all in REVERSE rainbow order.

Visit http://zervaswalks.org/ or email Zervaswalks@gmail.com for more information.

Kindergarten Soccer: Season Update

Dear Parents-

I hope this email finds you and your families well. I am sad that this Saturday would be the opening day of our spring session and we will be unable to begin due to these unprecedented times we find ourselves in. 

Many of our parents have reached out to ask the status of the soccer season. Will the season be canceled, will it start once the stay at home restrictions are lifted? As you know, the situation with COVID-19 is a moving target.

As of today, our permit with the city is suspended until May 4th. As we learn more from Newton and the state, Kindergarten Soccer will be making decisions in regards to the status of our season. If we cannot host our program this spring, we will provide direction regarding refunds for those of you who have already registered and paid for your child’s spring session. Please wait until this decision has been made and communicated before reaching out to us for a refund, as our team is all volunteers and our process is manual.

Thank you for your patience with us during this unprecedented time. Please be well and be safe!

Best Regards,

Jillian Jurilla
Kindergarten Soccer Coordinator

(This note was also sent to all currently registered soccer families.)

NPS School Committee Update

4/14/2020
FROM: schoolcommittee@newton.k12.ma.us
SC Meeting Update – April 6, 2020

Dear Friends,

By now you’ve received loads of information from Superintendent David Fleishman, from the principals and the teachers regarding the NPS Distance Learning Plan. It’s a lot of information to process and we’ve heard from numerous parents and guardians who have shared feedback. During the Monday April 6th meeting, David Fleishman and the NPS administrative team offered us a “window into their thinking” for creating this plan and why the team believes it is the best solution for shifting instruction to an online model. We strongly encourage you to watch the recorded broadcast to hear directly from the team. Alternatively, you may review the Distance Learning Report to the School Committee.

The School Committee would like to provide you a window into our support for the district’s plan and will share some answers to commonly asked questions before we conclude the update with Monday’s Consent Agenda.

  • Why did NPS wait until April 6th to start distance learning? The district took a careful and thoughtful approach to readying our families for distance learning and supporting teachers and other learning specialists with the necessary planning time to create materials, curriculum, and weekly schedules. It was also important for Newton to obtain state guidance. On March 26th the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) established a number of guiding principles for distance learning and set equity as a top priority. To enable access and support equity, the district swiftly coordinated the distribution of over 900 Chromebooks to families and provided Grab N’ Go meals for all students.
  • Did the School Committee negotiate a Distance Learning Plan with the Newton Teachers Association? Yes, because distance learning is a significant change in working conditions, we had to discuss the terms of our new reality.  We were able to reach a mutually agreeable arrangement once our learning plans were created. On March 29th, the School Committee executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NTA.
  • Why cancel April vacation? Simply put, now that the distance learning plan is in effect, cancelling vacation allows students to continue their learning without further interruption.
  • Will this school year be extended? That’s a great question and at this time one that is still being evaluated. We can share that the SC will meet in Executive Session on April 13th to discuss the last day of school.
  • Is summer school on the table to catch students up? We’ll follow guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The NPS administrative team will conduct a thorough analysis of this option.
  • Why did other districts start distance learning earlier? It’s true that some area schools made early shifts to remote services, but these efforts largely suffered from a lack of coordination or didn’t provide technology assistance to families. Some districts were much smaller than Newton with fewer stakeholders to negotiate. Many districts have since revised and modified their plans in order to implement greater coordination. Newton has taken the time to benefit from state guidance, minimize student disruption and maximize our ability to provide a coordinated effort. Newton also prioritized providing basic services to students, such as meals and technology.
  • Why did we have to wait for students to get technology access? Newton’s values of equity and excellence demand that our district leave no student behind in our shift to remote learning. We are grateful to the Newton Schools Foundation for their generous grant to purchase an additional 300 Chromebooks.
  • How are we providing service to students with special needs? Supporting the needs of all learners required the district to craft a plan respecting students’ IEPs and 504 plans. NPS took the time to carefully plan our distance learning model so that students of all abilities feel connected to their teachers and can access materials.
  • Why are we only having 3 – 3.5 hours of learning a day? This was the guidance the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provided to each school district in the state. It rests in the premise that remote learning is not synonymous with online learning. Remote learning promotes “balance between learning through technology and remote learning that happens offline to support students’ curiosity and understanding.”
  • Will there be opportunity for parent and student feedback?  The short answer is ABSOLUTELY!  Principals and senior administration will be working on a survey to go out to all parents (likely by level – elementary, middle, high) in the next week or two.  Additionally, teachers and principals will survey older students as well.  Parents are also encouraged to let their classroom teachers know how activities are working for their child/family – both what works well and what is missing the mark.
  • Why is the School Committee voting on the FY21 Budget before knowing the full financial impact of the school closure for next year?  The School Committee completed the budget cycle as set out because it is an important marker in planning for next year and while we suspect there will be new information in the coming months, we did not have that new information in hand.  Budgets often shift during the year in a “typical” situation.  However, we recognize that assumptions in the current FY21 budget have a great likelihood of changing and we have scheduled an updated review for the April 27th School Committee meeting and added an additional meeting on Thursday April 30th. 

Last, we understand your anxiety and concern. We share your fears, your frustrations, and that sense of loss for our normal routines and traditional activities. We need your help to make this work because what the students need now, more than anything, is to maintain connection with each other and their teachers. We appreciate your help making this distance learning plan work for our children in a way that faithfully upholds our values of excellence and equity.

Consent Agenda

  1. Unanimously approved 3/16/20 Draft Minutes.
  2. Approved FY21 Proposed Annual Budget pending an updated financial forecast on April 29th to consider the impact of our current school closure on the budget.

We hope you found this guide useful. You can access all SC meeting documents via the NPS website (www.newton.k12.ma.us/schoolcommittee). As always, we are very happy to answer any questions and listen to your feedback. Please feel free to contact us via the email address below.

Sincerely,
The Newton School Committee

Cold Spring Park: Renovation Update and Walking Ideas

Trail renovations begin on Monday, April 13 at Cold Spring Park, which will necessitate some temporary park closures. Depending on weather and public health advisories, all trails will reopen within two weeks. This project has taken ten years of advocacy by some park neighbors and users, and a year and a half of fundraising by Friends of Cold Spring Park. For a map of the specific sections to be renovated, click here.

Looking for ideas of what to do from your own backyard, on your walks, or at Cold Spring Park? Download the iNaturalist app. It’s a citizen science app that helps you identify plants, insects, and animals.

Looking to mix up your daily walks? Here are some things to try:

  • Walk the entire length of your street and back every day. See what changes from day to day. 
  • Make your own scavenger hunt. Find red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple doors. The next day plan a route to find them in rainbow order. 
  • Do the every street challenge in your neighborhood. Tape a paper map by your front door and keep a highlighter next to it. Plan your route and trace it when you get back.
  • Have a quiet early morning walk and try to find as many different bird species as you can. Take a sunset walk and do the same. Compare. 

Other ideas? Email Zervaswalks@gmail.com and we’ll add them to the list!