Principal’s Letter

Dear Zervas Families,

Welcome back!  I hope you all had a restful and enjoyable winter vacation. 

Now that we are in the depths of winter, we are now dealing with winter weather.  Please be sure that your children are dressed for the cold weather.  We go outside for recess (and wait outside before the 8:20 am bell rings) as long as the temperature (or wind chill) is above 20 degrees.  Hats and gloves are essential as well.  (We often provide opportunities for students to go out when it is below 20 degrees as well, but this is optional for students.) And we definitely spend time outside in the snow.  Our students can spend long periods of time playing productively and cooperatively in the snow, making snow forts and snow people.  Throwing snowballs is forbidden on Zervas grounds, even before and after school.  We ask all adults to remind students of this rule.  In order to play in the snow, students must wear snow pants and boots to play outside, and definitely need hats and gloves to protect themselves from the cold.  Proper attire during recess makes for warm and comfortable learners when recess is over.

At the end of the month we will be sending home mid-year progress reports for all of our students.  Progress reports are sent home twice each year, at the mid-point and end of the school year.  The progress report is designed to describe your child’s performance in relation to Newton’s mid-year expectations for each grade level.  Specific skills, strategies, and knowledge in each of the major content areas for a specific grade level are listed on the report.  Teachers then assess whether your child has made the expected progress in that area.  Each student’s achievement is rated according to his or her individual performance as compared to the expected standard.  If a student is meeting grade level expectations for this time of year, a student will receive a rating of 3 on that standard. If a student is not at grade level in that particular area, the rating will be 1 or 2, depending upon the student’s level of performance.  There is also a possible rating of 4, for achievement that is significantly above grade level for that area.  Since the use of 4 is reserved for students whose achievement is well above grade level, 4’s will be rare. Progress reports will also include a teacher’s written narrative coming at the end of the report.  Teacher narratives will include comments about social development and work habits as well as the general academic performance of each child.

Progress reports are intended to be just one of the ways that we communicate with you about your child’s academic and social progress in school.  The second round of conferences with your child’s teacher will be scheduled in March and April, so that you will have the opportunity to discuss your child’s continued progress at that time.  There will then be a final progress report for the year sent home in June. 

Thanks to all who have contributed to the ZEST technology drive.  Over the winter break two more interactive smart boards were installed in our fifth grade classrooms.  We would like to thank the Newton Schools Foundation for providing the funds for these smart boards.

This week we welcomed back Rachael Simkins, our art teacher, who has returned from her maternity leave.  Her son, Andrew Finn Makela, was born in September.  Racheal is happy to be back, but she does miss Andrew Finn a lot.  Also, Melissa Hubbard, our school nurse, had her second child this past summer.  She has now officially decided not to come back and will stay home caring for her children.  Jane Quinn had been substituting for Melissa during the fall semester.   We are very fortunate to have now filled the position permanently with Ann Garvin.  Ann has been a registered nurse for 32 years, spending the past five years serving as the school nurse at Franklin Elementary School in Newton.  Before that she worked in pediatric oncology, psychiatric nursing, and dialysis nursing.  She has lived in Newton for 21 years with her husband, two children, and two dogs.  Since 2005 she has co-owned the Image Theater Company in Lowell which produces original plays by local playwrights. Ann produces, directs and occasionally appears on stage.  As you can see, Ann will add a lot to Zervas, both professionally and personally.  

Remember to put classroom clean-up day. Saturday, January 22, on your calendars!  See you there!

Steve Griffin