Principal’s Letter

Dear Zervas families,
Each year we try to arrange for each grade to take part in at least one social action project that involves students in a significant yet age appropriate way.  Before Thanksgiving our first graders became involved with the Birthday Wishes program, whose goal is to provide children living in shelters all of the pieces of a great birthday party.   Our first grade students put together 4 birthday boxes, jammed with everything you needed to make a cake and set a table for a wonderful birthday party, and created over 100 goodie bags, filled with toys and attractive items, to pass out to the guests at a birthday party.  On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I was able to watch our first graders putting together the goodie bags, and helped them create colorful birthday cards to send with the packages. We hope that there will be social service project at each grade throughout the year that will help our students become aware of the ways they can make a significant contribution to their local and global community. 
These grade level projects are in addition to the ongoing school-wide social action efforts that take place throughout the year.  We are currently collecting gently used coats for children and adults as part of the Coats for Kids Program.  You can put your donated coats n the specially marked basket in the front hallway at Zervas.
Next week is Inclusive Schools Week.  Inclusive Schools Week celebrates the progress that schools have made all over the country in providing appropriate educational and social experiences for all students, no matter their background or ability level. Inclusive Schools Week puts a particular spotlight on programs that provide support to students with disabilities in our schools. The educational experience of every child is enriched by attending school with a diverse group of peers.  We will be highlighting the inclusiveness of Zervas next week in classroom discussions, through reading aloud books with themes of inclusiveness and diversity, and through some special programs organized by the Understanding Differences program which takes place in grades 3 through 5 throughout the year.   Some of the most important educational experiences taking place at Zervas arise from the social interactions that take place naturally in our school on a day to day basis.
Every other year schools across the country take part in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.  In this assessment, a large number of schools from every state are chosen randomly and students in grades 4 and 8 are given the same math and reading assessment throughout the country.  Zervas was the only elementary school in Newton chosen to take part, and last year our fourth graders spent one morning taking the tests.  No individual scores were shared with the school or families, but our results were combined with scores from the other students in Massachusetts who took the test, and these state wide results were published, with state by state comparisons.  For the fourth test in a row, Massachusetts fourth graders (and eighth graders) came in first place in the nation in both reading and math.  We are proud that our students could contribute to the strong performance of students from Massachusetts.
The two new modulars are still on schedule for a January occupancy.  The contractors have completed the base work, and the modulars themselves will be delivered in the next couple of weeks.  You will also notice some construction on our library walls soon.  Some of the outside wall boards and some of the floor boards have started to rot, and will be replaced in the next month.  Most of the construction will be taking place on the outside, and will not affect our library classes too much.  However, at some point construction will move inside, which will probably result in library classes moving into the regular classrooms for that period. However, the books in the library should always remain accessible to students, so students will be able to take out books while the construction is continuing.
I thank you all for the overwhelming number of notes, emails, and kind words I have received about my impending retirement.  Your words of support and well wishes have been most appreciated.  David Fleishman will meet with all interested Zervas parents on Tuesday night, December 13, at 7:30 in the gym, to inform you of the principal search procedure and to learn from you what attributes you would like to see in your next principal.  Please try to join him on that night.
I wish you a joyful upcoming holiday period.
Steve Griffin

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