Principal’s Letter: December 2013

December 3, 2013

Dear Zervas Families,

This week is National Inclusive Schools Week. This annual event celebrates the progress that schools have made in providing supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference, and other factors. In recognition of Inclusive Schools Week students at our school will be considering what makes them unique. Each student will complete a “hand” with his or her identifying unique quality and these 321 hands will be displayed around the school! What this project, along with others that teachers implement in their classes, highlights is that we all have unique needs and abilities and, as a community, we work together to support one another and understand each other. Our differences make us stronger and create a school environment that is rich with diversity, abilities and talents.

Lost and Found
Our lost and found is overflowing! Starting on Monday, December 9, items from the lost and found will be displayed on tables in the main hallway. Please have your child take a look through the items to see if any belong to him or her. After Friday, December 13, any unclaimed items will be donated.

School Committee Gift Policy
As we approach the holiday season, I realize that many families wish to express their gratitude to staff members. At this time, I want to remind you of the Newton School Committee’s policy regarding gifts. The policy states, “No teacher in performance of regular duties shall receive presents from pupils under his/her direction.” In addition, the Massachusetts Ethics Reform laws state “municipal employees may not accept gifts and gratuities valued at $50 or more” (per year). A group gift for a teacher/classroom where individuals contribute smaller amounts cannot exceed $150. Classroom supplies/contributions do not fall under this policy. I ask for your cooperation in adhering to this policy. Teachers feel awkward accepting gifts knowing that it is prohibited by the system, yet they also feel uncomfortable refusing a gift offered by a child or parent. This also creates a confusing situation for students that follow the policy and see teachers receiving gifts from other students. If you wish to express your gratitude to a staff member, cards or notes are greatly appreciated. We realize how much time and effort goes into writing a sincere note of thanks and appreciation, drawing a lovely picture, or writing a poem. Teachers truly treasure the pictures and notes they receive from families. Other alternatives include purchasing a book for the library or making a donation to the Newton Schools Foundation. Each of these can be dedicated to honor a special staff member.

Upcoming Dates
Thursday, December 5 – Early Release for all students at 12:30
Monday, December 23 through Wednesday, January 1 – Winter Recess
Monday, January 13- Principal Coffee at 8:35 a.m. in the Library
Friday, January 17 – Open Parent Meeting with Dr. David Fleischman, Superintendent of Newton Public Schools, at 8:30 a.m. in the Library.

I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year!

Diana Beck