Category Archives: From the Principal

Reminder: Curriculum Night is Wednesday

Wednesday is Curriculum Night

Join us on September 25th to hear from your children’s teachers about the year ahead.  In addition to the classroom presentation, there will be time set aside for parents to visit with our Specialist (Art, Music, PE and Library) to hear about their programs, as well as meet members of our Special Education Team.  Specialists will be in their respective rooms and Special Education teachers will be in the Library. Please make sure you come early or stay later to meet these teachers.

The schedule for this evening is as follows:

6:30-7:15 – Parents of students in Kindergarten to Grade 2 meet in their child’s classroom
6:55-7:15 – Specialists and Special Education Teachers are available for visits with parents of students in grades 3-5
7:15-7:45 – All school community meeting in the cafetorium with the Principal, Asst. Principal, and PTO Presidents
7:45-8:30 – Parents of students in Grades 3-5 meet in their child’s classroom
7:45-8:10 – Specialist and Special Education Teachers are available for visits from parents of students in Kindergarten-grade 2

This is a parent/guardian only event, so please make arrangements for your child(ren) to stay home. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Principal’s Newsletter – June 2015

June 5, 2015

Dear Zervas Families,

It is hard to believe that the end of the year is upon us in just a couple of weeks! Students and teachers are busy with many different activities and projects.   These last few weeks are filled with picnics, class trips, concerts, curriculum shares, and other opportunities that allow us to reflect back on all the year has brought. We have much to be excited about and to celebrate here at Zervas School!

Zervas Parent Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast and PTO Board Meeting: You’re invited to the 3rd Annual Zervas Parent Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast. This event will take place on Friday, June 12, 8:30-9:00 am in the gym. Hosted by the Zervas teachers, this tradition allows us to show our appreciation to all the volunteers who have supported our school this year. Please feel free to stop by, even for just a few minutes!

The General PTO Meeting will follow the Volunteer Appreciation Coffee and will be held 9:00-9:30 am in the gym. At this meeting, PTO Board Members for the 2015-2016 school year will be nominated and elected. We hope to see you there!

Honor Thy Teacher: As the school year comes to an end, you may be looking for a way to thank teachers and staff who have made a positive impact on your children this year.  Please consider making a donation to Newton Schools Foundation’s Honor Thy Teacher Campaign in their honor. You may also choose to honor a special education aide, a fine arts or music teacher, or a coach or counselor who has touched your child’s life. NSF started this campaign 18 years ago to enable parents to thank teachers while observing the limits on the types and amounts of gifts that teachers may receive.

NSF celebrates Newton Public Schools teachers and staff by:

  • Notifying honored teachers and staff of your gift
  • Sharing honoree names with the Superintendent and Principals.
  • Listing all honored teachers and staff in the Newton TAB

Newton Schools Foundation (NSF) is a vital catalyst of community support for the Newton Public Schools. NSF works closely with school leadership to support new educational programs and professional development for educators with funding that’s not available within the confines of the school budget. This year, NSF funding is enabling Newton schools to launch and expand numerous innovative programs and initiatives, including these ventures at the elementary school level:

The K-5 Summer Writing Institute: Elementary schools teachers participated in a writing institute that prepared them to teach a key writing skills unit.

     Responsive Classroom Training: The Responsive Classroom approach is a nationally used, research-and evidence-based way of teaching that improves students’ social and academic skills and raises teachers’ instructional quality.

Our teachers and staff look forward to the letters they receive from NSF. This is a great way to recognize the important work our schools are doing for your children.   Suggested donation is $25 per teacher/staff member.  You can make your donation by clicking here, calling 617-559-6120 or mailing your donation to Newton Schools Foundation, 246 Dudley Road, Newton, MA 02459. Please also email the names of the teachers and/or staff members you are honoring to All donations are tax deductible.

Step Up Day: On Tuesday, June 23, students in grades K-4 will take part in “Step Up Day”.  Students will have a chance to visit the next grade level and meet the next year’s teaching team.  We realize the level of uncertainty that can go along with making the transition to another grade level and hope that this is reduced after meeting teachers from the next grade.  The teachers will share some highlights for the coming year that children can look forward to and will answer some of their questions.

Kindergarten Class Configurations for 15-16 School Year: As I wrote in my last newsletter, our incoming Kindergarten numbers are fluid and lower than anticipated. At this point in time, we are watching our numbers closely to determine if our enrollment warrants 2 or 3 Kindergarten sections, or something in between. As our numbers rise, we may be in a situation where we need to consider forming a Kindergarten and First Grade combined classroom: a K/1 class. This class would consist of an equal number of students in both grades and is taught by one teacher who works to differentiate the curriculum and meet the needs of the students. K/1 classrooms have been created across the system and can be very successful in meeting the challenges of fluctuating enrollment. I taught a K/1 class for three years while at the Williams School and have very fond memories of those years! If you would like to hear more about the structure and routines of a K/1 class, I will be holding an informational meeting for parents of our incoming Kindergarten students as well as those currently in Kindergarten on Tuesday, June 16 at 8:00-8:30 AM.  Please note, that no decisions have been made yet, we are just preparing for all scenarios as we go into the summer months.

Alternate 2015-2016 School Calendar: As you may know, the School Committee recently voted on an alternate 2015-2016 school calendar for students attending Angier and Zervas. This is to accommodate for the moves to and from the Carr School over the December-January break. The calendar indicates several changes:

Columbus Day – School will be in session (to make up for Jan. 4)

Monday, Dec 21-Wednesday, Dec 23: Noon dismissal for all students

Monday, Jan 4 and Tuesday, Jan 5: No school for students

There will be an additional half-day of school after the regularly scheduled                           last day of school (to make up for Jan 5)

A copy of the complete calendar is available on our school website.

Planning for Alternate 2015-2016 School Calendar: While the alternate 2015-2016 School Calendar allows time for staff to pack, move and unpack our school, we realize that it may create challenges for working parents who do not have other options for their children during the released times. In partnership with ZASP, we are pleased to be able to offer childcare for all students who may require it on the December Half Days or the January No School Days. Mike Shuley and I are in the planning stages for these days and look forward to being able to provide meaningful, exciting programming for students during the missed school hours at no cost to families. To help us gauge the number of students that may need to attend ZASP during these times, we ask that you complete this short survey. This is not binding and there will be ample additional opportunities to learn about and sign up for ZASP in the fall. This information will help us determine the possible space and staffing needs for these days. Thank you!

Upcoming/Important Dates:

Friday, June 12th – Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast and PTO General Meeting Monday, June 22nd – Progress Reports are open

Tuesday, June 23rd – Step Up Day for students in K-4

Wednesday, June 24th – Last Day of School – 12:00 Dismissal

Tuesday, June 30th – Friday, August 21st – Main Office is closed for summer (phone             messages are checked periodically)

Monday, August 24th – Main Office re-opens for 2015-2016 school year

Friday, August 28th – Class Placement information is emailed home to families

Thursday, September 3rd – Classroom Open House – 1:30-2:30

Tuesday, September 8th – First Day of School!

Many, Many Thanks! This year cannot end without heartfelt thanks to Amy Waksler and Lori Berkowitz who have worked closely with me this year as the PTO Co-Presidents.  It has been my pleasure and privilege to have the opportunity to work with them in this capacity.  They have committed countless hours to ensure that the Zervas School experience is an exceptional one for all of our children.  I would like to recognize this year’s PTO Board Members who are stepping down and those newly elected to serve for the coming year.  There are also many 5th grade parents for whom this is their last year at Zervas. I thank each of them for their many years of support and engagement in our community. We wish them well as they move on to Oak Hill and beyond.

I wish each and every member of the Zervas School Community a restful summer.  I hope that you are able to find moments to spend some quality time with family and friends.




Principal’s Newsletter May 2015

Dear Zervas Families,

It is so wonderful to finally have the beautiful spring weather with us as I write this newsletter! This is always an exciting time of year in school; students are deep in their learning with engaging projects and activities; while at the same time we are starting to plan for next year.   There are many exciting projects and activities taking place these days.

Planning for Next Year

With the Superintendent’s budget recently passed, we can start our planning for next year. We are pleased that there will be no significant cuts to the elementary budget and that we will be able to maintain our class sizes and programs. However, at this time, our incoming Kindergarten enrollment is lower than had been anticipated, so our planning for this grade level remains fluid. We believe that we will have 2 or 3 Kindergarten classes, 3 First Grades, 3 Second Grades, 3 Third Grades, 2 Fourth Grades, and 3 Fifth Grades, one of which will be a co-taught class, for the 2015-2016 school year. We anticipate having the following teachers returning next year:


  1. Karen Joe-Yen
  2. Julia Torres
  3. Harriet Hurworth

First Grade

  1. Lisa McLellan
  2. Maggie Williamson
  3. Beth Bernier

Second Grade

  1. Jen Gorman
  2. Kelly Fater/Kate Gacicia (job share)
  3. TBD

Third Grade

  1. Kathleen Eakin
  2. Alicia Arkin
  3. Chris O’Rourke

Fourth Grade

  1. Sam Bergquist
  2. Judd West

Fifth Grade

  1. Rebecca Deeks/Paula Hayward (job share) with Julie Riley (co-taught)
  2. Mike Stern
  3. Evan Raney

If our enrollment does not necessitate 3 Kindergarten classes, a Kindergarten teacher will move to First Grade, a First Grade teacher will move to Second Grade and we would not hire a new Second Grade teacher. We hope to have more certainty before the end of the school year, but there are years when enrollment continues to fluctuate over the summer. I will keep you informed as we learn more about this.

School Climate Survey

Thank you to those who completed our School Climate Survey. Over 100 families participated and provided us with valuable feedback and ideas about what makes our school unique.   In addition, students have completed a child-friendly school climate survey in class. As a School Council, we have met twice to review the results of these surveys and have worked with an outside consulting firm to code and summarize the data. In the next few weeks, we will be communicating the patterns and themes that emerged from the data as well as share possible next steps. This will be an agenda topic at the next Principal Coffee on Friday, May 15 at 8:30.

3rd Annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast

Mark your calendars! We will be holding our Annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast for parent volunteers on Friday, June 12th at 8:35-9:00 in the gym. Hosted by the Zervas staff, this event allows us to show our appreciation to all the volunteers who have supported our school this year. Please feel free to stop by, even for just a few minutes!

Important Dates:

Week of May 4 – ELA and Math PARCC testing for students in grades 3-5

Thursday, May 7 – Early Release Day – 12:30 dismissal

May 13 & 14 – Science MCAS for students in grade 5

Friday, May 15 – Principal Coffee – 8:30-9:15 am in the Library

Saturday, May 16 – Zervas School Fair

Monday, May 25 – Memorial Day – No School

Friday, May 29 – Fifth Grade Musical – School House Rock

Wishing you all a wonderful spring!


Principal’s Coffee

You are invited to the Principal Coffee
Friday, October 17

8:30-9:30 a.m. in the Gym

Dr. Beck will discuss and facilitate an exercise that will have parents weigh in on the questions and issues pertaining to the transition of our school community from Zervas to Carr and back again! Chris Neal and Anne Snelling-Lee, Zervas parents and Community Representatives on the Zervas School Building Committee, and Steve Siegel, former Zervas parent and School Committee Member on the Zervas School Building Committee, will join the Coffee.

We hope to see you there!

Zervas School Curriculum Night: Tuesday, September 16

You are invited to attend

Zervas School Curriculum Night

Tuesday, September 16

6:30-8:30 pm

Meet in your child’s class to hear from your child’s teacher and learn about the year ahead.  In addition, everyone is welcome to attend an All School Community meeting in the gym to review our school-wide initiatives and learn about upcoming PTO events.  The schedule for this evening is as follows:

6:30-7:15 – Parents of students in Grades Three to Five meet in their child’s classrooms

7:15-7:45 – All school community meeting in the gym

7:45-8:30 – Parents of students in Kindergarten to Grade Two meet in their child’s classrooms

This event is for parents/guardians only.  We look forward to seeing you all there.

Diana Beck,


Principal’s Letter: April 2014

Dear Zervas Families,

Happy April!  We are all looking forward to the increasingly warmer weather and the hopes of spring.  Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Zervas School Auction.  What a wonderful event this was!  I was so impressed with the high level of community engagement, (spirit of fun!) and support that this event showcased.  I know that it took many, many hours of work to make this happen and I would like to thank each and every one of you who organized, volunteered at and participated in the Auction.  We truly appreciate your support!

Zervas High Five Value of the Month: Work Hard

This month, our students have been focusing on the 4th of the Zervas High 5 Values: Work Hard.  Students have been discussing what this value means, what it looks like in the classroom, and how we can practice it throughout our day.  At March’s Z-Town Meeting, the First Graders presented to the school what this value means to them.  They did a great job!  In May and June, we will focus on our last High 5 Value: Aim High!

Zervas School Building Project Update

The Zervas School Building Committee (ZSBC) and Design Review Committee (DRC) met on April 3, 2014 to review and evaluate feasibility site options on the Zervas site and an expanded site being explored by the City. These options were prepared by the Design Partnership of Cambridge, the project’s architects. The options include the existing site and an expanded site. The meeting was open to the public and flyers announcing the meeting were distributed to the parent community. The meeting was also televised live on NewTV. Members of the public attended the meeting and were invited to ask questions and to provide input on the site options. The public comments and the input from members of the School Building Committee and Design Review Committee yielded a variety of helpful questions and suggestions, in particular about the placement of the proposed building on the site, the need for a gathering space, and the best mix of parking, play and green space. The educational program is fully met in all the initial site options. In the next few weeks more work will be completed on the site options with the goal of having a preferred site option selected in May 2014. Plans are being made for updates to various committees and boards in the weeks ahead.  For more information, including materials such as the educational program, feasibility site options and selection matrix, please use the following link to access the project page:

Reminder about our Dog Policy

As the weather gets warmer, I would like to remind you about our dog policy.  Thank you for your cooperation with adhering to this important safety policy:

  • Dogs are not permitted on school grounds during the school day.  This refers to all grassy areas around the school as well as the pathways, playgrounds and parking lots surrounding the building.  It does not refer to the public sidewalks.
  • Dogs should not be left unattended.  Dog owners should remain with their dogs at all times.  Please do not tie up your dog along the soccer field fence or on a tree along the sidewalk.  This can cause a barrier for a child trying to walk along the sidewalk.
  • Keep the “T” area in front of the school clear of any dogs.  This is the area where the front door path and the sidewalk meet.  Keeping this area clear of dogs will allow those who need to enter or exit a safe area to do so.

Important Upcoming Dates

April 18 – Good Friday – No School

April 21-25 – Vacation

May 1 – Early Release – 12:30 dismissal for all students

May 5 and 6 – Grade 5 Math MCAS

May 7 – Walk to School Day

May 8 and 9 – Grade 4 Math MCAS

May 9 – Principal Coffee – 8:30-9:30 am

May 12 and 13 – Grade 5 Science MCAS

May 14 and 15 – Grade 3 MCAS

May 17 – Zervas Fair

May 21 – School Council meeting – 6:30-8:00 pm

May 26 – Memorial Day – No School


Enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

All my best,


Principal Coffee Reminder

On Friday, March 21, there will be a Principal Coffee in the Library at 8:30 a.m. The focus of the coffee will be to continue the conversation around the Zervas School Building Project. Parents are invited to attend to raise questions and to consider next steps. David Fleishman, Superintendent of Schools, Joe Russo, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, and Steve Siegel, School Committee Member, will also be in attendance. We hope you can join us!

MCAS Switch Days

Please remember the change in next week’s schedule due to the MCAS.  Tuesday March 18th will be a full day with dismissal at 3:00 pm and Wednesday March 19th will be a short day with dismissal at 12:30 pm.

Open Parent Forum on Zervas School Renovation Project

We invite Zervas parents to join us on Tuesday, March 11th for an open parent forum to discuss the preliminary plans for the renovation/expansion of the Zervas School.  The meeting will be held in Rm 9 at Zervas from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.  The Superintendent, members of the school department, school committee members, and members of the Zervas Building Committee will be at the meeting to review the preliminary plans.

School Council/Science MCAS Parent Evening

You are invited to join the Zervas School Council for a presentation by Diana Beck, Principal of Zervas School and Jenny Craddock, K-8 Science Coordinator, reviewing and discussing our K-5 science curriculum and recent MCAS Science scores.  This will take place on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 6:30-7:30 PM in the Zervas School Library.  We hope to see you there!