From the Principal – December 5, 2017

I hope that all of you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.  We just passed Day 60, which means one third of the school year is behind us.  Busy holiday and vacation weeks are ahead of us, and I wish all of you a joyful ending to 2017.          

Although we have been enjoying warmer than average days, winter is forecast to catch up with us later this week.  Children need to be prepared for playing outside in snow and in colder weather.  They will need to have the 5 Snow Gear Essentials:  1. jacket  2. hat/hood  3. gloves  4. boots  5. snowpants   Please plan ahead with your children so that they are prepared for the cold weeks ahead!

Congratulations to our Librarian Stephanie Golas and her husband Brian on the birth of their daughter, Nora Friedland, who arrived Saturday, November 25th, at 10:18 p.m.!  We are pleased that Cheryl Kosmo will be with us as our substitute Librarian until Stephanie returns in April.  Cheryl was a Library Teacher and Instructional Technology Specialist for many years at Williams School and is highly respected in Newton.  Also, her children attended Peirce!  We are grateful that she can keep our Library program strong and consistent during Stephanie’s Maternity Leave.

Courageous Conversations about Race:  In his Welcome Letter to families in August (available on the NPS website), Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Fleishman wrote, “Now more than ever, we must be intentional about the work we have long been doing in support of racial justice, equity, and social and emotional learning. The work is imperative if we expect our graduates to be thoughtful and engaged citizens of an increasingly diverse, complex and connected world.”  At Peirce School, our professional team is taking this charge with great seriousness, and we are devoting all of our Early Release Days (excluding Parent-Teacher Conference Days) and a portion of each month’s staff meeting to learning how to have Courageous Conversations about Race.  We believe passionately that schools are a healing agent in a world that is too often characterized by divisiveness and brokenness and that the social/emotional curriculum is just as important as the academic curriculum.  We also believe that we are not able to fully do the work of social/emotional learning without engaging in honest discussion about issues of racial justice and equity.  A Peirce School leadership team has engaged in training with similar teams from other schools in our district, and this team is leading the school-based professional development work for the rest of our staff.  We see this professional learning as embedded within our school’s ongoing commitment to building a healthy school culture and fostering a community in which all students learn to be effective communicators and feel a strong sense of connectedness.  I look forward to sharing more about what we are learning, and I am eager to engage in dialogue about this important topic.

Traffic Reminder:  Many thanks to everyone for observing safe traffic behavior in our rear driveway and parking lot.  During the cold months, we see an increase in people driving students to school.  It is essential that students be dropped off only at the curb and that no one park or drop off students in the middle of the driveway.  We also request that parked cars be left on the street rather than in our lot, which is needed for staff members.  Please also avoid parking in the drop-off lane, which blocks parents from dropping off students safely.   We depend on all adults in the community to follow these rules so that we can keep students safe!

Community Building Project- Help Needed!  Inspired by the success of our school mural, our art teacher, Georgia Smith, is embarking on an all school community building project and is seeking the assistance of any parents with experience in the fields of architecture or city planning and/or a parent who would be interested in serving as a project assistant/liaison for an all school project.  If you are interested in learning more you can email her at [email protected].

Hour of Code:  Starting December 4th, students across the world will experience the Hour of Code.  The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching over 100 million students in over 180 countries.  During the Hour of Code, NPS students and teachers can choose from a variety of activities at their learning level. This is the fourth year that Newton Public Schools will participate.  More information about this exciting program is available at:

Newton Public Schools Gift Policy:  As we enter this season of holidays and vacations, we ask that families please be mindful of the Newton School Committee’s updated policy (May, 2015) stating, Newton Public Schools allows a group gift to an individual staff member only if the gift is identified as being from the entire class, the identity of the givers and the individual amounts are not disclosed to the recipient, and the gift does not exceed $150 per school year. This differs from a gift for the classroom.  Individual gifts of appreciation in the form of sentimental tokens are allowed. Gifts of commercial value are not permitted. NPS allows and encourages giving to charitable organizations such as school PTO’s or the Newton Schools Foundation’s Honor Thy Teacher Program, which honors staff while supporting our schools.”

School Council:   Our School Council, an Advisory Group comprised of parent, staff, and community volunteers, will meet at 7:45 a.m. on the following dates:  December 12th, January 16th, March 6th, April 3rd, and May 8th.  All meetings are held in the school library and are open to the public.

Important Reminder:  If your child will be absent from school for any reason, please call the Student Absence Line at 617-559-9650 before 8:00.  Please do this even if you have also sent an email to your child’s teacher.

PTO/Principal Coffee Dates:  You are invited to join the principal and PTO Presidents for coffee on Friday, January 12th, at 8:35 a.m. in the Art Room.  Future coffees will be held in the Art Room (8:35-9:15 a.m.) on February 9th, March 16th, and May 11th.   Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Fleishman and members of the Newton School Committee will be present on February 9th as a part of their annual tour of Newton schools.

Early Release Dates: Please note that the following Wednesdays and Thursdays will have dismissal at 12:30 for the purpose of professional development and conferences: December 7th, February 7th, March 8th, and May 3rd.

Winter Concert Date:  Please mark your calendars for the Fifth Grade Band/Strings/Chorus Winter Concert.  The concert will be held on January 23rd  (snow date: January 30th).   There will be 10:00 a.m. (for students and staff only) and 7:00 p.m. (for families) performances.

Spring Concert Date:  Please mark your calendars for the Fourth and Fifth Grade Band/Strings/Chorus Spring Concerts.  The Fourth Grade concert will be held on May 22nd. The Fifth Grade concert will be held on May 29th.   There will be 10:00 a.m. (for students and staff only) and 7:00 p.m. (for families) performances.

CAPP Program Meeting:  Parents of students in Grades K, 2, and 5 are invited to an informational meeting about the Child Assault Prevention Program, which is brought to Newton Elementary Schools by volunteers working with Family Access of Newton.  The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 4th, 8:45-9:45 a.m. in the Peirce School Library.

Happy Hanukkah to all of our families who are celebrating next week!  It is certainly a busy and exciting time of year, and I hope that there is joy and peace for all in this season.