I hope that you are having a great Labor Day weekend. I would like to welcome you back to the Reading Public Schools for the 2011-12 school year. I am pleased to announce that we had a very smooth opening on Wednesday and Thursday. Thank you for helping your children transition back to school after the summer break.
As always, the start of the school year brings excitement and hope for our students. We are committed to doing everything we can to assure that the school year goes smoothly for your child. If your child is having any transition issues back to school, please make sure that you contact your child’s teacher, building principal, school psychologist, or guidance counselor. The research has shown that the first two weeks of school can be critical to a child’s success for the entire school year.
I would like to take this opportunity to update you on some of the things that have been happening in the Reading Public Schools this summer.
Office of Learning and Teaching-I am excited to announce that we have created the Office of Learning and Teaching, which is located on Main Street at Reading Memorial High School, where the former district special education office was located. This office will be the home of the Assistant Superintendent, the Director of Student Services, and our Behavioral Health Coordinator with a focus on integrating student services and curriculum and instructional practices to support all students. This change will result in increased collaboration, more discussion, and a greater emphasis on providing support for all students to be successful.
Professional Development-Several of our staff were involved in summer work that will enhance and improve our schools. The Teaching of American History Grant, Common Core of Learning, Anti-bullying initiative, Moodle, iPads and Elementary Standards Based Report Cards are just some of the topics that were worked on this summer by Reading Public School staff. In addition, a group of 30 teachers, administrators, parents, and community members have been participating in a Behavioral Health Task Force, which has developed a series of recommendations for our district and our community on how to improve the social and emotional welfare of all of our students. In addition, I am also pleased to report that we have been accepted as an early adopter district for the new Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Educator Evaluation system. By being an early adopter, we will be able to use our current Teacher Evaluation System (Called TAP) and administrator evaluation system to influence and shape decisions to be made by the DESE regarding teacher and administrator evaluations. In an upcoming post, I will explain more about the new teacher and administrator evaluation system.
Students-We had many students in our schools this summer involved in a variety of programs. Our schools were busy with students from the Reading Enrichment Academy, school based summer programs, Five Star Theater Camp, Club Invention, Reading Recreation Camps, Rocket Camp Extended Year Programs and student orientation programs. These opportunities expand learning for our students outside of the school year and provide them with an opportunity to pursue talents and interests that they may not normally have during the school year.
School Maintenance Projects-We have had many school maintenance projects going on this summer, most notably, the Killam Roof project, which should be completed by the end of this week. This fall, the Birch Meadow Elementary School will be undergoing window replacement, which should be completed by December. Both of these projects are made possibly through the state funded Green Repairs Grant program and the efforts of Director of Finance and Operations Mary DeLai and Director of Facilities, Joe Huggins.
Dedications-During the next few months, we will be having some dedications of different parts of of schools to remember educators and individuals. On September 11th at 10:00 a.m., we will be dedicating a 9/11 Memorial in front of Reading Memorial High School for all of those individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, including Kevin McCarthy, a graduate of Reading Memorial High School. In a few months, we will be renaming the RMHS Library Media Center the Patrick A. Schettini, Jr. Library Media Center. If you come to the library, you will notice that the lettering has already been installed above the library doors. We will also be dedicating the football field after John Hollingsworth, who was a football coach, athletic director, and math teacher in the 1960’s and 70’s. Finally, we will be naming the Wrestling room after Tom Darrin, a Reading educator and coach who retired two years ago.
Joshua Eaton Playground Dedication-Due to the efforts of the Joshua Eaton Playground Committee and the Reading Recreation Department, a brand new playground will be dedicated this Wednesday, September 7th, at 5:00 p.m. at Joshua Eaton. This dedication is in conjunction with the Back to School picnic.
As you can see, we have had a busy, but productive summer in the Reading Public Schools. In future posts, I will be discussing the work that the Behavioral Health Task Force did this summer, the recommendations that are being discussed, and how this work will help support the behavioral health of all students.