The latest announcements from the PTO Council and NPS...

Letter from the Superintendent

October 23, 2017

Dear NPS Community,

Please save the date for a special superintendent’s forum entitled: “Living in a Smartphone World: What does it mean for students, families, and educators?”

Inspired by the Atlantic Monthly piece entitled Have smartphones destroyed a generation? the forum will provide information and resources on the impact of technology and social media, as well as the opportunity to discuss the role of educators and families in navigating this space.

Forum details are as follows:

When: Wednesday, December 6th
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Newton South Auditorium
The panel discussion will be hosted by Boston Globe writer Beth Teitell and include both Newton educators and experts from outside the district.

Please RSVP here: Community Forum.

I hope to see you there.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent

Superintendent’s Welcome to 2017-18 School

August 30, 2017

Dear Families,

I hope you have enjoyed the summer. It is a great pleasure to welcome both our returning families and those new to our schools.

We begin this school year in the wake of the stunning events in Charlottesville. The display of hate was incomprehensible as it stands in stark contrast to the values of the Newton Public Schools. As a system, we reject hate, prejudice and discrimination. Creating a school community that is welcoming and supportive for all students, no matter their race, background, or identity, is at the core of our mission.

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. This year, we will expand our professional work with faculty and staff on Courageous Conversations on Race. We will also continue our partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and explore new opportunities for students to lead their peers in addressing issues of bias and discrimination.

It is essential that we work with families in order to ensure that our students respect one another’s differences and stand up when they see injustice and discrimination. Last year, we held a very successful parent workshop on how to talk to children about race. This year, we plan to expand our efforts at the school level to provide families with tools and information to engage in conversations about race, culture, and identity.

As we focus on the learning happening inside our schools and classrooms, we are also excited for the improvement to the physical buildings in our district. The new Zervas School will open on the first day of school, welcoming faculty, staff, and students to a dynamic new learning environment. With Angier and Zervas now complete, we turn our attention to the renovation of Cabot School. Construction has begun with Cabot students now in our Carr swing space. We will continue work on our long-range facilities plan to improve school buildings for our students and staff.

One of the most important parts of my job is to be in our schools on a regular basis working with staff and students. Together with School Committee members, and working closely with our PTOs, I will again visit each of our 22 schools to speak with you about district initiatives and listen to your ideas, questions, and concerns. This year, we will continue to explore the very best ways to share information and include all families in our district conversations. Our partnership with you and the larger Newton community is critical to our success.

Please accept my best wishes for a wonderful school year.

Sincerely,
David Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools

State Legislators meet with PTO Council

PTO Council had a very informative meeting with our state delegation at our May meeting. Thank you so much Ruth B. Balser, Kay Khan and Cynthia S. Creem for taking your time to join us and for your hard work at the statehouse.

Newton is lucky to have you represent us!

Letter from the Superintendent

Dear Newton Families:

Addressing the social and emotional needs of our students is an important system goal. It is essential that we work in partnership with families on important issues that impact our students. I am writing because we have become aware that many of our students are watching and discussing a new Netflix series entitled 13 Reasons Why, the content of which is challenging and difficult.

The series is based on a young adult novel by Jay Asher originally published in 2011. The story focuses on a high school student who dies by suicide, leaving behind 13 tapes detailing why she took her own life. The Netflix series contains graphic scenes of suicide and sexual assault/rape. It also addresses issues of cyber-bullying, alcoholism, and depression.

As a community that has felt the tragic impact of youth suicide, we are particularly concerned about the content of this series. These issues are extraordinarily challenging and may be difficult for some students to process in a healthy and appropriate way. We want to ensure that families are not only aware of the show, but are equipped with resources to help them address these issues with their children.

As a family, we encourage you to:

  • Check in with your child to find out if they have watched the show or what they might know about it.
  • If they want to see the show, watch it with them or preview it for them. You are the best person to determine if your child is prepared to handle the content.
  • If they have already watched it, take the opportunity to open a dialogue about the important yet difficult issues portrayed in the story.

The following resources provide important guidance on the issues addressed in the show, as well as talking points for having a meaningful conversation with your child.

National Association of School Psychologists (Background)
https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators

Jed Foundation (Issues raised)
https://www.jedfoundation.org/13-reasons-jed-point-view/

Jed Foundation/Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (Talking Points)
https://www.save.org/13-reasons-why/

Riverside Trauma Center – PDF (Guiding Questions)

We know these issues are challenging and I hope this information is helpful. If you have any concerns, please reach out to your child’s school counselor directly.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools

Donor Will Match $25,000 for Calculus Project in March!

The Newton Schools Foundation is honored for the second consecutive year to have a very generous donor who will match up to $25,000 in contributions from the community to the Calculus Project during the month of March.

Double your impact and donate today: www.newtonschoolsfoundation.org

The Calculus Project has been transformational for Newton students.  Since its 2013 launch, enrollment growth in high-level mathematics among traditionally underrepresented student groups is significant:

• Hispanic student enrollment has increased 70 percent.
• African-American student enrollment has tripled.
• Low-income student enrollment has increased nine-fold!

Here’s how the program works: Calculus Project students attend intensive small-group
summer classes to preview upcoming curriculum, boost their math skills, foster attitudes
that support academic risk-taking and perseverance, and cultivate relationships among
peers in the program. During the school year, students receive mentoring and after-school
academic support. The program also uses lessons and activities designed to improve self-
perceptions about academic accomplishment.

Your support this year will help deepen and extend the Calculus Project’s reach.
Currently serving 109 students in grades 7-10, the program will welcome a new cohort of
30 incoming 7th graders this summer. If we successfully complete this match challenge,
the resulting $50,000 will support nearly half of the students in the Calculus Program for
this coming year—including the entire new 7th grade cohort.

At a cost of $1,000 per student for a full year of programming, the Calculus Project’s
success depends on a public-private partnership between the Newton Public Schools,
private foundations and corporate donors, and generous individuals like you.
Please help us meet the donor match challenge. Please Donate today!

www.newtonschoolsfoundation.org