August 30, 2017
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.
Superintendent of Schools