Category Archives: From Newton Public Schools

News from Newton Public Schools

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

Letter from the Superintendent

February 28, 2017

Dear Newton Community:

Over the past few days and weeks, I have received questions from community members about how recent federal actions on immigration and transgender guidelines impact our school community. These messages have expressed anxiety and uncertainty, as well as a desire to know where the Newton Public Schools stands in light of these events.

Regardless of federal actions, the Newton Public Schools strongly reaffirms our commitment to create welcoming, supportive, and safe school communities for all students and staff, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or immigration status.

Last week, the Newton City Council voted to become a “Welcoming City,” a city that protects all residents, regardless of legal status. In the same spirit, the Newton Public Schools welcomes all students, no matter where they were born or how they arrived in Newton.

As I visit our schools, I find students from all over the world who are learning and thriving in our classrooms. It is this diversity that gives all of our students such a rich and powerful student experience. The global community in our schools is preparing our students to thrive and succeed in a global world.

Diversity is not solely defined by race or ethnicity; it is multi-faceted, affording us the opportunity to teach acceptance, appreciation, and respect for each and every individual. To this end, I am proud of the real progress we have made in creating welcoming and safe spaces for our transgender students at all levels. Just recently, I had the privilege of listening to a transgender student speak about his experience. It was gratifying to hear about the comfort and acceptance he feels among his peers and within his school community. This reflects the commitment of our staff, our students, and our families.

We are fortunate in Massachusetts to be backed by state statute that ensures protections for all students and prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Our NPS non-discrimination policy also specifies the rights and protections for gender identity and we have created the appropriate spaces in schools so that transgender students feel safe and comfortable.

We will continue to work hard every day to create school communities in which all students and adults feel safe and supported. Thank you for your partnership and for your ongoing support.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools

Letter from the Superintendent

Dear Newton Community,

Over the past few years, the Newton Public Schools have undertaken the important work of addressing issues of race, bias, and culture. We have a number of exciting initiatives underway for both staff and students. Recent events in our community and across the country have made this work more important than ever.

Earlier this year, I was approached by a group of parents interested in learning more about how we extend the work we are doing in the classrooms to the home and to the larger Newton community. To that end, I am pleased to invite you to a community forum: “Talking to Children about Race: Why and How?” to be held on Wednesday, March 22 nd at 7:00 p.m. at Angier School (1697 Beacon St.).

The session, led by Horace Mann Elementary teacher Mike Feldstein and METCO director Maricel Sheets, is designed for a K-5 parent audience and will:

  • Allow reflection of your own experiences around issues of race and racism
  • Demonstrate the importance of early conversations with children on race
  • Provide “how-to” help for guiding children and answering challenging questions
  • Highlight resources available to help parents and families navigate the issues

As one who has participated in Mike and Maricel’s workshops, I can tell you that they are lively, engaging and meaningful. Our country is becoming more diverse and we are fortunate that many of our students are exposed to differences at a young age. As a school district, we must continue to help our students develop positive racial identities and attitudes so that they can comfortably and productively navigate in all settings. There is no greater gift we can give our children than ensuring that they are prepared to be active, engaged, and respectful citizens of our diverse world.

An RSVP is not required, but it will help us plan for materials and activities. Please RSVP here: https://goo.gl/forms/eDB56M2MEcUz7aUX2

I hope to see you on Wednesday, March 22nd .

Sincerely,
David Fleishman

School Calendar

The 2017-18 calendar is now available.

Your generosity can make a difference

Your generosity can make a difference for thousands of Newton students. Donations from generous Newton businesses and individuals like you are enabling Newton Schools Foundation to fund a vast array of new and enhanced educational opportunities for our kids! Thanks to your support:

  • 1,760 elementary school students have deepened their writing skills led by teachers trained by the NSF-funded Summer Writing Institute; this year middle school students are receiving similarly enhanced writing instruction.
  • 780 tweens and teens have broader access to social and emotional supports through NSF-funded middle school advisory programs.
  • 36 high school sophomores and juniors are taking exciting new interdisciplinary courses in STEAM through the DaVinci Program at Newton South, which was piloted last year and will continue to roll out to include seniors. At Newton North, 20 students/year are enrolled in an interdisciplinary Science and Society elective.
  • More low-income students and students of color are achieving in advanced mathematics as 110 middle and high school students participate in the Calculus Project. An additional 30 rising seventh graders will enroll this summer.

Without your support, these programs—and many others funded by Newton Schools Foundation—would not be possible. Your partnership with Newton Schools Foundation will continue the good work of the Newton Public Schools to pilot and launch initiatives that promote academic achievement, social/emotional wellness and equity for Newton students across all grades in our 21 elementary, middle and high schools.

Please consider Newton Schools Foundation in your decisions about charitable giving this year. Donate today!