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News from the Superintendent

A Periodic Update from David Fleishman

The Newton Public Schools have a long history of supporting the Fine & Performing Arts. We are fortunate we have been able to maintain and expand our offerings in recent years. I wanted to take a moment to share with you the breadth and depth of our programs and to emphasize our ongoing commitment to arts education in the district.

I have always been so impressed with the work that goes on in the fine arts programs in our high schools. Our students, with guidance from a skilled and dedicated faculty, often take on complex and challenging contemporary societal issues on stage, in the visual arts, and in multiple other arenas. In my experience, what makes Newton particularly unique is our student-led productions at this level. Students have the opportunity to develop a production or exhibit from start to finish, providing a deeper and more profound learning experience. Our high school programs also provide students with the opportunity to compete, to travel and perform with other students across the country, and to learn from artists who make a living in the fine arts.

As with all of our curriculum areas, our fine arts program establishes building blocks in the early grades that then allow students to pursue program areas of most interest to them in the later grades. In elementary school, that means students have specialized instruction in music and art class, coupled with the opportunity to take lessons in a string or band instrument. In middle school, we have aligned our programs across all four schools so that students sample the fine arts through elective programming. They also may choose to augment their in-school experience with after school enrichment programs.

As a district, we will continue to support the programming and experiences in our fine arts department. I hope that you have the opportunity to enjoy some of the many shows, exhibits, and performances that take place in our schools and community throughout the year.

A Focus on Jazz

The Fine & Performing Arts Departments of Newton North and Newton South High Schools continue to thrive while exploring new paths of expansion and improvement. One area of growth is within the jazz programs. Both schools achieved superior ratings at the Berklee Jazz Festival and were ranked as top five in the nation. The Newton South Jazz Ensemble earned one of three coveted spots in the national 11th Annual Mingus High School Competition & Festival in New York. South was one of a dozen ensembles in total that performed in the competition over February vacation. In addition, through the Lilian Radlo Resident Artist Program, the Jazz-hers initiative has been implemented. Jazz-hers brings in a series of guest artists to show female leaders in roles typically held by males. Finally, students in the jazz program at North will take a trip to New Orleans this April to experience jazz in the home city of the world famous jazz festival.

Music is just one of the many opportunities for students to participate in the fine and performing arts at Newton North and Newton South. For more information on the programs offered at both schools, follow these links (North and South).

Middle School Theater and Music

Our middle schools are getting ready for a very busy spring with more than 350 students participating in theater productions across all four schools. Mary Poppins, Newsies, 42nd St. Jr., and Shrek the Musical have or will be performed over the next month. We are proud of the robust theater programs at each of our middle schools, which allow students to explore onstage performance as well as set, lighting, and costume design, among other technical theater aspects. This year, students at Bigelow are also taking on the challenge of writing, designing, and creating a show for their community. Many students across the district will also have the opportunity to perform at the upcoming Massachusetts Middle School Drama Festival. New opportunities, new challenges, and new areas of exploration are the ways in which our middle school drama programs stay strong and inspire students to continue to be involved into their high school years.

Elementary Integrated Arts Program

In our elementary schools, we begin our arts education program by providing students with a variety of different art experiences. Students participate in art and music classes weekly and also have the opportunity to try an instrument through our band and orchestra programs. Recently, Memorial Spaulding art teacher Alexandra Etscovitz was named the Massachusetts Elementary Arts Educator of the Year by the MA Arts Education Association. She was recognized for her work with fellow M-S educators in integrating the arts throughout the curriculum. You can read more about her work here. Because many of our teachers are always looking for new arts opportunities, our students often participate in unique art projects. For example, at Cabot this year, the Student Council participated in Snapshots of Joy, a program of the Finding One’s Voice foundation. You can see their photographs and learn more about the program here.

Congratulations Alexandra Etscovitz – Elementary Art Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Alexandra Etscovitz, just named the Elementary Art Teacher of the Year. Alexandra Etscovitz has been teaching at Memorial-Spaulding Elementary School for 15 years, the same school she once attended as a child…..

Read more about her and this prestigious award from the Massachusetts Art Education Association here: MAEA

The MAEA Board of Directors are looking forward to honoring and celebrating the 2019 MAEA Art Educators of the Year.

The awards ceremony has been scheduled for March 16th, 11:00 – 11:50 am in Meeting Room 310/Center at the Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street, Boston, MA. Registration for the NAEA Convention is NOT required to attend the MAEA Awards Ceremony which is open to the public.

School Committee Update

Dear Friends,

This update is for the 2/11/2019 Newton School Committee meeting:

Superintendent Update

New Business

  • Mary Eich, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, was joined by Steven Rattendi, Director of IT, to present an Update on Information Technology and Libraries.   This included an overview of the department, as well as information on database management, the new 1:1 laptop initiative in the high schools, network infrastructure, and G (Google) Suite Expansion.
  • Liam Hurley, Chief Financial Officer, and Julie Kirrane, Director of Business and Planning, presented an FY19 Fiscal and Operations Update showing NPS in good fiscal health.
  • Liam Hurley and Julie Kirrane also presented the Facilities Update, which included information regarding the Cabot School Building Project, the Lincoln-Eliot/NECP School Building Projects, the Cabot and Horace Mann School moves, the MSBA Accelerated Repair Program, the Lincoln-Eliot Heating and Building Envelope Project, 225 Nevada Street (Carr) improvements. They also provided updates on heating issues, the Franklin Kindergarten wing, and the revised plans for solar panels at Brown Middle School. 
  • We reviewed the System-wide goals for 2018 – 2019 followed by a mid-year check in on the Superintendent’s Goals.

Old Business

Consent Agenda

Next Meeting

Our next meeting is a special meeting on Monday March 4 at 5:30 p.m. This meeting with include a discussion of NPS’ use of academic data, as well as votes on the Countryside Statement of Interest to the MSBA and the Brown solar panels. While there is no public comment at special meetings, you can always reach us by email or phone.

We hope you found this summary useful. You can access all School Committee meeting documents via the NPS website ( Additionally, if you are interested in watching an SC meeting from home or a recorded meeting, you can obtain access via

As always, we are very happy to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact us via the email address below.

The Newton School Committee

The truth about idling

This year the Newton Safe Routes To School Task Force is undertaking a campaign to reduce idling at school for student health.


More information on why idling is so bad in school zones is here: Video