Back to School at Florence Sawyer…August 26, 2016

| August 26, 2016

By Shauna Neidigh
After a busy summer hiring staff, handling necessary maintenance issues and rearranging classrooms, Florence Sawyer School (FSS) is prepared to begin the 2016 school year with several updates.

Staffing changes
Perhaps the most notable staffing change is the Assistant Principal. Assistant Principal Cheryl Temple left FSS in July to become principal at Littleton Middle School. “Mrs. Temple loved being part of FSS and working with colleagues, students, and parents and had intended to be part of our school for a long time,” said Joel Bates, principal at FSS. But when an opportunity arose to lead a middle school in a district where she had previously worked, she couldn’t pass it up, said Bates.

The school immediately posted the newly opened position on an education job-seeking website, School Spring. They screened 70 applications and narrowed the selection down to eight qualified candidates that were interviewed. After lengthy second interviews with three finalists and reference checks, Kaitlyn Herthel accepted the position.

“She is warm, funny and really excited to be having all kids coming to school every day feeling physically and emotionally safe, and working with parents to help kids reach their potential,” said Bates.

Herthel recently relocated to Massachusetts to join her fiancé. Originally from New Jersey, where she was raised in a family of educators, Herthel spent the past five years teaching in Charlotte, NC. She taught in the elementary and middle school grades, as well as teaching math, world history and sociology in high school. In addition, she served in a principal internship this past year.

When North Carolina transitioned to Common Core, she wrote the curriculum for math and social studies for her school district. She also participated in Teach for America, which is a national nonprofit organization of recent college graduates who commit to teaching for two years in under-resourced schools.

Herthel is currently working on her doctoral degree in school leadership, curriculum development and teacher supervision at University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

“I’m very excited to be part of the community and to work with an excellent school,” said Herthel.

In addition to finding a new assistant principal, the school had to fill several other positions due to retirements, resignations and two new positions added this year.  The new staff include:
•Emily Bowman, speech teacher, to replace Nancy Donnelly.

•Alicia McNabb, special education teacher for grades K-2.

•Julie Accorsi, 2nd grade teacher, to replace Diane Tenen who retired.

•Christine DiMauro, 8th grade science teacher, to replace Robin Benoit who was
appointed associate principal of the Bromfield School in Harvard.

•Stephanie Potito, instructional technology specialist for grades 6-8.

Facility and curriculum updates
Besides the staffing changes, the administration has been busy overseeing multiple facility updates (see “School Hazards Abated, but Concern Remains” page 1). All preschool classes are now united in the instructional wing of the building. The custodial team has painted a number of rooms, working literally floor to ceiling to make the building shine.

As for curriculum, one change is the implementation of Envisions 2.0 for math. The new curriculum is less about worksheets and more about problem-solving and building skills. “Our previous curriculum was a solid curriculum, but Envisions takes that next step in being much more conscious of problem-solving and pulling different skills to come to a conclusion,” said Bates. “Our school exists in one of the most supportive communities I’ve ever been a part of and I’m confident the transition will go well.” More information about this approach to teaching math will be addressed at the Open Houses in September.

As part of the Project Lead the Way, Minuteman Career and Technical High School committed more than $30,000 in computers, 3D printers, teacher training and additional resources. Project Lead the Way provides students in grades 5-8 with experience in learning applied design and engineering concepts.

Additional highlights
Bus and lunch schedules will be posted before the first day of school and included in “The Happenings” email sent out every Monday.
Note the upcoming important dates:

•Sept. 8, Open House for grades 5-8.

•Sept. 14, school council meeting, open to the public.

•Sept. 15, Open House for grades K-4.

Bates looks at the summer in terms of three phases. As he describes it, the first phase is a wrap-up of the previous year, to review what went well and what to improve upon. That’s why the parent survey is left open to allow parents a chance to reflect and comment on the past year. The second phase is getting set for the coming year; hiring teachers and, in this case, an assistant principal; handling the logistics of day-to-day operations; revising the student handbook; and making any needed facilities improvements. The last phase is to make sure what they’ve prepared for is ready to go and everything is in place for returning and new students to ensure a smooth start for everyone.

After months of preparation, Florence Sawyer School is set to begin the first day of school on Aug. 31.

Category: NEWS

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