Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November Post

Wow! It is hard to believe that it is November! This post will highlight our new partnership with Interface Referral Service, a reminder about school cancellations, R and D projects and our SEL Task Force.

Medfield Public Schools and Town of Medfield Collaborate to Fund Interface

We are pleased to announce a new referral service for all students and residents of Medfield. The Medfield Public Schools and the Town of Medfield have teamed up with William James College to provide a referral service that provides a wide range of valuable resources related to mental health and wellness for the benefit of children, adults and families, as well as educators and mental health professionals. 

In addition to the resources on their website, the William James Interface Referral Service maintains a mental health and wellness referral helpline Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm, at 888-244-6843 (toll free). This is a free, confidential referral service for individuals across the lifespan living in Medfield. Callers are matched with licensed mental health providers from their extensive database. Each referral meets the location, insurance, and specialty needs of the caller. More information about the service and terms of confidentiality can be found here on the new Interface- Medfield page.

School Cancellations, Delays, Dismissals...

We will once again utilize the Blackboard-Connect System to notify parents if school is closed, delayed, or dismissed early. The phone call will be sent to each household and parent cell phone number that is currently on file with the district.

In addition to the phone call, the announcement will appear on:
  • Twitter @JeffreyJMarsden (I actually do this follow me!)
  • Facebook (Medfield Public Schools page is linked to Twitter)
  • Television Stations: Boston 25, WBZ 4, WCVB 5, and WHDH 7
  • Our district website:
Please remember that there will be times when school is not cancelled, delayed, or dismissed early and the weather is still inclement. Those days will feature slower travel for buses and cars, but will not necessarily require a change in the normal schedule. Please remember if you feel it is unsafe for travel, you always have the option to keep your child home.

The Blake staff had all of the details covered when they dressed up for Halloween.

Did you know?

  • Over 50 Research and Development projects were completed by teachers over the summer. These projects are all aligned with Medfield 2021 and are focused on improving instruction and learning, as well as the total educational experience for our kids...Please click here to see the list of projects.
  • Our Social- Emotional Task Force kicks off this month on November 7th. Please visit here for updates and everything "Medfield SEL".

Friday, September 1, 2017

September Post

Welcome Back!-2017-2018 School Year

It is great to be back for the 2017-2018 school year! We love when our schools are filled with students again! I have just two items for this entry; an important change with parent/student information and a copy of my opening message to faculty and staff this past week.

Please don't forgot to follow our teachers, principals, and me (@JeffreyJMarsden) on Twitter to see the endless examples of positive news coming out of our schools! Also search #medfieldps to view all of our tweets. I hope you have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Images of happy seniors at last night's Senior Cruise!

Parent Sign Off Goes Digital

We are pleased to announce that our parent sign-offs for the "beginning of the year" forms will now be electronic. Please be on the look out for an email next week that will provide sign off directions for the following documents:
  • Student Responsible Use Guidelines/Acceptable Use Policy
  • School Handbook (and Addendum, where appropriate)
  • Free and Reduced Lunch
  • Your child's emergency contact information (all students) and additional contact/authorizations (Grades 1 through 5 only).
  • Photo release form

Opening Remarks - August 28, 2017

*My notes and reminders are also part of the text*

Good Morning.
On behalf  School Committee and the entire leadership team, I would like to welcome you back for the 2017-2018 school year.
Before I begin my remarks I would like to thank the following people :
  • Bonnie Wren- Burgess for her words this morning.  I’m looking forward to a collaborative process with contract negotiations.
  • Our Food Service Director Dawn Lavallee and her staff putting together our breakfast this morning.  
  • Our Director of Finance and Operations Michael La Francesca, our Director of Facilities Jerry McCarty and our custodial/maintenance staff for getting our buildings clean and ready to open.
  • I would also like to recognize Eoin O' Corcora and the technology staff for completing all of the technology tech upgrades and hundreds of computers and devices ready to go.
  • Our office staff and leadership team for all of their assistance and hard work over the summer. Without them, we wouldn’t be ready to begin the school year.

I would like to take some time to recognize some of our teachers this morning:
First...our staff that earned Professional Teachers Status. These teachers have successfully completed three years of licensed service in our district and today, day one of year four receive PTS:
Zack Barrows
Kelly Bertschmann
Brittany Borchard
Kristin Buley
Maura Condon
Kim Connelly
Chris Faust
Maura Interrante
Shannon Macdonald
Amanda Padden
Robin Panchuk
Stephanie Pollard
Lesley Scier
Meredith Teaney
Alison Wells
Congratulations and thank you for your hard work and dedication to our kids over the past 3 years.

I would also like to recognize those teachers with 25 years or more service to the MPS.
Herb Grace-25
Pauline Carey-25
Ross Irwin-25
Julie Cololantoni- 26
Laura Singer- 27
Chris Paget 27
Mike Mason- 28
Kim Cave- 30
Mike Slason- 31
Susan Cowell- 33
Ann Carey- 46
Marty Salka -52 years!
Congratulations to all and thank you for your dedication to our kids and helping make Medfield a special place.

As we begin our fifth year together, we once again have a lot to celebrate. With your guidance, support and expertise, our students continue to grow and achieve both in and out of the classroom.

I want to touch on a few things this morning: My reactions to events this summer, our need for increased focus on student and staff well being, and your impact on our students.

In July, one month before Charlottesville,  David Gergen from Harvard and CNN spoke to all of the superintendents in the state. He is a talented storyteller and has the unique perspective having worked in 4 presidential administrations, his first being with Richard Nixon. He told stories of Nixon’s clinical paranoia and how it negatively affected his leadership. His spent some time comparing his past experiences with the current administration. He told a story about taking his Harvard business class to meet Donald Trump three years ago (tell story), had interesting and I think accurate theory of why Donald Trump won the election and he explained why education is really not an important issue in this administration; not even in the top ten.

However, his biggest concern for all of us in education is the negativity...the negativity our students have spent the last year seeing on TV and social media. Gergen was concerned with the negativity even before the tragedy in Charlottesville. In Medfield, we have to look no further than our own town wide Facebook group- over 2000 members and many of our 6-12 students follow the site. Negativity on this site and others has almost become the norm. Unfortunately social media gives people a platform to say whatever they want, whenever they want and their statements go unchecked and are often untrue. Our kids are reading these posts and watching the news...often in the palm of their hand...At our graduation for the class of 2017, I asked our students (As one of the" Four Agreements" with themselves) to be impeccable in their words; both written and spoken. Reminding them that words have great power because they can change they way someone feels… I want to be clear, whether it is Charlottesville or the vandalism we saw on this campus last June, no matter if our kids are straight, gay, black, white, doesn't matter...This organization will not tolerate acts of hate, bigotry or racism. We have a responsibility to our students, our families and each other to act swiftly if the core value of respect is violated. We also have the responsibility to be the role models on this issue to ensure that every child feels safe coming to school... every day. It’s the Medfield PUBLIC Schools... where All means All! I think this issue was summed up perfectly in "144 characters or less" by our own Madeline Chamberlain in her tweet on August 13, 2017. Her tweet said , “Love and acceptance are lessons that are never over. There is no unit test. Each of us can always learn and improve.” Well said Madeline, thank you.

As we enter our first full year of Medfield 2021, we will continue our focus on the well-being of our students and staff. Over the summer we were one of 36 districts being considered to partner with Unfortunately we were not one of the 6 districts chosen. However, to keep our momentum in this area moving forward, we will establish a social emotional learning task force that will consist of teachers, administrators, parents, school committee,community members, and students to examine ways we can help our students and staff. The data are clear… the most recent Metro West Adolescent Health Survey data tell us more work needs to be done in this area. 72% of our 9-12 kids are Worried/Stressed about school issues. When you break that down even more, 74.9% say that stress is related to “Getting good grades” (the stress isn't related to learning- but getting good grades...there is a difference) ...break that down by gender and 87% of girls feel that way. Our numbers in school related stress are higher than the Metro West average in every question in that category. Let’s look at what we can do develop coping and stress management skills, or what Jim McCauley from Riverside Trauma calls “Skills for mental toughness and handling disappointment”... and this needs to begin early.

 Anecdotally, we all know how much our jobs have changed...the stress level for everyone in this room has increased…your job as a teacher is nothing like my job as a teacher 25 years ago. My job now as a superintendent is nothing like when I started this work 12 years ago. You all know that in order to be your best for your students you have to take care of yourself and your family...This district will continue to be a family first organization. What else can we do to help staff in this area ?  The task force will look at this as well. Initial agenda items for this group will be to look at homework practices across the district, SEL best practices/evidence-based programs, staff wellness, and examine the roles schedules play-(both school and family) on the stress levels of our kids. This strategic effort needs to be PreK-12  as we continue to make student and staff wellness a priority.

So here in the natural tension we have as an organization. If you remember, the two top responses out of our strategic plan focus groups and surveys where...concerns about student and staff stress and by the way... student achievement must stay high!

Let’s start to reframe this narrative a bit...Let’s look at some of the 8 Characteristics of a Teacher with an  Innovator's Mindset.  I hope you had the opportunity to read George’s book over the summer. These are characteristics seen in this district everyday.
1. Empathetic...Would you want to be a learner in your classroom? Viewing the classroom from the students view. Are you teacher centric or learner centric?
2. Problem Finders/Solvers-Giving students freedom to not just solve the problems you give them but also find their own problems to solve
3. Risk Takers-Finding that balance between drawing on experience while maintaining a willingness to try something new
4. Networked- Teacher collaboration not teacher isolation.
5. Observant-Free to learn and create with others
6. Creators- Help students make a personal connection to their learning
7. Resilient-Staying the course when your ideas get push back.
8. And I feel the most important...Reflective-Questioning our practice to see what can be changed for better student learning

The Innovator's Mindset doesn't mean you have to change everything you do...just try to focus on one characteristic...and if it doesn't what...try something different. Pick one or two that interest you and start to infuse them into your practice....I really can’t emphasis this enough; try something new and don’t worry if it doesn't work the first time. These incremental sessions of trial and error are how we can move from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation. I know you will be having more conversations at the building level with regard to George Couros’ book and as we prepare for his visit in April.

Last year our schools were recognized at a state and national level. Dale St School was recognized as a Commendation School for it’s outstanding improvement on MCAS. For the second year in a row our HS was named a top 5 HS in the state by US News and World Report after never cracking the top ten in this ranking. It's so appropriate that these two schools are recognized; the Dale St honor reflects the entire elementary experience and the HS honor reflects the entire Prek-12 journey.

Both DESE and US News use a specific set of metrics that put us near the top. Obviously these rankings reflect well on the important work you do each day. It keeps real estate values high and on Wednesday we will have 103 new students to Medfield..all recent “move ins” to this wonderful town.  But these metrics don't tell the entire story...They don’t describe the real impact that all of you have on our kids. To get a better sense of that,  I would like to share with you some feedback I’ve received over the past few months.
  • A few weeks ago a family stopped me when I was out for a run to tell me how two of you changed their son’s life (expand)
  • I met with a parent last week that was telling how positive his kids experience has been in Medfield since leaving Dover a few years ago..(expand)
  • The metrics don’t measure when you go to a sporting event or performance to support your students-they notice, parents notice, I notice (expand)
  • Then the emails...and you can imagine some of the emails I get...often by the time an issue gets to me, people are not happy, but these emails are great…
    • ”He felt welcomed from the start. He gained a tremendous amount of confidence from the environment you created in the classroom.”
    • “You’ve done such an exceptional job with teaching and making sure she understands math while still making class fun and exciting”
    • “I am exhausted, each time I volunteer I get a newfound appreciation for the you do every day”
    • And the lengthy email I received in May praising the interactions with teachers, aides, office staff, the nurse, and the principals over the the past year and half that helped an adopted student from another country learn to read, make friends, and feel accepted enough to read aloud in class. (expand)

It's these connections to students and relationships with students that should make us the most proud. No one in this room got into this business with primary goal of making sure your students got a five on the AP test or for their kids to be proficient on the 3rd grade reading tests. Don’t get me wrong, these results are both important, but neither was the driving force in any of our decisions to do this important work. As author Joe Martin wrote, “No teacher has ever had a former student return and say a standardized test changed his or her life”

In David McCullough's new book The American Spirit he highlights the importance of teaching and says,“ We all know, in our lives, who those people are who’ve opened a window, given us an idea, given us encouragement, given us a sense of direction, self approval, self worth, or have straightened us out when we were on the wrong path. Most often they have been parents, but almost as often they have been teachers. Teachers that have changed your life with a single sentence, with one lecture, or maybe just taking an interest in your struggle.”

Folks I know all of you will have enormous impact on our students during the next 180 school days. Be the teacher they talk about at home with their parents and with their friends… better yet, be that teacher they will someday tell their own kids about...Thank you for what you do each day, thanks for listening, and let's have a great year!

Friday, March 17, 2017

March Post

This blog entry has information regarding the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, Dale St.'s State Commendation Award, Digital Learning Day 2017 and the 2017-2018 school calendar.

Don't forget to check #medfieldps on Twitter to see all of the great things happening in your schools.

FY18 Budget Process Update

The School Committee held their annual Public Budget Hearing on January 23rd. During that meeting we outlined the entire FY18 budget by identifying budget drivers, connected the budget to our strategic plan Medfield 2021, and bench-marked our spending to "like" communities. Please click here to view the presentation and pay close attention to the bench-marking slides.

 Since January we have been working with the Warrant Committee to finalize a budget that fits within the Town's overall financials. This week the School Committee voted a new budget that reduces our increase to 4.62% and reduces the original budget amount by $671,768. These reductions are due to receiving updated information/projections, cuts to non-personnel line items, and using our reserve accounts to offset the FY18 operating budget. The reserve funds were built up over the past three years and their use, along with the cuts will prevent a Proposition 2.5 override. We anticipate that the 4.62% increase will be the recommendation of the Warrant Committee.

Please remember that our budget for next year is not finalized until it is approved at the Annual Town Meeting on April 24th (and possibly a second night on the 25th). Please visit here to learn more about the FY18 School Budget. 

Special thanks to School Committee members Maryanne Sullivan, Chris Morrison, Anna Mae O'Shea Brooke, Tim Bonfatti and Eileen DeSisto for their hard work and dedication to our students.

Dale St. School is Designated a "Commendation School" by the Commonwealth

Principal Steve Grenham accepts the "Commendation Award" from Lt. Gov. Polito and Secretary Peyser.

Dale St. School was among 51 schools across the state honored recently by Governor Charlie Baker. School Committee Chair Maryanne Sullivan, Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Marsden, Dale Street Principal Stephen Grenham, and Dale Street teachers Mike Douglas, Kerry Cowell, Kelly Bertschmann, Julie Lowerre, and Leanne DiPesa represented Dale St. School to receive the Commendation School award from the Baker-Polito administration at the State House ceremony. Senator Jim Timilty and Representative Shawn Dooley (not pictured) were also in attendance to support Dale Street's accomplishment.

In a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Education Governor Baker said, “I’m proud that our Massachusetts K-12 education system is one of the best in the country, and I thank the educators and communities across the Commonwealth who are leading the way and providing high-quality educational opportunities for their students every day. It’s an honor to recognize these schools, their students and their families for all of their success and hard work toward closing achievement gaps in Massachusetts.”

Dale St. School was recognized for making significant improvement in student achievement. 

Medfield's Digital Learning Day

Last week we hosted our 5th Digital Learning Day with over 500 participants! The day featured keynote speaker Justin Reich (MIT and founder of Ed Tech Teacher), over 100 workshops taught by Medfield teachers/students/administrators, and teachers outside the district. We had 40 other school districts visiting Medfield for the day. Special thanks to our Director of Curriculum Kim Cave, and Integration Specialists Neal Sonnenberg, Diane Horvath, and Debby Fromen for all of their hard work planning this outstanding day of learning.

Please visit the DLD 2017 highlight video  produced by our students and the DLD presentation  from the March 13th School Committee meeting. 

2017-2018 School Year Calendar

The calendar for next year can be found here

Congratulations to everyone that participated in  The Wizard of Oz!
Especially  Liam "The Lion" Dewey,
Tommy "The Tin Man" Cadman, Faith "Dorothy" Samson, and Lori "The Scarecrow" Barney.
Special thanks to Director Mary Ann Hatem for 26 years of changing kids' lives! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The 2016-2017 school year continues to move at a very fast pace! This blog entry highlights Medfield 2021-A Vision for the Future, the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, and a reminder about our winter weather procedures.  

Please remember to follow MPS staff on Twitter to see the many positive events happening in our schools.  Search #medfieldps for interesting "tweets" about the district.  I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and all of the best in 2017!

Medfield 2021-5 Year Strategic Plan

School Committee Chairperson Maryanne Sullivan and I are pleased to release Medfield 2021 to the entire community. The strategic plan development was a community effort that included 9 focus groups, a survey that gathered 800 responses, a goal setting retreat, many meetings, and a public comment period prior to the vote of adoption. Special thanks to subcommittee members Anna Mae O'Shea Brooke, Tim Bonfatti, and the Medfield Leadership Team for their work on this project. We are excited about this thoughtful 5 year road map and we want to thank everyone that participated in this important process. The final version can be seen here

FY 2018 Initial  Budget

 Although it is not even January, we are currently working on the budget for the next school year. The town charter requires the School Committee to adopt a budget by January 31st. The initial budget presentation requests an increase of 6.75% over the previous year's budget. The budget development process is far from over. 
Our budget subcommittee of Chris Morrison, Eileen DeSisto, Director of Finance and Operations Micheal LaFrancesca and I will continue to work with town officials throughout the next few months leading to our Annual Town Meeting in April.
The School Committee will hold a public hearing on the budget on January 23rd at 7:30 PM in the Lowell Mason Auditorium at Medfield High School. Please click here for the presentation from the 12/19 School Committee meeting. Watch for more budget information as it becomes available.

Winter Weather Procedures

The MHS Choir once again provided festive entertainment
at the annual "Spaghetti with Santa" fundraiser.

We were fortunate enough to make it through December without a snow day, but the next three months are often the most problematic in New England. We will once again utilize the Blackboard-Connect System to notify parents if school is closed, delayed, or dismissed early. The phone call will be sent to each household and parent cell phone number that is currently on file with the district.

In addition to the phone call, the announcement will appear on:

  • Twitter @JeffreyJMarsden (I actually do this follow me!)
  • Television Stations: FOX  25, WBZ 4, WCVB 5, and WHDH 7
  • Our district website:

Please remember that there will be times when school is not cancelled, delayed, or dismissed early and the weather is still inclement. Those days will feature slower travel for buses and cars, but will not necessarily require a change in the normal schedule. Please remember if you feel it is unsafe for travel, you always have the option to keep your child home.

Congratulations to our student-athletes that recently signed their
 letter of intent. Chris McGrory (Baseball-Harvard), Jack Cahill (Lacrosse- Holy Cross)- Andrew Garfield (Lacrosse-Quinnipiac), and Elizabeth Keleher (Crew-Holy Cross). Missing is Addison Chung (Gymnastics-Iowa)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 2016 Post

Class of 2017 Senior Cruise!
It is great to see our schools filled with students again after just an incredible summer!  A lot of preparation takes place during the summer as we gear up for the new school year. This summer was especially busy with over $2 million of projects taking place in our district. New boilers were installed at the Wheelock School. These boilers replaced the original boilers from 1969. This project was supported by the Mass School Building Authority, so the taxpayers of Medfield will be reimbursed up to $180,000 on this project. The first reimbursement check for over $113,000 was received last week. Our other big project was the renovation of our turf and track at the Medfield High School. The field was ready for use on August 30th our students love it!  The resurfacing of the track, our new scoreboard donated by Needham Bank and items on the punch list will be completed in the next few weeks. Thank you again for supporting these important projects for our kids.

Reminder-Twitter Highlights The Positive!

Please don't forgot to follow our teachers, principals, and me (@JeffreyJMarsden) on Twitter to see the endless examples of positive news coming out of our schools!

Medfield 2021- Our Vision for the Future

Our strategic plan is nearing completion and once it is approved by the Medfield School Committee, it will be posted on our website. A special thank you to everyone that supported and participated in this important process. During the development of this plan, we had over 130 people attend our focus groups and over 800 people participate in the survey. This was a great representation of our entire school community!

 The feedback we received from the focus groups and survey were the basis of our five overarching goals.

Goal #1  Medfield Public Schools is committed to a collaborative learning culture of continuous improvement for students and staff.

Goal #2   Medfield Public Schools is committed to supporting and developing the health and social emotional well-being of all students and staff.

Goal #3   Medfield Public Schools is committed to developing the whole child, recognizing the contributions and needs of all students

Goal #4   Medfield Public Schools is committed to contributing to a vibrant community by fostering a collaborative, communicative, and consistent education for all students.

Goal #5  Medfield Public School is committed to continued investments in the facilities and equipment to optimize student learning.

Medfield Talks- Our Parent Speaker Series for 2016-2017

Medfield Talks is a collaboration among MCPE, PreK-8 PTO, MHS PTO, SEPAC, Medfield Foundation, Medfield Music Association and the MPS Leadership Team. Our first speaker is Michael Thompson, PhD  on October 26th in the Lowell Mason Auditorium at MHS. Michael is a best selling author and entertaining speaker who will share his thoughts about "The Pressurized Child". Student stress was an area identified as a "challenge" during our strategic plan process.  MCPE has graciously sponsored this event. To learn more about Dr. Thompson please visit

There will be two other speakers in this year's series. Michael Delman will be here in February to discuss how we can help our kids with executive functioning and Dr. Ruth Potee will be here in May to speak about the effects of alcohol and drugs on a developing adolescent brain. Exact dates will be released in the coming weeks.

Welcome to Michelle Manganello- Our School Resource Officer

We are very pleased to welcome Officer Manganello to our team at the Medfield Public Schools. Officer Manganello's home base is MHS, but she is working in all of our schools. SRO's are common in most area school districts and this is the first year since the early 2000's that we have this position. In 2014, The Massachusetts Task Force Report on School Safety and Security highlighted the importance of having an SRO in Massachusetts' schools. Her responsibilities include working with younger students with "stranger danger" and DARE, as well as supporting families and students of our older students. She has been very busy over the past few weeks working with us to improve the elementary bus routes. Michelle is a positive role model and we are thrilled to have her in our schools! Thank you to Chief Meaney for advocating for this position in the Police Department's budget. You can contact Officer Manganello at 

Medfield Teachers- Summer is for R and D not just R and R! 

Our teachers were busy this summer completing Research and Development projects that impact all five schools. Teachers wrote proposals in the spring and then projects were brought to the Leadership Team for approval. Some examples of projects include: Social Emotional Learning, stress management, curriculum development in Mathematics, Language Arts, Engineering, Science, Reading, and Standards-Based Grading to name a few.  A total of sixty-one R and D projects were funded over the summer. Thanks to the many teachers for working  to improve instruction and learning for our students!