Tuesday, October 23, 2018

October Post

This month's post will highlight the recent Coordinated Program Review (CPR) from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), a reminder about "Snow Day" procedures, and many "Did You Know?" items. Please remember to look at  #medfieldps to see all of the positive events in our schools.
Members of the SEL Task Force at a recent goal setting meeting.

Medfield Gets a "Great" Review from DESE!

"Medfield had a great Coordinated Program Review.", was how the meeting with DESE's Matthew Nixon began. Nixon was in Medfield last week to review the report with School Committee Vice Chair Jessica Reilly, Director of Student Services Mary Bruhl and me. Mr. Nixon spoke highly of the students, staff, parents and programs in the district.

The CPR takes place every six years to review the compliance with Special Education, English Language Learners, and Civil Rights. Each of these focus areas has many criteria for compliance. After the document review and onsite visit, DESE provides districts with recommendations to get the district into full compliance. In my over 25 years in education, I've seen this process move from a "gotcha" to the current and much appreciated collaborative process of assistance. There are findings of non-compliance in every CPR and we were no different. Some items were partially implemented and a few were not implemented. We will have one year to correct any items not fully implemented with most just requiring a tweak to our current practice.

 A special thank you to our Special Education Department, ELL Educators, and office staff for their many hours preparing for the review and uploading the required documents. The full report will be available on the DESE website and on our website in the next 7-10 days. In addition, a presentation by Mary Bruhl will take place at the November 5th School Committee meeting. 

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.
Yes...it will be here soon.

In addition to the phone call, the announcement will appear on:
  • Twitter @JeffreyJMarsden (I actually do this first...so 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: www.medfield.net
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. Important:  If you feel it is unsafe for travel, you always have the option to keep your child home.

Did You Know?

  • Meghan Glenn was recently appointed to the Medfield School Committee during a joint meeting of the Medfield Board of Selectmen and Medfield School Committee.
  • Medfield was well represented at the recent MassCue Conference held at Gillette Stadium. Marjorie Heim, Diane Horvath, Neal Sonnenberg, Kerry Cowell, Julie Lowerre, Kelly Bertschmann, Christy Callahan, Marissa Foley, Maura Condon, Bethany Robertson, Steve Grenham, 6th grade student Adeline Keaveney and School Committee member Leo Brehm all presented at the two day conference attended by over a thousand educators.
  • Anna Mae O'Shea Brooke and Jessica Reilly of the Medfield School Committee will hold an "Office Hour" on 10/25 at the Blake LMC from 7:00PM-8:00PM.
  • The Superintendent's Parent Advisory on October 24 at 9:30 in the Blake LMC will focus on our Challenge Success initiative. Special thanks to the MHS PTO and MCPE for their support.
  • The Medfield SEL website is a great resource for parents and educators.
Congratulations to Diane Horvath for receiving a 2018 Pathfinder Award!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Welcome to 2018-2019 School Year!

The 2018-2019 school year is off to a great start! We are very grateful for the financial sacrifice our community made on behalf of our students and the school department. The FY19 override reduced class sizes, added key staff, and provided the funds needed for our feasibility study. Thank you to everyone!

This blog post will highlight two important Social- Emotional Learning (SEL) initiatives; a new Homework Policy and Challenge Success. There is also an update on the Dale St. School project.  Please remember to check #medfieldps to see all of the positive events happening in our schools!

First day of school at Dale Street!

New Homework Policy Approved 

The Medfield School Committee unanimously approved a new homework policy for the district on Monday, September 17th. This policy was a collaboration among the Medfield School Committee, the SEL Task Force, students, teachers, and administrators. In addition to providing consistency with homework expectations and allowing for family time around vacations and holidays, the new policy articulates the responsibilities that students, educators and families have with homework. Emphasis is placed on students being assigned "meaningful" and "relevant" homework. The policy will be the subject of faculty meetings in the next few weeks with full implementation in October. A special thank you to the collective minds that worked many hours on this important policy. Read the full policy here.

Our teachers were working hard on Medfield Day!

Medfield Sends a Team to Challenge Success at Stanford University

A team consisting of students, a parent, teachers and administrators spent the weekend of September 14-16 at Stanford meeting with leading researchers and school districts from across the country to learn strategies for stronger schools and healthy, successful kids. Medfield now joins  Dover-Sherborn, Wellesley, and Weston as Challenge Success school districts. Thanks to the parent representative Nicki Gustafson, students Erin Sullivan and Sophia Gustafson, and staff members Orla Berry, Zach Barrows, Dave Worthley, Stephanie Worthley, Heather Mandosa, Nat Vaughn and Robert Parga. The Challenge Success Team will be meeting on a regular basis and will have two visits from our Challenge Success "Coach". The entire Challenge Success Team will attend another training in May.  We look forward to learning more from Challenge Success as we work to implement positive changes to our schools and community.  Special thanks to MCPE for supporting a grant for this important training. More information about Challenge Success can be found here.

Dale Street School Project Update

Thank you again for supporting the feasibility study funding at both the Annual Town Meeting and the election in June. During the summer we submitted the required documents and attended a meeting with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to discuss a certification of enrollment; essentially trying to reach an agreement on what size the new school will be. We were informed that enrollment projections done by MSBA are a lot higher than expected. MSBA projects a Grade 3-5 school (one of the options MSBA will examine during feasibility) at over 800 students. This is significantly higher than the projections we received last year. According to MSBA, a driving factor of our increased enrollment projections is the large number of families that move into Medfield with children under 5 years old. An important point to consider is only projects and developments currently in the Medfield pipeline (permitted, approved) were included in these projections. Any future development at the site of the former Medfield State Hospital was not considered in these projections. If the projected numbers come to fruition, we will need to implement creative solutions to best utilize building space prior to opening a new school. We will be working with the Medfield School Committee, Medfield Permanent Building Committee, and School Building Committee during the next few months as we begin to solicit public input and conduct other feasibility study activities. Project information can be found here.

Watch For:

  • A new app later this fall that will be the single source of information for the MPS
  • A dashboard that highlights the progress of our strategic plan, "Medfield 2021"
  • The first Superintendent's Parent Advisory is scheduled for October 24th at 9:30 AM in the Blake Library- All are welcome!

Scenes From The #Class of 2019 Senior Cruise!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Parents, teachers, and community members working together at a recent SEL Task Force meeting.

It is amazing that another school year will soon come to a close. Our last day of school is scheduled for Monday, June 18th. This month's entry will highlight the FY19 Budget and the Dale St. Feasibility Study. As always, please search #Medfieldps to see the ongoing curation of the positive events in our district.

FY19 Budget- Question 2 on the June 11th Ballot

Thank you to the residents of Medfield for their overwhelming support of our budget at the Annual Town Meeting (ATM) on April 30, 2018. Please remember that this was only the first phase of approving our FY19 Budget. The next phase is approval at the June 11th ballot election. If ballot Question 2 passes, our budget will increase to the amount approved at the ATM. If Question 2 does not pass, the budget will be reduced by $1,043,521. This is more than an elementary class size issue; Blake Middle School and Medfield High School will also have significant impacts. To read about potential reductions needed to get to a 3% budget and to view all of the FY19 Budget documents please click here.

Dale Street students spending some time in the library.

Dale St. Feasibility Study- Question 1 on the June 11th Ballot

Thank you to the residents of Medfield for their overwhelming support of the Dale St. Feasibility Study at the ATM on April 30, 2018.  As you know, we were accepted in the Massachusetts School Building Authority program for new school construction. In order to move the Dale St. School Feasibility Study forward, Question 1 must pass at the ballot on June 11th. Please click here for all of the information related to the Dale St. Project.

Other Items of Interest

  • Medfield High School graduation is Sunday June 3rd. Congratulations to the Class of 2018!
  • Click here for a recent WBUR story on Franklin, our service dog at Wheelock School.
  • The Medfield Coalition for Suicide Prevention has created flyers to advertise Interface. We have distributed this information to all of our schools and area businesses. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

February Post

As our nation tries to heal from yet another horrendous school shooting, I spent a lot of time over the February break thinking about the tragic events in Parkland, FL. It brought back all of the awful memories of Columbine and Sandy Hook. I have to wonder if our country has finally reached the “tipping point” on this issue. I really thought change would result from Sandy Hook, but I'm hopeful this time our country will do something to protect kids, teachers and school staff. This is obviously a very emotional and complex issue with many, many layers. One thing is for sure in my mind, arming our teachers is not the answer.

In Medfield, we have worked hard over the past several years to put safety measures in place. We have collaborated with the Medfield Police and Metro-LEC (Norfolk County’s SWAT team) to implement lockdown (safety) drills in each school. These drills have served as risk assessments and improvements have been made in each school. Window shades and interior locks have been added, shelter in place areas have been changed, and internal communication methods have been improved. Last year, all teachers and staff participated in a very intense (and uncomfortable) afternoon of active shooter training with Synergy Solutions and the Medfield Police. This training focused on keeping our students safe in the event of an active shooter in our schools. The very realistic training included “live” gunshots and a variety of scenarios for us to practice and react to in real time. Although many teachers and staff were very anxious about the training, the feedback was positive as our teachers and staff now have new strategies to handle this type of situation.

Additional safety measures have been added throughout the district including a full time School Resource Officer, a capital investment in security cameras, restricted access to buildings, and others that most people, by design, would not even notice. On the advice of law enforcement, we never share our plans publicly or post them on our website.

The security in our district is always evolving, evaluated, upgraded and the “plan” is never complete. Over February vacation, I was able to attend a workshop with the former superintendent of Newtown, Ct. He shared some “lessons learned” that I am anxious to share with our staff and the Medfield Police as we continue reevaluate and improve our response. One of the biggest takeaways from his workshop was to remove the “It could never happen here” mentality from our community. The data tell us that most of the school shootings have happened in communities with fewer than 10,000 students.

In addition to security measures, our focus on social emotional learning is equally important. Our schools have teams of counselors and teachers in place that meet regularly to support students and work with families that need assistance. The addition of counseling at the elementary level, a school adjustment counselor and a Director of Social Emotional Learning have helped us provide greater support to students and families. Our Social Emotional Task Force is currently working to make recommendations for various improvements for the children and adults of our school district.

We look forward to working with our students in the coming weeks as they advocate for meaningful change in our country. Our goal is to support and guide our students through this real life civics experience. The district is committed to keeping communication open among students, principals, and parents as we work through the next few weeks.

Please don't forget to follow #Medfieldps on Twitter or to Google #Medfieldps to see all of the great things going on in our schools!

 FY19 Budget

The FY19 budget process continues to move forward as we meet with the Warrant Committee this evening (2/26) at 8:00 PM at the Medfield Public Safety Building.  After receiving input from parents at our public hearing, School Committee Chair, Maryanne Sullivan asked us to develop another budget that decreased class size and reinstated the three middle school positions that were originally cut from the FY19 Budget. Our current budget request is an increase of 4.89%. All current budget information can be found here . 

In addition to our operating budget, please be on the lookout for information regarding the Dale St. Feasibility Study that will be discussed and voted on at the Annual Town Meeting on April 30, 2018 at Medfield High School. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

December Post

Greetings! This post will have updates on the Dale St. Project, the FY19 Budget, our Director of Student Services search, and some important reminders/links. I also want to encourage everyone to check "#medfieldps" on a regular basis. Even if you don't have a Twitter account, you can Google "#medfieldps" to see all of the great things happening in our schools. If you want to see what articles our teachers, administrators, and staff are reading, you can also check "#medfieldpln" (the "pln" stands for professional learning network). Thank you for your ongoing support of our schools and I wish you all of the best in 2018.

Dale Street Project Gets MSBA Approval!

On December 13th, the Massachusetts School Building Authority voted to accept the Dale St. School into their school building program. The project will get underway with a required feasibility study that will examine various options such as renovation to existing school, new school construction, and possible sites for the new school. The feasibility study could last up to a year. In order for the feasibility study to take place the Medfield Annual Town Meeting must appropriate funds on April 30th. More information will be forthcoming on this important meeting. A special thanks to the "Medfield Team" that accompanied me to the board meeting; School Committee Chair Maryanne Sullivan, School Committee and Permanent Building Committee member Tim Bonfatti, and Director of Finance and Operations, Michael LaFrancesca. We are thrilled for the students and for the community! We now have a section of our website dedicated to the documents and other information regarding the Dale St. Project. The site will updated as the process moves forward. Please click here to view information on the project.

The Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Process is Underway

It is that time of year again as we begin to build the budget for the the 2018-2019 school year or  Fiscal Year 2019. After many meetings with principals, directors and department leaders, we presented an initial budget to the Medfield School Committee on December 18th. This version of the budget is the our pass which includes additional personnel and supplies requested from each building.The current budget increase stands at 6.75%. This initial budget request is typically larger than the public hearing version (7:30 on January 29th in MHS Auditorium) and the final version at Annual Town Meeting (7:00 on April 30th in MHS Gym). 

FY19 Budget Highlights
  • Maintains most of our current staff and programs
  • Includes teachers' “steps and lanes", longevity, and a % increase 
  • Level funds professional development (R&D, Conference and Travel, Course Reimbursement)
  • Adds a teacher in Grades 1, 2, and 3
  • Adds a Special Education Teacher and a .5 Reading Teacher
  • Eliminates one Grade 6 cluster (Eliminated one section of grade 5 in FY18,  grade 4 in FY17, grade 3 in FY16)
  • Reduces a .4 Math Teacher at the Medfield High School
  • Increases to transportation contracts
  • Includes 7 Special Education support staff added since May 2017
  • Supports policy manual revision with MASC
  • Supports a portion of a part time prevention specialist (collaboration with MYO and Medfield Police)
A link to the initial budget presentation is here.

Director of Student Services Search Update

We have begun the process of hiring a new Director of Student Services. We have advertised the position and are working with a recruiter to help locate qualified candidates for this critical leadership position. Our goal is to complete the hiring process by February vacation. Special thanks to the volunteers serving on the search committee: 
Christine Barney
Kate Tormey                                                         
Tanya Sullivan
Carrie Traub          

Community Member
Chief Bob Meaney

Teachers and Staff
Gina Dalan
Nancy Giammarco
Melissa Devine
Mary Salamone
Christine Dardia
Stephanie Worthley

Nat Vaughn
Steve Grenham
Missy Bilsborough

Important Reminders

Medfield Talks Speaker Series- Sarah Ward "Practical Strategies to Develop Independent Executive Function Skills in Students" will take place on Tuesday, January 9th from 7:00-9:00 PM at the Lowell Mason Auditorium at MHS. This event is co-sponsored by the Medfield SEPAC and MCPE.

The SEL Task Force continues to meet. Please follow their progress here.

Snow day notification information was on last month's blog posting.

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 first...so 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: www.medfield.net
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, transgender...it 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 exSel.org. 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 work...so 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!