The Newton South School Council had a productive 2015–2016 year, thanks to the hard work of all of its members—students, faculty and parents. The 2015-2016 School Council was made up of: Principal Joel Stembridge, Co-Chairs Risa Shames and Chris Steele, and members Tom Lee, Morgan Truncer, Dena Korsunsky, Sam Ganem, Kate Brandell, Kathy Sabet, Charles Myette, Marcia Okun, Liz Hizer, Jodi Detjen, Kathe Shaw-Bassett, Jennifer Chen, Susan Flicop, and Deborah Bernhard. Emily Prenner was the representative of the PTSO.
Later High School Start Time Initiative: We continued to focus on the benefits of a later start for high school and held two forums to educate the community. In January, we partnered with Newton North to host a forum there and in April, we partnered with Brown and Oak Hill Schools to host a forum at Brown Middle School. At each forum, Chris Landrigan, MD, a sleep expert and Newton parent spoke about the research around the benefits of later start time for adolescents. In addition, we had students and teachers offer their perspectives. In addition to these public events, we provided frequent e-mail updates to the community on the progress of the School Committee Working Group on Later Start Time. Finally, we publically advocated for a later start in the Newton Tab and at School Committee meetings. Link to Tab article: http://newton.wickedlocal.com/opinion/20160521/commentary-insist-on-later-high-school-start-in-newton
Growth Mindset: The School Council also focused on Growth Mindset and hosted a parent discussion to give parents a window into this important educational concept and how teachers are using it to encourage and support students. The discussion was led by Principal Joel Stembridge and NSHS math teacher Jennifer Chen, and included student insights and a thoughtful discussion with parents, teachers, and students.
School Improvement Plan: Finally, we discussed, offered feedback, and eventually voted to accept the School Improvement Plan, a document of long-range goals for the school for the next several years. The over-arching goal of the plan is to ensure that all students are empowered through a growth mindset to learn to their greatest potential. The specific objectives include to:
- Narrow or eliminate achievement gaps
- Increase coordination of instruction and assessment and quality of teacher collaboration.
- Cultivate students’ resiliency and social/emotional well-being.
The Newton South School Council is an elected advisory body composed of South parents, students, and faculty. The Council assists and advises the Principal on matters relating to educational goals, social/emotional needs, and other school-wide issues.