Category Archives: Midweek From the PTSO 2021

Goes out 6am everyday

Reminder – Complete the NSHS Principal Search Survey – Due Jan 31


NSHS Principal Search is underway! Take this opportunity to have your voice heard regarding what’s important in the selection of a new principal for South.  Please click to take the survey today! All responses will be shared with all members of the SAC so they have your input to assess candidates.  Thank you!

We have 2 parent volunteers from South on the SAC. There will also be future forums with semi-finalists in early March with South students, faculty and parents.

Below is the email update sent by Superintendent Fleishman on January 13, 2021 to South Families regarding the Newton South Principal search process.


Dear South Families,

As you are aware, Mark Aronson is serving as Interim Principal for the school year, and will be leaving in June. I am grateful for Mark’s dedication and commitment during this very challenging year. I know Mark will do everything possible to support the school through the end of the school year.

Selecting a principal is one of the most critical decisions made by a superintendent. Principals are expected to provide excellent educational leadership, establish a positive school culture, and manage the daily operations of the building. We have formed a Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) that includes administrators, faculty, students and parents/guardians. The SAC will conduct first-round interviews and recommend semi-finalists.

Parents and guardians will have the chance to meet the finalist candidates when they visit Newton South. We are also interested in getting your feedback on a series of questions as we begin the principal search https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QDC6ZLK.

While this has indeed been a most difficult year, we are excited about the opportunity to hire a new leader for Newton South, and I look forward to working with the South community as we embark upon this important task.

Sincerely,
David Fleishman
Superintendent of Newton Public Schools

Staff Appreciation Breakfast-Help Needed-this Friday, January 15th

Big thanks to all of the parent volunteers who have generously given their time to help out and/or donate breakfast food and drinks for Staff Appreciation functions.  As the NSHS faculty prepares for HyFlex transition, the teachers will have a full day of professional training on Friday, January 15th.  The PTSO will be providing breakfast sandwiches that morning.

We still need a few more donations for Friday, January 15th: 1 more box of Joe, more breakfast bars and snacks.  Thanks in advance if you are able to support this event.  Please click here to sign up.

Reminder – Meeting Tonight for NSHS Principal Search – Dec. 9 @7PM

Please join us on tonight – Wednesday, December 9th from 7-8 PM to learn about the NPS Newton South Principal Search.

Superintendent Fleishman will be joining us to provide an update on the process and timeline.  Opportunity for Q&A will follow.  This event is limited to 100 participants and will be recorded.

Dec 9, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86445807761?pwd=V3dtc1JIT0ZrcFNRbjhSd2Y3czc5QT09

Meeting ID: 864 4580 7761
Passcode: Lions2020

Dial by your location
Meeting ID: 864 4580 7761
Passcode: 546131168
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kg3p5Tw3B

High School HyFlex Recommendation Update

Dear Newton South and North Parents/Guardians, 

As you may already know, the High School Working Group presented our draft recommendation of implementing a HyFlex learning model for our high schools on November 16 at the School Committee meeting.  You can view the presentation here.  The working group will present our final recommendation on December 2 to the School Committee, who will also vote on the recommendation at the meeting.  

As mentioned by Superintendent Fleishman’s email update on November 17th, parents/guardians will be asked to make a choice between HyFlex in-person or full time remote learning in December.  There has been much discussion in our community since our draft recommendation was presented.  The decision about in-person or remote learning is a very personal choice and we urge you to submit any questions about the HyFlex learning model here by November 30th so the answers can help you make your decision in December.  

We wanted to answer some of the most frequently asked questions by our community this past week. 

  • The first question is about HyFlex learning. This model is NOT like returning to school as it was before schools closed in March due to COVID-19, but extends the current remote learning model to include some in-person learning days. The proposed HyFlex model is also different from what was proposed by Newton Public Schools in August 2020 in two important ways: the in-person days are now full days (vs half days), and remote learners are on zoom with their in-person classmates and taught by the same teachers as they have now in their current schedule (vs separate Distance Learning Academy).   
  • Another frequently asked question is why the cohort plan will depend on the number of students who choose in-person.  And a related question has been around the assumptions driving capacity in the building. Adhering to HHS guidelines around social distancing, an average classroom holds 12 students. There are a number of classes that have over 24 students, requiring more than two cohorts. The number of cohorts will depend on the number of students who select the in-person model. The number of in-person students will directly impact the number of cohorts required to stay at/under classroom capacity limits.  If there are 2 cohorts, your child will have 2 full in-person days each week.  If there are 3 cohorts, your child will go 2 full days the first 2 weeks, and remote on the 3rd week.  If there are 4 cohorts, your child will have 2 full days the first week, and remote for 1 week. Regardless of how many cohorts are implemented, if your child is scheduled to be in-person on a given week, they will attend 2 days in person, and 3 days remote in the proposed HyFlex model.

The draft recommendation is a result of a collaborative effort between members of our community: parents, district administrators, teachers and students. Our outreach to students, staff and outside districts helped shape our recommendation, including input from our community from general education, special education, Boston-based families, remote learning only families, ELL and METCO families. The result was that we all agreed on the importance of both in-person & remote learning are necessary to support our community.  Pros and cons of the HyFlex model were also shared and discussed with the recognition that transition for staff will be difficult and must be done with care and resources. 

As fellow parents, we know that the decision to choose in-person or remote learning is a very personal choice. The draft recommendation supports both types of learning.  It’s a challenging model for staff and students, but the positive impact on our student’s social and emotional wellbeing makes it worth implementing.  COVID-19 continues to impact all of our lives on a daily basis.  We encourage you to ask your questions so you can make the most informed decision for your family in December.  

We wish you and yours a safe and fun Thanksgiving and finding new ways to celebrate family whether you are together or on Zoom.

The High School Working Group
~ May Chiu, Newton South Parent Representative (NSHS PTSO co-President)
~ Janna Lacatell, Newton North Parent Representative (NNHS PTSO co-Secretary, NNHS PTSO Representative – Academic Standards Committee)  

High School Working Group Update

Dear Newton South and North Parents/Guardians,

As you may already have read from the High School Working Group email on Friday, November 13, we will be presenting our Draft Recommendation on Monday, November 16th at the School Committee meeting.  

The working group’s outreach continued this past week with more students focus groups, interviews with current staff in the buildings, and with teachers in other districts. We also had several emails from students this past week who re-affirmed their responses from the November surveys.  Our findings continue to show that, while returning to school for in-person learning is prioritized by students, we must continue to offer robust and equitable remote learning for students who are learning from home, and support staff who are unable to return to the building.  Outside districts have also shared that hybrid teaching is not the same as going back to school pre-COVID19 and that challenges in lesson planning and technology create a new environment for both teachers and students that must be considered in planning.  

Please join us to hear our Draft Recommendation on Monday, November 16th.  Follow this link for login information to the School Committee meeting, which begins at 7 PM.  For those unable to attend, the Draft Recommendation will be posted on our webpage after the meeting.  Your feedback is vital as we continue the development of our recommendations.  Please contact us at npshighschoolplan@newton.k12.ma.us and visit our webpage for updates on all of our work.

The High School Working Group
~ May Chiu, Newton South Parent Representative (NSHS PTSO co-President)
~ Janna Lacatell, Newton North Parent Representative (NNHS PTSO co-Secretary, NNHS PTSO Representative – Academic Standards Committee)   

 

High School Working Group Update

Dear Newton North and South Parents/Guardians,

Thank you for responding to the High School Working Group survey. The response rate was very good across students, staff and parents.  The working group will further review and synthesize responses including student responses by grade. As communicated in the email from the NPS High School Working Group on Friday, you may view the preliminary survey report on the working group website.  The complete report will be added early this week.

The working group spent the bulk of the past week interviewing high school students, parents, teachers, and administrators in several districts to better understand their experiences with the hybrid/hyflex learning models. Comprehensive interviews were conducted with Staples High School CT, Port Washington NY, Concord-Carlisle High School and Lexington High School. With the help of parents in our community, working group members had the opportunity to speak with numerous families from additional districts to get their perspectives on their hybrid/hyflex experiences including Needham, Natick, Brookline, Westford Academy and Braintree. More outreach will occur this week to teachers and students with general and special education experience and feedback. 

For each district there are pros and cons of their hybrid/hyFlex learning model. These interviews have helped us to assess how different models, experiences and learnings may apply to Newton high schools for our recommendation.  

In this coming week, the working group will continue our outreach to teachers in our schools, further analyze student survey responses by grade, and parents.  Early findings from districts about their hybrid model implementations reaffirm that there is no perfect learning model in a pandemic.  

  • Social distancing is necessary and will impact schedules, curriculum, teaching and learning.  
  • In-person offers pros and cons for students, teachers, parents and administrators. 
  • While many districts committed to the Spring course schedule, the full curriculum is impacted.  
  • Remote learning, even if 100% synchronous is challenging – students can easily disengage and turn their camera off.  
  • Teachers are continuing to adapt their lessons to find the best ways to engage both in-person and remote learners at the same time.  
  • Masks and health and safety protocols bring additional challenges for in-person support services for students with special needs and learning plans, and even more challenging when providing them remotely. 
  • In-person schedules provide support for extracurricular only remotely (except those doing Fall sports)

As mentioned in the HSWG email update on Friday, the next step is for the administration team members to develop options to review with the group at our meeting next week. The recommendations will prioritize student’s needs and concerns. The working group is focused on developing recommendations to expand in-person learning that will best support our 4000+ high school student population. We recognize the sense of urgency for expanding in-person opportunities.  And we look forward to sharing our initial recommendation on November 16th with our community and the School Committee.  

We encourage feedback on our work and continued discussion with our community.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us at npshighschoolplan@newton.k12.ma.us and visit our webpage for updates on all of our work.

The High School Working Group
~ May Chiu, Newton South Parent Representative (NSHS PTSO co-President)
~ Janna Lacatell, Newton North Parent Representative (NNHS PTSO co-Secretary, NNHS PTSO Representative – Academic Standards Committee)   

Junior Parent Volunteers for G11 Meet/Greet

The PTSO is continually looking to find ways creative fun events to help Newton South students meet and connect.   

In order to make this event possible, we need 3-4 parent volunteers interested in helping organize the event.

Please contact the PTSO at info@newtonsouthPTSO.org by Thurs, Nov 5th if you are interested in helping organize an event.

 

Sophomore Parent Volunteers for G10 Meet/Greet

The PTSO is continually looking to find ways creative fun events to help Newton South students meet and connect.   We are proposing a student meet/greet event in the next couple of weeks, possibly on Wed. Nov 11 (No School).

In order to make this event possible, we need 3-4 parent volunteers interested in helping organize the event.

Please contact the PTSO at info@newtonsouthPTSO.org by Wed, Nov 4th if you are interested in helping organize this event.

PTSO is proposing to organize a Grade 10 student meet/greet on Wed. Nov. 11th (Veterans Day – NO SCHOOL).  The event would involve Grade 11 students leading a group of Grade 10 students in a meet/greet.  Grade 10 students would register and be grouped by their Community/Advisory Class to enable students to connect beyond their existing cohorts (friends, team mates, etc).  Each group be on the baseball field to allow the group to create a Spotify playlist of their favorite 10 songs.  All the playlists from each group will be merged into the Class of 2023 Playlist.

The event is to give the students a chance to meet/greet in-person.  All students must wear masks and follow 6ft social distance guidelines, whenever possible (during the walk and sitting in group circle).  All students will need to register.

High School Working Group Update

Dear Newton North and South Parents/Guardians,  

A reminder that this past Monday, high school parents/guardians received a Survey to find out what’s important to you in high school this year, what’s working well/key challenges, and what is desirable in an in-person model.  Please check your inbox and fill out the survey.  If you did not receive the survey,  email community@newton.k12.ma.us for a link.  The survey will remain open until Sunday, November 1, at 11:59 pm.  Your input will help us develop options that reflect the priorities of all families. We have sent similar surveys to students and teachers at both high schools.  The response rate thus far has been excellent. Preliminary survey results will be posted on our website next Friday.   

Updates
We are pleased to confirm that the High School Working Group is on schedule per the published work plan. This week the HSWG focused on

  • Survey distribution to high school parents, students, and teachers. Multiple focus groups were also conducted with both North and South students via Zoom to allow for more in-depth conversations and discovery; 
  • Review of NPS high school schedule assessment that was completed last May – September;  
  • Synthesis of secondary research on >20 school districts that have implemented variations of hybrid/hy-flex learning models that provide for synchronous teaching with in-person and remote learners. 
  • Prioritization of selected districts for interviews the coming week including Lexington, Westport (CT), Concord-Carlisle, Brookline, Natick and others.   
  • Initiating outreach to families/students in additional districts to get feedback and perspectives on their direct experiences with the hybrid/hy-flex learning models.  

We know there has been much discussion in our community about the rationale for high schools to start remote this year. Specific obstacles were identified, and will still require consideration, including: 

  1. Staff Accommodations – In August, 75 staff members were unable to return due to personal medical reasons.  Staff who had received a medical accommodation are currently having them renewed.; 
  2. Space Constraints: large class sizes over 25 students limit options for adequate socially distanced desk spacing; and 
  3. Equitable Distance-Only Model to support fully remote students.  

As many of you may know, based on the August survey response, teacher accommodations impacted 300-450 students in each of the 7 blocks. The proposed August hybrid model was not able to resolve the obstacles and Newton needed to start with a fully remote learning model in September. The HSWG remains focused on developing recommendations that will address these challenges.

This coming week, the HSWG will synthesize survey responses from teachers, students and parents, with initial survey results available on the HSWG dashboard on Friday, November 5th. We will also be interviewing the above mentioned selected school districts to better understand their hybrid/hyflex learning model implementations at a more detailed level, gain insights into the experiences through multiple stakeholder’s eyes, and identify those challenges and best practices that may accelerate Newton’s implementations. Thank you to parents who are facilitating connections and discussions with families and students in these districts.  

Based on new data, including the findings from other districts and updated surveys, obstacles for in-person options will be re-assessed.  We hope you find this information helpful in understanding the status of the HSWG efforts to develop recommendations for in-person learning at our high schools. Recommendations are forthcoming in just a few short weeks. 

To learn more about the HSWG work and progress,  please check our dashboard and please don’t hesitate to contact us at npshighschoolplan@newton.k12.ma.us if you have any questions. We look forward to receiving your Survey responses and working together to support our high schoolers. Thank you.   

  The High School Working Group
~ May Chiu, Newton South Parent Representative (NSHS PTSO co-President)
~ Janna Lacatell, Newton North Parent Representative (NNHS PTSO co-Secretary, NNHS PTSO Representative – Academic Standards Committee) 

 

Tonight! Oct 29th at 7PM Q&A with Superintendent & School Committee

Thursday, October 29th from 7-8:15PM
Hosted by the Newton South PTSO.

Please join us for our Newton South Q&A with Superintendent Fleishman, School Committee Chair Ruth Goldman, and Interim Newton South Principal Mark Aronson.  The meeting is an opportunity for community discussion and to ask questions to help us improve our community’s experience at South this year.   After a brief welcome and opening remarks, participants will be able to ask questions.  Thank you.

Join Zoom Meeting  https://newton-k12-ma-us.zoom.us/j/83339248362

Meeting ID: 833 3924 8362
Passcode: 390121

Dial by your location
Find your local number: https://newton-k12-ma-us.zoom.us/u/kzVnMbKsz
Meeting ID: 833 3924 8362
Passcode: 390121