April 3 Update from Principal Stembridge

I hope you are well on this blustery Friday.

I shared the following message with NSHS students via Schoology today, and I’m sharing this with you so you can review this information with your NSHS student.

We will share additional information this weekend, including organizational ideas and tools.

As always, thank you for your partnership.

Best regards,

Joel Stembridge – Principal, Newton South High School



April 3, 2020

Hello Newton South students,

I hope you and your families are well, and that you were able to engage with some schoolwork and see many of your teachers and classmates online this week.

I also hope that you were able to read through Dr. Fleishman’s email and the NPS Long Distance Learning Plan document. It was very dense, with a lot of information. Below I will try to provide just the basics. We will be sharing additional information, including some organizational tools and strategies, this weekend.

I imagine that you have a ton of questions, and I hope that this document will answer some of them. The truth is that we don’t have answers to all of your questions. In fact, I don’t have answers to all of my questions either. We are making decisions as we go, and I am confident that some of the information below will change over time based on feedback from you and your teachers.

As we transition from enrichment options (phase I) to more structured learning (phase II), I ask that you keep the following in mind:

1) Our primary goal is to help you develop skills and connect with peers and your teachers. We are not replicating NSHS classes. This is different, and will feature different approaches and different types of learning. Give yourself permission to engage the best you can, and to grow into this new style of learning. Above all, STAY ENGAGED, keep trying, and communicate with us.

2) All of us have new normals. So do your teachers. They are trying things they have never tried. However you and they are feeling is a perfectly normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Be kind to yourself, to your peers, and your teachers (oh – and your family members too!).  We are all in this together.

3) This is a marathon, not a sprint. Think of Monday a bit like the first day of school. It will take some time to get used to the new environment. Some of you will feel very comfortable with this kind of learning. Others of you may struggle some at first. Again, keep trying, and keep communicating!

4)  Above all, know that we are trying to get this right for all of you, and that we care about each and every one of you. 

OK – here are some basic details about the structure of our work; your teachers will share details particular to your classes.

We will continue to operate on a weekly cycle: 

MONDAY – each of your teachers will share weekly work for their class on Monday, using a common template. The most important thing for you to do Monday, before you start any of the work, is to read through and understand what each teacher is asking you to do, and then to create a plan for yourself for the week. We will be providing some organizational help, if you need it, as well as some planning tools.

TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY – All teachers will provide “office hours” for their students, within the times on the chart below. Your teacher will notify you of the exact time that your section will be meeting, and will provide a link to the meeting. Some classes will have a specific 30 minute time frame where you will meet with your teacher and your classmates. Other classes will be offered pooled support from a group of teachers over a longer time period. Your teacher will let you know when you are expected.

TO BE CLEAR: you will not be online for the full two hours for each department – this is just the master schedule for the times within which your teacher will schedule the office hours for your class – your teacher will tell you exactly when you are expected.

                                             Tuesday                                                              Wednesday

9:00 – 11:00 Science Tech Engineering  English
11:00 – 1:00 Math World Language
1:00 – 3:00 Fine and Performing Arts History
3:00 – 5:00 Family&Consumer Science/Business PE Health Wellness


Class meetings – your teacher will share with you the link for the meeting. You are expected to attend. (Please note, Friday, April 10 is a holiday, and many teachers will be absent from school on Thursday, April 9. Teachers will share with you their plan for the week of April 6 on Monday)

Thursday Friday
10:00 – 10:20 A13 Block  A24 Block 
10:30 – 10:50 B13 Block  B24 Block 
11:00 – 11:20 C13 Block  C24 Block 
11:30 – 11:50 D13 Block  D24 Block
1:00 – 1:20 E13 Block  E24 Block 
1:30 – 1:50 F13 Block F24 Block 
2:00 – 2:20 G13 Block  G24 Block 

Credit and Grading

  • The goal is for students to receive full credit for the year; grading will support students, and will be accessible to all of our students.
  • There will be 3 grading periods for the year: Term 1, Term 2, and Term 3 (no Term 4).  Term 3 will cover the period from mid-January to the end of the school year.
  • T1 and T2 will have letter grades. T3 is Pass/Fail only.
  • Final Exams are cancelled.
  • Final Grade:  
    • Final grade is either a letter grade or P (pass), as below
    • If T3 grade is P, then final grade is average of T1 and T2, or P (student choice by class). 
    • If T3 grade is F and student passed T1 or T2, then final grade is P (no option for letter grade)
    • Teachers may consider major assignments and assessment grades from mid-January to March 12th (or make-up work for this period submitted after March 12th) in the students final grade if the grade helps the students overall grade.

April Break

As you may have heard from Dr. Fleishman’s email last night, or from classmates, April break has been cancelled, and the “snow days” that we used in March will be made up. We are doing this to provide continuity and momentum as we get started. (Seniors, please ignore this next sentence) I am confident that you would rather have those four days of summer back rather than being cooped up at home in April while physical distancing, right?)

End of Year Events (such as prom, graduation, semi, etc.)

We just don’t know. If we can figure out a way to hold them, we will hold them. We can plan for an event very quickly; it all depends on when the distancing guidelines are relaxed. For now, everything is postponed. As we get closer to these events we will hear your ideas and share our ideas for what is possible. Again, we are all in this together, and the adults want these events to happen every bit as much as you do!

Thank you for reading this far! I’m happy to answer questions that you may have. I’m looking forward to this next phase of Newton South. 

Again, I hope you and your family are well.

Best regards,

Mr. Stembridge

Principal, Newton South High School