From Chad Leith: October 11, 2019

Dear members of the Morse School community,

It is hard to believe that we are already six weeks into the school year! As I mentioned during my presentation at our fall Open House on September 25th, our students are not the only ones who are engaged in powerful learning experiences this year. Our teachers and staff members are also working together to build our collective skills and capacity around important school improvement initiatives and priorities. These include strengthening our school’s approach to supporting our children’s positive social and emotional development, as well as advancing our shared efforts to understand and address equity issues stemming from the lingering effects of systemic racism. Here is a sampling of some of the professional learning experiences that will help inform our work over the coming year:

  • Ms. Bishop (Gr. 5), Ms. Roderick (Gr. 3), and Ms. Gallant (Gr. 3), along with our Social Worker Ms. Gordon and Assistant Principal Ms. Headley, participated in a two-day Restorative Justice Practices & Circle Training workshop at the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University. Our School Counselor Ms. Wheeler will also participate in advanced training offered by the Center for Restorative Justice this fall.

  • Ms. Connelly (JK) and Ms. Jeram (Gr. 5) participated in Collaborative Problem Solving: An Innovative Approach to Helping Kids with Challenging Behavior, sponsored by Think:Kids at Massachusetts General Hospital.

  • Ms. Gordon and our Speech Therapist Ms. Dubofsky will participate in the fall Social Thinking Conference, which is aimed at helping educators promote their students’ self-regulation, social-emotional learning, executive functioning and social problem solving.

  • Ms. DeWitte (Gr. 4), Ms. Rosenberg (Gr. 1), and our Math Coach Ms. Vincent will be joining me at the annual Fall Meeting of the School Reform Initiative which will be focused on supporting teams to surface issues of inequity, injustice, and oppression even when they may appear to be absent and examine how our assumptions and beliefs can serve to support some students and hinder the success of others.

Additionally, we have two exciting partnerships taking place in our school this year that will support our our professional growth as a community of educators:

Equity Work with Dr. Darnisa Amante
To support our school’s equity work and our efforts to understand and address structural racism in our community, we have partnered with Dr. Darnisa Amante, CEO of The Disruptive Equity Education Project (DEEP). Dr. Amante, who has worked closely with other district schools, will serve as a thought partner as we identify goals and chart next steps at the Morse School. She will also help to facilitate some of our whole-staff professional development sessions around cultural proficiency. Dr. Amante's collaboration with our school will complement the important and ongoing work of the Cultural Proficiency Team and the Working Group on Race & Equity.

New Phonics Program Supported by the Teaching & Learning Alliance
To support early-grade implementation of a systematic phonics approach at the Morse School, we have partnered with the Teaching & Learning Alliance (TLA). TLA's support will include professional development sessions, demonstration lessons, grade-level planning meetings, and coaching for our teachers in Kindergarten through Grade 2.

Over the coming months, our teachers and staff members will be drawing upon these professional learning experiences to reflect upon and refine our approaches to supporting our children’s positive growth and development at the Morse School. I will share more at next week’s School Council Meeting, which will take place on Thursday (10/17) from 5:30 - 7PM in the Morse School Library. All members of the Morse School community are invited to attend!

Thank you and best wishes for a wonderful long weekend!

Sincerely,

Chad Leith, Principal

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