Message from Chad Leith: October 21, 2019

Dear members of the Morse School community,

Morse MarathonMany thanks to those who helped make last week’s Morse Marathon a success! One thing that makes this event so special is that it brings students, parents, and school staff together as a community to celebrate community and promote fitness. Over 300 students from Special Start through Grade 5 walked, ran, and danced in a wide loop around beautiful Magazine Beach park. Through the generous contributions made by parents and community members, the event raised over $6,000! These funds will help pay for field trips, materials, and enrichment activities for our children. I’d like to extend a very special appreciation to Barry Freeman of Horace Mann Insurance, who donated our awesome Start and Finish banners, as well as to our local Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s supermarkets, each of which generously provided healthy snacks for our student runners! Finally, a very special thanks to the parents and teachers who helped to organize and facilitate the event. View the slideshow on the right to see additional photos from this year’s Morse Marathon!

Morse School Council Meeting Recap
Last Thursday evening, the Morse School Council held its first meeting of the 2019-2020 school year. The Council, which includes both parent and staff representatives, took time to review school-level data from Spring 2019, such as family and student survey responses and an overview of our students’ performance on the state-wide MCAS assessment. Council members worked together to identify possible action steps that might be incorporated into our updated School Improvement Plan. Ideas surfaced by the team for future consideration included reviewing our school-wide approach to bullying awareness and prevention, developing a strategy to address persistent gaps in performance among different student sub-groups, and finding additional ways of soliciting family perspectives on important school issues (since participation in the Spring 2019 family survey did not appear representative of our school’s demographics). The full agenda and notes will be posted to the School Council page on the Morse School website. Our next meeting will take place on Thursday, December 5th.

Morse Race & Equity Working Group
Among the performance gaps we continue to see among our students is a gap between outcomes for our White and Black students. Among last year’s 3rd-5th graders, for instance, only 50% of our Black/African-American students demonstrated proficiency on the English Language Arts MCAS, as compared to 76% of our White students. In mathematics, 46% of our Black/African-American students scored proficient, as compared to 68% of our White students. While such differences are not unique to the Morse School, they do reflect the reality that race continues to shape the experiences of the children under our care. These persistent gaps also underscore the importance of our continued efforts to understand the lingering effects of structural racism in our community. The Morse Race & Equity Working Group, which includes both parents and teachers, will hold its first meeting this Thursday (10/24) from 5:30-7PM in the Morse library. Last year, the group initiated a process that we hope will ultimately engage all members of our school community in conversations about the way that race and culture impact the daily experiences of children and adults - and how we can work together to understand and address the dynamics that have historically fostered white privilege while devaluing and disempowering individuals and communities of color. Our group’s work aligns with the Cambridge Public Schools Vision for Equity and Access, and the core principles of the CPS Building Equity Bridges project. At Thursday’s meeting, we will look to build upon the work we began last year and consider concrete action steps for the 2019-2020 school year. 

Finally, a reminder that Wednesday is an early release day and that Wednesday evening we will be hosting Family Paint Night (pre-registration required). My very best wishes for a wonderful week!

Sincerely,

Chad Leith
Principal
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