Message from Principal Chad Leith: February 1, 2022

Dear Morse School Parents & Caregivers,

It is hard to believe that the first half of the school year is over and that our winter break is just a little over two weeks away. Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a huge impact on school functioning, our teachers, paraprofessionals, and specialists are working hard to make our children’s day-to-day schooling experience feel as “normal” as possible. Here are some of the things that we have been working on:

Commemorating Black History Month at the Morse School
Although both the Morse School and the Cambridge Public Schools are working to ensure that African, African American and Afro-Caribbean stories, contributions, and voices are systematically integrated into our curriculum throughout the year, we still believe that Black History Month offers an opportunity to lift up Black history and experiences. Over the coming two weeks, our teachers will be celebrating the month with a school-wide Black History Month door-decorating activity. With the participation of students across all grade levels, the doors of our classrooms and offices will be transformed into “book cover doors” that highlight contributions and experiences of the many Black scientists, artists, inventors, performers, athletes, educators, explorers, authors, and leaders (past and present) who have helped shape our world. My door will feature Boston artist Allan Rohan Crite, whose artwork I have hanging in my office. I look forward to sharing photos of our displays in an upcoming newsletter! For a great list of resources and suggestions for bringing Black History Month into your home, please check out Reading Rockets’ Celebrating and Learning About Black History and Culture.

1st Semester Report Cards
This Friday February 4th, your child’s 1st semester report card will be sent home in your child’s backpack, accompanied by materials from me and your child’s teacher explaining our standards-based grading system. The mid-year report card is just one of several opportunities scheduled throughout the year to provide you with information about your child’s progress. Parent conferences take place in November and April and report cards are issued in February and June. Your child’s teacher will use your child’s report card grades - along with the results of our mid-year screener assessments - to tailor upcoming learning experiences and enrichment activities to the needs of your child and his/her/their classmates.

Ongoing Staff Conversations about Racism and Racial Bias
At yesterday’s afterschool staff meeting, Morse School staff members met in small groups to discuss what developmentally appropriate antibias and antiracist conversations look like for young children. Using the book Start Here, Start Now by author and former elementary school teacher Liz Kleinrock, our educators discussed ways that we can take advantage of our school’s rich diversity to engage our children in activities that will build their awareness, empathy, and resilience. Over the coming months, our staff members will continue to meet regularly to continue these important discussions. By learning and growing together we hope to be better equipped to live up to the goals articulated in our school’s Statement on Race & Equity.

Friends of Morse Meeting Tonight!
Please join the Friends of Morse for their monthly meeting this evening from 8:30-9:30PM. All Morse School staff members, parents, and caregivers are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please click here for more information and a Zoom link.

The Friends of Morse, Family Liaison Kasey Clermont, and I are working together to plan events that will bring our school community together. I am acutely aware that regular opportunities for parents, staff members, and students to connect with one another informally and in person are critically important for the health of a school community, and I am optimistic that the improving public health situation will allow us to resume some such activities in March or April. As always, we appreciate your patience and support as we navigate this pandemic together.

Finally, I want to wish a very Happy New Year to all of the Morse School families who celebrate the Lunar New Year. I wish you and your family health, happiness, and good fortune in the Year of the Tiger!

Sincerely,

Chad
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