Message from Principal Chad Leith: September 30, 2021

Dear Morse School Parents & Caregivers,

I hope that the school year is off to a great start for your child. I want to begin this week’s newsletter with an update on Assistant Principal Samantha Headley’s status. As many of you are aware, Ms. Headley injured her back in late August and is currently recovering from a surgical procedure that she underwent last week. She has been working intermittently from home and is looking forward to returning to the Morse School as soon as she is able. We miss her and hope to have her back soon!

During our first weeks of school our staff members have invested time in fostering a sense of belonging and building classroom communities where every child feels seen and heard. If you could walk through our building, you would see many individual displays like the ones pictured here, where students have been able to share their hopes, dreams, and things about themselves that make them special.

Bulletin Board

Assessing Our Students’ Needs

In addition to providing our students with opportunities to explore and express their own identities, we are also getting to know our students by gathering information about their learning needs. Last week, teachers and specialists at every grade level began collecting data on students’ literacy and math skills through fall screeners. These assessments will give us precise information about the whole-group and small-group learning experiences that will help our students take their next steps. We are making intentional efforts to do all of this in a way that feels joyful and engaging to our students.

Spring 2021 MCAS Results
On a related note, the State Department of Education recently released Spring 2021 MCAS results. The Morse School Data Team and some of our upper-grade teachers have begun to review our students’ performance to identify things that we need to do to address learning gaps that emerged during the COVID pandemic. While our overall scores were comparable to (and slightly above) district and statewide averages, they revealed troubling disparities in performance across different student sub-groups - disparities that we must work as a school community to address. I will share additional reflections and next steps in a separate message to families next week, when individual student results are mailed home.

Virtual Back-to-School Night - October 6th & 7th
Next week, our JK-5 families will have an opportunity to learn more about how and what your children are learning at our virtual back-to-school night classroom meetings, which have been scheduled in a staggered fashion, so that Morse families with multiple children can attend each child's classroom meeting. Please see the specific times for your child(ren)’s grade level(s) below:

Wednesday, October 6th:

  • Grades 1 & 2 | 5 - 6PM
  • Grades JK & K | 6 - 7PM
  • Grades 3 & 4 | 7 - 8PM

Thursday, October 7th:

  • Grade 5 | 6 - 7PM

JK-5 parents and caregivers will receive a follow-up email early next week with a link to join your child’s classroom meeting.

Welcoming our New CitySprouts Garden Educator
Garden CoordinatorPlease join me in welcoming Melissa Wender, who is joining the Morse community as its CitySprouts Garden Educator. Melissa has been teaching in one way or another since she was 19, when she taught English in Japan. Since then, she has taught Japanese and Japanese literature, Korean studies, ESL, and English to college and high school students, most recently in the Boston Public Schools. She grows flowers and vegetables in her backyard, and recently completed the Master Urban Gardener program at the Trustees for Reservations. Melissa is excited to collaborate with teachers to use our beautiful CitySprouts Garden for teaching science!

Volunteers Needed - 10/3 Picnic Table Painting Party
Thanks to the Friends of Morse School, we will soon be adding additional picnic tables to the CitySprouts Garden area and the D6 Junior Kindergarten play area. These high-quality, hand-crafted tables will provide Morse teachers with more flexible options for getting students outside during meals, snacks, and outdoor learning activities. Parent volunteers are needed this Sunday, October 3rd to load/unload tables and to help paint them. Please see this flyer for more information.

Here are a couple of additional upcoming community events to put on your calendar (please click on the links for more information):

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, Elaine, or your child’s teacher, with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.


Principal Chad Leith

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