Superintendent's Corner 2017-2018

June 14, 2018

The last day of school for Gateway students was Thursday, June 14 and the last two days were half days for students. Ending the school year in the middle of June despite having 8 snow days is due to both starting school before Labor Day and using an alternative learning structure (Blizzard Bags) to have five snow days count as school attendance days. With the Class of 2018 having graduated on June 1, the fact that we don’t have a month of school left provides some relief from staff having to maintain student focus on education for weeks while their conscious thoughts continue to wander to summer vacation and activities that do not include getting up early in the morning to go to school. As I talk to teachers both in Gateway and in other schools, the idea of Blizzard Bags as implemented here appears to be working and gaining more acceptance.

Just because the students and most staff had their last day this week doesn’t mean work is over for everyone. The baton for student learning is now passed to parents for the summer and, in order to prevent any regression in student skills, it is important for parents to actively engage their children over the summer break. This does not mean work sheets, homework, or online learning (and the difficulty of imposing this type of work during the summer). There are many other ways to engage students over the summer from simple games that involve mathematics, observations, problem solving and spatial reasoning to keeping a written journal, corresponding with friends and family, and reading almost anything on a regular basis. The idea is to practice basic skills (reading, writing, mathematics) in a way that is engaging, relates to whatever summer activities are happening, and hopefully involves the whole family. It used to be a given that children spent their vacations outside and participating in some activity that kept them moving from dawn to dusk but with the ever-growing reliance on electronic devices to occupy time, I’m not sure that we’re all getting the amount of physical activity that we did in the past. This, too, is something that parents can focus on in terms of ensuring that children have some sort of physical activity on a regular basis.

While the daily interaction with students is over for most staff this doesn’t mean that they simply relax over the summer. Many staff use this time productively to continue their education, enhance their skills and participate in other activities that will make them better at working with students upon their return to school. The reality is that with requirements for maintaining certification increasing regularly, and the changes in our understanding of best practices in education, teachers, specialists and paraprofessionals are constantly working to maintain their professional status.

Of course summer break is a key component in maintaining and upgrading the physical plant. During any significant time of students being out of school, our maintenance and custodial staff clean, do preventative maintenance and any needed repairs. During the summer this grows to include major upgrades and repairs including floors, technology, HVAC, safety and numerous other items including the complete, deep cleaning of all spaces. It’s evident during any visit to our schools that the individuals responsible for the upkeep of our physical plant do an outstanding job and have a great deal of pride in the work that they do.

Unfortunately, compliance with state and federal mandates and requirements means that administrative and support staff are also kept very busy over the summer break (thus sometimes interfering in the work on improving the physical plant) but must still find time to review the prior year’s activities in order to plan improvements and set goals for the upcoming year. In short, no one actually gets to have the entire summer ‘off’ and in that respect those people working in education are really not much different from everyone else working to support their families, except that we have the privilege of helping educate children to be successful in their lives.

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2017-18 Superintendent's Corner Archive

June 14, 2018 School's Out, For Some Anyway!
June 1, 2018 Class of 2018, Class of 1918
May 25, 2018 Donald D. Johnson Operational Cost/Efficiency Award
May 18, 2018 Alternative Assessment Method, Explained
May 11, 2018 Tangible Outcomes From Collaborative Meetings
May 4, 2018 Increasing State Requirements, Decreasing State Revenue
April 26, 2018 Full Day Preschool
April 23, 2018 GYAA User Fees
April 12, 2018 End of School, Graduation, Blizzard Bags and Communications
April 6, 2018 Town, School Collaborative Efforts
March 29, 2018 Balancing Needs of Schools, Towns
March 23, 2018 Anticipated Final Day of School, Preschool Surveys
March 16, 2018 Budget Hearing, Budget Vote, Proposed Change to Regional Agreement
March 9, 2018 Proposed New Town Assessment Method
March 2, 2018 School Safety at Gateway
February 23, 2018 Students as Leaders, Communicators
February 16, 2018 Parkland Shooting, 'Budget Season'
February 8, 2018 Blizzard Bag Questions and Answers
February 2, 2018 Support Sought From the State
January 25, 2018 Towns Request Level Funding
January 18, 2018 Interesting Educational Activities Throughout District
January 12, 2018 Level Service, Level Funded & Level Cost Budgeting: What does it Mean?
January 5, 2018 The Impact of Winter Storms on the School Year
January 1, 2018 Changes Over Time
December 15, 2017 Thank You to Staff!
December 8, 2017 Sr. Citizen Brunch & Concert
December 1, 2017 The Legislative "Ask"
November 22, 2017 Grateful for Community Involvement
November 16, 2017 Count Your Blessings
November 9, 2017 Blizzard Bags and Early Phone Calls Ahead!
November 3, 2017 Towns, Schools Looking Ahead
October 27, 2017 Budget Views and Perceptions
October 23, 2017 Budget Update, RSD Funding Report
October 12, 2017 Stress and Anxiety
October 5, 2017 MARS Meetings and Union Contract Negotiations
September 22, 2017 Challenges of Rural Schools and Long-Held Beliefs
September 14, 2017 School Committee Approves Version 3.0 of Budget
September 11, 2017 Reflecting on Historical Events
September 1, 2017 School Committee working with town officials
August 28, 2017 Opening Day For Staff
August 21, 2017 Introducing Some of Our New Staff
August 14, 2017 Towns Vote Version 2 of Budget Down Again
July 31, 2017 Staff Busy Through Summer
July 20, 2017 Key Staff Retirements, Departures
July 10, 2017 Impact of Blizzard Bags on Summer