JW Killam Principal's Corner

Ms. Leveque's Weekly Newsletter

From the Desk of Ms. Leveque

I heard the term this week that this is not a "new normal" but rather a "temporary setup during extraordinary times." This idea of temporary, however long or short that may be, helps me breathe a bit better and think in terms of periods of time. The unknown is still overwhelming but finding ways to make these feelings manageable is important. One chunk of time that is better settling in is last week's announcement that we will be out of school for the remainder of the year. Having the certainty of knowing is a relief, yet recognizing the angst that comes with not educating our children the way we feel is most effective and supportive is still hard to swallow. As a leader, having to say "I don't know" to most questions is extremely humbling. I'm not sure these big feelings will go away. And yet I do know that we will be ok, because what I do know for certain is that the entire Killam School is fully committed to welcoming your children back into the building, showing them all our love, and meeting them where they are, whenever our doors are back open. We are fiercely motivated to do what we do best- TEACH!

As we begin moving into the Remote Learning Phase III, you will hear information from Dr. Doherty and us within the next week. As the staff begin to unroll this next step, we appreciate the feedback we are hearing from families. We will take next week to continue with our current plan and review feedback. We will begin Phase III the week of May 11th. This remote learning structure continues to be an immense learning curve for both our teachers and our families. As in the past, the next learning phase speaks heavily to the notions of compassion, engagement, and independence. We are thinking thoughtfully about how to best keep our student's motivated and wanting to learn. Our plan will encompass an emphasis on a mix of face-to-face time with independent navigation. As this happens, I remind you that our teachers, like so many of you, are working full time while trying to take care of their own families. The "behind the scenes work" is enormous. There will be moments of messiness and yet, it is in our attempts to try out the new that we grow our capacities. This is true whether you are a toddler or an adult. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work on this. Part of this phase means incorporating more staff into our work, including our general education tutors, special education paraeducators, and specialized instruction. If you receive information regarding a reading or math tutor group, your child is encouraged to participate in this targeted work in place of a classroom component.

We anticipate that our Remote Learning Communication Plan, listed below, will adjust as we fully roll out Phase III. Throughout this closure, staff continue to collaborate on how to best support our students and families during this time. The Reading Public Schools administration and Killam School are mindful that many decisions and much information is needed to support all of you over the next weeks. Over the next weeks, you will receive information about the following:

  • Scheduling for students to retrieve belongings from the Killam School and returning items to the Killam School
  • Classroom placement for the 20-21 School Year
  • 5th grade transition updates

Fifth grade families received an email from the middle school principals this week. It contained an informational film about middle school. Over the next few weeks, middle school principals will continue to send information to 5th grade families. Additionally, incoming kindergarten families received information this week. The information is reiterated below. As always, if you have questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Missing the Killam students,

Ms. Leveque

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Information for Families with Students on IEPs or 504s

On May 4th at 3pm, Team Chairs will present a Google Slides training for families regarding the Microsoft Teams platform highlighting some important features and reviewing the confidentiality statement. In addition, types of virtual team meetings being held in Reading, meeting agendas, and paperwork dissemination will be covered. The presentation ends with a review of what follow up paperwork can be expected after the meeting. Click here to join this meeting.

The Office of Student Services has written a letter regarding Section 504 accommodations and procedures during the COVID shutdown. If you have a child who is on a 504 or is in process for an initial eligibility meeting, please click here to read an important update from the District. Over the course of the next few weeks, you can expect to hear from Ms. Leveque or your 504 liaison about information relevant to your child.

Reading Families! Check out these opportunities!

Check out these Reading Public Schools “Virtual After School Clubs!” Clubs are free and open to students K-8. These are totally optional and are just for fun. Students are invited to participate as much or as little as they want. Click here to sign up for a club. Clubs will be hosted through Google Classroom. There will be opportunities for students to learn or try something new and also for them to share what they make from the challenges.

Incoming Kindergarten Information

We are excited to welcome your child this fall to the J.W. Killam Kindergarten classrooms! Incoming Kindergarten families should have received an email this week. If you did not, please email our Administrative Assistant, Jackie Maglio, at Jaculen.maglio@reading.k12.ma.us.

Due to our school closure, we will hold kindergarten screening in the fall. As part of the placement process, we love to hear from you, our families, about your child! Here’s where you can help. Please click here to gain access to a Google Survey entitled “Killam Incoming Kindergarten Parent Input Form 2020-21.” This is a questionnaire that allows you to provide insight all about your child. You know your child best and we love to use this information when thinking about each kindergartener. Because we work to create balanced classrooms, we do not accept specific teacher recommendations and we cannot assure that learning partners are in each class, but we do use this information as a part of our discussions. If you would like to provide information, the survey will be open until Wednesday, May 20th.

You will receive information about your child’s classroom, including the teacher assignment, in the summer. With this information, we’ll provide a welcome packet, including information about ways you can best support your child over the summer, school-specific procedural information, and information about how your child will get to visit their classroom and teacher before the school year begins. Wanting to be mindful of the current pandemic, we will wait to share this information at a later date so that our information is as accurate as possible. We appreciate your patience in this unprecedented time.

Killam Remote Learning Communication Schedule

We want to be mindful of how overwhelming it can be to receive multiple emails a day. We hear you and are attempting to streamline the information for you. If information changes, we will update you.

Classroom teachers: Classroom teachers will communicate enrichment opportunities either on a daily basis or weekly basis, depending on the grade level team decision. In addition, you will receive check-ins to see if you need any clarification or support multiple times a week.

Special Education teachers: If your child receives special education services, an email with enrichment opportunities for your child will be sent on Tuesday. In addition, you will receive check-ins to see if you need any clarification or support multiple times a week.

Specialists (Library Media, Art, Music, and Gym): An email with enrichment opportunities for your child will be sent on Wednesday.

Principal's Weekly Newsletter: An email will be sent out on Friday and previous newsletters will continue to be posted on the Killam website.

Closure Information: Access to links and information will be posted on the Killam and RPS District websites.

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Family Resources from the Reading Coalition

The Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support (formerly RCASA) has complied a resource guide with information that may be useful to parents and families in the district. The guide includes supports like tips on talking to children about the COVID-19 outbreak, tools for managing stress and anxiety during a crisis, guidance on how to access mental health and substance use disorder treatment, information on virtual AA/NA meetings and family support groups, and much more! The guide is being updated as the resources available change, so please check the document regularly. The resource guide can be found on the Reading Coalition website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. Please contact Samantha Salkin, Outreach Coordinator, Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support at ssalkin@ci.reading.ma.us with any questions.

Also, Operation Parent is hosting a webinar this Thursday April 2nd at 2PM on tools to help teenagers cope with anxiety during COVID-19. The webinar is free, but registration is required. The webinar description is below and you can register for the event here.

Food Resources in the Greater Boston Area and Reading

Free & Reduced Lunch Options

RPS will be offering grab & go meals for those Reading Public School students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. The meals will be available at the Reading Memorial High School Cafeteria from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, beginning on Monday, March 16th. If students would like to participate, they must sign up ahead of time by completing information on this link: https://forms.gle/pzyL2aQgUmfQ1RHs8

Project Bread

Project Bread has resources for families and individuals who need food assistance, including a directory of where to get food help. Click here to visit their website.

St. Vincent de Paul Society: They are available to support any families in need with food or other services. Please call 781-258-8767 to leave a message and you will receive a call back.

Reading Food Pantry: Schedule for the month of April shown below.

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Attention 5th Grade Families-- Middle School Transition Information

We continue to keep our fifth graders in mind as we progress with the school year. We are working on ideas to best support our students during the transition. To keep updated about Coolidge and Parker transition information, click the folder below

Gr 5 to 6 Transition Information

Project Adventure: With sadness, we've had to cancel the 5th grade Project Adventure trips for May 4th and 5th. Due to the virus, Project Adventure has had to terminate almost their entire staff and close down their campus. We are working with them for refunds or potential later dates should they re-open, and I will keep you informed about that process.

PTO Corner

New in 2019-20 - Pay PTO dues with Venmo at @KillamPTO!

Please be sure to include your child/family’s name in the notes when you submit your Venmo payment so we can credit the dues to the appropriate family.

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About These Services

The Town of Reading contracts with William James College to offer a special service for our residents. The William James INTERFACE Referral Service maintains a mental health and wellness referral help line Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm, at 888-244-6843 (toll free). This is a free, confidential referral service for individuals across the lifespan living in Reading. Callers are matched with licensed mental health providers from our extensive database. Each referral meets the location, insurance, and specialty needs of the caller. Click here to learn more!