Superintendent Weekly Update

February 26, 2021

Dear Mohawk Trail & Hawlemont Families,

As we head into the first week of March, it's hard to believe we've been living in this "new normal" and practicing our FAB FOUR for a year now! Since last March, we've learned so much about being resilient, persevering, and having compassion for those around us. We've seen our communities come together to help "flatten the curve" and work together to support one another through this pandemic. I'm particularly proud of the work our district staff and educators have done this year. As we continue to move forward, I know there's still much to do and overcome in tackling the challenges of this pandemic, but there's also a lot of great work happening and I'm excited for the months ahead.

With that optimistic, glass half-full segue... here's what's happening this week!

* FY22 Budget Update

* MTRSD Strategic Planning - Community Feedback Survey

* COVID-19 School Planning Task Force Update

* MTRS Students Blaze Their Trail to Graduation

* MTRS Capstone Food Drive

* School Spotlight: Buckland-Shelburne Elementary

FY22 Budget Update

The MTRSD budget subcommittee met yesterday (Thursday, Feb. 25) and voted to move the draft FY22 budget forward to the full school committee. A Special School Committee meeting followed at 6:30 p.m. where I, along with our district leadership team, shared our budget presentation and outline of our priorities for FY22. A link to the full presentation is also available on our district website

Last night, the school committee voted to support of the FY22 proposed budget and will host their public hearing on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. via Google Meet, so we hope you'll join us in this annual budget process. It's your opportunity to share your thoughts, concerns, and feedback with the school committee. As a reminder, you can find links to the school committee meeting posts and agendas from our district website

Our FY22 budget represents our district's commitment to providing high-quality instruction, building on our community; and assuring our sustainability for the future. It supports programs to keep our students well-rounded in the arts and music; provides instructional resources for our Bridges math program; strengthens and focuses on our district's literacy and digital literacy programs; and to continues building our district's social-emotional supports and resources.

I mentioned this in my update last week, but wanted to reiterate how much I appreciate our communities' collective commitment to our district--to our schools--our staff, students, and families. Your support and dedication to education is the reason Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont are great places for students to learn and grow.

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MTRSD Strategic Planning - Community Feedback Survey

Our Survey Monkey community feedback survey created by TMS is now LIVE and accepting responses through Sunday, Feb. 28 (closing at midnight)! I shared the link with our MTRSD families via email this week. If you missed it, click on the button below to go directly to the survey. The link is also available on our websites (look under helpful links from any school or district page) as well as our school Facebook pages and district Twitter.

We need your help! I'm asking for you to PLEASE help us spread the word and share the survey link with your friends, family, and neighbors in the community. We want our community to share their thoughts with us for this incredibly important work.

The survey is conducted by our third-party consultant TMS and should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.Your responses are anonymous and private! Once TMS closes the survey on Sunday, they will provide us with a synopsis of the results. This survey data is critical as we move forward with our strategic planning process. Thank you in advance for your participation!

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COVID-19 School Planning Task Force Update

Once again, I'm happy to share we're seeing a dip COVID-19 cases throughout Franklin County and trending downward across the state. Over the next few weeks, our COVID-19 school planning task force will continue to discuss this data and the considerations needed for moving even more students back into their physical classrooms and into our buildings.

Our students and staff continue to follow the mitigation strategies we have in place (the FAB FOUR) to do their part to stop the spread and keep our communities healthy and safe. As a result, our schools continue to remain in the hybrid in-person model. THANK YOU to our incredible community for helping us in this effort. Together we can keep moving in the right direction.

The FAB FOUR ~ Keeps us Healthy & Safe!

You know what to do...

Wear your mask; wash your hands; practice physical distancing; and stay home when you are unwell.

Below, our Mohawk Trail Regional School MVP students remind our community to practice the FAB FOUR in their bulletin board (complete with showcasing each step). AWESOME job, MVP and for caring for our community!

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MTRS Students Blaze Their Trail to Graduation

I'm happy to share some of the incredible work I see happening at MTRS as our students blaze their trail to graduation.

Students in grades 7-12 have been participating in daily advisory classes which help to provide students with important life skills like goal-setting and time management, as well as social-emotional and academic support. Advisory also provides students with the setting to create and foster stronger connections to adults and peers at MTRS. Advisory is a key component of the school's Trailblazer Model and a new program this year. Lessons and topics are curtailed to each grade level, making them meaningful and relevant for the specific needs of each age group.

Here's what MTRS students are saying about advisory:

"I really just feel like advisory gives me a slightly more social opportunity, and it´s very stress free and friendly. It lets me have a good, fun start to my day, and it´s really great!"

"It helps us think about important ideas: like goal planning, responsibility, and how to approach your school life which I definitely didn't get before."

"It made me feel that the school cares that I have a teacher that I know that I can go to and they care that I have a group of kids I can become closer with."

"It helped me create something in myself that changed me for the better and it was effective towards school and outside of school. And I started out with small things and tried larger steps, and keeping it up to date is what I do once I have accomplished the previous one."

Here's what MTRS staff are saying about their experience with advisory:

"I like having a sanctioned space to connect with students and get to know them without the pressure of assignments and grades. I look forward to having students for multiple years and feeling like we really know each other."

"I feel like space has been made to connect with students as the people they are. When students practice communicating with teachers it demystifies the 'what ifs' a student can conjure up in a safe and low stakes space. Now that I know MTRS values the whole student attending our district I am affirmed and motivated to create a richer experience for my students. Advisory is fun and adapts to our small and safe community of learners."

"Well, it's WONDERFUL to see the initiative to do advisory school-wide and DAILY. It's SO important, and I love the emphasis on SEL, especially this year. So, it changed it a little only because I felt that the school was already headed in the right direction with regard to this."


All MTRS seniors have the opportunity to hone their skills and interests through their senior Capstone projects? Each year our seniors participate in this course where they become the directors of their learning on a topic they choose where they develop their communication, public speaking, and research skills; and build on their media literacy, teamwork, planning, and goal setting skills to prepare them for the world after they leave MTRS.

MTRS Senior Cody Ryder Hosts Food Pantry Drive

Speaking of the senior Capstone projects... MTRS senior Cody Ryder is currently hosting a FOOD DRIVE to benefit the Shelburne and Greenfield Community Action Food Pantries as part of his Capstone work in examining and alleviating community food insecurity. Cody will collecting donations now through Friday, March 19. Donations can be left in a bin located outside the main doors of Mohawk Trail Regional School. Please help us to help Cody with his Capstone project and much-needed support for our area food pantries.

For additional details, check out the flyer Cody created below with additional details:

Capstone FOOD DRIVE to benefit Community Action

MTRS Senior Cody Ryder hosts food drive to benefit local food pantry to help alleviate hunger issues in our community. Click for details!

School Spotlight: Buckland-Shelburne Elementary

Students in Mrs. Unaitis' class have been working on their poetry skills, starting with acrostic poems following a Valentine's theme. For those who need a poetry refresher, acrostic poems are created when the first letter of each line spells out a word or message. "Acrostics are one of the easiest styles of poetry, and one of the most fun (in our opinion)!" said Mrs. Unatis. "We read the acrostic poem, Elizabeth by Edgar Allen Poe, for our inspiration. Next we will be moving onto mystery poems."

Click on the photos below to admire their incredible work and word-smithing a little more closely!

Thanks for all you do to make Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont School Districts GREAT places to learn and grow!