Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Best Wishes for the holiday season!

Ending 2022 with New Aspirations for HPS in 2023

Hello Everyone,


As I reflect on 2022, it is hard to believe that a new calendar year is almost upon us. 2022 has certainly not been without challenges, and I am happy to try to put some of these challenges behind us. In my role as a superintendent, there is no training that prepares you for the reality of the day-to-day job, but I am always mindful of trying to stay focused on what is best for children when making decisions and problem-solving for Holliston Public Schools.


Recently I learned about a parent threatening to use a weapon to harm the Concord-Carlisle Superintendent, and then just this week I learned of the Wayland Superintendent being targeted by racist graffiti. It seems that these are some obvious signs of the charged climate and stressful times that PreK-12+ educational institutions are managing on a daily basis, and our children are seeing this unravel on social media and in communities throughout the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.


Holliston Public Schools, too, has weathered racist hate speech this year, and we all know that both students, staff, and families have been dealing with more stress and trauma than ever before. What a good time for all of us to sit back, reflect, regroup, and begin 2023 anew. Hence, my wish is for peace in the new year, as we say goodbye to 2022.


Below, please read about some of the work we have explicitly focused on and will continue to work on in 2023 this school year to support our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan Initiatives under Arch #2: Social & Emotional Well-Being and The Strategic Objective: "Provide a safe and supportive learning and social environment where each member of the educational community can flourish in a respectful, inclusive, and productive environment." There is so much good happening within the walls of our four schools, and we must stay focused on our mission "To collaboratively create a safe environment that empowers all learners, through innovative teaching and learning, to be lifelong, active, inclusive global citizens."


Peace on Earth!


Faithfully,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

Superintendent

πŸŽ‰ Bring it On! πŸŽ‰

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2023 Resolutions

Safe & Supportive Schools

District Arch 1, 2, & 3 Updates

Stay tuned for upcoming dates for focus groups as we begin our partnership with L & P Educational Services, as they partner with us to begin our equity audit in January 2023 under Arch #3: Teaching & Learning.


Soon to come in the New Year:


  • We will be switching to Instagram at the district level to share updates, pictures, and information out in real-time.
  • The district team is working to develop new bullying and hate speech incident reporting and protocols.
  • We will be rolling out a new HPS Incident Dashboard to share monthly updates of bullying and hate speech incidents to have a platform for consistent, transparent communication under Arch #1: Communication Practices.


Arch #2: Social & Emotional Well-Being :

In partnership with Lesley University we launched our 1st cohort of educators taking graduate level courses on the Impact of Trauma on Learning. We had 19 educators just complete course 1 on 12/21, and we are excited to offer additional courses this Spring.


  • One of our educators said: β€œThis is a collaborative course that every educator would benefit from. It helps build up your toolbox for all learners”.
  • Another educator commented:

    β€œThis course was a practical and accessible format and increased my knowledge of the brain and the impact of trauma. I really enjoyed the group format and the ability to work with my team in between class sessions. I am hoping to continue learning through subsequent courses and increase my knowledge of best practices that everyone can implement in the classroom setting.


Each of our school buildings are designing learning opportunities that are focused on creating a culture of β€œbelonging” towards the Safe and Supportive school efforts.

Activities that support Safe and Supportive Schools include:

  • Miller’s focus is on climate and culture through whole school lessons around bullying, and where selected and are participating in a 3-year Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary education MTSS Academy focused on Culturally Responsive Education.

  • RAMS has continued to develop their Safe and Supportive Lessons that focus on creating greater inclusion and belonging and normalizing positive conversations between our educators and students. RAMS also worked with Anthony Valentine, a motivational speaker, whose mission is to uplift and inspire students to understand the power of their stories, which served as an anchor to their Safe and Supportive lessons. HYPE video that was shared with the RAMS community before he went in November.

  • Our Student Support Professionals (SSP) who consist of our school counselors, school adjustment counselors, school psychologists, and our BCBAs are all actively working to reflect, learn, and practice utilizing a culturally responsive approach and lens towards student support and relationship building.

  • Additionally our SSP members will be trained in a Psychological First Aid this upcoming spring as we continually build skill sets to respond to the emerging needs of our communities.

  • Holliston High School created a SEL / MH team that is participating in a 3-year Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary education MTSS Academy focused on building a robust multi-tiered system of support with a focus on utilizing an Equity Lens towards building structures and practices towards supporting Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health.

  • Placentino has created a school Wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lessons As part of our school improvement initiatives, we have begun whole school diversity, equity and inclusion lessons. Topics include: creating a safe and comfortable environment, understanding my strengths- skills and identity, understanding and appreciating differences, and confronting /challenging bias and bullying. October they did their first read - aloud focused on creating a safe and comfortable classroom environment. Our Class is a Family

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