WMS Family Smore

September 2, 2022

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Dear WMS Families,

We loved seeing students and families this past week for Popsicles with the Principal and School Tours. Teachers and staff members have been working hard this week to prepare for the start of the school year. In particular we are focusing on establishing a sense of belonging and community for all of our students, including becoming more consistent in our delivery of instruction for English Learners.

As you prepare to send your children back to school, please review the WMS SOARS principles: Success, Ownership, Achievement, Respect and Service with your children, as core values of our WMS school community. The school website now has the 2022-2023 WMS Family Handbook, and the district website will soon be updated with the 2022-2023 WPS Family Handbook.

We look forward to seeing your children in a few days!


Ms. Jennifer Chen Fein, Principal

Ms. Jennifer Sarmiento, Assistant Principal (Clusters 135)

Mr. Patrick Dayton, Interim Assistant Principal (Clusters 246)

First Day of School

We are so excited to welcome students for the first day of the 2022-2023 school year this coming Tuesday.

Entering the Building:

On the first day of school, students can enter the building through the main entrances on Waverly Ave and Bemis St.

  • Students in 6th grade should head straight to the cafeteria to meet their advisory teacher.
  • Students in 7th and 8th grade should head to their advisory room, which was mailed home last week.
  • Teachers and staff members will be available to help students get to the right place.

Starting the second day of school, students may additionally enter through the side entrance on Bemis St. However, with primary elections happening at WMS on September 6th, that entrance will be used for voters that day.

Drop Off and Pick Up - Please use Bemis St. when you drop off and pick up children from school. It is one-way from Waverley Ave. to Westminster Ave. The Waverley Ave. entrance is reserved for our busses and is closed during drop-off (8:05-8:25) and pick-up (2:50–3:10).

Special Schedule for September 6:

To ensure a smooth transition into the school year, we will have a modified schedule on the first day of school. This will allow students and teachers to start the day together in advisory to build community, set school expectations, and understand their schedule. Then, every class will meet for 44 minutes (instead of 53 in our typical schedule), so that students can meet every teacher and practice traveling to their next class. Specials and PE classes, which alternate days, will have students spend about 20 minutes in each class, starting with the class they have listed first. We will end our day in WIN, which will be the advisory groups from the morning, to check in about how the day went, before dismissal. See below for sample student schedules.

Election Day

State primary elections will be held on September 6th, the first day of school. The WMS gym is the polling site and the gym for several precincts, including those that usually vote at the Lowell. Voters should enter through side parking lot off of Bemis Street, through "door 7". Voters may not park in the school parking lot, as teachers and school staff members need to park there. Added support and security from the town and the Watertown Police Department will be present throughout the day at WMS.

Cluster/Advisory Assignments

Beginning of School Year placements and forms were mailed last week, with the advisory teacher's name and room number. This indicates the cluster students will be in.

Cluster 1 - Grade 6

Zack Allen (English)

Ann Palermo (Math)

Jessie Daigneault (Science)

Megan Lipson (Social Studies)

Jim Duffy (Special Education)

Keila Campos (ESL)

Cluster 2 - Grade 6

Kara Conceison (English)

Alison Tammaro (Math)

Margaret Ferguson-Maltzman (Science)

Chris McDermott (Social Studies)

Lori Murphy (Special Education)

Cluster 3 - Grade 7

Ellen Fitanides (English)

TBD (Math)

Heather Smith (Science)

Jim Kirkcaldy (History)

Andrew Allegro (Special Education)

Sarah Schoenbeck (ESL)

Cluster 4 - Grade 7

Lisa McDonagh (ELA)

Phil Martin (Math)

Karen MacAulay (Science)

Kerri Lorigan (SS)

Mary Sullivan (Special Education)

Sheila Gilmartin (ESL)

Cluster 5 - Grade 8

Dan Skop (English)

Eddie Cafua (Math)

Elissa Willoughby (Science)

Karen Kline (History)

Meg Griffin (Special Education)

Cluster 6 - Grade 8

Aine Dirrane (English)

Aram Manoukian (Math)

Katherine Poulin-Kerstein (Science)

Laura Shock (History)

Kathy Kiernan (Special Education)

Zara Rix (ESL)

On the first day of school, students will go to their advisory room to receive the rest of their schedule.

Students and families are reminded that cluster placement is a complex process made with a team of dedicated and knowledgeable educators. Opportunities to see old friends happen on and off cluster, and one of the best parts of middle school is the opportunity to make new friends.

Families should complete the beginning of year forms and send them in with their child on Tuesday next week. Students can pick up extra copies of the forms in the main office next week.

Opportunities for parents/caregivers to get involved

There are many ways to get involved as a parent/caregiver at WMS. We are looking for a diverse representation of parents on all of our structures.

School Site Council (SSC):

A school council is a representative, school building-based committee composed of the principal, parents, teachers, community members. Site-based decision making places the school at the center of planning, goal setting, and budgeting for school improvement. Councils exist to assist principals by reviewing the school building budget and developing the school improvement plan. Councils may also take on other responsibilities, including policymaking, as granted by the local school committee. Councils' school improvement plans are submitted to the local school committee for review and approval.The WMS SSC will meet once a month on the first Tuesdays at 7:00pm, virtually. The first meeting will be on October 4, 2022. Any interested members should email me at jennifer.chenfein@watertown.k12.ma.us to express interest in joining School Site Council.

Diversity Council:

The mission of the WMS Diversity Council (DC) is to build and promote opportunities for WMS community members to create a courageous culture of anti-racist education and action, and support inclusion, diversity and belonging for all students and families.

DC members partner with WPS to:

  1. Outreach to families of color
  2. Plan social justice activities
  3. Facilitate dialogue within the WMS community
  4. Promote inclusivity
  5. Provide equity-lens input into administrator decisions / serve as a sounding board
  6. Diversify staffing

The WMS Diversity Council embraces our core values of anti-racism, inclusivity, equity, community, social justice, action, dialogue, courage, and anti-bias.

The WMS Diversity Council will meet once a month on the third Thursdays at 6:00pm, virtually. This year, we will be focusing on actionable steps outlined in the district equity audit taken last school year.

Any interested members should email me at jennifer.chenfein@watertown.k12.ma.us to express interest in joining the Diversity Council.

Parent Teacher Organization (PTO): The WMS PTO is seeking parents and caregivers to join this year. Meetings are held virtually on the second Wednesday of each month.

The first meeting will be on September 14. Reach out to the PTO President Erin Macomber at erin_macomber@neds.org with any questions or to express interest.

Student Attendance

Attendance is the most important aspect of educating our students. When students are not here, they do not have access to instruction. To focus attention on the importance of attendance the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or No Child Left Behind, specifically mentions attendance, reflecting the increasing awareness that attendance is a key indicator for assessing school and student success.

Massachusetts state law (M.G.L 76 Sections 2 and 4: School Attendance) requires parents/caregivers to have their children attend school.

At Watertown Middle School, we pride ourselves in maintaining a very high attendance rate throughout the year. Understandably, there will be times when our students will need to take time away from school for a variety of excused reasons. The following procedure is in place to ensure good attendance, support our families, and follow state and federal laws.

If a student has missed five (5) or more school days unexcused in a school year (absence is defined as two or more periods in one day), the school principal or his/her designee shall make reasonable effort to meet with the parent or caregiver of the student to develop action steps for the student’s attendance. These action steps shall be developed jointly and agreed upon by the school principal or his/her designee, the student and the student’s parent or caregiver and with input from other relevant school personnel and officials from relevant public safety, health and human service, housing and nonprofit agencies.

Students are expected to be present and punctual for all classes. The school doors open at 7:45amfor students participating in the morning programs, and at 8:15am for all others. Students are expected to arrive at school at 8:20 a.m. to be ready for the school day. All students must be in homeroom by 8:30am

Previously Shared News

WMS Schedule Information

Schedules for the Year:

Here are some helpful links to schedule information at WMS for the year.

What I Need (WIN):

One final schedule structure I want to share with families is for WIN or “What I Need”. This is a period of the day where students can get support and/or enrichment in a number of classes. We plan to have three phases of WIN this year, with these approximate timelines:

  • September: Students and teachers are in Advisory groupings to establish a sense of community and learn digital literacy lessons.

  • October - January: Students have some choice and/or are placed in WIN activities, with a “WIN ⍺” and “WIN β” day which alternate. This gives students and teachers the opportunity to work with two groups of students, every other day. Students will be placed in intervention groups based on i-Ready assessments taken in September. Students may also have services such as Resource, be in one or two performance groups, or extend their thinking with teachers who are not working with students needing intervention or academic support.

  • February - June: Using mid-year i-Ready assessment data, students will be placed again in a “WIN ⍺” and “WIN β” class, similar to those run in the previous months. This gives an opportunity to be in different WIN groupings throughout the year, while still providing consistency.

Free Breakfast and Lunch Continue this Year

We are thrilled that Governor Baker has signed into law a one-year extension of School Meals for All for the 2022-2023 school year. This allows all children in Watertown to continue to receive free breakfast and lunch daily.

Summer Work and School Supplies

Here is the link for the SUMMER WORK website. There is a navigation video at the bottom of the homepage if you have any questions. There are grade-level math activities as well as the One School One Book Information.

Some teachers have a supply list shared at the website above, and the rest of the supplies will be communicated in the first few days of school. It is a good idea for students to arrive with basic materials including: pens, pencils, notebooks, and a fully charged chromebook. Reach out to your child’s guidance counselor (see below for contact information) for information regarding supplies available at WMS for students and families who may need them.

Chromebook reminder:

  • Grade 6 students will receive a chromebook at WMS during the first week of school. Families do not need to purchase a new chromebook for their child.
  • Grade 7 and Grade 8 students should have brought their chromebooks home for the summer. Students are responsible for bringing that chromebook back to school on the first day, fully charged, and ready to use. If you have questions about your Chromebook or charger please contact our digital learning specialist Alex Brenon-Hodas.

Upcoming Dates

  • September 6: 8:30am-3pm First day of school for students (doors open at 7:45am for breakfast in the cafeteria)

  • September 7: 6:00pm Fall Sports Information Meeting (WMS Auditorium)

  • September 14: 7:00pm PTO Meeting (virtual)

  • September 19: Picture day

  • September 22: 6:00-8:00pm Back to School Night/8th Grade Washington DC Trip Information

  • September 28: Early Release Day: PD for teachers

  • Watertown Public Schools Calendar 2022-2023

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