Warrior Wednesdays

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, January 16, 2019- vol. 18

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What is SEL?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Created in 2016, the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) team at APS focuses on professional development for staff in order to advance the goal of caring and culturally responsive classrooms and schools. Our goal is for all students to feel safe, valued, and connected to school and community.

Students' Spotlight- Avanthika Suryadevara & Jasper Bent at WMS

While they might not be able to define SEL, they certainly practice the concepts. Eighth grader Avanthika Suryadevara and seventh grader Jasper Bent understand that communication and compassion are keys to their success—academically, athletically, and as responsible members of their West Middle School community.

Avanthika is a member of student government and a W.E.B. leader, mentoring 6th grade students at WMS. Jasper loves playing hockey, but also takes the time to mentor students in the Excel program.

Avanthika and Jasper loved taking Mindful Classroom at West Middle School. Mindful classroom is offered as part of Flex Time curricula. Students learn strategies and activities to reduce anxiety, improve attention, focus, self-awareness, reflection and resilience. Both students recommend the class, saying they have developed coping skills and can calm themselves through quiet time or meditation, using pressure points to release stress or other resources they’ve learned in class. They believe the skills of self-awareness and self-management are lifelong, and intend to use them as they move into their high school years and beyond.

Volunteering as a W.E.B. leader and a mentor for the Excel program have taught Avanthika and Jasper the best ways to respectfully communicate with others, especially those who offer different viewpoints from their own. They know they are integral members within their community; their experience with SEL has taught them honesty, tolerance and compassion. Avanthika and Jasper both agree—different perspectives offer the opportunity for collaboration and understanding.

Featured Teachers- Emily Allen, Ciara O’Keefe and Joe Yarid

As part of the SEL team’s initiatives, in 2017, four APS teachers and administrators participated in a training program and earned the William James Graduate Certificate in School Climate and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). The group included High Plain Principal Pamela Lathrop, Joe Yarid- APS Program Coordinator for Social Work, and High Plain teachers Emily Allen and Ciara O’Keefe. From their experience at William James, Pam, Joe, Ciara and Emily are leading a course for teachers and administrators at APS designed to share their best practices on SEL.

Joe, Emily and Ciara know their relationships with students are pivotal to students’ academics, successful coping skills, and relationship-building skills. Their goal is to create a classroom with a warm, inviting culture that can balance academics with a student’s needs, hopes and dreams. Incorporating SEL methods into classrooms brings down anxiety levels in students and fosters teamwork and problem solving. The goal is always to prepare a child for any stage of life and send them to the next phase with tools they can use for a lifetime.

Collaboration with parents is a central part of a child’s well-being and sense of community. APS is excited to continue our partnership with the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project (pthvp.org). This family and community outreach project aims to help educators and families increase the development of sustaining and meaningful relationships through home visits.

Last year, over 60 APS educators participated in a training with representatives from the PTHVP. This year, we are offering home visits to families in schools trained in the model from now through the end of the school year. If you happen to receive a call from one of your child's educators, or would like to request a home visit, we hope you would consider allowing us the honor of coming into your home and discussing together the hopes and dreams you have for your children. For more information on requesting a home visit, please reach out to your child’s school.

Superintendent's Message

I just returned from the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development release of its final report “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope.” The report is the culmination of two years of intensive research and collaboration among leaders from education, research, policy, business, and the military. The report offers profound hope for how we can foster in our children the knowledge, skills, and character to create better lives and a better country.

I am honored to have written the report from the Council of Distinguished Educators and to be one of the authors of the Practice Change Agenda of the National Commission—both reports were integral to the findings in the final report.

A Nation at Hope” emphasizes that translating knowledge about how people learn into practice and helping students develop skills like collaboration, empathy, and perseverance requires systemic change in our educational system on a national scale.

Fortunately, APS has been ahead of the curve on social-emotional learning and is featured as an exemplary example of SEL in practice in the final report. At APS, our Theory of Action sets the district’s goals and responsibilities for our students, and provides the framework for our Agile Strategic Planning. The Social Emotional Learning (SEL) sprint team has taken a leadership role in this work, as they focus on social-emotional learning and culturally responsive pedagogy in order to advance the goal of creating caring and culturally responsive classrooms and schools. With the implementation of programs like Open Circle, Responsive Classroom, W.E.B., and the H-block advisory, APS continues to promote not only the academic success of our students but their social-emotional growth and well-being.

Students who are immersed in a SEL environment are better equipped to prosper in the classroom, perform in the workplace, and thrive in life as contributing and productive members of society. Through APS’s commitment to our Theory of Action and SEL, our goal of integrating—rather than separating—young people’s social, emotional, and academic development can help position each and every student for success.

Shelley Berman


APS Community News

The World in Andover Mural at AHS

If you haven’t seen the work in progress yet, just wait until it’s finished! AHS Fine Arts teacher Jessica Daviso and her students are working with professional muralist, David Fichter, to create a new mural right outside the main office. The canvas is approximately 33’ long and 14’ high.

Jessica is also one of AHS’ advisors for the Andover Global Endorsement Program, and recognizes Andover’s deep ties to global issues. The theme for this mural is The World in Andover and students are creating images that show Andover's connections to both the local community and the world.

All of the images are being drawn by students and David Fichter; these drawings are used to create the overall mural design. The work is being subsidized by a grant from the Mass Cultural Council’s Creative Youth Initiative.

Andover Vocal Choir performs at Mill City Show Choir!

Andover Show Choir will take part in the annual kick-off to the New England Show Choir Season, the Mill City Show Choir Festival at Lowell High School on Saturday, January 19th. Nothing But Treble performs at 10 A.M., Back to Bassics performs at 11 A.M., and From Start to Finish performs at 3:30 P.M. - Always an exciting start to the season! For tickets, click here, or buy them at the door.

Andover Hosts Korean Students

Andover Public Schools is currently hosting 30 Korean middle and high school students for the next few weeks. The students are paired up with APS students, share cultures and become an important part our community. The experience of hosting these students is transformational for all.

The program culminates in an event on Thursday, January 17th- Bridging Generations- celebrating traditional Korean New Year's Festival and honoring our U.S. Korean War Veterans. The event takes place from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the North Boston Korean United Methodist Church, 244 Lowell St, Andover and is free and open to all- please RSVP: g.cho@edrworld.org

The Andover Robotics Club (ARC) will host a FIRST/FTC Qualifier

The Andover Robotics Club will host students from around Massachusetts on January 20th and January 21st. This is a competition between robotics teams from 24 schools within the FIRST/FTC (First Technical Challenge) Massachusetts Program. Top scorers at these competitions advance to the state finals, held in Natick in March. While Andover’s teams will not be competing (as hosts, we cannot), ARC robots will be there and our students will be actively involved. Opening ceremonies start at 10 a.m., and awards are announced at 5 p.m.

Prevention Starts With All: The Chris Herren Story comes to Andover

In this very personal presentation, former Boston Celtics’ star Chris Herren will share his recovery journey with the community. The event begins with a 5-minute film introducing Herren and showing highlights of his basketball career and his dream to play in the NBA, which began to unravel by making a few bad decisions.

Growing up in Fall River, MA, and playing in Division 1 basketball and the NBA, he will detail how his journey dramatically changed and how he then moved from addiction to sobriety.

The free event will be held at 7 P.M. on Thursday, February 7th at the Collins Center, sponsored by the Andover Sportsman’s Club. Andover High School and middle school students are encouraged to attend with a parent/ guardian.

Dismissal Times for 2019-20 School Year

APS is already looking ahead to the 2019-20 school year. One of the important changes that will take place for the 2019-20 school year will be the lengthening of the school day. Elementary schools will release at 3:15 p.m. and the middle schools and high school will release at 2:20 p.m.

Our goals are to provide more instructional time for students and align APS’s length of school day to many Massachusetts communities. We are excited about the potential this expanded day offers, and realize that it may require you to change after-school program arrangements. We are already working with our school-based after-school programs and the Town’s Community Services Department on this change. Specific bus route changes will be posted in August 2019.

The School Committee is exploring later school start times at the high school and middle schools levels. These discussions are ongoing, and start times will not change for the 2019-20 school year.