Your Weekly Update from Kennedy Middle School
Week 19 of the school year...
Dear Kennedy Families and Caregivers,
It was nice to see a little snowfall today. Not enough to be a burden, but just enough to get that winter wonderland feel.
Response to Intervention
Our next round of Response to Intervention (RtI) is about to start. Teachers are working hard placing students into intervention and enrichment groups. Communication will be sent out via email by teachers by Friday, January 27th. If you have questions, please reach out to the teacher who sends the communication or your child's team teachers.
Upcoming screening notification:
SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral for Treatment) screenings begin February 6, 2023 and will be conducted for all 7th grade students over the next several months by specially trained school professionals. SBIRT is a state mandated screening intended to identify substance use risk behaviors and to improve health, safety, resilience and success in students. Please click the link below for important information about SBIRT or to opt your student out of this screening:
Positivity Project News
This week our school community will be focusing on the character strength of Self-Control. Self-control means you can control your emotions and behaviors. You think before you act.
Self-control is the act of managing behavior in a way that positively influences goal attainment and living up to standards. Possessing this strength protects people from destabilizing emotional extremes. Those with self-control can limit impulsive behavior. They are able to experience and navigate difficulty while remaining poised. Self-control does not mean a lack of thoughts, feelings, or impulses; it just means you have command over them.
To practice and encourage the character strength of self-control with your child, please visit the Positivity Project’s P2 for Families (password: P2) where together you will watch a video, read a quote and talk about the answers to three questions.
Here is the Self-Control parent letter for this week's character strength.
Athletics Update: Another basketball 4 game sweep this week!!
- Kennedy defeats Newton, Brown MS 49 - 26
- Kennedy defeats Newton, Oak Hill MS 61 - 21
- Kennedy defeats Newton, Brown MS 53 - 42
- Kennedy defeats Newton, Oak Hill MS 53 - 38
Enjoy the snowflakes today. I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend.
Jodie Cohen, Principal
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”
- Jerry Rice
Twitter - @KennedyMSNatick
Instagram - @KennedyMSNatick
From the desk of the Special Education Coordinator, Jennifer Braman-Parikh
As I think about this time of year, I have to say I am a bit disappointed when I look out the window and see rain instead of snow! But I’m a skier. During this time of year, we have shorter days which reminded me of how important it is to focus our time on integrating social-emotional practices within the classroom and how important it is to transfer these practices across all settings in our student's lives. Walking through classrooms this month I have had the opportunity to see some of these practices in action. One example of this was observing a small group of students working on setting self-management goals, looking at assignments, and reflecting on when they do their homework, where they do it, and how effective it was in their being able to complete it.
(see picture below, home school connection)
January is when we begin to have conversations about entering the next grade for all of our students, for some that is a transition to the next big step. I’m including the flyer for the special education transition night for 8th graders entering 9th grade.
(See Flyer below)
Special Education Department Staff Focus:
Julia Chakiris, School Psychologist:
(see picture below)
This is my 13th year as a school psychologist at Kennedy Middle School. I love working with middle school students and enjoy helping them to develop the skills for managing the challenges that arise throughout their middle school years. I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology from Clark University and my graduate degree in School Psychology at UMass-Boston. I recently obtained a graduate certificate in Trauma and Learning at Lesley University. My 3 kids, Ella (9), Gavin (7), and Drew (4), keep me very busy at home. In my spare time, I enjoy shopping, cooking, riding my Peloton, and cheering for all the Boston sports teams.
Tara Lira, School Psychologist:
(see picture below)
Hi there! I'm Tara, and I'm a new school psychologist here at Kennedy. Before coming here I was working at Brookline High School, and before that, I was in a middle school in New Jersey. I earned my graduate degree in School Psychology at the Teachers College in New York City. I enjoy cycling, meditation, and other mindfulness practices. I hope to bring creative ways of engaging with students to help them build positive social and emotional skills during this important time of growth. Outside of school, you can find me scouting out different restaurants and cafes. I love, as my partner calls it, "the fancy coffee." Hope to see you all soon and I look forward to collaborating with you!
Cait Potts, School Social Worker, PACE:
(See picture below)
It has been wonderful to join the Kennedy Middle School community this year! I have a passion for working with students and thinking of creative ways to support their needs. I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UMass Amherst, then went on to complete a Master of Education in Counseling from UMass Boston. While completing my master's degree I worked at Wellesley High School in both a therapeutic learning center and a transitional program (BRYT). I grew up not too far from Natick in the town of Westborough, but in recent years moved to Boston. When I’m not a school you can find me cooking, drawing, down at the cape, hanging out with my dog, or enjoying the outdoors!
The PACE Program is NEW to Kennedy this year. We are finding ways to meet the growing social/emotional needs. See the description below:
The PACE (Providing Adolescents with a Comprehensive Educational and Emotional Environment) Program at Kennedy Middle School is staffed with a school social worker, Cait Potts, and a paraprofessional, Alycia McDonough. PACE is a short-term program that provides preventative therapeutic interventions and aids students and their families with the process of reentry and reintegration into Kennedy Middle School. PACE offers individualized support for students who are struggling with their social-emotional functioning. The PACE room serves as a safe place where students can access academic support, receive counseling, learn about/practice coping skills, or take a quick break from class.
How are the reading levels of books determined? How much weight should be given to them?
Readability refers to the ease at which one can read and understand a given text. A readability measure relies on a mathematical formula to analyze the structural properties of a text such as word count, sentence length, the number of letters and/or syllables within words, etc.
There are several readability measures that are commonly used. Two of which you may have heard Natick's teachers reference when talking about your child’s reading level: Lexile level and/ or Fountas and Pinnell level (F & P level).
The Lexile Framework is a system for matching readers and text. Lexile measures are represented by a number followed by an “L” (such as “960L”) and range from below 0L for beginning readers and texts to above 1600L for advanced readers and texts.
Analyzed characteristics include the number of uncommon words and the average sentence length within a text.
The Fountas and Pinnell reading levels place books on a continuum from A–Z, easiest to hardest. Ten characteristics are used to determine text level including genre/form, text structure, content, themes and ideas, language and literary features, sentence complexity, vocabulary, words, illustrations, and book and print features. Then each text is placed along a gradient of books in relation to each other. A level designates the books as easier than the level after it (later in the alphabet) and harder than the level before it (earlier in the alphabet).
Readability measures are meant to predict how well a reader will be able to understand a given text when reading independently. However, what these levels don’t tell us about is what literacy expert, Dr. Timothy Shanahan, refers to as the “learnability” of a text, meaning the optimum level of a text that a student must interact with in order to make the most progress as a reader.
Executive Functioning Tips
Sometimes students who struggle with mental health may also struggle with motivation and task initiation. A good way to combat this is to hang up visual reminders around the house on a notebook, or near a desk.
Mnemonics can be a visual representation for students. The CHECK strategy is a way to help students get started studying.
Have all equipment nearby.
Establish rewards for yourself.
Create a checklist of tasks to be done.
Keep a worry pad.
For the “C”, change environments, make sure to reflect on whether or not the place you do your homework is effective for you, if not find the right environment. Consider lighting, sound level, and distractions when considering the place. If it interferes, change it, if you get distracted find a quieter place. For the “H”, have all equipment nearby when studying, and make sure to collect the right items. For the “E” establish rewards for yourself, as an example, eat a favorite food after completion, or play your favorite video game. For the second “C” create a checklist of tasks to be done, this can be super rewarding, checking off things that have been completed. For the “K” keep a worry pad, if you get distracted keep this pad to write down all the thoughts popping into your head.
Source: Minskoff, Esther, Ph.D. & Allsopp, David, Ph.D. Academic Success Strategies for Adolescents with Learning Disabilities & ADHD. Brookes Publishing Company 2003.
Coach Hornecker and Coach Gallivan with the Kennedy Boys Basketball Team
Grade 8 Debates...
Team Endeavor held their first formal debate session in L&L today. Students were each assigned specific roles and responsibilities in the discussion of "Was John D. Rockefeller a hero or a villain?" They absolutely rose to the challenge of holding a high level discourse and discussion and completely knocked our socks off!
Mr. Kittler's magic scope lab exploring cells
Students enjoying the company of Jax - KMS therapy dog
Students safely using power tools in Mr. Stefanini's wood shop class
Ms. Hamm's food chain activity in grade 5
Fun grade 8 science in Ms. Rogers classes
FIVE Things You Need to Know
1 - iDecide Survey Notification - Week of 2/6/2023
iDECIDE (Drug Education Curriculum: Intervention, Diversion, and Empowerment), is a drug education curriculum developed to provide behavioral support and psycho-education for middle and high school students. The program is designed to serve as a secondary prevention effort for youth (grades 6 -12) at risk for escalation to problematic substance use and as an alternative to suspension, expulsion, and other exclusionary practices for school-based substance use infractions. iDecide provides schools and communities the resources to empower students to engage in healthy decision making. iDecide is not a cessation program, and is not meant to be used in lieu of treatment. Natick Public Schools was chosen to work in partnership with iDecide, a program produced by Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
For more information about the iDecide program and its brief survey for students, USE THIS LINK.
2 - From the Nurses Health Clinic:
If your student tests positive for Covid-19, they must stay home for 5 days. The day they started symptoms is Day 0, the next day is Day 1, then Day 2, etc. They may return to school on Day 6 and must wear a mask for an additional 5 days. A headache, scratchy throat, congestion/runny nose, cough, and/or fever are some of the more common symptoms of Covid-19.
Siblings and close contacts do not need to quarantine and can come to school as long as they are not having symptoms of illness. However, they must wear a mask for 10 days when around others following exposure.
Click for more information from the Massachusetts DPH: Covid-19 Isolation and Exposure Guidance
3 - Information notification letters about math placement
For information about the math placement process, please see the letters below.
4 - Grade 8 to 9 Transition to Natick High School Timeline
Here is the link to the Grade 8 to 9 Transition Timeline.
5 - UPCOMING SCHOOL EVENTS for your calendar
- Professional Half Day - Wednesday, January 25th - Dismissal at 11:30am
- February Vacation - Monday, February 20th - Friday, February 24th
- Trimester 2 ends - Friday, March 17th
- Trimester 3 begins - Monday, March 20th
- Trimester 3 ends - TBD (depends on last day of school based on snow days)
Paper - On-Demand Tutoring
Natick Public Schools is excited to announce our partnership with Paper for on-demand tutoring for NHS students. Paper is a secure, online tutoring service that provides students with unlimited, 24/7 academic support. Whether they’re stuck on homework, studying for a test, or need someone to read and make suggestions to their essays, there will always be experts available online to assist students in over 200 subjects and more than 4 languages.
Paper tutors have been specially trained to conduct expert, academic support in a secure, chat-based platform. With a commitment to helping students learn, they’ll never give students answers, but rather interact with them in an encouraging tone to lead them forward.
This is a free service that we’re providing, so students are encouraged to use it as much as they need, whenever they need. Our teachers also have accounts and will be able to review all student activity to see what they’re working on and provide more targeted instruction as needed.
If you’d like to learn more about Paper you can sign up for a Paper hosted Parent Info Session, available in both English and Spanish.
To see Paper and the help it offers firsthand, we encourage you to login with your students. To get started, simply visit PAPER’s student login page, type your school’s name, and log in via Google using your school credentials
We’re thrilled to offer our students the unlimited, 24/7 support that Paper provides and we can’t wait to see what we’re able to accomplish together.
Our Kennedy Middle School PTO works hard behind the scenes to support our school in a variety of ways. They are working diligently to bring great activities to our school community. Please check out their website for more information.
- Title I: Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990Title II
- Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990Title VI
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964Title IX
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
- MGL, Ch.76, Section 5: Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 76, Section 5