Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families

Superintendent's Message

October 22, 2021

SPS families,

It's hard to believe we are halfway through the first quarter of the year. As we settle into the school year, I wanted to share the many opportunities for families to get involved in decision-making and inform the improvement work in our schools. This week's note will focus on the school level. No experience is necessary, just a desire to initiate positive change, offer input, and share ideas you have about improving the educational experience for all of our students.

Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) are independent vehicles for parents to exercise leadership and voice in support of their children's education. PTOs support schools through some or all of the following actions: representing and advocating family perspectives to school officials, raising funds to meet specific school needs, providing meaningful extracurricular and enrichment activities for students, engaging and sharing information with families to strengthen school connections, supporting the celebration of school spirit and pride, coordinating volunteers, and recognizing teachers and staff.

In addition, families can serve on the School Site Council (SSC). A school council is a representative committee of the school building composed of the principal, parents, teachers, community members, and, at the secondary level, students. Its focus is to establish educational goals for the school, identify the educational needs of the students attending the school, provide recommendations to the school administration, review the annual school budget, and provide feedback on school improvement plans. If you are interested in participating in these or other school committees, please contact the family involvement facilitator or the administration at your child's school. You may also contact Laura Assade, our director of family engagement, at or (978) 740-1225.

In next week's newsletter, we will provide information to families about opportunities that exist to inform our future direction and planning at the district level.

Have a great weekend!


Cone of Excellence

At Salem Public Schools, we are recognizing one staff member a week who exemplifies our core values of celebrating differences, facilitating collaboration, fostering innovation, creating equity and access, growing all students, and upholding high standards for all. We are surprising a deserving SPS team member with a construction cone that displays the words: “Awesome,” “Well Done,” or “Great Job.”

Barr Foundation Awards $300,000 Grant to Salem High Schools Redesign

Salem Public Schools is thrilled to announce that The Barr Foundation has awarded Salem High Schools a $300,000 grant to support the redesign of career and technical education programs as well as the expansion of dual enrollment and early college offerings.

Salem Public Schools is already transforming the high school experience to ensure that every student has a world class experience, with a focus on college and careers for all students. This comprehensive redesign along with this Barr Foundation grant will provide the support necessary to engage and lift up our students to reach their fullest potential. Salem High Schools are moving forward with a structured design that will personalize the learning pathway for each student.

Salem Public School students attend high school at three different campuses: New Liberty Innovation School, Salem High School, and Salem Prep High School. While each campus has its own strengths and identity, all graduates of Salem Public Schools are envisioned to become independent learners and globally engaged citizens. The redesign of the High School experience outlines the portrait of a Salem graduate and further defines six skills that are developed during high school to help each person become future ready. These include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Creative problem solving
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Self-awareness
  • Cultural competence

This Barr Foundation grant will accelerate Salem High School's redesign and provide rich, lasting opportunities for students to deepen their learning through vocational training and dual enrollment/early college opportunities.

farm to school program

Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers and includes local procurement of food for school cafeterias, education for students about agriculture, food, health and nutrition, as well as provides an integration of hands-on experiential learning in school gardens. Farm to School enriches the connections communities have with fresh, healthy food and local producers by changing purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education sites. Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities.

The Farm to School team will be presenting at Monday's School Committee meeting and is hoping to add to their team and to the participation in the program. For more information about Farm to School, take a look at the FTS Fact Sheet.

A partnership between SPS and SPD

At Monday's school committee meeting, Salem Police Department Chief Lucas Miller will be discussing ways the Salem Public Schools and the SPD will work together to benefit the safety of our students and the community. We seek to increase our bond with this important community partner. SPD utilizes problem-solving strategies that focus on crime prevention, dispute resolution, and foster enhanced communication, cooperation and involvement with the community and we look forward to what a close partnership will look like for not only both administrations, but with our staff and students as well.

The Salem State Center for Civic Engagement

The Salem State for Civic Engagement is working with SSU faculty and Salem Public Schools teachers to gauge interest in and potentially make matches around project-based learning collaborations. Ideally, these collaborations would involve an SPS teacher and their SPS students and a member of SSU faculty, and some of their SSU students. These collaborative projects could be co-created to address public problems, connect to the content in SSU and SPS courses, and leverage the different knowledge of all participants. Past project topics included chemistry, food justice, money management, civic media, theatre, and community gardening. Please share with us your interest (this is optional) in participating in SPS/SSU collaborative project-based learning!

international pronouns day!

The week we celebrated International Pronouns Day! This day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities. Asking LGBTQ people their pronouns is not offensive, it shows respect so make sure to ask people their pronouns if you are unsure!

Saltonstall Heritage Celebration

On Thursday, September 14th, Saltonstall school celebrated Hipanic/Latinx Heritage Month along with their students and Staff. This year, due to covid, we limited participation to our students and volunteers. October is a month full of celebrations and in order to become more inclusive we decided that this year and moving forward, we will be including not only our Hispanic heritage but our African, Portuguese and Indigenous Peoples heritage in our annual celebration.

The event was held in the Saltonstall auditorium. There were tables with information, photos and items from different latinx countries.

We wanted our staff, students and their families to feel connected. As a district it is important to know about each other's cultures and backgrounds.

2021Heritage Celebration Final1

Special Education Services Survey

Salem SEPAC has created a survey for parents/caretakers of children living in Salem who receive special education services. We are excited to gather input from families on what your experience with special education in Salem has been like and what you would like to see from Salem SEPAC in the coming months.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked below, we will leave this open through the end of October and then will be summarizing the data to discuss at our next SEPAC meeting and to share with the SPS administration and school committee.

If you have more than one child receiving special education, please respond separately for each child as your experiences for each might be different.

SPS Kindness Challenge

In response to the destructive TikTok challenges that have swept the country, Salem Public Schools is launching a “Choose Kindness” video challenge during the month of October.

To promote positive energy and kindness in our community, SPS is challenging students, families, and staff across our schools to submit kindness videos during the month of October which coincides with National Bully Prevention Month.

Our contest runs throughout October. At the end of each week, a student from each school community will be selected for outstanding entries and receive Amazon gift card prizes.

At the end of the 3 week challenge, one video will be selected as a grand prize winner.

Videos should be 30-60 seconds in length and can include any of the following:

  • Committing a random of kindness

  • Paying a kind act forward passing it on

  • Attitude of gratitude - thanking someone for a recent act of kindness

When creating your video, please remember to include your name and school community. Each school and principal was provided a document with links for their students, staff, and families (guest password) to participate in the Kindness Challenge. Our hope is that the principals have been promoting this within their school as well as sharing this communication with families in their newsletters.

Check out the video from Dr. Zrike as he explains what the Kindness Challenge is all about.

Dr Zrike and the Kindness Challenge

Win Dinner for Two Anywhere in the World

Salem Education Foundation again sponsors its Food for Thought: Dinner for Two Anywhere in the World raffle throughout October. Tickets are only $5 each or 5 tickets for
$20. Each school has tickets available for sale from their PTO members. The school
that sells the most tickets per capita will lead all schools in next year’s Halloween

We also seek people who’d like to sell tickets. There is a $250 award for whoever sells
the winning ticket. To buy or sell tickets, contact

The winning ticket provides airfare for two people, two-night hotel stay, and dinner for
two at any location worldwide. Previous winners have traveled anywhere from Morocco
to Bora Bora. Where will you go if you win? This year’s winner will have two years to
take the trip.

All proceeds benefit the Salem Education Foundation and its grants program which
funds projects proposed by Salem teachers. SEF awards over $20,000 in grants each
year to help "fund the joy" for public school students in Salem.

Schedule a meeting with Superintendent Zrike

Dr. Zrike would love the opportunity to meet with any SPS staff or SPS family who would like to do so. It could be in a park, a coffee shop, your home, or anywhere else.

If you would like to schedule some time with Dr. Zrike, please email Mindy Marino to set up a time and place.

The virtual Backpack

Welcome to the Virtual Backpack. This is a space where we will place items that in the past may have been a flyer in your student's backpack from friends and partners to SPS.
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Download the ParentSquare app today!

A reminder that ParentSquare is the district platform for communication. You will receive communication from the district, your school, and your student's classroom all in one space. You can communicate 1-to-1 with teachers, sign up for parent-teacher conferences, and more.

This is how the schools will communicate with families districtwide going forward. Please be sure you are receiving messages from ParentSquare. If you are having trouble, contact your school's front office. You can visit for more information.

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