District Monthly Update

December 2021, Waltham Public Schools

Seeking Committee Members for New Five Year District Improvement Plan

We will be adopting a new multi-year District Improvement Plan for July 2022. We want to engage a diverse group of community members in this process that will take place from January through May 2022. The goal is to have a representative group that includes the following:

WPS Central Office

School Leaders (Principals, Assistant Principals)

Content Directors

Educators

Support Staff

School Committee Members

Parents

Students


This team will meet on the following dates IN PERSON:

January 13, 1 - 4 pm

March 10, 1 - 4 pm

April 7, 1 - 4 pm

June 2, 1 - 4 pm


We are excited to begin the work of setting the district's goals and priorities that reach beyond June 2022.


If you are interested in participating in this process, please fill out this Google Form immediately.


Selections will be made by December 23 and individuals will be notified.

TEACHING & LEARNING

EARLY RELEASE DAY, FRIDAY NOVEMBER 19

WPS educators took part in the first of a three-part workshop series that will continue on Jan 14th and March 4th. Educators chose from 36 session options that all fit under the overarching theme of "Expanding Practices to Achieve Equity through Culturally Responsive and Anti-Racist Teaching" including strands focusing on:

  • Meeting the Diverse Needs of ALL Learners

  • Cultivating Belonging and Engagement through Embedded SEL Strategies

  • Fostering Access and Empowering ALL Learners.

Sixty-three WPS educators and 2 outside organizations presented to 685 WPS educator participants. Deep learning, sharing of best practices and lots of discussion could be seen across the district.

VISIT TO BOSTON DYNAMICS ROBOTICS

Educators Matt Burns, Kristina Capuzzi, and Connor Rooney brought a group of Waltham students to see the amazing work of robotics company, Boston Dynamics. Their visit included a personal tour followed by a camera crew from Nickeoldeon! The episode aired on November 17th. Thanks to all involved for making this exciting hands-on learning opportunity possible. Click on the link below (feature story begins at the 7:20 mark).

WHS STUDENT TEAM WINS PRIZE for STEM WEEK

Congratulations to our high school students enrolled in our Project Lead the Way Engineering course taught by our science teacher Matt Burns. Their "Football Fling" project submitted to Mass STEM Hub’s Student Industry Connects for Massachusetts STEM Week impressed the STEM experts and was chosen to be awarded the Top Engineering Project among all the high school projects submitted. Winning team members are: Avery Bross, Dane Deveaux, Alice Goncharova, Anderson Lopez Suero, and Sam Zarifian.

FITZGERALD SCHOOL-WIDE STEM PUMPKIN CHALLENGE

The entire school community enjoyed the school-wide STEM challenge this fall where each class was given a pumpkin, a bag of supplies, and a mission: to create a structure around the pumpkin that would help it to not break when dropped from a fire truck! A special message was sent from two NASA engineers that included information for the classes on what would be important steps in the engineering process. Students used science, engineering, and teamwork to design their pumpkin structures. On November 1st, the Waltham Fire Department came to help with the Pumpkin Drop! Thank you to the FitzGerald PTO and the Waltham Fire Department, for all they did to make this experience so successful!

PLYMPTON'S DRAMA CLUB SHOW: THE PAST AND THE FUTURE

Last month, Plympton's 4th and 5th grade students involved in the school's drama club presented their first ever show to the community, titled The Past and The Future. Drama Club students chose the topic, formed their own essential questions, wrote scenes and song lyrics, composed music, choreographed movement pieces, and built props to tell their story. They then rehearsed their material and presented to families. We are so proud of the student's creativity, leadership, and responsibility at the school’s first ever student-created show!

Multilingual Department Home Visits

Josue Teo, WHS Academic Case Manager, and Sara Hamerla, Administrator for Multilingual Programming conducted a home visit. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and they safely conducted the visit outdoors, following all safety protocols. Home visits are a positive way to develop relationships with families and students to discuss hopes and shared goals.

Social Emotional Learning & Wellness

RESTORATIVE PRACTICES IMPLEMENTATION AT SECONDARY LEVEL

As part of our Districtwide plan to promote Social Emotional Learning and development, we are in the early stages of providing administrators and all secondary (6 - 12) educators through SEL Teacher Leaders in Tier 1 Community Building Circles training. Restorative practices is an emerging social science that studies how to strengthen relationships between individuals as well as social connections within communities. Restorative practices and circles have deep roots within indigenous communities throughout the world that emphasizes connection with our core selves, develop our SEL skills, and build healthy relationships. The shift from a traditional punitive disciplinary school model to a Restorative mental model emphasizes holding ourselves in balance as we work towards wholeness.

MARCH 5, 2022 PARENTING AWARENESS CONFERENCE

Keynote Speakers * Workshops * Community Resources *

The goal of the 3rd annual Waltham Parenting Awareness Conference is to connect and empower parents to be strong advocates for themselves and their children. Parents will have the opportunity to contribute to and engage in meaningful conversations, and gain insights alongside other parents and professionals on topics that matter most to them. This year’s conference will be in person with access to interpreters. Stay Tuned for more.

WPS Receives Grant Funds for Early College Planning, MassGrad Promising Practices & More!

Our district has received a significant amount of grant funds related to various efforts especially during these most challenging times for students, families, educators and schools. We have recently been awarded the following:


Early College Grant - to support Waltham High School in its efforts to plan and implement a Waltham Early College Plan in partnership with Mass Bay Community College and Framingham State University. The Massachusetts early college initiative is designed to serve students who face barriers in accessing a college education, including students of color, low-income students, English Learners, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities. A steering committee has begun meeting to prepare for students to be identified as early as 8th grade who would be best for early college planning and to receive mentorship, other wraparound supports, and take courses at the high school and college levels to satisfy course credits at both levels.


MassGrad Promising Practices Grant - to support Waltham High School in its efforts to ensure all students graduate high school with a focus on students most at-risk for not graduating from high school. WHS will use funds to provide a Saturday Acceleration Academy, credit recovery and other tiered interventions this school year and summer to address the needs of students, particularly those who have been most affected by COVID-19.


ARP Homeless Children and Youth Grant - supplemental resources for students who are experiencing homelessness in order to ensure they are able to maintain education stability.


Workforce Comprehensive School Health Services Investment Grant - with the significant demands on school nursing departments, this grant will allow the district to support the Health Services department with an additional full time registered nurse to oversee and coordinate the district's COVID-19 response as well as its ongoing vaccination clinics.

Shout Out to the WHS Cheer Team!

The Waltham High School Cheer team competing as a coed team for the first time had a season to remember. The team was crowned Dual County League Champs at the end of October and qualified for the sectional tournament. They then came in first at the sectional tournament held at Billerica Memorial HS on November 14th. On November 21st, Waltham took the mat at Worcester State University, in front of a jam packed gym filled with our Hawks super fans and community members, and went on to win the program’s second State Championship in five years. The 16 member team is led by captains Michelle Butler and Mya Thibodeau.
Big picture

WELCOME CLASS OF 2035! KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION TO BEGIN IN JANUARY

Your child will be eligible to enroll in kindergarten if they were born between September 1, 2016 - September 1, 2017, and live in Waltham with a parent or legal guardian. Registration for the 2022-2023 school year will be held remotely beginning in January 2022, and information will be posted on the WPS Registration page. Please contact the Parent Information Center (PIC) by email or phone 781-314-5524 (English) 781-314-5668 (Spanish) to make sure your child is on our list, or to add your child so that you will receive communications and mailings for Kindergarten registration. Families wishing to participate in the Dual Language School lottery must notify the PIC at the time of registration. The Dual Language lottery will be held mid-April 2022 and to qualify you must submit all required documents. We look forward to welcoming your child and working with your family throughout the registration process.

COVID 19 REMINDERS & HOLIDAYS TIPS

STUDENT TRANSPORTATION & MASKS

By federal public health order, all students and staff are required to wear face masks the entire time while riding buses and vans servicing schools unless students receive a medical or behavior exemption. Parents and guardians must provide face masks for their children as the district has a limited amount on hand and children will not be allowed to board the vehicle without a mask. To increase airflow, bus windows must be kept open with the exception of extreme inclement weather days so please dress your children accordingly as we head towards colder months. Please visit the WPS Transportation page on our website for more information.


HOLIDAY TIPS

Holiday traditions are important for many of us, maybe even more so as the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to disrupt our lives. Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and improve our immune systems. There are several ways to connect over holiday traditions and protect ourselves from COVID-19.


Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you’re eligible. If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different places, you could consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test, masking) in advance of gathering to further reduce risk.

Generally:

  • Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated.
  • Communicate openly with family and friends about your vaccination status and that of your guests. Discuss your risk tolerance. Plan for what to do if anyone has symptoms (delay travel and seek testing.) Consider buying rapid antigen tests for home use.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated.
    • Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission (this includes most of Massachusetts at this time).
    • Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings.
    • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
    • If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host, or attend a gathering.
    • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Travel:

If you are considering traveling for a holiday or event, visit CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family. CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.

  • If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s domestic travel or international travel recommendations for unvaccinated people.
  • Everyone, even people who are fully vaccinated, is required to wear a mask on public transportation under Federal Order and follow international travel recommendations.

Special considerations:


By working together, we can enjoy safer holidays, travel, and protect our own health as well as the health of our family and friends.

Reminders & Upcoming Dates

SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETINGS

December 1 & 15 , 2021


WINTER BREAK

December 24, 2021 - January 2, 2022


BACK TO SCHOOL

January 3, 2022