APS Heroes

News from the Andover Public School District

April 17, 2020

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Message from the Superintendent

Our APS community has come together to support each other in these challenging times. We would like to celebrate our students, parents, educators, staff and administrators who have stepped up to help each other, their neighbors and our community. This APS Heroes acknowledges just a few of them, but there are so many others who are out there doing incredible work for the community and those in need. I want to thank all of you for your commitment to support others and for making our community a caring place to live, work and learn.

This year’s spring recess will be different from every other we have experienced. To offer assistance to our families, APS educators have recommended some activities to help our students remain engaged during the week. Additionally, our APS At-Home Learning website can serve as an excellent resource for families. While we are still social distancing, it might also be a great time to take a virtual field trip or tour at a museum or zoo or a tourist destination. It might not be quite like being there, but it may be both educational and entertaining.

Earlier this week, we sent information for parents and guardians, encouraging them to participate in a community survey and digital resources workshops. These workshops will be held during vacation week and the survey remains open until Friday, April 24th. More details are included in this newsletter.

I know that we are all challenged by the emotional and physical stress of this health crisis and doing our best to manage our isolation and care for loved ones. I am hopeful that next week can serve as a time for you to rest and spend time with your families. I wish you and your family good health and safety during this time.

Shelley Berman


APS Heroes

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Tyler Bates keeps High Plain Elementary Informed

A new edition of HPE TV news aired each Friday at High Plain Elementary. When schools closed, fifth grader Tyler Bates created his own studio at home to keep the school informed! Drawing on his experience as a reporter on HPE TV, Tyler created his own original broadcast, which includes current events, topics of interest, book talks and local weather. His production crew includes his sister Eleanor, a kindergarten student at HPE, and dad, Andrew.

What a creative way to keep HPE TV “on-air” from home, Tyler! For APS families who would like to create their at-home newscast, check out these tips from Tyler’s HPE teachers Kelly Dougherty, Colleen Dolan and Digital Learning Coach Matt Hall.

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AHS Students collecting to help families in need

Avi Janarthanan and Sophia Numan, juniors at Andover High School, have found ways to give back to those in the community who may be in need. Avi began a campaign called #BiggerThanTheVirus to support the Lazarus House Ministries, which serves 25,000 area families each year with food, clothing and other essentials.

Sophia is also collecting for the Lazarus House and hopes those who are able will donate food and essentials to share with the residents. Sophia is offering porch pick-up on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Andover and North Andover. To reach out to Sophia for pick-up, please message her on Facebook @sophienuman or on Instagram at @sophiexnuman.

Avi and Sophia, we are inspired by your efforts and thank you for giving back to your community.

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Sharing Stories from a Distance

Doherty Middle School sixth grade ELA teacher Erica Saum delivers! Erica is encouraging her students to keep reading during the closure by picking up books from her students and delivering them to their classmates to share. At Erica’s suggestion, students have been writing notes to leave inside the books, so the next recipient has a connection with other students in the class. In the picture above, Erica drops off books for Mikalya and Ava DeLuca.

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A Special Thanks to APS Digital Learning Coaches

At-home and remote learning activities and platforms have really brought out the best in our APS digital learning coaches (DLCs). Since March, our DLCs have worked tirelessly to ensure our students, educators and families have the resources and training they need to keep learning alive. Many thanks to our DLCs: Barbara Murray at Doherty, Sarah Downs at Wood Hill Middle School, Shelagh St. Laurent and Mary Coombs at Andover High School, Shelley Porter at West Middle School, Tim Harkins at Bancroft Elementary, Matt Hall from High Plain Elementary, Chris Gosselin at Sanborn Elementary, Kathy Fowler at West Elementary, and Beth Kennedy at South Elementary. You all have made the transition a lot easier for our students and educators!

A shout out to Shelagh St. Laurent from Andover High School for being the “Featured Educator” in the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators’ (MassCUE) April publication. MassCUE is the state’s leading organization for educators with a passion for technology in education.

Our deepest gratitude to Director of Digital Learning, Joanne Najarian, who will be leaving May 1st to pursue other opportunities. For the past eight years, Joanne has led the initiatives to bring our students and educators digital platforms and resources that have moved our education forward. Thank you Joanne; we wish you the best of luck.

Warrior Way- Virtual Spirit Week!

Each year, the Warrior Way program at Andover High School creates mentorship opportunities for all APS students, as students from the high school visit elementary students in the spring to reinforce the importance of teamwork and community.

This year’s Warrior Way chairs are AHS seniors Shamus Florio, Caroline Fraser, Shea Krekorian, John Marshal, Charlie McCarthy, Libby Pustis and juniors Jared Moses, Anton Pace, Tatum Shaw, and Colleen Shay. The Warrior Way chairs had to be resourceful once school closed and decided to organize a “Virtual Spirit” week, creating themes to demonstrate positive spirit across all our schools, using the hashtags #AndoverSpiritWeek and #AHSAloneTogether

AHS senior Libby Pustis says it best, “I found this project to be important not only to our school but our community as well. In this difficult time this project allows everyone to connect to each other in a fun and safe way. I think it is hard to stay positive especially as a senior, but this will allow me to connect with my school and community and spread spirit!”

Chromebooks for APS At-Home Connections

Many thanks for the near heroic work of the town’s department of Information Technology for providing nearly 700 Chromebook devices to support our students with their at-home learning.

Jim Casey, Joe Hadley, Joe Huskey, Bonnie Hajjar, Trish Fitzpatrick, Mark Snowden, Karla Kohl, and Laura Hall collaborated with APS Director of Strategic Innovation Steve Chinosi and Director of Digital Learning Joanne Najarian to distribute the devices that will provide our families with resources they need until school is back in session.

BRIDGE AND EXCEL Supports APS Students

APS BRIDGE and EXCEL teams, led by program head in the Office of Student Services Heather Eigen, designed resources for students with special needs. They prepared and delivered more than 25 individual at-home learning binders for students, 30 physical therapy supplies packets, and seven occupational therapy supplies packets to support our students while they are home.

Special thanks to BRIDGE teachers Katie Palladino (and her dog Gary) from Shawsheen preschool and West Elementary Sara Spies Karotkin, Board Certified Behavioral Analysts (BCBA) Karen Butkovich and Caitlin Sweeney, physical therapists Ellen Davidson and Andrea Barker and BRIDGE Instructional Assistant Jenna Smolag.

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High Five for Personal Protection Equipment

Stephen Sanborn, APS PK-12 program coordinator of Science donated boxes of exam gloves to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) collection point in Methuen. The gloves were gathered from science labs and classrooms at Andover High School and our middle schools.

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Andover First Responders Are Our Heroes

The men and women of Andover Police and Fire Rescue departments can’t work from home during the Coronavirus pandemic. We are grateful for your commitment to our community. We thank you for protecting all Andover families and your hard work to keep us all safe and healthy.

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APS Community News

APS Community Survey

We value the opportunity to hear from all APS families. The district has created a survey for parents and guardians so we may better understand how we can support our students and families during this time.

We recognize that at-home learning is not the same experience or as effective as students having daily, direct interactions with their teachers. Our teachers are working hard to support your children in their learning. We want to make students’ interactions with their teachers and classmates as meaningful and productive as possible, given the constraints of remote learning.

The link to access the survey is here. This survey is an important opportunity to provide the district with valuable input based on your experiences and needs during this time. Your answers will be completely anonymous and, if you prefer not to answer a question, you may skip it. If you have more than one child enrolled in the district, you may either answer questions for your oldest child or complete the survey for each child at APS. The survey will remain open until Friday, April 24, 2020.

Navigating Digital Resources Workshops for APS Families

The Office of Digital Learning is offering APS parents and guardians the opportunity to participate in APS At-Home workshops, Navigating Digital Resources. The workshops have been designed to help parents and guardians understand the tools our teachers are using during the district’s closure.

The digital learning team will offer insights and a behind-the-scenes look at Google platforms, including Classroom, Docs and Meet (live video conferencing). They will also share information on resources like Seesaw, Flipgrid and Padlet during these informal sessions.

Workshop sessions will be held at various days and times over vacation week. If you are able to attend a session, we ask that you RSVP, as space will be limited to 50 people per session. For more information and to RSVP; click here. Once you RSVP, you will be emailed a link for participation.

Resources for Mental Health

We recognize the emotional toll this crisis has created for students and families. In the past few months, many of our families and our students are suddenly facing uncertain and insecure circumstances. The APS Office of Student Services and our social work staff can provide support and resources for our students and families during this time. Should you need assistance, we encourage you to visit their webpage for contact information and resources available for our families.

About APS

The mission of the Andover Public Schools, in partnership with the entire Andover community, is to educate by engaging and inspiring students to develop as self-reliant, responsible citizens who are thinkers, problem solvers, and contributors prepared to participate in an evolving global society.