The District Dispatch

December 2019

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Happy Holidays!

Dear Middleborough Faculty and Staff,

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your contributions to our students and our school system. Your contributions are immeasurable.

I wish everyone the happiest of holiday seasons and hope you all take advantage of the time off to recharge and enjoy some down-time with family and friends.

I look forward to everyone’s return in the next decade! Happy 2020!

Best Regards,


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Taxes and W-4s

It’s time to think about taxes.

The Business Office is winding down the year 2019 and beginning the preparation of W-2 Forms for employees. If you are considering making a change to your withholding for 2020, this is the time to do it. The IRS has changed the W-4 form beginning on January 1, 2020.

Please use this form ( if you wish to make changes and are going to submit the form to the Business Office by December 30th.

Any changes made after the first of the year need to submitted on the new form


And speaking of business:

In Old English the word bisignis meaning ‘care, anxiety, occupation’ comes from bisig meaning “careful, anxious, busy”. Although the original sense is obsolete (as is the Middle English), the busy-ness of the upcoming weeks does relate back to the meaning ‘anxiety’ for some.

Please take some time over the next few weeks to take care of yourself.


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Happy Holidays from the Pupil Personnel Services Office!

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Wishing you happiness.” — Helen Keller

Happy Holidays from the Pupil Personnel Services Office!

On behalf of the entire Pupil Personnel Services Office we wish you a very happy holiday season and joyous 2020. We made it! The final stretch of the calendar year. During this time away from the hustle and bustle of work, we sincerely hope you spend time relaxing and spending time with loved ones and friends. While the holiday season can be harried and the “true” meaning of the holiday season can get lost, reconnecting with each other can help remind us all that we are never alone and that we share commonality in love, work, family, and purpose. Thank you for all of your hard work and for the commitment you make to the students of Middleborough every single day.

On a more somber note, the holiday season can be difficult for students and families alike. This also includes the greater school community. Here is how you can help spot the signs of depression. Please reach out if you see our students or families in need of assistance. Meghan Quirke and the Family Resource Center are available as well as many counselors and psychologists in the district. Additionally, all employees have access to EAP which can connect any employee with a private and confidential counselor, among other services. For those of you who reside in Middleborough, Interface is another free resource.

2019 has taught me to remain vigilant about the pervasiveness of mental health. My goal in 2020 is to reconnect with at least one person who may need some assistance. I hope you will join me in this desperately needed effort.


Carolyn and the Pupil Personnel Services Department

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Developing Self-Compassion

Dear Colleagues,

If you are on Twitter you may have come across #HackLearning. There is also a Hack Learning Facebook group. The Hack Learning phenomenon is focused on improving education by trying to solve big problems with simple solutions. There are more than 20 Hack Learning books available and they cover a wide variety of topics such as homework, assessment, leadership, writer's workshop, project-based learning, and more.

So why do I bring up Hack Learning? Over the last several weeks I have been trying to practice self-compassion and in doing so I reminded of something I read in Hacking School Culture. The first hack in this book is to develop self-compassion. Please allow me to share some quotes from this hack that resonated with me.

"Teachers are the ultimate caregivers. And we all know that when caregivers neglect themselves, they become depleted and, ultimately, unable to care for anyone effectively. That is why it is critical that teachers and school leaders, who spend their days caring for the hearts and minds of their students, and their nights preparing to care for them all over again the next day, build in ways to take care of themselves." (p. 14 -15)

"If we are kind to ourselves rather than resorting to pity, self-indulgence, or comparison, we can find the courage to share our struggles openly and hit the reset button. And this, in and of itself, is transformational. When we are vulnerable with our students, they respect us for it. It's one way we become more human. It's how we given them permission to do the same, too." (p. 16)

"We begin by recognizing and then silencing the critics who live inside of our heads. We need to be kind to ourselves, rather than harshly critical or judgmental. Fostering deeper connections with others is another self-compassion practice, and so is making an accurate assessment of our own experiences rather than ignoring or exaggerating our pain and suffering." (p.17)

The hack goes on to point out some simple suggestions worth trying.

Empathize with yourself.

  • They recommend the SPIRE (Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational, and Emotional) model to do check-ins to assess how we are doing in the moment and to use that to consider how we want to be. Check out this link for a mini-workbook on the SPIRE model.

Set an intention for your day.
  • "By setting an intention we are bringing our attention and awareness to a quality or virtue we want to cultivate." (p. 19)
  • "Intentions are different than goals, which are specific and prescribe concrete action and results. Rather, intentions are more like dispositions to work toward." (p.19)

Be present, be mindful, and breathe.
  • "Practicing meditation will foster resilience and sustain your energy as you support your students on their own journeys toward compassionate living." (p.20)

Practice Gratitude.

  • "When you focus on what's working in your personal and professional life, the good appreciates and your capacity for self-compassion grows." (p. 21)

Give yourself permission to be human.

  • "This means giving ourselves the freedom to experience a full range of human emotions, whether positive and pleasurable, or negative and uncomfortable, and to acknowledge that we all share common emotional experiences as part of the human species. When we suppress, ignore, or deny emotions such as anger, sadness, jealousy, or frustration, they only intensify. When we understand that all of our feelings are normal and natural, and we let our emotions flow through us, we lay the foundation for enjoying greater happiness and life satisfaction." (p.21)

My hope in sharing this with you all is to demonstrate my own vulnerability in declaring my need to develop self-compassion. The coming holiday break will provide me the opportunity to make some tweaks in my practice and thinking that I will carry with me into the New Year.

I wish you and your families all the best during this Holiday season. The following Irish Holiday blessing is my hope for you all:

“May you be blessed

With the spirit of the season, which is peace,

The gladness of the season, which is hope,

And the heart of the season, which is love.”

Happy Holidays!

With Gratitude,


Stockman, Angela, and Ellen Feig Gray. Hacking School Culture: Designing Compassionate Classrooms. Times 10 Publications, 2018.

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