Superintendent's August Newsletter
Getting ready for the new year!
Welcome back after what I hope was an excellent summer for you and your family! For me, spending the day at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Park with one of my sons in Atlanta was the highlight of my summer and helped ground me in the WPS equity work, especially with regard to the WMS Kingian Non-Violence program.
This past Tuesday, we opened our doors for our faculty and staff with three excellent days of professional learning and collegial activities. The WPS Professional Development Team prepared a robust three-day program which included deeply meaningful opportunities for engagement, reflection, and preparation for the coming year. Our core values of Excellence, Equity, and Community guided this learning and these days provided us with a great start to our year.
Over the summer, our architect and the School Building Committee have been hard at work creating construction design documents for the three elementary schools, which have come a long way since June (see photos below). Additionally, on August 20, the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s Designer Selection Panel met to review and shortlist architects for the Watertown High School Project. The three finalists are Ai3- the current elementary school project architect, JCJ Architecture, and Jonathan Levy Architects. The final selection will take place on September 17, at which time we begin the Feasibility Study in earnest. The first steps in the process are site selection and educational visioning, which will begin this fall.
This year, we welcome 31 new teachers, 19 new Instructional Assistants, and four new administrators to the District, and several existing staff are moving into new positions either within or outside of their schools. Our new colleagues bring with them a wide variety of educational and life experiences, which will enhance our already strong professional culture.
I wish you the best for an enjoyable long weekend and look forward to welcoming your children back to school on Tuesday. We are more than ready, eager, and excited to begin this excellent adventure!
Dede Galdston, Ed.D.
Hosmer Elementary School
Cunniff Elementary School
Polishing up Our Schools for Opening Day
Today, I was treated to a showcase/walkthrough of our buildings to see first hand all of the tremendous work that was accomplished this summer in preparation for the opening of school on Tuesday. This annual tradition provides Town Councilors, Town officials, and School Committee Members with a chance to tour the buildings, ask questions, and see the vast improvements in our schools.
Of note, the Middle School underwent major improvements, renovations, and furniture updates all while Camp Pequossette was underway. Some of the highlights include: new hallway and classroom floors, new painting in many areas including the ground floor gym, renovated bathrooms on the main floor, and the girl’s locker room is almost complete. Many rooms in the High School have new floors and fresh paint, and the guidance area has new carpeting. Additionally, eight classrooms have new interactive projectors and whiteboards. The hallways at the Hosmer have been power cleaned and painted and all our buildings have been thoroughly waxed and cleaned. All told, over 800 work orders were completed by our facilities staff over the summer. I can also say that our teachers have been hard at work preparing their classrooms creating warm, welcoming, and engaging learning environments.
We can’t wait to welcome all of our students back to school on Tuesday! If you get a chance, please extend a thank you to our custodians and maintenance staff who worked tirelessly to get our buildings ready.
Summer fun in the Watertown Public Schools
This summer, the Hosmer and the High School hosted several excellent WPS programs including the Summer Explorations program, the Special Education Extended School Year program, the ESL Summer Program, and the Summer Literacy program.
The Summer Explorations program was a six-week summer program offered through Watertown Community Education for students entering Prekindergarten to Grade 5. The program included fun, theme-based learning with a blend of structured and unstructured activities. The daily schedule included theme-based project time, arts and crafts, sports, music and dancing, science and critical thinking, sensory play, water play, enrichment events/shows, field trips and much more! This summer, the program had a total of 132 students enrolled, compared to 85 students in 2018.
The Summer Literacy Program supported 84 students by providing continued reading practice in a small group setting. Students were exposed to interesting books through interactive read-aloud, partner reading and responding to a text. The ESL Summer Program’s goal, which ran concurrently with the literacy program, was designed to continue student’s exposure to English over the summer. Of the 41 students, those with higher levels of English participated in modified reading practice, with two newcomer groups laying the groundwork for their entrance into school in September. All students spent time discussing and interacting with texts. Participants made new friends and strengthened friendships with students they already knew.
These programs were primarily staffed with Watertown Public School teachers and staff members, providing continuity and familiar faces for our students throughout the summer. We are very grateful for their participation.