Salem Public Schools' Weekly Update
A Message from the Superintendent
September 8, 2023
Our school year is in full swing. Our buildings are full, meaningful instruction is happening, and many extracurricular activities have begun. As always, we appreciate your flexibility and partnership as we settle into the school year. This year, we have had to navigate a heatwave during a critical week when we establish school routines. We are grateful for everyone’s efforts to minimize disruption while keeping our students cool! A few quick reminders:
- Please join us for our upcoming open houses. It is an important way to get to know your child’s teachers and to understand their school’s plans for the upcoming year. See the schedule here.
- Please have your children turn in their summer reading logs to the main office at their school no later Friday, September 15th. One student's name from each school will be randomly selected to ride a fire truck to school in the near future.
- Be sure to complete back-to-school forms via the Aspen portal as soon as possible so that we can have the most accurate information for your child.
- The School Committee shared their SY23-24 goals with the public at Tuesday evening's meeting. We appreciate the clarity and alignment of their goals to our new strategic plan.
Please stay cool and enjoy the weekend!
And the Winner is.....
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 rock star trophy.
The rockstar award this week goes to Nelson Caldeira, senior custodian at the Carlton Innovation School. Mr. Caldeira cares deeply about the Carlton School facility and models that ethic for all members of his team. The school is always clean, well-organized and maintenance issues are tended to in a timely fashion. We are grateful for Mr. Caldeira's role in the making Carlton sparkle for students and staff!
Summer Reading Logs DUE
Did your child participate in the summer reading challenge to win a ride to school on a fire truck? Please return a signed summer reading log to your child's school office by Friday, September 15th.
Director of Communications Named
Chris O’Donnell has been selected as our new Director of Communications and will begin on September 18th. Mr. O’Donnell comes to Salem with more than 20 years of experience in public relations and communications, in both the public education and corporate sectors. He will be responsible for the district’s communication, public relations efforts and storytelling, website development and digital marketing initiatives.
Prior to accepting the position at SPS, Mr. O’Donnell spent nearly three years as the Director of
Communications and Media at Chelmsford Public Schools, which followed five years as the
Senior Copywriter at the Instabill Corporation, a Portsmouth, N.H.-based e-commerce payment
From 1999-2014, Mr. O’Donnell served as the Director of Media Relations for the Department
of Athletics at UMass Lowell, where he oversaw all communications efforts, web development
and statistics for the Department’s 18 women’s and men’s teams. During his tenure, UMass
Lowell was featured in the likes of Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, NPR and ESPN as
well as each of the Boston media outlets.
In 2012, Mr. O’Donnell received the Irving T. Marsh Award from the Eastern College Athletic
Conference (ECAC) Sports Information Directors Association for dedication and contributions to
the industry. Over his 14 years, Mr. O’Donnell mentored 14 students and interns into careers in
college athletics media relations.
A native of Clifton Park, N.Y., Mr. O’Donnell lives in Newburyport, Mass., with his wife, Carrie,
the Executive Director of the Newburyport Education Foundation; and their sons Christopher, a
senior at St. Lawrence University; and Brady, a sophomore at Virginia Tech.
Welcome aboard, Chris!
Salem Technical Institute
Are you an adult with a high school diploma or equivalent? Unemployed or under-employed and looking for help reaching your career goals? Do you know someone that is?
If so, the Salem Technical Institute at Salem High School can help!
The Salem Technical Institute offers adult education in high-demand programs for you to gain the entry-level skills needed to be successful.
The SHS CTE & the newly created "Salem Technical Institute" cordially invite you to their OPEN HOUSE on 9/12/23 & 9/14/23 from 5-7pm. Come and learn all about this wonderful program.
Composting at Carlton!
Salem Public Schools is launching a composting program at the Carlton Innovation School! Preparations are underway with the Carlton Food & Nutrition Services staff to launch phase 1 of a pilot composting program, starting with kitchen food waste. Janelle Rolke, The Waste Reduction Coordinator of the City of Salem, has organized training sessions for Food & Nutrition Services staff. Compost bins will be set up in the Carlton kitchen on September 7th, and kitchen staff will begin using them on Monday, September 11th. When full, the buckets will be dumped into Black Earth compost bins that are securely sealed and stored outside. The first weekly compost pick-up will occur on September 15th. While the kitchen staff is getting up to speed with composting, resources will be provided to educators to teach students about the environmental importance of composting and will help students develop a broader understanding of sustainable systems.
Phase 2 of the pilot program will launch in December 2023, after students have learned about what composting is and why it matters. Compost bins will be placed next to the regular trash bin in the cafeteria for students to place food waste. Students will be encouraged by cafeteria staff to place their food waste in the compost bin and not the trash. Depending on the success of the program at Carlton, the program will expand to all Salem Public Schools in the next year.
Did you know, in the state of Massachusetts, more than 25% of the solid waste stream is made up of food waste? This means that over 1 million tons of organic material are sent to landfills or burned yearly at the incinerator. Due to the escalating shortage of landfill space, all trash in Salem is sent to a waste-to-energy incinerator where greenhouse gases are released that contribute to climate change. When we incinerate this waste, greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) are released into the atmosphere which trap the sun’s heat and warm the planet. Rising global temperatures affect many things like extreme weather, human health, ecosystems and food supply. As we look to combat climate change, we must take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove and store carbon from the atmosphere. Composting is a great way to do just that. Composting, a process of controlled decomposition, not only removes organic material from the waste stream but also creates nutrient-dense soil that can be used to fertilize plants and grow food!
Through this pilot, we will empower the school community to take ownership of their continued growth towards integrating sustainable practices into daily operations and community culture. This will also provide support and contribute to the city’s progress towards its solid waste reduction as well as its sustainability and resiliency goals.
Essex National Heritage Event - Fish Weir Project Volunteers Needed
Fish weirs have been constructed by the Indigenous Massachusett people since time immemorial. Join members of the Massachusett Tribe to learn the history and participate in the renewal of this tradition in Salem Harbor. On September 19th and 20th Salem School students will be building fish weirs in Salem Harbor. Volunteers are needed both evenings to check the weirs for fish, and dismantle them for the following day. There will be an opportunity to learn informally from Massachusett Tribal Member Thomas Green during the volunteer events. Find more information here.
NAGLY - Upcoming events/programs
NAGLY is excited to announce their fall line up for all events, programs and services! Including recurring programs and services offered daily/weekly/ and monthly that are always available and accessible for all LGBTQIA+ and allies within the greater North Shore!
Please see the attached programs at a glance sheet that has everything NAGLY has to offer!
REMINDER 2023-2024 Back-to-School Forms - DUE October 1st!
It is essential for your child’s well-being and education that we have accurate and complete information about them in our schools. We appreciate your time and attention so that we can keep your child safe, healthy, and thriving in school, meet any of their unique needs, ensure timely communication with you at home, and keep you informed and updated about all that is happening in our schools.
Please complete these forms FOR EACH CHILD ENROLLED by OCTOBER 1st.
Should you have any questions regarding the content of the forms or need assistance with the forms, please contact your school nurse or school front office. All forms are accessed in the same way you access report cards through Aspen. You can find step-by-step instructions to help you navigate these forms here. The Aspen Family Portal information guides can be found in English, in Spanish, and in Portuguese.
For technical assistance, please contact the IT Department by submitting a technical assistance ticket through this link or by calling the Technical Help Desk at: 978-619-1450. Please note, the technical Help Desk hours are Monday-Friday between 7a-4p.
We would like to remind all our families that during the first two weeks of school bus schedules and routes are still being adjusted. There may be delays, occasional mix ups, and ongoing changes until everything is streamlined between students, families, drivers, schools, and the transportation department. Please make sure students are riding on the bus they were assigned to, even if there is a similar stop on another bus going to the same school. This is to avoid overcrowding and to ensure that ridership is well distributed among all our buses.
Please also remember that if you need to request transportation or make any changes to your student's bus schedule, there is a 72 hour turnaround time for requests. After the request has been completed, the transportation department will update Aspen, contact the family to give them the bus information, print the bus pass, and send it to the student's school. Once the student receives their bus pass at school, they may begin riding. Please make sure your student knows their bus number, where their bus stop is, and how to get to and from their bus stop. A parent/guardian must be present for all kindergarten and 1st grade students.
Back to School - Open House Night
Welcome back to the 2023-2024 school year! We invite all our students and families to our open houses to meet and mingle with school staff and your school community. Mark your calendars with your school’s date and time - we hope to see you there.
Download the ParentSquare app
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 the primary communication platform for all Salem Public Schools. All messages and alerts come through ParentSquare and the app makes 1-to-1 communication with your student's teachers and signing up for guardian/student conferences a breeze. If you are not receiving messages from ParentSquare or if you are having trouble, contact your school's front office. You can visit www.parentsquare.com for more information.