The MHS Community Update

December 14, 2020

Middletown is an educational community committed to providing academic, civic, and social tools essential for the future success of our students.

Principal's Report

Hello Everyone!

First, let me thank you all for your emails, phone calls, and candid dialogue as we continue to roll through an extremely challenging school year. Many families have reached out with a variety of questions, concerns, and messages of support. Your feedback is invaluable and the calls/emails are always appreciate as we are 100% committed to continuous improvement and doing all that was can to ensure your students are receiving the best education possible amidst difficult circumstances.

This month's newsletter is stocked full of useful pieces of information, links, and resources. I would encourage you to read carefully and let us know if you have any questions or lingering concerns.

One of the largest items on the current docket is our current Limited In-Person program and the associated schedule/expectations. An email was sent to families just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday outlining our expectations through 12/11. In concert with Governor Raimondo's "RI Pause" extension, it was decided that MHS will continue on with Limited In-Person learning through 12/18. To see a copy of the email that was sent to families outlining some of the adjustments that were made to coincide with this extension, please click here.

More information regarding our Limited In-Person program and some related logistics can be found in the newsletter below.

That's all for now...

I hope that you and your families have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!

Jeff Heath

Dr. Heath's Dashboard

In the spirit of transparency and personal accountability, I plan on sharing monthly updates to each of these initiatives so that we all can share in the various successes and shortcomings that each of these categories will surely experience throughout the school year, So without further ado, here are my 5 primary focal points for the 2020-2021 school year and some related updates :

1) Monitor and creatively consider ways to increase reading, writing, and math proficiency across disciplines (UPDATE).

  • Recently received SAT scores from this past September 2020 are currently being analyzed by our administration, math, and English departments. Congratulations to the MHS English department and students who, despite the chaos of COVID managed to have 74% of learners meet the English, Reading, Writing (ERW) benchmark.
  • Exploring the potential to participate in the Department of Education's "Two Codes" initiative for the 2021-2022 school year. This interdisciplinary program promotes collaboration between computer science and history courses to help students examine government and politics through a 21st century, technological lens.

2) Enhance the MHS brand across a variety of mediums including social media, building-based documents, the school website, social media, and traditional/non-traditional programming (UPDATE).

3) Establish and begin wok on a 3-year, rotating Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment (CIA) Curriculum cycle to improve the continuity and outcomes associated with MHS instructional; practices (UPDATE).

  • While this timeline has not progressed as I had originally hoped when making this goal, we did have a major breakthrough in the "Assessment" category as Quarter 2 marked the beginning of uniform, departmental grading policies. This practice will help us streamline grading expectations in each department and assist in providing a more accurate representation of what students know and are capable of doing.

4) Assist Mr. Soares and Mr. Clancey in decreasing the number of "serious" disciplinary infractions in comparison to SY 2019-2020 (UPDATE).

  • I am happy to report that we are seeing next to no "serious" disciplinary infractions thus far at MHS. This is due to a myriad of factors including a smaller student population in the building from day to day, vigilant efforts by Dean Clancey, Asst. Principal Soares, and our amazing support staff, and COVID-related social-emotional considerations.
  • Currently in the beginning phases of discussing a disciplinary flow chart with Dean Clancey and Mr. Soares to more efficiently and effectively deal with varied disciplinary infractions at the classroom level

5) Increase the number and diversity of enrichment opportunities for all students (UPDATE).

  • Despite the restrictions of COVID, we are creatively attempting to get as many students involved in enrichment activities as possible. Winter athletic registration continues and can be found at this link. Additionally, November's virtual club fair was a huge success! Student and faculty representatives from 32 different clubs met via Google Meets to discuss shared interests and sign up for clubs of interest. COVID has forced us to get off to a slow start here but we're going to keep pushing enrichment and not give up!
  • The MHS school-based presidential election, sponsored by the Social Studies department in late October/early November was also a huge success. See the Newport Daily News article here!
  • The Student Government hosting a Winter Spirit Week from 12/11-12/18. Daily themes can be found here. Additional opportunities to show spirit will be shared with students via periodic announcements throughout the week.

Social Media Reminders

To begin the year, the district is making a big push to increase our communications via social media. Please be sure to follow, retweet, like, and recommend our district social media accounts to anyone who is interested in following along with the countless successes of the Islander Community. #JointheWave

MHS to Continue Limited In-Person Learning Program 12/14 - 12/18

After participating in our Limited In-Person Program for the past 2 weeks, the Middletown Public Schools Administrative Team has decided to remain in the Limited In-Person model through Friday, 12/18.

While there are obvious pitfalls to this model (i.e. less students allowed in the building for in-person learning), there are also many associated benefits to remaining in this model. Some of the driving factors why it was decided to remain in this model include (but are not limited to):

  • Numerous positive emails from the families of distance and in-person learners that spoke to the successes of the past 2 weeks' Limited In-Person program
  • The format has allowed more teachers to provide direct instruction to more students for longer periods of time than the 50/50 Hybrid schedule we have been previously following
  • The format has allowed us to continue having some capacity of in-person learning while many other towns are being forced to move to 100% distance learning schedules. Simply put, we're better able to absorb COVID-related staffing shortages with our Limited In-Person program than we would be with a 50/50 Hybrid program
  • We've been able to refine our attendance practices and collect more accurate data to determine who is logging in and attending classes and who is chronically absent
  • The first phase of this model has allowed us to really take a close look at our learners who are having the most difficulty up until this point and to provide these students with increased in-person attention/instruction
  • The most recent phase of Limited In-Person has allowed our AP program students an opportunity to make up some ground on their prescribed, AP scope and sequence so that they are better prepared for AP exams in May
  • Limited In person has made it easier for us to adapt to the variability of neighboring school schedules and their impact on MHS learners (the NACTC program)

Additionally, there are have been many questions as to how it was decided which students would be approved to come to the building for in-person learning and which students would be asked to continue distance learning during this period. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at with any questions or concerns. Thank you all for your interest, advocacy, and collaboration!

REMINDER: PSAT/NMSQT Date for Participating Juniors is Scheduled for January 26

REMINDER! Juniors who signed up for the PSAT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) will be taking this exam in school on Tuesday, January 26. This exam is slightly different than the PSAT students routinely take during their Sophomore year as this version of the PSAT qualifies students for a national scholarship program. Top performers across the country in this program annually earn thousands of dollars in scholarship money for post-secondary endeavors. This is the first year that MHS will be participating in this testing session and we have well over 50+ students registered from our Junior class!

For more information on the assessment, please take a look at this helpful PSAT/NMSQT Student Guide.

For more information on the National Merit Scholarship program, please click here.

REMINDER: Senior Capstone and Community Service Graduation Requirements Are Still "On"

This past Tuesday there was a mandatory meeting that all Senior students were asked to virtually attend during their Advisory period. At this meeting Seniors were reminded by Mr. Richards and I that the Senior Capstone and 20 hour Community Service graduation requirements will still be expectations for the 2020-2021 graduating class.

Students and families who are struggling to fulfill these requirements are asked to reach out to either Mr. Richards or Ms. DeLima for more information.

If your questions relate to Senior Capstone, please reach out to our Humanities Department Director and Senior Capstone Advisor, Mr. Chris Richards ( with any questions regarding Senior Capstone requirements.

If your student does not have any ideas for how to fulfill the Community Service graduation requirement, please check out Ms. DeLima's MHS Community Service Padlet that is frequently updated with community service opportunities.

Please reach out to our Community Service Advisory and physical education extraordinaire, Ms. Anita DeLima ( for any questions regarding the 20 hour Community Service graduation requirement.

MHS Remote/Distance Learning Survey Results

In late October, the MHS Remote/Distance Learning Survey was shared with students, families, teachers, support professionals, and administrators to gauge the successes and shortcomings of our fall remote/distance learning program. After closely examining the data, the following slides were put together to share out aggregate data. These results have since been used to influence the direction of our academic program and will be continually used for similar purposes as we move into 2021.

Should anyone have questions or comments regarding the survey or its related results please reach out and THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to share their experience.

You may find the MHS Remote/Distance Learning Survey information here.

Looking for Access to Your Learner's Information/Grades?

Are you looking to update your contact information? How about looking to access your student's grades? Curious if your student has any recent disciplinary infractions or attendance hiccups? All of these items and more can be accessed via the parent portal of our student information system, PowerSchool. To create a PowerSchool account, please put in a request for a login name and password with our district technology department. The link to make this request can be found here. Click on "IT Help Desk" and follow the associated prompts to get your information.

Student Attendance Message

As we draw closer to the end of 2020, I would like to reach out and remind students and families about the importance of regular, daily attendance. It's extremely important that students regularly attend all of their classes, especially while on the remote and distance learning schedules. As COVID continues to wear on all of us, it's important that we continue to lace up our shoes and ensure that our learners are attending all classes. Over the past few weeks, there has been a significant dip in student attendance both on the daily and period-based scales.

In our current limited model, this means that all students should be logged on to their computers for every class, every day at the time when that class is scheduled to meet. For a clearer picture of this time table, please see our Limited In-person Schedule linked here.

The school district also recently published an updated attendance policy for remote and distance learning. To view policy 6040 Distance/Hybrid Learning Attendance, please click here.

Thank you for your assistance as we try to remedy this complex situation.

Winter Athletic Registration is NOW OPEN!

Despite a delayed start due to Governor Raimondo's "RI Pause," registration for winter sports is NOW OPEN at our MHS Athletics registration website. Please navigate here to access the appropriate forms and register your student-athlete. Currently, the winter athletic season is set to begin on Monday. 12/20. Please stay tuned for more information as updates become available from the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) and the Department of Education.

#IslanderPRIDE Highlights from November/December

Important Events

12/14 Faculty Professional Development Day (All students to learn asynchronously from home)

12/24 - 1/1 Holiday Recess

1/12- MHS Alumni (Virtual) Student Panel, Sponsored by MHS Guidance

1/18- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (No School)

Mid-Late January- Midterm exams; Dates TBD

Late January- Career and Technical Education (CTE) Virtual Information Night; Dates TBD

1/25- Faculty Professional Development Day (All students to learn asynchronously from home)

2/5- Close of Quarter 2

Want to learn more about our school and our guiding principles? Check out these resources...

Book: The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America's Public Schools (Biddle, D.C. & Berliner, B.J., 1995)

An eye-opening look into many of the myths and arguments associated with America's "failing" public education system. This honest representation of the forces that impact the way we "do" public schools help to shed light on some of our most contentious educational arguments. In the current COVID-related climate these observations are just as relevant as ever.

Dr. Heath's Video of the Month

The following video outlines some of the ideas put forth by one of my favorite educational researchers of all time, Sir Ken Robinson. Unfortunately, Robinson died earlier this year (2020 strikes again...), but in a time where educational paradigms are at the forefront of educational conversation, I feel like this video provides some thought provoking critique and analyses. Robinson also has an interesting sense of humor that takes what could be perceived as a cotton-dry conversation in a direction that is both engaging and inspiring.

Duration: 11m 40s
RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms