Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families

Superintendent's Message

October 8, 2021

SPS families,

This was an exciting week in the Salem Public Schools with Witchcraft Heights' multilingual education teacher Marta García being recognized as the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year! This is an enormous honor that speaks to Mrs. García's lasting impact on her students and families. She will represent the countless exemplary educators in Salem and across the Commonwealth over the next year as an advocate for the profession. Mrs. García will automatically be the Massachusetts nominee for the National Educator of the Year! For my comments this week, I wanted to share some of Ms. García's powerful words from her acceptance speech which captures her gifts and speaks to the important work that all teachers do in the Salem Public Schools to include all students.

It is an honor to represent Salem and while doing so with an accent, the accent that is my superpower, our superpower, that of the multilingual community. Behind an accent there is a story of overcoming struggle, of a desire to be an active part of a new culture and a new way to see the world. An accent is also a sign of another part of our identity, of another language, the one we use to speak with our mothers. The language that speaks from the heart. The language that I want my students, my daughters to never forget, to nurture, and to appreciate. Proficiency in English will open the doors to opportunities, to a successful life that we, immigrant parents, want for our children, but I also want everyone to recognize the strengths of bilingual students, those in dual language programs, those who are in ESL programs, those who have exited them, and those who were never identified as needing English language support: They have so much to offer; how many lessons could they teach us if we let them?

I want to use the privilege of this platform to amplify these voices and the voices of our incredible immigrant/bilingual parents, who care deeply about the education of their, OUR children. After all, they, WE have crossed oceans, left loved ones behind, and chosen to be here for their future. Let’s welcome them to our schools in authentic ways by giving them options, by understanding where they come from, not just geographically, but culturally and emotionally, and by learning about their value systems, their struggles and successes, and most importantly, what makes them happy.

I encourage everyone to reflect on authentic, culturally responsive practices and
assessments and on teaching and following our multilingual students’ learning
experience in the U.S. with empathy, with humility, and with humanity.

Thank you! ¡Gracias!


Cone of Excellence

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 construction cone that displays the words: “Awesome,” “Well Done,” or “Great Job.”

This week's Cone of Excellence goes to Saltonstall Kindergarten paraprofessional, Ms. Gail Goodwin, who consistently goes above and beyond to meet the needs of our youngest learners. She is especially adept at working with young learners who have never experienced formal schooling and need extra support and attention to make this difficult transition. Ms. Goodwin always brings her energy, positive attitude and deep knowledge of early childhood to support our students!

Upcoming Vaccination Clinics

We are pleased to announce that staff from Mass General Brigham Salem Hospital will be providing free on-site COVID-19 vaccines to students ages 12 and up during the following dates and times:

  • Tuesday, October 12th 10am-1pm: Salem High School
  • Wednesday, October 13th: 10am-1pm: Collins Middle School

Students participating in the clinic will be able to leave their classes to get their vaccine.

The most important thing we can do to protect ourselves, our children and our community from the COVID-19 virus is to get vaccinated. The Delta variant is in our community and spreading more easily than the original COVID-19 virus. It spreads mostly among people who are not vaccinated. Studies suggest that the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines work on the Delta variant.

Parental consent forms are mandatory for children ages 12-17. (Parents/guardians do not have to be present when the vaccine is administered). There are a few ways to complete the parental consent form:

  • Print out the consent form, complete the form, then scan and email it back to Bailey Bollen (
  • Print out the consent form, complete the form, then send it with your child(ren) to bring to the vaccine clinic
  • Complete the paper copy sent home with your child and have him/her to bring to the clinic.

We are working to schedule additional school-based clinics, including Saltonstall, NLIS, and Salem Prep.

MA Teacher of the Year - Marta García!

On Wednesday, in front of students, families and peers, Governor Charlie Baker announced Marta García, ESL teacher at Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, as the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) 2022 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. The ceremony at WHES included remarks from Mayor Kim Driscoll, DESE Commissioner Jeff Riley, Senator Joan Lovely, State Representative Paul Tucker, and Superintendent Stephen Zrike.

The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program is the state’s top award for educators and annually recognizes excellence in teaching across the Commonwealth by selecting a teacher who exemplifies the dedication, commitment, and positive contributions of educators statewide.

Marta is the 60th recipient of this award and automatically becomes Massachusetts’ candidate for the National Teacher of the Year program.

“Ms. García’s dedication to her students and their families is a tremendous asset for our community,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll, who chairs the Salem School Committee. “Salem is so proud of her and her many accomplishments and positive contributions to our schools, as we are of all our teachers, school staff, and students.”

“We are lucky to have strong educators in Salem, but Marta is a standout,” said Superintendent Stephen Zrike. “She teaches multilingual learners in extraordinary ways that actively involve their families and empowers them to find their voice."

“Marta’s devotion to her students’ needs extends beyond her classroom and helps strengthen the entire school,” said WHES Principal Susan Carmona. “I’m thrilled to see her work recognized and celebrated.”

Congratulations to Marta, this award is sincerely deserved. We are all so proud to have you in our schools.
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Latinos for Education award winners

Salem Public Schools has FIVE staff members who were honored this past Wednesday at the Latinos for Education 2021 State of Latino Education Summit for their contributions as Latinx leaders in Salem Public Schools and the community. Congratulations to Anaima Piccirillo, Estephanie Lugo, Arabelis Luciano, Rosaura Saldivar, and Manny Brito.

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Coordinator of Translation and Interpretation

We are excited to welcome Alexandra Fortich as our first ever Coordinator of Translation and Interpretation. In her role, she will coordinate our language access services so that all families receive information in their native language. Alexandra comes to us from the Holyoke Public Schools where she has served as a highly-skilled district translator and interpreter. Alexandra brings to us a strong background in creating systems and structures for translation and interpreting as well as managing projects and collecting data. Alexandra graduated from the Universidad Santo Tomás – Bogotá, Colombia with Bachelor’s Degree in communications and has attained professional translation and interpretation certification through University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Please join us in welcoming Alexandra!

SPS Kindness Challenge

In response to the destructive TikTok challenges that have swept the country, Salem Public Schools is launching a “Choose Kindness” video challenge during the month of October.

To promote positive energy and kindness in our community, SPS is challenging students, families, and staff across our schools to submit kindness videos during the month of October which coincides with National Bully Prevention Month.

Our contest will begin next week and run throughout October. At the end of each week, students from each school community will be selected for outstanding entries and receive Amazon gift card prizes.

At the end of the 3 week challenge, one video will be selected as a grand prize winner.

Videos should be 30-60 seconds in length and can include any of the following:

  • Committing a random of kindness

  • Paying a kind act forward passing it on

  • Attitude of gratitude - thanking someone for a recent act of kindness

When creating your video, please remember to include your name and school community.

We will be using Flipgrid, a free interactive video app, to submit videos and will be sharing more details next week including a link to participate.

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2021 Parent/Guardian MCAS Reports

The 2021 MCAS Parent/Guardian Reports are scheduled for mailing to homes on October 13, 2021. These quick reference guides provide brief explanations, including visuals, about how your student(s) performed on the MCAS assessment that was administered in the spring of 2021. The parent/guardian report also includes questions that family members can use to engage their student(s) in a discussion about the assessment results. Please keep in mind that MCAS was administered under extremely unusual circumstances last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a general rule, results should not be compared to performance from previous years. Should you have any questions about MCAS and/or your child's 2021 results, please contact your building principal.

Schedule a meeting with Superintendent Zrike

Dr. Zrike would love the opportunity to meet with any SPS staff or SPS family who would like to do so. It could be in a park, a coffee shop, your home, or anywhere else.

If you would like to schedule some time with Dr. Zrike, please email Mindy Marino to set up a time and place.

The virtual Backpack

Welcome to the Virtual Backpack. This is a space where we will place items that in the past may have been a flyer in your student's backpack from friends and partners to SPS.

Expanding Horizons - Free Afterschool Program for Middle Schoolers

2021 Salvation Army Holiday Food Assistance

LEAP College Success Program

LEAP Teen Center Flyer

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Download the ParentSquare app today!

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 how the schools will communicate with families districtwide going forward. Please be sure you are receiving messages from ParentSquare. If you are having trouble, contact your school's front office. You can visit for more information.

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