Superintendent Weekly Update

March 4, 2021

Dear Mohawk Trail & Hawlemont Families,

It's been another incredibly busy week in the district--complete with finalizing our FY22 budget for the MTRSD School Committee; taking an initial look at our strategic planning community feedback data--all sandwiched between new DESE mandates; planning for a full in-person Return to Learn for our elementary students; and a crazy windstorm that rivaled Dorothy's tornado to Oz. With each passing day, I continue to reflect on how proud I am to do this work with you--our incredible community!


Here's what's happening this week!


* FY22 Budget Update

* MTRSD Return to Learn Updates: In-Person Learning

* MTRSD Strategic Planning - Community Feedback Survey

* COVID-19 School Planning Task Force & Vaccine Updates for K12 Educators

* Popular Music & Culture Class at MTRS Blends History and Current Interests

* School Spotlights: Sanderson Academy, Buckland-Shelburne Elementary

FY22 Budget Update

It's official! The MTRSD School Committee voted this week to approve the FY22 Budget, which will now be considered at the town's annual meetings later this spring. The budget was presented to the school committee last week and again during the public hearing on Saturday morning. To view the recorded meeting, presentation materials, and budget booklet, please visit our website www.mtrsd.org.


The budgeting process this year provided us with the foundation to continue moving our district in a positive direction. I feel really proud that this budget represents our commitment to providing high-quality instruction, building on our community; and assuring our sustainability for the future.

The MTRSD At-A-Glance

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MTRSD Return to Learn Updates: In-Person Learning

As the district leadership team continues planning for a full in-person return of students to our buildings, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) issued regulations this week and a deadline for returning elementary (K-6) students fully to the physical classrooms by April, removing the hybrid learning option. While our district leadership team has been planning for this model shift for some time, our deadline has been accelerated and we are asking for your help.



Below, Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont families are asked to visit the link below by Saturday, March 6 (survey closes at midnight) to indicate if their child will attend school in-person or via the remote only option.


This week, we surveyed staff for their initial feedback. Family feedback is a critical next step as data from these surveys help us solidify our district enrollment numbers to adequately plan for staffing; classroom accommodations, transportation, cafeteria logistics, and so much more. While we know we will not be able to address the needs of every family, we continue to keep our students, staff, and community at the forefront of our decision-making.


Thank you in advance for taking time once again to share your thoughts with us. We truly appreciate your feedback!

MTRSD FAMILY Survey

MOHAWK TRAIL families - please visit this link to indicate how your child/ren will participate in school for the remainder of the school year.

Hawlemont FAMILY Survey

Hawlemont Regional School families - please click on the link above to indicate how your child/ren will participate in school for the remainder of the year.

MTRSD Strategic Planning - Community Feedback Survey

The community feedback survey created by TMS was scheduled to close on Sunday, but after valuable feedback from members of our community, TMS extended the survey an additional two days (closed Tuesday, March 2 at midnight). TMS will provide our district leadership team with a synopsis of survey results, showcasing common themes and hopes for the future of our district and schools. Thank you to the 550 respondents who took the time to share their thoughts via this anonymous survey which will help guide us in this strategic planning process.


We'll be taking a slight pause on our strategic planning for a few weeks while we direct our attention fully to our Return to Learn process, but anticipate picking up the process in late April.

COVID-19 School Planning Task Force Update & Vaccines for K12 Educators

This week President Joe Biden announced making K12 educators a priority for vaccinations, deeming them essential employees. Gov. Charlie Baker followed this announcement on Wednesday with a commitment to moving educators up in the vaccine rollout, starting March 11. This incredible news provides us with additional hope for keeping our students, staff, and community safe during this pandemic. Donna Weber, our district's school nurse leader, has been working closely with FRCOG to coordinate a vaccine clinic for our staff. Details are still being worked out, but we're excited we'll be able to offer this opportunity to our employees right here in our district.


Additionally, Nurse Weber completed BinaxNOW training this week with our nursing staff. This testing will provide our students, staff, and schools with an additional layer of safety during the pandemic. BinaxNOW testing is an opt-in program which allows school nurses to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 testing on students or staff who become symptomatic while at school. It's a quick, easy way for staff to determine if they are handling a COVID-19 case OR a routine cold/allergy/illness/etc. Important to note: If your child is NOT feeling well, please do not send them to school for testing. As part of our FAB FOUR, you know that staying home when you are unwell is one of our major mitigation strategies in keeping our school community healthy and safe. Additionally, BinaxNOW testing is reserved only for those who become ill while at school.


As we proceed with planning our next steps for our Return to Learn process, the COVID-19 School Planning Task Force continues to monitor the state, local (county), and district COVID-19 cases and impact to our school community. Trends continue to show a decrease in COVID-19 cases and, again, I thank our entire community for their dedication to the FAB FOUR. All of these mitigating strategies--our FAB FOUR, increased/improved ventilation, and a rigorous commitment to keeping our spaces sanitized and clean--prove effective in minimizing COVID-19 impacts to in-person learning.


I want give a great, big THANK YOU to the folks at FRCOG and all the healthcare heroes and volunteers who provided the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at MTRS last week. Their dedication to helping to keep our communities safe and providing a LOCAL vaccine site is greatly appreciated by so many. Stay tuned to the FRCOG website regularly for updates and information about COVID-19 vaccines and information.


(Photo below from left): Tracy Rogers (FRCOG), Superintendent Stanton, and Ryan Clary (FRCOG) at the MTRS vaccine clinic on Saturday, Feb. 27. Photo credits: Patricia Donohue

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C'mon, Say It With Me! The FAB FOUR Keeps us HEALTHY & SAFE!

Wear your mask; wash your hands; practice physical distancing; and stay home when you are unwell!

Popular Music & Culture class at MTRS blends history and current interests

In a new blended course offered this year at MTRS, students in Catherine Glennon's "Popular Music and Culture" class analyze the concepts of what makes something "popular;" what's considered "music;" and how society defines, and contributes to, culture.


After working with the MTRS Equity Council, and considering ways for students to think deeply about the development of the American experience and diversity, Glennon created this new, innovative history course. The class provides students with history lessons delivered in an engaging, fun, and relevant way.


"Music seemed to be an obvious place where this could happen," said Glennon. "Bringing a connection between history, music, and modern culture."


According to Glennon, the class was designed for students to dig deeper in the subject matter, but with an academic approach. Students focus on key questions including, what IS popular music? What or who defines what is "popular" or classifies something as "music." In addition to this deep, critical thinking and discussion, coursework has included watching a Motown documentary; and researching covers of popular songs and writing music reviews of the work, for example.


"It's really so cool; students have so much expertise and experience that they bring to class," said Glennon. "They have opinions and access the information in such different ways."


During the first week of class, Glennon tasked students with creating a Spotify "playlist of their life"--sharing their favorite songs/singers/subjects that resonated with them. From the first day of the class, Glennon said she saw a spark in her students--increased student engagement and excitement, even in the remote setting.


"This is nothing like I've experienced before with remote learning," said Glennon. "They're turning on their cameras for class; they're engaged; they're making extensive notes in their work and writing music reviews. On the first day, I gave them homework and before the end of the school day, they'd already started turning it in!"


Glennon said for many of her students, they're finding their voices and discovering new talents as well as taking agency and ownership of their work.


"They're passionate about the work and that's really rewarding," said Glennon.


Avery DuPree, a junior at MTRS, said Glennon's class is a great way to fulfill her passion for music during remote learning.


"It gave me the opportunity to talk about music; learn about different genres and artists moving through the decades, things I would not have been exposed to," said DuPree. "It's made me excited to keep learning more."


DuPree said she's even found herself furthering her research after class, Googling more about the artists or the lessons that day; doing a deeper-dive into their daily lessons. And while she hasn't loved every genre she's studied so far, she loves the experience and opportunity to discover new music.


"This class is really amazing, " said DuPree. "I felt like I had an ear for music (before), but this has really piqued my interest, discovering different genres I enjoy. It's really helped to open the door to other interests and appreciate the history of artists (and) music--and it's a really fun way to get in those history credits in a fun way!"


To check out the class Spotify playlist, visit: https://open.spotify.com/user/aodjkbpe09jxdlmzwi2vzbwwo DISCLAIMER FROM MS. GLENNON: In studying pop culture, it's not all considered "family friendly," so listeners are urged to use their discretion when listening. Songs with explicit lyrics are marked and can be avoided by listeners.

MTRS Popular Music & Culture SPOTIFY Playlist

Link to the class created playlist for Catherine Glennon's "Popular Music & Culture" class.

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DID YOU KNOW . . .

Catherine Glennon's "Popular Music & Culture" course is just one example of how students blaze their trail at MTRS, engaging in exciting and innovative learning opportunities. To learn more about the Trailblazer model at MTRS and the courses offered at our school, be sure to visit the website: www.mtrs.mohawktrailschools.org and head over to our Student Services page!

School Spotlight: Sanderson Academy

Students in Mrs. Pedersen's class have been learning about the different ways in which we can count in order to determine a total. Hybrid students recently put their new skills to the test in a friendly game of Place Value Match. In this game, students partnered-up to find matching numerals and place value block cards, battling it out to be the first group to flip over their matches.


According to Sanderson Math Interventionist Mrs. Prew, these little mathematicians worked hard and had fun playing this new, socially-distanced game--one you, too, can play at home with the whole family!

SplashLearn Math Games

Check out this out! Fun math games you can play with your kids at home!

Sanderson Hosts a Tournament of Books

March is National Reading Month and to celebrate this year, Sanderson Academy is hosting a Tournament of Books. Each day students are tasked with listening to two books (read-aloud books) and voting for their favorite. The "winning" book for each class will move on to the next round until a school favorite has been declared the winner.


The Tournament of Books was conceived by teacher Jennifer Lagoy in an effort to build excitement for reading; help students develop their vocabulary; provide models for reading fluency and spark conversations centered (both in and outside the classroom) around the stories read.



According to Sanderson Reading Teacher Katy Morey, the Tournament of Books is a great way to "get children excited about books and expose them to ones they may not have heard yet."


We're excited to see who makes it to the final bracket! Stay tuned to the official Sanderson Academy Facebook page for the winner!

National Reading Month - Book Suggestions

National Reading Month is all about the joys of reading to children and motivating young readers. Titles in this list showcase a love for books and reading. "Book Love for National Reading Month," by Read Across America.

A little Friday fun . . . BSE student goes viral with sledding chicken

Nothing to cluck about here; just smiles all around!


BSE student Luke Read and his sledding chicken bring smiles to the internet in this adorable video. To hear the story, check out the clip below from WWLP. To see the viral video, click on the link directly below to Ch.9 news in DENVER! WTG Luke and Teddy Nugget!

Thanks for all you do to make Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont School Districts GREAT places to learn and grow!