John Ward Elementary School

Fall 2020

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Principal's Message

Dear Ward School Families,

In a time of significant unrest in our country and throughout the world, I cannot adequately express my deep gratitude and recognition of the promise and positivity that our children exemplify every day. They model flexibility, creativity, and joy in their approach to strengthening our school community, caring for one another, and jumping into learning at school and at home. They have done an amazing job transitioning back to school both in person and remotely over the past two weeks!

It was wonderful to welcome all Kindergarten through Gr. 5 Students in the Hybrid Model into the building this week, and to see many of you outside at dropoff and/or pickup! Thank you for observing the sidewalk markings and distancing signs, using the dismissal signs, and remaining in the car when using the Blue Zone-- all making for efficient and safe arrivals and dismissals. It is a pleasure to see DLA students engaging in on-line learning and to see them after hours at the field for practice and walking around the neighborhood. It is particularly in times like these when we see the proof of the kindness, respect, and care within our community.

Thank you for working with us, for your flexibility, and for your gratitude and understanding of the complex layers of kicking off both remote and in-person learning simultaneously during a pandemic. I hope you will find this lengthy update, photos, and many details helpful.

Thank you for sharing your children with us and enabling us the opportunity to partner with you to shape our future leaders to be thoughtful, persistent, kind, compassionate, and invested learners and community members.

Sending you all my best wishes for good health, compassion, and wellbeing.




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On the Calendar... Planning Ahead

    • Saturday, October 3: FORJ Fundraiser - Newton Centre Playground
    • Tuesday, October 6: PTO/Principal Coffee for Cohort A at the tents; 8:30am
    School Picture Day for Cohort A in person
    • Thursday, October 8: PTO/Principal Coffee for Cohort B at the tents; 8:30am
    • Friday, October 9: School Picture Day for Cohort B in person
    • Monday, October 12: No School (Columbus Day/Indigenous People's Day)
    • Tuesday, October 27: Raising Anti-Racist Kids event; 7:00pm
    • Wednesday, October 28: Jerry Craft, New Kid author, event; 7:00pm
    • Sunday, November 1: Daylight Saving Time Ends ⏰
    • Tuesday, November 3: Election Day- No In-person learning; Wednesday Schedule for Cohorts A & B
    • Wednesday, November 4: Cohort A in person (due to election day)
    • Wednesday, November 11: Veterans' Day - No School
    • Saturday, November 14: Diwali
    • Wednesday, November 25: Thanksgiving Recess begins at 12:30pm
    • Thursday, November 26-Friday, November 27: Thanksgiving Recess - No School

    Attendance Reporting for DLA and Hybrid Students

    Reminder: Although you may email your child(ren)’s teacher(s) to let them know that your child will be absent from school/learning -- whether it be on a Zoom or physically in school -- you also must call the Ward Absence Line 617.559.6470, and leave a message before arrival time.

    Please continue to inform Teachers, but for health and/or safety issues, calling the absence line is a MUST. The office is responsible for tracking and recording all absences, dismissals, or late arrivals.

    School Picture Days!

    CoffeePond Photography will be at Ward to photograph Cohort A students on Tuesday, October 6 and Cohort B students on Friday, October 9.

    Order forms will be sent home with A students on Monday and B students on Thursday. CoffeePond will be flexible with their usual pay in advance model. Details will follow, but know that all children will be photographed regardless of the absence of an order form.

    Photos will be taken outside. Cool and dry weather are expected on both days, and the tent area will be utilized in the event of light rain. Rest assured that our usual practices of physical distancing will be strictly enforced.

    We are collaborating with the PTO on the plan regarding a DLA Picture Day based on interest. Information to follow soon.

    Class Lists & Student Information Release Permissions

    Class Lists for Elementary Families

    We are not able to provide class list information until all parents/guardians have the opportunity to review their student information data release settings in Aspen to indicate whether or not we have permission to publish their child’s name on class lists. Privacy settings may be updated beginning today. After the start of the year and once privacy settings have been updated and reviewed, we will share class lists if permission has been granted. For more information about Aspen, you can visit this link.

    Student Information Data Release Permissions

    As noted above, beginning today, you may update your student information release permissions in the Aspen Parent Portal. This is particularly important this year because we cannot release names for elementary class lists and/or cohort information if your permissions are not updated. Please complete these forms by October 9.

    Nurse's Notes:

    Hi Ward families!

    It is so nice to see children back in school again. I have gotten to spend time in every class re-introducing myself to students and helping acquaint them with the healthy habits we are employing here at Ward. We are working hard here at school to make sure we're all staying safe and healthy by wearing masks, practicing distancing, and keeping ourselves clean. What you can do at home to help is reinforce these healthy habits, practice if necessary, and make sure to stay home when feeling ill.

    While it is still nice weather outside, I hope you can all spend lots of free time outdoors. Remember to apply bug spray or avoid times of day that mosquitoes are most prevalent ie dawn and dusk. As fall allergy season kicks off, coordinate allergy prophylaxis with your family's providers. If it is commonplace to take allergy medication, your provider will probably want you or your family to have started this regimen to lessen any allergy symptoms you might have.

    As a reminder, influenza vaccines are now mandatory for school aged children. The deadline for a flu shot is December 31st and I am asking that you provide me with documentation.

    As always, I am hoping my health office continues to bring a sense of safety and wellbeing to you and your children.

    Be well,

    Nurse Gretchen Egan

    Flu Clinics

    We will not be having in-school flu clinics but the city health and human services will be providing mobile community clinics for adults and children older than 6 months. The vaccine is free and health insurance is requested but not required.

    These will take place:

    • Saturday, October 10 9:00am-12:00pm at Newton North High School; 457 Walnut St.
    • Sunday, October 18, 9:00am-12:00pm at Newton South High School; 140 Brandeis Rd.

    Registration is not yet open but will open early next week at

    NPS Technology Update

    We are committed to a 1:1 model for all students so that students in all learning models can access their academic programs with a district-issued device. We are waiting on the arrival of 2,300 iPads and 2,800 Chromebooks. While deliveries of devices have been delayed across the country, we expect the following:

    • Grades K-2: The iPad order shipped at the end of last week. A portion arrived at the Education Center this week and the remainder are expected next week. These need to be inventoried, formatted and labeled. They will be assigned to students as soon as possible.
    • Grades 4-5: Our Chromebook order, originally slated to ship in early September, is now expected to arrive within the next week.
    • DLA or Middle School - More than 1,000 devices have been distributed to students participating in fully remote learning without an alternative device at home. It is our intention to provide all students with an NPS device once the devices are delivered (see note above). Current distribution plans include families picking the devices up directly from their middle school or, in the case of DLA, the student’s home school.

    Please stay tuned! When devices are ready for distribution, we will reach out with additional details.

    DLA Materials Pick Up

    We are distributing another round of supplies for DLA students on Thursday and Friday, October 8 & 9, from 1-3pm in the front of school. Please ring the front doorbell and say your name and your child(ren)’s grade level(s); Susan or Marcie will be handing off bags on the front landing. Feel free to park briefly in the Live Parking or Blue Zone (but not in the Bus Zone) for this purpose.

    DLA Information Sessions: How to Support Your Student with Organization and Engagement in Online Learning

    The DLA teachers and administrators are planning four events for next week. Although they will be geared towards particular grades, you are welcome to attend any of the sessions. We are also planning on recording one or more of the sessions for those who are unable to attend.

    The focus will be on “How to support your student with organization and engagement in online learning.” In order to make these sessions meaningful to you, please enter any questions related to this topic in this Google form. This will help us to tailor the sessions to address your questions and concerns. We understand there may be other questions you have, so we are linking the FAQ document that may be able to help.

    Tues. October 6th, 8:30 - 9:15am, Families of K-3 Students

    Tues. October 6th, 7:30 - 8:15pm, Families of K-3 Students

    Thurs. October 8th, 8:30 - 9:15am, Families of 4-5 Students

    Thurs. October 8th, 7:30 - 8:15pm, Families of 4-5 Students

    Zoom link for all four webinars, Passcode- DLA


    *DLA Update (10 mins)

    *Strategies for Student Engagement (15 mins)

    *Questions/Answers (20 mins)

    Ward Building Update

    Boston Mechanical Services performed cleaning and repair services (as needed) in all classroom unit ventilators. A final space cleaning and disinfecting was performed prior to the start of school on Tuesday. No immediate concerns arose from the inspection. Our custodial staff continues daily checks to ensure univents are operating. Boston Mechanical will be generating a report for each unit which will be shared once it is processed.

    Ward High Five: Be Safe-- Be Kind-- Be Respectful-- Persevere-- Love Learning

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    Seesaw: Kindergarten through 3rd Grade Digital Learning Platform

    All of NPS is using SeeSaw as a digital learning platform for kindergarten, first, second, and third grades. Students and families are learning how to access remote learning using this very user friendly and comprehensive program that is developmentally accessible for our early grades. Below is an example of a remote day schedule that students are learning to navigate with limited to no adult support. (Credit and thanks to Ms. Tagliaferri!)
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    Google Classroom: Grades 4 & 5 Digital Learning Platform

    Students in grades 4 and 5 are using Google Classroom to access learning tools and to share their learning with their teachers. They are learning valuable life skills like proper email etiquette, how to use Google Calendar for time management, and even teaching their teachers some new tools along the way!
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    Windows Into (and Outside Of) Our School

    All students K-5 have been focusing on learning new routines for both remote and in-person learning. We've been getting to know each other through morning meeting games, activities, and quizzes. We have been learning about our new spaces and how to use materials, learn and have fun together while maintaining safe distance. We have also been learning how to use Seesaw and Google Classroom and, in the upper grades, practicing using proper email etiquette.
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    Specials: Art, Library, Music, PEH&W

    Specialists have been enjoying getting to know all of the Ward students on Zoom this year!

    In Art we have been navigating our online art room and learning about how to make a studio space at home. This week we started our time capsule drawings where we draw a self portrait, animal, building and an action pose and we will draw them again at the end of the year to see how much we have grown!

    In Library class, students have been learning about each other and ways to keep reading at home! We have been talking about ourselves as readers and researchers by sharing what types of books we like to read and what nonfiction topics spark our curiosity.

    Music has been full of getting-to-know-you’s and checking in on how we’re feeling, plus fun movement and freezing games. Kiddos have been great at raising their hands to suggest new movements!

    During PE we have been getting our bodies moving in our spaces at home with no equipment. We’re starting to work on cooperative activities through the screen to help us work our team building and problem solving skills.

    We’re excited to keep learning and having fun this year!

    School Grounds for Students During School Hours/Activities

    From the Mayor's Update:

    It’s great to have some of our youngsters back in school buildings. While our elementary schools have the most students on-site currently, our middle and high schools also have some students attending daily as well. Students are going outside for recess and some athletes in some sports are also having practices and games.

    As part of our COVID-19 protocols, our schools are paying a lot of attention to students’ interactions being within cohorts, physical distancing and the use of face coverings.

    To support these health efforts, school playgrounds and school grounds during school hours are for students attending the affiliated public school during their in-person learning time. Fields and tracks at both high schools after school are for our students’ use during team practices, games and meets.

    Please do not enter these areas during these hours and instead wait to use them after our students are gone.

    During the COVID-19 shut down, we know that childcare providers and families (and even personal trainers and exercise companies) have used these playgrounds and school grounds a lot. Organized groups and businesses using parks, fields and courts continue to require a permit from Newton’s Parks Department. Parks Dept. staff are happy to assist in obtaining a permit. (Contact the Parks Department at

    Ward PTO

    The Ward PTO supports the school in innumerable ways. In addition to many fun family events, the PTO provides financial support for student activities, improves our building, attends to and provides playground equipment, supports our technology needs, and brings in phenomenal enrichment programs. The PTO is hard at work and is always seeking more involvement and new ideas. If you are interested in becoming more involved and/or can contribute any level of financial donation to the Ward Annual Fund, you are supporting student learning at Ward. If you are interested in becoming more involved and/or want to receive the PTO's email announcements, go to:

    First Day Welcome to Ward from Our Fantastic Families!

    Fixer Upper: Cafeteria Mural Makeover

    PTO funds enabled us to have Patina Designs bring some joyful color and incorporate our Ward High Five into our cafeteria.

    Ward FORJ

    Ward FORJ is a parent group at Ward School focused on building bridges among families within the Ward community and educating the school community about race, racism, culture, and identity. We are affiliated with the citywide Families Organizing for Racial Justice (FORJ), organized by parents at schools across Newton. We are supported by the Ward PTO and parents, teachers, and administrators throughout the Ward community. Our goal is to help ensure a safe and supportive environment so that all Ward students and families feel that they belong and are valued and respected within the school and school community.

    To get involved or for more information, please contact:

    Jeanne Choe-Arrieta ( or Angela Brooks (
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    Ward School Directory Information (for DLA and hybrid)

    The PTO publishes a voluntary Ward School Directory each year.

    If you are interested in sharing your family's personal contact information with other Ward families and have not already done so, please complete the survey via the link below. Your responses will be garnered by the PTO liaison and shared with our school community. This will also give you access to helpful information such as your child(ren)'s classmates and cohorts.

    2020-21 Ward PTO Directory Information

    PTO/ Principal Coffees October 6 & 8

    Tuesday, Oct. 6th 2020 at 8:30-9:30am

    10 Dolphin Road

    Newton, MA

    Please join the PTO and Mrs. Brogadir to connect under the tents, to learn about the PTO's goals for the year, and to share your ideas and potential contributions. This is being offered on Tuesday 10/6 for Cohort A parents/guardians AND on Thursday, 10/8 for Cohort B parents/guardians. We hope to see you there!

    Easy Ways to Financially Support Ward School

    Amazon Smile

    Be sure to use Amazon Smile when shopping on Amazon on your computer and phone! Please update your Amazon settings and earn money for Ward when you do your regular shopping. Choose John Ward School Parent Teacher Organization.
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    Box Tops for Eduction

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