Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families from Salem Public Schools

A note from Steve Zrike, Superintendent

June 11, 2021

SPS families,

As we enter the final week of school, I want to extend my gratitude to our families for their patience, flexibility, and unwavering partnership during this extraordinary year. The strength and resilience of the Salem community has been evident all year, as we worked together to safely provide our children with the most meaningful learning experience possible. Through delayed starts, quarantines, contact tracing, virus testing and multiple shifts in our health protocols, you have been supportive and understanding as we shifted our instructional approach through the year. You were champions for our educators who worked tirelessly to teach our children through masks, via Zoom, in-person and simultaneously. Together, we weathered the pandemic and its impact by trusting, guiding, and affording grace to each other.

In the end, we emerge stronger than we were before COVID with increased confidence, new learnings, and a renewed belief in what we can collectively accomplish. We will enter the upcoming school year ready to capitalize on the opportunity to return to a complete school experience. We look forward to being able to enjoy the activities and traditions that make each of our schools so unique and special. At the same time, we approach the new year with urgency to effectively address the interrupted schooling and the obvious isolation that our students experienced. This summer, our team will be thoughtfully planning to use our relief funds to ensure that our students thrive - academically, socially and emotionally. We will continue to communicate about these efforts with you as we prepare for what will be an outstanding 2021-2022 school year!

Thank you again for your partnership,


Cone of Excellence Award

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 Ms. Paige Covello, art teacher at Horace Mann and Ms. Mary Tuttle, art teacher at Saltonstall. Under their leadership and direction, elementary students across Salem Public Schools created over 1000, 3-inch squares which were put together to create a giant mural on display at the Peabody Essex Museum in downtown Salem. Students were asked to donate their art and as well as a can of food as part of their year’s Art CAN Make a Difference event. We thank Ms. Covello and Ms. Tuttle for instilling a passion for the arts and a selfless commitment to civic-engagement and community service among our students.

Host Family Needed

The Ministry of Education of Spain sponsors a Spanish Language and Culture Assistants program for elementary schools in the United States and Canada. This program gives American students the opportunity to learn Spanish language and culture from native speakers. Similarly, the Spanish assistants will have the opportunity to learn about American culture, improve their command of English and use their knowledge upon their return to Spain, thus helping to develop cultural understanding between both countries.

Bentley Academy Innovation School will be hosting a Spanish Language Assistant this coming school year. We are looking for anyone who could be a host family from September 1-April 30. If you can be a host family, please contact Rebecca Westlake 2 or 978-740-1126

Read Trust Excellence in STEM Teaching Award

We are happy to announce the winners of this year’s Read Trust Excellence in STEM Teaching Award!

  • Brittany Kennedy, Grade 5, Witchcraft Heights Elementary School

Brittany is a leader in making science content accessible to all of her students. A skilled user of technology, Brittany’s remote learning lessons really shone this year. She adds scaffolds into her Google Slides and records her own voice so that students can both see and hear the text. (Her baking soda/vinegar FlipGrid was fantastic.) She has participated in multiple professional development science courses to enhance her practice and contributes to district projects such as creating accessible unit assessments.

  • Alexa Dacey, Grade 4, Horace Mann Laboratory School

In pre-Covid times, one of Alexa's many strengths was her ability to teach highly-accessible science content through meticulously scaffolded and highly-engaging lessons. The pandemic did not change her practice! In fact, it appears that being required to teach remotely actually helped Alexa to soar to further heights. Using technology, she was able to adapt lessons she had taught in person to the online environment while maintaining the student engagement factor. While it has been a challenging and overwhelming year, Alexa has given 100% to planning and executing science lessons. She was even able to manage reteaching standards that weren't mastered by remaining focused on assessment data mingled with her steadfast commitment to the success of all learners. Alexa's lessons are often used as models of exemplary planning, and her execution of those plans is second to none. Alexa makes science accessible, engaging, and fun!

  • Laura Towey, ESL Teacher, Bentley Academy Innovation School

Laura has been working very hard to create meaningful, cross-disciplinary, project based units with her EL students. They have been using principles of engineering and life science in their most recent project based unit, building garden beds (which students did independently!), researching plants, and then growing seedlings to put into the garden. They even captured their learning on video and were able to share their work with our school community on our morning announcements. The students have been incredibly engaged, and it has been exciting to see this project continue to grow.

Each of these science teachers will receive $500 to purchase classroom science materials, equipment, or books, or to register for professional development. Congratulations, winners!

Margaret Voss Howard Teacher Recognition Award (Salem and Marblehead Teachers)

Each year, The Margaret Voss Howard Teacher Recognition Award recognizes one Marblehead teacher and one Salem teacher as representative of all the excellent, dedicated teachers in the community who make a difference to children every day. Nominations come from the community, parents and colleagues.

We are pleased to announce that the selection committee has chosen Laura Fernald from Witchcraft Heights Elementary School as the Salem recipient. Ms. Fernald will receive $500 unrestricted cash award. Congratulations, Laura!

Big picture
Big picture

High School Student Paid Internships Available!

We have a couple of paid opportunities for high school students over the summer.

Opportunity #1

Rising seniors have an opportunity to assist in our district summer programs. If you are interested in this position, please contact Karyn King Fargo at

Opportunity #2

Are you a High School student interested in a career teaching? Are you a student that likes math enough to inspire others to enjoy it? Are you interested in working with middle school students as they explore a summer math project? Do you want to work directly with a mentor teacher to learn how to master the classroom? Can you devote 3 days per week this summer to a paid job that may lead to a profession?

Ed Inquiry Teen Leaders will work in virtual online classrooms alongside a Team Leader responsible for leading a class of 10 to 15 middle school students working together on a real world math project like buying a car or getting an apartment . As the Teen Leader, you will be in the classroom, engaging with students and testing your skills for the future.

You will be responsible for assisting in the Ed Inquiry virtual classroom 3 days per week. So it is easy to earn while you learn and have time for summer fun too. We provide training for you.

If you are great at math, if you know how to use and have a good computer and access to a fast internet connection, you can earn while you learn.

You are required to:

  • Commit to attend 12 sessions in July and 12 sessions in August
  • Commit to assist Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday with one Thursday each month.
  • Be present, engaged, responsible and ready to try something new
  • Work with middle school students as they engage with math and their summer projects

This is a seasonal, summer virtual position.

Send an email with your name, your school, your town, your grade and a few paragraphs on why you want to be a teacher to

Big picture

Summer P-EBT

The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced that Massachusetts has received federal approval to continue providing Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits to families through summer 2021. Pandemic-EBT is a federal program, jointly administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and DESE, that promotes increased food security for families whose children receive free or reduced-price school meals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program. All students who have received P-EBT will be eligible for summer P-EBT, except for those who graduated in 2020 or moved out of Massachusetts. Eligible students will receive a total of $375 in P-EBT benefits in two equal payments of $187.50 this summer. The first payment will be issued on July 1, and the second payment will be issued on August 1.

Summer P-EBT will supplement the Summer Food Service Program (Summer Eats in Massachusetts), a USDA-funded program that provides nutritious meals to children without charge at more than 1,400 sites statewide. As in past years, meals will be provided, at a first-come, first-served basis at the sites and times as available in the following online resource:

SPS Summer Eats Program

Summer Eats will provide meals to families free of charge this summer. Distribution will begin on June 28th and will be available from 9am-noon, Monday-Friday at each SPS school EXCEPT for Bentley and WHES.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program:

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that provides a temporary discount on monthly broadband bills for qualifying low-income households. Eligible households can receive:

  • Up to a $50/month discount on their broadband service and associated equipment rentals
  • Up to a $75/month discount if their household is on qualifying Tribal lands
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)
Only one monthly service discount and one device discount is allowed per household. Households can begin applying for and enrolling in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on Wednesday, May 12. The program will end when the fund runs out of money or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner.

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.

Virtual Job Fair

Camp Fire Summer Camp flier

Information about Summer Camp with the Boys and Girls Club

Big picture

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.

important links