JW Killam Principal's Corner

Ms. Leveque's Weekly Newsletter

From the Desk of Ms. Leveque

It is hard to believe that we have turned the corner into August. While this is certainly a different summer for everyone, I hope that you have found ways to be with your family and enjoy some relaxation in this New England heat. I attempted to clear my mind last week and was able to enjoy 8 days with my parents at my family home in Maine. Usually my trips home bring many day trips visiting family and enjoying the coastal experience but this year forced us to just stop and be together in the house. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to spend the precious time with my parents and grandmother, getting to know them just a little bit better and, of course, learn some great family stories. It was a much needed moment of time!

As you have seen, Dr. Doherty has shared the preliminary Reading District plan for the re-opening of school. This initial plan was presented to the Department of Education on July 31st. An updated, more thorough plan, will be submitted to the Commonwealth on August 10th. As I learn more, I will continue to update our community with new information.

I have heard from many of you and saw that you attended both Dr. Doherty's office hours and the School Committee meeting to learn more about the plan. Many outstanding questions have been put forward and we, as administrators, are tasked with working on answers and solutions to the ideas. I fully recognize that we continue to have more questions than answers and how frustrating this remains. As a colleague stated, we are making decisions where none of our situations present the very best in what we believe in education. The emotions around any learning model continue to bring an array of strong reactions in all directions. The New York Times published a piece regarding the school return anxiety we are all facing and I found it helpful to read and process.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has reduced the required number of days in school so that school districts can use additional days to prepare for their school models. This means that Reading Public Schools may start as late as September 16, 2020. There is no final decision on the actual start date, though the School Committee will decide our official start date in August.

I have received several inquiries about the start of school, particularly related to class assignments and cohorts within the hybrid model. Prior to making any decisions about re-organizing class groupings in the upcoming year, we will be gathering the following information:

  • Family choice for remote (distance) or hybrid learning
  • Family preferences for hybrid learning cohorts (Week A, Week B)
  • Staffing information related to teachers who cannot be in school due to family or personal health reasons

With this information, it is a strong possibility that I will need to re-organize class placement. Our intention in the spring was to keep groups of students together with their same classmates as the 2019-20 school year. I am unsure if I will be able to so, based on the collected information, but I will do my best to work with teachers to keep familiar faces in each room. Due to this planning, it is unlikely that I will be sharing teacher/class assignments until closer to the start of the school year.

Using the hybrid model, some families are considering creating tutoring/learning groups for out-of-school weeks. Within these small groups, families are planning to share childcare and educational needs with friends and neighbors. If you are thinking of developing a learning group, please email me the names of students who would be participating together during the weeks of distance learning. I will gather this information and do my best to accommodate the scheduling. For logistical purposes, please keep your groups to 3 or 4 students, as I am not sure I can accommodate groups larger than that.

Over the next two weeks, I am continuing to meet with Killam staff to plan for the next school year. Our focus will be on keeping students and staff safe, maintaining social distancing, following our core values, and continuing to make Killam a positive and welcoming learning community. Our school website will continue to be updated with information from the state, district and school as it becomes available. Follow this link to our webpage for more information.

Missing the Killam students and wishing a happy, healthy summer vacation!

Stay well,

Ms. Leveque

Ms. Leveque's Office Hours

To begin our conversations, I will be holding weekly office hours for parents for the next three Thursdays (8/6, 8/13, and 8/20) from 10:30-11:30 AM on Microsoft Teams. The link to access the office hours is as follows:

Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

Please note that these office hours will be open to all families so you may be asking questions with others present. If you would prefer to setup an individual meeting with me, please email me at Sarah.Leveque@reading.k12.ma.us.

Welcome to Kindergarten!

We are very excited to welcome our new kindergartners to the Killam family. I will be hosting a family forum for Kindergarten parents/guardians on Tuesday, August 25th, at 8:00 p.m. This is an adult meeting for families to ask questions about the upcoming school year and Killam. I will also be providing information about kindergarten screening and class assignments. Incoming kindergarten families will receive an invitation for this event via email, so stay tuned!

Resource from the Reading Health Office

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Lexia Over the Summer

If you would like to continue using Lexia, an online reading program, over the summer, note that the company is making a few changes. This this change only affects those who have Lexia downloaded to their desktop. The first time a family goes to the browser version, they will need to enter "teacher email" which is home@reading.k12.ma.us. After initial setup, they won't need to do that again. Student log in and passwords remain the same.

Click here to find out instructions from Lexia.

Resources for Talking with Children about Equity, Bias and Racism

Julia Hendrix and the Birch Meadow Elementary School have been at the forefront of leading the elementary charge to confront our biases, and work towards anti-racism. The Birch Meadow Staff has compiled the following resources for families on how to begin this process at home. The Killam staff thanks them for sharing this information and taking a stand. We stand together with members of the black and brown community.

Click here to access the resources.

Additionally, Sesame Street is hosting a “town hall” for kids and families this Saturday at 10am for kids and families and will discuss how to stand up to racism and embrace diversity. To learn more, go here: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/02/us/cnn-sesame-street-standing-up-to-racism/index.html

PTO Corner

PTO Directory

Please register for the Killam School Directory (AtoZ Connect) today to get connected with your child’s future classmates, room parents, and to receive valuable PTO emails on school-wide events. When room parents send out class emails, their source of contact info is AtoZ Connect, so if your child is not registered up on there, you will be missing out on emails about in-class enrichments, celebrations, teacher gifts, Killam gear ordering, etc. You can download the AtoZ Connect App on a phone or go to AtoZConnect.com on a computer to join - it's super easy! Just click on "sign up" and search by the school zip code (01867), the select Killam from the list.

PTO Social Media

We also post info to Facebook at Killam School PTO, Reading MA, please join/like us! Please feel free to contact Jen Kane, our PTO secretary if you need help or have questions: jwksecretary@gmail.com.

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Update on Summer Food Program

The Reading Public Schools Food Services is offering Grab&Go meal kits containing a week of lunch and breakfast foods. Distribution of the meals happens every Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Meals are provided for anyone 21 years old or younger. No ID or proof of residency is required.

Additionally the Reading Public Schools is participating in the Farm to Table Fresh Program. Anyone can get a weekly, 20 pound box of fresh produce through this program. Pick up is at the same time as the Grab&Go Meals.

For information, you can email Danielle Collins at danielle.collins@reading.k12.ma.us. There is no registration required for this program, although if you send in your email you will get weekly reminders.

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About These Services

The Town of Reading contracts with William James College to offer a special service for our residents. The William James INTERFACE Referral Service maintains a mental health and wellness referral help line Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm, at 888-244-6843 (toll free). This is a free, confidential referral service for individuals across the lifespan living in Reading. Callers are matched with licensed mental health providers from our extensive database. Each referral meets the location, insurance, and specialty needs of the caller. Click here to learn more!