JW Killam Principal's Corner

Ms. Leveque's Weekly Newsletter

From the Desk of Ms. Leveque

There is a lot of buzz circulating right now about remote learning and what it will look like for our children. As Commissioner of Education Riley and Dr. Doherty have stated, remote learning is not synonymous with online learning. Remote learning can take place in a multitude of ways, including by helping students engage with resources in their everyday lives and in the natural world around them. Remote learning also provides unique opportunities to further engage students in the arts or interdisciplinary work. Additionally, we must be conscious of the effects of increased screen time and seek balance between learning through technology and remote learning that happens offline to support students’ curiosity and understanding. We have a huge task in front of us from an educational and community perspective. No such system currently exists in our elementary schools and we thank you for your patience as we continue working on this process.

There is a true art and a humanity in teaching, and we cannot lose that as we move forward. In this process of completely flipping our educational model, you, as a community, are seeing our vulnerabilities as teachers- you see who we really are in our emails, posts, and pictures that give you a glimpse into our personal and professional lives and how they overlap. Like you, we are all family orientated first and many of us are trying to navigate time at home taking care of children, parents, and grandparents, all while trying to work full time. We are right there with you in saying this is not easy! So I write to remind you that we must be compassionate people first and foremost. We must assume best intentions in this process of establishing our educational goals. We must be able to say to one another “we are doing the best we can in a crisis situation.” There is a lot of chatter going around social media that frankly, is unflattering for everyone. I usually don’t address it as we are entitled to our opinions. Yet I hope we are listening to informed opinions. If you have questions, ask. My goal is to be as open as possible right now, without oversharing, because as you can imagine, this educational landscape is changing daily. I say all of this because the collective we, as educators across the country, are actually building the airplane in flight. Time does not stand still, and so educators are working tirelessly to create a new education.

A world-wide crisis brings about many huge and unknown feelings. Just typing that makes me pause. I can share with you that I have spent the last week trying desperately to convince by parents and sister, who are in Florida, that this pandemic is real and that they must adhere to social distancing. It has left me discouraged, upset, panicked, and exhausted. At the same time, I am feeling optimistic, inspired, and excited when I speak with our teachers each day. This range of emotions brings out some positive and negative reactions in me. I am working to be more mindful of this and how I react. With that same sentiment, I ask that you please stand with the Killam staff- post positivity! Post hope and encouragement on social media. This is what will make us a stronger community. I couldn’t be prouder to stand with the Killam staff right now. I have seen nothing but thoughtfulness, compassion, and a true purpose in emulating calm and consistency. I am proud to be a koala. I know you are too. Join me in showing it.

Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you have. Stay safe and healthy. If you're looking for a developmentally appropriate way to explain "Six feet apart" to your child, check out this video.

Missing the Killam students,

Ms. Leveque

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Killam Remote Learning Communication Schedule

We want to be mindful of how overwhelming it can be to receive multiple emails a day. We hear you and are attempting to streamline the information for you. If information changes, we will update you.

Classroom teachers: Classroom teachers will communicate optional enrichment opportunities either on a daily basis or weekly basis, depending on the grade level team decision. In addition, you will receive check-ins to see if you need any clarification or support multiple times a week.

Special Education teachers: If your child receives special education services, an email with optional enrichment opportunities for your child will be sent on Tuesday. In addition, you will receive check-ins to see if you need any clarification or support multiple times a week.

Specialists (Library Media, Art, Music, and Gym): An email with optional enrichment opportunities for your child will be sent on Wednesday.

Principal's Weekly Newsletter: An email will be sent out on Friday and previous newsletters will continue to be posted on the Killam website.

Closure Information: Access to links and information will be posted on the Killam and RPS District websites.

Important Message from the Health Office - Medications

Dear Parents,

I hope this note finds you and your families well. I am doing well but I miss seeing all the students. Please let them know I am thinking of them and I will be excited to see everyone again when we are back at school.

I will be at Killam next week to pick up a few things. At that time, I can also pick up and deliver any of your students' medications. Most significantly, I would be more than happy to deliver any asthma inhalers that you have supplied for school. Knowing that the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus can potentiate asthma symptoms, having access to your child's medication is very important. I want to be sure that you and your student have what you need. Hopefully this is being overly careful, but it is always best to be safe.

Please email Sharon.grottkau@reading.k12.ma.us if you would like your child's inhaler or other medication (epi-pens, etc.) delivered. I will put it in a plastic bag and deliver it to your home. We can coordinate the timing so you will know when to expect it.

Thank you and stay well,
Sharon Grottkau

Video Communication Platforms

It has come to school districts attention in the area that there are issues about privacy and use of personal data with the free version of Zoom. RPS will not be using Zoom. Ultimately, the Killam staff agree that we need to protect the privacy of our students, families, and staff. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Current K-4 Parent Placement Input Forms

To access the forms, click here.

Spring is the time of year when we begin planning for next year. Based on current events, we don’t know all the plans moving forward. We realize this year, the placement process will most likely look different. However, we still want to give the opportunity for families to provide input if they choose to do so. Student placement is a complex, collaborative process that the staff and administration take very seriously. We spend a great deal of time carefully thinking about the whole child while we create our classes for the next school year, and this will continue

In order to facilitate our placement process, we ask that you return your written comments on the form provided to your school’s office by Monday, April 27th. You have two options for returning this form:

● Print out the form and send it to your building principal at your child’s school address.

● Email the form directly to your building principal. (preferred method)

Important Killam Dates

-Friday, April 3rd: 5th Grade Student Placement forms due to the Middle Schools (See information further below)

-Monday, April 27th: Current K-4 Parent Placement Input forms due

Out of abundance of caution for the COVID-19 virus, the Reading Public Schools to closed until May 4th. Buildings will be closed and teachers will not be working during this period of closure. We thank our custodial, facilities, and technology staff for their tireless work in our buildings during this period. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Doherty will communicate additional information. Take care and stay healthy.

Family Resources from the Reading Coalition

The Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support (formerly RCASA) has complied a resource guide with information that may be useful to parents and families in the district. The guide includes supports like tips on talking to children about the COVID-19 outbreak, tools for managing stress and anxiety during a crisis, guidance on how to access mental health and substance use disorder treatment, information on virtual AA/NA meetings and family support groups, and much more! The guide is being updated as the resources available change, so please check the document regularly. The resource guide can be found on the Reading Coalition website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. Please contact Samantha Salkin, Outreach Coordinator, Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support at ssalkin@ci.reading.ma.us with any questions.

Also, Operation Parent is hosting a webinar this Thursday April 2nd at 2PM on tools to help teenagers cope with anxiety during COVID-19. The webinar is free, but registration is required. The webinar description is below and you can register for the event here.

Food Resources in the Greater Boston Area and Reading

Free & Reduced Lunch Options

RPS will be offering grab & go meals for those Reading Public School students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. The meals will be available at the Reading Memorial High School Cafeteria from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, beginning on Monday, March 16th. If students would like to participate, they must sign up ahead of time by completing information on this link: https://forms.gle/pzyL2aQgUmfQ1RHs8

Project Bread

Project Bread has resources for families and individuals who need food assistance, including a directory of where to get food help. Click here to visit their website.

St. Vincent de Paul Society: They are available to support any families in need with food or other services. Please call 781-258-8767 to leave a message and you will receive a call back.

Reading Food Pantry: Schedule for the month of April shown below.

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Attention 5th Grade Families-- Middle School Transition Information

It is hard to believe that we are already preparing for transition to middle school! Although we are not ready to have the fifth graders leave us quite yet, they are sure to be ready for the big move come summer! Please click on the link below to access transition documents for both Coolidge and Parker including:

  • Welcome letters from each middle school principal

  • Parent input form due April 3 (please note these are different than the elementary input form)

    -If your child is attending Parker Middle School, please email the placement form to assistant principal Brendan Norton at Brendan.norton@reading.k12.ma.us.

    -If your child is attending Coolidge Middle School, please email the placement form to assistant principal Brie Karow at Brienne.karow@reading.k12.ma.us.

  • Important Transition Dates

  • Registration forms for "Welcome to Parker" and "Welcome to Coolidge" (in August)

  • Please note that the middle school transition meetings will be postponed until tentatively April 27th at 7:00 pm. Middle School Principals will be in touch as that date approaches to re-evaluate if necessary.

  • The Coolidge "Family Math and Science Night" on March 25th is also postponed for now.

Gr 5 to 6 Transition Information

PTO Corner

New in 2019-20 - Pay PTO dues with Venmo at @KillamPTO!

Please be sure to include your child/family’s name in the notes when you submit your Venmo payment so we can credit the dues to the appropriate family.

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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!