Warrior Wednesdays

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - vol. 28

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In Brief

It’s a busy spring for APS! A few, quick items for your consideration; more information is below in APS Community News:

  • School Committee Informal Forum- April 6, 2019
  • Intelligent Lives: Film Screening and Dialogue with Dan Habib- April 9, 2019
  • The APS Policy Manual is now on-line to provide improved accessibility to the district's policies.
  • Wood Hill Middle School 7 East Team prepares for their Community Service Day.
  • Town of Andover First Fridays event is April 5th.

In Case You Missed It

“No One Eats Alone” day was held at Wood Hill Middle School last week. The day at WHMS aligned with the national initiative, “No One Eats Alone,” a lunchtime school event created by students that seeks to reverse the trends of social isolation by asking students to engage in a simple act of kindness at lunch. The students were also featured on WCVB/ Channel 5 for their good work!

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Student Spotlight- Michael Briggs

Change and opportunity are just around the corner for TOPs (Transitional Opportunities Program) student Michael Briggs, as he prepares to graduate from the program in June. TOPs is a collaboration between Andover and North Andover public schools, and provides transition services to post-high school students between the ages of 18-22.

Michael graduated from AHS in 2016, and found himself embracing the challenge of the TOPs program. After three years, he says he’s a different person and knows his hard work will shape his future. Michael works a few different jobs, at Pfizer in the mailroom and security and at Brooks School as an assistant to the varsity basketball team. He works 20-30 hours per week and doesn’t mind working on weekends. Michael is a passionate athlete and coach. He is involved in Unified Basketball and Track as part of the Special Olympics, and swims freestyle.

The faculty at TOPs encourages all students as they transition from a school environment to life outside of a classroom, building healthy social and emotional skills and career training skills for future employment. Brian Saad, program specialist at TOPs, has watched Michael grow these past three years. “Michael has done the hard work and is prepared to move forward toward his future. We are all very proud of him.”

Michael is ready to move on and he’s excited to graduate from TOPs. “It’s time to see what’s next,” Michael says. “I made some great friendships at TOPs, worked hard, grown a lot, and can’t wait to see what the future brings.”

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Featured Teachers- Learning to Lead

Sanborn Elementary Digital Learning Coach Chris Gosselin, fifth grade Sanborn teacher Mike Votto, and AHS Digital Learning Coach and Global Pathways Program Coordinator Shelagh St. Laurent are avid educators. Years of experience have taught them that teaching for APS is a rewarding career. In their efforts to keep growing, they have returned to the classroom to become students once again.

Mike, Chris and Shelagh have enrolled in the Educator Leadership Institute (ELI). ELI is a program that prepares teachers and administrators for a larger leadership role, such as principal or assistant principal. The course is an 18- month leadership preparation program, and Chris, Mike and Shelagh will each earn their second master’s degree upon completion.

Chris has ten years’ experience in education across all grade levels, and is enthusiastic about his future. The classes and instructors at ELI have been invaluable and he looks at his current position with a fresh outlook. The support he’s received from his colleagues at ELI and Sanborn has provided Chris with a renewed understanding of his impact on students.

Mike has 21 years’ experience as an elementary school teacher, and he’ll tell you he loves what he does. His decision to take classes at ELI comes from his desire to challenge himself to think differently. He sees his influence on his students in the classroom and in athletics as a coach, and he’s ready to grow his skills to impact a larger audience. Education is a family affair for Mike; his father, mother and sister are all veteran educators.

Shelagh is in her fourth year at AHS, and has raised her hand for many roles which have shaped her teaching and leadership styles. Shelagh’s students mostly work in teams in the iLab and Global Pathways, and she has discovered that allowing the students to navigate the dynamics of collaboration is the best way to provide them with lifelong skills. Her goals for attending ELI are to develop organizational leadership skills and to push herself into learning a new skillset. She is grateful for the support from her Andover colleagues.

Chris, Mike and Shelagh see the impact the Educator Leadership Institute has on their approach to teaching, and all say they have a deeper understanding of the complexity of leadership and look forward to how the skills they learn at ELI will shape their future as educators.

Superintendent's Message- SEL Sprint Update

Last month, I provided an update on our Mid-Year goals, and planned to offer specific updates on the progress our of agile strategic plan sprint teams. Our Social Emotional Learning and Cultural Proficiency (SEL) Sprint team provided an overview of their work this year to our School Committee.

Based on the knowledge that students learn best when they feel known, valued and included and when there is a caring environment in the classroom among students and teachers, the SEL sprint team has strengthened our social and emotional learning programs at our elementary schools through Responsive Classroom strategies. Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to education that focuses on the strong relationship between academic success and social-emotional learning. The Responsive Classroom approach empowers educators to create safe, joyful, and engaging learning communities where all students experience a sense of belonging and feel valued and known. “Morning meetings” are one responsive practice at our elementary schools designed to build a strong sense of community and positive climate within the classroom. During morning meeting students have an opportunity to greet each other, share with their class, participate in a collaborative activity, and review the academic agenda for the day. Teachers have seen students embrace morning meeting with enthusiasm and become more interested in the shared community within their classrooms.

This year, all of our middle schools have implemented the Where Everyone Belongs (WEB) program. WEB is a middle school transition program that welcomes 6th graders by pairing them up with an 8th grade mentor/ leader for the school year. WEB leaders provide support and guidance for the younger students during their first year at middle school. This program has seen positive outcomes and student feedback has been very encouraging. At the high school, we have strengthened the H1 advisory block to facilitate better guidance for students.

Our teachers and administrators continue to deepen their understanding of SEL through a school climate and social-emotional learning certification program at William James College. Last year a team of teachers and administrators from High Plain participated. This year a team from Bancroft is attending the program. In turn, these educators are leading a professional development course for their colleagues to share their best practices on SEL.

The SEL sprint team is also focusing on districtwide initiatives in conjunction with for our Cultural Climate Committee (C3). Created in the 2017-18 school year, the C3 committee’s task is to combat racism and discrimination and raise awareness of implicit biases and micro-aggressions in order to fostering identity-safe schools. This year, our professional development workshops at the secondary level have been dedicated to training in cultural proficiency led by Facing History and Ourselves. The C3 committee consists of administrators and educators from across the district, and they report their experience with Facing History and Ourselves has been profound.

The SEL sprint team will share final recommendations at the end of this school year. These recommendations become the focus for our continued SEL work for 2019-20 school year. It has been inspiring to observe the commitment our teachers and administrators have for creating a positive culture and responsive climate that best supports learning.

Shelley Berman


APS Community News

World Autism Awareness Day

Teachers and staff at Shawsheen Preschool showed their support for World Autism Day on Tuesday. World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day on 2 April every year, encouraging member states of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder throughout the world.

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APS Students Compete at GeoBee State Competition

Congratulations to Abhi Bapanapalli at West Middle School and Aneesh Ratnala from Doherty Middle School! Abhi and Aneesh competed last week at the National Geographic GeoBee Massachusetts State Competition in western Massachusetts. Both students had a strong showing; Abhi placed third in the competition and Aneesh placed 11th out of over 100 students.

HPE Celebrates Read Across America

High Plain Elementary celebrated a nation of diverse readers with Read Across America initiatives in March. HPE integrated technology and created engaging experiences for their students to foster lifetime reading habits. They ended the month with a Book Character Parade. HPE is certainly a community of readers!

School Bus and Van Drivers and Monitors Needed

NRT Bus, Inc. is currently looking for drivers and will train CDL and 7D drivers, with bonuses upon completion of training. For more information, please call Beth Paulino at 978-697-1174 or email: epaulino@nrtbus.com

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Middle School Science Fair

The Andover Public Schools Middle School Science and Engineering Fair was held last Saturday morning in the Andover High School cafeteria. In total, 40 student projects were presented. Our team of judges were thoroughly impressed with the creativity and quality of the projects and presentations.

Nineteen projects qualified for the Region IV Middle School Science and Engineering Fair to be held on Friday, May 3, 2019 at the Tsongas Center at UMass-Lowell. Gold medals were presented to Sharayu Josh for her project On the Spot, and Aeyah Elbasiony, Evelyn Wheel and Itsabella Castillo for their project The Effects of Aluminum and Acid Rain on Plant Life. Congratulations to the qualifiers and to all participants!

Community Service Day at Wood Hill Middle School- April 26, 2019

On Friday, April 26th students from the 7 East team of Wood Hill Middle School will take part in a community service day. This day of service aligns with 7 East’s study of the novella Seedfolks, a narrative which tells the story of a community garden and the individuals who founded it.

The students first began their study of community in January. They conducted field work and observed professionals in their fields and asked questions about the daily tasks accomplished by police officers, bankers, teachers, historians, and town officials. These people helped the group to understand how their individual tasks form a community with common goals and missions.

Wood Hill Middle School 7 East Team needs your help! What community projects should the students take on that day? The students need ideas and input. Please contact WHMS Principal Patrick Bucco at pbucco@aps1.net and 7 East teacher Cameron Wood at cwood@aps1.net with your suggestions.

School Committee Policy Manual

In December 2018, the Andover School Committee completed a comprehensive review of each district policy, making the necessary modifications to address new issues requiring a policy position, updates to remain in compliance with legal requirements, and other considerations of the sitting committee.

The School Committee, with assistance and recommendations from its policy subcommittee, is tasked with ensuring that the APS policy manual remains current and, with the assistance of the Superintendent's office, that policy changes be communicated to the Andover Public School community. In conjunction with the policy review project, the Andover School Committee has adopted this online, searchable manual to provide improved accessibility to the district's policies.

Laurie Condon- Hodges Memorial Run- Walk 5k

The 2nd annual Laurie Condon- Hodges Memorial Run- Walk will take place on Saturday, April 6th, 2019. Laurie was a teacher at Doherty Middle School for eight years, retiring in 2013 to focus on her battle with cancer. The event was created to honor and celebrate Laurie’s memory. Laurie was a dedicated educator at APS, wife and mother of three. She lost her battle with cancer in December 2015. Click here for more information on how to participate.

First Fridays- April 5th

The town of Andover continues to offer free events for the community! Andover’s First Fridays began in the fall of 2018, and are free, family-friendly events that will showcase local music, arts, culture, and non-profits in our community. Three local, community vocal groups from Andover will be featured at this month's First Friday event.

Attendees of the "Sounds of Music" will enjoy three music styles from the Andover Baptist Church, Andover Choral Society, and Free Christian Church. The event will be held on the second floor of Old Town Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Friday, April 5.

Intelligent Lives, a film screening and dialogue with Dan Habib

APS and the Office of Student Services invites you to a free screening of Intelligent Lives, a film by Dan Habib followed by a dialogue with Mr. Habib on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the Collins Center at Andover High School.

Intelligent Lives stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities, Micah, Naieer and Naomie, who challenge the perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional personal story of his son, Jesse, as the film unpacks the shameful and ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the U.S.

Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary films including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Mr. Connolly Has ALS, and many others on disability-related topics. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. In his recently released documentary, Intelligent Lives, he examines society’s narrow perceptions of intelligence.

The event will be held at the Collins Center at Andover High School and is free and open to the public. Following the screening, filmmaker Dan Habib will take questions from the audience.

School Committee Informal Forum- April 6, 2019

The School Committee is continuing its practice of holding informal forums with Andover families and the community. The next forum will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 9 a.m. As with previous informal forums, there is no set agenda and we welcome comments on any topics related to our schools. The community is welcome to join at any time during the forum, on the top floor of Memorial Hall Library.

Because these session are attended by only two School Committee members, they allow an interactive dialogue outside of the Open Meeting Law legal parameters. Issues raised at the forum that might require further discussion with the entire School Committee will be communicated during a regular business meeting. We hope to see you if you have an issue you'd like to discuss. The final informal forum will be held on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 9 a.m.