All Around APS
News from the Andover Public School District
Students' Spotlight- Unity Day at West Elementary
October is National Bullying Prevention Month! Last week, West Elementary fifth grade students Max Albert, Eugenia Evangelinos, Olivia Moccia, Arnav Josh and Alexis Ross encouraged the entire school to wear orange to celebrate Unity Day on Wednesday, October 23rd. As part of Bullying Prevention Month, Unity Day’s call to action is simple: wear and share the color orange. The vibrant color becomes a conversation starter and shows support for students who have been bullied and for bullying prevention.
West Elementary’s celebration of Unity Day aligns with the High Five program; which encourages West Elementary students to model good behaviors, such as: caring about classmates, working well with others, helping problems become smaller, being in control of body and words, and knowing when to ask for help.
Max, Eugenia, Olivia, Arnav and Alexis are all part of the student council and are excited to lead by example during Unity Day. They hope everyone will have something orange to wear, so all will feel included. Alexis believes it is important for each student to feel welcome wherever they are. Olivia agrees and knows that everywhere in the world, someone feels lonely; her goal is to change that and include others. Arnav knows welcoming everyone is the right thing to do. Max says something as simple as a smile to someone alone can make their day better. The students performed as part of the Unity Squad in a school wide assembly last Friday to encourage everyone to be kind to one another.
Featured Teacher - Tim Harkins from Bancroft Elementary
Earlier this month, APS joined a national initiative celebrating Digital Citizenship Week. Every year, the third week of October is dedicated to teaching good digital citizenship in hopes that all students will become safe and smart users of technology.
Bancroft Elementary Digital Learning Coach Tim Harkins knows a bit about digital citizenship. After 18 years at APS, Tim has watched the role of technology change the way educators teach and how students learn. Many years ago, Tim pushed a laptop into his classroom and projected it onto a big TV screen to provide instruction, fascinating the students with the “new” technology.
In 2019, Tim says we have progressed far from those early days. Tim works to build the skills of his colleagues and their students using smartboards, Chromebooks and applications like Twitter and Flipgrid. Tim also serves on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) Digital Learning Integration Guide Committee. The statewide committee helps envision an effective digital learning future for all students and foster best practices for encouraging online education to complement instruction in districts throughout Massachusetts.
While access to technology can provide immediate gratification, Tim works to have students think critically about why they are using the technology to support their learning. At times, he encourages tools as simple as pen and paper, if that is what will encourage a student to have a full understanding of the lesson. For Tim, technology can assist with personalization for students, and there can be deeper learning when students are able to work at their own level or pace in solving problems.
Tim defines a “digital citizen” as someone who uses technology safely and responsibly to learn, create and participate. Tim encourages parents and guardians to have an open conversation with students about begin a digital citizen and finding the right balance between on-line and off line activities. The lessons during “Digital Citizenship” week at Bancroft, and from grades K-8 across the district, included privacy and security, digital drama, cyberbullying, and digital footprint and identity.
A Student's Story- Shawsheen Farm Field Trip!
Shawsheen preschoolers had a wonderful time on a fieldtrip to Krochamel Farms in Tewksbury! From their teacher Patti Hunt:
“They were so excited to ride on a real yellow school bus, brush the animals, go on a hayride and walk in a corn maze. We all got to bring a pumpkin home with us! The students talked about their favorite part of the field trip and drew pictures of what they liked best. Matthew loved the goats and the corn maze. Parker loved the school bus ride and Sara loved the pumpkins. Such a hands-on fun-filled activity!”
Superintendent's Message- Learning from Unfortunate Events
I want to take a few moments to reflect on the events of the past two weeks at the high school. The rainbow painted on the rock for National Coming Out Day symbolizes identity, diversity, support and social equality. The vandalism discovered the next day destroyed this positive message, and I am proud of our students and community who responded with dignity. This value is core to the students who came forward to repaint the rainbow on Saturday afternoon, just hours after the vandalism was discovered.
This incident, and the altercation in the field house the following Wednesday, stand out as extraordinary events in the life of our school district. Thankfully, such actions are relatively rare in Andover.
This series of events have triggered feelings of inequity and distrust as some people treated others disrespectfully. The episodes created further challenges as consequences were discussed for violations of rules and policies. While it is understandable that many people may want to know the details of these individual outcomes, student safety and privacy are paramount in our school community. We ask for everyone’s understanding as we protect our students’ confidentiality and give them time and space to learn from this experience.
The best salve to heal our collective injury is dialogue—personal and meaningful conversation that is based on an effort to understand the other person’s perspective, to see the situation through another individual’s lens. That dialogue has been taking place over the past week with productive conversations at the high school between administrators and students and among students who hold differing views. Incidents like the ones we recently experienced have the capacity to make us stronger and to build bonds if only we will really hear each other—if we have the courage and humility to walk in someone else’s shoes with empathy.
I want to commend Principal Philip Conrad for reaching out to those who have concerns and for engaging them in that dialogue. And I want to commend those students who came forward to share their concerns with him and hear his point of view. People may not agree, but they can still reach across to those who have a different perspective and listen to their ideas with respect. These recent experiences not only affirm how much we value our diversity, but also how we can move from difference to common ground.
Many years ago I read a book about building community in which the author indicated that a community is not just about being nice to each other; it’s about the ability to differ, work through conflict, and restore relationships. When people commit to respecting each other, hearing each other, and trying to find common ground, we strengthen our community. I believe the ongoing dialogue will strengthen the high school community and help all at APS to become better members of our community.
APS Community News
APS by the Numbers
Held during the third full week of October each year, National School Bus Safety Week is a public education program and an excellent way for all to join forces and highlight the importance of school bus safety.
Our school transportation system at APS is made up of 35 bus drivers, 14 van drivers and 11 monitors who drive 201 routes, transporting approximately 3,958 students to and from school every day as well as on field trips.
Hats off to our drivers and monitors! Without you, our school system and family schedules would not run smoothly. We appreciate the great job you do for the students and families of the Andover Schools.
And, while we are on the subject of buses! NRT and Van Pool are now one in the same and have merged companies. In the future you may see Van Pool vehicles transporting some of our students. This is completely normal since they are now the same company.
Upcoming School Committee Meetings
For those wishing to provide public comment on the school start times initiative, the School Committee will meet on Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 7 PM and on Tuesday, November 5th at 7:30 PM; this is a change from the November 7th meeting.
Angst: Raising Awareness around Anxiety
Andover Public Schools will hold a special screening of the documentary Angst on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at 6:30 PM at the Collins Center, 100 Shawsheen Road, to open up a dialogue between local families, community leaders and experts. The event will feature a viewing of the 56-minute film, followed by an informative panel discussion, led by APS Director of School Social Work Joe Yarid, with special guests Dr. Bubrick, a senior clinical psychologist in the Anxiety Disorders Center and Director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Service at the Child Mind Institute in New York, NY.
Click here for more information and to RSVP to the event.
APS CAPStone needs your expertise!
The APS K-12 Capstone program was launched four years ago and has grown from 5 high school seniors to over 100 students in grades 5, 8 and 12. The Capstone experience encourages students to design and pursue projects that are of personal and academic interests and take their learning beyond the boundaries of the classroom. These APS K-12 Capstone projects are student-centered, teacher- and community-mentored, authentic learning opportunities. And our students need the help of community mentors to give them insights into professional experiences in their areas of interest.
The APS CAPStone team would like to better utilize the professional diversity of the APS community as students delve into their primary research. One way to accomplish this is to create a CAPStone database of experts from the APS community who are willing to volunteer their time and share their knowledge and expertise in a given field. If you are interested in helping our students, click here.
Sanborn Story Book Pumpkin Characters!
Students at Sanborn Elementary were invited to make Story Book Pumpkin Characters at home with their families this month. Students’ creations are currently on display in the library and students will have a chance to vote for their favorite pumpkins on Halloween.
AHS Students Win Safe Streets/ Smart Trips award from MassDOT
Students in Advanced Film/Video Production were chosen as winners in the Safe Streets/Smart Trips video contest sponsored by the MassDOT. Safe Streets Smarts Trips is designed to raise awareness for all travelers across all modes of transportation. AHS students Chloe Brussard, Ethan Gasse, Cole Hauser, Emily Haley, John Haywood, Parker Houston, Jack Mulligan, and Kevin Zhang created a one minute public service announcement (PSA) that was chosen as an Honorable Mention in the Junior/Senior category.
The students will be recognized at the MassDOT Moving Together Conference on Thursday, October 24th where their video will be shown to over 500 attendees.
ACE Scarecrow Festival and Poetry Event!
The 7th annual ACE Scarecrow Festival kicked off on Saturday, October 19th and will end on November 3rd. There are over 90 scarecrows this year, marking a new all-time high for the festival. APS is grateful to ACE for all their hard work. Fifty-seven sponsors have committed over $15,000! To view all the scarecrows, click here.
Don’t miss the 4th Annual ACE Poetry Event on Thursday, October 24th from 4 to 5 pm at Memorial Hall Library. Students are encouraged to write an original poem or read a favorite poem at this event. Thank you again for all that you are doing to support ACE and the Andover Public Schools.
Downtown Trick or Treat
DESE- Office of Public School Monitoring
During the week of December 9, 2019, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) Office of Public School Monitoring (PSM) will conduct a Tiered Focused Monitoring Review of Andover Public Schools. The Office of Public School Monitoring visits each district and charter school every three years to monitor compliance with federal and state special education and civil rights regulations. Andover Public Schools’ tier has been designated as a Tier 1: LEA Self-Directed Improvement, which indicates no concern on compliance and performance outcomes.
Areas of review related to special education include student assessments, determination of eligibility, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team process, and IEP development and implementation. Areas of review related to civil rights include bullying, student discipline, physical restraint, and equal access to school programs for all students.
In addition to the onsite visit, parent outreach is an important part of the review process. The review chairperson from the Office of Public School Monitoring will send all parents of students with disabilities an online survey that focuses on key areas of their child’s special education program. Survey results will contribute to the development of a report. Other onsite activities may include interviews of district staff and administrators, reviews of student records, and onsite observations.
Parents and other individuals may call Dee Wyatt, Public School Monitoring Chairperson, at (781) 338-3794 to request a telephone interview. If an individual requires an accommodation, such as translation, to participate in an interview, the Department will make the necessary arrangements.
Within approximately 60 business days after the onsite visit, the review chairperson will provide the district with a report with information about areas in which the district meets or exceeds regulatory requirements and areas in which the district requires assistance to correct or improve practices. The public will be able to access the report at www.doe.mass.edu/pqa/review/cpr/reports/.