Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families from Salem Public Schools

Reminder: No Newsletter next week for April Break


A note from Steve Zrike, Superintendent


Dear Staff and Families,

As a school district, we have publicly messaged that we are an actively anti-racist organization that is in pursuit of equity for all of the young people we serve. In the last year, we have issued strong statements against the senseless and tragic murders of people of color across the country and repeated discriminatory acts that target and marginalize specific groups of people. While it is important that we condemn actions and behaviors that run counter to our organizational values, it is even more critical that we take concrete and urgent steps to address injustice in our own community.

In our updated strategic plan, equity is the lens through which we examine all of our future work. The plan is anchored in a powerful statement that underscores how important it is that equity is clearly visible in every aspect of our improvement objectives, priorities, and outcomes. Our future success as a school system is dependent on our relentless commitment to celebrating and empowering all of our students. Extensive work has already begun to identify and address inequities that exist across the Salem Public Schools. We want to highlight the high-leverage initiatives that we intend to put in place to disrupt unbalanced practices that negatively impact student success. It is important to note that while these projects range in scope and size, they each play a critical role in creating a more inclusive school environment. For instance, our commitment to hiring and retaining staff of color is a large-scale initiative while the expansion of our school library collection to include more culturally responsive text is narrower in scope. Both represent meaningful steps forward to improve the experiences for all of our students. For a full list of our projects, please see the information at this link.

This is only the beginning of the arduous work that needs to happen in order to create a school community where all students can achieve their potential. I want to invite all of our students, staff, and families to join us on this journey to be an actively anti-racist and more equitable organization. We pledge to keep you informed and involved in these efforts in the coming months. We appreciate the collective courage, openness, and willingness of our community to embrace discomfort as we examine how our school system can better serve our families.


Stephen Zrike

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.”

The cone of excellence this week is being awarded to Ms. Johanny Canada-Hlatshwayo who teaches 8th grade math at Collins Middle School. She has masterfully built strong relationships with her students that has allowed them to thrive as mathematicians and scholars. Ms. Johanny Canada-Hlatshwayo has also served as a teacher leader on the CMS equity team. Thank you for being such a positive member of the CMS and SPS community!

Executive Director of Special Education

I am pleased to share that I will be recommending Linda Farinelli as our Executive Director of Special Education, effective July 1st. Ms. Farinelli joined SPS over 20 years ago as a special education teacher. Her transition to a special education administrator, serving as the district’s K-8 department head and 504 coordinator, allowed her to expand her relationships with families and staff across all of our schools. As part of her work, Mrs. Farinelli has developed strong relationships with district leaders and works collaboratively to strengthen the initiatives and priorities outlined in our strategic plan.

Linda works with the district’s Teaching and Learning Team and the District Leadership Team to look closely at inclusive practice and equitable access for all students. Mrs. Farinelli has comprehensive knowledge of the Pupil Personnel department’s data systems, practices, and procedures and has deep connections to Salem as an administrator, educator, and parent of four Salem Public Schools graduates. Mrs. Farinelli provides the follow-up support that is needed to take ideas from theory to practice in the classroom, always with an eye toward equity, access, inclusion, and excellence.

I feel strongly that she is best positioned to lead the department as we fully return from COVID. She has extensive experience and relationships within the community that will serve SPS well. The SC will need to vote to accept this recommendation at our April 26th SC meeting. Congratulations, Linda!

Director of School Nutrition Services Appointed

We are pleased to announce that effective April 1, 2021, Irv Perrin has been appointed permanently to the role of Director of School Nutrition Services for Salem Public Schools. As you may know, Irv began his tenure here at SPS as a cook/manager and, after three years at three different schools, was promoted to the position of Assistant Director of School Nutrition Services. He took over as Acting Director upon the retirement of our longtime Director, Deb Jeffers, in December.

Irv's passion for school nutrition and education and addressing food insecurity is abundantly clear to all who know him. He has earned the respect of his team and looks forward to building on the innovative programs and partnerships that have been the hallmark of SPS School Nutrition Services over the past decade. Please join us in congratulating Irv for this well-deserved advancement.

Executive Director of Student Services and Family Supports Selected

We are pleased to share that we have hired Mr. Adam Colantuoni as our new Executive Director of Student Services and Family Supports beginning July 1, 2021. Mr. Colantuoni’s career began as a peer mediation coordinator at Lynn Tech before becoming a middle school guidance counselor for several years. He comes to Salem with twelve years of school administrative experience having worked as an assistant principal for four years prior to becoming a middle school principal for the past eight years. Mr. Colantuoni currently serves as the principal of the Galvin Middle School in Wakefield, a school with over 1100 students in grades 5-8.

In each of the schools that he has worked in, Adam has been able to make an immediate impact by focusing on student centered culture, strong relationships, and student growth and achievement. As a school administrator, he has maintained a consistent focus on social, emotional, and academic learning while promoting an inclusive learning environment for all students and staff. Mr. Colantuoni holds a B.A. in Psychology from Merrimack College and an M.A. in School Counseling from Lesley University. We look forward to the impact Mr. Colantuoni will make in our district.


As we head into school vacation week, as a reminder - we are counting on each other to keep our schools safe and open. Massachusetts updated its Travel Advisory on March 22, 2021. We ask that all members of our community follow the guidance as we each do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The Department of Housing and Community Development recently launched the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), a new funding mechanism to disburse state and federal funding resources for tenants and landlords to avoid evictions and maintain household stability throughout the COVID-19 emergency. You can find the details here.

Meals for April Vacation

Please be advised of our meals distribution schedule for April vacation. There will be two distribution days - Friday, 4/16/21, we will serve meals for five days at the meal sites and again on the following Wednesday, 4/21/21 for five days of meals. Regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday distribution will resume on Monday, April 26th.


This year, our SHS CTE program will offer a FREE summer exploratory program for 7th and 8th graders.

Campers will participate in activities in Auto Technology, Early Education and Care, Building Property and Maintenance, Medical Assisting, Culinary Arts, Electrical, and Internships.

There will be two opportunities: Session 1 is the week of June 21st, and session 2 is the week of June 28th. This FREE program will allow students to explore some of the CTE pathways available at SHS. More details on the program and how to sign up have been sent to families via ParentSquare.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Help

The Department of Higher Education, MEFA (the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority), and other partners are working together to help more students complete the FAFSA and keep college an option. A statewide campaign called "Worth It" will kicked off on Wednesday, April 15, and early events include a virtual FAFSA Festival from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 24. Experts from MEFA will be available all day to answer students’ and families’ FAFSA questions and help them complete the application one-on-one. The flyer is also available in Spanish. Other statewide opportunities include one-on-one help from American Student Assistance and a FAFSA Overview with uAspire on Tuesday, April 27.

Spring High School Sports - Register by 4/25/21

Spring high school sports are happening! Lacrosse; Softball; Baseball; Tennis; Boys' Volleyball; Wrestling; and Track & Field - Register here by 4/25/21 for the sport of your choice.

This year for the first time, eighth graders are eligible for Spring sports at Salem High School. If you have an 8th grader who is interested, please sign up by 4/25

The coach will email you all the information needed once you register. Please also note that you need to upload a current physical. If you cannot upload it, please turn in a copy to the coach.

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.

Hope Project flier

North Shore Youth Rugby

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