Message from the Superintendent
It is my pleasure to present the September edition of the Lower Moreland Township School District Superintendent’s Newsletter. I hope this letter finds you and your family healthy and well.
Welcome to a new and exciting 2021-2022 school year. Now that the school year is underway, LMTSD continues to be committed to providing a successful and joyous educational experience for our students and families. Still, with change comes a lot of uncertainty and uncomfortableness for students, staff, and families. While some educational experiences look and may still feel different, our staff continues to listen and learn new ways to do things while keeping our students as the central focus of every decision made.
While a world-wide pandemic continues, LMTSD remains focused on ensuring that we continue to be a high-performing school district. One way that we confirm accountability of this to all of our stakeholders is through the goals of the five-year strategic plan. Annually communicating these key elements to both the Board of School Directors and the school community is essential to the plan’s success and ultimately our many student successes. Please click here to learn about this past year’s Strategic Plan Goal Focus Areas.
Lastly, please join me in congratulating Mr. Michael Bourdreau, Murray Avenue School Assistant Principal, who has been appointed by the Board of School Directors in the Methacton School District to be the Principal of Arcola Intermediate School. Mr. Bourdreau has worked in LMTSD for the past ten years, serving the students, staff and community with great passion, professionalism and, most importantly, care. LMTSD wishes Michael great success in his new role as principal. The process to find Mr. Bourdreau’s replacement is currently underway.
Scott Davidheiser, Ed.D.
Business Office (Mark McGuinn, Business Manager)
For the start of the 2021/22 school year, the District adopted a five-day in-person model, and I wanted to review all of what goes into planning for public school routes and, hopefully, a safe and secure trip each and every day.
During the summer months, students are graduated, enrolled, promoted to new grade levels, and moved to new schools as each student transitions to the new school year. Once the rollover of existing students is completed, a large student file is generated and sent to our routing company with the knowledge of last years’ routes and trying to ensure that most routes stay the same. As our enrollment in the District continues to grow, there will be changes to bus routes based upon the number of students who can ride safely on a bus. The District tries extremely hard to maintain safe and efficient routes each year while being cognizant to not elongate a bus ride because of too many stops. The District enrollment is currently 2,495 students (almost a 3% total increase from last year at this time) and we must schedule transportation for the majority of these students.
Again this year, we surveyed all students to determine if they required transportation services this year in order for the District to properly plan the routes. Additionally this year, the District tried to keep all routes at 2 students per seat and also tried to make the routes as time-efficient as possible as we try to mitigate the circumstances for quarantine if there were to be a positive COVID-19. Lastly, the District assigned seats to all students in order to have a good accounting where students were scheduled to sit in case this is needed by any health organization.
Our goal each year is the safe and efficient transportation of all of our school-age students. We believe, with our transportation partners, First Student and the MCIU, that we are doing our job. We will always monitor situations and make changes as needed after reviewing those issues from a safety and security lens. We hope to have a safe and fun year on the school buses!
Curriculum and Instruction (Julien Drennan, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Prof. Dev.)
Learning Management System (Grades 6-12)
In the spring of 2020 the unexpected building closures created challenges regarding communication, organization of learning materials and effective instruction. Living rooms, kitchen tables and bedrooms emerged as classrooms and family members became important supporters as we sought to have a continuum of learning during a challenging time. In the fall of 2019 the District had made a commitment to the utilization of Google Classroom to organize classroom resources in an efficient manner. Google Classroom became the hub of instruction and allowed us to be successful in a technological space throughout the early phases of the pandemic. While Google Classroom served us well, the needs of parents/guardians, teachers and students at the secondary level evolved over time and we began to outgrow the capability of Classroom. This year the District is implementing a new LMS system called Canvas. Canvas will allow us to augment communication with students and families and enhance teaching and learning.
The implementation of Canvas is a staggered and measured roll out, allowing teachers to learn, practice and grow in its use during the 21-22 school year. All teachers are expected to have a home page for their classes and the calendar feature is required to be used when posting assignments, tests, quizzes and deadlines. Some teachers will be posting all work in Canvas, while others may continue to link to their Google Classroom as they become adjusted to the new platform. One of the biggest challenges of Google Classroom was the lack of parent/guardian interface. Many parents expressed a desire for access in order to better allow them to understand student expectations, assignments and progress. Because Google Classroom was not a learning management system, parents/guardians received limited information and no additional access was possible. Canvas allows for parents/guardians to become observers in students' classes. The role of the observer is limited to information specific to an individual student and general information about the course, assignments and expectations. Please continue to utilize eSchool's HAC for up-to-date information about student attendance and grades. If you wish to monitor assignments and due dates, please enroll as an observer in your student's Canvas classes by following the instructions linked here. Once the parent account is created, Canvas is easily accessed from a computer or through an app on your phone!
Human Resources/Public Relations (Cheryl Galdo, Esq., Dir. of HR/PR)
Human ResourcesThe District is looking for a physician to assist by writing standing orders for scripts (such as for Epi-pens to be maintained in the schools' Nursing Suites) and by conducting required health physicals in March for students who have not yet had them completed.
The pay per health physical and standing order is $25. Interested physicians should email Cheryl Galdo, Director of Human Resources/Public Relations, with their interest and any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Enrichment offering of Bucket Drumming and Found Percussion Ensemble for 4th and 5th grade students still has room for more students who may be interested. Led by Mr. Glen DeGeorge, the ensemble meets after school for six sessions starting Sept. 20. Please click here for registration and payment information.
Unfortunately, the Chess and Martial Arts classes are full. They will be offered again during the Spring Enrichment Session.
Technology (Jason Hilt, Ed.D., Director of Technology)
The Technology Department supports information technology systems and instructional technology programs and practices in the district. Each month, we highlight how our students and teachers engage in 21st Century learning activities. We also share updates on new initiatives and tips and tricks related to devices and technology tools used in the district. This month we are highlighting the online learning platforms used in K-12 classrooms and family engagement resources.
Our students in grades K-5 are enrolled in Google Classroom to access their learning throughout the school day as needed. Teachers can share materials and assignments through Google Classroom, and students can access and submit their work there. Families can view a weekly or daily summary, which includes due dates, upcoming assignments, and more. Here is some information about receiving Guardian Summaries.
New for the 2021-2022 school year, our students in grades 6-12 are enrolled in Canvas. Students are enrolled in a course for each class that they attend. They can access materials, assignments, and view upcoming due dates. Parents can connect to Canvas using the Observer Role to view important information about classwork. You can find the start of school information for students HERE and for parents HERE.
In school and at home, students use Google Workspace apps such as Google Meet, Docs, Slides, and more. With students having access to a device both at home and school, it is important for schools and families to consider safety and balance. We encourage you to explore Google’s Best Practices for Family Engagement. This link includes information about the products students will use this year, ideas about balancing screen time, and family monitoring tools.
Student device distribution photo below --
Student Services (Frank Giordano, Director of Special Education and Student Services)
We would like to thank our students with special needs as well as their parents for a successful transition back to school to start the 2021-2022 school year. The beginning of the school year can be a difficult time under typical circumstances. To be able to transition back to full-time schooling after such an atypical 2020-2021 school year so smoothly is a testament to the resilience of our students and their families.
September is National Suicide Awareness Month and with this, in mind, we would like to provide two resources to support individuals and families in need of help. A link to The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is here. This site provides a plethora of information and resources to assist those in crisis.
Emergency and Crisis Resources compiled by the Counseling Department at our high school are included here. Please don’t hesitate to utilize resources that we have available through the Counseling departments at each of our schools and through the Montgomery County Office of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.