At the February 7 School Committee meeting there was a discussion of the Pollard Middle School Improvement Plan, Policy IJL Selection and Adoption of Library/Media Learning Resources First Reading, and a Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan Update.
Dr Gutekanst recognized several student achievements.
NHS students Andrew Berkman, Gabriella Diaz, Nora Srinivas, Sam Villa, and Grey Whelan were recognized by the Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards with a Gold Key and advanced to the National Art competition.
Pollard student Anray Sheng is Needham's 2023 Project 351 Ambassador for embodying the qualities of kindness, compassion, humility, and gratitude and will participate in a year of leadership and service.
Pollard Middle School Improvement Plan
Tamatha Bibbo, Pollard Principal, several students from the Pollard Student Council, and Pollard teachers presented about the Middle School improvement plan and some exciting collaborations happening at Pollard. These presentations are tied to the Portrait of a Needham Graduate and how they complement this initiative, focusing on expanding interdisciplinary learning opportunities and restorative practices.
ELA and Social Studies Collaboration
Liz Welburn 6-8 ELA Dept. Chair and Brooke Kessel, K-8 Social Studies Dept Chair
There was a video presentation about this collaboration. Students analyze texts and writing across the disciplines using various guiding questions from teachers and ones that they thought of on their own. Teachers are very happy with the conversations, thinking, and writing that the students are demonstrating.
Science, Math, and Engineering Collaboration
Mark Healey, 6-8 Science Dept. Chair and Jack Baker, 6-8 Math Dept. Chair
Mr Healey presented some key questions and practices that the students will answer or research. Students gather data, analyze it, and present it in different ways. They also come up with their own questions that they can research based on the data that they collected. They have been working with local partners to learn about innovative tools and ways to use data.
These presentations highlight all the cross-curricular work that is being done at the middle school. Teachers are working together to create meaningful activities for students. Teachers are constantly thinking about what can be added and changed to the activities and experiences.
Expanding Restorative Practices: Circles and Chats
A goal at Pollard is to expand the use of restorative practices. How do you prevent and restore harm? Program is designed in tiers. Tier 1 is for everyone (clusters), Tier 2 is for small groups (circles), Tier 3 is for individual students (students who may have had a conflict).
Students presented about how this new practice works at Pollard. Community meetings happen monthly and have a theme. There are 10 different themes that were identified by teachers. Some examples include talents, goal setting, and self care. The staff develops the activities that students will participate in during these meetings. A cluster gets together, and the intent is to help kids get to know one another and learn to communicate and trust one another. Students and teachers seem to really like the concept and feel like they are supported and getting to know their classmates in ways that they might not normally be able to.
Another practice is a small circle of students to come together and talk about something positive or negative that has happened in a class or the school. The circles start with easy topics and then move into harder or more difficult ones. Students are learning to work together, be better listeners, and communicate with one another. Students have different opinions and ideas, and the hope is that they will learn to respect each other's ideas and differences and find common ground.
Teachers are seeing more participation from students in their classes, and they think that it is a result of these meetings.
Policy Update: Selection and Adoption of Library/Media Learning Resources
First Reading – The policy will be reviewed and then voted on at a future meeting. The previous policy was reviewed and updated and provides guidelines for material selection for all library media centers in the Needham Public School System, as well as how to deal with challenges to library materials. Draft document can be found in the packet.
Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan Update
There is a law prohibiting bullying in schools. Schools are required to have a plan to prevent and respond to issues around bullying. This plan must be kept current in all school districts and be revisited so that changes can be made as necessary. Needham updates the plan every 2 years, and current version can be found in the packet. Revisions are sent out for review to a committee of teachers, administrators, SEL teachers, etc. and then it is shared out to the community. Feedback is given and then actions are taken to revise language/steps that are highlighted. The state is very clear about what needs to be in the plan so there is not a lot of “wiggle-room” to change things.
Approve the 2023-2024 Middle School and High School Program of Studies - Approved 7-0-0
Approve Westborough Public Schools’ Admittance to ACCEPT Education Collaborative - Approved 7-0-0
Commercial Use of School Property for the Documentary Black Ice - Approved 7-0-0
Revolving Fund Fees for Transportation and Athletics - Approved 7-0-0
Award the Bid for Before and After School Structured Program for Elementary Students for 2024-2026. NEDP came in most favorably with their bid. - Approved 7-0-0
School Committee Comments
Sunita Williams will be going back to space on April 13 for the first crew flight of the Starliner.
February is Black History Month
Congratulations to High Rock & Pollard students on a successful production of High School Musical Jr. Over 125 students participated in cast and crew.
SC wishes students, families and staff a restful February vacation week.
The next School Committee meeting will be on February 28 at 6:30pm.