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SC Meeting: March 21, 2023

At the March 21 School Committee Meeting there was a Portrait of a Needham Graduate Student Presentation, the NHS Student Advisory to the School Committee Report, and a discussion of the Mitchell School Improvement Plan.

Public Comments

High School students shared their ideas for an amendment to the math pathway currently offered to Middle and High School students.

Multiple educators and parents shared their concern for Needham’s current ability to provide adequate facilities for performing arts. A recent light and sound study was cited and will be published soon.

Portrait of a Needham Graduate Student Presentation

Jean Tower, K-12 Director of Media & Digital Learning, shared slides highlighting the digital areas of competencies within the Portrait of a Needham Graduate that make up the framework of and skills in those competencies all the way from Kindergarten to the High School, and how they applied during lessons along each grade. Detailed slides can be found in the SC packet.

Paige Rowse (NHS Library Teacher), Joshua Yankell (NHS Technology Specialist) and Sam Bookston (NHS Technology Specialist) continued the presentation with information on the following:

  • AP Capstone – a two year program covering AP seminar, a foundational course, and AP research where students can work towards writing a dissertation on a topic of their choice

  • Electives including the TV communications classes which allow students to develop communication skills while exploring different topics

  • Internships with the Tech Help Desk that encourages independent and student directed learning

  • Social Media for Social Change where students partner with local organizations to help further their social media goals and increase awareness and promote positive social media usage

  • Digital Game history and design where students work on creating coding based and a physical card or board game.

  • Groundwork begins at the 6th grade level with Google Slides and is furthered in Pollard.

Integration into other courses and content includes projects where teachers talk about their research, goals, ideas and discuss scope and viability. When students move into production phase, students learn appropriate technology tools.

One specific example was shared, Corny Acres, the ninth grade interdisciplinary program farming project where small groups selected 3-4 different crops to grow on a sustainable farm at Needham High School. The goal was to provide food for NPS so ecological, nutritional, and historical knowledge of the crops was needed to inform decisions. Four steps during the process incorporated the Portrait of a Needham Graduate program:

  1. Collaborating with teachers to design the project

  2. Find and evaluate resources

  3. Critical reading and problem solving

  4. Sites planning & misinformation

Needham High School Student Advisory to the School Committee Report

Students have been having more discussions around policy and aspects of school life, specifically the importance of mental health days. Current policy allows for five mental health days but they feel it isn’t being clearly communicated to students, as students feel they cannot miss a day of school because they would miss a substantial amount of work. Students suggested teachers sharing more work on google classroom, or lesson plans in a weekly format.

Students identified a concern of ninth grade students. When teachers are not present, ninth graders were expected to work in the cafeteria, which can often be loud. The Council spoke to administration and ninth graders are now permitted to continue their work in the library.

An abridged version was presented during the meeting. Further information and details can be found in the student council memo in the SC Packet.

Mitchell School Improvement Plan

In the past school year Mitchell has:

  • Implemented IM Math curriculum

  • Introduced a dyslexia screener at K & 1st grade

  • Introduced data informed intervention blocks at 2nd (literacy) & 3rd grade (math)

  • Piloted a wellness program at 4th and 5th grade in partnership with 10th & 11th grade wellness classes

  • Rotated installations of cultural artifacts to represent the schools diversity

Focused areas for growth in the 2023-2024 school year include:

  • To be completely staffed in September 2023

  • Growth of tiered interventions to support students

  • Additions to special education staff

  • Implement additional strategies to promote SEL

  • Expand opportunities for parental engagement

Action Items

  • Resolution for the urgent need for increased special education funding was voted for and unanimously passed.

  • School Committee voted to submit two statements of interest for Mitchell and Pollard to the Massachusetts School Building Authority by April 14. Vote was passed unanimously.

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