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SC Meeting: March 5, 2019

The 3/5 School Committee meeting included the 2018-2019 Newman School Improvement Plan and an update about the Sunita L. Williams Elementary School. There was also a second reading on two items: The JFABC Assignment of Elementary Students to Schools and the IKE Promotion and Retention of Elementary Students.

Newman School Improvement Plan

There was a presentation by Jessica Peterson and other Newman staff about how Newman is meeting the needs of it's students who fall into the high needs category or who are not making benchmark in math and literacy.  Overall, the number of students not meeting benchmark gets better as students rise from grade to grade.

Some supports in place to help struggling students in literacy are:

  • Lexia - online phonics program that students can access before and during school (other schools in Needham are piloting this program)

  • Co-Taught teaching program - now in first, second and third grade (teachers talked about the benefits of this model - 2 teachers, better student to teacher ratio, workshop teaching and learning model)

  • Professional Development for staff in in reading and writing

Math growth has not been as significant as reading for kids who are below benchmark.  To address this, the school has looked at:

  • Adding an additional math coach (Dan G. commented that he would support this in the next budget because of school size)

  • Professional development in math for staff

  • Changing homework practices so they are more in alignment with curriculum

  • Looking at current curriculum

  • Engage New York - intervention program

In the area of Social, Emotional, Wellness, and Citizenship, there are many supports in place to help teachers and students be successful citizens at Newman:

  • CARE Team in place to discuss kids with challenging behavior - help teachers with strategies

  • Quarterly meetings with specialists to support students

  • Responsive Classroom trained teachers

  • Two teachers at Newman are now certified to teach and train teachers in Responsive Classroom

  • sibling support group

  • Newman mentor program - adults to students

  • peer mentorships

  • ELC sibling support group is moving to Sunita L. Williams

Professional Development has focused on racial identity in predominantly white schools.  Staff has watched the documentary American Promise and done a series of workshops on this topic. Also, a recent graduate of Needham High School, Steven DeMayo, came back to run a faculty meeting at Newman and talk about his experiences in the Needham schools and how they shaped who he is today.

Sunita L. Williams School

Hillside Principal Michael Kascak and Senior Project Manager Henry Haff provided an update on construction of the new Sunita L. Williams School. The building is scheduled to open on time and under-budget in June 2019. The building has features that will conserve water, lighting, and energy.  Elements were carefully chosen in all three of these areas.  Special education spaces are located throughout the building and are not confined to one area or floor.  Subtle colors were used on the inside of the building to allow student artwork to stand out in the hallways and classrooms.  Tile will line the hallways and the windows will enhance lighting without allowing solar glare to disrupt teaching and learning.  Special care was taken in the planning of the outside grounds of the school as well for teaching and learning.

School Committee Policies Second Reading:

Changes that were made to JFABC Assignment of Elementary Students to Schools and IKE Promotion and Retention of Elementary Students were pointed out.  A few minor tweaks to pronoun use were made.  It will be brought back to the table for a vote.

Action Items

The committee voted unanimously on two action items:

  • Approve 2019-2020 Needham High School Program of Studies

  • Approve Student Trip to Prague, Czech Republic


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