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SC Meeting: March 5, 2024

At the March 5 School Committee meeting, there was a discussion of the Superintendent Evaluation Process, the Sunita Williams School Improvement Plan and the NEF Winter 2024 Grant Awards. The School Committee postponed the Social Emotional Learning & Mental Health Framework/Restorative Practices presentation to a future meeting.

Superintendent Evaluation Process:

  • Happens annually typically towards the end of the school year. It is governed by the school committee policy AFB/CBG.  This is one of the most important duties of the School Committee.

  • The evaluation is handled by the immediate past chair of the SC with also input of the SC current chair. The Superintendent is evaluated based on the DESE rubric for superintendents as well as against the goals that the SC set for him at the start of the school year. SC members will partake in 2 surveys this spring which are numerical ratings, in addition to providing freehand comments. 

Sunita Williams Elementary School Improvement Plan:

Presented by Kiana Brunson, SWES Principal, joined by SWES School Council Members: April Crawford - Parent Representative, Joanie Daly - Community Member, Liz Hitron - Faculty Member, and SWES Student Council Members - 5th graders Andrew Taylor and Ella Travia

  • Collaboration, Culture and Community are the three areas of focus which are driving our School Improvement Plan (SIP). This school improvement plan, as well as our school foci are well aligned, with The Portrait of a Needham Graduate (PONG).

Sunita Williams Elementary School Foci #1, COLLABORATION: 

We will cultivate a school environment where students, faculty, and families actively embrace collaboration, fostering effective communication, respect for diverse perspectives, and shared responsibility for the both academic and social emotional success of our students. 

  • Connection to Faculty: Peer observations, learning walks within the grade levels followed by discussions and debriefing.

  • Connection to Students: Students are encouraged to share ideas, listen actively to peers, and provide constructive feedback. 

  • Connection to Families: The SWES PTC supports our community with school-wide celebrations & events and opportunities for parent involvement.

Sunita Williams Elementary School Foci #2, CULTURE: 

We want to deepen, share and celebrate the unique characteristics of the people that create and add to the culture of the Sunita Williams Elementary School. We aim to cultivate a school environment that embraces and celebrates the cultural diversity of its students, faculty, and families. We want to deeply explore the traits of our students, faculty, and families to gain a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of the who and what that contributes to our school culture.

  • Connection to Faculty: We gain this connection by sharing, celebrating & recognizing our individuality, staff recognition in areas that reflect our school goals: Working Hard, Being Kind and Being Safe.

  • Connection to Students: We continue to thread SEL practices throughout all teaching and learning experiences.  We also engage and explore student cultures and cultures of others in our community and beyond.

  • Connection to Families: We reinforce our expectations of School and Family positive interactions, Ex. arrival and pick-up procedures & safety.  We also want to include families in our engagement and exploration of student cultures by hosting a Festival of Cultures event annually.

Sunita Williams Elementary School Foci #3, COMMUNITY: 

We will foster open communication and collaboration between students, families, teachers, staff, and community members to deepen our sense of belonging to the Sunita Williams Elementary School Community. We will organize events and promote opportunities that bring together students, faculty, families, and community members to discuss and share, which will strengthen current relationships and help foster new relationships.

  • Connection to Faculty: We broaden our sense of community by having focused and intentional use of professional development and collaborative time.  As well as a wonderful Sunshine Committee that plan faculty and staff outings, provide support when needed during a difficult time, and other monthly activities (parking spot raffle, special life moments celebrations etc.)

  • Connection to Students: We have many community celebrations throughout the school year along with in-school assemblies to build school spirit and a sense of pride within our community. Our student council also provides opportunities to get involved with the Needham and Boston communities at large with projects of outreach or support. 

  • Connection to Families: The family events that we have are for our entire community.  We also have family educational meetings and events along with a faculty presence at our PTC community meetings.  This way ideas, thoughts and information can be exchanged.

Student Council Members Andrew & Ella spoke about their experiences on Student Council and the success of their idea for 5th grade Hall Monitors in improving the safety of the afternoon dismissal process. They have recently recruited new 4th grade members to the student council. They also discussed other ways to incorporate student voice and ideas including their suggestion box and Spirit Week.

To view all the slides of the Sunita Williams School Improvement Plan please see the packet, starting on page 15.

The Needham Education Foundation 2024 Winter Grant Awards: 

The Needham Education Foundation (NEF) has awarded eight grants totaling $43,258 in its winter grant cycle. Detailed information can be found at the NEF website. Grants include:

  • ISTE Conference Professional Development Opportunity: Technology Integration Specialists from Broadmeadow, Eliot, Mitchell, Newman, and Needham High School will attend the 2024 International Society for Technology in Education conference.

  • Rubik’s Cube Mosaics: A set of Rubik’s Cubes to create mosaics using specific patterns, as well as both beginner and advanced versions of the Rubik’s Cube for exploration will provide an opportunity for High Rock students to participate in creative, engaging, and collaborative problem solving activities.

  • 3D Printing Exploration: Two 3D printers will allow High Rock to explore how 3D printing can motivate students, connect to the curriculum, create engaging lessons, and empower students to become designers and creators using this innovative technology. 

  • Year-Round Book Clubs: The addition of contemporary, high-interest, grade-appropriate texts will support year-round, informal book clubs that meet briefly every Friday in all Pollard 7th grade ELA classes. 

  • Spanish Storytelling Workshop: All elementary Spanish teachers will attend a professional development workshop with educator Carolina Gómez to learn how to incorporate storytelling into language learning for grades K-5 across the district. 

  • Sensory Support Tools: All first grade classrooms at Broadmeadow will receive sensory-friendly seating options and therapeutic tools.

  • Civil Rights: Bringing History to Life Performances of “The Right to Dream” by Living Voices, in addition to new high-quality, accessible, and diverse classroom reading materials about the Civil Rights Movement will support social studies and literacy integration for all grade 5 students across the district. Live theater and literature will enhance classroom ​instruction on the “Slavery, Civil War, and Civil Rights” unit of the new elementary social studies curriculum.

  • Enrichment Programming: Educational enrichment activities will complement the tutoring program at the Needham Housing Authority facility on Captain Robert Cook Drive for their students who attend the Eliot, High Rock, and Pollard schools. These activities include a painter from Gorse Mill, musician David Polansky, a Jamaican storyteller, a historical reenactor, and field trips to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum and Worcester Science Center.

The NEF reminds everyone that ANYONE can write a grant for the Needham Public Schools.  Please visit the NEF for more information on their grant applications and grant cycles.

The School Committee voted unanimously to approve the NEF 2024 grant cycle winners.

The next School Committee meeting will be Tuesday, March 19th.


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