Hello Coolidge Corner School Families and Friends,
I hope you are continuing to maintain health this summer and finding time to connect with family and friends safely. Things are certainly picking up speed as we get closer to the start of the school year. Much has developed in the past two week since our last update and family forum. We will not have a family forum this week. Rather I am encouraging everyone to tune into the School Committee meeting this Thursday (August 6th) at 12:00pm to get the up to date plans for the start to the school year. The meeting will be remote and broadcast live through Brookline Interactive Group’s live stream.
Below you will find information about the work we have been doing to prepare for the new school year including:
Identifying scheduling and space solutions at CCS
Access and Equity Team work
Grade 6 Math Position
I am thrilled to share that Jillian Boucher will be joining the Grade 6 team and our community here at CCS. Ms. Boucher joins us from Match Charter School where she was recently a Grade 8 math teacher. Prior to that she worked at Codman Academy as a middle grades math teacher. Before moving to Codman she spent 6 years as a Grade 6 math teacher at Match Charter Middle School. Ms. Boucher has a passion for building strong relationships with students and holding them to high expectations while promoting critical thinking, inclusion, and curiosity in her classroom. She is also deeply committed to ensuring educational equity for all students.
Middle School Learning Center Position
I am excited to welcome Gwendolyn Kerr to our middle school team at Coolidge Corner School. Ms. Kerr joins us from Belmont High School where she was a learning center teacher for the past two years with experience working in co-taught classrooms. Prior to her work in Belmont, Ms. Kerr was a Grade 5 classroom teacher in Virginia for 3 years and a Grade 4 teacher in Maryland for 4 years. Ms. Kerr prides herself on being a caring educator committed to creating strong relationships with students, families, and colleagues as she works to create an engaging classroom environment and provide differentiated instruction to her students.
Recently we have had two classroom teachers resign their positions in order to find positions in districts closer to home. We will miss Andrea Halverson (Grade 3) and Ashley Mello (Grade 5) as they move on from the hive. Both Andrea and Ashely brought strength to their respectives teams and will be difficult to replace.
We have posted these positions and are working with the Grade 3 and 5 teams to conduct interviews this week and next. We hope to have the positions filled during the week of August 17th. I will be reaching out to families this week for volunteers to participate on each of these teams.
Identifying Scheduling and Space Solutions at CCS
Over the past few weeks I have been working with our three vice principals on pressure testing various hybrid models. This includes building out student and teacher schedules for each scenario possible given the safety measures needed in order to have anyone in the building working and learning together.
We have MANY scheduling solutions ready to go depending on the model that the district chooses. We have identified spaces inside the building that could be transformed into classroom spaces so we could maintain safe distancing. We’ve worked out traffic patterns through the building to ensure that single or groups of students remain at safe distance. This includes turning stairwells and doorways into one way traffic as well as identifying where signage would need to be placed to indicate these new traffic patterns through the building.
Additionally we have reimagined our outdoor spaces. We have identified 9 outdoor learning spaces and 9 outdoor “play” spaces for students. We felt it was important, especially for our youngest learners to separate play and learning spaces. Even with our very small outdoor footprint we were able to locate these 18 spaces and begin to imagine how each space would be used and have created schedules for how groups could move through these spaces each day.
In addition to the work we have been doing on creating schedules and spaces that support variations of hybrid models we have also been working on robust remote learning plans should that model become a component of the school year.
Our next steps once the district chooses a model for the start of the school year will be to take some of these schedules and solutions and work with our educators at CCS to get feedback, make modifications, and refine the schedules and procedures.
Access and Equity Team Work
Our Access and Equity team continues to be hard at work this summer. We have identified the pillars of our work for the coming school year and have divided the work into subgroups to take the lead for each of the pillars. Below are the categories of work for each of the subgroups:
Personal and professional growth, school culture, curriculum, policies, procedures, and pedagogy
Student voice and engagement
Family and community connections
Our next steps are for each of the subgroups to meet to identify 2-3 key action steps to focus on for this school year. Once we have identified these action steps we will share those out with the staff and community.
I want to thank the families who have been participating in the whole group and family group for their continued partnership and participation at each of our large group meetings. This is such an important time for our community to be building bridges between home and school and the work that is happening with this group is an excellent example of strong home/school collaboration and partnership.
Many families have reached out and expressed their concern and questions about what learning will look like this coming school year. I wanted to share a brief update about some of the work that is being done across the district to address these concerns and questions.
Essential Curriculum and Consistent Learning Management Systems
Teams of teachers across the district, including several of our own from CCS, are working collaboratively with curriculum coordinators on identifying essential curriculum and building out units of study for this coming school year. This focused approach to meeting the standards and expectations will open up space for the intense social emotional support we know our students will need, allow for teams to go deeper into units and provide the scaffolds and supports needed to promote growth, and provide teams with the time and space to collaborate.
In order to facilitate the support for teams of teachers and provide consistency for our students and families in whatever remote components may be part of our educational plan for the coming school year, all teams will be expected to use the same platforms for learning management systems (LMS or digital classrooms) across the district. Below are the identified platforms for the district.
PreKindergarten - Grade 2 : Seesaw
Grades 3-5: Google Classroom
Grades 6-8: Canvas
This represents a shift for our Grade 2 team and much of our middle school team. We will be working with support from the district on providing professional development for these teams so that they are ready to use these platforms with their students and will continue to provide support throughout the school year as they make this transition.
I appreciate everyone’s patience and support as we have been devoting all our energies and focus on preparing for and testing many of the different models that we may begin with and transition to this school year. I know there are many unanswered emails in my inbox right now and I will work on responding to them as soon as I can. If there is something that needs urgent attention please don’t hesitate to send a follow up email if you haven’t heard back from me quick enough.
Though plans are beginning to come into clearer focus there is still much that needs to get worked out so that everyone is able to remain safe and healthy this coming school year. Please be sure to watch the School Committee meeting on Thursday (Aug 6) at noon if you are able for the most up to date information about reopening plans. Following the decision about our plan as a district I will be in touch about next steps for CCS and how we will meet the guidelines set forward by the state and district.
I look forward to connecting with you all at our next family forum on August 20th at 8:000pm. I will share a link to the meeting in our next family update on August 17th.