September 2017

(Image: Bus Derby Painting)

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Hello, I hope this letter finds you and your family doing well. I look forward to a positive and academically productive year. There are many exciting things happening at Smith Academy this year. We look forward to building upon our community/school relationship in support of your child’s academic, social, and emotional development. My door is always open in the event you would like to discuss any educational business or matters of concern. 

Student Handbook

All SA students will receive a Student Handbook within the first week of school. Class meetings will be held to review certain items that all students must know and understand. Parent/guardians are required to sign a form acknowledging that they have had an opportunity to review the Handbook. You can find the 2017-18 Student Handbook HERE and on our website under the Parents and Students tab. Please understand the handbook is a procedural document that provides an outline for school business. Not all circumstances and/or variables involved with a given situation will be outlined within the handbook. Decisions will be made in the school community's best interest, and with all information taken into consideration. 

School-Wide Homework Expectation (Introduced 2015)

Working collaboratively with faculty and drawing upon both research-based articles and various state-wide district policies, we developed a shared understanding and expectation for homework at Smith Academy. Shared belief systems and consistent expectations will allow us to better serve students. 

Purposes of Homework: Homework is defined as written or non-written tasks assigned by a teacher to be completed outside the classroom. These assignments should complement class work and be relevant to the curriculum. Homework is a natural extension of the school day and an important part of a student's educational experience. Homework encourages self-discipline, pride in one's work, positive self-esteem, and an interest in learning. Homework reinforces the Hatfield home/school connection.

Kinds of Homework: Homework may be assigned in preparation for upcoming lessons or as an extension of class work.

  • Preparation Homework - given to prepare a student for upcoming lessons
  • Practice Homework - designed to reinforce lessons already taught in class
  • Extension/Creative Homework - intended to provide challenging learning opportunities for enrichment and extension of the lesson

These assignments reinforce the Massachusetts Curriculum frameworks and promote inquiry, problem solving, discovery, analysis, and application of essential concepts.

Administrator Responsibilities

  • Supervise the dissemination of homework policies and procedures to staff, students, and parents.
  • Monitor the implementation of homework practices, according to established expectations.
  • Ensure clear lines of communication remain open between school and community concerning homework expectations.

Teacher Responsibilities

  • Provide for students' individual differences and acknowledge varied learning styles by varying homework assignments.
  • Establish guidelines/rubrics, appropriate to each assignment, for the assessment of homework.
  • Homework will count 5-15% of a student’s overall quarterly grade.
  • Give clear, concise directions, allowing time for students' questions.
  • Review the progress of long-term projects periodically.
  • Record and/or collect assignments as appropriate.
  • Make homework relevant to the lessons and useful for learning.
  • Use homework as one tool to gauge how well students are understanding lessons.
  • Provide prompt and meaningful feedback.
  • Discuss students’ needs and progress or challenges with parents as appropriate.
  • Ensure that students who have missed school understand make-up expectations.
  • Promote school and community relations that foster academic success.

Parent/Guardian

  • Provide a quiet study environment, free from distraction.
  • Communicate with educator if your child's work for a class seems consistently too easy, too hard, too little or too much.
  • Notify educators if situations arise that interfere with students’ ability to complete homework .
  • Be available to help your child, but please allow for proper self-exploration of their abilities. If you overly assist or complete your child's work, the educational process is compromised. 

Students

  • Students are expected to master the skills of independent inquiry by utilizing their notes, texts, and online resources when they are struggling.
  • Organize their homework assignments and deadlines in a planner or calendar.
  • Independently seek clarity on how to complete assignments before leaving class or school.
  • Complete homework on a consistent basis.
  • Work conscientiously for a reasonable amount of time on your homework, but move on or seek help if you struggle with a concept or skill.
  • Seek clarity when you are struggling to understand specific content or master a specific skill.

We are hopeful you will support our efforts to provide a high quality of education and share our expectations surrounding homework.

Electronic Gradebooks

Student schedules are now viewable within plusportal. When report cards are distributed we will utilize the e-locker area of plusportals. Directions on how to access e-locker will be shared when report cards are distributed.

For new parents/guardians, plusportal is an integral tool that allows users to view educator gradebooks, report cards, and student schedules. Users are also able to contact educators directly, view calendars, and view our lunch menu. The user homepage can be accessed here: PLUSPORTAL LOGIN. New users will receive a separate secure email that will permit you access to plusportal. If you have any issue with accessing plusportal please contact Mrs. Malinowski (rmalinowski@hatfieldps.net). 

To learn more about accessing and navigating the portal, please view Rediker's instructional videos on their web-based software here: PLUSPORTAL TUTORIAL

Handheld Device Policy

Please familiarize yourself with our Handheld Device Policy in our student handbook. I am asking for your support in enforcing this policy. Although electronic devices are embedded within our society, we are attempting to teach both responsibility and self-control in their use. When utilized for educational purposes, they can prove beneficial, conversely, they can prove very distracting when students are unable to "disconnect."

Please assist us in reinforcing the importance of responsible use by limiting text communication to strictly emergency purposes while your child is in school. If your child is feeling ill, we request that they visit the nurse's office to receive a proper assessment. Please refrain from scheduling health-related pick ups via text message without appropriate communication with our medical faculty. Last, students who feel they need to rest in the nurses office will be asked to check-in their cell phones while laying down. We are asking for your support in speaking with your child about this policy and the importance of responsible use. 

Building Security

Upon arrival to Smith Academy, you must check-in at the main office, sign-in, receive a visitor’s pass, and await an escort to your destination. Unfortunately, due to tragic circumstances that have happened within our public schools, this is a necessary precaution in keeping ALL of our students safe. If you are requesting a formal parent-teacher conference or simply would like to speak to your child’s educators please utilize the appropriate steps necessary to arrange this meeting. You may call the school and leave a memo for an educator or utilize email to schedule your meeting. Our email contact page is a helpful tool: CONTACT PAGE

Parent Notification (Concerning Absences)

The Principal will notify Parents/Guardians, in writing, when students are absent for the following number of days:

1.   Five (5) Absences:   A letter of absences will be sent home.

2. Ten (10) Absences:  A second letter of notification for excessive absences will be sent home.

3.   Fifteen (15) Absences:  A third letter of notification for excessive absences will be sent home.

4.   Twenty (20) Absences:  A fourth letter of notification for excessive absences will be sent home.

5.   Once a student exceeds twenty (20) absences from school or from an individual class, no credit towards graduation will be awarded.

6.   Parents / Guardians should arrange a meeting with the School Principal and the Guidance Counselor to determine the next best course of action due to the loss of credits toward graduation.

 

Dress Code

As summer comes to an end, I am asking for your support with enforcing our dress code policy. When dressing for school, the line between relaxed and inappropriate is sometimes blurred by the adolescent mind. I ask that you review the Dress Code Policy located in our student handbook with your child. 

Involvement

There are several ways to become involved with our school/district. I am providing a list of parent/faculty groups that tighten the bond between community and school. Our collective efforts help to ensure our students receive the very best quality of education possible. I encourage and appreciate your participation.

  • STArHS: Supporting the Arts in Hatfield Schools: 

  • SAAAC: Smith Academy Athletic Awards Committee: A community committee that raises funds for athletic awards for our student athletes.

  • HEF: Hatfield Education Foundation: The Hatfield Education Foundation (HEF) was formed in 1990 by a group of committed and forward-looking Hatfield community members concerned with the future of their children's education. Mission Statement: To provide financial and general support for a variety of programs and activities which improve and enhance the educational and extracurricular offerings to the students of Hatfield.

  • PAC: Parent Advisory Council: The Parent Advisory Council advises the district on matters pertaining to the education and safety of students with disabilities. Membership in the PAC is open to any party interested in special education services, laws, and regulations surrounding student services.

  • School Council: The school council shall meet regularly with the principal of the school and shall assist in the identification of the educational needs of the students attending the school and in the formulation of a school improvement plan. Any parents or guardians who may be interested in serving on the school council should contact me directly. We meet once a month at 6:45 am (usually for one hour). aberrios@hatfieldps.net

  • Hatfield Cultural Council: The council supports opportunities that promote community support and participation. 

*Note: Smith Academy will provide a table at our open house night for each community group that chooses to participate. Please contact me directly if you would like a table set up.

Our open house night will be held on Wednesday, September 13 from 6-8:00 pm. All other school events can be found on the Smith Academy website: http://www.hatfieldps.net/smith-academy

District Governing Bodies

School Committee: A five-member governing body of the school district. The superintendent works alongside the Committee to guide the district, approve the school budget, and create school policy. Any questions or comments on the Committee or their work can be answered by Superintendent Robert: jrobert@hatfieldps.net.

            Members

1.     Catherine Englehardt, Chair

2.     Heather Cahill, Vice-Chair

3.     Bridget Rodrigue

4.     Michael F. Paszek

5.     Brian Moriarty

Smith Academy Board of Trustees: The Trustees award school grants that provide additional curricular/instructional resources to SA. Additionally, the board awards individual academic scholarships to SA students. Smith Academy’s Board of Trustees is an invaluable resource and key component in helping SA reach its goals.

  • Members include: Anna Holhut, Sanford Belden, William Belden, Jonathan Bardwell, Richard O’Dea, Robert Shea, Jr., Brenda Kempisty, John Wilkes

Last, a special thank you to our custodial staff for making the building shine and ready to welcome students. 

I look forward to a safe and academically rigorous year with our students and faculty.

Important Dates:

  • 8/31 Thursday: Students First Day (all students report to the gymnasium upon arrival)
  • 9/4 Monday: School Closed for Labor Day
  • 9/5 Tuesday: Impact Testing (Grades 9-12)
  • 9/7 Thursday: Impact Testing (Grades 7/8)
  • 9/12 Tuesday: Picture Day
    • Hatfield Mental Health Awareness Committee Meeting 6:30 at Hatfield Fire Dept. (more info. here)
  • 9/13 Wednesday: Open House (6-8 pm)
  • 9/19 Tuesday: Senior Section Photos
  • 9/20 Wednesday Instrument Rental at HES (7:30 pm)
  • 9/21 Thursday: School Candid Photos 
  • 9/27 Wednesday: Most Likley to Succeed viewing at HES at 6 pm (more info. here)
  • 10/4 Wednesday: College Fair 6-8 pm at Belchertown High School

Respectfully,

Andrew M. Berrios, Ed.D.

Smith Academy, Principal

Twitter: @Smithacademy1