A New School Year Begins.

Dear Hatfield Community:

                As we start another school year, I want to take a moment to welcome back all our returning students and staff and to welcome those new to the Hatfield Public Schools.

                I also want to take a moment to recognize our three retirees from last year; Peter Bishop, David Keir, and Brenda Keir. They will all be greatly missed and have each, over the years, made their mark at Smith Academy. Taking over for Brenda, this year will be Riley Malinowski. Riley worked at the elementary school for the past several years before moving to Smith Academy last year to serve as the Administrative Assistant for the Principal.

                When students return to Smith Academy this year, they will be greeted by a newly renovated library/media center. Over the summer, the Frank Abarno Library underwent a total renovation and upgrade. The renovation was paid, in large part, by a gift from the Smith Academy Board of Trustees.  The new library will be equipped with new computers, a multimedia projector, all new furniture, new ceiling tile and lighting, and new carpeting.

                Another project begun this summer is the construction of a new field hockey field behind Smith Academy. The field will be located next to the Varsity Baseball Field and will allow our field hockey players to play their home games on campus.  It is hoped that the field will be completed in time for the 2019-2020 season. 

                Smith Academy will continue to be offering students in grades 11 and 12 classes in American Sign Language this coming year. Ms. Brittany Simpson will be returning as our ASL teacher. Ms. Simpson is a licensed ASL teacher employed by the Willie Ross School for the Deaf. In addition, four seniors from Smith Academy will be teaching “mini lessons” in ASL this year to the students in grades K-5.

                The elementary school will be taking an increased focus this year on math instruction with both the implementation of the Math Recovery Program and the use of Math DIBELS to measure math skills. Math Recovery is designed to provide an evidenced-based intervention framework for teachers working with elementary students to help in the construction of numeracy skills through assessment, analysis,  and individualized teaching.  Math Recovery identifies students who are “at risk” through an assessment system that allows educators to know exactly where students are in their mathematical development and apply early, short term interventions. Ten staff members will receive a year-long professional development in Math Recovery with the goal of increasing student performance in basic arithmetic skill through intensive, individualized instruction.  The training is being paid by a grant from the U.S. Math Recovery Council. Principal Chapin submitted a grant proposal to the council last year which was accepted. The Elementary School will also be implementing the DIBELS Math assessment tool during the 2018-2019 school year.   DIBELS Math measures a student’s early numeracy, computation, and problem solving skills.  The assessment will be used to identify children experiencing difficulty in the acquisition of basic mathematics skills, in order to provide support early and prevent the occurrence of later mathematics difficulties.  The data will be shared with parents in a similar manner to the way the DIBELS Reading Assessment data is now shared.

                Opportunities for both project-based and hands-on learning will continue this year at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. The Forest Learning Program that was begun in the Preschool and Kindergarten will be expanded into the first grade. The “Most Likely to Succeed” mini grants will again be made available for teachers at each school to design unique project-based initiatives within their classroom that are both tied to the curriculum and reinforce 21st Century skills.

                The evidenced-based “Life Skills” social emotional curriculum, which was successfully introduced this past year in grades 4 and 7, will be expanded into grade 5 and grade 8 this coming school year. The curriculum is a core component of the social emotional curriculum for the District and supports the recently revised District Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan.

                Parents and students are encouraged to review the new revised Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan. The plan contains information on who to contact in the event that a bullying-related incident occurs. Links to the plan can be found on the home page of the school web-site.

                During the upcoming school year, teachers, parents, students, and various community stakeholders will be receiving a survey from the School District asking to provide input for the District Learning Team. The DLT will use the information as they draft a new District Improvement Plan outlining the goals for the District for the next three years.

                On September 26, the Hatfield Public School District will be hosting a community showing of the film “Screenagers”.   The film will be shown at the Hatfield Elementary School at 6 pm. Following the film, there will be community forum facilitated by the Northwest District Attorney’s Office.      “Screenagers” is about the impact of the digital age on children and how to help them minimize the harmful effects and find balance. The goal of the film is to educate people so that they might feel more confident and better able to establish balance around screen time. More information on this important event will be shared with the community in September.    

    The presentation of the film is being co-sponsored by the community-based group HEADS Up.

HEADS Up Mission states: 

“Hatfield will become a model community committed to educating, liberating, and protecting the mental health of all its members through educational outreach and programs that preserve dignity, foster acceptance and promote a spirit of community.” 

More information on HEADS Up can be found on the school’s website.

                 Other community groups who have supported the Hatfield schools over the years include: The Hatfield Parent Teacher Association, The Hatfield Education Foundation, The Smith Academy Booster Club, The Hatfield Special Education Parent Advisory Committee, and STArHS.

                 Each of these groups have worked to raise considerable money over the years to pay for numerous activities and materials for the schools. In 2017, The Hatfield Education Foundation presented teachers with over $8,000 in grants last year to support many activities in the District, including the annual Spring Musical. The Hatfield PTA, through its fundraising pays for many of the field trips for the elementary school students each year, as well as, materials used in the classrooms. Both the Smith Academy Booster Club and STArHS provide considerable supports for the athletic programs and arts programs in the School District. The Hatfield Special Education Parent Advisory Committee supports programs and provides feedback to the School District on matters pertaining to the needs of our special education students.   For more information on all of these groups, please visit the school website.

            This summer the School District reviewed and revised our bus routes/stops through a collaborative effort between Five Star, our contracted bus company, and our administration, which included principals, school committee, the Special Education Coordinator, and myself. In August, parents and guardians received a letter from Five Star listing their child’s bus stop for the 2018-2019 school year. Bus stops were assigned in accordance with School Committee policy. Students, who live more than one (1) mile from the school, and all kindergarten students; except those living in immediate proximity to the school, were assigned a bus stop. Bus stops are communal and not “door to door”. The stops were assigned based on several factors including: existing traffic patterns, safety of access, and closeness to population centers. Copies of all the bus stops will also be located on school website and available at each school office.  If you are unsure of your child’s bus stop or have questions or concerns, please contact the School Department. 

                The first day for teachers is August 27. Students and support staff return on August 30.  Kindergarten starts on August 31 and Preschool on September 6. 

         I wish everyone a successful and rewarding school year.     

 

Sincerely,

 

John F. Robert

August 23, 2018