Five Things You Missed at School Committee: Social-Emotional Learning, Teacher Recognition
There were a number of important updates and presentations given to the Committee last night at its meeting.
1. Superintendent David Fleishman recognized Newton South teacher Michael Kozuch, who was recently honored with a Goldin Award for Excellence in Education. Kozuch, who is a history and social studies teacher, was behind the district's interdisciplinary Global program, which prepares students to be Global citizens.
Kozuch thanked his fellow teachers, the administration, parents and School Committee for their support of the program, and shared a few success stories about students who have gone through the Global Program and benefitted from it.
"We're hoping to build the program into an international model of education," Kozuch said.
2. Fleishman also took a moment to recognize the hard work of the city's Public Buildings Dept. and the School Department's operations team, who worked hard over the last few days repairing equipment at Brown Middle School after an electrical fire broke out there Wed., April 18.
Josh Morse, who works in the Public Buildings Dept., was singled out as one person who worked especially hard over the last few days to make sure the school opened in time for school Monday, Fleishman said.
"It’s important whenever you have issues like that, [issues] that are incredible challenges, people really step up," Fleishman said.
3. One focus of last night's meeting was a presentation on the district's social and emotional learning (SEL) practices and programs at its elementary schools. Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education Joe Russo was joined by Mark Springer, principal at Mason-Rice Elementary, as well as a number of elementary school teachers and social workers from the district.
Last night's presentation covered the three models of SEL in the elementary schools, including Open Circle, Steps to Respect and Responsive Classroom. All three of these programs help students connect with peers and teachers and help them address issues like bullying.
For more information and details on the SEL programs and last night's presentation, check out this memo.
4. The School Committee also received an update on instructional rounds that have been going on in the district. Superintendent David Fleishman explained that the practice is modeled after medical rounds, where groups of administrators observe classroom teaching at various schools.
The practice works to “describe and define” what the teachers are doing, rather than evaluate.
Mark Springer, principal at Mason-Rice Elementary, said the instructional rounds were a very rewarding experience (the rounds had gone through Mason-Rice in November). Springer said it helped give the employees at the school more “direction” as well as an in-depth look at their teaching.
“It helped us to feel part of something much bigger than just ourselves,” Springer said. “It was a very meaningful experience.”
5. The School Committee last night gave its unanimous approval to appropriate roughly $212,000 in E-Rate funds to upgrade the network infrastructure at all four middle schools. This will help service the high-speed internet demands of teachers and students as well as help lay groundwork for more wireless capabilities.
The E-Rate funds are a reimbursement the school receives from its telecommunications payments. Each payment includes a small fee imposed by the FCC that goes into a national fund, Brehm said. That fund is then used to reimburse school districts with money that they can use for technology improvements.
Due to a glitch in the reimbursement system, Brehm said the Newton was shortchanged roughly $90,000 in reimbursements a few years ago, and has since been reimbursed that money, adding to the total and helping along the network improvements at the middle school.
“This gives us a head start and t will have a positive impact on all four middle school infrastructures and speed up bandwidth at the Education Center and the schools,” Brehm said.