Parent/Student Dialogue Night at CCHSPosted by James O'Shea on 1/19/2018
Parent/Student Dialogue Night at CCHS
I had the pleasure of attending the Parent/Student Dialogue Night at CCHS last night and found it both informative and thought provoking. The evening was sponsored by the CCHS Challenge Success Committee as part of a multi-pronged approach to address stress and pressure in our school community. It was wonderful to see some of our 8th graders along with their parents in attendance. The program was hosted by CCHS Assistant Principal Lesley Knight and it interspersed student skits with small group discussions.
The skits, which were the focal point of the program, were designed to be reflections of conversations between high school students and their parents and their peers. As a parent, I found the skits to be eerily accurate in their depictions, which led to interesting conversations in our small groups, which were made up of parents, students, and faculty from CCHS. Two of my takeaways from the program was that we as parents can often contribute to the factors which cause stress even when we have the best intentions at heart, and that it is important to engage our children in conversations about the variety of aspects of their lives and not to focus too much of our attention on their getting into the right college. It is also important to note that the Challenge Success program has CCHS and other schools, such as ours here in Carlisle, looking at the variety of factors which con tribute to the creation of the stress and pressure many of our children feel. Knowing there is no one cause or a singular solution to the problem, the Challenge Success program would have you work on those aspects of the problem which are within your control. While last night's program seemed focused on those interactions between parents and children, it was also good to learn that CCHS is working with teachers to address homework practices, encouraging coaches and extra-curricular advisors to be cognizant of the demands they place on students, and creating new opportunities like 5th Quarter to support learning for the joy of it.
All in all, it was uplifting to see that so many parents, administrators, teachers, and students all focused on having a positive impact the issue of adolescent stress, and I thank the Challenge Success Committee and the CCHS administration for making the evening possible. I also look forward to our continued work on this issue here in Carlisle.
Snow Day UpdatePosted by James O'Shea on 1/18/2018
Snow Day Update
It was wonderful to welcome all of our students back to school today, after what was an unexpected extended Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Weekend. I was also pleased to hear the positive reports from our faculty regarding the professional day on Tuesday, though I know the holiday and professional day, combined with the snow day on Wednesday created an extended break for our students. To date we have had 5 cancellations this year, which currently places our last day of classes as June 21.
I know these cancellations can create challenges for families, both on the day of the cancellation and by extending our school year in June, and I apologize for any inconvenience, but ensuring the safety of our students is always our priority.
Owls and Raptors, League of Women Voters LuncheonPosted by James O'Shea on 12/11/2017
Owls, Raptors, Bats, Oh My!
Last week students had the opportunity to take part in two amazing and interesting presentations on wildlife that they might encounter in their own community of Carlisle. On Friday, December 2 the Mass Audubon and Drumlin Farm shared an interactive presentation on Bats and Owls with our second Grade students. In addition to learning a great deal about both local and exotic bats, students also had the opportunity to see a small brown bat and a small Screech Owl up close. Then on Monday, December 4 our kindergarten students participated in a spectacular presentation on Owls and other Raptors from Wingmasters. Students had the amazing experience of witnessing multiple breeds of Owls up close and personally, while also seeing a number of other birds of prey. These live interactive presentations are both informative and incredibly interesting for our students and our staff. I know the Owl presentation brought a smile to my face as students cooed and gasp at the live owls both small and large. Experiences like these are amazing and help to develop student interest and respect for the nature and wildlife around them. These are incredible experiences that can help prompt students towards a lifetime of interest and study in fields such as life sciences, biology, nature, and the environment. I want to thank the PTO and their Curriculum Enrichment Committee for making these experiences and many other like them possible for the students of Carlisle
League of Women Voters Luncheon
On Wednesday, December 4, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with over 60 members of the Concord and Carlisle chapter of the League of Women Voters. Both Laurie Hunter, Superintendent of Schools for Concord and Concord-Carlisle, and I were invited to join the group for lunch and share our thoughts on where our districts are headed and how we are dealing with the multiple challenges we are facing in public education. It was truly inspiring to see such a large and dedicated group of citizens who are committed to maintaining and supporting the democratic values, on which our nation is founded, and all that they entail within our two communities. I enjoyed the opportunity to share my thoughts, hear the perspective of my colleague in Concord, and to listen and learn about the work of the League of Women Voters. I will say, the afternoon affirmed my belief that the work we do in public education has never been more important to the future of our democracy then it is today, and I was uplifted to know that there are civic organizations such as the League of Women Voters, who are also working towards that shared goal of maintaining an educated citizenry in support of a thriving democracy.
Thank you to The League of Women Voters and all of their members for extending to me this invitation and opportunity.
Principal Search, Egg Zip Lines, and Internet Safety Presentation by Katie GreerPosted by James O'Shea on 11/28/2017
Mrs. Wilson's Retirement
I am sure each of you was as heartbroken as I was in learning that Carrie Wilson was going to retire at the end of this year, as she has been an amazing addition to the Carlisle School Community since she arrived three years ago. Carrie has been a thoughtful, caring and highly effective school leader and she has brought great joy and excitement to our school. We are all saddened that she will be leaving us here in Carlisle at the end of this school year and we of course will wish her all the best in her retirement, when that day comes. We are grateful that we still have a few more months of her working with us here in Carlisle.
Carrie will definitely leave “big shoes” to fill upon her retirement, and while we will miss her, we need to start the process of looking for her successor as Principal of the Carlisle Middle School. Our first step in this process will be creating the Middle School Principal Search Committee, which will be made up of parents, teachers, students, administrators, and a member of the Carlisle School Committee. If you are interested in possibly serving on this committee, we will be sharing information on how you can become involved shortly.
I also encourage everyone to keep your eyes and ears open for announcements later this year regarding how we will celebrate Carrie’s outstanding career in education.
Egg Zip-Line Challenge
This past week I had the opportunity to see our 8th graders thinking and collaborating their way through the Egg Zipline Challenge. This engineering, design, and building project challenges students to design and construct a structure, which will allow for the safe and precise delivery of an egg from one location in the Engineering room to another. Students work in teams to develop prototypes and test their models prior to the final challenge.
The Egg Zip-Line Challenge, which is incorporated into the 8th grade Science curriculum, provides students with a real life challenge and has them work out their solutions in an authentic performance based environment. Students find the project both engaging and challenging, and the outcomes are always interesting and exciting. The Egg Zipline is one more way that we engage our students in higher level, hands on, educational experiences. Special thanks to Kathy Marsh and Ginny Lamere in the Engineering Room for making this experience possible for our students.
Save The Date Tuesday, December 5th
On Tuesday, December 5th, the Carlisle Youth Commission will host nationally recognized internet and social media expert Katie Greer to speak about internet and social media safety with Carlisle Middle School students in grades 5 – 8 during the day, followed by an evening presentation to parents and guardians (18+ only).
Ms. Greer will be speaking to students in grades 5-6 at 12:15 PM, and grades 7-8 at 1:15 PM (auditorium). Ms. Greer will be providing students with an overview of the importance of managing the use of technology and online presence, as well as the potential dangers and responsibilities that these new technologies and platforms present. Katie will guide Carlisle students toward a more mature view of their online lives, as well as arm parents and educators with the tools, tips, resources and mindset to better communicate with and successfully steer out children through the minefield of choices.
During the evening program for parents, Ms. Greer will be sharing similar information, as well as, providing parents with helpful tips and insights for supporting their adolescent children as they navigate the challenges of growing up in a digital world. We hope you will be able to attend this thought provoking and informative evening.
Halloween Door Decorating TourPosted by James O'Shea on 10/30/2017
"Dot Day" and other September activitiesPosted by James O'Shea on 9/28/2017
Welcome to the Superintendent's Blog
The year has been off to a smooth start and it’s hard to believe September is coming to an end, and I am finally updating my blog for the first time this school year. As we progress through the autumn and winter, I hope to use this blog to keep families updated on the outstanding work that is taking place in our schools, as well as the variety of activities we have in store for the year.
Once again this year our school participated in Dot Day/Week under the guidance and direction of our amazing Librarian Maya Bery. The week is designed to encourage creativity among our students, though Ms. Bery has taken it to a new level by reaching beyond the boundaries of Carlisle to broaden our students connection and understanding to the world.
Maya created this short video as a way to share what our students did in celebration of Dot Day/Week.
Last year we worked with our faculty and community to identify our district's areas of strength, as well as, areas for further work and focus, through the superintendent's entry plan process. We have used this information to guide our development of a draft district strategy for improvement. The draft strategy identifies four strategic objectves designed to guide our work over the next 3 to 5 years. We are currently in the process of working with facult, staff, and the Carlisle School Committee to fine tune this draft document. I am sharing this draft document with all of you here, to give you an idea of the direction in which our district is headed. Please do not hesitate to cntact me with any thought or questions you may have related to our straegic planning or any other topic.
Carlisle Public School- Strategy Overview
The vision of the Carlisle Public Schools is to inspire intellectual and ethical excellence so our students are prepared to participate with integrity in a global community.
The mission of the Carlisle Public Schools is to provide a collaborative and caring community in which each student is known, understood, and valued so that students can learn to their fullest potential in a safe, inclusive environment with high expectations and clear standards for all.
Academic Excellence Respect Responsibility Creativity
Provide a Rich, Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum: Provide a rich, rigorous, and relevant curriculum, which ensures students develop academic and intellectual skills, along with, the social and emotional competence to be confident, engaged and successful global citizens in the 21st century.
Build a Community of Respect and Inclusion in a Safe and Healthy Learning environment: Build a community of inclusion, which embraces and celebrates diversity, where all students feel known, cared for, welcome, respected and enjoy their educational experience.
Ensure Equity and Excellence in Learning: Ensure that all students have access to high quality content and instruction that is differentiated to meet their individual needs, while providing the academic, social and emotional supports required to ensure success for all students.
Continually develop the capacity of our professional faculty, staff, and administration to address the challenges of 21st century education: Develop and retain talented, dedicated educators and build strong systems of continuous improvement and opportunities for career growth and advancement.
- Increase student awareness of and responsiveness to the challenges and benefits of digital citizenship.
- Solidify the presence of Computer Science (coding and programming) within our curriculum.
- Use technology to broaden student awareness of their world from a global perspective.
- Evaluate our current world language program and determine the future direction for the program.
- Review the Social Studies and Math curriculum to ensure alignment with state frameworks and identified local outcomes.
- Improve school climate for all students and enhance student self-advocacy skills as well as increase their appropriate responses to behaviors which violate our norms, through the introduction and implementation of the Olweus program.
- Decrease student stress and anxiety through school based initiatives
- Improve student and family satisfaction with the school dining room experience.
- Create a school community which demonstrates an awareness and responsiveness to diversity issues, which impact student experiences, through community engagement and the further development of student and faculty awareness of and skills in identifying, discussing, and responding to diversity
- Increase the use and effectiveness of Tier II supports as determined by data based progress monitoring systems in grades 3-8
- Ensure that all students have the opportunity to develop their social emotional intelligence as a consistent part of their educational experience
- Increase the number of social and emotional group supports available to students in grades 5-8
- Increase professional development opportunities for teachers in order to improve the school experience of our English Language Learners
- Increase professional development opportunities for teachers in order to ensure effective implementation of our tiered support system.
- Create professional development opportunities to support paraprofessional effectiveness and connectedness
- Increase professional development opportunities for faculty and staff to effectively address diversity in the classroom
- Increase opportunities for teacher leadership and career growth
- Increase professional development opportunities designed to support the integration of technology into teaching and learning, and to support the use of technology as a tool to connect with classrooms and communities outside of Carlisle.
Recent Hate Speech IncidentPosted by James O'Shea on 6/1/2017
Recent Hate Speech Incident in Carlisle
Recently members of our 8th grade class experienced an incident of hate speech, which has had a damaging effect on our students and the atmosphere within our school. While we are outraged and deeply hurt by the aniti-semitic remarks that were shared, we also understand that we are not the only community dealing with such incidents, although that does not make it feel any better.
One of the disappointing components of this recent incident has been the lack of empathy being displayed by students towards their peers, who were targeted by the anit-semetic remarks. While the school administration has addressed the incident directly and additional plans have been made to engage our students in further discussion, workshops, and educational opportunities around the theme of diversity and acceptance in an inclusive society for this year and future years, it can be very difficult to mend the hurt and the damage that has been done through the use of this language and the ensuing divisiveness. I do ask all parents to be sure to speak with your children about the importance of treating one another with respect, and the importance of reaching out and supporting those who are victimized by hateful language and bullying.
Middle School Principal Carrie Wilson and I have been in contact with a number of individual parents and groups of parents, who have expressed an interest in being involved in our community’s response to this issue. We are fortunate to live and work in such a caring community and I hope that together we can teach our children to be the kind, respectful, accepting, and supportive people we want them to be.
We will be reaching out and communicating with all parents within our community to engage them in this discussion moving forward.
CEF, Retirements, and Memorial DayPosted by James O'Shea on 5/12/2017
CEF Receives PALS Award
On Sunday, May 7, the Carlisle Education Foundation received the Massachusetts Library Association Parents as Library Supporters (PALS) Award, at the Massachusetts Library Association’s annual meeting in Hyannis. On hand to receive the award were CEF President Karen Smith and Carlisle School Librarian Maya Bery.
As we all know, the CEF does incredible work in supporting education and educators in the town of Carlisle, and this is well-deserved recognition for such an amazing organization. Congratulations and thank you to all of our community members who made this honor possible.
It is hard to believe that June is almost upon us, and what looked to be the last year for some of our “Senior Faculty” in Carlisle is quickly coming to an end. We started the year thinking we would have 5 retirees, which seemed like a lot, but we are ending the year with 8 faculty and staff members retiring. This includes Joan Beauchamp, Cathy Fagone, Liz Hamlet, Mike Miller, Cyd McCann, Connie McGrath, Rob Quaden and Claire Wilcox. The knowledge, experience, and institutional history which we will be losing is immense, and all we can hope for is that these retirees have imparted some small part of their knowledge on to those of us who will be left to carry the torch. Thank you to each of them for their outstanding service to our students, our school, and the entire Carlisle community. I look forward to celebrating their service at the upcoming PTO Luncheon on May 16, and at the other events scheduled to celebrate these retirements.
I hope parents and community members will accept the invitation to join us for a reception in honor of Claire Wilcox after school on Thursday, June 1 in the Dining Room.
On Friday, May 26, we will be hosting a Memorial Day Program in the auditorium for our students in grades 3-8. While the town observes the holiday with a special program on Monday, May 29th, we thought it appropriate to host a program during the school days to commemorate the holiday. I am pleased to report that we have two 7th grade students, Emma Ely and Lilly Kuivinen, who have taken on the responsibility of coordinating the event, which will take place around 1:40 on the 26th. Due to our limited capacity in the auditorium and the fact that we have a number of field trips taking place on that Friday, the classes attending the ceremony will be grades 3-8.
Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the observance.
13 Reasons Why: Talking to our children about suicide and depressionPosted by James O'Shea on 4/28/2017
"13 Reasons Why": Talking to our children about suicide and depression
This past week Netflix released their television series "13 Reasons Why", which is generating both concern and conversation among educators and families. The series is based upon a novel of the same name, and it centers on a teenager who takes her own life and leaves behind a series of recordings, which recount the reasons and experiences which lead to her suicide. While I have not yet viewed the series or read the novel, it is important that parents and school personnel be aware that this series is trending with our adolescent and young adolescent students, so that we may help students place the series in perspective, and when necessary, help students access appropriate supports. I have included at the end of this post a link to valuable resources provided by the National Association of School Psychologists, and I encourage each of you to review this information, so that you can be prepared to engage in supportive and positive conversations with your children. While it is heart-wrenching to think that any person would find themselves in a situation where they are considering harming themselves, we do know that adolescent experiences can be difficult in any setting, and that our children can be most vulnerable during these formative years, which is why it is so important to be aware of influences in their lives such as the release of this series.
I encourage you to review the materials linked below, and to be prepared to have an open conversation with your child about the television series and the topic of depression and suicide as you see appropriate. I also implore you not to hesitate in reaching out to us if you have any questions, concerns, or if you seek additional support or information regarding these topics. It is our on-going concern for the health and well-being of all of our students which has lead to our involvement with the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program in 7th grade, and our school-wide adoption of the Olweus: Bullying Prevention Program. I know we are all in agreement that the safety and well being of our children is our number one priority and I hope that our proactive work will help to create an environment where all students feel safe and supported.
The following is the link to the NASP resources and contact information for school support personnel.
Kim Reid, School Psychologist firstname.lastname@example.org 978-369-6550 Ext. 2108
Kathy Horan, School Nurse email@example.com 978-369-6550 Ext. 1113
Lori Desjardin, School Nurse firstname.lastname@example.org 978-369-6550 Ext. 1113
Carrie Wilson, Middle School Principal email@example.com 978-369-6550
Dennet Sidell, Elementary Principal firstname.lastname@example.org 978-369-6550
Jim O'Shea, Superintendent email@example.com 978-369-6550
Authentic ExperiencesPosted by James O'Shea on 4/12/2017
One of the amazing aspects of our district is the tremendous number of opportunities our students have to engage in authentic experiences. While you will also see traditional classroom activities such as ‘tests’ and 'quizzes' designed to assess understanding, more often you will see students preparing for and engaging in authentic experiences and assessments. This past week, two such experiences were on display for the public.
The Science Fair, on April 4, allowed our eighth graders to explore their interests and demonstrate their understandings of the scientific method, by researching, conducting experiments, gathering data, analyzing data, and presenting to an audience of judges, parents, community members, and peers. Students could also choose to design and create a real world product, instead of conducting an experiment, if that was their interest. The level of work on display was impressive and it was wonderful to see how proud our students were of their accomplishments. Listening to them present their work to parents and community members the pride they took in what they had accomplished was obvious, and you could also see how their confidence grow with each presentation, as they also practiced and further developed their public speaking and presentation skills. It was also interesting to see how our younger students responded to the obvious hardwork of their older peers. Creating such opportunities for our students is not easy, and I want to thank Kathy Marsh and all of our faculty, staff and community volunteers who helped to make this wonderful experience possible for our eighth graders.
On Thursday our Concert Band and Chorus traveled to Shelburne, Vermont to collaborate and perform with students from the Shelburne Community School. From all reports it was an amazing experience where students had the opportunity to meet new people, collaborate on a performance, and bond with their fellow band members. This ‘real world’ experience exposed our students to another side of the music world as authentic as an adjudicated performance like MICCA, but very different. I am pleased to report our students distinguished themselves on this trip as both talented musicians and polite and respectful young adults. Thank you to Kevin Maier, Tara Callahan, and all of our chaperones for making this memorable opportunity available to our students.
It is important to note that authentic work does not only take place in our Middle School, and that our Elementary students also participate in many real world projects and applications. One such example, also from last week, was our third graders engineering towers that were to be tested against the forces of the wind. Students were charged with designing and building multi story structures from a prescribed list of resources. Ours had the opportunity to exercise their creativity, practice collaboration, construct a tower, and test it against the elements.
As educators and parents, we understand that these types of ‘hands on’, ‘authentic’, ‘real world’ experiences are most powerful, and it is reassuring to know that they are a fundamental part of our students education.