Wednesday, December 10, 2014

LES December 2014 Principal Report

LES School Committee Report

December 16, 2014

We had another successful Veteran’s Day Gathering!!!  We hosted over 30 veterans and thanked them for “filling our buckets” with their service.  The “bucket filling” idea comes from our School Adjustment Counselor, Heather Lucy’s, work with all the students.  The basic idea is that filling another’s bucket with acts and words of kindness and care helps them get through life, but also carries a “filling” quality for the giver as well.  (Guiding Belief: Every member of the school, community, and family deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy.)

Wellness Team At It Again:  Our Wellness folks have secured a speaker, Lisa Brodeur, titled, “A Mother’s Journey,”  for this Thursday night at 6pm. We are sending our 6th graders to hear this important message during the day.  It is important they hear it, but also as a transition to middle school.  We will be supporting them around the topic, of course, but think it is also important to provide as many transition activities throughout the year for our 6th almost 7th graders. (Guiding Belief: We believe in promoting broad-based communication and school-family-community partnerships. AND We believe in a safe, supportive, organized, and equitable environment.)

Early Childhood Work:  I was asked to and did film a segment about the Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment for the Berkshire Compact’s show,
“Reach Out for Education”.  The show is scheduled for the Pittsfield Public Access Channel tonight and again on the 14th.  It is shared for viewing on all County public access channels as well.  I will share a link with Sue Tanguay to share with you if you would like to watch.  Emily Mertinooke, our Early Childhood Department Head, and I will be visiting an upcoming meeting to give you more information about the successful roll-out here. (Guiding Belief: We believe programs, services, and facilities should be of the highest quality and responsive to the changing needs of our local and global community.)

Respectfully submitted,

Kate Retzel, LES Principal

LMHS December 2014 Principal Report


Lee, Massachusetts

Principal’s Report
December 16, 2014

            In November, we recognized the October students of the month – Emily Donovan for the high school, and Bailey Thomas for the middle school.  Congratulations to both!

On the November 4 professional development day, most of the faculty was involved with curriculum work and DDM (District-Determined Measures) development.  We are on track with both of these initiatives, to have “final” working documents in place by the end of the school year.  A small number of faculty also participated in a group to develop a new statement of Core Values and Beliefs, as required by NEASC, to replace our current mission statement.  This group reviewed the current mission, plus the district strategic plan (especially the listing of district beliefs) before coming up with a draft Core Values and Beliefs statement.  At our November 12 faculty meeting, the entire faculty reviewed the statement, made some changes, and approved the document.  We will be seeking the approval of the student councils before bringing the Core Values and Beliefs to the school committee for final approval.  [District goals 1.5, guiding beliefs]
We started out the month with a successful Red Cross Blood Drive on November 3rd, sponsored by the Helping Hands club led by Keri Wade.  [District goal 3.5]

On November 12, a small group of students (Amber Shove, Rafael Rivera, Aman Sanger, Paddy Sullivan, Sam Polastri, Jaci Tart, Corey Gaherty, and Jony Rodriguez) led by our nurse, Diane Carroll, put on a Community Supper.  Seventy Lee residents were treated to a meal of spaghetti and meatballs, bread, and salad; dessert was ice cream and brownies made by our life skills class.  Diane has applied for a Berkshire Taconic Foundation grant to continue these suppers throughout the school year.  It is certainly a wonderful way for our students to give back to the Lee community. [District goals 3.2, 3.3]

November 14 and 15, the drama program put on an incredible performance of Richard III under the direction of Shakespeare & Co.  Overcoming some last minute obstacles, the students did an amazing job with the play, which was repeated as part of the fall festival at Shakespeare & Company on November 20.  Bravo!  [District goals 1.4, 3.4] 

On November 24, we had a half day due to parent-teacher conferences being held that afternoon and evening.  As part of the half day schedule, we ended the day with a recognition assembly in the auditorium.  If you haven’t yet seen Dan Korte’s fall video that was shown at the assembly, please stop by the guidance web page or the LMHS Facebook page to check it out!  [District goals 1.6, 3.3, 4.6]

November also marked the end of our fall sports season.  The cross country team qualified for the Western Mass. tournament, with Ava Martin making the All-Berkshire team.   While our football team didn’t make the tournament this year, they did end the season with an impressive 7-3 record.  The golf team qualified for the tournament, as did boys soccer.  Our girls’ soccer team made it to the Western Mass. semifinals, as did our volleyball team.  All in all a great season for the Wildcats!  [District goal 5.5]

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg Brighenti


Friday, November 7, 2014

LES Nov. Principal Report

LES School Committee Report
November 12, 2014

With the first marking period “under our belts”, students and teachers can look back with a sense of accomplishment for a job well done and feel ready for what’s ahead.   

Data to Evaluation Goals to District Determined Measures (DDMs): Teachers have analyzed data, determined key foci for student learning from that data, made measurable goals for their own growth as professionals from those foci, as well as began documentation of DDMs to measure their and student growth for the coming years.  Basically, that is a mouthful which means we have set goals that are extremely data-driven and coordinated for the coming year.  (Guiding Belief: The good of our students is at the center of every decision.)

Welcome Jo-Ann Orluk!  We have hired Ms. Orluk as the Transition Room Teacher at Lee Elementary.  She will be working closely with Andrea Larmon, Heather Lucy,  and I to “learn the ropes” of the position.  (Guiding Belief: We believe that reasonable rules of behavior are necessary for the development of self-discipline and personal responsibility.  AND We believe in a safe, supportive, organized, and equitable environment.)

Wellness Team At It Again:  Our Wellness folks are planning two community speakers for the second part of the year.  They are busy connecting businesses and agencies also concerned with informing our community of the pitfalls of drug use and the dangers of impaired driving. There will be much more information to follow but the groundwork is being laid. (Guiding Belief: We believe in promoting broad-based communication and school-family-community partnerships.)

Early Childhood Work:  The staff and I have been working on three different early childhood opportunities for overall improvement of early childhood services to preschool students and their families in Lee.  Jessica Maloney, Coordinator of the Southern Berkshire Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) and my office-mate, are working with community agencies to present a series of workshops for parents in the late winter and early spring on all sorts of topics.  LES is also having preliminary discussions with the Lee Youth Association to potentially offer more options for the community’s preschool families as well as collaboration possibilities with her preschool staff for professional problem solving and transition of students.  Jess and I are also becoming involved in the South County Early Literacy Initiative in the planning stages.  This will allow for widespread coordination of resources for more streamlined early childhood services all around.  (Guiding Belief: We believe programs, services, and facilities should be of the highest quality and responsive to the changing needs of our local and global community.)

Veteran’s Day Celebration:  We are pleased to be holding our annual Community Gathering to honor the Veterans.  It will be held Monday, Nov. 10 at 1:15pm.  It promises to be another touching tribute to those who have served.  (Guiding Belief: We believe every member of the school, community, and family deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy. )

Respectfully submitted,

Kate Retzel, LES Principal



LMHS Nov. Principal Report


Lee, Massachusetts

Principal’s Report

November 6, 2014

October was a very busy and productive month at LMHS.  First, some student recognition is called for:

·         Twenty-seven new members were inducted into the National Honor Society on October 23rd:  Casey Blair, Jeffrey Brown, Tyler Buratto, Molly Carlotto, Alex Consolati, Darby Curtin, Kate DelSignor, Alex Donovan, Emily Donovan, Maryemma Fraser, Amy Goss, Sam Harding,

Edwin Hernandez, Karen Hernandez, Jordan Miller, Devyn Olds, Sierra Palardy, Courtney Picard, Matthew Reynolds, Michael Roosa, Megan Scapin, J.T. Sorrentino, Jaci Tart, Samantha Touponce, Cayce Williams, Zach Wilson, and  Sarah Winston.  Congratulations to all of them on this achievement!

·         We named our Students of the Month for September – Molly Carlotto (high school) and Michael LePrevost (middle school).  Students of the Month are recognized for going “above and beyond” in service to the school community, while maintaining their academic potential.

At our October faculty meeting, Damon Douglas from the Collaborative for Educational Services presented an introduction to us on the topic of developing District Determined Measures (DDMs) of student growth.  DDMs are a requirement of the new state teacher evaluation system.  Damon’s presentation was helpful in orienting us toward the types of assessments that might work for this, and how to develop them.  On the October half day, the faculty worked in departmental teams to begin designing our DDMs.  The goal is for each teacher to have developed the two required DDMs by the end of the year for implementation next fall.  [District goals 4.3, 4.6]

I am happy to report that we have found a new coach for our Drama program.  Gary Cannon, a member of the Class of 2002, will be leading our production this spring.  Gary was very involved with the drama program while a student at the then LHS, and he had an excellent interview where he laid out his vision for the future of the program. [District goal 3.4]

We will soon be launching our new LMHS Facebook page – another way to keep in touch with and communicate with our parents, students, and community at large.  It will be active soon, and can be reached at  [District goal 3.3]

On October 6, two representatives from the Adams Community Bank presented to our 7th graders on the topic of financial literacy.  This was the first time the bank had taught these lessons to middle school students, and they were very happy with how it went – in fact, they are hoping to replicate it in other middle schools in the county.  We hope to schedule a similar presentation for the 8th grade in the near future.  [District goals 3.2, 3.4]

The following student activities occurred last month, among others:

·         The music program held a Halloween Concert on October 28th.  The middle and high school bands and choruses performed for a mostly-full crowd in the Z.

·         Lee Live geared up to be ready for their first production of the year in November.

·         The middle school Student Council sponsored a middle school Halloween dance on October 24th.

·         The Quiz Team began practices, and held their first match on October 8th.

·         The Mock Trial team held organizational meetings to prepare for this year’s events.

·         The GSA held a Pride Dance on October 10th, where students raised funds for Ally Week.

·         Helping Hands and the (unofficial) Bowling Club co-sponsored a high school Halloween Dance on October 31st.

Respectfully Submitted,

Gregg Brighenti


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

LMHS Principal Report Oct. 2014

Lee, Massachusetts

Principal’s Report
October 14, 2014

September was a very busy month for us at LMHS.  Let me highlight some of the things that have been going on:

·         On September 12th John Smolenski and some others from Mass Insight (MMSI) came for our AP kickoff assembly for the new school year.  We decided to have the full high school (9-12) in the assembly.  Mr. Smolenski presented some pretty impressive data about the near-exponential growth in the numbers of students from LMHS “passing” the AP tests.  Hopefully you were able to see the article that was in the Berkshire Eagle about this.  Of particular note is our AP Statistics data – the most growth in the entire MMSI program!  AP Stats is taught by Tom McCormack, who received a well-deserved round of applause at the assembly, as did the other teachers and students.  This is the last year of our MMSI support grant; we will be having discussions with them soon about options for the future.  [District goals 1.4, 4.1, 4.6]

·         On September 26th the middle school went on their annual field trip to Mount Greylock for the day.  This trip is an integral part of the character development curriculum in the middle school, and went off without a problem.  [District goals 1.4, 4.2, 5.1]

·         The LYA is again offering their after school study program for middle school students.  While attendance hasn’t been extremely high, there are several students in the room daily getting work done. [District goals 3.1, 4.6]

·         We have received notice from NEASC that our reaccreditation visit will be from Sunday, November 13, 2016 through Wednesday, November 16, 2016.  Before that time, the faculty will engage in the self-study process to analyze how well LMHS meets the standards set by NEASC.  The self-study will begin second semester.

·         Also regarding NEASC, we have set our leadership for the self-study process.  The steering committee, which is responsible for the overall supervision of the entire process, will be co-chaired by Mark Hungate and Amy Consolati, with Tim Mertinooke, Patrick Priester, Amy Verdi, Keri Wade, and me as members.  There are also seven faculty committees where the actual self-study work is completed.  The chairs of those groups will be:
§  Core Values & Beliefs – Robin Curry
§  Curriculum – Jane McEvoy
§  Instruction – Tom McCormack
§  Assessment – Pam Briggs
§  School Culture & Leadership – Mary Verdi
§  School Resources for Learning – Dan Korte
§  Community Resources for Learning – Jen Roosa

·         Chief Roosa has notified us that the School Resource Officer will have regular hours at LMHS this year.  We have set aside one of the small offices in the main office area for the SRO.  Having worked in a school with a regular presence of an SRO, I know that this relationship can be mutually beneficial to the school, police department, and (most importantly) the student body.  [District goal 3.5]

·         Over the course of the last month, I have met with small groups from each grade level at the school.  It has been very rewarding to hear how much our students value LMHS and the feeling of community that is present here.  It has also been helpful to hear what the students view as things that should never change about the school, and what they would like to see done differently.  The senior privilege proposal that will be presented at the October school committee meeting is a direct outgrowth of these conversations.  There will be more to come!

·         I had a meeting with representatives from Berkshire Community College about the possibility of bringing evening adult ESL classes to LMHS.  They were very receptive, as a number of Lee residents currently travel to their Great Barrington location for this now.  We hope to be able to start this up in January.  [District goals 3.4, 3.5, 3.6]

·         I’m happy to report that the state has announced the recipients of the John & Abigail Adams Scholarships for the Class of 2015.  As you may know, these are awarded based upon performance on MCAS testing, and the scholarship is free tuition at any state college or university.  Congratulations to the following recipients:  Sara Benjamin, Michael Bona, Hayley Bowers, Casey Collins, Meghan Cook, Madison Curtin, Madeline Daoust, Michael Demos, Adam Finnegan, Tori Garnish, Gurvinder Kaur, Caleb Kinnaman, Hayley Labshere, Samantha Reynolds, Eva Ricci, Nina Ricci, and William Zeininger.

·         We have obtained a site license which allows us to host public performances of movies from the major Hollywood studios.  One of our hopes for this is to put on a film series for members of the community this fall and winter in the auditorium.  More information coming soon!  [District goal 3.5]

·         Our Student Review Team met for the first time last week.  The purpose of this group is to discuss at-risk students and (hopefully) develop plans to support them as needed.  Because this meeting happened just after first quarter progress reports, we focused upon that data: identifying students who are at academic risk in multiple classes.  [District goals 4.3, 4.6, 5.3]

·         The Student Council put on a very successful Spirit Week from September 22 – 26.  It included the usual dress-up days, a bonfire on Wednesday evening, and a pep rally and “powder puff” football game on Friday afternoon.  Some students have expressed a hope in expanding this in future years to a full-fledged Homecoming Week.

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg Brighenti

LES Principal Report Sept. 2014

LES School Committee Report
Sept. 9, 2014
Our theme has been chosen for the year!  It is the phrase, “Just Keep Swimming”, (stolen from the Disney movie, “Finding Nemo”).  As you know, the State and Federal mandates placed in our laps can be overwhelming.  In the face of NAEYC re-accreditation, the new Massachusetts Kindergarten assessment, Common Core, writing of ELA curriculum, etc., we can all just want to give up some days.  We just need to stick together and keep at it to thrive at LES this year.

Opening Days: We had a very smooth opening to the school year!  There were 347 happy faces to greet us on Day 1. Our new Preschool and Kindergarten families were able to visit and get acclimated before the first days where the children came in alone.  Teachers began with batches of data about their new students so they could “hit the ground running” with ample information for optimal instruction for our kiddos. We had a few scheduling, dismissal time traffic, and bussing glitches that will no doubt work themselves out as the days pass. Today we had a quick, successful exit during our first fire drill. (Guiding Belief: We believe in a safe, supportive, organized, and equitable environment).   

Open House – September 24th: We are looking to make our Open House at LES more community-friendly and less of a stand-and-deliver model.  We are creating family-friendly scavenger hunts at each grade level to introduce/show off the great features of LES. We are excited to be able to demonstrate the technological supports such as IXL math/ELA on-line practice; Accelerated Reader; our new ELMOs and, of course, curricular foci.  (Guiding Belief: We believe the use of technology supports and enhances teaching and learning.) Our hope is that immediate and even extended family and community members will attend and be convinced of the greatness of the programming here and understand the activities that will best support their students’ success this coming year.  (Guiding Belief: We believe in promoting broad-based communication and school-family-community partnerships.)

Respectfully Submitted,

Kate Retzel, Principal