Friday, December 4, 2015

LES Principal Report, December 8, 2015

Lee Elementary School 2015/2016
“Opening Doors”
                                                                       Kate Retzel, Principal

   To: School Committee
   Date: December 8, 2015

  • The following 5th and 6th grade students made the B’s and Better Club for the first quarter:
5th – Aaron Armstrong; Angelina Artioli; Colby Carlson; Makenzie Carr; Sophie Herman; Lindzie Johndro; Isabella Lovato; Robert Neilson; Devan Patel; Rihana Patel; Luke Roche; Maguire Roosa; and William Thomson.
6th – Kyle Benzie; Tyler Brock; Elizabeth Brown; Cam Freeman; Carter Geoghan; Josh Hartman; Anya Jacquez; Matthew Kinney; Maya Kollmer; Madison LaRock; Caroline Maloney; Mason Mihlek; Leah Murphy; Grace Papkey; Paige Plankey; Emma Puleri; Emma Puntin; Emilie Resca; Dylan Shepard; Hayden Siok; Zoe Stevens; Tim Terry; Evan Trombley; Cam Tyer; Rachel Wendling; Elliot Winston
(We believe in a standard of excellence throughout the district in all endeavors. 4.6)    
  • We held a Community Gathering on November 24th with the whole student body.  We were treated to a song called, “Follow the Rainbow”.  There is nothing quite like sweet voices and colorful ribbons being waved!  We acknowledged our featured grades for their work which was also displayed on the board as you enter the school.  The former All Star board has taken a different twist where one grade per month works with Ms. Alarie and Mrs. Fitzhugh to display curricular focuses.  The Principal’s Award was given to our 4th graders because they have been attentive to elderly Alzheimer’s patients at Laurel Lake Center as pen pals and most recently as visitors.  Students were updated on Accelerated Reader standings.  Our sixth grade is well above the school in total points and participation.  Last, but not least, our second grade shared the culmination of their “Seeds, Bees, and Trees” unit which was the first of our unit collaborations with Flying Cloud Institute.  Each teacher held a bright flower while students sang and paper mache bees “pollinated” the flowers.  The parents came for a showing later on.  (1.2; 1.4; 3.4; 4.5; 5.2)                                                                          
  • Meaningful curriculum connections continue to be made through Curriculum Teams; MCU development; and my observations through our evaluation system.  Early use of MCUs is resulting in the realization that text-coding can and should be coordinated to be standard throughout the grade levels.  Additionally, our persuasive writing is fitting right into MCUs that teachers are piloting.  My observations and knowledge of the MCUs themselves is making such higher-level collaboration possible. (1.2; 1.4; 4.1; 4.5; 4.6)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

LMHS Principal Report - December 2015

Lee, Massachusetts

Principal’s Report
December 3, 2015

It’s December already!  Here is a sampling of the happenings at LMHS over the past month:

·         I am happy to report that Deb Connors has received a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council STAR Residency program.  The $900 will help to cover the cost of bringing in an artist-in-resident to work with the students in her classroom.  [District goals 1.4, 3.2]

·         Parent-Teacher Conferences were held on Monday, November 23.  Continuing the trend of the last several years, the afternoon session (1:00 – 4:00) was sparsely attended, while the evening session (6:00 – 8:00) was very full.  We are discussing the possibility of changing the structure of the conferences for next year. [District goal 3.6]

·         The drama program held its fall production on November 13 and 14.  This year’s selection was The Winter’s Tale.  The encore performance on November 19 opened the annual Shakespeare and Company Fall Festival in Lenox.  The students did an amazing job; it was a thoroughly enjoyable performance!  [District goals 1.4, 3.2, 5.5]

·         Our art classes met with representatives from the graphic design department from Greylock Federal Credit Union in November. Working together, the bank and our students will design several choices for a Lee High-themed Visa debit card.  Once it’s in production, for every Greylock customer who selects the card, the bank will donate $50 to student activities.  [District goals 1.4, 3.2, 4.2, 4.4]

·         We were recently the recipient of a donation of four pallets – almost 4,000 pounds – of high-quality art paper and poster board from LB Corp.  This generous donation will be used by the art programs in both buildings.  [District goal 3.2]

·         LMHS participated in the Kiwanis Club’s pack-the-trailer food drive this year.  We were able to provide them with the largest donation box of the season!  Additionally, the middle school held a separate food drive where they collected over 500 cans of food for the pantry.  The football team also collected food items, and distributed several Thanksgiving baskets to families in town.  We have an incredibly generous student body and school community!  [District goals 3.2, 3.5]

·         On Friday, November 20 we held a school-wide celebration at the end of the school day.  There was a great deal to celebrate from this past fall – athletic victories, academic accomplishments, and so much more – that we felt it was important to recognize everyone as a school community.  Having ice cream for everyone was a plus as well! 

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg M. Brighenti


Friday, October 9, 2015

LES Principal Report - October 2015

     Lee Elementary School 2015/2016 “Opening Doors”
                                                                                                                           Kate Retzel, Principal
To:     School Committee
Date:  October 13, 2015
·        I made the rounds to every classroom specifically looking for evidence of our district belief “in a safe, supportive, organized, and equitable environment.” I let staff know the comfort I had in seeing clear expectations, swift beginnings to RTI services, and techniques used to ensure all students respond right from day one.
·        Our maiden STAR Math and Reading testing was accomplished with very few glitches for grade 2-6.  Teachers are thrilled with data to use in Full Team Meetings for each student detailing their achievement in all domains of Math and English Language Arts (details NOT possible with AIMSweb, our past benchmarking tool).  Any available teachers were instructed by STAR staff in what scores really mean and applications for use with Special Education students were explained as well.  STAR will be using one hour of the November 3rd Professional Development to further understand how students can use the interactive computer-based portion of STAR.  (4.3; 4.4; 4.6)
·        Our curriculum teams’ foci were revisited in light of our new MCAS data and our first STAR Math and Reading benchmark results.  We have made 5-year plans in the ELA areas of writing; vocabulary development; and leveled texts in K-2 in support of Model Curriculum Units being developed and implemented this year in all grades. (1.2; 4.1; 4.3; 4.5 and hopefully 4.6)
·        In cooperation with the District Attorney’s Office, our Lee Police Department, our PE Department, our Nurse, our Developmental Services Resource Specialist, and our School Adjustment Counselor; we are piloting the Botvin Life Skills Training program.  Botvin Life Skills Training is a research-validated substance abuse prevention program proven to reduce the risks of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, and violence by targeting the major social and psychological factors that promote the initiation of substance use and other risky behaviors.  This will be a complement to the DARE program our sixth graders will have in the Spring.  (5.1 and 5.2)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

LMHS Principal's Report - October 8, 2015

Lee, Massachusetts

Principal’s Report
October 8, 2015

I am happy to report that we had a very smooth start to the school year.  Our enrollment is currently at 355 students, up a bit from 343 at the end of last year.  Some highlights from September:

·         On September 25th 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 everyone reportedly had a great time.  [District goals 1.4, 4.2, 5.1]

·         The LYA is again offering their after school study program for middle school students.  We had much greater success at the end of last year hosting this program in the library, so we are doing that again this year.  This also allows some high school students to pop in to use the computers for homework.  [District goals 3.1, 4.6]

·         This year, Berkshire Community College is offering two nights each week of adult ESL classes at LMHS.  [District goals 3.4, 3.5, 3.6]

·         I’m happy to report that we have a National Merit Scholarship Commended Student this year:  Based upon his performance on last year’s PSAT/NMSQT tests, Alex Consolati will receive a Letter of Commendation.  About 2% of the students nationwide who took the PSAT last October are recognized as Commended Students.  Congratulations to Alex!

·         Classes attended field trips to Mass MoCA (Digital Photography) and the Mount (art classes) during September.  Today, a group of seniors are attending the college fair at BCC.  [District goals 1.4, 3.2]

·         On September 21, the Student Council hosted its annual recognition of the International Day of Peace with a brief all-school assembly on the football field. 

·         We are offering two new AP classes this year:  Physics I and Chemistry.  This is in addition to AP courses in US History, Biology, Environmental Science, English Language, English Literature,  Calculus AB, Computer Science, and Statistics.   We also offer AP Spanish and AP French, though they are not running this year.  This is truly an impressive lineup of advanced placement courses for a school of our size!  [District goals 1.4, 4.5, 4.6]

·         Our internship program continues to grow, with out-of-school placements this year at Onyx Specialty Papers, Daley & Sons Trucking, The Red Lion Inn, Cakewalk, Southern States Auto Sales, and the Gap.  These internships are valuable components to our school’s curriculum, especially given the reduction in the last ten years of vocational-related courses at LMHS.  [District goals 3.2, 3.4, 4.5]

·         Congratulations to our Students of the Month for September:  Katelyn Clark for the Middle School, and Anna Jefferys for the High School!

Respectfully submitted,
Gregg Brighenti
Commemorating the International Day of Peace
September 21, 2015

Middle School students reaching the top of Mt. Greylock
September 25, 2015


Friday, April 10, 2015

LMHS Principal Report, April 2015

Lee, Massachusetts

Principal’s Report

April 2015

                Spring is MCAS season!  We have now completed the English Language Arts assessments in grades 7, 8, and 10.  In early May, we will have the Math assessments in those same grades, as well as the grade 8 science test.  In June the 9th grade students will take the Biology assessment.  In addition to MCAS, we have begun assessing students using the STAR Math and STAR Reading assessments.  By April vacation, all students in grades 7 through 10 will have taken these computer-based assessments.  This information will help us in determining the strengths and needs of our students in the area of math and reading, and help us design an effective support and intervention structure for next year.  Additionally, this data will serve as a baseline as we continue to utilize the STAR assessments moving forward, with every student being tested 2-3 times per year, and those in intervention programs likely more often.  There are many advantages to the STAR system, including immediate availability of results to teachers and administrators; the ability for teachers to drive down to the standards-level to see where students need additional support; and the fact that each assessment takes one class period or less.  While I am a firm believer that “more testing” isn’t necessarily the solution to our educational needs, an effective assessment system such as STAR can truly be beneficial for our school and the success of our students.

                In student news:

·         On April 9th, several of our 8th grade students attended the STRIVE (Students Teaching Respect, Integrity, Values, and Equality) Youth Leadership Conference.  Those participating were:  Jillion Artioli, Ashley Barnes, Jodi Morawiec, Bailey Thomas, Gursmran Banga, Will Consolati, Andrew Ruef, and Thomas Fraser.  Mike Demos and Maddy Daoust, both seniors, were involved in the planning and presenting during the STRIVE workshops.

·         Lexi Bridigan and Morgan Powers were recognized at the National Women in Sports Day ceremony at Fanuel Hall in Boston.  Sarah Winston and Karen Hernendez also attended with chaperone Maria Barbaglia.

·         Sam Kelly was chosen for the All-South team in boys basketball.

·         Jenny Dunn received the 2015 Boston Bruins-MIAA Sportsmanship Award on March 31st at the TD Garden during intermission of the Bruins game against the Florida Panthers.

·         Darby Curtin had a photograph selected to be displayed on the Massachusetts Youth Art Month board at the NAEA national convention in New Orleans from March 26 through March 28.  Check out our Facebook page for a picture of her artwork, entitled “Abstract.”

·         On March 3, most LMHS juniors participated in Job Shadow Day.  In addition to following a worker from a career field of their interest, the students completed assignments related to the job shadowing in their English 11 classes.

·         On April 3, most LMHS seniors participated in a Community Service Day.  Organized by senior Madison Curtin, the students visited about 10 different community sites for the morning of the half day of school.

·         The following Students of the Month have been recognized:

o   February – Cole Redstone (Middle School) and Katie Zatorski (High School)

o   March – Jayla Speers (Middle School) and Mike Demos (High School)

o   April – Alyssa Christopher (Middle School) and Madison Curtin (High School)

·         The Helping Hands club sponsored a successful Red Cross blood drive on April 1, with about 50 units collected.

The Chris Herren presentations on March 18 had excellent reviews from all who attended – grades 6-12 (including St. Mary’s School students) during the day, and a packed house of community members at night.  It’s worth thanking one more time the generous community sponsors for this event: our main sponsors were Onyx Specialty Papers and the Kiwanis Club of Lee; additional sponsors included the Berkshire Taconic Foundation, Adams Community Bank, Georgina and Robert Bartini, Abbotts Limosine, MJ Kelly Funeral Home, Lee Hardware, Lee Bank, Route 102 Auto Sales, Janice Curtin Memorial Fund, Chez Nous, LV Toole Insurance, Terrace Hair Studio, Lee Audio N Security, Zabian Jewelers, Suburban Internal Medicine, Frank Consolati Insurance, Super 8 Motel, RW’s, Your Color Connection, B-Safe Storage, The Studley Press, and the G. Marconi Lodge #1620.  The district Wellness Committee and the Junior Lodge of the Sons of Italy in America did an excellent job bringing Mr. Herren to our school.

We have started the scheduling process for the 15-16 school year.  On the April 3 half day, we had class meetings for the current 7th through 11th grade students to present the new Program of Studies and the course selection process.  On April 8 we hosted a Family Information Night for current 6th graders and their families; Tim Mertinooke also visited the Farmington River Elementary School earlier that week to present to their 6th grade classes.  We have had several students from St. Mary’s School shadow our students, and a few from other schools as well.

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg Brighenti



Friday, March 6, 2015

LMHS Principal Report - March 2015

Lee, Massachusetts 

Principal’s Report

March 2015

                We made several changes over February vacation.  First, Patti Mottarella, our guidance secretary, has moved to the Main Office area, joining our receptionist, Jen LePrevost.  This makes sense for several reasons – simply having a second person in the Main Office is a huge help – but, most importantly, this has allowed Dan Korte to turn the guidance area into a College and Career Center.  The Center has comfortable furniture for students, and work space with resources for them to research college and career information.  It also includes a seminar room where Dan (or visiting college, armed forces, or community representatives) can meet with small groups of students and/or parents.  Using funds from the Berkshire Regional Employment Board, Dan has been able to purchase some technology for students to utilize while in the Center as well – a Chromebox computer, two Chromebook laptops, and a large monitor hooked up to a second Chromebox for the seminar room.  Students are already taking advantage of this resource, and it’s not even completely set up yet; we look forward to how it will be used in the future.

                Also over February vacation, we were able to install two new trophy cases, funded by donations in memory of Thomas Smith of the Class of 1970.  These cases have allowed us to display the older trophies that were recovered a short time ago from the basement of the town library.  Additionally, we have been able to restore the portrait of former principal James Brown, and it is displayed in the Main Office, which was dedicated to him in 1987.  Lastly, we have reinstalled (in the entrance foyer) the World War II memorial plaque that was saved from the old Central school.  We’ve had many great comments from community members who have seen these “new” pieces of our school’s history.

                Enclosed with this report this month is the current draft of the new Program of Studies for the 2015-2016 school year.  I’d like to highlight some of the more significant changes to the Program from this current year, and hope to be able to discuss them as needed with you at the meeting. 

·         First, on page 2, you will notice the new statement of Core Values and Beliefs that was approved by the faculty a couple months ago.  Hopefully you will agree that it aligns quite well with the beliefs from the district’s Strategic Plan.

·         On page 4, you will see a proposed return to a credit-based promotion system for the high school grades (earning 5.5 credits means a student is promoted from grade 9 to 10, etc.).  This type of system is in place in most high schools, and I’d be happy to discuss our rationale on Tuesday.

·         On page 6, you’ll note that we’d like to create a graduation requirement of a half-credit of American Government beginning with the Class of 2017.

·         On page 8, we reference a potential dual enrollment program with Southern New Hampshire University.  This has the potential to give college credit to students taking certain LMHS courses. 

·         Beginning on page 11, you may notice some changes to the middle school program, including an exploratory rotation of electives and yearlong physical education for all middle school students.  The core academic classes will remain the same.

·         In the high school section, beginning with English – in the junior and senior years, the department would like to remove a separate honors English course, and have the two Advanced Placement courses (Language in grade 11, and Literature in grade 12) be the sole honors option.  The department believes, and I agree, that this change will provide appropriate levels of rigor for our students, and help to maintain enrollments in those AP courses.

·         In mathematics, MAT401 – Senior Math is a new course, replacing Integrated Math.  It will include some of the topics from the old Financial Literacy course as well, presented in a mathematical manner.

·         On page 27, you’ll see a new option for seniors for their physical education credit – HPE400 – Senior Varsity Sports.  Those seniors who participate in at least two varsity sports may register for this instead of the traditional physical education course.  Among the many benefits of this addition will be an increase in our MassCore rating (which I can discuss on Tuesday), by allowing us to meet the state requirement for yearly physical education in all grades.

·         On page 28, you’ll notice two new art courses – HUM230 – The ISMs, and HUM231 – Mixed Media.  Students will essentially “vote” on which art courses run each year based upon their signups.

·         In the Technology area, there is a new course:  TEC107 – Animation, replacing the old Web Design course.  The department feels that this is a good shift in focus, as most web sites now include some form of animation, and students have been informally requesting a course on this topic.

Lastly, I have notified parents and seniors that the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2015 will be at Tanglewood again this year.  I’m sure there will be many relieved sighs throughout town as that notice is read!

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg Brighenti




Thursday, February 5, 2015

LES Principal's Report, February 2015

LES School Committee Report

February 10, 2015

ELA Curriculum Planning:  I will be explaining briefly at the meeting, but our basic ELA Plan is set.  It will take the rest of this year and the next two full school years to complete.  At the heart of it, teachers select 2 to 3 pre-made Model Curriculum Units (from the cache at the State level and also EngageNY, an additional free on-line offering) to use in ’15-’16 and ’16-’17. These units will be implemented systematically according to a guided protocol.  The team will engage in a pre-planning meeting where they tweak the suggested unit according to current program already in place and ensure honest alignment to the Common Core standards in our ELA curriculum.  They will actually implement the unit.  There will be a post-unit analysis of implementation with further tweaking and aligning based on student work and assessment results for the next time it is used.  Department Heads will learn the protocol from Sharon DeCarlo, a DSAC literacy consultant, (at no cost to our district) this coming Professional Development day, April 3 and be guided through the first round of implementation prior to June.  I thank the first grade teachers for having agreed to be the “guinea pig” for the protocol.   Next year, Department Heads will guide grade levels with approximately a half day of professional development prior to the implementation and an additional half day of meeting after.  Approximate cost for materials and professional development days will be explained at the meeting. By June of 2017, teachers at LES will have 4-6 units that have been tweaked according to our needs and will be Common Core based.  (We believe in programs, services, and facilities should be of the highest quality and responsive to the changing needs of our local and global community;  AND high quality professional development is essential for improving educational practice and maximizing student achievement.)

LES & South Berkshire Kids PARENT WORKSHOPS (Please see attached flyer.)

We have hosted two and will host two more parent workshops sponsored by the Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Grant that is provided by the Department of Early Education and Care.  Jessica Maloney is managing the grant under the name South Berkshire Kids.  The events themselves have only been attended by a handful of parents, but the information gathered there will have lasting effects in other areas than a few homes.  For example, following the District Attorney’s staff presentation entitled “Internet Safety”, we became aware of free materials for character development classes here at LES.  The materials were just published in 2014 and have a cyber-based approach to issues that unbelievably so begin in Kindergarten.  Heather Lucy was actually floored by the percent of K students who have daily access to multiple forms of technology outside of school for which they are using for non-academic or communication reason.  They knew what apps, avatars, passwords, downloads, iTunes, and some violent games are from a cyber-alphabet activity! These activities were provided at no cost from Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University. Additionally, connections were made to a nutrition/cooking class schedule for our students through the same Nutrition Center that Ana Maria, the speaker, came from.  (We believe the education of our students is a shared priority and responsibility of the school, community, and family AND in promoting broad-based communication and school-family-community partnerships.)

Bs and Better Club: The following students were named to the Bs and Better Club this past marking period:

5th grade  - Bally Banga, Kyle Benzie, Hayden Boroussa, Lizzy Brown, Cam Freeman, Myah Kollmer, Nathan Loftus, Caroline Maloney, Leah Murphy, Camryn O'Dell, Lilly Patton, Emma Puleri, Emma Puntin, Emilie Resca, Dylan Shepard, Tim Terry, Evan Trombley, Cam Tyer, Rachel Wendling, Elliot Winston.

 6th grade - Makenna Albee, Megan Consolati, Colin Durken, Lauren Durken, Maeve Finnegan, Hope Harrison, Evan Heath, Hannah Heath, Amber MacDowell,  Annie Maloney,  Eli Mertinooke, Rubi Nejaime, Cindy Ni, Christopher Petruscu, Jimmy Purcell, Garrett Roche, Hannah Simmons, Daniel Snow, Asa Stone. (We believe in a standard of excellence throughout the district in all endeavors.)

Can we also work on NO MORE SNOW? Teachers are making the best of these breaks in schedule, but our little guys are SO affected by the disruption to schedule.  Sigh.   (We believe given the opportunity, every student can reach his or her potential.)

Respectfully submitted,

Kate Retzel, LES Principal

LMHS Principal Report-February 2015


Lee, Massachusetts 

Principal’s Report

February 2015

            I am pleased to announce that the following students were named Students of the Month for the corresponding times.  Students of the Month are recognized for going (in some way) “above and beyond” in service to the school or community, while maintaining their academic potential.  Congratulations to:

◊ November – Karen Amaya (high school)
                          Hailey Bartini (middle school)

◊ December – Samantha Reynolds (high school)

                          Emily Molino (middle school)

◊ January – Ryan Ruef (high school)

                     Aliyah Noel (middle school)                                                    [District goal 5.1]

                In cooperation with Berkshire Community College’s Adult Learning Program, we are offering two courses to adult English language learners: Basic Computer Literacy, and Hi-Set Prep.  (The Hi-Set test is the replacement for the GED exam.)  BCC is covering the costs of this pilot program through their existing funding, in hopes that after showing its sustainability, the state will fund the program through adult education grants.  BCC has identified adult learners from Lee who are interested in this opportunity, instead of having to travel to either Great Barrington or Pittsfield.  [District goals 3.2, 3.4, 3.5]

                At our January 30th early release professional development time, faculty members worked on further development of our District Determined Measures (DDMs) – the part of the new evaluation system that focuses on student growth.  While many of our teachers are adapting local assessments for this purpose, some are also utilizing standardized assessments (such as MCAS or our new STAR Reading and STAR Math tests).  Most teachers have submitted final drafts of their DDMs to me, and I’ll be providing feedback on them; the final details are still being worked on by other faculty members.  We are on track for having them completed this spring, and for beginning implementation next fall.  [District goals 4.3, 4.6]

                We held an Advisory period on January 29th.  Different grade levels met in their advisories to work on various topics related to school planning and future goals.  The senior class met with me to begin the conversation about the location of graduation, and the possibility of moving the ceremony back to the school grounds from Tanglewood; it was a very good discussion.  After that meeting, I sent information home to their parents, seeking input and their thoughts on the topic.  Several parents have contacted me directly, and we will continue the conversations as we move forward.  I’m attaching that letter to this report for your information.  This is a very important topic to many in our community, and I believe the conversation about possibly moving the ceremony is valuable no matter what the final decision is. 

                LMHS has been fortunate to receive donations in memory of Thomas E. Smith of the Class of 1970.  After discussions, Mrs. Smith has decided that the funds should be used to purchase additional trophy cases, which will allow us to display many items which we have recently rescued from the basement of the town library, where they have been stored since the Central School closed.  It will be exciting, I think, for the community to once again be able to view these items, which celebrate Lee High School successes from the 1930s through the early 1970’s.  We hope to be able to have the cases installed over February vacation.  We also discovered some musical, dramatic, and academic awards which are now being displayed in the case at the entrance to the auditorium.  We will continue celebrating our past in the near future with the reinstallation of the plaques for named spaces, and the World War II memorial plaque.  Plans are beginning for an open house once everything is in place; we hope for it to be a community-wide event.  [District goals 3.3, 3.5]

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg M. Brighenti



Monday, January 12, 2015

LES Principal Report, January 2015

LES School Committee Report

January 13, 2015

ELA Curriculum Planning:

I have been able to search out a couple options for ELA curriculum consultation so we can get moving on solidifying a multi-year plan of attack.  As luck would have it, the Berkshire District and School Assistance Center (Berkshire DSAC) has two newly-hired Literacy consultants. They haven’t had any literacy folks for quite a while for us to access.  Our Level 2 status doesn’t get us as many services as those ranked lower in status, but they always are gracious about helping in any way they can.   As of this report’s date, Lori Curtin, as ELA Department Head, and I should have already met with Sharon DeCarlo, one of the new Berkshire DSAC folks, concerning her suggestions for next steps for our ELA curriculum.  Additionally, I have been in contact with a newly-retired educator, upon a very solid recommendation, who has served as Curriculum Director, oversaw grants, managed system assessments, and a multitude of other areas in a Western Mass neighboring district.  Mr. Skrocki, Lori Curtin, and I will be meeting with her in March as that is the soonest she is available.  I have already had a preliminary conversation with her and it is looking like her skill-set may very possibly be a quality match for our needs.   One training option concerns collaboration with several Berkshire County neighbors to share Professional Development in the ELA realm this summer for Early Literacy and in the fall for Intermediate Literacy.  As you can see, we are making some headway with the funds set aside for the curriculum.  (We believe programs, services, and facilities should be of the highest quality and responsive to the changing needs of our local and global community.
Student Art On Display in Boston!
Mr. Boule has submitted six student’s printmaking art pieces to the Massachusetts Arts Education Association for display at the Massachusetts State Transportation Building in Boston.  The exhibit will be displayed from January 19th – February 27th.  The projects were created in the style of Andy Warhol and during a pop art printmaking unit he did with sixth graders.  If you are around the Boston area, it would definitely be worth a peek.  (We believe in promoting broad-based communication and school-family-community partnerships.
December 22nd Community Gathering

The entire faculty, staff, and students gathered before the holidays to acknowledge each other, perform for each other, and discuss bucket filling efforts.  We acknowledged our top reading class and the top individual readers in the Accelerated Reading program, our first quarter Bs and Better Club students ( a total of 38 students (9 fifth and 29 sixth graders) received the honor), and those students who had taken the time to record the ways they filled fellow students and family member’s buckets on a log.  Eight of our Bucket Fillers had a great time playing a game with real live buckets and bean bags to represent good deeds and kind words.  Leave it to Mrs. Lucy and Mrs. Warner to team up for a loud, active, learning-reinforcing game!  The Principal’s Award went to the Wildcat Tales newspaper staff.  They just published an edition in December with Ms. LeCompte and Mrs. DeSantis’ guidance.  Several of Mr. Boule’s sixth grade students shared their “Insightful Eye” projects.  The students were instructed to draw an eye and fill it with representations that symbolized each student’s unique qualities.  You could hear a pin drop during this sharing session!  The musical selections were “Dodi Li”, a Hebrew song sung by the 5th/6th grade chorus and “Good King Wenceslas” performed by our Concert Band.  Once again, our Gathering showed what’s important to us here at LES. (We believe every member of the school, community, and family deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy.  AND we believe in a standard of excellence throughout the district in all endeavors.)
Respectfully submitted,

Kate Retzel, LES Principal

Friday, January 9, 2015

LMHS Principal's Report-January 2015


Lee, Massachusetts 

Principal’s Report

January 9, 2015

            First, a big “congratulations” is due to the following middle school students for being inducted into the National Junior Honor Society this week:  Gabrielle Bridagan, Emma Wellspeak, Emilia Viola, Bailey Thomas, Ann Macchi, Andrew Ruef, Ashley Barnes, Ava Martin, Jodi Morawiec, Homer Winston, Connor LaRock, Benjamin Harding, Kyle Tisdale, Carrie Conklin, Thomas Fraser, Anna Wang, Stone Murphy, Jillian Artioli, William Consolati, Ibrahim Zia, and John Somostrada.  [District goals 4.5, 4.6]
            Diane Carroll and her group of student volunteers braved the snowstorm on December 10th to once again put on a Community Supper for the town at the Congregational Church.  While the community turnout was low this time due to the weather, the students served up a spaghetti dinner, with desserts prepared by Deb Connors’ Life Skills classes.  There are two more suppers planned for this year; financial support has been generously provided through a grant from the Berkshire Taconic Foundation.  [District goals 3.4, 3.5]

I’m happy to report that we have purchased and are in the process of implementing a testing product for grades 7-12 – STAR Reading and STAR Math by Renaissance Learning.  A nationally-recognized assessment suite, the STAR platform will, for the first time, allow us to put in place benchmark testing in reading and math for middle and high school students.  This spring, we will collect baseline data on students in grades 6-11; this data will help us finalize plans for a structured, tiered intervention and support program for middle and high school students for the 2015-16 school year.  During the next school year, we will give the STAR assessments several times throughout the year for progress monitoring purposes as we roll out the new support system.  [District goals 1.2, 1.3, 4.3, 4.6]

            I’ve been meeting with the middle school team to discuss plans for next year.  Aligned with the STAR assessments mentioned above, we hope to develop a schedule that provides for an intervention period for students needing this support.  We are also determined to create a schedule that allows for physical education for all middle school students every-other-day throughout the school year.  Additionally, our hope is to create a quarterly elective rotation for all middle school students as an “exploration” of woodshop, art, computers, music, study skills, and individual reading.  Throwing world languages and band into the mix further complicates making this work, but we are determined to find a way to create the best experience for our middle school students.  [District goals 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 4.6]

            As you know, on December 17, in cooperation with the Lee Police Department, we conducted a preventative canine search of the building and parking lots.  At the same time, we were able to drill our shelter-in-place procedures while the dogs searched the grounds.  The entire experience went off very well, and no contraband was found in the process, which we are certainly happy about.  [District goal 5]

            Over the holiday break, Gig and his crew were able to install three new trophy cases in the main lobby.  This has allowed us to display many of the trophies that have been in storage since the renovations 12 years ago.  A community member has also let us know that she is planning to make a memorial donation in the near future to cover the costs of another case, which would allow us to have the rest of the trophies displayed.  Additionally, we are in the process of cleaning and installing the plaques for the named spaces within the building that were not re-installed after the renovation; those will go up over the next several months.  Perhaps the most impressive feat will be the planned re-installation of the old World War II memorial plaque from the basement of the old Central School, listing the names of Lee High graduates who died in that war.  All of these items together will allow us to celebrate our school’s rich history, as we move forward planning for the future.  [District goals 3.2, 3.4]

            Happy New Year to all!

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg Brighenti