Friday, April 8, 2016

LES April Principal's Report



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



To:     School Committee
Date:  April 8, 2016

·         Our April PD was used as a last period of time for development of our MCUs.  Many teachers have already finished units and others are just beginning them now. Below is a list of MCUs utilized with LES students this year for your consideration and amazement:
K – Mo Williams Author Study
1 – Animals and Habitats*; Poetry: Expanding Language, Sound, and Meaning
2 – Bees Unit (with an extension on Polar Bears for some)*; Geography, Land, and People; Civil Rights and Equality for All; Traditions and Customs; Matter Through Poetry*
3 – Extreme Weather; The American Revolution; Poetry
4 – Weathering and Erosion
5 – Plants and Ecosystems*; Engineering*; Matter/Pre-Chemistry*; European Exploration of the Americas- Perspectives on the Spanish Conquest of Latin America
6 – Heroes of the Iliad
* symbol indicates a cooperation with Flying Cloud Institute.

I am sure you can see the integration of Science and Social Studies now possible with  the ELA base to units.  You will also notice that some grade levels have extended much beyond the requirement of one MCU for the year!  (1.2;1.4; High quality professional development is essential for improving educational practice and maximizing student achievement.)

·         A concerned group of teachers is revisiting the LES Behavior Rubric with me and creating behavior expectations for all areas of the school – the hallway; the cafeteria; the classroom; the bathroom; the buses (arrival and dismissal); and the playground. We will be introducing the expectations and new rubric during our May Community Gathering.  We will try them out for the remaining month of school and then tweak for a September fresh start with students.  With our changing population, we feel it necessary to use the rubric and expectations more rigidly and have more adults visible and on board to ensure we continue to create a safe learning environment.   (5.3; Reasonable rules of behavior are necessary for the development of self-discipline and personal responsibility.)

·         Please consider attending the Lee Youth Drama show, Annie Jr., on Thursday, April 14th, or Friday, April 15th.  Both shows are at 7pm in the Z.  It will be another extravaganza!  Of that, I am sure.  Unfortunately, April 15th will be the final show for our Drama Director, Jessica Pollard.  We wish her the best in any new endeavors she now has time to pursue.  We thank her for many years of dedicated service in the development of an outstanding, all-inclusive drama program second to none at any elementary school I know of! Her dedication has reached out and hugged students and their families giving them a place to learn and grow.  She will be terribly hard to replace.  (4.2; 5.5; We believe in a standard of excellence throughout the district in all endeavors.)

·         At last check in, Kate Olender had 99 appointments for use of the tablets recently purchased!  She will work with 4th graders composing songs and doing assessment in Music class.  1st, 3rd, and 4th graders will be creating presentations with recorded components.  Our 5th graders are using them for electronic math practice and research. We are as excited as the students are for the electronic enhancements to classwork.  Students are so engaged!!! (1.6; 2.2)


Thursday, April 7, 2016

LMHS Principal Report - April 2016

Principal’s Report - LMHS
April 2016

·         We had a very well-received presentation to the student body by Jeff Bauman on March 9.  His message of resiliency and overcoming obstacles was an important one for our students (and, that evening, the community) to hear.  [District goals 5.1, 5.3]
·         Most of our AP classes held mock exams on Saturdays in March, giving the students an opportunity to practice a full-length test scored by an outside agency.  The AP teachers decided to continue providing this service, which previously was part of our MMSI grant. [1.4, 4.5, 4.6]
·         We have posted the carpentry / woodshop position for the new school year.  Additionally, we have had several positive responses to my invitation to be on a new carpentry advisory committee.  We continue to work with McCann Tech to explore and plan what this program may look like in the future. [1.2, 3.4, 4.2]
·         Grades 7, 8 and 10 have completed their MCAS English Language Arts tests.  The grades 7 and 8 tests included a new PARCC-type narrative writing section.  This section is unlike any MCAS composition done in the past.  MCAS Math occurs in May.
·         On April 1, we began the scheduling process for the 2016-17 school year, with grade level assemblies for grades 8-11.  We also sent representatives to St. Mary’s School and to Farmington River to present.  On April 6, we held our annual information night for the families of current 6th graders.  Our plan is to collect course registrations before April vacation, and use the month of May to build the schedule for the new year.
·         Congratulations to Tyler Buratto for receiving the Francis X. Keating Award for overcoming adversity at the Western Mass. Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.  There is an excellent article on Masslive.com which can also be accessed from the LMHS Facebook page.
·         Congratulations to the middle school Robotics Team in their inaugural season!  They placed 9th out of 33 teams, and earned the “Rookie Team of the Year” award.
·         Congratulations to the members of the senior class, who have racked up an impressive listing of college acceptances this year.  Dan Korte has created the following graphic:



Respectfully submitted,

Gregg Brighenti
Principal

Friday, March 4, 2016

LMHS Principal's Report - March 2016

LEE MIDDLE and HIGH SCHOOL
Lee, Massachusetts


Principal’s Report
March 2016

It was a short month, including vacation, so I’d like to use my Principal’s Report this month to ask that you approve the 2016-2017 Program of Studies.  We will be beginning the course selection and scheduling process in early April.  As you may remember, last year we had some major changes to the Program of Studies so I presented the full document to you.  This year, there are no new courses being proposed, but there are other important changes I would like to point out:

·         We will be instituting a two-year cycle for our AP Science classes.  For the 2016-17 school year, we will offer AP Biology and AP Chemistry; in 2017-18 we will offer AP Environmental Science and AP Physics.  The courses will continue to rotate each year thereafter.  In years when the AP course is not offered, we will offer a non-AP version of the same course.

·         We will be phasing in a change to our Health/PE offering.  Currently, freshmen do not take physical education; instead they take health.   We would like to spread health out over two years.  Freshmen would take two quarters of health and two quarters of phys ed; sophomores would do the same.  This allows all of our students to have formal physical activity during all six years that they are at LMHS.  It also provides the benefit of health education being spread out over more than just the 9th grade year.

·         Similar to what we have done very successfully this year with Senior Varsity Sports, where seniors are able to earn their phys ed credit by participating in two athletics teams, we would like to introduce Drama Production.  Students who participate in two drama productions (either in the same year or over two years) will be able to earn 0.5 credit toward their Humanities / Arts graduation requirement.

·         We are proposing the following changes to our minimum graduation requirements.  The current requirements would remain in place for the classes of 2017 and 2018:

SUBJECTS REQUIRED OF ALL STUDENTS

Classes of 2017 & 2018

Class of
2019

Class of 2020+
English
Students are required to earn a credit of English each year, including:  English 9, English 10, English 11 (or AP Language & Composition), and English 12 (or AP Literature & Composition).
4 credits
4 credits
4 credits
Social Studies
This must include a full-year of US History.  Beginning with the Class of 2017, this must also include a half-credit of American Government.
3 credits
3 credits
3 credits
Science
Credit values vary if course is lab or non-lab.
3 yearlong courses
3 yearlong courses
3 yearlong courses
Mathematics
All students are required to take and pass a 4th year of math unless they scored proficient or advanced on their 10th grade MCAS math assessment.  All students are strongly encouraged to take a 4th year of math.
3 credits
3 credits
3 credits
Health
0.5 credit
0.5 credit
2.0 credits**
Physical Education
1.5 credits
1.5 credits
Technology
1 credit
0.5 credit*
0.5 credit*
Humanities
1 credit
---
---
The Arts
Fine and performing arts, including: all courses listed in “The Arts” section, plus Digital Photography, Graphic Arts, Animation.
---
0.5 credit
0.5 credit
Electives from any subject area
6 credits
7 credits
7 credits
TOTAL REQUIRED MINIMUM CREDITS
23 credits
23 credits
23 credits
                                * Does not include Woodshop
                                                ** 0.5 credit of combined PE/Health in each of 9th and 10th grades; 0.5 credit of PE in each of 11th and 12th grades


In other news, as I write this our drama club is getting ready to present Legally Blonde, on Friday, March 4 at 7pm, and Saturday, March 5 at 2pm and 7pm.  Our girls basketball program has advanced to the Western Mass semifinal game, to be held Monday, March 7 at the Cage; the time has not yet been set.  Also worth noting: the Wildcat Bowling team, which is not officially an LMHS club, has won the Berkshire County championship.  Congratulations all!

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg M. Brighenti
Principal


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

LES Principal's Report, February 2016

Lee Elementary School 2015/2016
“Opening Doors”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Kate Retzel, Principal
To:  School Committee
Date:  February 9, 2016
   
·         Our Gathering will be held in the “Z” rather than the gymnasium on February 10th at 10am.  Our high school band has invited us to a “children’s concert”.  As our Gathering usually features musical numbers, this was a perfect fit to have our stars from LMHS perform for us.  Also, we will be hearing a speaker from “Pennies for Patients”, a program we annually support to collect for the childhood cancer cause.  We will be honoring our “Bs and Better” Club students for the second quarter and acknowledging our Accelerated Reader achievers, too. 4th and 6th grade are both scheduled to “Shine” as well. “Shine” is our name for a curriculum-based sharing of some sort (poem, written pieces, songs, skits, etc.) at Gatherings. (Goal 1; 5.1; 5.2)

·         Sean Anderson and some members of his crew from the Nike Factory Outlet in Lee will be visiting our PE classes to referee some floor hockey matches.  The students always enjoy the new faces and look up to them as examples of health and community service!!!  This is the second year Sean has reached out to us to contribute to wellness at LES. Last year, they were also referees in classes and assistants at Field Day. (3.2; 5.1)

·         Mia Darone and Lori Curtin are once again planning Community Reading Day on March 2nd at 9:30am. It is a joy to have Community Members visit classrooms and share great literature and a bit of their life experience with our students.  (3.2; 3.4)

·         Our Student Council is up to some great things!  On February 12th they are holding a pajama day at school for all students that will lead into ParentsNight Out that evening for some.  For a small fee, parents can drop off their children and take their Valentine out on a date while their little ones can play games, dine on pizza, and watch a movie here at school all safe and snug.  Proceeds will support the Student Council’s future projects.  Also, this month, the Council organized our cooperation with Big Y and our local USO in sending over 150 Valentines from LES to servicemen and woman overseas.  This effort is part of Big Y’s 80th Anniversary celebration.  (3.2; 5.1; 5.2)


·         Our January PD was used wisely in the continued development of our MCUs and some correction of writing samples gathered for our writing program.  Many teachers are currently using the units with students and I am seeing them in action as a formal observation, an obligation of the evaluation system at the same time. Some highlights of our MCU work have been the appreciation of the complexity level of texts students are charged with reading; exploration of the Curriculum Embedded Performance Assessments, a type of assessment which is more of a project than an exam; and the opinions our youngest of learners are able to form in an in-depth author study.  Also, I did a mid-year check-in with staff via survey to gather data to ensure we are covering the 5 Components of Reading, Writing standards, and differentiating instruction enough.  What I suspected and now know is that we are quite solid in all areas of reading and are working on any weaknesses in our Curriculum Teams.  What I will also say is that the differentiation techniques are top-notch at this school!  Our teachers could write a textbook on how it’s done.  (1.2; We believe, given the opportunity, every student can reach his or her full potential.) 

LMHS Principal's Report, February 2016

LEE MIDDLE and HIGH SCHOOL
Lee, Massachusetts


Principal’s Report
February 2016

                First off, some congratulations:
·         To Corey Gaherty and Jack Purcell, students of the month for December.  (I apologize for not including this in last month’s report!)
·         To Morgan Bohn and Devon Atwell, for participating in the Cool Science Art Contest sponsored by UMass.  Devon was an honorable mention, and Morgan was a contest winner.
·         To Kendra Williams for being named the All-Berkshire volleyball MVP by the Berkshire Eagle.
·         To Thomas Fraser and Devyn Olds, for being named to the All-Eagle First Team for golf.
·         To Shenna Tyer, Kendra Williams, and Courtney Picard for being named to the All-Berkshire First Team for volleyball; and to Anna Wang for being named to the All-North Team.
·         To Sam Harding, for being named to the All-Berkshire cross country team.
·         To Sam Harding, Meghan Earl, Samantha Goyette, Cassidy Crawford, Jessica Sammons, Sarah Cook, Will Kastrinakis, and Madison DeSantis for having their art works displayed at the 30th Annual Berkshire County High School Art Show hosted by the Norman Rockwell Museum.  The Exhibition opening event will be Saturday, February 6 from 2:00-4:00pm; the exhibit will be on view from February 6 through March 6.

Special thanks are owed to Lee Bank and Lipton Energy for generous contributions to LMHS.  Both organizations have been very supportive of the school in the past; this time, Lee Bank has donated $1,000 for the purchase of Chromebooks for use in our intervention classes in math and English; Lipton Energy’s $500 donation will be used for the same purpose.  These resources are being dedicated to helping to close gaps in students’ knowledge and understanding of key topics and concepts that are holding them back from success in these areas.   As I’m writing this, we have just received an additional $400 from Greylock Federal Credit Union toward this program.  I am continually amazed and appreciative of the incredible support that our community demonstrates to our schools and students!  [District goals 1.3, 1.6, 3.2, 4.3, 4.6]

High school students completed mid-year exams for the first time in several years on January 20-22, using a new department-based format.  Feedback from teachers indicate that most faculty members liked the new format; there was mixed reaction from students.  We have committed to using this format for finals in June as well, and the faculty will then review it to decide on next year.  Semester 2 officially began on Monday, January 25.  It’s hard to believe we’re more than half-way through the school year!   [District goals 4.5, 4.6]

February 2nd was our annual Junior Job Shadow Day.  Nearly all members of the junior class found placements in the community to shadow a career that they are interested in possibly pursuing in the future.  The students then have assignments in their English class that are related to the career; and in the spring, this will tie in directly to our career fair and mock interviews.  [District goals 3.2, 3.4]

On our January 15th half day, the LMHS faculty continued their training and implementation on our school-wide writing rubric.  Led by members of our English department, teachers discussed how the implementation was working across the different subject areas and grade levels.  Combined with technology training (specifically Google Apps), this has been a thread in our professional development all year.  [District goals 1.6, 2.2, 4.1, 4.4, 4.6]

                In athletic updates from last month, we have been forced to dissolve the co-op with Lenox in football in order to maintain our placement in the new division 4A.  The three Lenox students who were members of the team last year will be grandfathered-in until they graduate.  We have also dissolved the co-op with Lenox in boys’ lacrosse due to low numbers of signups in both schools; for this year, Monument Mountain will host a three-way co-op with Lenox and us.  Both of these decisions were made after careful consideration and discussion, including with the Lenox administration.  Also in football news, the Berkshire County principals will be voting before vacation on whether to merge for football only with the Pioneer Valley conference; the county athletic directors have already approved the merger.  This would be a one-year experiment if approved by the principals.  [District goal 5.5]

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg M. Brighenti

Principal

Friday, January 8, 2016

LMHS Principal's Report - January 2016

LEE MIDDLE and HIGH SCHOOL
Lee, Massachusetts



Principal’s Report
January 2016

                The faculty have been busy preparing for the return of mid-year assessments at the high school level; it has been several years since we have had them.  At the same time, we are implementing a new way of structuring mid-year and final assessments – organizing them by subject, so that all English classes have assessments at the same time, etc.  You can find the details on the LMHS web site.  We’re hoping that this will be a more productive, and less confusing, structure.  At the same time, it takes one less day of assessments than the old model of having them by period.  The mid-year assessment days will be Wednesday, January 20 through Friday, January 22.  The middle school will run a regular full schedule on those days.


                Over the past several months, we have been meeting with Josten’s, the company that provides our graduation “stuff,” to talk about enhancements that can be made to our current diplomas.  One of the items we are looking at is the ability to embed a school seal into the diploma cover.  Working with Josten’s, and researching historical items, we have developed a draft seal for this purpose:

 1851 is the year Lee High School was established; 1837 was the year of the founding of Lee Academy, our predecessor institution; and 2002 is the year in which we  formally became Lee Middle and High School.  The wildcat is self-explanatory; the lamp of knowledge is an ancient symbol representing the search for wisdom and knowledge; and the open book symbolizes education.







We are in the process of getting feedback from the school community on the seal.  Please let me know your thoughts.  Many high schools have these seals as an important part of their “brand” and visual identity.

                There are several items from the world of athletics that I’d like to bring to your attention:

·         We are in the process of appealing our assignment to a higher division for football for next season.  The MIAA football committee placed us in the new Division IV (based upon the combined 9-12 male enrollment of LMHS plus Lenox); our appeal is based on the fact that we receive only 1-4 players from Lenox each year.  Based upon our enrollment only, we are the smallest public high school in the Commonwealth that offers football.   We may be forced to dissolve the co-op arrangement with Lenox to remain in Division IV-A (which is essentially the renamed Division 6).  If we are forced in that direction by the football committee, current Lenox football participants would be grandfathered-in as members of the team until they graduate.  The Lenox administration is aware of this possibility.

·         Also regarding football, the Berkshire County League has been approached by the PVIAC (Pioneer Valley Conference) about possibly merging for football only.  There are many items to consider in making this decision.  Currently the athletic directors of the Berkshire County football schools are meeting with their PVIAC counterparts to discuss details of the possible merger.

·         Signups for boys lacrosse are low for this year.  It is possible that we may have to dissolve the co-op with Lenox.  One scenario is creating a three-way co-op with Monument Mountain and Lenox.  Currently, the athletic directors are talking.  We’ll keep you updated.

The music program held an excellent Winter Concert on Thursday, January 7.  The program included pieces performed by the middle school chorus, high school chorus, both bands, and the jazz band.  The concert ended with the world premiere of a commissioned piece (if you haven’t seen the Eagle article about that, you should!).  Bravo to Joanne Nelson, Pat Feldman, and all of the students involved!


Respectfully submitted,

Gregg M. Brighenti
Principal