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5/1/20 Superintendent Update

5/1/20 Superintendent Update
Posted on 05/01/2020

Dear Natick Families:

As we head now into this phase of remote learning, many of you have reached out indicating the grim resignation your children and you now feel about our collective situation. Anxiety, fear, stir-craziness, forced separation for some, forced togetherness for others....we are all handling a great deal. More than ever, kindness and understanding have to be our community orientation to work, school, parenting and living. Taking care of safety and psychological needs are most important right now and our staff has been in full support mode checking in on the health and social-emotional well-being of our students.


Secondary clubs and athletics team events have begun again to further provide support and interaction with your students. In addition, the district and schools will continue to work within our developmental relationships framework, and with specificity, address needs in the closure period (see this related resource).


An overview of the development relationships framework.


The School Committee and I held an information discussion of our current remote learning program and we are in the process of renegotiating time and impact of new implementation with our educator unions with the hope of providing more engagement consistency but allowing us to meet our legal and educational mandates within the remote learning environment. Schedules for the next two weeks should be published to you this weekend. We will have schedules for the remainder of the year ready shortly. Additional guidance for HS and MS "grading" in the credit/no credit remote closure system will be shared, changes in office hours to incorporate more small group contact time with teachers/students and information for parents about best practices they will see in all components of remote learning: front-loaded lessons/content, classroom chats/instructional time, office hours/small group and intervention learning, independent work.


In conjunction with our literacy leader, Judy Coleman and Principal Brian Harrigan we seek community support to create a lasting legacy for the Class of 2020 and a means to make a special graduation time for this group of students. Our vision is inspired by the book, Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. As the jacket explains,


Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.


When adversity hits the community, Red is more important than ever, providing solace, connection and a sense of purpose.


We would like to provide every graduate with a copy of the book and plant the Class of 2020 Wishtree on the campus of Natick High School. With strong roots and an unbridled future, the wishtree will symbolize the strength and perseverance of the Class of 2020.


We will invite you to join us for this community read. We plan to incorporate a community wishing ceremony into our Graduation festivities, inviting graduates, family, friends and members of the community to share their wishes. Thank you for joining us in this new tradition. Stay tuned for community book chats on this book and information on where and how to share wishes. For now, please focus all your wishing power on our hope that we can provide a live graduation for these seniors in late summer. Coming together as a community in late summer will be an excellent way to celebrate these young people, and turn their senior year away from being defined solely by this pandemic, rather, it will be the first graduation with such a strong community element and the tree will be a symbol of our strength, beauty and positivity--our Redhawk Roots.


I look forward to this read with you,

Anna

Anna P. Nolin, Ed.D.
Superintendent  of Schools
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. – Socrates 

Natick Public Schools
Twitter@annapnolin
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