Our vision is to connect, engage, and inspire all students in the Ayer Shirley Regional School District to reach academic excellence. We, the educators of the Ayer Shirley Regional School District, will instill habits of reflection and inquiry to challenge our students in setting ambitious academic and personal goals. Students will develop a strong voice to express thoughts and ideas in the community and the confidence to showcase their talents and successes in preparation for entry into college and the world of work. 

 

December Blog 2016

Ensuring Equity, Equality, and Access: Connecting to All Learners

 

December 2016

Greetings ASRSD Families,

In just 10 days we will bid farewell to 2016. Over the course of that time many of us will spend time reflecting, reminiscing, and perhaps evaluating this past year.

This was recently posted on a school billboard, "You can't go back and make a new beginning-but anyone can start now and make a new ending." This is a really important message for our young people. Life is full of ups and downs, good decisions and maybe not so good decisions, which we all succumb to at different times in our lives, but we all have the ability to change direction.

“ A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Chinese Proverb

 

Thank You to Our Benefactors
This school community is very fortunate to be the recipients of two philanthropic organizations. One is the Norton Family Foundation Trust, Robert and Janice Norton, who donated $60,000 to this school district for a new literacy program in Grades K-5. Mr. Norton's father, Mr. Harold G. Norton, was Superintendent of Ayer High School for 23 years. The high school field is named after Superintendent Norton.

The Norton family lived in Ayer for many years, and Robert and Janice Norton both graduated from Ayer High School. Their college years and careers took them all over the world. Their passion was humanitarian work.  

Mr. & Mrs. Norton contacted the school department to make known their desire to focus their philanthropic work on the Ayer Shirley Regional School District. They consider Ayer their 'home" and desire to give back to their place of origin.Their priority for the donation was curriculum and instruction. A comprehensive literacy program was proposed and selected. We cannot thank the Norton's enough for their altruism and generosity.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize our partner, the Ayer Shirley Education Foundation (ASEF). They should also be praised for their philanthropic work. Since 2005, they have donated over $315,000 in grants to this district. In addition to the financial support, they are solicitous and give of their time. They volunteer at many events and are always available to support us in any way they can. Please do your best to support their fundraisers, which are Holdenwood Trail Run, Janis Bresnahan Run, and the Annual ASEF Lip Sync Show all which make their generous grants possible.

 

You may ask what is comprehensive literacy? Comprehensive literacy is a research-based approach, which includes the teaching of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The main components are read aloud, guided reading, shared reading, independent reading, interactive writing, shared writing, independent writing, reading mini lessons, writing mini lessons, and phonics/word study. The goal is to build phonics, reading comprehension, and writing skills through an integrated approach. Strong readers are strong writers and strong writers are strong readers. Essential to both reading and writing are strong phonics and spelling skills.

Currently in our K-5 classrooms we primarily use a basal reader to teach reading, which in essence is a one size fits all reading program. The comprehensive literacy approach includes leveled readers in all genres to support small group, differentiated instruction. This extensive library of books facilitates differentiated learning ensuring equity, equality, and access for every student. If you recall, I wrote extensively on meeting the learning needs of every student in the September/October Blog. Program implementation of the literacy program is a phased in approach. We will begin implementation of the comprehensive literacy approach, K-2, in the 2017-2018 school year and in Grades 3-5, at the start of the 2018-2019 school year. We will keep you posted on this new and exciting literacy approach.

 

FY18 School Budget
We have begun the process of developing next year’s school budget. All departments are identifying needs and priorities and submitting budgets for the FY18 school year. Our priorities are to ensure a high quality education and to be fiscally responsible to the citizens of the towns of Ayer and Shirley.

 

FY18 Budget Proposed Timeline:

Date

Presentation

Time & Location

Tuesday, January 3
Budget Assumptions, Projections, and Discussion
RSC 7:00pm ASRHS, LGI Room
Wednesday, January 18
Preliminary FY18 Budget Presentation
RSC 7:00pm ASRMS, Library
End of January
Governor Normally Files State Budget
 
Tuesday, February 7
FY18 Budget Final Presentation
RSC 7:00pm ASRHS, LGI Room
Wednesday, February 15
Public Hearing
RSC 7:00pm ASRMS, Library
Tuesday, March 7
RSC Certifies FY18 Budget
RSC 7:00pm ASRHS, LGI Room


*Please note these are tentative dates and are subject to change.

 

Athletic Field Project at the High School
The School Committee approved a feasibility study to be conducted on redeveloping the stadium facilities and adjacent baseball and softball fields. SMMA is conducting the study, and if you recall, they were the architects for the high school renovation. The School Committee is currently in the process of selecting a committee and would like to thank those residents who submitted a letter of interest. The Committee anticipates committee selection to be finalized at the January 3, 2017, School Committee meeting.

 

Newsmakers

  • Ten year old, Preston Campaner, Grade 4 student at Page Hilltop, recently attended the Ayer Board of Selectmen meeting to advocate for a sign to be posted warning residents the turkeys are crossing, The Board approved his request. Congratulations to Preston! Our next Town Administrator?
  • ASRHS put on a fantastic winter concert directed by Mr. Bloch. It featured the Concert Band and Concert Choir.
  • The Page Hilltop Choir directed by Ms. McDermott also put on a great show. Grade 5 clarinet students directed by Mrs. Farrow made their debut and were very impressive after only a few months of lessons.

 

By The Numbers

  • Did you know since fall of 2015 we have doubled our Concert Band members from 22 to 43?  Increase of 95%.
  • Concert Choir increased from 13 to 29 students.  Increase of 123%.
  • Jazz Band increased from 4 to 17 students!  Increase of 325%.
  • Marching Band started in summer of 2015 at 0 and we now have 34 members!
  • Participation in indoor track increased from 38 to 81 members!  Increase of 113%.
  • This is our first year of offering band to 5th graders, and it is a very successful start. We have 34 students, 17 in each elementary school.  They are learning to play an assortment of instruments such as the: clarinet, flute, oboe, alto sax, trumpet, and percussion.

 

This growth is just remarkable and is credited to our great programs and even greater staff that run them. Thank you!

 

Grade 8 Visit to ASRHS
On January 11, 2017, 8th graders will tour the high school to see first hand all that is offered at the high school. We are in a continuous cycle of improvement and cannot wait to share our excellent academic programs, our extra curricular activities, and our gold standard of excellence. Parents are invited to the high school on January 17, 2017. Please be on the lookout for additional details from Principal, Mr. Varga.

 

New Members of the ASRSD Community
Please join me in welcoming new staff to ASRSD:

  • Mr. Christopher Urbine, High School Math Teacher
  • Ms. Kathleen Leitermann, High School Biology Teacher
  • Ms. Gina Paquette, LAW Paraprofessional
  • Ms. Kathleen VanCorbach, LAW Paraprofessional
  • Mrs. Linda Harrington, Special Education Administrative Assistant. Mrs. Harrington has worked in the district as a paraprofessional at Page Hilltop for 9 years. Congratulations to Mrs. Harrington!

 

Winter Sports Programs
Our programs are well underway: swim, basketball, track, hockey. The sports schedule is available on the district website underneath the district calendar. We would love to see our families at the games. It is lots of fun! Come join us!

 

Please Thank Teachers and Staff!
This is the time of year when we reflect on our blessings and good fortune. Please join me in acknowledging all the wonderful staff in the ASRSD. They work very hard, but most importantly, they care deeply for your children. I see this first hand every day. Please be sure to recognize and thank them.

We look forward to another great year working together with our families to ensure the students receive the best education possible.  

On behalf of the entire district, we wish our families a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year! May the New Year have all good things in store for you!

Our vision is to connect, engage, and inspire all students in the Ayer Shirley Regional School District to reach academic excellence. We, the educators of the Ayer Shirley Regional School District, will instill habits of reflection and inquiry to challenge our students in setting ambitious academic and personal goals. Students will develop a strong voice to express thoughts and ideas in the community and the confidence to showcase their talents and successes in preparation for entry into college and the world of work.

Page Hilltop Chorus, under the direction of Ms. McDermott, performs at the Holiday Concert.

Dec_Blog_4.JPG

Mrs. Farrow conducts the Page Hilltop Grade 5 clarinet ensemble.

Thank you Mr. Norton for your generous donation to the ASRSD!

ASRHS JV basketball game. Go Panthers!

Page Hilltop Grade 3 academic achievement awards.

ASRMS Lego Robotics team presented their challenge at the December 21, 2016, School Committee meeting.  Great job!

Teachers are lifelong students.

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