Ensuring Equity, Equality, and Access for ALL!
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.
Greetings ASRSD Families!
I trust this communication finds you well! As I write each month, I am always in awe of the passing of time. We have completed Term 1 in Grades 6-12, the 1st trimester for Grades K-5 closes on December 2, the election is over, football season is well underway, we had the brightest and biggest supermoon since 1948, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Phew!
Students in Grades 3-8 will take a new assessment in spring of 2017, aptly named Next-Generation MCAS. The Department of Education has described this assessment as an upgrade to better measure the critical thinking skills students need to be successful in college or the workplace. The new assessment is a blend of PARCC and MCAS like questions along with new items to specifically assess MA learning standards. The Department of Education has engaged in revising the state's English Language Arts and mathematics standards. This process began in January 2016 and the Commissioner of Education expects to bring the revised standards for discussion to the Board of Education this month. Commissioner Chester hopes for a vote from the Board to solicit public comment through January 2017. Two of the major themes of the revisions are reading closely and writing about complex texts and literary concepts in ELA/Literacy Standards. If you would like to familiarize yourself with the proposed revisions, please click here.
Merits of Class Ranking
The district is exploring the possibility of eliminating the ranking of students by performance at the high school level. This practice is best known as class ranking. On Monday, November 17, John Krol, Director of Guidance at Wachusett Regional High School, gave a compelling presentation on class ranking and that it just may be hurting students' chances of getting into better colleges. Many surrounding districts have done away with class ranking and strongly believe their students are all the better for it. Mr. Krol's presentation may be viewed here. We will certainly have more discussion on this topic in the future.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
Over the last few years, a strong emphasis has been placed on the social emotional learning of students in schools in the Commonwealth. Studies show an increase of students with anxiety and depression. Educators understand we have a responsibility for ensuring the well being of our students in the social and emotional domains. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified five core competencies of SEL:
- Social awareness
- Relationship skills
- Responsible decision making
Our guidance department is working on developing an action plan for the integration of SEL into teaching practices and the delivery of targeted lessons by guidance counselors. We will keep you informed. In the meantime, please visit this site hosted by the MA Department of Education for more information on this very important topic.
Parent Teacher Conferences (PTC)
PTC was held last Wednesday afternoon and evening at the middle and high schools. The district has initiated a major shift in our approach to conferences with families. We would like all families to feel welcomed to attend conferences, even when your child is an A student. We want you to meet the teachers, visit the schools, and hear how your child is doing not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. If you were unable to attend or did not know you could attend, please feel free to contact your child's teacher to set up a conference. We have wonderful teachers, and they are always more than willing to meet with parents.
Coffee & Conversation
I have heard from many of you that you would like to attend an evening Coffee & Conversation session. I hope you can join me on Monday, December 5 from 5:00-6:00pm in the District Conference Room at the Page Hilltop School. I hope this is a more convenient time for you. You may drop in at any time during 5:00-6:00pm. If you cannot make this one, no worries, there will be others scheduled after the first of the year.
Congratulations go out to....
- The 24 students at the high school who received the John Abigail Adams Scholarship for their outstanding academic performance on the MCAS.
- Grade 5 LAW teacher, Janet McFarland, who was named Teacher of the Year by the Nashua River Watershed Association.
- The entire cast of the high school play, " I Need A Vocation". It was a great performance!
- Health Teacher, Paula Gravelle, who won a grant award, Interactive Technology, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
- Page Hilltop students for their Dance for Kindness rally performed for the entire community.
- Our cross-country, golf, volleyball, cheerleading, soccer, and football teams and coaches for a very successful fall season. Let not us forget our fabulous high school marching band.
This Thursday, we will gather around a table rich with food and love. Family and friends will gather together at the dinner table to engage in an annual ritual of eating and sharing stories. We are eager to eat our "favorite things" that we traditionally only cook on Thanksgiving. We will give thanks for our blessings and offer hope and support to others that are less fortunate. Isn't this what is so quintessential about Thanksgiving?
We are all hoping for a kinder and gentler nation. We all need to practice kindness, tolerance, patience, and hope. I am ready to do my part, and I am sure you all are too. Let's take responsibility for our future leaders of tomorrow and model the virtues of kindness, tolerance, patience, and hope. We live in a great country and are most fortunate to have peace and freedom. Let us never lose sight of the greatness before us. On behalf of the entire school community, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We are thankful to our families for sharing your wonderful children with us.
Emcees, Bennett Wilson, Samantha Souza, and student speaker, Liam Gleason at ASRHS Veterans Day assembly.
Elementary teachers learning about balanced literacy during professional development day.
Congratulations to the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship recipients.
Technology learning center in a Page Hilltop kindergarten classroom.
Learning to read and write in Mrs. Wissman's kindergarten class.
The 2016 Supermoon.
Page Hilltop students getting ready for the Dance for Kindness.
No need to say more.