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Message from Ms. Ford: March 2017

Dear Peabody Community:

As has become customary at this time of year, I am writing you to update you on what is happening at school. What we are working on, what we are proud of and how we continue to improve.

We are having an extraordinary year at Peabody. Our “One School, Many Stories” theme has brought our community closer and we know more about one another than we have in the past. This theme, combined with our many endeavors regarding family engagement is shining through to our Peabody family on a weekly basis. I am always interested on your thoughts on our school, particularly when it comes to family engagement. I would welcome your insight on how we are doing.

What I think has been a fantastic addition to our school community is our Peabody Community Market. Each month has been better than the one before. The many Community partners that continue to join us each month definitely tells me we are doing something right. Most recently we have partnered with Cradles to Crayons who provided many of our families with educational items along with clothing and diapers. Through our partnership with the Reservoir Church, we were gifted pencil kits for every one of our students from YOOBI. YOOBI is an organization that matches funds from sales of school supplies to donate supplies to schools in need. I look forward to the continued success of our market and more partnerships.

Our Parent Workshop Series started slow but has grown with each workshop and we are very happy with this growth. We will continue to offer relevant workshops to help our home school partnership. If you have ideas for upcoming workshops or would like to offer your expertise, we would welcome it! Please contact me at: jford@cpsd.us or call my cell phone at 617.201.7844.

This week, we began our Tech Goes Home parent/student technology course. Over several weeks, parents and caregivers will learn, along with their children, the many different resources that can be accessed in Cambridge through technology. An exciting aspect of this course is that after completing the 15-hour course, families will be eligible to purchase a Chromebook Laptop for just $50.

Our staff is learning together. I would like to update you on our High Expertise Teaching Project.

Going into its third year, the partnership between Cambridge Public Schools and Research for Better Teaching continues to grow, refine, and revitalize as our strengths and needs crystallize. From the beginning, the Instructional Coaches, along with myself, have been responsible for this work and communicating the big ideas of the project and partnership back to our colleagues. During the 2016-2017 school year, the desired goal is to increase high-leverage, intentional teaching practices aimed at meeting the needs of all students in all classrooms throughout the district. Some ways we (the coaches) are working to achieve the desired outcomes:

–Focused analysis and pointed feedback and guidance on the implementation of High Expertise Practices, as defined by the project.
–Reflect on our efforts to improve the frequency and quality of these practices.
–Support classroom teachers in implementing lessons with increasing expertise at designing and implementing lessons based on challenging, scaffolded learning targets.
–Collaborate with colleagues to design lessons that provide opportunities for all students to make their thinking visible and provide evidence of learning during/at the conclusion of the lesson.

Currently we are providing a professional development opportunity to some of our faculty and all of our paraprofessionals. As a group, we are reading and reflecting on the book Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom - By Kristin Souers.

Topics this book covers:
–Understanding what trauma is and how it hinders the learning, motivation, and success of all students in the classroom.
–Building strong relationships and creating safe spaces to enable students to learn at high levels.
–Adopting a strengths-based approach that leads us to recalibrate how we view destructive student behaviors and to perceive what students need to break negative cycles.
–Heading off frustration and burnout with essential self-care techniques that will help teachers and our students flourish.

As a faculty and staff, we continue our science goals. We have several scheduled professional development days ahead dedicated to strengthening our science teaching at Peabody. We will be adding additional science work to our curriculum. Our teachers will be visiting one another’s classrooms and reporting to our group what they have learned from each other. In the spring, we will have BC Doctorate students here to work with the faculty. We will be reading the book: What's Your Evidence? - Engaging K-5 Children in Constructing Explanations in Science. As we explore the book – which will be used as a study guide. We will also have a book group among staff next year. We are also working towards connecting our Science goals to ELA and Math in the classroom.

What is extraordinary about our staff at Peabody is that they take deep and sincere pride in continuing their education. That is true for all of us, not just our faculty. I continue to immerse myself in learning. I send my staff members to many workshops to sharpen their craft. They come to me with new ideas that we are implementing on a regular basis. All of this is good news for your children. It means that we want to be the best educators, caregivers and guides for your children. We are also leading by example. You continue to learn your whole life.

We are taking workshops. Among them are:
–School Mental Health – Treating Students K – 12
–Understanding Trauma and Care for the Caregiver
–Social Emotional Learning: Integrating SEL to Create Supportive and Positive School Communities

I am especially proud of the relationships we continue to build among our parent groups. I am so impressed by the commitment and drive of the Friends of Peabody to provide our children with the ultimate opportunities that they can have.

The Connection and their continued warmth and graciousness to all our families are a great example of how parents and schools can work with one another in harmony. Their family coffees have been very welcoming to all of our families.

The School Council has been working very hard on their commitment to improving not just our school but also all of Cambridge schools. I am honored to work with this terrific group of people. Most recently we have been working on a protocol that was designed to provide insight on what the future of Cambridge Schools should look like in the future and what we can do, as a community to create that environment now.

Thank you for the privilege of continuing to serve this wonderful community.

With deep respect,

Jennifer Ford