Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016

Superintendent's Blog

A simple way to increase the probability of student success: Regular Attendance at School

Recently, school administrators have been engaged in several discussions, workshops and webinars related to school attendance. Chronic absenteeism from school is a national crisis, and Exeter-West Greenwich is no different. While we do not experience the same high levels of chronic absenteeism as some other districts in our state and nation, the fact is that many of our children have developed patterns of regular non-attendance that are of significant concern.

Chronic absenteeism from school is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year (18 or more days for a 180-day school year). This amounts to an average of just 2 days or more per month.... and while that statistic does not appear to be alarming, reputable national studies indicate otherwise.

Here are some real statistics from those national and state studies:

Nationally, 64% of third graders who missed less than 5% of school days in both grades K and 1 scored proficient on third grade ELA state assessments.

Only 43% of third graders who missed just 5-9% of school days in both grades K and 1 scored proficient on the same state assessments.

And for those third grade students who missed 10% or more of school days in both grades K and 1 - only 17% were proficient on the third grade ELA assessments.

In Rhode Island, 75% of students who were not chronically absent in kindergarten scored proficient in third grade ELA compared to only 57% of their chronically absent peers. In math, the figures for the same students are 68% compared to 43%

80% of Rhode Island seventh graders who were not chronically absent in kindergarten scored proficient in seventh grade ELA compared to only 61% of their chronically absent peers. In math, the figures for the same students are 67% compared to 40%

In another study, students with just one year of chronic absenteeism in grades 1 through 5 were 5.9 times more likely to be chronically absent in grade 6. Students with two years of chronic absenteeism in grades 1 through 5 were 7.8 times more likely to be chronically absent in grade 6. And students who were chronically absent three times in grades 1 through 5 were 18.0 times more likely to be chronically absent in grade 6. Patterns of good attendance are established early in a child's educational career... and it matters a lot!

In Exeter-West Greenwich, we are taking a close look at our graduation rates and drop-out rates at the high school level. The trend is concerning. Although addressing the issue will require a multi-faceted approach, attendance at school is one of the variables that everyone can help us to improve.

In another study of high school drop out rates, students with zero years of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 10.3% drop out rate. Students with just one year of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 36.4% drop out rate. Students with two years of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 51.8% drop out rate. Students with 4 years of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 61.3% drop out rate.

We realize that people get sick, and sometimes absences are necessary. However, these statistics show that taking time out of school is not something that any of us should take lightly. We have many outstanding and dedicated educators who want what is best for all of our students, but it is hard to recreate the dynamics of classroom instruction for a student who is not present on any given day. We want our students present, and we want you to help us by understanding the importance of regular school attendance and conveying that message to every child. 

Last year in our school district, 19% of students in grades K-3 were absent 12 or more days. 14% of our middle school students were absent 12 or more days. 20% (1 out of every 5) of our high school students were absent 12 or more days. We have some work to do.

Take proper precautions to stay healthy. Dress to prevent sickness. Eat well. Always get a good night's sleep. Reach out if there is a way the EWG community can assist in any way to resolve issues that may interfere with regular attendance at school. We are committed to the best possible outcomes for every child, from preschool through graduation.

Check out the happiness on this third grade student's face after setting a personal goal for improving his math fluency, working hard to achieve that goal, and finding out that he actually reached it. This is what it is all about. Anything is possible if you show up and engage. 

Congratulations, Brody, on a job well done and Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, November 28, 2016

November 22, 2016

Superintendent's Blog

Please find below some information about two fantastic events that you do not want to miss!

Attention EWG Parents and Community - The Partnership With Parents Program is hosting the nationally acclaimed documentary entitled, “SCREENAGERS”.  This is a true story about a family who learned about the complex world of social media with their 13 year old daughter and how best to keep her safe and well balanced.  An open discussion will follow the presentation.  Check it out on  Please join us on Tue., Dec. 6, 2016 from 6pm - 8pm in the EWG Junior/Senior Library.  Any questions, contact Catherine Murray, Middle School Counselor at 397-6898 x 219 or

EWG Senior High Drama presents:
Clues: An Interactive Murder Mystery

Join a zany cast of colorful character for a dinner party where the
main course is motive for murder. Our audience will help solve who
done it in this hilarious Clue inspired show. For tickets and more info please visit


The best way to be informed about school closings, delays, and early dismissals is through the RIBA Alert Messaging Program. 

Visit your favorite radio or television website now to register for ALERT MESSAGING to your cell phone. Be notified immediately when there is a cancellation, delay or emergency message relating to your child's school.

ALERT MESSAGING registration for the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association cancellation system can be found on radio and television stations home page or under the weather tab. Click Here for a list of stations and websites addresses.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 14, 2016

Superintendent's Blog

Congratulations to Anne Barbour, third grade teacher at Metcalf Elementary School, for being named the 2016 State Grange Teacher of the Year. Anne was recognized at a state-wide event on October 6th for her tireless dedication to the children at Metcalf School. Mrs. Barbour was nominated for the state award by the local Exeter Grange. I was happy to join Anne and her family, along with colleague Gina Kilday, to share in this very deserving recognition.

The PTA worked with our elementary schools to sponsor the second annual walk-a-thon, their biggest fundraiser of the year. Thank you to all who have supported this event. The PTA uses these funds to support supplemental programs and enrichment activities in our schools - and teachers are VERY grateful. All students at Lineham, Wawaloam and Metcalf participated along with their teachers and principals. Mrs. Marino dressed in her best bee outfit to share in the day's excitement.

Other Announcements:

As we approach the winter season (although hard to believe given the forecast for this week), I want to remind you to SIGN UP FOR THE RI BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION ALERT SYSTEM PROGRAM.

The RIBA Alert Messaging Program is the best way to be informed about school closings, delays, and early dismissals due to weather conditions.

Visit your favorite radio or television website now to register for ALERT MESSAGING to your cell phone. Be notified immediately when there is a cancellation, delay or emergency message relating to your child's school. ALERT MESSAGING registration for the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association cancellation system can be found on radio and television stations home page or under the weather tab. 

EWG will hold a free flu clinic for staff, students and their families (age 3+) at Metcalf Elementary School on November 9th (Wednesday) from 4:00-6:30 PM. You may register for this event by visiting Help to keep our schools and our children healthy!

Friday, September 16, 2016

September 16, 2016

Superintendent's Blog
September 16, 2016
Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year! The opening of school is always a very busy and very exciting time. Now that we are fully underway, I want to take this opportunity to welcome everyone back and share some beginning of the year news.
Staff orientation took place on August 26th. At that time, we announced and recognized several amazing staff members, including finalists for the 2016 Exeter-West Greenwich Teacher of the Year:
Mrs. Karen Breene, Physical Education and Health Teacher at Wawaloam School
Ms. Donna Brodeur, English-Language Learner Teacher for the District
Ms. Holly Emery, Science Teacher at the Junior High School

Mr. Matthew Savoie, Science Teacher and Department Chair at the Senior High School
Congratulations to Laurie Gross, Third Grade Teacher at Metcalf Elementary School, for being named the recipient of the 2016 Teacher of the Year award. Here is what I read as the announcement was made public:
It is now time to introduce the Exeter-West Greenwich 2016 Teacher of the Year. I imagine that she will be humbled, and maybe even feel embarrassed about the attention – but those who know her are unanimous in believing that the attention is SO well deserved.
According to her principal, this teacher “is a true professional in every sense of the word. Her focus on the “whole child” across all situations is inspiring and commendable. Not only does she have, and use, her incredibly deep knowledge base when instructing in academic areas, but she also focuses on all areas of need of her students and families. She understands that in order for her students to be successful in school and life, she must look at each child individually to determine what is best for them at any given moment. To that end, she routinely researches effective ways to engage students that may be having difficulty, consults with her colleagues, attends workshops and seminars that offer new and innovative ideas. I am always amazed at the numerous and varied strategies being implemented in her classroom on a daily basis. She delivers those with confidence, ease, and enthusiasm no matter what the challenges may be.”
This amazing teacher is involved in just about everything at her school – she is a team leader, she serves on the school’s numeracy committee, is a member of the school improvement team and she proved to be one of the leaders of the school’s transition to a new standards-based grading system and report card.
This teacher routinely says, “My students understand that it is okay to make mistakes, because that’s when learning happens.” Year after year, we have evidence that deep learning does happen for her students. While the state experienced an anticipated dip in student performance on the state assessment in the first year of PARCC implementation, students in her classroom and at her grade-level scored among the highest in the state – even in the first year of a new test.
Throughout her nomination packet, words and phrases such as: well-respected, welcomes different perspectives, eager and willing, considerate, beyond reproach, invaluable, and several others are used to describe this teacher and her ongoing contributions to her students and this district. Her principal writes, “I have been in education as a teacher or building administrator for over twenty years. It is not often that I can describe every aspect of a particular teacher’s skill set, personality, and pedagogy, as perfection. She is the teacher you want your own children to have.”
On a personal note, our recipient is someone who has quietly made me take notice every time I see her in action – she is someone who is admired by many, and my name can be added to the top of that list.
Please join me in congratulating Mrs. Laurie Gross, our 2016 EWG District Teacher of the Year.
This year, we also recognized outstanding members of our support team. Finalists included:

Ms. Eileen Dunford, Teacher Assistant at Lineham Preschool

Ms. Kathleen Hawley, Secretary at the Junior High School

Ms. Deb O'Brien, Secretary at the Senior High School

Congratulations to Julie Dionne, District Data Manager and Aspen Support Specialist, for being named the recipient of the 2016 Support Professional of the Year award. Here is what I read as the announcement was made public:
Our Council 94 Support Staff Member of the Year has served in various capacities in this district for 17 years. She received multiple nominations for this honor. No matter the challenge, this individual presents with a positive, can-do attitude. There are numerous examples of her ability to identify issues, offer creative soultions, implement efficiencies, and suggest improvements to current practices - without being asked.
Her work positively impacts everyone in the district, even though it is often behind the scenes. Her knowledge of Aspen and her ability to think outside of the box make her a tremendous problem solver and a remarkably creative thinker.
She was instrumental in the design and creation of the new report card templates at all schools. She worked with the Rhode Island Department of Education to help resolve course coding conflicts at the high school - correcting RIDE's data that erroneously had students coded as non-participants in the state assessment program. She ensures that all state reports are accurate and current, locates inconsistencies, and makes corrections. Know that these reports include personnel assignment data, course scheduling at the elementary schools, and a variety of other data that result in smooth operation of the internal systems that we all use on a daily basis.
She consistently supports and trains other employees in the use of Aspen - from the school nurse teachers who have transitioned to electronic records to the new clerks who are learning elements of our student information system that they have not regularly used before.
Her reputation state-wide is stellar, and she is often sought after for technical advice and guidance. I recognize daily how lucky we are to have such a highly competent and dedicated employee in one of our most technical and critical positions.
Our C-94 Support Professional of the Year is Julie Dionne.

 Welcome New Employees!
Steven Bailey – Director of Maintenance, Grounds and Facilities
Jeremy Taylor – Director of Instructional and Information Technologies
Nicole Buckless - ELA Teacher (SHS)
Rebecca Fasula – Kindergarten Teacher (Wawaloam)
Christine Gardner – Occupational Therapist (District)
Marie-France Nothnagle –French Teacher (SHS)
Sheri O’Neill – Long Term Library-Technology Substitute (Metcalf)
Alicia Skaggs- Long Term Art Substitute (Metcalf)
David Wilson– JHS Math
Support Staff:
Alicia Cranston - Recess Aide (Wawaloam)
Ann Marie Gizzarelli – Teacher Assistant (Metcalf)
Nancy Huey –Long Term Substitute Teacher Assistant (Metcalf)
Ben Murphy - Recess Aide (Wawaloam)
Beverly Reynolds - Custodian
Christina Rosato – Recess Aide (Metcalf)
Grace Savastano -Teacher Assistant (Metcalf)
Merrianne Serydynski – Recess Aide (Metcalf)
Finally, I would like to welcome all of our new families to the district. This is an amazing place and I am sure you will realize how fortunate all of our children are to be educated in some of the finest schools in the state.
Please look for my blogs, posted every 2-3 weeks throughout the school year. Principals also use this communication tool to report a wealth of information about their inidividual schools. Stay connected!

Friday, May 20, 2016

May 20, 2016

Superintendent's Blog

This week, Exeter-West Greenwich can be proud of two amazing recognitions. First, Junior High School Social Studies Teacher, Mr. Andrew Wallace, was recognized by the Commissioner of Education, Channel 10 News and Hasbro as the recipient of the Golden Apple Award for outstanding teachers. Mr. Wallace was completely surprised when members of the band, followed by administrators and his family paraded into his classroom with news cameras, Patrice Wood from Channel 10 and Commissioner of Education Dr. Ken Wagner for the official announcement.
The segment aired on Channel 10 last evening (5/19/16), and a link is provided below:

Student Dominic Vincent nominated Mr. Wallace, and he was sitting in class when the recognition was announced. Congratulations to Mr. Wallace for a VERY well-deserved honor!

Mr. Wallace and Dominic
 Mr. Erinakes, Principal Slattery and Mr. Wallace

Last evening, the Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School District's Visual Arts Department was recognized as the 2016 recipient of the "Gift of Art to the State of Rhode Island." The award recognizes our district for its commitment to the arts, and the incredible teachers that make the magic happen. Ms. Beaulieu, Mrs. LaFrenaye, Mrs. Ray, Ms. Pichette and Ms. Lind were recognized at the official ceremony, along with the artists who created the nine works that will be forever displayed at the URI Feinstein campus/Department of Education building in Providence.
Several of the artists and their families were present for the ceremony, and we should be so proud of all of them! All of the works of art, representing students from grade Kindergarten through 12, can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

 Mrs. Ray with her student artist, Ryan Lagasse
The Gift of Art Award presented to the district

Congratulations for being amazing!
Mr. Wallace, congratulations for being AWESOME!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 2, 2016

Superintendent's Blog

There are many impressive events to report in this blog, starting with an update on the status of the EWG Junior High School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Park. A message from Science teacher Beth Brocato is below:

We are very excited that the development of the EWG JH STEM Park is well underway. We have finished the initial stages of the project and the seats and tables are to be installed within the next month. It is now time to outfit our STEM Park and we can use your help.

If you have started organizing your own gardens and find that you have extra perennials, or are splitting larger
perennials such as hosta, daylilies (especially heirloom varieties), daffodil bulbs, bee balm, cone flowers (echinacea), native edible berry bushes, sumac and ferns, we would welcome any donations.

Please put plants in containers/bags and please include a label so we will know what type of plant it is.

We are also in need of the following:
· New and gently used garden tools: garden rakes and metal leaf rakes, shovels, bulb planters, trowels, spades,    work gloves (especially smaller sizes), stakes, tomato cages bamboo poles, snow shovels (for moving mulch), etc.

· Pallets in good condition that have not been treated with Methyl Bromide

· Home Depot/Job Lot gift cards

You are welcome to drop off donations at any time behind the JH, near the STEM Park.

You can get even more information about the EWG JH STEM PARK PROJECT on our

Recently, some EWG students took part in a student steel drum ensemble at the Rhody Center for World Music and Dance, located in Pawtucket, RI. These students are: Thomas Carroll (grade 7), Ben Gurnon (grade 9), and Chad Tower (grade 12). Mr. Charest was the assistant director of the ensemble.
The students learned how to play the steel drums (which are originally from Trinidad and Tobago), and how to also play in the "Engine Room" (the rhythm section of a steel band). Chad Tower and Ben Gurnon also performed in the Engine Room for the Adult Ensemble.

A very grateful thank you extends to Principal Mary Slattery, Assistant Principal James Alves, and Principal Melissa Marino for their tremendous presentations last week at the URI Education Program event for prospective teachers. EWG remains a strong supporter of URI and our state's future educators.

Last week, I had the opportunity to join Metcalf sixth graders at AMGEN to see them working closely with their science mentors as they prepared a final project for a community showing later this month. This is the first year that our school has partnered with AMGEN for this amazing opportunity. Our students have been very engaged in various experiments where they have worked with experts to see science in a real world context. Thank you to Mrs. Fish for her organization of this partnership and to the outstanding mentors who have worked so hard with our students. EWG looks forward to continuing (and expanding) this partnership next year!

Please join us for the very first Unified Theater production this Wednesday at the JSHS. The entire production is student-run.... writing, directing, acting, etc. This should be a very worthwhile event!

Please look for my next post in mid-May.


Friday, April 15, 2016

April 15, 2016

Superintendent's Blog
First, I would like to thank those who took the time to vote for the 2016-2017 School Department Budget. On Monday evening, we learned that the budget passed by an overwhelming majority as a result of the continued support of our member communities.
Stars of the Week:
Now this is an amazing accomplishment..... Sixth grade Metcalf student Madeline Green was selected as the winner of the local chapter of the Daughter's of the American Revolution annual essay contest for her essay titled A Colonial Family’s Reaction to the Stamp Act. Her essay was then named the state winner, and then the Northeast Division winner for the region covering the New England states and New York. Her essay was then entered into the national competition, and she found out this week that she has been named the sixth grade NATIONAL WINNER!!!! Madeline and her family will head to Washington D.C. in June for the award ceremony. I have read the essay and it is incredible. Congratulations to this gifted writer and her family.
The Exeter-West Greenwich High School Model Legislature Team recently participated in the annual Model Legislature session at the State House.  The students write bills and then present them to the other students from around the state who make up the Model House of Representatives and Model Senate and try to get them passed.  Here are a few pictures from the event and some information about the participants.  

Students in the group photo are from left to right: Paul DiPadua, Mitchell Ambrosino, Marcus Simonini, Noah Jussila, Jonny Glendinning, Nathan Santerre, and Sam Van Gyzen.  All the boys are seniors at EWG.  

Some of them had leadership positions for the state.  Marcus Simonini was the Liberal co-Whip, Noah Jussila was Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Nathan Santerre was Chair of the Labor Committee.  

Noah Jussila was awarded the J. Joseph Garrahy Book Award at the event.  He was also the author of one of the 8 bills which passed both the House and the Senate this session.  ("An Act to Establish Comprehensive Sexual Education") 
Congratulations to our team and thank you to the team's advisor, Mrs. Mary Hartley. Mrs. Hartley joined our Senior High School Social Studies/History department this year, and she has done an amazing job. We are thrilled to have her assume leadership of this important team after the retirement of long-time advisor Mrs. Oliviera.

For the second year, Governor Raimondo has sponsored a "Governor for the Day" essay contest, which allows students to describe what they would want to accomplish if they were in fact Governor for the day. This year, Metcalf student Rebecca Kilday was notified that among the 400+ entries, she was one of the few selected as a state finalist. Rebecca endured a lengthy interview with one of the Governor's staff members before the final selection was made. Congratulations to Rebecca and her family on this amazing recognition!

Finally, I would like to acknowledge our Assistant Principals as we close out on National Assistant Principal Appreciation Week. Mrs. Fish, Mr. Anthony and Mr. Alves do a lot behind the scenes to ensure that our students are learning in a safe and engaging environment. Take a moment to say thank you!!

Enjoy your vacation week! It is hard to believe that when we return on April 25th, we will be entering the homestretch of another successful school year.