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!