Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

City Wide PTO - May 13th

Many thoughtful topics on today’s agenda:

·      *   Summer Reading and Homework: Supt. Taymore indicated that summer work provides an opportunity for students to keep their skills as current as possible, reducing learning loss that takes time to overcome when the next school year starts. Tonight’s School Committee meeting will feature a brief review of the expectations and communication around summer responsibilities for students at all grade levels, and the accompanying document is in the packets so you can get a preview.

·      *   Update from the PTO/Merchant Meeting: A closer partnership is forming between the PTO communities and the Chamber, thanks to some involved parents and Chamber Director Joan Ford Mongeau. Both groups are working to understand how they can better support student learning (as PTO’s have evolved from mostly entertainment committees to organizations that supply critical school needs) without overburdening our generous businesses.

·     *   Cultural Proficiency: Melrose is a changing place, with growing cultural and socio-economic diversity. How do we see our city and how do we ensure that we are welcoming and accepting of people who are both similar to and different from us? Conversations are taking place within the Melrose Human Rights Commission to consider how to support tolerance and appreciation for all. The school district is one small piece of that conversation and is listening carefully to learn how we can all contribute.

·      *  Who decides on courses to be offered at MHS?: Supt. Taymore provided clarification around responsibilities for determining MHS teaching and learning. Asst. Supt. of Curriculum and Instruction Margaret Adams guides the development of curriculum (including assessments, etc.), reviews curriculum materials, and develops and provides professional development (teacher training), while MHS Principal Farrell and her team (including the Assistant Principals and Department Chairs in collaboration with teachers) consider what it takes to provide a robust and rigorous education for students. The MHS team researches and recommends programs and courses that challenge students while meeting Common Core graduation requirements that are ultimately approved by the School Committee by way of the Program of Studies.

·     *   Communication: Always a challenge! How do parents receive information from schools in a timely and accurate manner? Supt. Taymore still wants to convene a Communication Plan Working Group but it’s a challenge as there are so many committees working on a wide variety of education projects. She will think more about how/when this group can form and consider how to get information out in a timely and effective way.