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.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Week that Was: Master Plan, Curriculum, CBL, Inauguration, Holidays, Pigskin

The Melrose Master Plan Committee met on the morning of Thursday, 12/3 to begin review of the plan’s draft outline and discuss the next community engagement step. As noted by our City Planning Office, the “Master Plan is a document that reflects residents’ long-term vision for the community in the next 10 to 15 years. The Plan first takes a snapshot of the community today, covering the following topics: population, housing, economic development, transportation, energy, land use and zoning, open space and recreation, public facilities and services, and historic and cultural resources. This information on current conditions and trends is combined with input from the public to develop action steps on how to achieve that long-term vision. Once finalized, Melrose Forward: A Community Vision and Master Plan will be consulted in all future decisions on growth and preservation in the city until the next master plan update. Why are we updating the Master Plan? Think of it as drawing a roadmap to our future quality of life. A lot has changed in Melrose since the City’s last master plan in 2004, and things will continue to change. Clearly stating our values and aspirations as a community in an official policy document will give us more control over what happens here over the next decade…We need broad community input to make sure the plan is well-informed and reasonably represents the many voices of Melrose. If you have something to say about the city’s future, we want to hear it! During this process, we will be asking for community input online and at community events and public forums. There is a Facebook page you can “like” (http://www.facebook.com/melroseforward/) as well as a Twitter account you can follow (http://www.twitter.com/melroseforward/) to stay informed about project meetings and other ways to provide input. We will occasionally provide updates via the Mayor’s Blog as well. We kicked off this project at the Melrose Victorian Fair in September and will attend additional community events when possible to gather ideas. Please save the date for a public forum during the evening of Wednesday, February 10, 2016 to help identify goals and strategies for Melrose Forward. To sign up for the Melrose Forward mailing list or for any questions about the Master Plan, email Erin Zwirko, Assistant Planning Director in the Office of Planning and Community Development, at ezwirko@cityofmelrose.org or call her at (781) 979-4193."

Thursday afternoon, the Curriculum Materials Working Group held its monthly meeting, focusing on how STEM areas are employing elements of cultural awareness in their content. Science, Business, and Technology Department Chair Jon Morris spoke to the fact that staff is very cognizant of the fact that women are vastly underrepresented in the science fields, and are encouraging young women’s interest in this area. He also talked about linking engineering and social studies as one example of cross-curricular work they are doing, for example, incorporating a project on the impact of tool-making during WWII and afterwards. (Most factory workers were women during WWII, but when the men returned from war, the tools used were generally too small for mens’ hands, making re-tooling an important component of post-war activity.) Mathematics Department Chair Christina Cardella revealed that staff was looking thoughtfully at pairing math and social justice, e.g. in the content area of percentages, determine growth in rates of homeless people, people living in poverty, incarcerated people, etc. We also talked about curriculum guides and how they could be used in the district.

Thursday evening, Supt. Taymore held a public forum on Competency Based Learning, providing a slide presentation (http://tinyurl.com/j2hm7x2), and addressing questions from the audience. Most principals were in attendance. She noted that the School Committee would make a decision on 12/8 to recommend (or not) a task force to explore this educational model for Melrose. 

Friday, 12/4 included a meeting of the Inauguration Committee, headed by Memorial Hall Director Kathy Piggott-Brodeur. The celebration will be similar in format to prior years, with thoughtful non-denominational reflections, music, brief speeches, the swearing-in of newly elected (and re-elected) officials, and the Mayor’s State of the City Address. The date is January 11th at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall, and all are welcome.

Saturday’s (12/5) Home for the Holidays afforded me the great privilege of partnering with Ward 5 Alderman Gail Infurna for our annual hosting of a Home for the Holidays trolley. We spent two hours with families, school-aged children, and general revelers as the trolley stopped at various locations offering activities and special events, and Gail’s trumpeting of holiday carols engendered lots of singing and merriment. A school surprise: Lincoln Principal Allison Donovan duct taped to a wall as a fundraiser for environmental camp - now that's dedication to students! 

Saturday night was such a proud moment for our city, when the Red Raider football team put up a valiant effort against the Dartmouth Indians as the sun set over Gillette stadium. The band, color guard, and cheerleaders were just as impressive, and the community spirit in the stands was second to none. Melrose High School was the district’s shining star for the night, showcasing student effort, enthusiasm, and sportsmanship.