September 2, 2019
Dear Weston Families,
Welcome back to the 2019-2020 school year. I do hope families were able to spend time with friends and loved ones over the summer to create new and lasting memories. I spent much of last week in the buildings with administrators and teachers, and we are very excited about the school year ahead.
When faculty returned last Wednesday, I shared our primary focus for the year: take care of ourselves, take care of others, and take care of our community. With this motto in mind, we will continue the work that we began in earnest last year on promoting social emotional learning for all students in all schools and all grade levels. Developing social emotional core competencies, such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, helps all of our students fully engage and achieve in all of the academic, artistic and athletic opportunities the Weston Public Schools offers. In addition, social emotional learning equips students with skills and habits of mind that will allow them to take chances, work collaboratively, and build resiliency as they grow and mature. While this work will take time, we are committed to and invested in assisting all children to grow in their own capacities.
Improving student safety remains an ever-present goal, and much work was done over the summer to continue in this direction. We will persist in this work throughout the school year. New cameras and buzzers were placed at Country and Woodland Schools. We were able to install shatter proof glass film in critical areas in all of the schools. Our district-wide Safety Team has prepared safety “Go Bags” for each school in case there is a need for an evacuation. Later this September, we will begin piloting cameras on buses. The cameras will help maintain safety for students and allow our drivers to remain focused on the road. There are other improvements and updates that we will not be publicly sharing so as to not compromise the safety of our students, families, faculty, and staff.
This past summer, 77 faculty professional development workshops took place with over 210 participants. Eighty percent of our K-8 teachers participated in Responsive Classroom training, and it is our goal to have the remaining teachers complete the training early this fall. This summer we began to onboard the Lucy Calkins reading program at the elementary level, particularly in Kindergarten and 1st Grade, which will complement well with our relatively new phonics program (Fundations), and Lucy Calkins writing program. This summer curriculum and instructional work was done in almost all content areas at all levels. In workshops, teachers collaborated to align curriculum across grade levels, focused on authentic instructional and assessment practices, and learned methods of differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all learners. It was a great summer of professional development, and I am grateful for the significant work and commitment that faculty have made to embrace these changes that will positively impact your child’s experiences.
In the beginning of every school year, it takes a couple of weeks for us to figure out the bus patterns and timing. I would ask for your patience as we work with our Transportation Coordinator, Bob Wells, and our bus drivers as we work through transportation logistics at the beginning of the year. To complicate all of this, there is a lot of street construction happening in town that will impact the bus routes. We are working with the Weston Police and Facilities Departments to be sure we have the most up-to-date traffic patterns and road closings. We will continue to keep you as informed as possible.
I want to thank the custodial staff; they have done an incredible job getting all of the buildings ready. The classrooms and common areas all look amazing and ready for everyone’s arrival. The grounds were also well taken care of this summer as you will be able to see when you return.
As the new school year cycle begins anew, I want to let you know that I am thankful for all you do on behalf of the students of Weston. Remember, take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and take care of our community. This most critical work, educating and caring for the children and young adults of Weston, takes all of us working together. I am appreciative of your support and continued commitment to our schools and all of the children of Weston.
Dr. Midge Connolly