Welcome Back from Superintendent Forget

Good Afternoon,

The summer is winding down, and our attention turns to welcoming back students for another school year. I am looking forward to seeing the halls and classrooms bustling with students and teachers, abuzz with excitement and energy as old friends reconnect, and new friendships are formed. I hope your summer was good and relaxing, and that everyone is ready for a return to the fall routines.

As is true in any summer, transitions were made, as some faculty and staff retired or moved on and new educators have been hired in their place. I am truly appreciative to those that have served Triton students in the past, whether for a short period of time, or those that dedicated their entire career spanning decades to the betterment of our children. Detailed information will be coming out about new hires through your child(ren)’s school(s), but I am confident you will find that our newest recruits will show the same passion and dedication to your children that you’ve come to expect from Triton educators.

As I begin my first year as Superintendent, I wanted to express how thrilled I am to have been given the opportunity to serve your children in this new role. I am excited about the challenges and opportunities this coming year will present, and look forward to working to ensure that our students have the greatest opportunities for success in academics, artistic performance, and in athletic competition. Your children deserve our very best, and it is my commitment to ensure that is what they receive.

The final details are coming into place, as schedules and class lists have been shared, and bus routes have been posted online. The school year calendar was approved last spring, and I the final version can be found here.  Students return on Tuesday, September 6th, with preschool programs starting the following week.

If there is ever a question I can answer, my door is always open. I look forward to the 2016/2017 school year, and wish you a wonderful final full week of summer next week.

Respectfully,

Brian

Teacher Assignments: Wednesday, August 17th

A reminder to parents: Teacher assignments will be released on Wednesday, August 17th. In order to find your child(ren)’s teacher for the 2016-17 school year, please log on to ASPEN using the following link: https://ma-triton.myfollett.com/aspen/logon.do.

Usernames typically follow the format “fam-FirstInitialLastname.” (example: fam-jsmith for Jane Smith) and are usually under the mother’s name.  If you need assistance, please enter a HelpDesk ticket via email or visit https://www.tritonschools.org/students-parents/aspen-help/ for additional information.

PLEASE NOTE: all elementary parents will be getting an email tomorrow (8/17) with their child’s placement. ASPEN login will not be necessary.

SES Principal, Jim Montanari, Takes On the “Shadow A Student Challenge”

This week, February 29th – March 4th, marks the “Shadow A Student Challenge,” which encourages principals to spend a full day following a student through his or her entire routine – from drop-off to pick-up and everything in between.   The initiative is promoted as a “one-day crash course in empathy,” but really it allows those in charge to slow down and really focus on what is happening at a student-level. Are they being hurried through lessons? Is there too much down-time? Not enough time for lunch? Too little time for developing social skills?  In fact, many principals have been surprised at what has been revealed to them upon shifting their mindset from that of a leader to that of a student.

Salisbury Elementary Principal, Jim Montanari, has committed to the challenge and followed 3rd grader, Jacob Scagel all-day yesterday. His reason for participating?

“Throughout the years, I tell parents that my vision for students moving on from SES after grade 6 is to be able to read well, think mathematically and practice empathy. Empathy experiences (such as the Shadow A Student Challenge) are important because they help us look beyond our assumptions by putting ourselves in the shoes of others.”

Jim’s actions are not only a lesson in leading by example, but now he also has a better understanding of what “life as an SES student” is like which may lead to changes that will benefit the entire student body.

SES Students Take Part in Heart-to-Heart Project

Like many children across the country, Salisbury Elementary School students prepared Valentines in art class earlier this month, however their recipients were far from typical.  Instead of creating sweet notes for mom or dad, a best friend, or favorite teacher, these students made cards for injured veterans recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC.  It was all part of the 4th annual Heart-to-Heart campaign organized by Rosemary Werner.

Last month, Werner approached Salisbury Elementary Principal, Jim Montanari to see if his students would be willing to participate. The program jived with Salisbury’s mission to “give thanks, demonstrate empathy and give back,” so Montanari brought the idea to the Student Council. Enthusiastically received, the 24 members of the student council then personally visited every classroom within a week to explain the idea and drum up interest. Over the following weeks, art teacher Shannon O’Brien worked with the kids to create their Valentines to include hand-drawn pictures, caring notes and words of encouragement.

Principal Montanari was also invited to attend the Valentine Screening which took place at Amesbury Chevrolet last week. There he joined over 30 other volunteers from the community, including members of the Salisbury Police Department, Amesbury Fire Department and Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, to scan the Valentines, box them up and get them ready to send out.  Ultimately, over 5,000 cards from area schools and businesses are making their way to recovering veterans to add an extra dose of love and caring on Valentine’s Day.

Montanari noted that people are generally very good at remembering our veterans on big holidays – Christmas, 4th of July, Veteran’s Day, etc – but Valentine’s Day is one of those smaller holidays that tend to slip through the cracks. “It was an important lesson for our students,” said Montanari. “Not only were they able to make a connection with the greater community, but they also showed respect for the people who have sacrificed for us.  It is a project that I hope will become an anticipated tradition at SES.”

Can YOU do the Cube? SES to host Rubik’s Cube Competition

On March 10th, Salisbury Elementary School will be holding a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Rubik’s Cube Competition for elementary through high school students.

What does the ‘80’s fad toy, the Rubik’s Cube, have to do with learning math? Apparently, quite a bit. According to the program, “You CAN do the Rubik’s Cube,” when students hold and manipulate the Rubik’s Cube, they are actually learning important math concepts such as area, perimeter, volume, angles, algorithm and enumeration, among many other geometry and algebraic topics.  Salisbury Elementary Math Specialist, Kathy Comins, learned about the You CAN do the Cube challenge during a National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference that she attended a couple of years ago. Since that time she’s been bringing the lessons of the cube into several math classes at SES and finding it generates quite a bit of excitement among both the teachers and students.  Kathy quips, “Maybe due to the weather last winter and the need for something different to engage the students – not sure what it was – but there was a buzz amongst 5th and 6th graders about solving the cube.” Many students took on the challenge head on, becoming really good and quite fast at solving the cube.  Others were happy to just solve it once.  When word of a competition taking place in Concord, MA spread last year, some students even tried to get a team together to compete, but were unable to make the trip.

Seeing the interest that the cube and competition has generated in the school, Kathy inquired about hosting a You CAN Do The Cube competition at SES. Ten teams have registered for the March 10th event, which is now closed: 6 elementary (k-5), 2 Middle School (6-8), and 2 High School.  Teams consist of 8 students max, plus a coach, with the goal to collectively solve 25 Rubik’s Cubes as fast as possible. Teams have registered from as far away as Harvard, Hopkinton, Lynn and Westford, MA.  “We’re really excited and hope it’s a fun event for all,” said Kathy.  For more information on the competition, as well as instructions for solving the cube yourself, please visit http://www.youcandothecube.com/

Triton Studens Make Strong Showing on PARCC Test

In the spring, the PARCC tests were administered to students in the Triton elementary and middle school.  The district had decided to administer the PARCC rather than the MCAS tests because the former are aligned with state standards for English Language Arts and Math, whereas the MCAS tests are not. Further even if the PARCC tests are not adopted in their entirety it is clear that they represent the direction in which the state is moving.  Given that the PARCC tests are designed to be more rigorous than the MCAS tests, this year’s results were anticipated with some trepidation.

In practice, the Triton students made a very strong showing. Across the district as a whole the results in English Language Arts for Grades 3 through 6 were better than the previous year’s MCAS scores.  In Grade 7 they matched the 2014 MCAS scores, and were a little below in Grade 8.

The general view has been that Math would provide the greater challenge. Here, Triton results were lower than the prior year’s MCAS scores, but were nevertheless better than the state average.

The improvement in student achievement was also reflected in student growth indicators.

Commenting on the results Superintendent Christopher Farmer said, “What students and their teachers have achieved is enormously encouraging. Notwithstanding the fact that we try not to teach to the test, the students have shown their mettle when challenged by more rigorous assessments than the MCAS. Whatever the state puts in place in the form of MCAS 2.0 we have shown that we are on the right track.”

The state has mandated that Triton students will take the PARCC tests again next year while it develops an updated version of MCAS. High school students will continue to take the MCAS tests this year as they are a graduation requirement.

Grades 1 -12 District Engineering/Technology and Computer Programming

Triton Regional School District will be offering a comprehensive Engineering/Technology and Computer Programming curriculum in Grades 1 -12 beginning this school year.

The comprehensive program will be implemented by the Technology specialists of the five schools where they will facilitate the learning and exploration of Engineering concepts using the Engineering is Elementary curriculum units (EIE) offered by the Museum of Science in Grades 1 – 8. Students in Grades 3- 5 will also begin learning how to program using Scratch 2.0 computer software and Microsoft EXCEL and students in Grades 6 – 8 will program using Alice 4.0 computer software and Microsoft EXCEL. This new program, which aligns with the new Massachusetts state 21st Century STEM standards, will enhance students’ ability to think logically and methodically as they sequence through learning how to code. This will in turn afford students with fundamental skills in problem solving as they matriculate through school. Increasing one’s ability to think logically is a skill that will prepare our students for college and careers. On a global scale, there will be 1.4 million computer programming jobs available by 2020. By offering Engineering and Computer Programming in our district we provide our students with greater options when applying to college and seeking employment in the job market. In a world where the current job market is flooded with Computer Programming positions, Triton students will leave their footprint leading the charge in Computer Science and Engineering domain.

The middle and high school will continue its efforts offering a wide array of Engineering/Technology and computer programming classes in Grades 7 – 12. Engineering classes include Engineering Technology 1, 2 and 3, web design, 3D design software programs and a computer science program, which includes BASIC/Visual BASIC, C++ Programming and Robotics and AP Computer Science.

We have put Triton on the 21st Century STEM map and are providing our students with college and career readiness in Engineering/Technology and Computer Programming.

Salisbury Elementary Receives Grant for New Breakfast Program

Did you know that school breakfast has been linked to better academic performance, improved attendance and better nutrition?  Unfortunately, many of the students at Salisbury Elementary weren’t taking advantage of the school’s breakfast offering. In an effort to increase student access to a nutrient-rich breakfast, the school applied for and was awarded a $3,220 grant from The New England Dairy & Food Council to support a new Fuel Up to Play 60 Grab-n-Go Breakfast program. The funds from the grant were used to purchase a new cart for the main lobby from which students can quickly take their breakfast and bring to their classrooms to enjoy.

The school community at Salisbury Elementary School- including Director of Food & Nutrition Services Lucinda Ward, School Principal James Montanari and PTA President Jennifer Roketenetz saw a need to increase student access to breakfast. “We know that students who eat school breakfast perform better in class, are more focused and are less likely to be absent, so we needed to find a way to make our breakfast program more accessible,” said Principal James Montanari.

This convenient new breakfast program will help ensure that all Salisbury Elementary students start the day ready to learn. “Breakfast is such an important meal and school breakfast includes whole grains, fruit, low-fat dairy foods that parents can feel good about and students love!” said Lucinda Ward, RD, SNS, “We are very excited that more students will take advantage of this program.”

The program kicked off this morning with the presentation of the check from the New England Dairy & Food Council.

 

 

Triton School District Completes School-Wide Website Updates

True to the district’s commitment to technology and functionality upgrades, the final stages of website redesigns have been accomplished with the completion of the Middle School and three Elementary school websites.  These websites join the already updated District, High School and Athletic sites.  Not only do the websites now all share a cohesive look and feel, but the information within has also been organized in such a way as to make it as user-friendly and easy to navigate as possible.  Additionally, each site employs custom features and menus to cater to the specific needs of each of the website’s users. The websites are built with mobile functionality to adjust for parents and students on the go who may be using smartphones and tablets, as well as calendars that can be subscribed to in order to follow important events. The websites are fully developed, but will continue to be a work in progress as they continue to build out the available content.

With the vast number of browsers and operating systems, each one responds differently to changes. As such, you may have to use the ‘refresh’ or ‘reload’ button on your browser for the new site to show accurately. Further, there may be a need to empty the browser cache to remove all history of the old site.

In conjunction with the completion of the websites, the district has updated its website address (URL). You will notice that www.trsd.net will automatically redirect to www.tritonschools.org.  Additionally, the email addresses of all teachers and staff have been updated to [email protected].  Please note that the old website address and all email addresses will continue to work indefinitely. Messages sent to the old addresses will continue to forward to the correct people, and replies will now come from the new address.

Direct Websites:

 

School Committee Votes to Reinstate Late Buses

On Wednesday evening, the School Committee voted unanimously to reinstate late buses with funds made available in the final FY2016 State Budget. This restored funding does not allow for the district to restore late buses every day, but late buses will be running at the Middle/High School campus Monday through Thursday, and 2 to 3 days per week at each elementary school. Information about which days the buses will be running at the elementary level will be communicated further, as it is dependent on the days in which after school programs are running. Late bus routes will begin the week of September 21st and will run throughout the year until the end of May, except for the week before the winter holiday break.

These late routes are established in an attempt to provide the greatest coverage of stops across the towns as allowed by timing and distance, while still remaining consistent and predictable on a daily basis. With only two buses running per school/town, stops are much less frequent as compared to the regular day morning and afternoon runs. This is how the routes have been set in recent years, and this will remain unchanged.

The detail routes and stops for the late runs are posted on our website at www.tritonschools.org/transportation/#tab-id-5.