Monday, October 2, 2017

Early Release Day - Thursday, October 5th

  On this day, all teachers will attend a presentation by Jessica Minahan, author of the "Behavior Code."

Jessica Minahan is a licensed and board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), author, special educator, and consultant to schools internationally.  Since 2000 she has worked with students who struggle with mental health issues and challenging behavior in public school systems.  She specializes in training staff and creating behavior intervention plans for students who demonstrate explosive and unsafe behavior. She also works with students who have emotional and behavioral disabilities, anxiety disorders, or high-functioning Autism. Her particular interest is to serve these students by combining behavioral interventions with a comprehensive knowledge of best practices for those with complex mental health profiles and learning needs.
She a blogger on The Huffington Post, the author of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, with Nancy Rappaport (Harvard Education Press, 2012), and author of The Behavior Code Companion: Strategies, Tools, and Interventions for Supporting Students with Anxiety-Related or Oppositional Behaviors (Harvard Education Press, 2014).
She holds a BS in Intensive Special Education from Boston University and a dual master’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Wheelock College. She has a certificate of graduate study (CGS) in teaching children with Autism from the University of Albany and received her BCBA training from Northeastern University in Boston. She is sought-after internationally to speak on subjects ranging from effective interventions for students with anxiety to supporting hard-to-reach students in full-inclusion public school settings.

This bio is taken directly from Jessica's website:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 2017

Dear Swampscott Families,

On behalf of the Swampscott Public Schools I would like to welcome you to the 2017-2018 school year.   A special welcome to those students and families who are joining us for the first time.  The beginning of school is rapidly approaching and there is much to do as both you and the district are preparing for the the opening of school.

The first day of school for students in Pre-K and grades 1-12 will be on Tuesday, August 29th.  Individual screenings will take place by appointment for our incoming Kindergarten students from Tuesday, August 29th through Thursday, August 31st.  There is NO SCHOOL on Friday, September 1st and Monday, September 4th in honor of the Labor Day holiday.  First day for Kindergarten students is on Tuesday, September 5th.  The school year calendar can be printed from on our NEW website along with a year long calendar of events that is easily accessible for each of the schools. The calendar feature also allows filtering for those of you with students in more than one school: Calendar Link to SPS Website

Shortly after school begins, Curriculum Nights will be held at each of the schools for parents and guardians to meet teachers and learn about the curriculum expectations.  Please mark your calendar as the dates and times of these events are as follows:

Clarke Elementary                              Thursday, September 7th - 6:30pm
Hadley Elementary                             Wednesday, September 6th - 6:00pm
Stanley Elementary                             Tuesday, September 5th - 6:00pm
Middle School (Grades 5 & 6)            Tuesday, September 12th - 6:00pm
Middle School (Grades 7 & 8)            Thursday, September 14th - 6:00pm
Swampscott High School                    Tuesday, September 19th - 6:00pm

This school year, there will be a continued focus on our district priority of Psychological Safety. We will be implementing a middle school version of the highly successful Swift and Harbor Programs that were put into action at Swampscott High School last year.  

In addition, we will build upon the work we began last year in the following curriculum areas: 

Science/STEM (K-12) - We have expanded the middle school STEM classroom with 25 new computers that will run engineering design software, we have added a Science teacher at the high school in order to pair more students with the science classes they seek, and this year we will be working to build a cohesive 5-12 STEM program that is aligned to the 2016 MA Curriculum Framework for Science, Technology/Engineering with the goal of offering coding at the high school level by the 2018-2019 school year. 

Mathematics (7-12) - We have purchased Pre-Calculus textbooks at the high school level, and this year we will be delving deeper into the conversations that began last year around Algebra I classes at both the middle school and high school levels from the placement process to number of levels at the high school. 

Technology/Google (K-12) - The technology department has been busy rolling out 400 new technology devices including devices for the Leadership Team, Teachers, and students and this is just the beginning.  We continue to work on the roll-out of our new website and have planned professional development workshops in Google.  We are also proud to announce that we FINALLY have GUEST wi-fi access at the high school. Just bring your device and sign in as a guest!

I have only scratched the surface of all the great things happening in our district.  July and August are very busy months when countless facility and maintenance projects are underway as we anticipate the arrival of the students and faculty.  Each school year brings a renewed enthusiasm and excitement to our work and each September I am reminded of what a privilege it is to serve this community and an honor to be your Superintendent.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

~ Celebrating 205 Years of Dedication to our Children ~

At the School Committee meeting on Wednesday evening, June 14th, we honored some of our 2017 Retirees.  Their dedication and passion for our students is unsurpassed.  It was an honor to work alongside them for the past 27 years. Please take a moment to read below and celebrate these gifted educators.  We wish them all the best in their future endeavors!  

Anita Ballirio – (24 yrs) Anita is a long time artist and resident of the town.  Her three children graduated from Swampscott High School, and 3 of her grandchildren will be at Hadley School next year.  She is an advocate for the arts in every facet of community life.  Anita has presented repeatedly at various public forums working to build respect for the history of Swampscott as an arts hub, specifically through the beach painter’s narrative.  She started her career in Swampscott at the Machon Elementary School, teaching with a passion for free expression and a belief that all students have the capacity to make important beautiful things.  At the high school level Anita worked diligently to mentor students through the portfolio process and acceptance into art schools and art programs in higher education.  Her belief is that the arts should be at the center of learning and school culture; at times she has been the singular voice for the arts, raising the torch for the arts under various leadership models and cultures.  Her work in service learning has been unparalleled inspiring many generations of students to see the impact they can have in the world in which we live locally and globally.  Anita has been honored by the rotary club for her work with the Interact Club and was teacher of the year in 2014.  Anita traveled to Burkina Faso to experience firsthand the impact of local student activism.  Her generosity of spirit, boundless energy, selflessness and unwavering steadfast commitment to the young artists of our community have shaped the district and town immeasurably.

Glenn Kane – (23 yrs) NOT IN PHOTO Glenn’s work in our school system represents the very definition of service. He has worked for the Swampscott Public Schools for twenty three years, as a middle school teacher both in History as well as TV Production. In addition to his decades of classroom teaching, Glenn has dedicated vast amounts of his time and energy as the lead producer on well over thirty plays and musicals throughout his time with us, a feat that is in and of itself worthy of high recognition. Because of his talent and dedication as an educator in the performing arts, many of his students have gone on to lead successful careers themselves in the areas of stage, TV, and film production and performance. Always willing to sacrifice for the greater good of our school community, Glenn’s attitude and effort during his time with our school system are extremely appreciated by all. 

Sami Lawler – (21 yrs) Sami has taught for 21 years in Swampscott and most recently in fourth grade at Stanley.  Sami is incredibly kind and understanding, always seeking first to understand others and frequently reassuring and praising them.  She does this with her students too and the result is a classroom that is very safe and accepting.  A lover of poetry, geography, literature and social sciences, Mrs. Lawler's interests are wide ranging and she models her passion for study and learning for her students.  Sami works hard to challenge students to meet high standards and they don't disappoint.  Mrs. Lawler is deeply committed to the Stanley School Family and the Swampscott Public Schools and the Swampscott community, integrating her networking of the Tin Box Poets and the Senior Center into her teaching and community outreach with students.  Sami is hard to say no to and she gets others around her to take action in the interest of children and the broader community.  She has been the coordinator of UNICEF and other community service projects such as this year's project to bring school supplies to students overseas.  Parents so appreciate Sami's dedication, deep knowledge of and sincere delight in their children.  Our school community will miss Sami Lawler's knowledge and expertise but even more importantly her sincere love of the Stanley Family. 

Ann McFarlane –(23 yrs) Ann has been with Swampscott Public Schools for the past 23 years and has proudly spent all of those years at Clarke School.  She started out as a teacher's aide, then taught Kindergarten and finally settled into 1st grade.  She has volunteered for many committees over the years, especially curriculum development work.  She has also served as a building union representative. Ann is an amazing educator with a natural ability for teaching young children.  She is a role model teacher at the Clarke School. We will miss Ann’s fun sense of humor and upbeat personality. As far as retirement goes, she has no plans of relaxing and slowing down as she will be getting married and moving!!

Laurie O’Brien – (18 yrs) Laurie has worked in various health care settings during the 41 years she’s been an RN.    The past 18 years have been as a school nurse at Clarke Elementary.   In 1999 there were two nurses for 4 elementary schools and Laurie split her time between Clarke and Machon Schools.   After a couple of years the increasing medical complexity of the student population prompted the district to place a full time nurse in every school.  For Laurie, certain events stand out like September 11, 2001, and the uncertain days that followed. Her principal Carolyn Murphy asked her to develop a crisis response manual which is still being used today.  Laurie was the lead nurse for six years, during which time she developed the Public Access Defibrillator Program, coordinated training and helped teach CPR to staff, coordinated with Public Health authorities during the 2009 H1N1 Flu Pandemic.  Laurie is committed to the health and safety of her patients.  She loved being able to teach lessons on food allergies, nutrition, hand washing and even puberty.  She promotes wellness for staff including cancer awareness and heart health.   Laurie says she has enjoyed working with three principals and numerous dedicated educators who will always be part of her “Clarke Family.” In retirement she hopes to spend time with her elderly parents, travel, and do all the fun things she hasn’t had time to do. 

Karen Quinlan-Bach – (24 yrs) Karen has been employed by Swampscott Public Schools for 24 years as a speech/language pathologist.  She has worked at Machon, Hadley and most recently at Clarke School.  She has led professional development trainings in Autism, Differentiated Learning, and Stress Management.  She has also been a building union representative and an officer of the Union.  She is also a fabulous baker and her treats will be truly missed! In her retirement Karen hopes to do some traveling and volunteer work.  She is on a board called Friends of Hawthorne at Hogan Regional Center so she will continue to be involved in fundraising and planning events for intellectually challenged individuals. 

Robert Trant – (29 yrs) Dr. Robert Trant has been a school psychologist for the Swampscott Public Schools since September 1, 1988. He has lead the school psychology team in Swampscott and has been a valuable member of the school district and student services. His knowledge and experience have been a resource for the district that is not replaceable.  He has been a recipient of the Massachusetts School Psychology Association School Psychologist of the Year award and has demonstrated great determination and courage when faced with challenges that has been inspiring to those around him. He not only has left his mark on the lives of Swampscott students but has been a professor at Tufts University including supervising interns that have become members of the Swampscott team. Under his guidance, they are able to follow in his footsteps and lead the district forward allowing his legacy to continue. We will miss Bob and thank him for the immeasurable contributions he has made to the students, families, faculty and administration of the Swampscott Public Schools.

Jo Uminski – NOT IN PHOTO (16 yrs) Jo began her career as a special educator in the Swampscott Public Schools in 2001, but her combined years in education across multiple districts total a remarkable forty one years. When Jo started, MCAS did not exist, and IEP’s were handwritten; these are just two examples which exemplify the depth of her career, as well as her willingness to continually adapt on behalf of the hundreds of students she has served throughout her academic tenure. While so much has changed in education along her professional path, her tireless dedication to helping students of all different shapes and sizes has not wavered. Jo’s work has required decades of immense patience, compassion, insight, and sometimes, pure grit, all of which she has demonstrated with diligence and grace as a vital member of our teaching community. We wish Jo the very best of luck as she retires from our system and embarks on the next important phase of her life.

Barbara Waitt – (27 yrs) Barbara is kind, calm, understanding and sincere.  She listens actively and remembers details about people because she really cares.  She takes time to really get to know the people who work with her. Her excellent relationships form the basis for effective collaboration with colleagues in the service of students.  She is skillful at analyzing data and working with colleagues to improve instruction based on it.  Her lessons for guided reading are careful and thoroughly planned.  Barbara collaborates well and closely with interventionists and special educators in service of children.  She has had some challenging students over the years and she forms great relationships with them, establishes effective behavior plans and they emerge at year end having had a very successful year.  Barbara took on the challenge of learning about and implementing balanced literacy three years ago.  She made the shift from a basal with great enthusiasm and her students can now be found totally engaged with a high interest book at their just right level. Parents appreciate Barbara’s detailed, specific, thoughtful and kind responses to their questions and concerns. At all times she is extremely sensitive, respectful and thoughtful in her interactions with families so they can really hear both the good and the not-so-good news about their children. Stanley school teachers, staff, parents and children will dearly miss Barbara’s instructional skill and sensitivity.