Saturday, June 4, 2016

Weekly Roundup (6/3/16)

Weekly Roundup

We do not have many weeks left of school. I look forward to closing out the year strong.  Go GD!

Dunstable Visioning

As many of you know, this past winter, we engaged in a one and half day visioning event for the Groton-Dunstable Regional School district with over 80 community participants.  During this event, we reviewed our history as a district and set the direction for what we value as a school community. As a product, we began the articulation of our district's vision and core values.  It is equally important for this work to occur in the towns.  The central question lays in what the town values in their community.  Please review this flyer which was shared by Stephanie Cronin (school committee member).  She sent this along with the following message, "I believe it is critical to have parents (and all residents) at this visioning session. The feedback from the visioning session will determine Dunstable's future. This SWOT session will help the Master Planning Committee understand what residents value."

Sustainability Committee

At an April 27th Budget and Finance Subcommittee meeting, the school committee agreed to develop a sustainability committee. This item is on Wednesday's regular school committee agenda so the committee recruitment can begin.  The intent of this committee is to explore opportunities to find cost savings in our operations (address expenses) and be creative and audacious about finding sources of revenue (public and private forms).

As a result of our needs assessment and visioning event (specifically the theme of inadequate school funding that kept coming up), I began to do some research and have conversations with a few organizations who specialize in this work.  One that I have been working with since March will be highlighted as an example at our meeting next week. This work supports the school committee's desire to engage in "independent review/audit of financials and programming" (meeting minutes 4/27/16). We must approach this work not only as an opportunity to save costs but also as one focused on improving our programs.

Sample elements of a consulting firm's work

In our experience, and we have a lot, any drive for greater cost effectiveness for managing a school district should be paired with equal emphasis on raising achievement and expanding services. Doing more for less is better than doing the same for less. This approach builds support and reduces push back.
  • Detailed review of general education staffing, including high school, middle school and elementary staff based on class and course enrollment as well as elementary specials staffing and scheduling
  • Review of course offerings at the secondary level
  • Review of interventions at all levels
  • A review of the schedule's impact on staffing needs
  • Use and management of federal and state grants
  • Review of special education service delivery models and staffing.
  • Review of special education and tiered staff use of time
  • Review of operations such as transportation, maintenance and custodial and so on.
  • Review of budget development process and budget management
  • Use of program evaluation to drive resource decisions
Recently, a report came out of the State Auditor's office that defines the many unfunded or underfunded mandates that affect municipalities and school districts. I have invited Auditor Bump who will be here in September to speak to our community about the impact of unfunded and underfunded mandates on our spending patterns and to have her highlight her recommendations about how the state can reduce its impact on municipal finances  As we have shared in multiple public forums, in 2007 state aid represented 48% of the state mandated minimum spending (our district's required net school spending) yet in 2015 state aid only accounts for 36% of required net school spending. This puts 64% of the obligation of the state minimum spending for schools at the local level. We have worked with the legislature to articulate the impacts of inadequate state aid (chapter 70 and chapter 71) and called for a review of the foundation budget formula.  Last spring, I spoke with the Department of Revenue, our attorney, leadership of GDEF and Representative Harrington about the need for dedicated development support for the district (such as organizing a specific alumni network and large scale fundraising campaigns).  Later this month, Stephanie Cronin and I will meet with Project Learn to learn more about this organization and their impact on the Lowell Public Schools. I look forward to creating a focused approach through the sustainability committee for a working group who can focus on these and other revenue generation opportunities.

Graduation

It was amazing to participate in graduation this year.  It was bittersweet for all as we said goodbye to an amazing group of students and the very special Principal Mastrullo.  It was also a time of joy to celebrate all that they have accomplished and all that they will accomplish in the future. For this week's Roundup, I am sharing my speech (below). Fun fact: Perhaps a few of you recognized my homage to Kahlil Gibran's poem "On Children". This was one of my father's favorite poems and one he quoted when I graduated from high school myself.

My remarks:
I am going to share a poem that I wrote.  It will offer a perspective about many of us as we participate in today's celebration of learning.

I am 18 and my graduation cap is perched precariously atop by over hair-sprayed head.
Will I lose touch with my friends?  Am I ready?
I am itchy in this robe.  I am bored by this woman on stage and her ridiculous poem.
I am hungry and anxious.  I am excited for what comes next but I am scared.
I am GD

I am 48 and sitting afar from my child.
Where did my baby go?  What will he become?  Will she call me next year?
I am updating my Linked-In profile to help obtain the two side jobs I need to help pay for tuition.
I am but a bow.  I hope that my arrow will fly straight and strong and meet its desired target.
I am GD

I am 41 and speaking at the podium.
Did I make a difference?
I hope I find the sweet spot of a speech that is inspiring but not too long (only 20 more stanzas to go-just kidding!).
I thirst to know if I will ever discover an authentic measure to know if we gave you enough.
I am GD

We are GD. Go forth graduates.  Make us proud.  Dream.  Work hard toward your dreams.  We are all behind you.  We are cheering you on.  Look around.  See the faces of those who love you.  Those who know you.  When you are lonely that November night in your dorm or barrack or new apartment and feeling homesick, close your eyes and remember these faces.  We are GD. Fly straight and strong class of 2016.  You got this!

Happy weekend to all!

-Dr. Rodriguez

Kristan Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Superintendent 
Groton-Dunstable Regional School District

Friday, May 27, 2016

Weekly Roundup (5/27/16)

Weekly Roundup:

On Monday evening, I attended a Finance Advisory meeting in Dunstable alongside Stephanie Cronin and Jennifer McKenzie where we heard what options they had moving forward with their budget.  On Tuesday evening, we held a school committee workshop to define what portions of the needs assessment they wanted to include in a revised FY17 GDRSD budget. We appreciated having many members of the Groton Board of Selectmen and Finance committee present. This discussion continued at the Wednesday evening school committee meeting and also at the town level at their individual meetings. Below is a summary of what occurred to date.

This week, the school committee voted to bring forward a budget of $39,099,830 for FY17. This represents an additional $2.65 million over FY16.
  • Carry Forward Portion $1,601,350 (amount to maintain level services)
  • Needs Assessment Portion $1,048,650 (new positions to support a portion of the needs assessment) as opposed to the previous 2.4 million request.

Click here to see the budget difference and impacts on assessments. Next, the school committee will work with me to refine exactly what items in the needs assessment will be included in the $1,048,650 amount.

Technology Department Update (Submitted by Luke Callahan, Director of Technology, Information, and Media Relations):

After much planning, effort and research, librarian Kelly McManus and technology integration specialist Audra Kaplan were awarded a grant to create a Makerspace in the high school library. Kelly and Audra began this process with an eye on exploring and piloting a technology-enabled learning environment for students to explore their own creativity. A special 'thank you' to the Commissioners of the Trust Funds, who approved this exciting space using resources primarily from the Butler Fund, which had monies set aside specifically to support the library, and the Waters' Fund. Very exciting!

Pupil Personnel Services Department (Submitted by Diane Pelletier, Interim Director):

Jill Green, the newly hired Director of Pupil Personnel Services will begin her tenure in July. On Monday, she visited GDRSD and had an opportunity to view education in process in all of the schools and met with the principals.
Groton-Dunstable High School Unified Track and Field participated for the 4th year in the league meet on May 16th at Nashoba High School. Twenty-five students competed along with 12 other teams in field and running events. Those who qualified at this meet went on to participate in the State Championship at Fitchburg State College on May 24th. Although, we didn’t bring home the State Championship, many of the athletes placed in their events, and were thrilled with the medals that they brought back to GD.

GD Robotics Team 2016 Season Wrap Up (Submitted by Ginger Vollmar, Publicity for the GDRHS Robotics Team)

The Groton Dunstable High School Robotics team, "The Robotomies", have completed the FIRST Robotics "First Stronghold" competitions for 2016.  It was an amazing season for the team! The first competition was held at WPI on March 12th and 13th.  The team ended up qualifying in 3rd place in this competition and it became clear to the team that they had built a great robot. The second competition was held in Providence, RI on March 25th and 26th.  Here the team ended up qualifying in 14th place.

Due to these two strong finishes in our regional competitions, the team qualified to compete in the New England District Championship in Hartford, CT on April 14th – 16th.  We had never made it to the championship before so it was an exciting time for the team!  We qualified near the bottom of the rankings (63rd out of 67) but were able to reach a high of 17th after the first day of competition.  The second day proved to be much more challenging, with our robot suffering minor technical issues that were easy to fix but that affected our ability to score.  As a result, we fell to 56th position.  We worked hard and managed to climb our way back to 42nd position by the end of the qualifying matches (and ended the year in 56th position for all of New England).

Our greatest source of pride, however, is that our robot was designed specifically to breach defenses, an act that we could perform better than any other robot.  We consistently scored highest in defense breaching out of all robots.  Because of this, we redesigned part of our robot to handle “boulders” simply because we could defeat every defense so quickly we would have as much as a minute remaining in each match.  Although slow, we were able to modify our robot to expand its ability to include low goal scoring. This is an extraordinary accomplishment for our team and is an experience our students will never forget.  Every event we attended this year was an education on its own.  Each time we left an event, we had additional ideas to improve our robot and each time our students worked hard to make it a reality.

The Robotics team depends on team mentors (technical and non-technical) who are volunteers from the community and Mr. Mark  Rocheleau, the Engineering and Technology teacher at the High School.  The team is always looking for more mentors who have experience in machining, engineering, programming, marketing, business, or project management.  A big shout out to Mr. Rocheleau for his dedication to this team and to Principal Mike Mastrullo who brought Mr. Rocheleau into the district 3 years ago.  Mr. Mastrullo has been a great supporter of the team and has played a critical role in adding Robotics as an elective course at the High School.  The team reaching the New England Regional Championship the first year the Robotics class was offered highlights the value of the course and its ability to bring high caliber students into the STEM fields.

The Robotomies would like to thank our current sponsors who provide funding for the entrance fees for the FIRST competitions and for materials and other forms of support.  Thank you to: Justin J. Maynard Memorial STEM Innovation Scholarship; the Department of Defense STEM Program; The Society for American Military Engineers; Raytheon; Ted & Connie Lapres Fund; Mercury Systems; Groton Board of Trade; IBM Northeast Community Grant Program; Harris Corporation; GE Oil & Gas; Solidworks; Webber Restaurant Group; MJR Engineering Co; the Hughson Family, the Adams Family; EXIT Assurance Realty; the Carey Family; the Resca Family; the Vollmar Family; the Sottile Family; the Maynard Family;  and Groton Dunstable Regional High School. Companies all across the country donate millions of dollars in direct support to FIRST and scholarships to students every year because they know that these students are building the skills that will make them successful.  Thank you for your contribution to the futures of our team members! Additional sponsorships are always welcomed and appreciated.

If you have questions or would like to help support the Robotics team, please contact Mr. Rocheleau at mrocheleau@gdrsd.org.


Have a safe and happy long weekend!

-Kristan

Kristan Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Superintendent 
Groton-Dunstable Regional School District


Friday, May 20, 2016

Weekly Roundup (5/20/16)

Hello to All:

Needs Based Budget

I wanted to let everyone know that I am most grateful for the work of the staff, school committee, and community in working to understand our current needs.  The towns and the school committee are meeting to review a revised budget pending the recent votes at the polls (on Monday and Tuesday).  Wednesday night, we had a school committee workshop to review their options and on Thursday night we met with the Town of Groton board of selectmen and finance committee.  Dunstable will be meeting next week.  The school committee has a workshop set up for next Tuesday to finalize a number that will be presented to the towns. If there is going to be an override question for a ballot vote, that would need to be completed by next Wednesday.  

Technology Plan

Below are the names of the people who have been working diligently this year on the technology plan.  I would like to thank all volunteers and contributors for their dedication, time, and expertise.  A hearty thanks to Luke Callahan (Director of Technology and Information) for his amazing leadership in the process. The plans will be released at the end of this month. 
  • Dave Andrade - K12 Education Strategist, CDWG
  • Gary Babin - Network Administrator, District
  • Joseph Bisbee - Systems Administrator, District
  • Jamee Callahan - K-5 Curriculum Coordinator, Medfield Public Schools
  • Luke Callahan - Director of Technology, Information and Media Relations, District
  • Timothy Callahan - Parent, Senior Sales Engineer at NextLabs, Inc.
  • Kelly Cook - English Department Chair, GDRHS
  • Peter Cronin - GDRSD School Committee Member
  • Jennifer Dinneen - Teacher, Swallow Union Elementary
  • Kristen Ferrara - Parent, Global Head of Preclinical Systems at Takeda Pharmaceutical
  • Diane Horvath - Technology Integration Specialist, Blake Middle School, Medfield, MA
  • Audra Kaplan - Technology Integration Specialist, GDRHS
  • Kristen Kieda - Math/Science Teacher, GDRMS
  • Leslie Lathrop - GDRSD School Committee Member
  • Jennifer Leung - ELA Teacher, GDRMS
  • Phyllis Maynard - Data and Education Technology Specialist, District
  • Kelly McManus - Librarian & Media Specialist, GDRHS
  • Barbara McNulty - Business Teacher, GDRHS
  • Thomas Murray - Director of Innovation, Innovation for Alliance for Excellent Education
  • Dr. Katie Novak - Assistant Superintendent of Groton-Dunstable Regional School District
  • Barry Pease - Parent, Director of Sales & Marketing at Burkart-Phelan, Inc.
  • Diane Pelletier - Interim Director of Pupil Personnel Services, GDRSD
  • Julie Spang - Technology Integration Specialist, GDRMS
  • Jared Stanton - Director of Business and Finance, GDRSD
  • Dr. Kristan Rodriguez - Superintendent of Public Schools, GDRSD
  • Jared Stanton, Director of Business and Finance, GDRSD
  • Tracy Weeks - Social Studies Teacher, GDRMS
  • Susan Wynn - Math Specialist, Florence Roche & Swallow Union Elementary Schools
High School Happenings

Today we celebrated the Top 10 students of the senior class.  They have achieved great success for many reasons: hard-work and effort, a sound support system of friends and family, and the help and guidance of a dedicated prekindergarten through grade 12 staff.  Please take the time to read the bios; clear affirmation that public education is alive in well in Massachusetts. See their bios HERE

Recently the high school Chamber Chorus was invited to The River 92.5 radio station to record Bohemian Rhapsody. Next Friday at 3:03 pm we will be broadcast on their live show.

Curriculum and Instruction  (Submitted by Dr. Novak, Assistant Superintendent)

Throughout the year, we have been reviewing our homework practices and working collaboratively with our staff to define a list of homework recommendations for the 16-17 school year. These recommendations take into consideration both scientific-research, the themes from our surveys of parents and students, an examination of other best-in-class homework practices, and the expertise of our teachers. Our process began in November 2015 with a literature review of 40+ research studies. Since that time, our Curriculum Department has worked diligently to capture the feedback from multiple stakeholders and integrate it into district homework expectations. Recently, a draft of these expectations were shared with curriculum leaders in the district so they could be fine tuned. We will present the culmination of this work at a School Committee meeting in June. 

Have a happy weekend everyone!

Kristan Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Superintendent 
Groton-Dunstable Regional School District

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Weekly Roundup (5/13/16)

Town Election Information

DUNSTABLE:  The Annual Town Election will be held Monday, May 16th, 2016. Polls will be open from noon to 8:00 PM.
  • Polling location:
    • Dunstable Free Public Library
GROTON: The Annual Town Election will be held Tuesday, May 17th, 2016. Polls will be open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
  • Polling locations:
    • Precinct 1: Groton Senior Center, 163 West Main St.
    • Precincts 2 and 3: Groton Country Club, 94 Lovers Lane

Response to Article
If any of you saw a recent article in the Groton Herald that offered questions about the data we used in our needs assessment or needs based budget, I welcome you to read my response HERE.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Weekly Roundup (5/6/16)

Weekly Roundup:

Instead of a normal Roundup, I am asking everyone to watch the short informational video below. We hope this provides helpful information to you about our needs assessment and FY17 budget request. We have begun to circulate the video on our district outlets and use them in community forums.  We will also show this at Dunstable's Town Meeting. Feel free to share it as you like!






GDRSD Needs Assessment and FY17 Budget
by Groton-Dunstable Regional School District

The Groton-Dunstable Regional School District's FY17 Budget and Needs Assessment. For more information please visit ...




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Kristan Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Groton-Dunstable Regional School District
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dr_Rodriguez21
Blog: http://gdrsdsuperscorner.blogspot.com
Website:http://gdrsd.org/departments/superintendent/

Friday, April 15, 2016

Weekly Roundup (4/15/16)


Weekly Roundup

In this week's Roundup, I want to share some exciting news about some recent new hires and some of our ongoing search processes! Thank you to the many people who participated in our search committees.

Principal Screening Committee

We have quite an impressive list of principal applicants so far! I look forward to the screening committee meeting after our April break. We had over 50 responses to our request for principal screening committee members. So fabulous! Obviously, a committee of 50 would be slightly too many :-). I put all names into a random name generator to select a sample of stakeholders. Below are the selected reps.

Student: TBD
Parents: Ilene Rodman,Teresa Cartier, Dawn Priest
Staff: Mark Hennelly, Kelly McManus, Steve Kleeman, Mary Cain
School Committee: Stephanie Cronin
Municipal: Barry Pease, Christine Muir, Rachael Mead
Administrators: Marisa Brisson, Katie Novak, Kristan Rodriguez

2016-2017 Calendar

The school committee adopted the 2016-2017 calendar this past Wednesday. I know people are anxious to know when vacations are going to occur for planning purposes. We have the link HERE.

Welcome to Our New Director of Pupil Personnel Services

I am thrilled to introduce the community to our new PPS Director, Jill Greene. Jill was the unanimous choice by the screening committee who had the opportunity to interview a strong candidate pool. The interview committee stakeholders represented parents, staff, administration, and the school committee. Last evening, she was voted unanimously by the school committee to accept my recommendation for hire. Jill is currently the Director of Student Services at the Maynard Public Schools and has been so since 2003. In that capacity, she coordinates district-wide Special Education, Nursing, Counseling, Psychological Services, and English Learner Education. She is also the Director of their NAEYC accredited Preschool Program. In addition, she serves as the district's Civil Rights Coordinator, 504 Coordinator, and Homeless Liaison. In her position, she oversees the compliance of all related Federal and State laws and regulations and manages the total appropriated budget, and all related entitlement and competitive grants/revolving accounts for the Student Services department. In addition, she recruits, hires, supervises and evaluates staff from preschool to grade 12/post-secondary program. Before becoming an administrator, Ms. Greene was a special education teacher who developed a vocational/life skills program which included support in general education classes, job development and training, and direct instruction in academics, social skills, community living, and communication skills.

Ms. Greene’s scholarship is equally impressive to her work experience. Jill has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Alfred University, a Master's degree in Special Education from Long Island University, and is designated as ABD (All But Dissertation) from Boston University in a Doctor of Education Degree in Special Education. She has been a college instructor at Boston University, Merrimack College, and Rivier College. Ms. Greene is also well published with below just a sample of her work:

  • Lehr, D.H. , Greene, J., & Powers, S. (2003). Managing the needs of students with physical and health challenges in inclusive settings. In D. Ryndak & S. Alper (Eds.) Inclusion and Curriculum for Students with Significant Disabilities Boston : Allyn Bacon.
  • Lehr, D.H. & Greene, J. (2002). Educating students with complex health care needs in public schools: The intersection of health care, education, and the law. Journal of Health Care Law and Policy, 5(1) , 68-90.
  • Lehr, D.H., Greene, J. & Powers, S. (2000). Summary of urban school district policies, guidelines, and contract language on educating students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. Newton, MA: The Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative.
Her references were beyond glowing. Her current superintendent wrote that Jill was a "trusted colleague in the central office” and talked about her “collaborative leadership style”. When I spoke with him, he said we would be lucky to have her. Another colleague in central office spoke about her greatest strengths. He spoke about how well she works with parents and their SEPAC. In his letter he wrote, “A particular strength is her ability to forge strong partnerships with parents...listening to any concerns, communicating effectively, and using a proactive approach…” He also spoke about how she is a systems thinker and how special education and other areas fit in the greater school district. In his letter of reference, he highlighted her experience with Coordinated Program Review, knowledge of special education law and regulations, and strong professional development that she offers to staff. He provided an example of how Ms. Greene “led a collaborative effort to examine the role of paraprofessionals and make recommendations to improve practice based on effective research and information gathered from surveys an on-site visits.” Another reference said the following, “Jill has been active in working with neighboring districts to pool resources in a variety of ways-including programming for students with disabilities, resources and tools for implementing mandates and regulations, and developing collective advocacy and public input.” This person described Jill as “joyful, visionary, articulate, and thoughtful. She has a great passion for high quality in-district programs, a philosophy that supports the inclusion of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment, and a leadership style that engages others in building a more inclusive school for all learners.”

New Food Services Director

We are sad to see our valued Food Service Director, Pam Patnode retire this May. A committee was formed (led by Mr. Stanton and including Dr. Novak and all four cafeteria managers) and they unanimously recommended an internal candidate, Shannon Bergeron, for the position. Shannon has been a valued member of our central office team as the assistant to the Director of Business and Finance. Beginning in May, she will transition to the Food Services department to apply her extensive background in business and culinary arts. Shannon received her BS in Marketing and Communications from the Fashion Institute of Technology and worked in a business office for 5 years before pursuing a degree in pastry arts from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. After graduation, Shannon worked her way from a sous chef to the executive pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck Catering before becoming the Director of Food Service in the Ayer Shirley Regional School District. Shannon brings to us a background in business, over a decade of culinary experience, and 5 years as a Director of Food Services in Ayer Shirley.

New Assistant Business Manager

We are reorganizing Shannon's position (as assistant to the business manager) and combining it with our part time HR clerk position (who is also leaving us) to create a new Assistant Business Manager position.  This will lower our staffing number and save the district some money on salaries while creating an enhanced support to the business office. Mr. Stanton led a search committee that recommended Michael Knight as our new Assistant Business Manager. Mr. Knight brings 7 years of experience in business and finance from the private sector. After completing his Bachelor's in Administration and Finance from University of New Hampshire and an MBA at Southern New Hampshire University, Mike enrolled in the MASBO School Business Administrator Program. In this program, he interned in the North Andover Public Schools for 500 hours to learn the role of a business manager in education. As an intern, he applied his background in business development, account management and customer service to the functions of a district business office. He will work closely with our new Director of Business and Finance to sustain the current level of accuracy and transparency in the business office. 

Robotomies Headed to New England District Championship

The Groton-Dunstable Robotics team has been invited for the first time in the team’s history to participate in the New England District Championship at the XL Center in Hartford (1 Civic Center Plaza) this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (April 14, 15 and 16). The event is scheduled for:

  • 9AM - 7PM on Thursday, April 14
  • 9AM - 6PM on Friday, April 15
  • 9AM - 6PM on Saturday, April 16
The actual schedule for the team’s qualifying matches will not be known until arrival at the venue on Wednesday evening.  Live streaming of the event should be available on the nefirst.org web site under the NE District Championship event tab.
The Robotomies would like to cordially invite you to attend the New England District Championship at the XL Center in Hartford on either Friday, April 15 or Saturday, April 16. This is the first time the team has been invited to attend the district championship in the 13 years the team has been around. Invited guests will receive a guided tour and special seating. If you are able to attend, please RSVP at http://conta.cc/1MZGmzK so that FIRST can plan for your visit. There will be a seating section on the concourse level above sections 121-122 reserved for special guests. I know it is short notice, but if you are able to make the trip we would love to have you share in the excitement of our accomplishment of making it to the championships!

I wish everyone a safe and happy April break!

Kristan Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Superintendent 
Groton-Dunstable Regional School District



Friday, April 8, 2016

Weekly Roundup (4/8/16)

Passing of a Hero

I know that many of you are already aware that we lost a great mother, wife, sister, friend, teacher, and humanitarian this week. Mrs. Sawyer will be missed every day but her amazing legacy will live on for years. We were all so lucky to have known her. Below is information about her arrangements.  

Mrs. Sawyer's family will receive family and friends from 3-7 PM on Monday, April 11th in the Sawtelle Room of the Bull Run Restaurant, Great Road, Shirley. No food or beverage will be available during this time.

A celebration of Betsy’s life will be held at 10 AM Tuesday, April 12th in the Sawtelle Room of the Bull Run Restaurant. Guests will be invited to accompany Mrs. Sawyer's family as they process with the caisson carrying her casket to Center Cemetery, Shirley for burial. Please wear appropriate walking footwear if you would like to take part in this special part of her service.

Check Out Our New Vision Statement 

As you may remember, community members, parents, school committee members, school employees, municipal officials and staff, business leaders, and representatives from nonprofit organizations participated in the Future Search event on January 29 and 30th at the Groton Country Club. Roughly 80 members of the community gathered for this one and a half day workshop aimed at shaping the future for the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District.  We were driven by the overarching question: What are your hopes and dreams for GDRSD in the future? During this session we composed draft vision statements. From this work, on March 23rd, over 30 members of this original group came together to refine a vision statement. We came up with a few options which was put to a vote and with over 40 responses we finalized our statement.  Below is the statement.  You can find it on our website HERE.  On the website, the definitions of lesser known terms in the glossary below are available in "hover over" method.  Thanks to Mr. Callahan for providing this helpful feature. After reading our vision, please complete our vision reflection tool.  Your feedback is valued. 

Guiding students to learn today, lead tomorrow, and reach the worlD.
  • Students embrace a growth mindset and are curious, engaged lifelong learners who are capable of communication and collaboration and who are gaining the tools and capacities to become positive and contributing members of a local and global citizenry.
  • We have a universally designed, personalized, flexible, inclusive, tiered instructional model that includes a rich, rigorous, comprehensive, and aligned curriculum that is measured by authentic assessments.
  • We are a financially stable district that provides appropriate resources for a quality and fiscally responsible education, and where the schooling of our children is a shared responsibility of a highly engaged community.
  • We have valued top-tier leadership and educators who are enabled by continuous professional development, who are provided autonomy to make the right decisions (based on articulated choice, professional judgement, data, and research), who are supported by curriculum leadership, and who are provided with the appropriate materials and class sizes to go the extra mile for students.
  • The schools are clean, safe (physically and emotionally), respectful, interactive, next generation, and inviting places producing confident and independent learners.

Glossary:

Growth Mindset: In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence (Carol Dweck).

Universally Designed: Students and teachers need flexibility in the way learners are motivated and engaged, how standards-based content is presented, and the opportunities students have to approach learning tasks and express what they know (David Rose).

Tiered Instructional Model: The Massachusetts Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), provides a framework for school improvement that focuses on system level change across the classroom, school, and district to meet the academic and non-academic needs of all students, including students with disabilities, English language learners, and students who are academically advanced. It guides both the provision of high-quality core educational experiences in a safe and supportive learning environment for all students and academic and/or non-academic targeted interventions/supports for students who experience difficulties and for students who have already demonstrated mastery of the concept and skills being taught (MA DESE).

Aligned Curriculum: The curriculum is aligned with state standards and aligned within and across grade levels.

Authentic Assessment: A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills (Jon Mueller).

Financially Stable: Solvent and able to provided top notch education based on student and district needs.

Financially Responsible Education: Elkington (1997) defines three separate (but equally important) bottom lines: one is the traditional concept of profit, the second revolves around social justice (being socially responsible) and the third involves being environmentally responsible. Dr. Elise Frattura is an expert in the field of social justice in education. Her work is built on the premise that educational services must address, but not be driven by, compliance issues, policies, and/or funding mechanisms. All students, regardless of variability, have a civil right to have access to a high-quality education. Frattura argues that districts must address the components of an effective school educational plan with adequate funding mechanisms to ensure social justice for the students that it serves (Frattura & Capper, 2007).

Valued Top-Tier: The community supports the hiring of experienced, accomplished, and credentialed staff and treats the staff with respect and civility.

Professional Development: Massachusetts defines High Quality Professional Development (HQPD) as: A set of coherent learning experiences that is systematic, purposeful, and structured over a sustained period of time with the goal of improving teacher practice and student outcomes (MA DESE).

Curriculum Leadership: Curriculum leadership targets specific knowledge, behavior, and attitudes for students and engineers a school program to achieve those ends (Wiles, 2008).

Next Generation: The extent to which the physical space of the learning environment impacts student behavioral, affective, and cognitive learning. It involves personalizing the student experience through learning design, technology, creative spaces and collaboration.

Presentation on Teenage Anxiety and Depression (Submitted by Mary Morgan)

North Middlesex Community Cares is a non-profit organization formed to confront the problems of substance abuse and addiction in our area.  As you may know, teenage anxiety and depression often co-exists with substance abuse.  In addition, there has been much concern expressed recently about bullying and suicidal tendencies occurring much too often.  In order to address this topic, we have arranged for an evening of education and awareness.  Steve Boczenowski, founder of TADS (Teenage Anxiety and Depression Solutions) and parent of a son who died by suicide will be presenting on this topic.  Along with Steve, will be Sara Clinton, a Groton resident and school counselor at Acton/Boxboro HS, who will also present. I would like to extend an invitation to you, your staff, parents and students to attend this event.  This evening is suitable for all.  Please promote this event throughout your school district, the planned educational information is very important for community members to hear.  Join Us and Learn More! Date: April 25, 2016 Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm Where: Townsend Ridge Country Club 40 Scales Lane Townsend, MA 01469


Photos below are of the vision refining workshop.  Thanks to all participants!









Kristan Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Superintendent 
Groton-Dunstable Regional School District

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