From the Principal: August 18, 2016

Dear Families, 

Over the summer, Camp Seafaring takes over much of our building’s first floor, and it looks like a lot of fun. When I walk into the cafeteria, children are lounging about, making a mess with craft materials, playing sports, zipping around on Rollerblades, and hooting and hollering with obvious delight. Somehow, children manage to steer clear of each other, but woe unto the unmindful adult who tries to pass through them. It’s a scene of joyful chaos and completely appropriate for summer, but as a principal, I have to wrestle back the impulse to tell children to get off their scooters and use indoor voices. However, school has yet to begin, and I’m under no obligation to be the heavy just yet. And so, during the summer, I sit in my office with cheerful laughter ringing off the walls and the occasional wayward Rollerblader coasting past the office windows. Summer has its pleasures and it’s best to let them run their course. 

The school year has its pleasures too, albeit of a more calm and purposeful sort. And even for our students in academic summer programs, the transition back to Graham and Parks will mark the return to the day-to-day classroom and school routines that define much of a school-aged child’s life. In the midst of these routines, and because of them, our students will continue to accumulate knowledge and skills that expand and deepen their world and their relationship to it. This work is slow and effortful, often joyful, and always rewarding in the end. I believe this is especially true at Graham and Parks, where “the basics” are always taught in the service of something greater and with a purpose and an authentic audience in mind. 

But however much students may benefit from the Graham and Parks approach to teaching and learning, pedagogy will not be on their minds on September 6th when they return to school. And it won’t be the reason for the wide smiles on their faces as they walk through the front door. The projects students work on and how we teach them to read are secondary to the relationships they have with each other and their teachers. Whether students excel or falter, love learning or don’t, depends on whether or not they feel safe, valued, and known in their school community. And if there is one thing I have learned about the Graham and Parks after two years as principal, it’s that our students feel safe, valued, and known… and that I will see wide smiles on the first day school, from both students and teachers, eager to see each other again after a long break. 

Everyone at Graham and Parks is excited to be starting another year. And most smiling faces you see around the building will be familiar. However, we are adding a few new staff members. As many of you know, Erica Schlank is joining our community as a First/Second Grade Teacher, replacing Emily Troll. She comes to us from the Winn Brook Elementary School in Belmont and previously taught special education at the Cotting School in Lexington. Also, Jessica Greengarden is joining us as our new lead teacher in Special Start. Other new teachers include Michelle Cadieux (Speech and Language Pathologist, PreK-1) and Paul Barry (part-time ESL Teacher). 

We have several teachers on leave, so we have some temporary teachers joining us. We’re thrilled that Isha Sanghvi will be filling in for Special Educator Courtney Curtone. Isha was Jocelyn’s intern last year, and she’s dual certified in special education.  Also, Alexandra D'Agostino will be in for Linda Groszyk, our Speech and Language Pathologist, who is taking the year to work with Social Thinking, an organization that helps children develop social thinking skills. In our SEI program, Inbal Alon will be filling in for Kathryn Loncto as our SEI Interventionist. In addition, we welcome four new Assistant Teachers, Aaron Trail (SEI Grade 1), Fatiha Slimi (SEI Grade 2), Emily Robinson (SEI Grade 5), and Giavanna Enwright (Grade 1). In the kitchen, Donna DeAngelo is joining G&P as our new Chef. And of course, we’re looking forward to working with a number of new interns from local colleges and universities. I know you’ll join me in welcoming our new staff!

Included with this letter, you’ll find the Graham and Parks Family Calendar that outlines important dates for the upcoming school year. I would like to highlight a few especially important upcoming dates:

  • The first day of school is September 6th
  • Kindergarten starts on September 8th, with an orientation on September 7th (further information will be sent to kindergarten families). 
  • Our Back-to-School Potluck is September 14th from 5:30-7:30PM. The food is always amazing!
  • Back-to-School Night is the evening of September 20th from 5 – 7PM for all grades. At Back-to-School Night, you’ll join your child’s teacher to hear about their classroom, all the exciting things students will learn this year, and how you can help support their learning. 

Also, take a look at the dates for Steering Committee and Friends of G&P meetings and join us if you can! 

We’re looking forward to a great year ahead. See you all soon. 

All best, 

Tony Byers
Graham and Parks Alternative Public School