Welcome Back from the Principal: August 23, 2017

Dear Families,

The last weeks of summer are often the most unstructured weeks of summer. Camps and summer school tend to wind down mid-August, leaving a week or two of unscheduled children. It can be an awkward time for parents, who are left scrambling for childcare arrangements and for whom the beginning of school cannot come soon enough. But these are the best weeks for children. With no formal claims on their attention, children are free to just be, to make up their days as they see fit. However, children also experience the final days of August with some ambivalence. The start of school is a return to the familiar and the beginning of something new. Children are eager to see their friends and to step once again into a familiar routine (even if this desire is often unvoiced), but at the same time, they can feel unsure about new teachers and new academic expectations. And children change over the course of the summer; sometimes they change week to week. Our students who left in June return to us in September changed, and they know it. So it’s to be expected if your child seems both excited and nervous about the return of school.

If it helps ease their nerves, you can tell your children that their teachers (and principals) feel excited and nervous about the return of school too. How could we not? Teaching your children is an awesome responsibility (and hard work!). All of us at Graham and Parks acknowledge and appreciate the trust you place in us to teach and care for your children. But of course this work isn’t ours alone. For students to be successful, schools and families must work together in partnership. After three years as principal of our school, I know that we are defined by the strength of these partnerships. Graham and Parks could not function as a school if not for family support via the Friends of Graham and Parks, Room Parents, and family participation on committees and at individual events. But even more so, this is a community invested in nurturing authentic, caring, and mutually respectful relationships between teachers and families. These relationships make all the difference for our students. And so we’re all looking forward to renewing old relationships and forging some new ones in the year ahead!

Some of these relationships will be with our new staff members. As many of you know, Witney Christie is joining our community as a first/second grade teacher. She comes to us from the Cambridgeport School where she was an intern last year. We’re also excited to welcome Katie Lynch as our new 5th grade teacher in the Language Based Learning Disabilities program. Katie was formally a special educator in the Weymouth Public Schools. Sadly, Linda Groszyk, one of our two Speech and Language Pathologists, has chosen to stay in sunny California, but we were fortunate to hire an excellent replacement in Kate Baldwin, who joins G&P with 8 years of experience at the preschool and elementary level, most recently in the Boston Public Schools. In addition, Shira Catlin will be our new Physical Education teacher, replacing Jay Kreisberg. She’s a recent graduate of the Physical Education and Coaching program at Boston University and is an avid ultra marathoner; she should have no problem keeping up with our students!

I’m also delighted to announce that three Extended Term Substitute teachers, Anthea Lavergne (5th grade special education), Michele Dow (SEI interventionist) and Maeve Whitty (ESL), will be returning to their positions, but now as permanent staff members. In addition, we welcome two new assistant teachers, Elle Anastasiou (SEI Grade 5) and Alissa Walters (3rd grade with Karen Engels). 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!

Please visit 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 5th.
  • Kindergarten starts on September 7th, with an orientation on September 6th (further information will be sent to kindergarten families).
  • Our Back-to-School Potluck is September 13th from 5:30 - 7:30PM. The food is always amazing!
  • Back-to-School Night is the evening of September 19th from 5:30 – 7:30PM 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. We will see you all soon.

All best,

Tony Byers
Graham and Parks Alternative Public School

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