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August 2017

Preparing for the 2017-2018 School Year

Superintendent Dr. Marty Semmel

The 2017-2018 school year is right around the corner and we are ready to get back to working with our students.  First, our award winning Facebook page has close to 1000 members and I hope you will go to facebook.com/plymouthctschools/ and like our page.  Whether you are a parent or community member, I believe our page will help keep you informed about some of the great things going on in our school system.  If you are a parent, please make sure you follow through on updating all of your emergency contact information including cell phone number(s) and email address(es).  You can make these changes by going here: https://powerschool.plymouth.k12.ct.us/public  If you are not sure how to do this, check with your individual schools as school begins. 

Beginning August 15, you can find the Plymouth Public Schools in our new offices at Terryville High School.  Our new address will be 27 North Harwinton Avenue and we will have our own entrance on the right side of the building.  We are taking advantage of the space at the high school to reduce our operating costs (heating/cooling, electricity, snow removal, etc.) and eliminate the need for the BOE budget to pay for maintaining an aging building with a failing roof, boiler, and other potential costs. 

Parents, it is that time of the year to start getting your kids back into a “school” routine.  You should gradually get your children to bed at an earlier time so they can adjust.  Please make sure your son/daughter has a healthy breakfast at home or at school since a child’s developing brain and body needs proper nutrition for maximum development.  If your child has summer work to finish, please encourage them to complete that as well.  Finally, one of the best things that you can do to help us in school is to encourage reading.  Read to your kids, with your kids, and beside your kids.  Reading is great for developing curiosity, creativity, vocabulary, writing and so much more.  The books can be fiction or non-fiction, scholarly or just plain fun, but please read!

Four major themes will persist throughout the school year and for years to come: School Safety, Social Emotional Learning, Instructional Expertise, and Curricular Alignment and Enhancements.  These four themes are at the core of what we do in schools every day and our intention to do this to the best of our ability.  That is what our students deserve and what our community should expect. 

So here is what’s in store for the coming year!  For school safety, we are excited that the Board of Finance and Town Council restored the School Resource Officer (SRO) position.  The SRO will be present throughout our district developing relationships with students, identifying and mitigating potential weaknesses in our practices around safety, running the DARE program for all grade 5 students, and so much more.  The new parent entrance to ETJMS is complete separating our parent drop-offs from our bus drop off.  In addition, our district safety committee will work with local emergency officials to practice and enhance our safety protocols.  This will result in “table-top” simulations, enhanced drills in our buildings, and increased collaboration between the schools and emergency personnel.  We do all of this to keep our students and staff safe in case of a real emergency.

The theme Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is about self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship building, and responsible decision-making.  While it is essential that we teach our academic curriculum like reading and math, we will also work with topics like goal-setting, relationship-building and responsible decision-making throughout the year.  Social emotional learning is not just for kids and therefore the entire staff, including myself, will participate in this process. 

Our third theme is instructional expertise.  As educators, we strive to meet the needs of every child in our care.  This means challenging students above grade level, reducing the achievement gaps for those below grade level, and helping every child meet growth targets.  We hold ourselves accountable and we critically examine our practices in collaborative settings to grow our expertise.  We recognize that to be successful we must work together to explore creative ideas and try new things with our students as part of the learning process. 

Our fourth theme, curricular alignment and enhancement, like school safety, social emotional learning, and instructional expertise, is a recurring theme.  While all curriculum is important, we will focus on the following areas for 2017-2018.  First, we will update our science curriculum from Kindergarten through 12th grade so it meets the expectations of the newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) from the State Department of Education.  We will also be updating our elementary level Social Studies curriculum.  In terms of English, we will transition our successful work with Readers Workshop into 6th grade.  Finally, this will be our first year with the new Advanced Placement (AP) English class for Juniors at THS.  We were pleased that a significant portion of 11th graders selected this course for the coming school year.

We are looking forward to a great school year and look forward to working with all community members to help our students learn and grow.  If you ever have a question or comment please feel free to email me at semmelm@plymouth.k12.ct.us or call me at 860-314-4784. 

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