Thursday, June 19, 2014
**Thanks to Lynne Chevoya who took notes, Ms. Washington who came as support and Drew Eshelson for coming to answer questions and support our efforts.
Welcome and Introductions
Name, childs grade and summer plans; approximately 18 parents attended
Year in Review: Please see the MPC accomplishments of this school year. Sierra guided through the list as well as the overwhelming effort that so many families have made towards the Mather in a positive way, including, but not exclusively, the newly formed Environmental Committee and all the families who went above and beyond to make the Mather greater!
Sherman facilitated an exercise of breaking into smaller groups to discuss successes and areas to improve for: 1. Our own family, 2. MPC and 3. Mather. After breaking into three small groups, we convened into one large group and shared the thoughts.
1. Parent/Family Member
- -getting our kids to school on time
- -see kids growing and developing, coming out of their shells, social emotional skills
- -volunteering in classrooms and going on field trips
- -feeling like a fresh start
- -email and text to communicate with teachers
- -get to know other parents better esp. parents in your child’s classroom
- -make homework more fun
- -desire to know who child’s teacher for next year will be sooner if possible
2. Mather Parent Council
- -fundraising events ie. Blarney, wine night
- -raising profile of school
- -partners/outreach with community, sponsorships
- -parent retreats to hammer out details
- -our group is not/should not be perceived as a “clique”- worked hard on tone of inclusion for all, many different ways to contribute
- -teamwork ie. two parents joining up to lead a particular activity/group ie. Boxtops, wellness committee
- -teachers who talk up MPC have more parents participating in MPC
- -fill in new members on the events of past year to get up to speed
- -get more diverse group involved in monthly meetings
- -online forum to crowdsource issues and solutions
- -meeting agenda to be posted sooner online ideally a week in advance
- -foster culture of inclusiveness, no matter whether they come to meetings or not
- -spread out events more evenly over year
- -level of sustainability of the amount of work we do- will growth be able to keep momentum going
- -building afterschool and extracurriculars
- -cut backs ie. Ballet Rox 6 hours instruction limit so only K1K2 next year- how do we supplement or foster this
- -coordinate with teachers to avoid redundancy ie. Ms Washington music activities
- -170 parents filled out slips saying they wanted to hear from MPC, but 20-30 of them don’t have emails- using telephone messages about meetings for them- should we include text option next year?
3. Mather School
- -communication with teachers and prinicipal
- -teachers sending home lots of good info about events
- -school celebrates diversity
- -Open Circle curriculum success
- -Mather more “on the map” positive word of mouth
- -Kim Connolly position very helpful for partnerships
- -some people don’t feel heard, hence “the letter”- think about ways to create more dialogue around challenges
- -faculty senate may be avenue to foster more communication between teachers and parents
- -K-8 pathway stalled- how to keep momentum going
- -are staff concerns/levels of trust prohibitory to innovation status? and will they affect our kids?
- -should we create periodic open forums to get more people out to raise their voices? or have topically focused forums? how to include more of our community?
- -”overtesting” noted by parents and families- can quantity be decreased
Drew Echelson, Network Superintendent spoke to group
- -Contact him if you have questions (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
- -Review of letter
- Similar letters have happened at 10 of 16 schools he has worked with this school year
- Wonder if related to changing landscape in schools?
- Difficult to understand motives since the letter is anonymous
- His dept did interviews with school educators here and he received multiple emails from teachers supporting Emily Cox and endorsing their overall satisfaction with school despite a few operational concerns
- - Emily Cox has been receptive to his discussions with her about these operational concerns. There are formal grievance processes which are not being utilized.
- -Can we contribute to help with these operational concerns? He gives example if teacher out on a lengthy leave, principal wants to know if they are coming back- principal should not call directly- better to have HR call. He does not think any of them are in our realm.
- -New superintendent talking about eliminating the achievement gap, more accountability systems.
- -Drew is one of six network supervisors, so they are more involved with lower case load to go more indepth, will be asking tougher questions, acknowledging strengths and giving direct feedback ie. teacher performance
- -Constructive criticism not always well received ie. feel being treated unfairly may have resulted in more letters being generated
- -He acknowledged question over whether too much data being collected ie. testing seems excessive
- -Principals now having more autonomy to select teachers approved by site council (Jenny Miller is our parent representative on the hiring committee)
- -Drew described the ways they are working to bring constructive and transformative feedback to schools:
- First step going thru school when teachers/students not teaching, to see what is in the classroom being taught, and have teachers talk to them about the work they are doing
- He is in schools 4 out of 5 days a week supervising; he is at Mather once a month
- Principal intern has been recommended for next year as well
- We plan on inviting him to MPC meetings more next year ie. 1-2 extra times
MPC member noted though having a negative effect in short term, in the long term the increased oversight is in the best interest of the school
Question about “what is best practice?”, framed around opportunities to observe classroom prior to child’s entry; Drew invites this parent or others with individual concerns to discussed details with him directly.
-K-8 pathway will be discussion soon about master plan; district looking to move in direction toward more stand alone K-8 schools. Will Mather be stand alone K-8 school or will alternative pathway be needed?
-“Next generation” schools are same thing as innovation schools- how can schools retain autonomy around influencing their own schools; accepting application letters (not full proposals) in September
Committee and MPC Updates:
- -Due to budget cuts: No Bell (intensive academics focus) next year. Playworks is potentially gone. Coach Dawn is moving up leadership chain so would be new person if able to get 23K to fund it
- -More extracurricular would still leave an academic void for afterschool
- -20 boys from Catholic Memorial interested in coming to afterschool 5 days /week. Ms Marshall concerned that they may need supervision so will consider further before accepting.
- -Question raised whether colleges would be willing to volunteer academic help as part of their curricula requirement
- - The Dorchester Day parade was amazing!!! Thanks to the efforts of Stu, his family and all the other hands that made it all possible. We had almost 100 walk with us and we got incredible feedback on the float and all other parts of our procession. Everything we made will be used next year. MPC paid for a portion of the parade construction which was mainly funded through Mather 375.
- -More info will be sent out about October MPC week of events, incl. parent council funding an appreciation luncheon for staff
- -MPC paid for the dirt for the new raised beds in the k1/k2 playground area. 5th graders planted flowers there already.
- -600+ participants in Spring Fling, first year we had sponsorships- without their money we would have lost $875, with their sponsorships we made $1300
- -MPC will again be funding the new laminated student folders for next year for all Mather students; currently content is being updated.