Dear Newmarket parents, teachers, students and community members,
Welcome back to school!
Newmarket has had a very successful school opening this fall. Until you watch it play out, you don’t realize how valuable a return to normalcy is for educators, students and parents. In pre-pandemic times, I would be using my first communication of the school year to talk about the nuts and bolts of opening schools. I would be talking about things like: Did the buses run on time? Was there enough time and food at lunch? Were our facilities ready to welcome everyone back? Did the planning efforts of our staff pay off with a smooth opening?
The short answer to all of the above questions is yes, but the big success of this year's opening was a return to a typical school opening. For example, on the first staff day I watched a room full of Newmarket educators in the cafeteria of NJSHS happily talking with each other to share their summer experiences. Seeing all the smiles of students, staff and parents as they arrived on the first day of school shouldn’t be taken for granted. Talking with a group of teachers sitting together during their lunch and having them report that this was the first time in 3 years that they had eaten together. The incredible Newmarket Mule spirit that was present at the first soccer games of the season. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that we have opened schools using pre-pandemic normal as our guide and so far so good. I am very proud of the work our staff did to prepare, the efforts of our students to get back to normal and the support of our parent community in sending kids back to school ready to learn. Thank you to everyone who helped Newmarket schools get off to a great start this fall.
New things across the district this fall.
There are a number of new people across the district in key roles. This is my first school opening in Newmarket along with NJSHS Principal Andrew Korman, and Director of Curriculum Instruction and Assessment Patty Wons. Additionally, we have dozens of new teachers and staff in positions across the schools. We also have a number of people in new roles. Jeanne Civiello is now an Assistant Principal at NJSHS, Jodi Callinan is our new Director of Counseling for the district, and Jamie Hayes has added Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator to his role as Athletic Director. It is great to see the positive energy from this new group of educators.
With Jodi Callinan as the District Counseling Director, you will be seeing a more coordinated effort across the district to support our students. Over the summer a lot of work has been done to develop curriculum themes to support our students' social emotional learning needs. There will be age appropriate themes and topics at all levels and a more systematic approach to supporting our students and staff in creating a learning environment that works for everybody.
As a former middle school teacher myself, I am thrilled to see the work that our grades 6-8 teachers are doing to better address the unique needs of our 11-14 year old students. While being a part of a bigger Jr-Sr high has its advantages, we can’t assume that all 6-8 graders are ready for high school structures and responsibilities. Our teachers are planning interdisciplinary learning experiences for middle school students, looking for ways to better meet the unique learning needs of this age group, and working hard to make sure our students’’ school experience is more developmentally appropriate.
Another positive change this fall is the efforts of NES Principal Sean Pine and his staff to increase play time for kids. Throughout the pandemic opportunities for kids to play and socialize have been limited. There is no better way for kids to learn social skills than through play. The new master schedule at NES provides the opportunity for 15 minutes more play time for kids every day. Early reports from kids, staff and parents have been very positive. Sean is also working with staff to encourage more outdoor learning opportunities.
Looking ahead to the next few months.
NJSHS is undergoing a NEASC accreditation visit this fall. A team of educators throughout New England will be visiting our school district for a few days in late October. Principal Andy Korman will be sharing more information as the visit approaches. This process will engage the community in a dialog about the Newmarket School District’s Vision of a Graduate.
As October approaches the school district will shift its focus to budget development. Over the course of the fall the school board and leadership will develop the budget that will be proposed in January. Keep your eyes on the school board agenda for when public budget discussions will occur.
I’m excited to report that the Newmarket schools are working with Tim Cremmen from Channel 13 to use the channel and streaming video to better communicate with the town. Be on the lookout for more details, but we anticipate our first “Newmarket School District Corner” program to be out by the end of the month.
We are trying something new to help facilitate more volunteers in the schools. Staff will be on hand at the NES Parent Nights on September 13th and 15th from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm to process and fingerprint new volunteers. If you are planning to volunteer this year and are attending these events please take advantage of this opportunity. Patty Banfiled and a Newmarket Police Officer will be in the cafeteria to process volunteers.
We are still in need of paraeducators and facilities technicians. If you or someone you know is interested in working for the Newmarket schools in one of these capacities please send them our way. We are offering a $1000 hiring incentive.
Thank you to everyone who has made the start of school so successful this fall.
Be well everybody,