Excerpts from the Superintendent’s 2017 August Newsletter

Happy New Year from Central Office,

“By the time you read this newsletter, we will have hired more than 25 educators who have signed first-time professional staff contracts with Hingham Public Schools. As well, the hiring of a number of paraeducators, clerical personnel, food service workers, custodians, and other support staff is ongoing. Likely, there will be more changes as we approach the start of school, but we are excited about all the experiences, expertise, and energy that our new HPS colleagues will bring to their roles.  We are proud to announce a number of leadership changes. Richard Swanson was appointed to succeed Dr. Paula Girouard McCann as the HHS Principal. Melissa Smith has succeeded Chuck Cormier in the Principal role at PRS. Collin Shattuck at HHS and Charleen Fabrizio at PRS have filled the Assistant Principal roles vacated as Rick and Melissa assumed principalships. Mary Andrews has replaced K-12 ELA Director Laney Silva, and James Quatromoni will replace Athletic Director Margaret Conaty upon her October retirement. New Resource Teachers include Rose Papuga in art and Joann Bellis for elementary music. Katelyn Joyal is the new Assistant to the Food Service Director and Al Duquette has moved from Head Custodian at Foster to the role of Project Coordinator for Facilities. I know all of you will join me in welcoming and congratulating new members of the HPS team, others who are transitioning to new roles, and also in sending best wishes for happy and healthy retirements to our former colleagues. Hingham’s excellent Orientation and first year mentor program will move forward with Co-Director Courtney Stevenson and new Co-Director Rich Florence at the helm. Under their leadership, and with support from building coordinators Suzanne Greene, Joan Kilban, Kathy LeBlanc, Eileen Sharkey, and Rose Yodzio, the program will continue to provide a supportive start and modeling of “best practices” for our newest colleagues. Once again, a number of you have volunteered (or have been recruited) to become part of this significant effort; your support and nurturing of the 2017 additions to our HPS educator team is acknowledged and appreciated.

Summer maintenance and cleaning projects have been under way across the district. In the various buildings, routine painting, carpet replacement, plumbing, electrical, and lighting projects and the seemingly endless roof patching needs have been given attention. Playground enhancements are evident at South (storage shed) and East (playground resurfacing and storage shed). High efficiency LED exterior lighting has been installed at PRS and South Schools. Updating of the Building Management system that controls the HVAC at PRS will add to greater efficiency and comfort there. All 580 sprinkler heads were replaced at South as was the rooftop HVAC compressor serving the cafeteria. The East School heating and cooling system has benefitted from the injection of 1300 gallons of a glycol corrosion inhibitor. At the high school, the entire math/science wing roof, damaged by a strong Nor’easter in late 2015, was replaced. As well, repair and resurfacing of the turf field bleachers has been accomplished as a warrantee project. A number of projects at Foster School, including steam trap
replacements, HVAC control system inspection, repair and testing, back-up control air compressor installation, and repair of the make-up air unit (MUA) will combine to improve operation, efficiency, and stability of the heating and ventilation system and add to the comfort of the inhabitants of the building as we await a response from the Massachusetts School Building Authority to our April 2017 Statement of Interest (SOI). Of course, this is just a sampling of the completed or in process summer initiatives that reflect the efforts of our quality maintenance and custodial staff. Kudos go to Katie Hartman and Doug Foley and their maintenance and custodial staff for their focus on preventative maintenance as well as attention to repair and replacement needs.

Enrollment will be about level for the coming year. We are projecting an elementary enrollment that is smaller than the 2016-2017 count by about 40 students. This is due mainly to the impact of a large class of 5th graders (349) moving on to the middle school and the entry of a Kindergarten cohort of only 292 students (although that is 12 students larger than last year’s Kindergarten group). We anticipate an approximate decrease of 15 students at the middle school and an increase for the high school of about 44 students. We will need to monitor the numbers carefully as there are class sizes in a couple of places that are larger than we would prefer.

We all are looking forward to hearing more about the results of the Spring 2017 administration of the MCAS 2.0 assessment system, especially at grades 4 and 8 where Hingham students experienced online testing for the first time. Needless to say, there remain many unanswered questions at all levels concerning how student growth will be measured and how the state’s Accountability and Assistance System will be changed to reflect the requirements of the new federal “Every Student Succeeds” Act.  Also of interest will be more details about the transition to online testing for all grades that will be required of all districts by 2019.

We are excited about the number of local initiatives that are moving forward in addition to those that reflect DESE and legislative mandates. These include the HHS NEASC Accreditation Visit scheduled for September and capping a nearly two-year self-study process. Continued monitoring of the HHS GPA data will help us to assess the impact of the changes in that metric. The addition of health and physical education staffing supports the recent change in HHS graduation requirements and addresses the need for more health and social-emotional learning (SEL) opportunities for students. In September 2017 the first cohort of students who have experienced three years of the Chromebook 1-1 initiative at HMS will enter ninth grade; coincident with that, the high school will formally adopt a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment. More details about that change are available on the website. A Request for Proposals (RFP) has just been posted to fund an independent evaluation of middle school special education programs and services. As well, we will begin the first full year of the Transition Room for grades 6-8. A search for the permanent coordinator for that program is in process. Elementary Principals and Technology Specialists are excited about the newly funded shared technician role that will support the management of the increasing number of devices in each of the buildings. The standards-based report card project continues with next year’s focus on grade 3. Also in progress are the redesign of the elementary technology curriculum and other departmental initiatives and course offering changes at all levels to reflect the MA Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards and the newest Science and Technology Standards. Teachers at all levels are excited about the new professional development software that will manage and document their professional growth and training initiatives.

Teachers new to Hingham will begin the 2017-2018 school year on August 28, 2017. Their two-day orientation program will begin with a reception at the Hingham Middle School cafeteria at 8:00 a.m.  Photographs, words of welcome, introductions, the traditional bus tour, a luncheon with mentors, an inspirational speaker, and some initial training activities also will be part of the day’s program. The second orientation day on August 29, 2017 will include a morning workshop at 8:00 a.m. and a special education workshop at 1:30 p.m. (also at HMS). The annual Convocation for all staff will take place at Hingham High School on August 30, 2017 beginning with coffee etc. available in the main lobby at 7:45 a.m. and continuing until the general session in the auditorium beginning at 8:30. I know all of you will join me in welcoming a very special convocation speaker this year. We are honored that Mr. David G. McCullough, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, a renowned author, narrator and historian, will join us. I know the thoughts of this Presidential Medal of Freedom award winner will inspire us all as we begin yet another new year.

Challenges are ever present, but so are new resources, enhanced programs, and improved facilities; we will be reminded of the good feelings, the “aha moments,” and the day-to-day rewards that come naturally as part of working with the children and young people we serve and with our colleagues and supporters. After all these years, I continue to be confident that we will all experience those special moments that remind us why we entered the profession. May they be frequent and fulfilling!”


From the Assistant Superintendent – Special HPS Projects to Follow in the Coming Year

Hingham Tiered Systems of Support: Social-Emotional

Hingham Public Schools is in the beginning stages of developing and rolling out a comprehensive multi-tiered model of social-emotional supports for students across all grades PK-12. This process will involve collecting information from our students, staff, and community, unpacking and understanding the needs of our students, developing school-wide supports, and piloting individual screening measures and individual evidence-based interventions. We have partnered with the Boston University School of Education’s Social Adjustment and Bullying Laboratory to work with our HTSS: Social-Emotional Task Force to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment in the fall. This partnership is being fully funded through the generous support of the Hingham Education Foundation.

Our needs assessment will involve a universal survey of students (grades 3-12), teachers, and parents to assess student need, professional development focuses, and parent perception and education needs. Using the data collected from this needs assessment, will be begin our work of building a multi-tiered model of support across all schools. You will receive a separate correspondence about this initiative when the time comes to launch the universal survey. We hope we have your support when the time comes to complete the survey.

Computer Science Roll-Out

Starting in September all Hingham elementary students will take Computer Science as one of their specials, replacing the previously offered “computer” classes. This new instructional program, which has been under development since September, will provide our students with essential knowledge and skills to be effective members of a digital world and will align to the Commonwealth’s Digital Literacy and Computer Science Curriculum Framework. This new initiative will be fully funded through the generosity of the Hingham Education Foundation.

2017-2018 Professional Development Program

Beginning this year we will be rolling out a revamped Professional Development Program in order to ensure that our educators receive the training and support necessary to stay current and gain the necessary professional development points needed for their licensure. Please consult the release times on the reverse of the school calendar as release times have been revised since last year.

Special Education

Our Special Education Continuous Improvement Task Force was busy last spring reviewing the district’s programs and worked with the middle and high school special education staff in the completion of programmatic self-assessments. Looking ahead to this year, the district will be conducting an independent evaluation of our middle school special education programs and will work to support our middle school programs in becoming even stronger than they are today. Other district programs for students with special needs will be evaluated in the years, all as a part of the department’s commitment to continuous improvement.