| Welcome to Andover Public Schools
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Welcome to the 2017-18 school year. I hope you had an enjoyable and refreshing summer.
We can look forward to an exciting year ahead. A great deal is happening in the district. The high school will be implementing its new schedule and the high school facility study committee is aggressively moving forward on a plan to renovate and expand the high school. The high school is also broadening opportunities for capstone and innovation projects that have provided students with exceptional and authentic learning experiences.
Meanwhile, we are pursuing renovation or replacement of West Elementary through the Massachusetts School Building Authority, along with building improvements at all our schools. Many of our elementary classrooms will have new and highly effective sound enhancement systems that enable all students to hear the teacher and each other no matter where they are in the room. We will extend this feature to all schools over the coming years. We also continue to work on reducing class size at the elementary level to provide greater personalization.
We are finally completing the rollout of our iAndover initiative with distribution of technology to K through 3 classrooms in October. This project increases access to rich curriculum and experiences for all our students. In addition, we are enhancing our progress monitoring efforts, particularly in reading, in order to improve our instructional program and address individual student needs.
The summer is a great time for our staff to learn and come back refreshed and ready for a new start. Many of our faculty members participated in an impressive array of professional development opportunities that includes such experiences as the New England Arts and Literacy Summer Institute in Springfield, the Lincoln Center Aesthetic Education Immersion Summer Forum in New York City, the Stanford Design Thinking Institute in Detroit, the Lucy Calkins Reading and Writing Project Summer Institute at Columbia University, the Regional Capstone Symposium in Vermont, the International Society for Technology in Education conference in San Antonio, the Newseum Summer Teacher Institute in Washington, DC, and the Responsive Classroom Course and Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning summer professional development here in the district. I’m confident our faculty members are returning with new ideas to make our students' learning experiences even more effective and meaningful.
The summer has had its challenges as well. The recent events in Charlottesville and their aftermath weigh heavily on the minds of many of us. I want to reaffirm that racism, anti-Semitism, prejudice against Muslims, bigotry, and bullying have no place in the Andover Public Schools. We will be clear that any expression of these sentiments by word or deed is not acceptable and will be swiftly and firmly addressed.
Last week I received an email from Jeff Wulfson, Acting Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education, who affirmed this stance for all educators in the state. He wrote, “In an Internet age, they (our students) should have the ability to discern fact from fiction and to distinguish democracy from demagoguery. They need to know how to listen and participate in well-informed discussions, and when they see hatred and intolerance, they need to be armed with something other than hate in response. Many of the roots of American democracy are right here in Massachusetts; our Commonwealth's experiment in self-governance predates our nation. Let us be leaders in imparting our civic values to the next generation, and let us proudly share how Massachusetts educators have made our schools a welcoming place for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, faith, immigration status, gender, and sexual orientation.”
We in the Andover Public Schools are deeply committed to creating caring, respectful and safe communities within our classrooms and to educating students to think critically, value tolerance and open-mindedness, pursue factual evidence for making choices, set high standards for ethical judgment, and know that they can make a positive difference.
In connection with making a difference, I think all of us have been shocked by the reports of devastation in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Families in the affected region are suffering terribly and will continue to grapple with the storm's aftermath for months and even years to come. As we keep these communities in our thoughts, I encourage all of Andover's families to seek ways of extending help to those who are in need during this difficult time. As a district, we will be discussing the possibility of a collective response from all schools in the coming days.
I believe we have a great year ahead of us. It is a privilege to serve your family and children. I am very much looking forward to seeing our students return this week.
Superintendent of Schools