Entries from February 2010
February 22nd, 2010 · 1 Comment
Bedford has been awarded an Energy Efficiency and Block Grant (EECBG) sub-grant in the amount of $150,000 for its grant application seeking funds to establish Thermal Efficiency at the Lane School. Funds for this award were made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 through the US Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block grant program. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) developed and is responsible for administering this sub-grant program.
The award is intended to provide an incentive to districts working to create a green energy future for the Commonwealth. DOER and its Green Communities Division will work with Bedford to implement the Lane School project.
Special thanks to Richard Jones, Director of Facilites, and Brenda Kelly, a member of Bedford’s Energy Task Force for procuring this competitive grant for our schools.
February 21st, 2010 · 1 Comment
One of the characteristics we value as part of a comprehensive education is the notion of “balance.” As technology becomes more embedded in pedagogy and electronic readers deliver literature to our desktops, some worry that we may compromise our commitment to teaching and savoring great literature as a core component of a 21st century education. At Bedford High School the commitment to both the written and spoken word is strong as evidenced by a recent journey to listen to a six hour reading/performance of The Great Gatsby. Dan Niven, an English teacher at BHS, graciously shared the following account of a Saturday extension of student learning:
At 3:00 pm on Saturday January 30th, 27 BHS students, along with English teachers MaryLou Sallee and Dan Niven and reading specialist Susan Rozen, gathered at the American Repetory Theater in Harvard Square to watch the six hour production of Gatz by the New York City based theater group Elevator Repair Service. In this critically acclaimed play, finally available to U.S. audiences after many years of legal wrangling with the F. Scott Fitzgerald estate, an ensemble of 13 actors brings to life every word of Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel The Great Gatsby—with no text added and none removed. Most of the students were from Ms. Sallee and Mr. Niven’s American Perspectives classes, who had either just finished or were just beginning to read the novel in their classes, and seeing the novel performed live gave each student and teacher a wonderful new perspective on this masterpiece. “I didn’t expect the tone to be so humorous in so many places,” Mr. Niven admitted. “I never read it as such a funny tale, but the actors’ facial expressions and timing had the audience roaring quite often—which certainly helped the six hours go by much faster than expected.”
The play is set in a modern business office, and when one employee’s computer fails to fire up in the morning, he finds a copy of The Great Gatsby in his Rolodex and begins to read it aloud. Eventually, the other office workers begin to assume the roles of the novel’s characters, and the man reading the book becomes the novel’s narrator, Nick Carraway. As the A.R.T’s description of the play states: “At first his coworkers hardly notice. But after a series of strange coincidences, it’s no longer clear whether he’s reading the book or the book is doing something to him.” While the play’s setting remained the office for the entire six hours, the inventive staging and sound easily captured the various scenes from the novel.
The students all agreed it was a wonderful performance and a terrific experience. Class discussions the following week about the novel and the play were very energetic and interesting, and it was clear they had all learned a great deal more about the novel—and the theater—than they would have without seeing the play. Students were responsible for getting themselves to the theater, and for finding a place for dinner during the one-hour intermission between the play’s halves—and for getting back on time. “The students were wonderful,” Ms. Sallee said with pride. “We’re led to believe that only electronics can capture their attention, but these young people proved ‘the play’s the thing.’” One junior even went back to watch the play a week later, and she said she enjoyed it even more the second time.
Special thanks to Mr. Niven, Ms. Sallee and Dr. Rozen for inspiring an old school love of literature in our “digital natives.”
Tags: Community · Digital Learners · Teaching and Learning
Most had been educated in America or had kids studying there, and they were all bemoaning how the decline of the Yemeni education system, the proliferation of exclusively religious schools here and the falloff in scholarships for Yemeni kids to study in America were producing a very different Yemeni generation than their own. They spoke fondly of U.S. schools that were based on merit, taught them to think freely and prepared them with the skills to thrive.
So here is my new rule of thumb: For every Predator missile we fire at an Al Qaeda target here, we should help Yemen build 50 new modern schools that teach science and math and critical thinking — to boys and girls.
I was struck by the following comment: “They spoke fondly of U.S. schools that were based on merit, taught them to think freely and prepared them with the skills to thrive.” Educators know that an investment in children is the best use of our resources. In the age of the global citizen, Friedman continues to push us to recognize both the challenges and opportunities in a “flat world.” He also reminds us of the value that others place on American schooling.
The entire article can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/opinion/10friedman.html?th&emc=th
Tags: Teaching and Learning
I am pleased to report that the Finance Committee voted to increase our budget guideline by $225,000 on Saturday, February 6th. That vote resulted in the difference between the Finance Committee guideline and the School Committee vote on January 26th being reduced to $129,780. At its meeting of February 9th, the School Committee voted to reduce the budget by $129,780 bringing it into line with the Finance Committee’s vote. To reach that number, the School Committee added to its lengthy list of previously approved budget cuts making reductions in the following line items:
- General Supplies
- Out of District Special Education
- Computers (50% of our request)
While the reductions were absolutely necessary, the reality is that the supply accounts will be funded at FY2002 levels. That will place a strain on resources throughout the system Similarly, the reduction in computer purchases will create constraints in our ability to migrate and replace aging machines. The material and equipment reductions follow significant personnel cuts that were already approved in two staffing categories: teaching assistants and administrative staff.
I am confident that as a system we will make this work and am appreciative for all the work the Finance Committee invested to bring us to this point. The collaboration between and among all the Boards in Bedford enables all parties to come together and reach consensus in challenging financial times.
The final step in the budget approval process will be the vote of Annual Town Meeting in March.
Tags: Budget Information · Community
Today The Lowell Sun features a great article about the continuing contributions of Shawsheen Technical High School students who have returned to work on the North Road Habitat for Humanity project. To read the entire story, click here: http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_14353407?IADID=Search-www.lowellsun.com-www.lowellsun.com
This example of “on the job learning” is one of many opportunities students have at our technical high school. As a member community Bedford is able to propose projects that meet the needs of both students and the Town.
I am pleased to announce a special fundraising event for Haiti that is being sponsored by the Lane School: Rebuilding Haiti One Town at a Time. Here’s the details on the event:
Program: An evening of inspirational acts presented by Lane School teachers and students to benefit Gressier, Haiti
Date: Thursday, February 11, 2010
Place: John Glenn Middle School Auditorium
Donation: $5 individual / $10 family
This the the second major fundraiser sponsored by Lane School students and staff. Please make an effort to support them.
Tags: Community · Parent · Teaching and Learning
Bedford Youth and Family Services has shared the following Press Release announcing an upcoming Cyberbullying Seminar for Parents. As we struggle with the complex issues of cyberbullying, Bedford is fortunate to be part of the Middlesex Partnership for Youth, an arm of the District Attorney’s office that provides both support and educational opportunities for member districts. Here’s the details on the event:
The internet offers almost limitless opportunities to gain knowledge and make contact with others. When used appropriately, it is a powerful and positive tool. However, parents and schools need to be aware of the risks inherent in the technology, and the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc., in conjunction with the Office of Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone will provide a seminar for Bedford parents, school staff, and administration on effective prevention and intervention strategies. Make Sure Our Kids Are Cyber Safe will be offered Tuesday, March 2, 2010 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at Bedford Town Hall Auditorium. Presenters will include Margie Daniels and Onyen Yong from the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth. Daniels is Executive Director of the organization, and Yong is Assistant District Atorney and Director of Information Technology.
The March 2nd event is free and is sponsored by Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Bedford Public Schools, and the Violence Prevention Coalition of Bedford (VPC) and is part of a year long series of parent education events coordinated by Bedford Youth and Family Services (YFS). For more information about the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, check out their website at www.MiddlesexPartnershipsForYouth.org.
If you have questions or need more information about the March 2nd event, call YFS at 781-275-7727.
Tags: Community · Parent
In today’s edition of The Boston Globe, James Varnis is on target in his column entitled “Obama Education Overhaul Well Received.” In his commentary on the reauthorization of NCLB, Varnis notes:
The new system would also scrap the 2014 proficiency deadline, preferring that states adopt standards under which students graduate from high school ready for college or a career. Schools that make substantial improvement toward the new goals would be rewarded, while those where performance is stagnant or declining would face sanctions, such as state takeovers, according to the budget document.
Faced with the highest standards in the nation, Massachusetts educators have long lamented the unattainable expectation that all students can or would reach proficiency in 2014. I f the Obama administration is able to establish more realistic goals for all students and more equitable standards across the nation, the reauthorization of NCLB will represent a positive change for all students. To read the entire column, can click here:
Tags: Community · Teaching and Learning
The January 26th meeting of the Bedford School Committee included an Athletic Program Presentation by Keith Mangan, Athletic Director. Mr. Mangan set the tone for the evening’s presentation as he presented the department’s philosophy:
The highest potential of athletes is achieved by committing to the ideal of pursuing victory with honor. Good faith efforts to honor the words and spiit of our philosophy will improve the quality of our program and the well being of all teammates.
To view the presentation, you can click here:
Tags: Community · Parent · Teaching and Learning