Published in the September 13, 2017 edition

WAKEFIELD — In her September 2017 “Superintendent’s Monthly Update” newsletter, Dr. Kim Smith focused on news about technology, facilities and curriculum after a schools tour ensuring her that all summer projects had been completed.
She also shared information about the school cancellation policy as it pertains to snow days.
For the first time in Wakefield’s public schools, snow days will not be made up at the end of the year. Dr. Smith said that the practice is “no longer necessary with the digital tools we have at our fingertips at school and home.”
“Even more important, these late summer make-up days are not comparable to quality, timely learning experiences that should take place within the curriculum sequence.
“It is long overdue that school districts develop plans for real-time learning that continues regardless of winter weather.”
Dr. Smith’s plan, which is part of the “Learn Anywhere” project, is to provide students with quality, curriculum-aligned assignments that can be completed in place of a school cancellation day. The idea is that learning can happen anytime and anywhere, not just inside the four walls of a school or classroom or the start and end of a school day.
The college and career readiness program now in place will help students to work independently.
“Managing distractions and task while completing work outside a workplace is a skill to be mastered,” said Dr. Smith. “It is our belief that that providing our students with the opportunity to engage in independent learning experiences, particularly using digital tools, is yet another steppingstone in college and career readiness.”
“Learn Anywhere” contributes to this idea.
A central tenet of the “Learn Anywhere” school cancellation project is that student work will never be due on the day that students return to school following an unexpected snow day.
“Some students may not have access to a device or Internet at home,” said Dr. Smith. “They may have left resources or materials at school on an unexpected snow day. And some students require IEP or ELL support services to access their assignments.”
Following this tenet will allow educators to build in the time and support structures necessary to ensure all students have equitable access and the adult or educator support needed to successfully complete their assignments.
Dr. Smith also reported on school facilities, technology and curriculum.
Beginning with technology, Dr. Smith reported that the Fiscal Year 2018 budget supported the addition of Chromebook carts in grade 2 so that “every pair of teachers has a full classroom set of Chromebooks to share.”
“We refreshed a full grade 5 fleet of Chromebooks as part of our ongoing renewal plan at the Galvin Middle School,” she said.
At Wakefield Memorial High School, classrooms were outfitted with mounted projectors to ensure an optimum wireless experience with instructional technology throughout the school.
Dr. Smith also was pleased to see that the Greenwood and Woodville school libraries had been reconfigured to create a more “modern day” Learning Commons for print and digital collections with spaces for student projects and collaboration.
The high school has transformed its former computer lab suite into a computer science and engineering area. In addition, the Band Room has a new ceiling and improved lighting while the Charbonneau Field House has a new sound system.
“New flooring near the Field House and carpeting in the Learning Commons gives the first floor a fresh, clean feel,” she commented.
The Doyle Early Childhood Center on Paul Avenue now have reconfigured classrooms that allow for additional flexible spaces for student learning.
Other projects completed included cosmetic work on the first floor of the Galvin Middle School. A small amount of settling that has occurred since construction several years ago needed some cosmetic work.
“Our Department of Public Works field crews have all of our outdoor campuses looking great, as well,” she said. “This includes the new adventure courts at the high school.”
Perhaps the most exciting news of all is the opportunity to enhance curriculum materials and resources across the district.
Advances are being made in science, technology and engineering with brand new curriculum in grades K-8, biology in grade 9 and engineering in grades 10-12.
“We continue to build English language arts and math resources with a significant infusion of leveled books for K-4 readers’ workshop and a brand new geometry curriculum for grades 9-10, including an online component,” said Dr. Smith.
Also, physical education teachers will introduce health and wellness topics in grades K-2 this year.
“Finally, we will engage in a full review of world language curriculum this school year with a goal of investing in high quality, standards-based programming with up-to-date, digitally supported materials and resources for FY’19,” she said.