Thank you to the Education Foundation for sponsoring last night's wonderful evening of Cocktails & Conversation about the ways we are using technology to enhance education in our schools.  Middle School Principal, John Connolly, shared the plans for the construction of spaces at MMS that will enable the expansion of the STEM and STEAM programs already underway. 

Visitors were treated to demos of student technology projects from each grade.  Teacher Liz Bagish showed off the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots that 6th grade students build, modify and program in the Tech Connections class.  Rich Serra displayed a variety of student-designed vehicles from the 6th grade Design & Engineering course. In Suzie Michaels’ Inventions and Innovations class, 7th graders design a model to “fill a need in their community” and solve problems by creating websites and 3-D printed projects.  The 3-D printer was at work demonstrating student-designed projects like badge-holders for teachers, and a plastic rendering of a human cell.  In Lester Greenberg’s 8th grade Robotics class, students learn the basics of robotics while ultimately applying their skills to projects with a medical theme. Thanks to all of you for sharing your evening with a very appreciative community.     

It is our hardworking and dedicated teachers who make our schools exceptional.  However, when they get sick, it can be difficult to find substitute teachers.  This has been a concern for several years, and I hear from my colleagues around the state that most districts are confronting the same issue. 

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We have examined this problem over the years and have taken a number of steps to address it: 

  • Adding the substitute position to our Applitrack job-posting website. 
  • Acquiring the Frontline Absence Management online system, which helps attract substitutes from multiple communities.
  • In January 2017 we increased in the daily substitute rate for certificated subs from $90 to $100/day to stay competitive with surrounding districts. 

We will continue to work toward reducing this shortage by:

  • Paying subs bi-monthly, similar to certificated staff, per sub request.
  • Attempting to decrease the amount of time it takes for approvals.  It now takes from 6 to 8 weeks to complete the approval process at the state level. We often lose applicants to other jobs because of the lengthy process.
  • Keeping applicants apprised of where they stand in the process so they remain in our queue.

Thank you for your patience as we strive to improve our processes to provide consistent staffing coverage in our classrooms.

On this long weekend in honor of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I hope you take some time to remember his fight for freedom, justice and equality, and pay it forward.