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Grey Matters, October 28, 2013; Volume 2, Number 9

posted Oct 27, 2013, 6:44 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 26, 2014, 11:16 AM by James Marcotte ]

Given how many times you’ve heard from me last week by automated phone message and email, I was tempted to forego this week’s Grey Matters so you could all have a break and avoid message overload.  However, like I told the students on Thursday, it’s important to return to our daily routines and activities - so here I am.  Besides, I have the perfect story to open this week’s Grey Matters.  It’s a completely true story and offers an appropriately humorous “what are the odds?” moment to an otherwise serious situation on Thursday.  

Along with RJ Grey families receiving two automated calls from me on Thursday, the entire District received an automated call on behalf of Dr. Mills, giving the community a brief update on what was taking place.  When I got home that evening, I received a message from a good friend of mine, who was one of my roommates in graduate school, and now lives and teaches in Newton.  His message was, “Hey Andrew, hope you are well.  When we got home, our voicemail had a message from your Superintendent telling us about what was going on at your school.  Glad to hear everything was resolved, and that you’re OK, but is there a reason we got this message?”  After a little investigative work, we learned that an elementary school parent had accidentally listed her work number incorrectly, and by writing a “5” instead of a “4”, listed the home phone of my friend who, while glad that I was fine, was completely and utterly confused.  If one of you wants to calculate the odds of this happening, be my guest.  It was a surreal moment during a day that was unusual all-around.  To the many parents who wrote to us (and me) offering support, thank you for taking the time to do that.  On to next week….

On Tuesday we will have our next Second Step lesson. Seventh grade groups will be discussing the elements of compromise and understanding anger. Specifically, students will discuss how a dilemma or difficult situation could turn into a conflict, especially when anger comes into play.  Therefore, it’s useful to discuss some strategies for looking at possible solutions and compromises; and while sometimes being angry is part of being human, how do we find ways to not let it take control of us and prevent us from thinking clearly.  

In the eighth grade groups, students will be discussing the concept of empathy, and strategies for effective communication.  They’ll also look at ways to demonstrate leadership within and outside of school, and opportunities to serve as leaders and/or allies to classmates, including their seventh grade peers.  If you find yourself with the opportunity to ask your children about the Second Step lesson, please do so.

Halloween is on Thursday, and we look forward to the tradition of students and teachers spending the day in costume.  Please remind your children that we applaud creativity and imagination, and we still need them to avoid costumes that include props that mimic weapons, and outfits that have inappropriate language or imagery.  

A week from Tuesday is our District’s Professional Day (Nov. 5).  Students K-12 do not have school that day, and our staff participates in a number of professional development activities.  I’ll send another reminder at the beginning of next week, but wanted to provide you some notice right now.  

Finally, students who ordered a school picture photo package recently received them to bring home.  School picture re-takes are scheduled for November 8.  If your child ordered a photo package and you would like for him/her to re-take the photo, please have your child bring in the original package on that day (and to come dressed for the re-take!).  If your student missed Picture Day earlier this year, this is also the time for him or her to have a photo taken.  Even if you don’t have plans to order a photo package, it is important to have everyone’s photo taken so they will be included in this year’s yearbook.  Students will be called down throughout the day to participate in the re-takes.  If you have any specific questions about school photos, please contact Assistant Principal Jim Marcotte at

Have a great week, everyone.