Eye on the Junior High



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Good afternoon,


I hope you are all doing well. I want to start by putting in another plug for our annual Coat Drive and our Toys for Tots drive. Both are currently accepting donations through next Friday (12/15). If you have a used, warm coat that you’re looking to get rid of, we’ll take it! And the same applies for unused, unwrapped toys. Feel free to drop off any items, or send them with your children over the next week. We have drop-off locations in the main lobby.


This week in Advisory, we talked a bit about empathy. We defined empathy as the understanding of or the ability to identify with another person’s feelings or experiences. Each month, we have a lesson or two that shift the focus of the group to a learning or discussion topic. We find that some middle schoolers are the walking definitions of empathy - kind, considerate, thoughtful, and interested in others around them. Others could benefit from lessons on why empathy matters, especially as a member of a community.

After reviewing the definition, together we completed an empathy “quiz” where students self identified where they strongly agree, agree, disagree, etc. with a series of statements. Statements like “I easily feel sad when the people around me feel sad” or “When I’m upset at someone, I usually try to put myself in their shoes for a while” led to a good conversation in my group. We wrestled with the idea that it’s not always easy to think like someone else, especially when you’re upset with that person. I shared that I can strongly agree with many of these statements in my “work life” but may have a different response if I considered my personal life. All of this is to say that we continue to use our Advisory program to have fun and create strong relationships, and to also connect some social-emotional skills in small and concrete ways. If the topic of empathy comes up at home, you can expect that your 7th or 8th grader might have something to share!


With the upcoming vacation and holiday season, I know some of you have considered or have even already made plans for giving gifts to teachers. My own wife has done all the planning for small tokens of appreciation for my kids’s teachers, dance teachers, bus drivers, etc. However, I want to be clear that no RJ Grey teacher expects gifts and no family should ever feel obligated to provide one! I would recommend, if you have a few moments, that a kind email or word of thanks to a teacher goes quite a long way, whether around the holidays or at any time of the year! If you are committed to giving a gift, please know that there are state ethics laws that limit gifts that teachers, coaches, and staff are permitted to receive. School staff cannot accept gifts from a single family that amount to $50 or more in value for the entire school year. 

Upcoming Dates

  • Friday, Dec 8: Report cards emailed home

  • Friday, Dec 15: Formal Dress Day at RJ Grey

  • Friday, Dec 22: Early Release at 11:10 am 

  • Tuesday, Jan 2: School Reopens for 2024

Take care and have a great weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Dec 07, 2023 at 10:37 AM
  

Good afternoon,


I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and long weekend. My family had plenty to eat over the weekend and decent weather to go along with it. We now have about three weeks of school until our first extended vacation of the year. 


Next week you’ll receive a Trimester 1 report card. Trimester one closed this week. Now we give teachers some time to calculate grades and provide comments for report cards. Then we take a few days to compile everything and prepare the actual documents that will be emailed to you on Friday, December 8th. When you see the report card, if there is a question about how something was calculated, or the meaning of a comment, I would ask you to start a conversation with your child. If that doesn’t yield an answer that seems right, please reach out to the specific teacher to check in. The first trimester at RJ Grey is a complicated one since we spend plenty of time early in the term getting used to routines, getting to know expectations for the grade levels, and taking several assessments. The subsequent terms likely include more grades that come as the result of assessments of reading, writing, and other learning.


As I’ve noted earlier this year, RJ Grey is a strong community that steps up when asked to help. Just today, we read our initial announcements about two collection drives we have started. Our student council hosts an annual Coat Drive to benefit Coats for Kids. If you have any gently used coats in your closets that would benefit from finding a new home, we’ll take them off your hands! Adults or students can bring coats to our Lobby from now through December 15 for donations. That same time period applies to our annual Toys for Tots drive where we collect new, unused, and unwrapped toys. Both drives are open through December 15 - thank you for considering how you might be able to contribute.


I have heard rave reviews from teachers who went to last night’s Rock of Ages musical at RJ Grey! I will be in the audience tonight. I’m hearing that if you like 80s music, you will love this show. We have performances Friday and Saturday night at 7 pm and on Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets are available at the door. Thank you to anyone who can come support our students!

Upcoming Dates

  • Thurs, Nov 30 - Sunday Dec 3: Rock of Ages Musical at RJ Grey

  • Mon, Dec 4: Early Release at 1 pm

  • Mon, Dec 4: Coat Drive and Toys for Tots Drive begin

  • Friday, Dec 8: Report cards emailed home

  • Friday, Dec 15: Formal Dress Day at RJ Grey

  • Friday, Dec 22: Early Release at 11:10 am 

  • Tuesday, Jan 2: School Reopens for 2024

Take care and have a great weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Dec 01, 2023 at 12:54 PM
  

Good afternoon,


On Monday afternoon, from behind my desk, I heard the phone ring in the Main Office and I heard Christine say, “Let me see if I can find him.” That means that she’s either looking for me or Mr. Zhang, our male assistant principal. She was looking for me, and said I had to go to Pam Reeves’ class and didn’t know why. Not having any more info, I grabbed my phone and walkie talkie, left the office, crossed the lobby,  and entered Room 408 quickly, thinking something must be wrong - Mrs. Reeves never needs help! There waiting was her T5 Spanish class…21 8th graders… ready to sing Happy Birthday, in Spanish, to me. My birthday was, in fact, on Monday and watching them sing in Spanish (I was a Spanish teacher) was quite a nice moment. We have really great kids here at RJ Grey who together suggest and agree to sing to their principal on his birthday. I do feel very lucky to be a member of this community.


This week in Advisory, we are talking with students about communication and specifically, understanding the difference between intent and impact. This is a concept we often talk about in response to situations here at school, so I appreciate that we are attempting to be proactive in our efforts. Part of the mini-lessons include a few middle school-type scenarios. Our students’ task in between Tuesday’s advisory and Thursday’s advisory was to watch for situations where someone’s intent was different from the subsequent impact. We continue to use Advisory to talk about skills, in this case, social awareness and communication


Our school musical is opening up after Thanksgiving. Rock of Ages: Youth Edition will be a great show if you have a chance to come see it. We’ll have 7 pm shows on November 30, December 1 and 2, and a 2 pm matinee on December 3rd. Our students have been working on this show since September, along with our dedicated staff advisors. We hope you’ll come join us and have a great time!


We will be entering our winter sports season, starting after Thanksgiving. Please find the tryout schedule here. Please make sure you have completed the Family ID page, and make sure your child has an up-to-date physical on file with our Health Office. Please send any questions to our Junior High Athletic Director, Jon Duclos: [email protected].


Since next Thursday is Thanksgiving, I won’t write to you again until November 30. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you have safe travels and an enjoyable holiday. I am excited to see my family and have a great meal, complete with leftovers, I hope!


Upcoming Dates

  • Wednesday, November 22: Early Release for Thanksgiving (11:10 am)

  • Thurs/Friday, Nov 23 and 24: No School for Thanksgiving Holiday

  • Wed Nov 29: End of Trimester 1

  • Thurs, Nov 30 - Sunday Dec 3: Rock of Ages Musical at RJ Grey

  • Mon, Dec 4: Coat Drive Begins

Take care and have a great weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Nov 16, 2023 at 11:41 AM
  

Good afternoon,


For those who notice this type of thing, I missed writing my weekly message last week. I was out of the building on Thursday for some professional learning and then rushed to my second job (being a dad), and putting this column together just didn’t happen. I knew you would forgive me for missing a week!


I’ve written before that we are working with the Anti Defamation League this year on multiple fronts. Over the last two weeks, a group of more than 20 junior high students were trained as peer leaders by the ADL as we begin our A World of Difference Program. By all accounts, from our students, our staff advisors, and the trainers that came to AB, the training was worthwhile and our kids were impressive! As this group continues to work at RJ Grey, they will work together to design and deliver lessons to their peers on certain topics to help to combat hate and bias and promote a strong school community. When we have firm plans about those lessons, I’ll be sure to share those out with you. 


While our students are entering a 4-day weekend, our RJ Grey staff spent today at school. This morning, we worked with trainers from the ADL to better understand forms of bias and how to respond with strategies that foster a safe environment for discussions on race, culture and other aspects of human identity. During the afternoon, we talked about our students and worked to identify which supports might be necessary for some of our students to be successful. We treated ourselves to a lunch that lasted slightly longer than 25 minutes, too. It is a real joy for me to work with our staff at RJ Grey. Professional learning days like these are integral for us to be a strong team who works together for all students. Having the chance to learn together, laugh a bit, and slow down for a few minutes, helps to rejuvenate us all for the work we do every day. 


I referenced above that I had my own professional learning last week - it was a rare day for me to be completely out of the building, but it was well spent. As part of that day, I chatted with an assistant principal from another town in Massachusetts who talked with pride about how she uses Instagram to communicate the awesome work that her students and teachers do on a daily basis. Since then, we have made a concerted effort to resurrect our own RJ Grey Instagram account. Between myself and Mr. Zhang, we’ll be putting more time into using social media to tell our audience about the great things happening at RJ Grey. Please give us a follow at @rjgreyjhs. Mr. Zhang and I appreciate your follow and will love it even more if you like our posts!


We will be entering our winter sports season starting after Thanksgiving. Please find the tryout schedule here. Please make sure you have completed the Family ID page, and make sure your child has an up-to-date physical on file with our Health Office. Please send any questions to our Junior High Athletic Director, Jon Duclos: [email protected].


If you are interested in joining our School Council, please be in touch. Our council has met twice this year. We currently have only one representative from our 7th grade parent group, so if you are interested in learning more, please be in touch with me.


Finally, I was passing through the Main Office yesterday when I heard Mrs. Hanley tell a student that we have no more Chromebook loaners to lend because a good number of them are loaned out while we repair other devices. If your child has at times forgotten their Chromebook at home, or they forgot to charge it, it is possible we’ll have to disappoint them and they’ll have to proceed through their day without their device. This will impact their ability to view or complete activities that are happening in class. Any help you can provide in making sure your child has a routine at home to always bring a charged device to school is greatly appreciated.


I hope you all have a nice weekend, and to our Veterans: Thank you for your service to our country.

Upcoming Dates

  • Friday, November 10: No School: Veterans Day

  • Wednesday, November 22: Early Release for Thanksgiving (11:10 am)

  • Thurs/Friday, Nov 23 and 24: No School for Thanksgiving Holiday

  • Wed Nov 29: End of Trimester 1

  • Thurs, Nov 30 - Sunday Dec 3: Rock of Ages Musical at RJ Grey

  • Mon, Dec 4: Coat Drive Begins

Take care and have a great long weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Nov 09, 2023 at 7:25 AM
  

Good afternoon,


Our students, with your support, continue to rise to the challenges we present to them. As you know, we held a Food Drive yesterday for the Acton Food Pantry. I hope many of you have some remaining items left in your cupboards because from the looks of it, we collected most of the food available in Acton and Boxborough! We purposely had the donations come through our Advisory groups as one small way to orient our Advisories into thinking about “community” more often. We are very pleased with our donations, and I’m sure the food pantry will be, as well. Thank you for your support!

  


It’s hard to believe we’re already at the end of October! At the beginning of each month, our assistant principals take a look at absence and tardy totals for all of our students. If they see a trend towards absences or tardies that seems important, you will receive a somewhat formal letter alerting you to your child’s current attendance status. This letter is a requirement from DESE. I ask that anyone who receives this letter receives it as intended - it is solely a heads up! We are not sending a letter intending to assign blame or question parental decision related to illnesses, funerals, or other important items that interrupt typical school attendance. We will send letters even if we know your child was out for several days for legitimate reasons. If you receive a letter and have a curiosity about why, please be in touch with the assistant principal, or feel free to share background info if you feel it is relevant to how we best work with your student.


Throughout the last year or so, and in different settings, I’ve talked about attendance - at 6th grade family night back in April, at staff meetings, and through this column on previous occasions. There is somewhat of a “magic number” for us in schools. DESE and therefore schools, look at 10% as an important threshold. Students whose absences exceed ten percent in one year are deemed “chronically absent” by DESE. Ten percent of our school year is only 18 days! And 18 days is only about 2 days per month - so for some families, I think this could creep up without realizing a pattern. We are working on lowering our chronically absent rate - it’s part of our School Improvement Plan. And more than that, we want to make sure kids are in school because being here is how we can help them learn content, how to read and write more clearly, how to think critically, and how to create community with their teachers and peers. So, if at the beginning of November or any future month, you receive a letter alerting you to absences, please take it for what it is - a heads up! But be in touch if you have any questions or need some assistance with getting your child to school on a very regular basis.


We hosted four assemblies last week where representatives from Acton-Boxborough Regional High School spoke to 8th graders. Each 8th grade team was a great audience and showed a great amount of respect for their presenters. Ms. Dean and her team talked to students about types of classes they can take at ABRHS, along with community service opportunities, athletics and activities, and counseling supports available to students. Normally, we arrange for students to meet with the high school later in the spring. This year, we wanted to make sure students had a chance to learn about the high school around the same time they might be considering private or technical school options. 


I want to thank our Student Council for organizing to have AB Revolution T-shirts for all of our 7th graders. The back of the shirt displays “Class of 29!” Last year, our current 8th graders (Class of 28) received these same t-shirts. These are just a small nod to our efforts to promote community and school pride! I have been happy to see many of these t-shirts being worn this week.


Upcoming Dates

  • Friday, November 3: Quarter 1 (Grey Block classes) ends

  • Monday, November 6: Library closed after school, Staff Meeting

  • Tuesday, November 7: Election Day

  • Thursday, November 9: No School for Students: Professional Day

  • Friday, November 10: No School: Veterans Day

  • Wednesday, November 22: Early Release for Thanksgiving (11:10 am)

  • Thurs/Friday, Nov 23 and 24: No School for Thanksgiving Holiday

Take care and have a great weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Oct 26, 2023 at 1:19 PM
  

Good afternoon,


I was very happy to see many of our students and many of you at last Sunday’s Walk Against Hate. The weather was great for a quick walk from ABRHS to the new Gardner Field in West Acton. We continue the work against hate and bias here at RJ Grey. Starting next week, 28 of our students will be trained as peer leaders by the Anti-Defamation League as part of the A World of Difference Program. After their training, they’ll work together with their advisors to create lessons that they’ll deliver to their peers during the second half of the year. I remain hopeful for our communities because I see how passionate and committed our students and educators are.


Despite our good work and positive intent, we do encounter situations where students make mistakes - on a daily basis! They are middle schoolers and their brains are not yet fully developed, so we understand that mistakes happen. At a moment in the future, you may get a call from a teacher, a counselor, or an administrator to let you know that something happened and that there may be a consequence for your child’s actions. If this happens, it is not the end of the world! We look to partner with you and make sure you understand our goal, which is to make sure the student can reflect and consider how their actions have impacted others and how they can commit to not repeating those same actions.


Over the past year, our admin team has taken a different approach towards typical “consequences.” Last year, our newer admin team debated the value and importance of consequences like lunch detention. Lunch detention is something we’d gotten used to using with students who did something that merited some level of consequence. Lunch detention serves a purpose - removing the fun privilege of being with friends during lunch on a temporary basis. But we didn’t embed a ton of learning into lunch detentions due to their short time frame. At other times in the past, suspensions were also used with students as a consequence. 


With an eye towards using more restorative practices and really focusing on what a student could learn from an experience, we shifted our focus to using more time spent after school. “Detention” is a bad name for what we do. My only time serving a detention was in high school when I forgot my student ID badge at home one morning. Detention at Lowell High in the late ‘90s was an after school consequence where I sat in a room with about 15 other students - I’m not sure if their offenses were more serious than forgetting their student ID! We couldn’t talk, couldn’t read, we just had to sit there. We don’t use that version of detention here at RJ Grey. Instead, the student meets with the assistant principal after school, and through either chatting or in writing, the student reflects on what happened for them to end up after school. In that conversation, the AP will likely give some direction and ask some probing questions for the student to consider about how their actions impacted others, and how they could work to make the situation better. At times, the AP might ask the student to create a poster, or a Google Slide presentation on what they’ve learned. Or, they might write a letter of apology to someone, or they may need to talk to a trusted adult about whatever occurred and what they learned from it. Our ultimate goal when a student makes a mistake is for them to learn something, consider how it impacted others or the community, and remember their process of reflections in order to prevent something similar from happening again. That level of conversation and processing doesn’t often fit during the day, so we have students stay after school to do so. We don’t have a ton of students serving after school time, but knowing that middle schoolers make mistakes quite often, I wanted to share this process and our philosophy. 


We have a ONE DAY food drive coming up next Wednesday. You likely saw my message earlier this week through email. We are collecting items in Advisory on Wednesday to benefit the Acton Food Pantry. Thank you for supporting your child as they may raid your own cabinets before next Wednesday.


As we approach the end of the month, I wanted to remind you all again that we are not dressing in costume this year for Halloween. This is a shift from past practice at RJ Grey, but is in line with what the elementary schools in our District are doing. So if you hear any excited talk about your child’s costume, please make sure they are referring to wearing it to family or community events, where I hope they have some fun!


Finally, if you have not already done so, please remember to activate your ParentSquare Account!  ParentSquare account emails were sent Monday 9/18 to the email address we have on file for you in PowerSchool.  Creating your ParentSquare account will allow you to personalize how you get communications from us and use the ParentSquare App.  If you did not receive an email to activate your account or need help, please contact  [email protected].


Upcoming Dates

  • Monday, October 23: Early Release at 1 pm

  • Monday, October 23: Round 1 of PE/Health classes end

  • Friday, November 3: Quarter 1 (Grey Block classes) ends

  • Monday, November 6: Library closed after school, Staff Meeting

  • Tuesday, November 7: Election Day

  • Thursday, November 9: No School for Students: Professional Day

  • Friday, November 10: No School: Veterans Day

Take care and have a great weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Oct 19, 2023 at 2:54 PM
  

Good afternoon,


On Tuesday morning, I shared an announcement with our students that referenced the horrible terrorist attacks in Israel from this past weekend. To all of you who are affected by the ongoing violence in the Middle East, you have my deepest sympathies. Throughout that day I was able to stop into several Social Studies classes to see how teachers talked about the news with their students. In at least two classes I observed, students talked about worrying about family or friends who live in the area or concern that this current violence would spread to other parts of the world. Your children are feeling the effects of this ongoing violence, and I am sure many of you are, too. Our goal at RJ Grey is to support our students. If your child needs some support that they aren’t already receiving, please be in touch with us and we’ll make sure to connect them with a trusted adult.


Over the past few years, our school has needed to talk to students about events that impact their lives in major ways. In only the past few years, we’ve helped students understand the events from January 6th; we’ve talked with them about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas; we’ve also talked with them about the war in Ukraine. I feel strongly that our 7th and 8th graders need to hear from their teachers when current events take over the news cycle. When we do so, our goal is to provide them with factual information as currently known. In many cases, there is a historical context or understanding that can be connected to the current events, too. I deeply appreciate the work our social studies teachers did on Monday to be prepared to teach on Tuesday. Setting aside their own personal impact, they were able to talk to students about concrete events from the previous days. 


Today, our 8th graders attended an assembly where they learned about Minuteman High School as one of their options for high school next year. Representatives, including students from Minuteman talked about their school and what it offers. The application process has begun for next year and if your child is interested, they can check out more online and potentially apply. Representatives from our own high school, ABRHS, will give their own presentations to our 8th graders next week. We are still quite a distance from ninth grade (today is only day 29 of school!), but with schools that require an application and acceptance, that process begins in the fall.


Tomorrow is Pajama Day at RJ Grey. I will likely wear a pair of sweatpants to fit in with the relaxed nature of the day. Two years ago, a family asked me if their kids had to wear pajamas on this annual day. The answer, of course, is no! Participation in this type of spirit day is completely optional - we usually have about 50% of students participate. I think I’ll skip my typical shirt, tie, and dress shoes for something a bit more relaxed tomorrow…feel free to encourage your child to join me!


Finally, if you have not already done so, please remember to activate your ParentSquare Account!  ParentSquare account emails were sent Monday 9/18 to the email address we have on file for you in PowerSchool. Creating your ParentSquare account will allow you to personalize how you get communications from us and use the ParentSquare App. If you did not receive an email to activate your account or need help, please contact  [email protected].


The following updates have been approved by our Superintendent’s office for distribution:

Upcoming Dates

  • Friday, October 13: Pajama Day

  • Sunday, October 15: Walk Against Hate, 2 pm starting at ABRHS

  • Tuesday, October 17: School Council Meeting, 7 pm in Library

  • Monday, October 23: Early Release at 1 pm

  • Monday, October 23: Round 1 of PE/Health classes end

Take care and have a great weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Oct 12, 2023 at 2:14 PM
  

Good afternoon,


Thank you to everyone who joined us last Thursday for Back to School Night. I was in a virtual meeting with principals from around the state a few weeks ago. The question posed to us was, “Describe a time when you’ve witnessed joy in your school.” I listened to others talk about students, and not wanting to repeat their answers, I said that our annual Back to School Night is always filled with joy! I hope you got a good feeling about how your child spends their days by spending a few hours with us last week.


Next week, our teachers will work on determining which student would benefit from an Interim Report. At RJ Grey, we use interims at the halfway point of each of our trimesters. Not all students receive interim reports. We tend to send them specifically when a grade is below a  C-, or other habits including homework completion or studying could use some improvement. The first trimester is always a challenging one to gauge who needs to receive an interim. At this early point in the year, there aren’t a ton of grades yet. But teachers tend to err on the side of caution and alert families when they see something that feels like it could be improved. 


It is important to acknowledge that for some of our students, this year will be the first time they receive letter grades in their classes. Whether their previous schools issued standards-based report cards, or had no report cards, I want to share a bit about how things work at RJ Grey. Our teachers design assessments to measure a student’s learning of a particular topic, concept, unit, etc. There will be quizzes, some tests, some writing assignments, speaking assignments and other ways for kids to show their teachers what they’ve learned. A single grade on an assessment will not make or break a term grade for a student. At this early point in the year, there may only be one or two assessments. If one poor grade triggers an interim, all hope is not lost! Our teachers spend time writing a narrative to accompany the interim report so that you can know what has caused the low grade, and how it can be improved. If you receive an interim report for your child, and if you have questions, please be in touch with the teacher directly.


If you are like me, October is one of your favorite months. I’m not used to weather quite this warm in October, however. At the end of October is Halloween. For many years, the Junior High has celebrated Halloween by giving permission for students to dress in costumes at school. Last year, when all of the AB elementary schools moved away from having students dress up at school, we continued for one more year and allowed our students to dress in costume. We are now coming in line with the District practices of not dressing in costume at school. We very much appreciate that our adolescents still want to have fun and join friends in some of their favorite Halloween traditions, so I encourage you to keep those celebrations alive for your children outside of school. My own kids were the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus last year. I’m sure this year’s costumes won’t compete, but I know they’ll still have fun dressing up and going around the neighborhood with friends and cousins. I wish your family fun celebrations, too.


I want to highlight more than just by an attached document that there is a community-wide event on October 15, starting at 2 pm. The New England Walk Against Hate, sponsored by Congregation Beth Elohim Acton and the Anti-Defamation League, New England is an event that intends to join the AB Community in a one-mile walk and rally against antisemitism, racism, and all forms of bigotry. If you are interested in participating, or volunteering, please click the link above. As RJ Grey and other schools work to combat the uptick in bias incidents we’ve seen in the last few years, this is an important community-wide show of support. I hope I see you there!


Finally, if you have not already done so, please remember to activate your ParentSquare Account!  ParentSquare account emails were sent Monday 9/18 to the email address we have on file for you in PowerSchool.  Creating your ParentSquare account will allow you to personalize how you get communications from us and use the ParentSquare App.  If you did not receive an email to activate your account or need help, please contact  [email protected].


The following updates have been approved by our Superintendent’s office for distribution:

Upcoming Dates

  • Monday, October 9: No School, Indigenous Peoples’ Day

  • Friday, October 13: Pajama Day

  • Tuesday, October 17: School Council Meeting, 7 pm in Library

  • Monday, October 23: Early Release at 1 pm

  • Monday, October 23: Round 1 of PE/Health classes end

Take care and have a great long weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Oct 05, 2023 at 5:37 PM
  

Good afternoon,


I hope you are all doing well. I hope I get to see many of you at tonight’s Back to School Night (please leave some time at the start to find a parking space). I have attended my own daughters’ Back to School Nights over the past week. As an educator, it is so very interesting to see how other schools deliver the same annual events but in completely different ways. At last night’s event in my hometown, a friend who knows my role asked, “Are you ready for your speech?” This was after we listened to the principal of my child’s school talk to a crowd of parents and guardians. My answer was “No - no one wants to hear from me!” And while there’s a bit of humor embedded in there, I do not give an address at Back to School Night. I am serious in my belief that you come to see your child’s teachers, their classrooms, and their hallways for a brief glimpse into their life at RJ Grey. You will likely see me in the lobby, hallways, and popping into a few classrooms. I view this Eye on the Junior High platform and other communications you’ve received from me as more than enough of what I might even consider saying at an event like Back to School Night. But please do stop and say hello tonight!


The District is continuing its use of Cartwheel Care this year. This service is in its second year at AB and allows us to connect students and families to mental health care quickly. If you would like to pursue mental health services for your own child, please be in touch with your child’s school counselor. Cartwheel Care also offers proactive sessions for parents and guardians at AB. The upcoming session on Addressing School-Related Anxiety and School Avoidance looks to be a good one. If you are interested in attending, please click here to learn more and sign-up.


As the construction continues in the area of Kelley’s Corner and Rte 111, we have been asked to share some news with our families. We are requesting that families no longer use the former Kmart parking lot as a cut-through to our campus or to drop off students. We have been informed that this is private property owned by Stop & Shop and they have requested that it not be used by the public. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation with this shift in practice. 


The following updates have been approved by our Superintendent’s office for distribution:

Upcoming Dates

  • Thursday, September 28: RJ Grey Back to School Night: 7 - 8:40 pm

  • Monday, October 2: Early Release at 1 pm

  • Tuesday, October 3: iReady ELA Diagnostic (postponed from 9/20)

  • Wednesday, October 4: Webinar: Addressing School-Related Anxiety and School Avoidance

  • Tuesday, October 3: School Council Meeting, 7 pm, RJ Grey Library

  • Monday, October 9: No School, Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Take care and have a great weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Sep 28, 2023 at 2:05 PM
  

Good afternoon,


A parent at this morning’s drop-off asked me if I was outside, everyday, helping drivers make their way through our parking lots. My answer was “yes,” and “it’s the easiest part of my day!” While this is true and it is something I can do without much thought, the most enjoyable part of my day is when I can be in classrooms, seeing your students interacting with each other and their teachers. This week, I saw Novice French II students practicing telling time. The trick was that the teacher was using an analog clock, which I bet was also a complicating factor for some students! I’ve seen a Spanish teacher working with Novice Spanish I students on greetings and expressions that we use when interacting with others for the first time. And I saw an 8th grade science teacher working on calculating velocity with her students. In all three of these examples, the students were engaged, connecting with their classmates, and their teacher.


Our counselors are stepping into the classrooms this week and next week to deliver the first of a series of lessons on bullying prevention. I observed a lesson this morning that helped students recognize and identify the terms peer conflict, harassment, and bullying. The students were able to think of scenarios from real life, or from TV and movies, and were able to give examples of how to handle bullying if they see it or experience it. And they also  talked about how to act as an ally to others who might be targeted. Future lessons on this topic this year will be connected to our Health curriculum and our Advisory program.


Many of you may have received a message or two from your child’s teachers this week. And if you haven’t yet, you will. At RJ Grey, we believe that it is important to connect with our families early on in the year. If you’ve been asked a question in one of these communications, and time is available to you, please respond! When our teachers ask, “how’s the transition going for your son?” or “what is your daughter most proud of?,” we ask those questions to get to know more about your student. When we have strong relationships with our students, and you’ve provided some insight into what’s important to them, we know that our teaching and their learning will be stronger. This early connection from our teachers is intended to open to the door to future communications throughout the year. Please be in touch with with our teachers and counselors if you have questions or want to share information about your child. The more we know about what’s going on for them, the better off we are.


Each public school in Massachusetts has a School Council. While the composition of each School Council may vary, the RJ Grey School Council is made up of the principal, two 7th grade parents/guardians, two 8th grade parents/guardians, and two RJG staff members. We are looking to elect two new parent/guardian reps - both from the 7th grade (our 8th grade reps are continuing from last year). The role of the School Council is to review and discuss various aspects of the school's activities and goals, and offer advice and guidance about different topics that may emerge during the year. The Council will meet seven times this year, on Tuesday evenings at RJ Grey (October 3 being the first meeting). If you are a parent/guardian interested in serving on the Council, please submit a short (4-6 sentences) paragraph about yourself by noon on Monday, September 25th. Write-ups can be sent to me at [email protected]. Once I have any interested candidate’s info, we’ll do a virtual election, allowing our family community to vote via Google Form.


As the construction continues in the area of Kelley’s Corner and Rte 111, we have been asked to share some news with our families. We are requesting that families no longer use the former Kmart parking lot as a cut-through to our campus or to drop off students. We have been informed that this is private property owned by Stop & Shop and they have requested that it not be used by the public. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation with this shift in practice. 


The following updates have been approved by our Superintendent’s office for distribution:

Upcoming Dates

  • Monday, September 25: No School, Yom Kippur

  • Wednesday, September 27: iReady Math Diagnostic Assessment

  • Thursday, September 28: RJ Grey Back to School Night: 7 - 8:40 pm

  • Monday, October 2: Early Release at 1 pm

  • Tuesday, October 3: iReady ELA Diagnostic (postponed from 9/20)

  • Tuesday, October 3: School Council Meeting, 7 pm, RJ Grey Library

  • Monday, October 9: No School, Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Take care and have a great weekend!
Jim






Posted by jmarcotte  On Sep 21, 2023 at 9:42 AM
  
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