Sunday, May 19, 2019

Important Q5 Information: Volunteers Needed, Items Needed, Attendance Policy, & More

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, we eagerly anticipate our second Q5 learning experience for students, staff, and the community.  Q5 was a raving success in 2018 by any measure. We presented at the superintendent's conference last summer and we recently discussed Q5 at a national Challenge Success Conference.  The interest and excitement around Q5 is palpable, and we are excited to witness year two.


Teachers have developed fantastic offerings and I would encourage all readers to peruse the


We offer 38 different courses and we are excited to witness students and staff working closely on this exciting endeavor known as Q5.



Scheduling classes and students requires a significant effort.  To this end, we do our best to ensure all students receive their top choices.  At this point, Q5 schedules are final and cannot change at this juncture.

Our attendance guidelines have changed this year due to the fact that Q5 is four days and not eight.  Please click on the link for additional information, but please be aware that students are expected to attend all four classes of Q5.  Students will receive a grade and we will list it on their transcript, and missing a class will result in loss of credit.


More information on Q5, including a video and images from last year, can be found on


We need help in two areas - donating items and/or donating your time.  


Donating Items
In order to defer some of the costs, we are hoping to borrow some items needed for courses from the community.  Please take a look at our list of items.  If you can sign up to donate one, our course leaders will be in touch to coordinate.


Chaperoning
Many course leaders are opening up their classroom and would welcome volunteers
who would like to participate.  Please review our list of courses that need volunteers.  

Course leaders will contact you to arrange meeting times.  

Thank you for your support.  Please contact Q5 Coordinator Laurie Fortunato
(lfortunato@concordcarlisle.org) with any questions.

As a reminder, the calendar for the end of the year is available on our website.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Sharon Young Educational Travel Scholarship Fund

Please join us to celebrate Concord principal, Ms. Sharon Young on Thursday afternoon May 23rd from 3:45-5:00.  All parents, children, and community members are welcome to join us for light refreshments in the Alcott cafeteria to say best wishes to Sharon on her retirement.

In lieu of gifts, we will be collecting funds to start the Sharon Young Scholarship Fund. Sharon travels extensively with her family each summer and the fund is being established to help CCHS students in need of financial support travel on school trips.  


Please pass along to any friends, neighbors, teachers or community members.  If you are not able to attend and would like to donate you can send a check made payable to Concord Carlisle Regional School District with the Sharon Young Scholarship Fund in the memo line and send into the Alcott office, or you can donate online by clicking the link below.


CCHS Student  Educational Travel

Educational travel focused on cultural and language immersion, leadership summits, global environmental issues, international exchange programs, performing arts, and service, allows us to transform globalization from classroom rhetoric to reality. These incredible, life-altering educational travel opportunities not only allow students to cross borders, but they also enable students to foster bonds with new groups of students and staff as the seemingly rigid walls of curriculum level and grade level dissipate with the shared travel experience. Educational travel enhances learning, and when traveling with students in my role as principal, I have witnessed first-hand how it can alter students’ course in life for the better.  

CCHS  believes that in our shared, interconnected world, all students benefit from learning experiences that foster critical 21st-century skills and a global mindset.  By exploring, and learning other cultures, we are preparing students to participate in, and contribute to, an increasingly globalized society.  Educational travel, linguistic /cultural exchanges and volunteering in multicultural settings are some of the venues through which we can achieve these learning goals. Through immersive educational travel, students gain new ways of thinking and develop a greater appreciation for perspectives beyond the walls of CCHS.  

We seek to increase the quality and number of international experiences for all CCHS  students to promote a global mindset and enhance our cultural competence.  These strengths will empower students to think, communicate, and positively contribute across linguistic and geographic divides. As ambassadors of their school, state, and country, students are challenged to reflect on their own culture and values and become better citizens of their country and of the world. 

Our hope is this scholarship fund will allow these amazing opportunities to be extended to a broad range of students.



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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Kathryn Stahl to Serve as New Assistant Principal at CCHS

Kathryn Stahl to Serve as New Assistant Principal at CCHS 
Concord Carlisle Regional School District, Principal Michael Mastrullo, and Superintendent Dr. Laurie Hunter announced today that Kathryn Stahl will become the new Assistant Principal at Concord Carlisle High School (CCHS). District leaders were pleased that the search process attracted a deep pool of highly qualified candidates who expressed a desire to work in such high performing district. After an extensive process that included input from a wide range of stakeholders, Stahl was recommended by Principal Mastrullo and selected by the Superintendent. 
Stahl will arrive at CCHS with a diverse set of experiences working in public education systems in Newton, New York City, San Francisco, and Vermont. She is currently serving as the Assistant Department Head of Special Education at Newton North High School and has been in that role since 2015. Prior to that, she served as both an Assistant Principal and Dean of Students. Her experience also includes serving as a special education administrator and teacher. 
Dr. Hunter is excited about the new addition to the CCHS administrative team.“The entire CCHS leadership team is thrilled to welcome Kathryn to our District. Her robust and varied professional experience and educational background combined with her passion for serving students will advance our mission to deliver a high level of educational excellence while nurturing a respectful and supportive learning community.” 
Stahl earned a Bachelor of Art in English from the University of Vermont and M.A. in Education Administration from San Francisco State University. Principal Mastrullo observes, “Katie rose to the top of a rigorous selection process and we are excited to have her on our team. Her diverse skill set will compliment an administrative team dedicated to helping our students from Boston, Carlisle, and Concord reach their full potential. Katie embodies with abundance a CCHS virtue that values both the academic and social-emotional success of all students.” 
Katie will start her new role on July 1, 2019.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Challenge Success: Parent Survey

In my 18 March Blog Post we solicited community feedback for the Challenge Success Committee.  Please take the time to provide feedback to the brief survey included in that blog post.  I have included a link to the survey below for your convenience.  Thank you for your continued support.

Challenge Success Parent Survey

18 March Blog Post
The recent college admissions scandal caught me by surprise, yet I am shocked; I was actually surprised. The scandal provides an excellent opportunity to talk to our children about our own definition of success, and the quote from Challenge Success captures it succinctly.

"We can do better by our students, not just by changing college admissions to be more equitable, but by changing the narrative around success and scarcity in our culture. There are many kinds of success, and many roads to get there. If our definition of success costs us the health, well-being, engagement, and emotional development of our children, or our own personal ethics, we should reconsider that definition."

Reflections on a College Admissions Scandal: A Teachable Moment

Lastly, after the March faculty meeting, all departments left with three commitments to help address mental health in their classrooms.  Small, incremental steps that might be the antidote needed if we adopt the mindset of, we are not just one but many. 

Please read on for an update on our Challenge Success program.  

 Challenge Success Update

Through the gracious generosity of the Concord Education Fund, our partnership with Challenge Success (CS) and Stanford University began in 2015.  This partnership and the resulting noble work continues. I want to thank all students, staff, parents, and community members who have participated in our Challenge Success initiative, be it committee work or helping to organize events associated with Challenge Success.  

It is important to recognize that being a teenager in 2019 is difficult and educating students in the 21st century is challenging.  As stated in the Challenge Success mission statement, "Embracing a broad definition of success...." while promoting "student well-being and engagement with learning," requires a collaborative approach, community-wide approach to educating students while nurturing their well-being.  As the adage goes, "it takes a village."

The impetus for partnering with the Challenge Success program is multi-dimensional, but after reading their mission statement in full, it is not hard to see why.  Further, CCHS was one of the first local schools to partner with CS, and the list of schools participating has grown to include several nearby towns since our journey began in 2015.  

Immediately below is a list of Challenge Success driven changes between 2016 - 2018.  Also, I include two additional changes we plan to implement immediately to help alleviate stress around specific pressure points in the school year.  To summarize these changes, we add a few no school-work weekends resulting in one weekend a month of no homework.  Further, we are instituting reading days before exams so students can focus solely on their assessments.    

2019 Challenge Success High School Staff Committee Members
Madeleine Pooler, Amy Byron, Michael Mastrullo, Iolanda Volpe, Brian Miller, Tom Keane, Ray Pavlik, Amy Byron, Ashley Cohane, Dan Simone, Alison Nowicki, Lisa Koski, Robin Cicchetti, Kristen Herbert, & Ingrid Sutter




Action Plan based on consensus during 2019 Challenge Success Meetings
2019 Challenge Success Plans
Immediately Implemented


I) Reading Period
Similar to standard practices in college, we are implementing a two-day reading period before final exams.  The purpose of a reading period is to allow students time to review, prepare, and make connections before their final assessments.  Classes are in session, and the expectation is students will attend.  

During the reading period, new material cannot be introduced, no assessments and no major projects may be due. Time will be allocated for the review of course material in preparation for the exam, or dedicated class time to work on final projects/presentations/papers.


Rationale: Feedback from students, parents, and several staff members were consistent.  End of quarter/semester assignments coupled with preparation for exams produced an unmanageable workload.  (Acton Boxborough, Dover Sherborn, and Westford Academy have reading periods in place.)


II) Homework
Continue to implement a homework-free weekend each month.  Adding one at the end of each quarter, Kicks for Cancer, and one for Memorial Day in May.


Both the district strategic plan and the school improvement plan include homework related initiatives.  


Italics denotes Changes for 2019 and beyond
  • September:  Kicks for Cancer weekend
  • October: End of Q 1
  • November: Thanksgiving
  • December: Winter Break
  • January: Weekend between semesters (end of Q2)
  • February: Winter vacation week
  • March: End of Q 3
  • April: April vacation
  • May: Memorial Day Weekend
During the 2018-2019 school year, we expanded the Challenge Success Committee and
identified four areas of focus that will guide our work this year and beyond.

  1. The 9th-grade transition
  2. Developing a Climate of Care
  3. Balancing Skill Development with Content
  4. Developing Systems of Coordination for long term assignments

Additional Resources

Challenge Success Mission Statement
"Challenge Success partners with schools, families, and communities to embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning."

CCHS Challenge Success Vision Statement
Concord Carlisle High School is a community united in support of students’ engagement and well-being.

We consciously commit to the following.
  • To spark curiosity and excitement for the journey of the high school experience
  • To encourage balance, personal growth, and academic excellence
  • To value student voice as a respectful and compassionate community
  • To foster a community that actively challenges and redefines success to support students’ individual well-being


The Article  “How to Help Kids Embrace Stress” mentions the importance of  “making sure students can rebound between bouts of intense intellectual activity, just as athletes rest between hard workouts.”






Monday, March 18, 2019

Social-Emotional Health & a Challenge Success Update

This blog post covers mental health and the social-emotional well-being of our kids, and it is an update on the efforts and initiatives on this very topic including an update on Challenge Success.  The Challenge Success Committee wants your input, and I encourage you to read this post before completing the survey, but I provide the link for ease of access. 


Throughout the last few months we, as a staff, have focused on the social-emotional well-being of our students.  Always an emphasis, evidenced by our K-12 Mental Health team that spans years of work, but the recent intense focus is a result of national trends of which CCHS is not immune.  In January, DESE consultants presented to staff on challenges for LGBTQ students and to discuss best practices for our faculty.  In February, our mental health team presented to the faculty with a focus on the following.
  • General Mental Health & Wellness
  • Mental Health National Statistics 
  • CCHS Data
  • Colleagues Sharing Current Challenges & Experiences
  • Best Practices For CCHS
In March, we continued the work by answering questions solicited from staff before the meeting.  Our mental health team responded to questions, shared strategies currently employed by CCHS staff members building community effectively in their classes, and we shared department-specific resources to help embed social-emotional practices into class lessons.  

I provide this brief overview to inform students and the community that we are aware of both the national and local state of affairs when it comes to critical social-emotional challenges particularly anxiety and depression. Also, I share this information because educating the whole child and addressing the alarming trends among teens is a community effort that will require dialogue and close collaboration.  Never has the adage, "it takes a village..." been more true, and I invoke the words of British author, Mary Midgley, "we are not only one but also many."  An appropriate quote for this topic.

This topic is overwhelming for anyone dealing with its intensity, be it at home with a child or living it every day in a school setting, and the work begins with the recognition that no one person has the answers to a problem so dynamic and complex, and the answers and solutions are not easy. If solutions were readily accessible the national and local statistics would be dimmed and less stark.  

I suggest, limiting phone usage is a good start, but I recommend better than I enforce as over my left shoulder as I type resides a 13-year-old daughter buried deep into her screen.  I share a video worth watching on this very topic.  I would watch it with your children and share it with anyone who has one. 

Look Up | Gary Turk - Official Video

This I know, if we talk about the social-emotional well-being of our students we are infinitely more likely to find solutions than if it is treated with silence and the hope it merely fades away.  

I certainly do not have this figured out despite my experience as a father and 11 years as a principal, but a few practices worth sharing.  At home, I ask my children about their day before diving into the results of the math quiz, I praise effort far more than results, and long ago I recall reading the most critical nine minutes with your children each day is the first three in the morning when they wake, the first three when they return from school, and the last three before bedtime.  I try to make those positive interactions. 

The recent college admissions scandal caught me by surprise, yet I am shocked; I was actually surprised. The scandal provides an excellent opportunity to talk to our children about our own definition of success, and the quote from Challenge Success captures it succinctly. 

"We can do better by our students, not just by changing college admissions to be more equitable, but by changing the narrative around success and scarcity in our culture. There are many kinds of success, and many roads to get there. If our definition of success costs us the health, well-being, engagement, and emotional development of our children, or our own personal ethics, we should reconsider that definition."

Reflections on a College Admissions Scandal: A Teachable Moment

Lastly, after the March faculty meeting, all departments left with three commitments to help address mental health in their classrooms.  Small, incremental steps that might be the antidote needed if we adopt the mindset of, we are not just one but many.  

Please read on for an update on our Challenge Success program.  

 Challenge Success Update

Through the gracious generosity of the Concord Education Fund, our partnership with Challenge Success (CS) and Stanford University began in 2015.  This partnership and the resulting noble work continues. I want to thank all students, staff, parents, and community members who have participated in our Challenge Success initiative, be it committee work or helping to organize events associated with Challenge Success.  

It is important to recognize that being a teenager in 2019 is difficult and educating students in the 21st century is challenging.  As stated in the Challenge Success mission statement, "Embracing a broad definition of success...." while promoting "student well-being and engagement with learning," requires a collaborative approach, community-wide approach to educating students while nurturing their well-being.  As the adage goes, "it takes a village."

The impetus for partnering with the Challenge Success program is multi-dimensional, but after reading their mission statement in full, it is not hard to see why.  Further, CCHS was one of the first local schools to partner with CS, and the list of schools participating has grown to include several nearby towns since our journey began in 2015.  

Immediately below is a list of Challenge Success driven changes between 2016 - 2018.  Also, I include two additional changes we plan to implement immediately to help alleviate stress around specific pressure points in the school year.  To summarize these changes, we add a few no school-work weekends resulting in one weekend a month of no homework.  Further, we are instituting reading days before exams so students can focus solely on their assessments.    

2019 Challenge Success High School Staff Committee Members
Madeleine Pooler, Amy Byron, Michael Mastrullo, Iolanda Volpe, Brian Miller, Tom Keane, Ray Pavlik, Amy Byron, Ashley Cohane, Dan Simone, Alison Nowicki, Lisa Koski, Robin Cicchetti, Kristen Herbert, & Ingrid Sutter




Action Plan based on consensus during 2019 Challenge Success Meetings
2019 Challenge Success Plans
Immediately Implemented


I) Reading Period
Similar to standard practices in college, we are implementing a two-day reading period before final exams.  The purpose of a reading period is to allow students time to review, prepare, and make connections before their final assessments.  Classes are in session, and the expectation is students will attend.  

During the reading period, new material cannot be introduced, no assessments and no major projects may be due. Time will be allocated for the review of course material in preparation for the exam, or dedicated class time to work on final projects/presentations/papers.


Rationale: Feedback from students, parents, and several staff members were consistent.  End of quarter/semester assignments coupled with preparation for exams produced an unmanageable workload.  (Acton Boxborough, Dover Sherborn, and Westford Academy have reading periods in place.)


II) Homework
Continue to implement a homework-free weekend each month.  Adding one at the end of each quarter, Kicks for Cancer, and one for Memorial Day in May.


Both the district strategic plan and the school improvement plan include homework related initiatives.  


Italics denotes Changes for 2019 and beyond

  • September:  Kicks for Cancer weekend
  • October: End of Q 1
  • November: Thanksgiving
  • December: Winter Break
  • January: Weekend between semesters (end of Q2)
  • February: Winter vacation week
  • March: End of Q 3
  • April: April vacation
  • May: Memorial Day Weekend
During the 2018-2019 school year, we expanded the Challenge Success Committee and
identified four areas of focus that will guide our work this year and beyond.


  1. The 9th-grade transition
  2. Developing a Climate of Care
  3. Balancing Skill Development with Content
  4. Developing Systems of Coordination for long term assignments

Additional Resources

Challenge Success Mission Statement
"Challenge Success partners with schools, families, and communities to embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning."

CCHS Challenge Success Vision Statement
Concord Carlisle High School is a community united in support of students’ engagement and well-being.

We consciously commit to the following.
  • To spark curiosity and excitement for the journey of the high school experience
  • To encourage balance, personal growth, and academic excellence
  • To value student voice as a respectful and compassionate community
  • To foster a community that actively challenges and redefines success to support students’ individual well-being


The Article  “How to Help Kids Embrace Stress” mentions the importance of  “making sure students can rebound between bouts of intense intellectual activity, just as athletes rest between hard workouts.”