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.”