May 2, 2020

 

Dear Needham Public Schools Families:

 

I hope you and your families are healthy and that you had an opportunity to enjoy today's beautiful spring weather.  I write to share the following updates about the District's response to the COVID-19 health emergency:

 

• Learning from Home  Since the Governor announced that schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year, teachers and administrators have worked to refine and adjust our Remote Learning Plan. In order to strengthen our plan we took the following steps over the last couple of weeks: reviewed the MA Department of Elementary & Secondary Education Guidance; surveyed families at two elementary schools, Pollard and the high school (with a broader District survey coming soon); held over 20 parent meetings representing families from each school; received feedback and suggestions from the School Committee; studied plans and ideas from neighboring school districts; and collaborated with our teachers and staff.

 

As a result of these efforts we have strengthened our plan in at least three key ways:

 

1.  All students, PreK-12 will have increased, typically daily, contact with their teachers through "live" sessions on Zoom, Google Meets, FaceTime, or, as appropriate and necessary, on the phone.  These class sessions will include Morning Meeting, office hours, discussion time, small groups, class presentations, consultations, advisory, or other opportunities for students to see and engage with the teachers who care for them.

 

2.  Principals and teachers will send out a weekly schedule and plan to every family each Sunday evening by 6:00 p.m. so families and students have an opportunity to preview the week and balance work, family, and learning with home responsibilities.

 

3.  We have identified the key learning goals and objectives for each grade level, K-8, and subject area and posted these on the district's website:  Needham Public Schools Remote Learning Goals. Students and families can see what the academic expectations and targets are through June 19th.  (High school academic goals and expectations vary by course; an overview of department objectives will be posted in the coming week.)

Specific information about each school's schedule and plan will be shared by the principal, and we expect the adjusted plans to rollout beginning on Monday, May 4th and continuing through May 11th when they will be fully implemented in each school.

 

• Additional School News Many parents have asked about accessing their child's school building to retrieve personal belongings and materials.  Principals, public health staff, and custodians are reviewing plans to have families come in to gather materials within the next couple of weeks.  Principals will share plans soon.  If you or someone you know may need support, guidance, or meal assistance at this time, please check out the district's website for community resource information in Needham and Boston:  Family Resources during the COVID-19 Emergency

 

• Moving Forward The district will convene a broad based and inclusive group of educators, parents, students, public health officials, and town staff as part of a new COVID-19 Planning & Advisory Committee to provide ideas and feedback to district staff as we continue to refine our learning from home opportunities, consider summer school plans, revise curriculum to adjust for the period of school closure, and consider what health, safety, and social distancing measures may be necessary when schools open in September.  School Committee Chair Andrea Longo Carter and I will lead the effort, and we expect to begin work within the next few weeks and continue our efforts through next winter or as needed.  Stay tuned for updates and information.  By the way, some community members had trouble viewing Ms. Longo Carter's video message to the community.  It has since been posted on the district's website:  School Committee Chair's Message to Needham Public Schools Families

 

Let me take this opportunity to thank our families for your guidance, feedback and strong support over the last several weeks.  We appreciate your willingness to make suggestions and to jump in to assist your children at home even while you juggle multiple and demanding responsibilities.  We will continue to collaborate with families to ensure we address the needs of our students.

 

Finally, please take a moment this coming week, which is National Teacher Appreciation Week, to acknowledge the efforts of your child's teachers.  They have been working hard to adjust a demanding curriculum and reinvent their instruction in order to meet the academic and social & emotional learning needs of over 5,700 students during an unprecedented health crisis.  There may have been times over the last few weeks that an individual's efforts have fallen short of a parent's expectations or a child's needs.  Our work may be imperfect but our willingness to improve, grow, and learn is stronger than ever. 

 

It goes without saying that our educators are committed to the children and young people of the Needham community, and they will continue to do everything possible to bring learning, creativity, joy, and personal connection to the students they miss so much and care for so deeply.  It remains my greatest honor to serve as your superintendent in this wonderful community, working alongside talented, dedicated, and loving teachers, administrators, and staff.

 

Please continue to stay well and, as always, reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at 781.455.0400, x11203 or dan_gutekanst@needham.k12.ma.us

 

Respectfully,

 

Dan Gutekanst

Superintendent



Welcome to the website of the Needham Public Schools! I hope you will find the information you need to learn about the people, programs, and activities that make our school system a dynamic learning experience for all students.

​The Needham Public Schools has developed a framework for educational excellence, innovation, and equity - a Portrait of A Needham Graduate - that will inform the district's work going forward. Needham Public Schools will support all our students in becoming creative thinkers and problem solvers, communicators and collaborators, socially and culturally responsive contributors, responsible and resilient individuals, and empowered learners. Our students' collective and individual success depends on developing these Portrait competencies in preparation for the future that awaits them. I encourage you to review the Needham Public Schools 2019 Performance Report for examples of current teaching practices aligned with this Portrait vision, along with ideas and challenges for boosting student learning around each of the district priorities.

​Through this website, the Needham Public Schools commits itself to share timely information with students, parents, staff, and community members who depend on updated and helpful information and assistance. I invite you to join the superintendent’s listserve to receive periodic emails about various school programs and events. Please join now!

​Additionally, the Needham School Committee wishes to hear from members of the community about issues and concerns critical to the schools and its many programs. You may contact them at schoolcommittee@needham.k12.ma.us and ask a question or make a comment.

​We are proud of our school district and are happy to share information about the Needham Public Schools with you.

Sincerely,

Daniel E. Gutekanst, Ed.D.
Superintendent 
Needham Public Schools
                   Portrait picture     
PORTRAIT OF A NEEDHAM GRADUATE VIDEO 

VIDEO #2:
STUDENT PERSPECTIVE
 ON PORTRAIT OF A NEEDHAM GRADUATE
   

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