Updates from Maisha Rounds: May 7, 2021

Updates from Maisha Rounds: May 7, 2021
Posted on 05/07/2021

Dear FMA,

As we gear up for MCAS testing next week, please take a deep breath. Exhale. Breathe in through your nose. Breathe out through your mouth. Let go of the stress, anxiety, fear, and frustration. Everything will be okay. It’s only one test on one day. MCAS is much shorter and is not tied to students’ grades or our school’s accountability rating this year, so please don’t stress. Encourage your scholars to do the same. 

Given the extreme stresses of this school year, I also want to encourage you to please take some time for yourself this summer. Our mental and emotional health is very important. To that end as a school, we will suspend school-based summer meetings such as PTO & Courageous Conversations until the fall. It’s been a very tough year… tougher than most, and we’ve nearly made it to the finish line. Celebrate! Take a vacation… or a staycation, whatever you prefer. You deserve a break, so please treat yo’self!

  • Word of the Week: Exhale - to breathe out. Take a deep breath and slowly exhale to let go of stress. Discuss the word of the week with your scholars, and encourage them to use the word in a sentence.
  • SEL Skill of the Month: Calm Down - Steps: 1) STOP - Use your signal ; 2) Name your feelings; 3) Calm down - breath, count, use positive self-talk.  Look for opportunities to practice these skills this month, especially during MCAS!


Upcoming Dates 

  • 5/13 - PTO Meeting 8AM
  • 5/17 - Courageous Conversations 6-8PM
  • 6/3 - STEM Night 6PM
  • 6/4 - Leadership Team Meeting 8:30AM; Fun Friday (NO UNIFORMS ; dress down)
  • 6/7 - Community Meeting at 8:10AM led by PK/JK/K
  • 6/17 - Virtual 5th Grade Moving On Ceremony 9AM
  • 6/22 - End-of-Year Reading Celebration

Important Links/Deliverables

Celebrations and Shout Outs

  • Happy Educator Appreciation Week to all of our fabulous FMA educators! We applaud you! This week the administrative team and PTO celebrated remote and in-person educators with a Padlet full of videos and thoughtful notes of gratitude, sweet treats, lunch from Bertuccis, Dunkin Donuts, and gift cards for remote staff. Please know how eternally grateful we are to each and every one of you for your tireless efforts this year, selfless sacrifices, and labor of love for our scholars! 
  • Shout out to Kelly Powell, Michael Ventresca,  Aaron Sutton, Terry West, and Marilyn Madden for their solid support of our 5th graders! They’ve met countless challenges this year without complaint, and an ever-present attitude of gratitude and perseverance - “We can do this… we will get through this!” Your uplifting spirits have lifted us all. Thank you!
  • Kudos to Ms. Darie Vil, Ms. Efhrate Sinthia, Ms. Barbara-Hayes Harrison, and Ms. Michelle Rosa for their unwavering support of our 1st graders in person. Teaching 1st graders in person and hybrid across 2 classrooms which later expanded to 3 classrooms in April has taken lots of creative planning, problem-solving, solution-driven thinking, optimism, and a growth mindset. They’ve taken every challenge in stride and even offered to assist colleagues in need. THANK YOU!!!
  • “Shout out to Ali Basu for being such a fun partner and jumping in on questions asked to help present for Autism Acceptance Month. I was so happy to be able to work together!” - Ms. Canty
  • Hats off to Marisa Waddell, Siobhan Reardon, Caitlin O’Donnell, Marissa Ninni, Melinda Canty, and Ali Basu for leading FMA’s Autism Acceptance Month Celebration in each grade level band last Friday!
  • Million Minute Marathon update: FMA scholars have read 232,872 minutes so far! Keep reading and logging those minutes this Daily Reading Log! Our revised goal is to read a quarter of a million (250,000) minutes by the end of the year.
  • Spread the word about FMA! Follow us on social media: 

Student Attendance
FMA’s chronic absenteeism is holding steady at 3.7%! We are only seven-tenths of a point (LESS THAN 1 point) away from our goal of 3.02%!

Staffing Updates
FMA welcomes Eileen Collins to the FMA family! She will be working with Jackie Solomon to support our 1/2/3 scholars in the ASD program. 

Coach Ben Bacher’s last day at FMA will be Friday, May 14th for health reasons. He hit the ground running to support our scholars’ physical fitness and well-being. We truly appreciate his help and enjoyed getting to know him. The PE department is working hard to find ways to support our scholars through the end of the year. Orienteering begins next Monday, May 10th and will continue through May 21st. More details will be shared about the plan for PE through the end of the year in the weeks to come.

FMA bids a fond farewell to Ms. Betty Snell who will be retiring at the end of this school year. She has given 32 years of dedicated service to the students, staff, and families of the Fletcher Maynard Academy. This news is bittersweet because while we are very happy for Betty reaching this momentous hallmark, at the same time, we selfishly wish we could keep her at FMA longer. Her impact has been felt far and wide, and she will be greatly missed!
 
MCAS Updates
MCAS testing begins next week as follows for scholars in-person and remote:

   3rd  4th  5th
 ELA  May 11
 May 25
 May 20
 Math  May 18
 June 1
 May 27
 Science
 N/A
 N/A
 June 3


GENERAL TEST­-TAKING TIPS 
Before the test:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Have a good breakfast.
  • Dress comfortably.
  • Be prepared to work for the ENTIRE test session.
  • Think positively!

During the test:

  • Read and follow the directions carefully.
  • If you aren’t sure, guess wisely.
  • Leave NOTHING blank! Read all of the options/choices.
    • Check your work
    • Review difficult questions
    • Plan your answers.
  • Use all of the time you need to

If you feel ANXIOUS or STRESSED:

  • Breathe: Close your eyes, take a deep breathe, and exhale slowly (repeat 3­-4 times)
  • Positive Self Talk: Repeat to yourself, “I can do this!” 
  • Move: Stand and/or stretch. Smile!
  • Total Tension Release: Tense all of the muscles in your body, tightly shut your eyes, take a deep breath, hold it for 5 seconds, let your breath and tension out at once
  • In your Mind’s Eye: Imagine your ideal, safe, relaxing place; send yourself there for 15­-30 seconds
  • Answer the questions that you are able to before going back to the ones that you find difficult

How else can you help? 

  • Please encourage your child to give their best effort during the test. 
  • Ask your child to share with you what they are writing about in school. They should be able to tell you something in every class, including specialties! 
  • Remind students how important it is to answer every part of a question and to show their work or explain their ideas. 
  • Use the language of Claim­Evidence­Reasoning (C­E­R) when you talk with your child. Encourage your child to use a C­E­R framework when trying to convince you of something or when viewing the news or reading an article. When your child makes a claim, ask: 
    • “Why?” or “What makes you say that?” 
    • “How do you know that?” or “What evidence do you have?” 
    • “Why is this important?” 
  • Continue to make sure that your child is reading every night. 

Remote MCAS Administration
Parents/caregivers are strongly encouraged to leave the room while their remote scholar is testing at home. Coaching in any form will invalidate your scholar’s test results. Please review this Remote MCAS Parent/Caregiver Letter and carefully adhere to the guidelines to ensure that your child’s results are counted.

Students’ MCAS test results may be invalidated if they any of the following: 

  • Discuss test content with a student who has not tested yet 
  • Duplicate, photograph, or copy any portion of the tests from their computer screen 
  • Access prohibited materials such as cell phones, calculators, or other electronic devices (e.g., smart watches, fitness trackers, music players, game consoles, any device capable of taking photographs) for any purpose 
  • Communicate with other students (e.g., chatting, texting, email) during testing
  • Ask for or receive help from anyone (except for reporting a concern about a test question to a test administrator, and except for asking for help with a technology issue or a general administration-related question) 
  • Provide help to another student 
  • Consult notes, books, or extra reference sheets or academic materials (e.g. a multiplication table) during testing 
  • Access any other websites during testing with the following exceptions: 
    • TestNav (the student testing platform) 
    • Google Meet 
    • Email or Google Classroom for the purpose of retrieving the username and password to sign into the test 

There are additional responsibilities while taking the MCAS test at home: 

  • Students must have their video on, without background or blur, during testing. 
  • Students’ faces must be in view of the camera during testing (e.g. the camera can not be focused on forehead or ceiling). 
  • Students must remain muted during testing. They can ask questions of their test administrator using Google Meet’s chat function. 
  • If students have academic posters or visual aids in their home learning spaces, these items should be covered or removed for testing 
  • Students will use their video to show their test administrator that their desk is clear before they start testing. 
  • Students will not leave their testing room without permission from the test administrator. 
  • At the end of testing, while on video with the test administrator, students will tear up any scratch paper used during testing and discard it. 


Remote Students Testing at School *ACTION ITEM*
If you prefer that your remote scholar take the MCAS at school, please contact your child’s homeroom teacher and/or email Ms. Hood-Brown directly at [email protected] by noon today, May 7th

You should receive an email confirming your scholar’s preference and directions at least 24 hours before their scheduled testing day if you opt to test in person. If you do not receive confirmation, please contact your child’s teacher or Assistant Principal Deborah Hood.

Testing for your child will take place at the Fletcher Maynard Academy on their assigned testing date. Please note that these may not be all-day testing sessions, so you should plan to stay nearby to receive a phone call to pick up your scholar when testing is complete.

Please arrive at FMA between 7:45-8AM. Enter through door #3 (Broadway St. on the right side of the building). Your scholar should also bring some books to read while they wait patiently for pick-up. *Breakfast will be served. Lunch will be available for any students testing through lunch time. If your child will not participate in MCAS testing this year, please email [email protected] at your earliest convenience.
 
To help your child have the best testing experience this year, please ensure that they bring their Chromebook and headphones to school. Make sure that they get plenty of rest. If your child is absent during one of the testing days, a makeup date will be scheduled.  
 
Culturally Responsive Teaching Updates
During our final professional development session this year on Culturally Responsive Teaching PD next week, teachers will have the opportunity to share their “Story of Self” with colleagues in small groups. We will begin exploring our identities at the intersection of race, ability, background, culture, ethnicity, and all of the traits that make us who we are. 
We will discuss the following question: Using a culturally responsive lens, what is an experience that changed you or impacted you in some way? The goal is to better understand ourselves, each other, and the lenses through which we see our work, our students, and their families. We will spend time in breakout rooms of 3-4 people connecting with each other around our individual stories. 
 
Early Release Days
The early release days for the remainder of the year are:

  • May 12
  • May 19
  • May 26
  • June 9

Early Release Wednesdays will also have a staggered dismissal as follows:

  • 11:35 - PK/JK/K
  • 11:40 - 1/2/3
  • 11:45 - 4/5

All other regular Wednesday dismissals are as follows:

  • 1:35 - PK/JK/K
  • 1:40 - 1/2/3
  • 1:45 - 4/5

Parent/Caregiver Carpool Procedures - Drop Off/Pick Up
We are asking all parents/caregivers who drive their children to and from school to please pull your vehicle next to the curb in front of the school to drop off your scholar. If there are no available spaces on the curb, please wait patiently until the parents/caregivers in the carpool line ahead of you are finished unloading and have pulled away from the curb so that you may pull your vehicle next to the curb. Also, please...

  • DO NOT park in the street.
  • DO NOT  leave your vehicle. 
  • DO NOT let your child out/into your vehicle if you are not parked next to the curb in front of the school.

This is a serious safety concern. We don’t want any accidents or injuries. FMA staff are available during arrival and dismissal to assist you so you don’t have to leave your vehicle. Let’s all work together to keep our scholars safe!
 
Technology Updates
Students in PK- Grade 5 will need to turn in their Chromebooks at the end of the school year unless they are participating in a CPS summer program. Scholars in person will turn in their Chromebooks to their teacher on the last day of school. Remote scholars will turn in their Chromebooks on June 22nd when they attend the End-of-Year Reading Celebration. 
 
Leadership Team Updates
The Leadership Team met this morning to discuss MCAS, Read-a-Thon updates, EOY celebrations (Teacher Appreciation, Reading Celebration), Courageous Conversations feedback, and PTO updates. The agenda  and meeting notes are LINKED HERE
 
Fundraising Updates
CPS is not approving any online fundraising platforms at this time, so we will put our Read-a-Thon on hold and continue with the Million Minute Marathon through the end of the year. The revised goal is to read a quarter of a million (250,000) minutes by the end of the year.
 
End of the Year Celebrations
As of May 17th, we will only have 26 wake-up mornings, or “WUMS.” Let’s celebrate every day through the end of the year by joining our kindergarten friends in Ms. Ahmed’s class with a “Z to A Countdown.”  This is a fun, optional way to finish strong! Students participating in the Z to A Countdown are not required to wear school uniforms if they are dressing up for the countdown. Students who are not participating in the Z to A countdown are expected to wear school uniforms.

  • June 17 - 5th Grade Virtual Moving Up Ceremony
  • June 22 - FMA’s EOY Reading Celebration will take place June 22nd for remote and in-person scholars. More details will be shared as the date approaches.

Health & Safety Updates
Dr. Salim shared the following updated policies this week.

1. Elementary level policy on close contacts and quarantine:
DESE recently updated its guidelines such that close contacts who were exposed to confirmed cases in the classroom or on the bus while both individuals are masked do not have to be quarantined unless they were within 3 feet of distance of the positive individual for a total of 15+ minutes during a 24-hour period. This means that CPS elementary school classrooms will not automatically close and quarantine. Instead, only those individuals within 3 feet of distance of the positive individual for a total of 15+ minutes during a 24-hour period will be directed to quarantine. 
 
2. Quarantine period reduced from 10 days to 7 days: In alignment with quarantine protocols provided by private medical providers, an existing optional Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) protocol, and the CDC, CPS is updating its quarantine period as follows: quarantine periods will last for seven days. Individuals may leave quarantine after 7-days with a negative test on day 5 or later, and return to school on day 8 as long as the quarantined individual remains symptom free.
 
IMPORTANT REMINDERS
We also want to reminder you of the following CPS COVID-19 procedures that are particularly important this time of year:
1. Food and refreshments are not permitted at CPS events, including end-of-year celebrations.  
2. Students and staff must wear masks at all times, including outdoors and during recess. 
 
Construction Updates
THE PORT PL 6 Stormwater Tank Project
Paving of Columbia Street and Bishop Allen Drive
**Please note: work hours have been updated to include Saturday May 1, 9AM-4PM.**
We are pleased to announce that as part of completion of the City’s PL6 Stormwater Tank Project, final paving of Bishop Allen Drive and “lower” Columbia Street, as well as an interim maintenance paving of an additional segment of Columbia Street, is planned for the period of April 28- May 7, 2021 (Please note these dates are weather dependent).  
 
What to expect during construction
Paving limits are:

  • Bishop Allen Drive between Douglass Street and Columbia Street (final paving)
  • Columbia Street between Main Street and Bishop Allen Drive (final paving)
  • Columbia Street between Bishop Allen Drive and Broadway (interim grinding and paving to restore road surface until the next phase of Port Infrastructure construction in upcoming years)

Work will occur during normal construction hours, Monday-Friday 7AM – 4 PM and Saturday May 1, 9AM-4PM.

During this work there will be times when parking is prohibited. “No Parking” signs will be posted at least 24 hours in advance of construction. Please be sure to check posted signs for exact dates and times.

Impacted streets will generally be available for 2-way travel, but there will be periods when the road will operate with alternating 1-way traffic under police officer control, or closed to all traffic. Delays should be expected.

Pedestrian sidewalks will remain open on both sides of the street.

Temporary paint pavement markings will be placed after this operation, with final thermoplastic markings following several weeks later.
 
For Information and Assistance During Construction
If you have any questions about the construction work or need assistance, including if you have any special needs or disabilities that require special accommodations, please contact Kate Riley, DPW Community Relations Manager at 617.349.4870 or [email protected]. More information about the project in general can be found here.  

In case of a construction emergency, please call the Cambridge Public Works Department 24-hour hotline at 617.349.4800.  
Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during this construction.
 
2021-2022 Preschool Lottery in May!
Now is the time to start thinking about Preschool for your child for September 2021! Preschool gives children an opportunity to practice social-emotional skills, promotes language and cognitive growth and development, and helps children prepare for kindergarten.

The City of Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP) will be accepting applications for our 2021-2022 Preschool Lottery in May! It is very important to sign-up for the lottery during the month of May.

The lottery is open to all Cambridge children who will be between the ages of 2 years 9 months and 4 years 5 months as of September 1, 2021.

During the month of May, applications will be available to complete online here

Please see the linked documents for:

  • Lottery process information, including required documents
  • Preschool tuition rates

You can also find information available in Spanish, Haitian-Creole, Amharic, Arabic, and Bengali here.  

If you are able to complete the application online, that is the fastest and most direct way to submit your application. 

If you need help accessing or completing the registration, Center for Families is here to help! Give us a call at 617-349-6385 or email [email protected].
 
Harvard City Step
We hope you and yours are doing well on this Friday eve! We're just sending along this email to see if one final reminder about our program's Final Show and submissions for it could be sent to the families of CityStep participants before our Friday end-of-day deadline. We are still eagerly awaiting art and video submissions from your scholars!

Here is the submission form one more time, though please also share that student content can be sent to us via email at [email protected] as well–whatever would be easiest for the students and their families! 

We appreciate all that you've done for us in this partnership and the support you've offered to help make our year of virtual programming a success, so thank you again and again for all your help!! We truly hope to spotlight as many FMA CitySteppers as possible in this production, and we look forward to sharing the Final Show with everyone on the 22nd!

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns for us, and we'll send your way more official Final Show details once they're available!

With all the gratitude & care,
The CityStep Execs
 
Rounds Out 5/14-5/20/21
I will be out of the building next Friday, May 14th through Thursday, May 20th for my commencement exercises at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN. I will have very limited access to phone, text, and email. If you need immediate assistance in my absence, please call FMA's main office at 617.349.6588 or contact our administrative team:

Sincerely,
Maisha Rounds, Ed.D
Proud Principal
 

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