Archive 2008 - 2019

School Committee Meeting September 17, 2015

by Stacey Raffi

School Committee Meeting September 17, 2015

Our summary of the meeting is below. Of course, this is not a substitute for the full meeting, which can be viewed on The meeting minutes remain the official written summary.


Agenda included:

*Presentation from students who traveled to Peru (Summer 2015)

*Individual School Improvement Goals (district-wide)

*Capital FY’16 Proposal from Budget sub-committee

*Recurring School Committee Business


High School Student trip to Peru

Ms. Bodmer (HHS AP/Science Teacher) and Mrs. Karen Carig-O’Neil (HHS AP Environmental Science Teacher) introduced the students to the committee. 

Brian Chi-current Junior

Danielle Lamb- current Senior

Nathan Miller-current Senior

Jill Murphy-current Senior

The students presented a video (created by Jillian Murphy and Nathan Miller) that captured their entire trip including the research and experiences they had both in the city (XXX) and in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, part of the Amazon Rainforest.  They were in Peru for three weeks where they got to experience the Peruvian culture, collect data for research on climate change, and meet High Schoolers from around the world.  Each student shared his/her favorite part of experience which included: 

  • sounds of environment (animals, disconnected from city)
  • the natives and other high schoolers- different types of people;
  • learning about the Peruvian culture 
  • holding a sloth
  • experience of going somewhere completely different- see another part of world that doesn’t have anything that resembles life in Holliston. 
  • marine biology = got to meet biologists and participate in the different surveys.  Went to rescue center for manatees…got to feed them. 
  • collected data for climate change.  We saw firsthand how important the data collecting is…we got there after the rain/high water season.  We could see the marks on the trees showing how high the water had risen.  It had risen high and stayed high for longer than normal. This affects the natives and how they live (can’t use the land when the water table is so high).


See also recent news article on this trip:

2015-2016 Individual School SMARTer Improvement Goals:

A large portion of our meeting focused on the Individual School Improvement Goals presented by each school principal. Complete presentations are available here:

The principals aligned their improvement goals in parallel with the district goals creating a synergy across the district from school to school.

Mrs. Jaime Slaney, Principal of Sam Placentino Elementary School presented first. 

Placentino Goal One –

At Placentino Elementary School, students will be engaged in developmentally appropriate, challenging, standards based learning, in all content areas. Instruction will be driven by ongoing and coordinated formative assessments, aligned grade level curriculum, and targeted differentiated instruction for all students.

We will continue to focus on the “Whole Child” with differentiated teaching and learning. 

How do we do this?

  • At our first curriculum meeting, we used skills learned from our 9/4 Professional Day (PD Day) such as using language that explains behaviors, not labels.
  • We use common assessments
  • Look at whether or not teachers are meeting their goals – hold data days where we look at data as a whole team and then move towards smaller groups of teachers so that we can focus on individual students.
  • Continue with our Response to Intervention (RTI) block for English & Language Arts (ELA) and begin RTI blocks for Math. 
  • Teachers will observe how their peers teach the same lesson

Placentino Goal Two –

The Placentino community will continue to develop a school wide system of positive behavioral interventions and supports that promotes students to behave and interact in ways that positively affect them personally, academically, and socially.

We will continue our school wide system of Positive Behaviors Interventions System (PBIS) through CARE.  Cooperation, Acceptance, Responsibility, and Effort.

How do we do this?

  • Shifting from focusing on tangible (items/prizes) to the intangible but still developmentally appropriate
  • Held school wide CARE assembly and plan to hold more throughout the year
  • Updating our Open Circle time to include more language around positive behaviors


Placentino Goal Three –

Placentino Families will experience proactive, explicit, and consistent communication from the schools about school events, learning expectations and experiences, strategies for fostering continued academic and social/emotional growth, and opportunities to inform the decision-making process. (SFA-4)

We will continue to work on making our communication (school to home, school to community) clear, concise, and timely.


How do we do this?

  • Sharing strategies among administration, teachers, and staff on how to “bring the classroom home”
  • Offer Parent Education nights on topics like “How to Read, How to do Math”.
  • Added principal blog to our new school website
  • Signup for email alerts when news is added to our website
  • Improved our communication with new families and in-coming Kindergarten families with our new FAQ


Mr. Keim, Principal of the Year Award Winner 2015, Principal of Miller for the past 11 years, presented the Miller School Improvement Goals.

Miller Goal One –

At Miller, we are following in Dr. Jackson’s theme for the year of “Embracing Humanity.”  We need to remember that our students are kids. We need to give them tools for learning but at the same time, remember that they are kids!

Support the achievement of all students by enhancing Miller School’s curriculum, assessment, differentiation, interventions and technology to maximize learning opportunities and outcomes for students.

1. Third Grade Intervention Block and Flexible Grouping

2. ESL Services

3. Supplemental Lessons support the CORE Programs and ELA content area standards across all content areas

4. Data Teams

5. WiFi utilization


How do we do this?

  • Following the RTI block that Placentino has successfully implemented.  Start in third grade with half hour intervention blocks in Math and ELA.
  • Designing ESL program with Carol Lyons
  • Creating and using supplemental lessons to our core programs
  • Using Data Teams – this is progress monitoring.  We need to see that our students are making progress.
  • Teachers need and want blended teaching opportunities.  Having internet access, options of different applications allow for blended teaching.


Miller Goal Two –

Strengthen universal and targeted supports to provide all children with developmentally appropriate supports aimed at enabling students to experience an emotionally safe and supportive school environment.

1. District Wide Professional Development on social emotional learning

2. Incorporate concepts learned into Student Assistance Team meetings

3. Social emotional learning’s connection to academic learning with a focus on the area of executive functioning

4. Case study discussions and role play opportunities with staff


How do we do this?

  • Our 9/4 PD Day on social and emotional learning, gave us skills such as using common language and describing behaviors that we will incorporate into our Student Assistance Team Meetings
  • Look more closely at Executive Functioning*
  • Appropriate staff will incorporate Goal 2 into their SMARTer goals
  • Monthly staff meeting agenda will include a social emotional well-being topic


*Executive functions refer to the ability to control attention, to plan, to organize information for learning and problem solving, to flexibly shift thinking, to inhibit impulsive response, and to regulate and monitor one’s own performance and behavior.  Executive functioning abilities are a “work in progress” and are constantly developing as the brain is maturing and making meaningful connections, therefore some skills may appear to peak in late childhood/early adolescence while other skills will continue to develop well into adulthood.

Miller Goal Three –

Continue to strengthen the partnership between home and school by developing meaningful ways to engage parents in the learning process.

How do we do this?

  • We are going to pull apart the data from the Communications survey sent out late Spring ’15 and create action plans.  We will do this with our School Council.
  • Weekly email blasts (also posted to our school website)
  • Provide more consistent and timely information to families about connections to learning

Mr. Peter Botelho, Principal of Robert Adams Middle School, presented the RAMS School Improvement Goals.


Adams Goal 1 -

Continuously improve instruction (and related curriculum and assessment) aimed at enabling students to demonstrate significant growth in one or more of the critical areas of learning listed below as measured by 80% of educators meeting or making significant progress on student learning and professional practice goals in one or more of these areas:

- Deep Conceptual Understanding of Essential Learning Goals

- Critical Thinking and Complex Problem Solving

- Sophisticated Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking Skills

- Artistic Expression and Physical, Social and Emotional Wellbeing


How do we do this?

  • Teacher will continue working towards their professional goals
  • Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) will look at comment assessments and figure out how to address the areas where students are not progressing
  • Share instruction practices and at same time allow for different instruction methods to compare the approaches and see what works best
  • Determine how to leverage technology and use our 1:1 Chromebook initiative effectively.  We will look for ways to engage the students differently.


Adams Goal 2 –

Foster an emotionally safe and supportive school environment aimed at enabling students to experience significant social and emotional growth as measured by:

1. Improvements in targeted (Attachment/Adult and Peer Support; Cyber-bullying; Stress and Mental Health) areas identified on the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey; and

2. 80% of educators, who have student learning and professional practice goals related to social and emotional well-being, meeting or making significant progress on the goals in these areas


How do we do this?

  • Continue to review the MetroWest Adolescent study for trends. We are seeing significant progress and positive data about our school climate. While our numbers are growing in some areas, they are not growing at the same rate as those of students in our neighboring towns
  • Continue to review cyber-bullying and stress and how stress affects attendance
  • Figure out the root cause and figure out what is the barrier for our students.  If students think they CAN, they will do well. 


Adams Goal 3 –

Provide and improve proactive, explicit, and consistent communication to families and address areas of focus identified on the family engagement survey as measured by improvements on internal survey instruments aligned to areas of focus.


How do we do this?

  • Streamline our communications
  • Communicate about student progress (Gradebook, iPass)
  • Host online virtual “coffee and conversation” with administrators.  The hope is to get a sense of hopes and dreams for our students and look at how the school can help with that.

Mrs. Nicole Bottomley, Principal of Holliston High School, presented the Holliston High School Improvement Goals.

HHS Goal One –

To improve teaching and learning and provide more personalized instruction for students in the classroom, educators will continue to refine and put into practice standards-based common assessments, engage in collaborative inquiry, provide meaningful feedback to students, and make adjustments to instructional practice through differentiated interventions and enhancements for students.

How do we do this?

  • Administration, faculty, and staff will work collaboratively by sharing best practices (observing colleagues in their own classrooms)
  • Continue to review and update curriculum
  • Use common assessments and have common planning time for teachers
  • Use technology but not for the sake of technology
  • Enhance learning with technology

HHS Goal Two –

To strengthen universal and targeted supports to provide all students with an emotionally safe and supportive school environment by increasing proactive, collaborative measures through families and the school to best utilize resources, provide all students with a trusted adult in the building and develop effective interventions to allow students to feel connected to their high school experience.

How do we do this?

  • Use the MetroWest Adolescent Survey to monitor our school climate
  • Meet monthly with administration, teachers, and staff district wide to pull together data about our student’s social and emotional well- being.
  • Using skills from the 9/4 PD day especially in our Student Teacher Assistance Teams (STAT) to look at students who we have concerns about and find different approach to assist.
  • Looking at ways to help students reduce stress and stress levels. One way to help this is with our “Homework-free vacation” plan for HHS.  All teachers and staff have agreed to allow students to really take a vacation on vacations (Winter break, February break, and April break).

HHS Goal Three –

Families will experience proactive, explicit, and consistent communication about school events, learning expectations and experiences, and social/emotional wellness in order to increase the home-school connection and better support all learners.

How do we do this?

  • Creating a partnership with parents where we balance having students advocating for themselves
  • Increase communication by sending more frequent and shorter emails
  • Increase communication for the in-coming Freshmen and their families