Northampton Public Schools Superintendent Blog

Northampton Public Schools Story of the Month Newsletter: March 2012

Posted on: April 6, 2012

Photo:David Castillo Dominici

Please find the “Story of the Month” Newsletter.  The Superintendent has been working with School Committee member Alden Bourne and members of the Central Office staff to promote and highlight the great work we are doing in our schools. Do you have a story to share?  We are looking for submissions of no longer than two paragraphs from teachers/esps, parents, school committee members and students about a person who is positively impacting our schools or happenings that should be shared with the community.  We would like each “Story” to be accompanied by a photo.  Please forward your submissions to Nicole Markel at and put “Story of the Month” in the subject line.

Enjoy the first volume for March and stay tuned for our April edition.

Please share the ELECTRONIC newsletter with your parent organizations and students through listserv emails and your websites.  Please refrain from printing in order to keep it green.

Morning Math Club


By:  Alden Bourne, School Committee Member

On a recent Tuesday morning, eighteen students arrived at Jackson Street School well before the starting bell. They were there to take part in a voluntary project, held two days a week, called Morning Math Club.  The idea, says teacher Mary Cowhey, is simple.  “It’s a chance for kids to have fun doing math.  A lot of kids are not doing a lot of math outside class, so if we can get them an extra hour or two a week, it’s like supervitamins for math.”  Some participants take turns playing games on four computers, but most use more old-fashioned tools like dice and plastic coins to further their skills in a fun and dynamic way.  The club was the brainchild of Jackson Street children and parents, and parent involvement is one key to the program’s success.  Parent volunteers help out each morning and actively engage in math games with their children.  For some parents, it’s also a chance to brush up on their own math skills, so they can better help their kids at home.  Tony Garcia, father of second grader Alany, was at Morning Math Club after just finishing a twelve-hour overnight shift at work. He believes he benefits just as much as his daughter, who says the math “can be kind of complicated, but it’s really good for me.”

Mary Cowhey says Jackson Street teachers have reported increased performance and confidence among students who take part in the club.  “Fourth grade level teachers reported that students who participated in the Morning Math Club at Jackson demonstrated an improvement in their grasp of mathematics facts and increased confidence.”  Students who regularly attended the Morning Math Club showed an overall improvement in their Student Growth Percentage between 40-95 points. Considering the vast majority of the students in morning math who consider English as their second language, this is impressive growth for one academic year.

Dancing into Spring

Ryan Rd. March 2012

By:  Principal Margie Riddle

R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School

The 300 members of the R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School community welcomed the first day of Spring on the Vernal Equinox with an all-school line dance on the playground.  The annual event primarily supports the students’ understanding of science standards about the causes of the changes in the seasons.   They learn about the revolution of the Earth around the Sun and its tilt on its axis while it rotates.  Skills learned in physical education and music are combined in the dance, which reinforces students’ understanding of rhythm and patterns.  Students were connected by colorful paper chains, leis, and hand-made paper flowers, representing the first flowers of spring.  After dancing, children and staff enjoyed a traditional New England treat “sugar on snow.”  Colonial settlers in our area learned from Native Americans about this sweet, which is made of fresh maple syrup poured over clean snow.   The school marks the start of each season with a similar outdoor event.

Upcoming Events and News from the Superintendent’s Office

4/11/12: 6:15pm Superintendent Evaluation Meeting at JFK

4/12/12: 7:15pm School Committee Meeting at JFK

4/26/12: 7:15pm School Committee Meeting at JFK

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Northampton Public Schools – Massachusetts 

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