I don't at all want to downplay the potential dangers, but I'm thankful to say that there have been almost no incidents with vaping at Linden over the past few years, even as it's gaining popularity with American teens. That being said, knowledge is power, so the more parents and educators know about issues like this, the better able we are to help our students and community. To that end, I want to share an excellent post about vaping that written by a colleague, Tom Bresnehan, who is an assistant principal at Bridgewater-Raynham High School in Bridgewater. Honestly, I'm betting that many adults haven't heard of these trends and likely don't understand the language. I know it's an education for me. Click below to read.
Vaping in Schools
Jared Henderson is from the small mountain town of Sisters, Oregon and grew up in a musical household. Mr. Henderson will be teaching Band this year at the Forestdale School and Linden STEAM Academy! Mr. Henderson started playing trumpet at age 10 but during high school fell in love with the "low" instruments and switched to playing primarily Stand-up Bass and Tuba. After graduating high school, Mr. Henderson moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music on a full-ride scholarship. While at Berklee, Mr. Henderson studied with internationally respected music educators and received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s in music performance. He has performed and taught extensively across the United States, Europe, Central America and Africa. Mr. Henderson has worked with world renowned musicians including: Danilo Perez, Terri Lyne Carrington, Julian Lage, Jason Palmer, Lage Lund and Joe Lovano. Aside from teaching and performing music, Mr. Henderson enjoys hiking, fishing, reading and running.
There are no magical answers in education. There is no one thing that, if done, will turn all students into eager, capable learners. Because of that Linden, Malden Public Schools, and the Massachusetts DESE are taking a 360-degree approach to improving the learning conditions and lives of our students. Academically, we have welcomed the creation and then regular reflection and review of our content standards (see here), and instructionally, Linden's work towards leveraging project-based learning and small-group instruction continue to show benefits for our students.
Teaching "the whole child," though, means that we need to help students develop confidence and emotional self-control. Two years ago, with Guidance Counselor Kim O'Conner and School Adjustment Counselor Sheryl Cohn in charge, we began incorporating "mindfulness" practices into numerous classrooms to help with these skills. There are plenty of resources explaining mindfulness in schools on this site's "Professional Development" page, but you can watch THIS and THIS to get started. The practice(s) is essentially geared towards helping students control their emotions enough to relax and think logically and sensibly about the situations in which they find themselves, whether that's taking a big exam, navigating a busy day, handling a difficult personal situation, or arguing with peers.
This year, the state of Massachusetts has mandated that all school districts come up with a plan for integrating Social / Emotional Learning, "SEL," into their curriculum. We liked, and believed in, our work around mindfulness, but we were going to, along with the rest of Malden Public Schools, integrate "Restorative Practices" into our work. This is a belief system and set of classroom-community-building practices that builds kids' confidence and has been proven to dramatically reduce behavioral incidents, time missed from class, and amount of suspensions in a wide variety of districts across the nation. The first phase is to hold, on a somewhat regular basis, "restorative circles" in classes, during which students discuss either their own lives or situations they encounter in history, ELA, or other content studying. These circles have been found to help all students practice social and emotional skills like empathy, compassion, self-assuredness, and patience.
Please, talk to your son and daughter and see where his/her class(es) is with this. The younger students may still refer to it as "morning meeting" or "community time," but its effect on the atmosphere of the classroom, grade level, hallways, and school is the same. Here are some links in case you want to learn more about restorative practices and how they're helping to transform schools for the better:
1) Social-Emotional Learning for Massachusetts
2) Communities for Restorative Justice (the consultants with whom MPS are working).
3) A background video from Chicago Public Schools
Dear Linden STEAM Academy Families,
It is with great pleasure and excitement that I introduce myself, Michael Drouin, as the new Assistant Principal K-4 at Linden STEAM Academy. My passion for education and supporting the success of all students has been shaped over the past 22 years. My number one priority at the Linden STEAM Academy is to ensure that every student receives the most well-rounded education possible in a safe and nurturing environment.
I look forward to a great school year! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.
We have a new way of scheduling the fifth grade this year. The students heard a bit about it on the last day of school in June, and they will certainly come home next Tuesday with a lot of news, but I want to explain to you what's going on and why.
Fifth grade used to be set up exactly like K-4, with self-contained classrooms in which the students spent all day, learning all of their subjects. Along with the rest of Malden's K8s, though, we are now "departmentalizing" grade 5. What this means is that Ms. Coye and Ms. Bartlett are going to be teaching ELA and SS (Humanities), Mr. Umlah will be teaching math, and Ms. Rosenthal will be teaching science. Ms. Brennan and Ms. Barone will be supporting students with IEPs, pushing into their classes and co-teaching with the other team members in those sections.
Your children will be traveling in "homeroom pods" during their days. They will be with either Ms. Coye or Ms. Bartlett for ELA and SS, travel to a different room for math with Mr. Umlah, and travel to a third room for science with Ms. Rosenthal. Please also remember that they have some new exploratory teachers this year, now that they are on the middle-school schedule and side of the building: Mr. Gillis for Physical Education, Ms. Rittershaus for Computers, and Mr. Rooney (new to the building this year) for Tech Ed. Why is this happening?
- We think students are ready to begin switching classes. This means that they will have to learn to adjust to multiple environments within a day. They will switch fewer times than they eventually will in 6, 7, and 8, so this is good practice. Also, they will all travel as pods instead of by themselves, which will also be good practice for upper grades.
- Our teachers can specialize, focusing on mastering the material of their particular course(s), without having to plan for 4 different courses a day. It also means that they can spend professional development time with other teachers teaching the same course and the district director attached to that course.
Every year brings change to a school, with new students, families, furniture, classes, ideas, technology, and...educators. There is no doubt that the Linden faculty works hard to bring new strategies and exciting opportunities to our students. Anytime we lose someone - for any reason - there's a bit of discomfort and potentially even some hardship, but Mr. Bransfield and the hiring committees have been working all summer to ensure that the professionals in the classroom with Linden's students are walking in the door with big ideas, deep enthusiasm, and open hearts. In addition to coming to Back to School Night on September 14th at 6pm, I hope everyone will take advantage of mornings and after-school time on the plaza, to meet and welcome our new faculty members:
Assistant Principal K4 - Mr. Mike Drouin
Grade 2 - Ms. Jenn Byrnes
K-8 Music - Ms. Rachel Candee
Grade 4 - Ms. Kate Carter (returning full time)
Science 7 - Ms. Lianne Ramos
Grade 8 Social Studies - Mr. George Becker
Grade 8 Math - Mr. Aiden Douglas
5-8 Tech Ed - Mr. Chris Mooney
From the Assistant Principals
While the two of us work across nine grade levels, looking to support all of the learning, teaching, and culture building that happens during a day at Linden, we are repeatedly struck by everyone's successes, struggles, dreams, and questions. Hopefully, this blog will be a space where we can address and dig more deeply into our work, forcing us to understand things better and helping us to share it with you.