Update from James Scully about Snow days
James Scully sent an alert email to parents with a follow up on Snow days in Haverhill Public Schools:
Following up on my communication to you yesterday relevant to adjusting our schedule to accommodate the number of snow days, I am hereby providing an update. Since yesterday’s communication a significant number of parents were in agreement with the adjustments. Yes, some families and staff had already made vacation plans and we were making plans to adjust for those situations.
Some have suggested “blizzard bags” as is used in New Hampshire. In Massachusetts, there are two pilot programs being explored, however, no district is authorized to use such alternative methods. Critics including parents and educators, state that it is just worksheets being sent home and question the value (see Eagle Tribune – February 8, 2015). Some have proposed adding hours to the school day; the reality is that the district must still meet the 180 school day requirement.
As I mentioned in my message of February 11, 2015, while I have received positive feedback on my proposal, the leadership of the teachers’ union would not agree to a favorable adjustment in a timely manner so that I could inform all parties appropriately. Therefore, the school calendar stands as is. There will be changes in the marking periods and others scheduled activities for the period from March 2015 to June 2015.
These changes will be posted to our website in the very near future.
James F. Scully
Superintendent of Schools
The gift of a smile this holiday season
Superintendent James F. Scully sent the following message to Haverhill School Department staff today as the holiday break begins:
It’s about 11 p.m. Thursday evening … and I just got home from attending a party for developmentally delayed adults. Driving home on 95 I was thinking of them and the stories they shared with me about the successes they were experiencing in their lives. These might seem like simple dreams, but they were major rays of light in their lives.
On my drive home I thought back to the many classrooms that I had the privilege of visiting this week. It was certainly rewarding for me to see so many of you helping so many children understand the rich traditions of the many religions that celebrate various holidays at this magical time of year.
So many of us are blessed … and some find this season most difficult as they are missing lost loved ones or are experiencing family tragedies that have tarnished their hopes and dreams. Despite these challenges, I was inspired by the spirit and warmth so many of you shared with those who harbor special wishes at this time of year.
Some children very clearly stated they really didn’t like a long vacation, for they felt loved and so welcomed in your classrooms. I saw the emotion and joy in their faces at their concerts and in their reading groups …. sitting on the floor listening so attentively as you captured their imaginations through the stories you read to them. So many high school students traveled the halls with smiles on their faces and so many shared respectful greetings as I visited room after room.
So what does it all mean? No matter what their limitations may be and no matter what level they inhabit in their educational journeys … it was clearly evident that so many of you are helping so many realize their dreams and taste success.
At St. James in the HALT and Teach programs, the challenges are endless yet the positive and supportive manner of each and every staff member was moving. In so many classrooms, your demeanor was such that it truly allowed me to once again understand the magic of this special time of year.
So whether we hear the hoofs of the reindeer on our roofs or participate in the traditions of The Festival of Lights, please know you are making a difference.
As you depart to enjoy a well-deserved rest and spend precious moments with family and friends, I sincerely want to thank each and every one of you on behalf of every child and student in our system.
Teachers, custodians, cafeteria staff, aides, secretaries, crossing guards, facility staff, principals and administrative staff, and all who lead and guide so many: Thank you …. and thank you for your kindness and support of my efforts.
Julie, Johnathan, and all in the central office share in my deep appreciation of your efforts and kindnesses.
So as this day comes to a close, always know you have had the honor of enriching so many lives.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you and those you love,
Superintendent Scully’s Hanukkah message
We are so blessed in this country to share, understand, and appreciate so many ethnic and religious traditions and holidays.
The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched menorah. One candle is lit each night in remembrance of the miracle that saw one night’s worth of oil burn for eight days.
I have learned that Hanukkah became more widely celebrated in the 1970s, when Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson called for public awareness of the festival and encouraged the lighting of public menorahs.
As I went through some of the city’s schools today, it was so inspiring to see so many teachers including in their lessons and holiday decorations the significance of Hanukkah.
As we begin the celebration of this magical time of year, let us begin by sharing and understanding the real meaning of the Festival of Lights.
A Veterans Day message from Superintendent Scully
In our school offices, in our classrooms, on the streets we where we live … there are many individuals whose lives have been enriched by the notion of service. Often we pass individuals on the street who have artificial limbs or others who may appear to be disconnected in mind or with their demeanor. Maybe they are in that state because they served and suffered.
They, like so many of our friends and neighbors, may have answered the call to duty.
Today, across this great nation of ours, we say thank you to the men and women who have interrupted their lives to put on the uniform of one of the branches of our armed services. They made the choice to leave family and friends and go to distant places and foreign lands to work and sacrifice to preserve the notion of freedom. These are the women and men we recognize as our nation pauses to observe Veterans Day.
I hope those who work with our students in our school system take a moment to talk about the notion of respect and the reasons behind why we pause on the 11th hour, on the 11th day, every year. It’s not just a day off but a time to say thank you. We in the schools should remind students about why, when our flag is raised and honored, we put our hands over our hearts and why men should remove their caps. While it is our responsibility to instill in our students the value of education, we also have the obligation to make those students conscious of the notion of respect and honor.
Many of these men and women who have served walk among us. They are usually humble, yet conscious of the sacrifices made by many of those that they have served with. So I ask all of you to join with me in thinking of our veterans and keep their families in our thoughts and prayers as we pause and remember.
Feelings of grief and gratitude
A message to Haverhill Public Schools staff:
My heart was broken this weekend as I saw the hurt and felt the pain of Tim Englehardt’s family as they entered Sacred Heart Church for his funeral. To see the tears on the faces of so many of his classmates from Haverhill High, such great young men and women standing side by side, their hearts, filled with love, faith, and promise, yet crushed by Tim’s passing. Like his football coach and so many of his teachers in attendance, all were there out of love and respect, torn by the loss of a truly wonderful young man.
Again I stood in the back of a church, St. Elizabeth’s in Seabrook, witnessing the baptism of a baby girl and baby boy. I saw the joy of their families and the smiles on the faces of the congregation as the priest held each baby up so that all could see the cherished gifts of life.
Leaving the church I began to think about Timothy Englehardt, a member of the HHS Class of 2010, about the promise and dreams he held. I thought about what he must have been like as a classmate and as a student who was so obviously loved by so many, as Jean Ray eloquently expressed in her Words of Remembrance. I thought about those two beautiful babies, the journey ahead for them, and the roles each of you play in the journeys of so many children.
Later I returned home and as I set out to walk my beloved dog Brannon, I received a text with a photo of one of our schools with a banner stating “Level 1” … highlighting the achievements of our schools that have achieved a Level 1 status based on the 2014 MCAS testing. I reflected on the significance and the link among those three moments, and I thought about what I said to you during my opening day remarks, “You have a sacred trust …”
As brief as young Tim’s life was, so many of you gave him hope, promise, and the tools to succeed. Your efforts brought that great smile and wit to Tim and to so many others. Those two infants have begun their journeys, and along the way they will meet wonderful people like you. People who care and adapt to change, who take the time to reflect, to embrace new concepts and ideas, and to bring those skills to the classrooms of our cities and towns, so that those that sit before you can take pride in the collective effort to succeed.
This week, take a moment to reflect, to make sure we are doing our very best to bring out the talents and hopes of all who sit before us. The challenges are great but the rewards last a lifetime … let’s make sure we give all that chance …
Thank you again,
Back to School Message from Superintendent James F. Scully
On Monday morning, I spoke to the Haverhill Public School Department staff about the upcoming year. (For the video of this presentation, please click HERE.)
I showed them a short clip of a husband-and-wife duo who sang recently at Hampton Beach, and explained that I spoke with them after their performance. Both mentioned that they were public school graduates, and the man said he went to school in Lawrence.
I got around to asking him who his favorite teacher was.
He responded, “Mrs. White.”
I said, “She taught at the Hennessy School,” and he said, “Yes, she was my kindergarten teacher.”
I said, “Then I must have been your principal!”
He didn’t remember me, but he sure remembered Donna White.
He said, “When I was a little kid, growing up in a tough neighborhood in Lawrence, she was the first person to be nice to me. And the whole year in her class, she really cared for me. And even as I went through the subsequent years, she always took the time to genuinely say ‘Hi.’ “
I reminded the gathered staff, which included teachers, principals, office workers, technicians, facilities folks, aides and others, that when you extend a kind moment to a child, you leave a lasting imprint.
“There is not one of us who chooses this profession for any other reason than to make a difference in the life of a child,” I told the gathering. “Even those in noninstructional roles delight in the part they play in seeing the smile and glimmer of hope and promise in the eyes of those entrusted to our care.”
Each day, thousands of Haverhill parents and families send their children to us. We are mindful of the great gift that we are given when we work with children and assume the sacred responsibility of educating them.
I am proud to say that the Haverhill Public School Department staff has the sincere desire and drive to do what’s right, and fully realizes that those who enter our schools on August 26, 2014 will be the doctors that treat us in our golden years, the teachers that educate our grandchildren, the nurses who care for us as we seek comfort, and many others will address the political and scientific solutions that our generation had a hand in creating.
May our wise and prudent choices make a difference in their lives.
I renew my vow to do my very best to improve the way the schools are operated and managed, and to ensure that together we give our very best to our students.
I wish everyone a wonderful school year.
James F. Scully