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School Committee Reports

Superintendent’s Report
March 28, 2024


 

Inclusion lies at the heart of our educational mission. 

 

As we closed February with Black History Month, schools highlighted the civil rights movement of the past and present. Former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was celebrated for his impactful achievements in crucial court cases related to voter rights, fighting housing discrimination, and ending segregation. His legacy reminds our community of the importance of ensuring equal opportunities and access for everyone. His inspiring words encompass this truth:  

 

"We deal here with the rights of all of our children, whatever their race, to an equal start in life and an equal opportunity to reach their full potential as citizens. Those children who have been denied that right in the past deserve better than to see fences thrown up to deny them that right in the future."

 

In celebrating Women's History Month, we honor women's pivotal role throughout history, shaping our past and influencing our future. Recognizing and amplifying the contributions of women from diverse backgrounds is not only a matter of historical accuracy but also a crucial step toward fostering a more inclusive and equitable society. By highlighting women's achievements in various fields, we inspire our students to dream big and pursue their aspirations regardless of gender barriers. 

 

To promote true belongingness, capacity, and skill-building. LPS will partner with Dr. Darnisa Jackson and Dr. Lee Teitel, both racial equity strategists and nationally recognized educators who will be instrumental in developing the as their mentoring and training programs have helped develop DEI departments and school districts nationally. Their experience as founding co-chairs of the Reimaging Integration Diverse and Equitable Schools at Harvard placed their work at the forefront of DEI strategic planning. Beginning in April 2024 through 2025, they will be working with our senior leaders, providing principals and administrators opportunities to practice pivots and innovations on belonging-based work and providing further opportunities in coaching to support visioning through Equity Cycles of Improvement. Dr. Amante Jackson will mentor, train, and lead the Educator Affinity group spaces.  

 

We recognize that student voice is a cornerstone of our educational LPS philosophy, and our current initiatives emphasize students holding themselves and adults accountable for being diversity champions. Empowering students to express their perspectives, concerns, and aspirations enhances their educational experiences and fosters a sense of ownership and agency in their learning journey. For example, our LPS Inclusivity Teams have been preparing their Youth Participatory Action Research projects in anticipation of this year's spring Inclusivity Summit. As such, I would like to share the numerous new projects that are in progress at this time:  

 

We are creating the first Muslim Student Association and celebrating International Day to fight Islamophobia. Prospective members, including Youssra Arfiki, Jihane Al Garroudi, Rowan Shehata, and Annah Malima, have already begun consulting with the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion regarding their vision for understanding, awareness, and belonging. We wish our students a happy Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Holy month of Ramadan. 

The Superintendent's Student Cabinet, Centering Youth Voices, and the LPS Teachers of Color Affinity leaders met to provide student perspectives on critical topics. This cabinet has also provided ongoing consultation and accountability to multiple policy and procedure committees regarding the school dress code and high school schedule, making themselves readily available for these meaningful consultations. I want to recognize our incredible student leaders: Annah Malima, Gianah Cowan, Boo Disaia, Janah Rojas, Javier Patricio Santo, Rachel Villanueva Martinez, Awan Awan, Cassidy Galdamez Garcia, Genesis Castro, and Maryelys Villegas Lopez for their dedication to student voice. 

 

Our Gay Student Alliance groups from around the district gathered at Marshall Middle School for an afternoon of activities and artwork, including introducing a partnership between GSA and our Inclusivity teams to launch a 'No Place for Hate' awareness campaign to combat incidents of bias and hatred. This GSA event highlights the importance of community-building, support, and leadership with our students, which are central to shaping awareness initiatives and a culture of belonging. We are grateful to all students who participated and to Mx. Nat Brennan for their leadership and vision. 

 

Our Superintendent's Teacher Cabinets, elementary and secondary, met to discuss the pressing topics they identified collectively through school site polls. They continue to shape this platform to express their concerns and insights regarding critical issues in their educator roles. These monthly meetings have allowed teachers to share innovative ideas and contribute to the ongoing dialogue surrounding our district's educational landscape, and we appreciate their dedication and representation. 

 

Equity is in motion at LPS. I want to celebrate the teachers, students, staff, and leaders for their commitment to change when we have made a call for action. Together, we have accomplished more than we can share in this meeting. We will continue to provide regular updates through various means of communication to uphold our promise of transparency.  

 

Change happens one day at a time. We are an example of the change that the rest of the country needs and will want to one day replicate. 

 

Respectfully, 

 

Evonne S. Alvarez, Ed.D.

She/Her/Ella 


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Data, Assessment & Accountability
MCAS Civics Field Test

During the 2023-24 school year, all schools serving grade 8 are required by DESE to administer the MCAS Civis field test. The test consists of 36-38 questions and is estimated to take 50-60 minutes for completion. The administration of the test will be April 29-June 2024.

Understanding the Student Experience
A top priority in our district is supporting safe and supportive school environments. Presently, we use the DESE Vocal Survey where we only capture the voices of approximately 23% of our English-speaking student population in grades 5, 8, and 10. With this in mind, we have identified the need to create and implement a comprehensive school culture and climate survey in multiple languages for our students in grades 3-12. This inclusive approach is driven by our commitment to fostering a school culture that values every student's voice. By making the survey accessible to more grades and languages, we aim to gain insights into the unique challenges and strengths of each school community.  Additionally, this district-wide survey will provide information to help shape our strategies, including restorative practices and staff training.  

Early next Spring 2024 we will pilot the Panorama Student Survey with a select set of schools to understand. Panorama is available in 10+ languages and has an elementary and secondary school version.  The information from the pilot will help us identify technical issues, test survey procedures, and gather feedback from schools that participate. LPS will use the information from the pilot to implement a district-wide survey with all schools late spring 2024.

Contact: Jennifer Shorter, [email protected]

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Student DEI Consultancy Team is a small group of students who conceptualized and proposed this initiative. This group met on 11/15/23 to discuss the importance of their lens regarding the development of the DEI department, and their input was invaluable. This pilot group will undoubtedly expand, as they’ve already exhibited the importance of student thought-partners regarding belonginess and inclusion efforts in our schools.

Centering Youth Voices, the LPS student superintendent advisory group, is ready for a December launch. Applications have been submitted and we have just completed our selections. This team of students will be an invaluable resource as they “share the table” regarding student experience and perspective. The LPS Staff of Color Affinity Group has partnered with the DEI department in forming the selection committee for Centering Youth Voices and proposed a year-long partnership centered around the future of education and the student-to-teacher pipeline. 

 The LPS Inclusivity Teams held their district gathering on 11/16/23 with a fantastic slide presentation. Each team gave a brief review of their research project, students gave shout-outs of appreciation, and each mentor shared pictures and stories of their youth. This was a tremendous opportunity for the teams to learn about one another and celebrate each other's progress as they enter the next phases of their research and project development.

Contact: Robert Bishop, [email protected]

Social Emotional Learning

Planning has begun with the Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention-Center for Trauma Care to bring high quality, evidence-based clinical training to our approximately 100 clinicians via the SAMHSA Trauma grant. Plans are being framed to have two spring trainings as well as to offer a menu of trainings via a Summer Institute.
Our partnership with the BRYT (Bridge for Resilient Youth) program is expanding to create a BRYT center at the Lynn Vocational Technical High School. Our work at Classical has been successful and via a DPH grant, an additional program in Lynn is moving forward. we hope to be open in January of 2024.
Contact:  Tina Hoofnagle, [email protected]

Special Education

LPS held its first Transition Fair at LEHS on November 15th from 5-7 PM.  Organized by LPS Transition Specialist Dr. James McDonald, caregivers and students met with DDS, Bridgewell, Work Opportunities, North Shore Community College, Adult Day Programs to become familiar with supports and services available as students with disabilities transition to adulthood.  There was a great turnout.

The Special Education Parent Advisory Council met on November 6th.  With over 100 parents joining the meeting, participants were introduced to Interim Administrator Christina Colella and the Special Education Administrative team, made plans for upcoming meetings, and had an opportunity to ask questions.  The topic of the next SEPAC meeting is:  Understanding and Treating Anxiety, Dec 4, 6:00pm via Zoom or in person.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) has recently implemented significant updates to the Individualized Education Program (IEP) form. These modifications will enhance the IEP process, leading to improved educational outcomes and experiences for students with disabilities across the Commonwealth. The initiative, known as the IEP Improvement Project, goes beyond introducing newly designed and updated forms with a broader objective of facilitating collaborative efforts among schools, districts, and families, to foster the development of more robust systems that effectively support students with disabilities. Through this initiative, the Department seeks to promote meaningful partnerships and innovations that will positively impact the overall educational journey of students with diverse learning needs. The Special Education Department is in the process of applying for a grant that will support the rollout of the new IEP process and forms for all stakeholders. More information will be coming for all stakeholders in the coming months.

Contact: Christina Colella, [email protected]