Recently a parent asked me if the district had considered COVID surveillance testing as a way to monitor the health and wellbeing of students in our schools. Well... yes. When I explained that surveillance testing, as well as any number of other COVID-related health and safety issues, had actually been a major part of ongoing conversations and the subject of several School Committee meetings over the last 18 months, the parent expressed surprise. "Is there a way," the parent inquired, "to get more communication and to be involved?"
I often hear from parents who say they want to be more involved or are unsure how to be involved in their child's school or education. Sometimes parents or community members say they wish there was "more transparency" about how the business of school is conducted. So let me take this opportunity in the early part of the school year to share a few ways parents and families can stay connected and be involved in the life of the Needham Public Schools.
• Join the PTC (Parent Teacher Council) at your school and plan and participate in events, programs, and meetings focused on the needs of the students and staff there. PTC meetings provide an opportunity for parents to connect with the principal and to meet other families. Each school's website has a link to that school's PTC, including officers and infomration.
• The Special Education Parent Advisory Council or SEPAC is another way to get involved and to learn more about special education services in the NPS and to meet and interact with other parents and staff who share ideas, programming, and advocate for the needs of students and families.
• The English Language Learner Parent Advisory Council or ELPAC provides a forum for families and parents of students whose first language is not English. This school year, more than 28 languages are spoken by our English Language Learning students, and the ELPAC is a great way for families to stay informed.
• Our Boston resident families can participate in all of the aforementioned groups as well as the Needham METCO Parent Council. The meetings are typically held in Boston (and more recently via Zoom) and provide a great way for parents and families to learn about the Needham Public Schools and to share ideas and suggestions.
• Each school has a School Council composed of staff, parents, community members, and at Pollard and the high school, student reps. The School Council advises the principal about the implementation of the School Improvement Plan and meets regularly to learn about the challenges and opportunities the school community is facing. To learn more about Needham's School Councils, check out the recent training provided to all School Council members: 2021-22 School Council Training
• Booster organizations are another great way to stay connected and be involved in the life of your high school students. The NHS Rocket Boosters provide fundraising and support athletics at Needham High and NHS Friends of Music advocates for and supports high school musical and theatrical productions and events.
• The Needham School Committee is the elected body that oversees the Needham Public Schools and establishes and reviews educational goals, programs, budget and policies for the district, consistent with the requirements of the law and standards established by the Massachusetts Board of Education. The Committee generally meets twice per month and all meetings are open to the pubic and accessible on local cable television and online. Your School Committee representatives want to hear from you, so reach out to the firstname.lastname@example.org
• I often send out emails and tweets to families, students, and the community about topics of interest, including weather-related information, school closures, and updates. Please make sure to sign up to receive emails and log in to Twitter for updates!
Stay involved, stay connected, and let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns: my email address is email@example.com