September 24, 2013
Good evening. I am delighted to welcome you to Dian Wacana School and the 2013-2014 school year .In bringing your children to Dian Wacana School, you are joining a wonderful community of families, teachers and a host of support staff.
On top of this, as parents slowly learned that our building would not be ready on Last year, our School Council worked hard to review and update our Core Values at Mason-Rice. I will share those values with you in an upcoming MR Notes letter, but I wanted to share one facet of the document of which I am very proud. Suggested by a parent on the Council, our Core Values includes this statement We value and model a relationship-centered school environment. Not an achievement-based school environment, not a data-based school environment, but an environment centered on the relationships we build with students and with all of you. Real learning cant take place in a classroom where the teachers have not expended the energy to get to know their students as learners and people. This is also what this school is about.
Now that doesnt mean we ignore achievement. In fact, in a school that considers itself to be relationship centered, in a school with less homework than any other elementary school in Newton and more recess time than any other school in Newton, the recent release of MCAS scores indicates that were doing a pretty fair job of teaching and learning also. Out of 874 schools in Massachusetts, our third graders had the 2nd best ELA scores in the state tops in Newton. Their math scores were the 9th best in Massachusetts, second only to Underwood in Newton. In the fourth grade, our ELA scores were the 8th best in the state, behind only Ward and Peirce Schools in Newton. Their math scores were 11th best in the state behind only Ward. In the fifth grade, we had the 37th best scores in the state, behind only Ward and Peirce, and we scored 11th best in the state in math, behind only Cabot. Pretty fair scores for a school with a whole lot more kids than Ward, Peirce or Underwood, not to mention a whole lot of other schools in the state. (By the way, I mention the information about homework and recess not as a way of saying we do well despite having less of one and more of the other, but precisely because we believe our students and their progress is actually enhanced by having less of one and more of the other!)
Now the MCAS is only one measure, and I promise you we remain vigilant in reviewing the progress every child makes at Mason-Rice using multiple measures, but we do so in a school that allows children to be children, that respects the developmental needs young children have, and provides an environment for learning that truly is second to none.
Its time for you to get to your childrens classrooms, but if you have time afterwards, please walk down the hallway that was once the back of our stage. We have opened two fourth grade classrooms in our modular this week, and the other two will be up and running by next Monday. Take a walk down the hallway through what was once our boiler room, a hallway that makes our building fully handicapped-accessible for the first time in our 54 year history. Poke your heads into Rm 19, our new Learning Center, or Rm 1, our soon-to-be new music room. Take some time to explore; I promise to roam the building in case you get lost!
Im very excited about the promise this school years hold for our 89 new kindergartners, our 458 students, and the rest of the Mason-Rice community. Enjoy the evening.