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11 Takeaways From the July 20 School Committee Meeting

The School Committee meets a bit earlier than usual during the summer, so those who wish to take part in the Citizen Forum should take note of the time.

First up was the Ginsburg Family Award, which recognizes an individual, a group or a company/organization who has had a significant impact on the Tewksbury Public Schools. This year, the award was presented to the TMHS chapter of Best Buddies International, which pairs students who have learning differences.

On hand to receive the award was program coordinator Brian Aylward, who is also a TMHS teacher and the varsity football coach.

“This particular program is a huge source of pride for myself and kids I’ve been able to work with over the years,” said Aylward. “Everybody is equal and everybody has fun.”

The Ginsburg family with 2022 awardee Brian Aylward, far right, representing the TMHS Best Buddies program

Also awarded this evening was the Krissy Polimeno Outstanding Educator Award, which is presented to an individual who has had a significant impact on a Tewksbury school or the district. The 2022 winner was TMHS Social Studies teacher Scott Callanan, who was nominated by former TMHS principal John Bernard.

Bernard was at the meeting to speak about Callanan.

“I chose to nominate him because he is all about his students,” said Bernard. “He’s kind, he’s caring, he’s thoughtful. He’s sincere. He’s warm, he’s friendly.” Callanan was humbled to receive the award.

Scott Callanan, second from left, receives the Krissy Polimeno Outstanding Educator Award

Nineteen TMHS students in the Innovation Pathways Program participated in the UMass Lowell Summer Engineering Program. UML director of academic programming Brad Mingles gave a presentation with DESE Innovations Pathway lead Jennifer Gwatkin and TPS grants project director Cindy Basteri. This program was a four-day immersive engineering experience. Mingles says his job is to make the next generation better. Students were tasked with engineering tasks, such as keeping a piece of paper in the air for 10 seconds, which is ultimately harder than students believe it will be.

This program helps to expose students to the variolous courses of engineering study available at UMass.

Superintendent Regan gave a few hiring updates. Robert Rogers, who has been a teacher for 19 years at the Ryan Elementary School, will be the new Center Elementary School Vice Principal and will work with Trahan Elementary School Principal Jay Harding at both the Trahan and North St. Elementary Schools and with the second-grade staff until the new school opens.

Twelve year TPS veteran Alexis Bosworth, who had been the the preschool coordinator and assistant principal of the Dewing Elementary School, will officially move into the principal position there, as former principal Terry Gerrish has moved to that position at the Heath Brook Elementary School.

Rick Pelletier is currently interviewing candidates for an assistant special education director position.

Regan notes that the district had 81 job postings and has been able to fill 49 of those, but that when a role is filled by current staff, that creates a new open position.

Regan also shared that she is beginning to implement an entry plan for her new position as superintendent. Her first step is data collection, which will begin with forums for all stakeholders. The first two of those forums will be held Aug. 9 in the Large Group Instructional Room at TMHS, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and that evening from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

New assistant superintendent Lori McDermott will also be at these meetings to meet community members.

Brenda Regan, Lori McDermott and Eileen Osborne

McDermott gave her first update to the committee. She started out by sharing how welcomed she has felt right out of the gate. She was able to tour the new Center Elementary School recently and was excited to see the space. In particular, she is excited that the admin offices are going to be in that building.

“I think it’s so important for administration to be in a school building surrounded by kids,” she said. “That feels like reminder of the why we’re here and who we work for.”

She shared that the district is working on securing an Early Literacy grant from DESE for grades K through 3. And just before the meeting, a grant award came through for the Summer Acceleration Academy.

Assistant Business Manager Eileen Osborne gave an update on the summer building projects:
> The gym light fixtures in Wynn Middle School and Ryan Elementary School have been replaced.
> IT is coordinating with vendors for ClearTouch Boards.
> TMHS has a camera upgrade that is ongoing that will improve the visual quality to be in line with the other schools in the district.
> The Dewing Elementary School office and vestibule have been pushed out.
> The TMHS auditorium had light upgrades and the stage floor replaced.
> And finally, the Wynn Middle School roof bid has been awarded; work will likely be done during school and completed before winter.

There were a few sub-committee updates. Keith Sullivan shared that the Center Elementary School School project is on time, and their next meeting is August 11.

The Tewksbury SEPAC is having a summer social, date to be announced. The group will be at kindergarten orientation, and the first meeting for the school year will be September 15, per Nick Parsons.

Rich Russo says the Wellness Committee is working to get back to where they were before the pandemic and that Food Services director Deb Mugford and lead nurse Kelly Constantino will be looking at polices to see if they are still accurate.

The next North St. and Trahan Reuse Committee meeting will be July 28, per Kayla Biagioni-Smith.

The policy subcommittee has been hard at work this summer reviewing all TPS policies. Many of the polices reviewed had no changes or minor ones to update things like legal references. Three polices that had more significant wording changes were the Fiscal Management Goals, Annual Budget and Budget Transfer Authority. The changes suggested can be found in the School Committee packet.

Policy changes shared at the last meeting were approved at this meeting, and those to be approved at the next meeting, also in the packet, affect meal fees and public speaking at School Committee meetings.

McDermott shared two summer programs currently running. The tiny triple threat drama enrichment workshop that’s run by the high school drama directors and high school drama students is ongoing, and the Junior Police Academy for students in grades 5 to 8, which is run by the Tewksbury Police Department, is offered at no cost to families.

The 8th grade field trip to Washington DC was unanimously approved.

Next up was the interim superintendent’s four-month end of year evaluation. Chair Bridget Garabedian noted that it was a short window to evaluate and that Regan was acting as superintendent and also still doing her job as assistant superintendent and working on goals set by previous superintendent Chris Malone. The evaluation is based on a DESE rubric tool. All School Committee members complete the rubric, and the chair compiles the information into one evaluation.

In the area of student learning goals, Regan was found to be in the “met and progressing” range. Per the evaluation, Regan has supported staff and adapted to “change when necessary, especially in establishing support and implementation of new curricula, social emotional learning assessments, limit programs and digital assessment tools.”

In the area of professional practice goals, the committee found that she met or exceeded expectations. Her discretion with COVID grant money allowed the district to move forward with needed supports. Regan has already demonstrated growth in her role by taking advantage of new superintendent learning opportunities.

Garabedian asked that Regan “continue to provide detailed communication regarding the transition throughout the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, keeping families and staff informed of finds expectations and when necessary, providing updates of any potential changes.”

The next School Committee meeting is August 17.

Julie Naughton
Julie Naughton

Julie likes coffee and covers education and all things concerning the Tewksbury Public Schools, along with other topics, for the Carnation. Contact her at: attn Julie N.

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