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Superintendent's Newsletter 10.17.23

Posted Date: 10/17/23 (9:14 AM)


Family Newsletter   |  October 17, 2023 

Dr. Jennifer O'Neill

Dear Families,

I hope everyone is settling in nicely and enjoying the start of the school year. Thank you to the NMS students and staff for welcoming me for my residency day on Wednesday, October 11th! It was so great to see our middle schoolers engage in so many fun learning activities such as building roller coasters, escape rooms, winning PBIS prizes etc. These residency days have been my favorite days this year, and I am excited to be spending today at the JCS. 

Students at NMS received tickets and prizes for positive behaviors.     

Wellness Policy
Last spring, the Norton School Committee approved an updated Wellness Policy. For our families, some of the most important aspects of this policy are included below. 
  • Celebrations and Rewards: Food or beverages will not be used as rewards for good behavior or academic achievement unless it is part of a student’s Individual Educational Plan or directed by a medical professional. Physical activity may be used as a reward (i.e. extra recess). All classroom parties and school celebrations (e.g. holidays) held during the official school day will be non-food events. Families that are interested in providing an approved snack for their child’s birthday can reach out to Chartwells Food Service by contacting Mike Vaccaro at

  • Preventative Health Screenings: Health Services Department perform height and weight (grades 1, 4, 7, and 10), vision (preK-5, 7, and 10) hearing (K-5, 7, and 10) and postural grades 5- 9). Any abnormal results will be sent home to the parent/guardian for follow up with the student’s health care provider. Additional wellness screenings include SBIRT (grades 7 and 9) and the Youth Risk Behavior (grades 7-12). Parents/guardians will be notified via ParentSquare at least two weeks prior to the screenings in order to have the opportunity to opt their child out of the screenings.

MCAS Letters
On Thursday October 12th,  the district mailed the MCAS Student Reports for the spring 2023 testing (grades 3 - 10). The report shows your child's scores as well as their achievement level. For each subject, the report also provides information that compares your child's performance to performance at the school and state levels as well as information about how your child performed in the major areas of the test and on individual test questions.

While the results from the 2022-2023 MCAS assessment generally marked an improvement from the 2021-2022 test, the overall results are still not back to 2018-2019 levels. Our goal, through several district level endeavors, such as new curriculum adoptions from K-8, a new PK-12+ Social & Emotional learning curriculum, and evolving system of student support will be to demonstrate continuous growth. MCAS is one of many indicators of student achievement and should not be viewed as a complete picture of our students.  MCAS results are important but not the sole factor in determining student success in school.

Curriculum Updates
This fall, we have a number of new curriculum resources that are being used in our classrooms. During the 2022-2023 school year, the Office of Teaching & Learning engaged with K-5 teachers as well as math & English language arts teachers to complete a full curriculum review. This included:

  • a multi-year data review in each subject area involved 

  • developed a district wide vision for literacy and math

  • explored research based programs that are considered highly-effective by EdReports and Curate

  • used comprehensive rubric to evaluate and eventually select new curriculum resources for our classrooms. 

Stepping Stones 2.0Math Kindergarten through Grade 5

Stepping Stones 2.0 brings conceptual understanding of mathematics to the forefront of teaching and learning. The instructional approach builds on students’ natural ability to develop understanding and number sense. It helps students avoid misconceptions and promotes confidence with efficient thinking strategies. It also cements concepts and skills with games and practical applications.

Mid School MathMath Grades 6-8

MidSchoolMath is a comprehensive curriculum, specifically designed for students in grades 5-8. Mid School Math combines high quality videos with unique real-world stories where students directly experience how the math actually works, while having the opportunity to fail safely. Growth mindset and collaboration are core tenants of the program, students are also encouraged to use visuals to make connections between concepts to enhance understanding. 

AmplifyELA Grades 6-8

Grounded in learning science and tailored for the middle grades, Amplify ELA is a strong integrated curriculum that promotes a rigorous and riveting classroom culture around literacy for all. Amplify ELA is based on extensive research into learning, cognition, and how students develop literacy skills. The program challenges all students to work critically and successfully with complex text, taking into account the specific developmental needs and motivations of this age group.

If you have any questions about the specifics of these programs, please contact our Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning, Dr. Brian Ackerman. His email address is:

Student Supervision
As a school community, we love how many of our students stay after school to participate in clubs, activities, and sports as well as extra help sessions or to cheer on their fellow classmates. We ask families to please have a conversation with their students about being respectful and responsible of our school buildings and grounds during this time. We want all students and families to enjoy these space. Lancers Lead! 

Norton High School Named to 2023 AP School Honor Roll

Congratulations to Norton High School which was named to the 2023 AP School Honor Roll earning Silver Distinction! The AP School Honor Roll recognizes schools who AP program are delivering results and broadening access for students. Schools can earn the Honor Roll recognition annually based on their ability to increase their school’s college-going culture, to provide opportunities for students to earn college credit, and maximizing college readiness. 

Norton High School had 54% of seniors who took at least one AP exam during high school, 44% of seniors scoring a three or higher on at least one AP exam, and 7% of seniors who took five or more AP exams! Last year Norton High School offered a total of 18 AP courses (15 in-person and 3 through Virtual High School) with 27 sections (24 in-person and 3 virtual). 

Norton High School is dedicated to providing a rigorous and comprehensive educational experience that challenges and nurtures the intellect of every student. Dr. Ethan Dolleman, Principal, stated "Being named to the Honor Roll is a tremendous and well-deserved recognition for our amazing AP teachers and brilliant, hard-working students.  It is also a reflection of Norton High School's dedication to preparing every student for their very bright future."

College Board’s Advanced Placement® Program (AP®) enables students to pursue college-level studies—with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both—while still in high school. Through AP courses in 38 subjects, each culminating in a challenging exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments, and see many sides of an issue—skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Taking AP courses demonstrates to college admissions officers that students have sought the most challenging curriculum available to them, and research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students.


  • October 18th

    • Elementary Parent Conferences 

    • Norton Middle School Term I Progress Reports

  • October 19th

    • Elementary Early Release | Parent Conferences 

  • October 27th

    • District Early Release for Professional Development

  • November 2nd

    • Norton High School Grade 8 Open House

  • November 8th

    • Norton Middle School Parent Conferences

  • November 9th

    • Norton Middle School Early Release | Parent Conferences 

    • Norton High School Term I Marks Close

  • November 10th

    • No School - Veteran's Day Observance

This week's NPS Virtual Backpack flyers include: 
  • Norton Basketball Association Registration for Instructional and Recreational Leagues
  • Desfosses/Petersen Memorial Food Drive
  • Friends of Borderland and MSG Trent Memorial Haunted Hayride
  • Norton Historical Society Goat City Pub Fundraiser
  • Wheaton College and SGA Halloween on Howard event
To submit a flyer to the Virtual Backpack, please contact Pam Anderson at