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School Committee Focuses on Elementary School Initiatives

The Stoneham School Committee met with Patty Messina, Director of Elementary Education, concerning elementary school brouchers, a new online teacher's network and a state mandate surrounding English Language Learning (ELL) students.

The Stoneham School Committee met with Patty Messina, director of elementary education, Thursday night at Stoneham High School to discuss a new brochure, the creation of a new online teacher's network and also a state mandate concerning English Language Learning (ELL) students.

Messina began by handing out new brochures for elementary school parents and teachers detailing elementary school education. The brouchers detail what to expect in the upcoming school year in terms of curriculum and more. The brochure will be available at the front offices throughout Stoneham in the next “few weeks,” according to Messina. An online version of the brochures will be available “later in the year.”

Coincidentally, an online network for teachers was the next conversation between Messina and the school committee. Messina said that she will be striving for synced assessment across district boarders this year and hopes to provide communication solutions to different schools to bring the various school communities together.

An online network for teachers to share and improve class units with different analysis tools and the ability to scan documents was one way Messina mentioned to bridge the gap between districts.

“It's going to take a couple of years to get in place and really function well,” Messina said of the online teachers network.

The director then switched topics to ELL students in Stoneham elementary schools.

“There has been a significant increase in K through twelve, where English is the student's second language,” explained Messina.

Staffing for the ELL students then dominated the conversation between the school committee and Messina.

“We are piecing together staffing […] We are probably going to have to hire more staff [...] It's an evolving process,” Messina said.

Stoneham elementary schools have a number of requirements to meet to fulfill a state mandated law concerning ELL students. The prime focus between Messina and the school committee was the amount of staff that need to be hired combined with providing proper documentation between schools and the parents of ELL students.

One of the major requirements is official school documents, such as student handbooks, need to be translated into the top five languages represented in Stoneham. The School Committee and Messina thought beginning with a Spanish translation seemed like a logical first step as that was number one of the two currently identified top five foreign languages throughout Stoneham, with the other being Portuguese.

The school committee also want to contact other school communities for advice on how to best go about translating official documents into the other languages. The committee also wants to reach out to local citizens, school groups or other resources to help with the translations.

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