Summer School Food Service

The Amherst Pelham Regional Schools are excited to announce that free lunches will be provided to students in many of the summer programs from July 6th through July 24th. The programs receiving free lunch are Achievement Academy, LSSE & Vela Scholars.
There will be little or no cost to the District as it has received grants from Project Bread and will be reimbursed for each meal served. The reimbursements are provided by the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education which receives its funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The meals will be wholesome and nutritious as they must follow a specific meal pattern set forth by DESE. Please contact James Regan at 413-362-1818 if you have any questions.

Required Notice from USDA: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal and, where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or if all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.) If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at program.intake@usda.gov. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities and wish to file either an EEO or program complaint please contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 or (800) 845-6136 (in Spanish). Persons with disabilities, who wish to file a program complaint, please see information above on how to contact us by mail directly or by email. If you require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) please contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

-Sean Mangano, Director of Finance

Amherst Invitational Ultimate Frisbee Tournament

The 24th annual Amherst Invitational Ultimate Frisbee Tournament will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3, 2015. The weekend tournament is hosted by the Amherst Hurricanes, and held at Amherst Regional High School and Middle School.

Thirty high school teams from 25 high schools – nearly 600 players – from across the Northeast will compete in one of the oldest and most prestigious Ultimate tournaments in the country. These teams are selected based on their competitive records and contribution to the advancement of the game of Ultimate.

On Saturday, May 2nd, games will be played from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm at the ARHS and ARMS fields. Sunday’s action will run from 8:15 am to 5 pm. The tournament is divided into three competitive divisions: Girls, Open A, and Open B Divisions. The Girls Division championship game will be played Sunday at 1:45 pm at ARHS. The Open A Division and Open B Division finals will be played Sunday at 3:30 pm at ARHS.

“I love arriving on Saturday morning and seeing flocks of discs migrating through the air, darkening the skies, blotting out the sun!” said Josh Nugent, Girls Varsity coach for the ARHS Hurricanes.

This year’s teams in the Girls Division include Falmouth High School (ME), Lower Merion High School (PA), Fryeburg Academy (ME), Lexington High School (MA), Northampton High School (MA), Watchung Hills High School (NJ), Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School (MA), and host Amherst Regional High School (MA). In the Open A Division we have Westfield High School (NJ), Pennsbury High School (PA), Northampton High School (MA), Four River Charter School (MA), Lexington High School (MA), Radnor High School (PA), Needham High School (MA), Masconomet High School (MA), and host Amherst Regional High School Varsity (MA) and ARHS JVA (MA). In the Open B Division, the teams are Sharon High School (MA), Somerville High School (MA), Hotchkiss School (CT), Phillips Academy (MA), Williston Northampton School (MA), Andover High School (MA), Concord-Carlisle High School (MA), Falmouth High School (ME), Amherst Regional High School JV B (MA), and Amherst Regional Middle School (MA).

The Amherst Invitational was founded in 1992 by legendary ARHS and UMass Ultimate coach Tiina Booth. The tournament she founded is one of the most storied and prestigious high school Ultimate tournaments in the United States. Ms. Booth believes that with the number of highly competitive teams from across the country playing in this year’s tournament, the Amherst Invitational is one of the “most competitive tournaments in the country.”

The Sport of Ultimate and Amherst
Ultimate is one of the fastest growing sports in the world with over 4.9 million competitive Ultimate players worldwide in 2008. Combining the non-stop movement and athletic endurance of soccer with the aerial passing skills of football, a game of Ultimate is played by two seven-player squads with a high-tech plastic disc on a field similar to football.

Amherst is steeped in the history of Ultimate, acknowledged to be to be the birthplace of the sport by an Amherst College student in 1967. Tournament Director and Amherst Regional Middle School (ARMS) coach Jim Pistrang founded the Tufts University Ultimate Team in the 1970s and The Amherst Invitational is truly a community event that involves the entire town. There are 117 parent volunteers who handle every aspect of the tournament, from housing visiting teams and painting lines, to making lunches for all the players and organizing recycling on the fields.

“The entire town of Amherst gets involved in Ultimate Weekend each year,” says UMass Community Relations Director Tony Maroulis, “There are discs flying all over town.”

“I love that it is a weekend of community. Players, coaches, families, alumni and random strangers gathering to celebrate Ultimate in Amherst” said Jim Pistrang, Tournament Director, ARMS Ultimate coach, and a long-time Ultimate player.

The ARHS Boys and Girls Varsity teams are both past National Champions and both won the Northeastern Championships in 2012 in their divisions. The ARHS Varsity Ultimate teams play all of their early games against college teams and, in 2013, the Girls Varsity won both the state championship and the USA Ultimate Northeastern Championship. ARMS Ultimate, which co-hosts the tournament with the ARHS teams, is one of the few middle school Ultimate teams in the country who compete at the high school level.

For schedules, times, locations, and much more information on the tournament, see: http://facebook.com/amherstinvitational. You can also see our video promo, produced by Amherst Media, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUMgdJRalrw.

Google Apps for Education–Family Connection

We are excited to announce the introduction of Google Apps for Education for all schools in our districts for the 2015-2016 school year. This was initially shared on this blog in January.  Google Apps are online tools for productivity, communication, collaboration, and document storage. The main online tools are:

Gmail: Customizable web-based email software
Google Calendar: Customizable calendar with events and sharing
Google Drive: Word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets

This is a positive change for many reasons: Google Apps are accessible for free on any device with Internet; students will be able to access school Google accounts at school, home and anywhere there is an internet connection; and Google Apps allow access to useful, productive, and compatible software. Various Google Apps will be available to students based on their grade level. While many of the familiar tools will remain available, Google Apps are more versatile and open the door for more educational opportunities.

Though many of you may be familiar with Gmail and Google Apps, there will be information sessions and training sessions for families at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year. Students will also receive training and a new Acceptable Use Policy, which includes their Google accounts. Google Apps for Education have been around for many years, are used in many schools both locally and nationally and have proven to be safe, secure, and educational.

We look forward to this new improvement as we step into the modern age of mobile technology. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

Highlighting Our Partners: Amherst Education Foundation

Amherst Education Foundation (AEF) is an independent, non-profit, volunteer organization whose goal is to support Amherst-area public schools in providing a challenging and enriching educational experience that maximizes every student’s learning potential. For the past 20 years, AEF has sponsored a number of fundraising events, most visibly the annual Trivia Bee, during which they solicit funds from local business, parents, and other concerned citizens who believe in the importance of public education.

AEF has made these funds available to educators from the schools of Amherst, Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury in the form of competitive Excellence Grants. A call for proposals goes out each winter and grants are awarded in the spring for implementation the following year. Click here for examples of recent grants awarded from 2014 and 2013.

Recently, AEF has added the Spring Sprint to its calendar of community fundraising events. This year, the 5th Annual Spring Sprint will be held on May 9th at 10:00 am at the Amherst Regional High School. There will be a 5K Run/Walk open to anyone who wants to participate, and 1-mile Fun Run for children under 12 (and parents accompanying registered children under 8). All races will be held on the ARHS/ARMS cross-country course that begins and ends behind the high school. Parking will be available at ARMS, and the course provides multiple opportunities for cheering on the runners and walkers. AEF is planning a festive brunch for participants and their families immediately following the race. It promises to be a great day for everyone. Past Spring Sprints have attracted children, parents, teachers, school principals and school committee members, making it a wonderful community event! I encourage you to mark your calendars for May 9th and to register for the race.

Finally, Amherst Education Foundation is always looking for people who want to get involved in working to improve our schools. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities both large and small. If you are interested, please email amherstedfound@gmail.com or visit AEF online. See you at the Spring Sprint!

Nominees Sought for the Roger L. Wallace Excellence in Teaching Award

Dear Elementary Teachers, Parents, and Paraprofessionals,

We are so pleased to announce that we are ready to receive nominations for the 2015 Roger L. Wallace Excellence in Teaching Award!  Last year Ricci Mastroianni received the award in its second year.  We received wonderful nominations and had excellent participation in the election (by teachers and instructional paraprofessionals), and great coverage by the local paper.

Please help us again honor teaching as an invaluable profession and recognize outstanding teachers in the Amherst and Pelham elementary schools!  Please click on the link below and get your nominations in by April 20, 2015.

Sincerely,

The Wallace Excellence in Teaching Award Committee

Patricia Romney, Paul Wiley, Jana McClure, Russ Vernon-Jones,  Andrea Battle, Susan Kennedy-Marx, Carlie Tartakov, Imani Romney-Rosa and Sonia Nieto

Roger L. Wallace Excellence in Teaching Award Nomination Form

Recipients of the 2015 Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award Announced

Thirty-five school communities in the Pioneer Valley will once again honor outstanding teachers for their tremendous commitment and impact on children in their schools through the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award Program. Since its inception in 2002, over 2000 educators have been recognized and honored in this exceptional program. Now in its twelfth year, the program will honor 141 teachers this spring. To be eligible for this prestigious award, nominees must hold Massachusetts teacher certification; must demonstrate excellence in professionalism (i.e., teaching practices, inclusion, rigor, and collaboration); and must reach students and families above and beyond the classroom and school walls. Faculty, staff and administrators at each of the Amherst, Pelham and Amherst-Pelham Regional schools were encouraged to nominate outstanding teachers for consideration by Superintendent Maria Geryk. This year, the Districts will be represented by Tim Austin of Fort River Elementary, Meg Gallagher of Pelham Elementary, Rebecca Herskovitz of Amherst Regional High School, Denise O’Donovan of Amherst Regional Middle School, and Jennifer Smith of Crocker Farm Elementary. These outstanding honorees will be recognized at a banquet celebration on April 29th 2015 at the Log Cabin and Meeting House in Holyoke.

PVETA Tim AustinTim Austin: A 6th grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Fort River Elementary, Tim is being honored this year not only for the exemplary instructional skills he brings to his classroom (his students are demonstrating significant academic progress), but also because of the strong sense of community that he cultivates both within and beyond his classroom. Most impressively, as Advisor to the Fort River Student Council, Tim has organized school wide events (the Geography Bee and Fort River Author Day), facilitated student led meetings, initiated community service trips (Grade 6 partnership with the Food Pantry), and written for, as well as received, multiple grants for the benefit of the 6th grade team.

PVETA Meg GallagherMeg Gallagher: With 31 years of teaching experience, Meg embraces every possible opportunity to inspire, learn, share and grow. Because of her advocacy not only for the rich experiences of her diverse students, but also her collaborative approach to everything she participates in, Meg is the go to person for students, parents, interns, new and veteran teachers alike. Highly skilled in the art of differentiation, Meg welcomes all students, recognizes many types of diversity and finds a way to shine light on the talents within everyone. By seamlessly modeling classroom inclusion, co-teaching, and community outreach, Meg is an invaluable participant in the at large Amherst-Pelham learning community.

Rebecca Herskovitz, ARHS Teacher

Rebecca Herskovitz: With only two years in the Special Education department at Amherst Regional High School, Rebecca has established herself not only as someone who can articulate a clear theory of differentiation, but who also has a strong following among the general education faculty as someone who is able to operationalize these practices – redesigning assignments and assessments, increasing and improving access for all of our students. Rebecca commands an array of adjustments that allow general education and special education teachers alike to maintain their content commitments and simultaneously provide students with a balance of support and challenge. Students find Rebecca warm, engaging and supportive. Her instructional practice is exemplary. It is this spirit that exudes all aspects of Rebecca’s personhood for which we find her highly worthy of the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award.

PVETA Denise ODonovanDenise O’Donovan: Denise has graced Amherst Regional Middle School for the past 11 of her 29 years of teaching. During her tenure in Amherst, Denise has continuously risen to the challenge of adapting her program to meet the needs of students in her Essential Skills Program. Maintaining a high level of expectation and challenge, Denise consistently goes above and beyond to support and ensure that her students are able to access all aspects of Middle School life, including after school programs, concerts, performances and social gatherings. In bringing the “Best Buddies” program to the Middle School, Denise has provided an after school club that promotes friendship and social experiences for students with special needs and their typical peers. Whether helping a student succeed in activities of daily living, assisting with modified 7th and 8th grade curriculum, facilitating inclusive life experiences, or being an ally for families and students alike, Denise is a stalwart of excellence.

PVETA Jennifer SmithJennifer Smith: A Reading Specialist at Crocker Farm Elementary, Jennifer has demonstrated outstanding leadership, instruction, communication and community outreach. Leading by example, Jennifer has been essential to the successful implementation of our new district wide K-2 literacy curriculum. Through weekly grade level meetings, whole class literacy lessons, and accessible family events, Jennifer Smith has played a large role in the advancing literacy level of our students. Her continued day to day work, collaboration, and ongoing learning set the stage for teacher instructional practices in literacy and has served to raise the expectations of all of our youngest students.

Kanegasaki Students Visit ARMS

This week Amherst Regional Middle School welcomed 15 students from Kanegasaki, Japan as part of an exchange program that began 20 years ago. These student visits have been the highlight of the standing relationship that has linked our two sister towns of Amherst and Kanegasaki. Our Japanese visitors arrived at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18 where they were greeted at the Amherst Town Hall with an official greeting ceremony attended by Kanegasaki Sister City Committee members, Amherst Town Manager John Musante and Denise Boyd, ARMS Counselor and Coordinator of the Cultural Exchange. The chaperones from Kanagasaki met with Superintendent Maria Geryk and Assistant Superintendent Mike Morris on Thursday for the traditional greeting and gift exchange.

Eight host families are graciously opening their homes to students this year. The Japanese students attended school on Thursday and Friday with their host families and were invited to attend any after school programs or clubs in which their hosts are involved. On Saturday, March 21 there will be a time to enjoy bowling at Northampton Bowling Alley followed by a farewell dinner for all of the host families, provided by our Kanegasaki guests. The farewell dinner includes entertainment with traditional Japanese dancing and songs and is the traditional way in which our Kanegasaki guests express their thanks to the host families. The exchange students will leave Amherst on Sunday morning for a visit to New York. City before they return to Japan.

Superintendent Maria Geryk and Assistant Superintendent Mike Morris welcome our guests from Kanegasaki, Japan
Superintendent Maria Geryk and Assistant Superintendent Mike Morris welcome our guests from Kanegasaki, Japan

Governor’s Budget Proposal & ARPS 

Governor Charlie Baker released his first budget proposal last Thursday, March 5, 2015. The budget proposal includes minimal aid increases for Chapter 70 and level funding for many other key line items. Chapter 70 Aid, which is the largest source of state aid for schools, is slated to go up twenty dollars per student in the Governor’s proposal. Regional Transportation Reimbursement aid is level funded at an approximate reimbursement rate of sixty percent of eligible costs. Circuit Breaker Aid and Charter Tuition Reimbursement Aid are also level funded in the proposal.

Many of the mid-year 9c budget reductions have been carried forward into this proposal. Unfortunately for the District, state aid continues to be stagnant and combined with rising costs translates to difficult financial conditions.

More updates to come as the House begins to prepare its own budget proposal.

The Governor’s proposal can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.mass.gov/bb/h1/fy16h1/.

 

Submitted by Sean Mangano, ARPS Director of Finance

Aspirations

With each new generation we see the promise of our future and the continuation of our collective legacy. The lives we lead in adulthood bud from the aspirations of our childhood and despite the nuance that accumulates over time, deep down they remain the same. Furthermore, across generations we find consensus about attributes of character worth aspiring to, despite the many different ways those attributes are particularized. Courage, for example, exists in a variety of iterations from small acts of benevolence like struggling to provide for the ones you love most, to grand gestures like fighting for the rights of whole nations.

To understand how far we’ve come and how much farther we’ve yet to go, we must confront those most basic assumptions that have shaped our lives and which will continue to shape the lives of countless future generations. In an attempt to do just that, we invited 7 adults to share their deepest aspirations with 7 youth who, in turn, interpreted and painted the adults faces with their interpretation.

This film by Jose Rodriguez captured an opportunity for adults to share an experience with our youth that may significantly impact how they think about their futures and the kinds of people they’d like to become.  Click below to view the film:

Aspirations

ARHS Master Schedule Discussion

On Wednesday, February 25, a meeting was held with the community to discuss plans to change the high school master schedule for the 2016-2017 school year. If you missed the Master Schedule Discussion, you can download a copy of the powerpoint slides and an information packet. A video of the presentation is posted below. If you are a parent/guardian of a student in grades K-10, we would like your feedback about the 2016-2017 master schedule options. Please complete the master schedule survey by Friday, March 13th.

 

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Note: Unfortunately there were audio difficulties with the first 5 minutes of the presentation, so this clip starts 5 minutes in. – Jerry Champagne