image of a school bus with a dusting of snow and text of FLRSD sunday message, January 22, 2023

Good evening everyone,

On Wednesday evening at our most recent School Committee meeting a number of exciting and positive items were discussed, which due to technical difficulties were not recorded by our friends at LakeCam. Therefore I wanted to highlight some key points.

The State Department of Education has mandated beginning in September 2023, that every district must have a full dyslexia screening program in place for students up to grade 3. Thirteen of our AES and FES educators including both Principals, after weeks of meetings with Teri Fleming - Director of Curriculum,  presented their choice for a dyslexia screener. As the leader of this district and more importantly as a parent of an angel with multiple cognitive struggles, I listened with such pride and warmth as each person talked with joy, passion, confidence, and excitement about how important it was that we do everything we can to continue to ensure students who have reading struggles are caught early and supports put into place.I want to thank  Ms.Day, Ms. Nelson, Ms.Cooper, Ms. Martino, Ms.Kay, Ms. Bacon, Ms.Hughes, Ms. Matton, Ms. Silva, Ms.Falzone, Mrs. Ferreira-Trivino, and Principals Ms. Pineault and Mr. Ward along with Director of Curriculum Teri Fleming for their presentation.

The School committee without hesitation and with deep appreciation voted to accept a very generous donation from Sorrento Associates, Inc. - where a parent in our community works, that will go towards our vestibule project. The positive partnership that is either continuing or now forming with community partners is absolutely necessary and deeply appreciated for us to ensure the physical and emotional safety of our students along with the assurance that we are providing the academic needs of all of our students. Thank you to Amanda and Jason Cook.

The highlight as it always is, begins and ends with our school and student presentations. Everything we do at FLRSD is focused around teaching, learning, and safety, and our roles, be it Teacher or Staff, Superintendent, District Administrator or School Committee members, ALWAYS centers around our students. We implemented this year an opportunity for each school to have students present something going on in their classrooms and the presentations have been nothing short of remarkable. 

Wednesday evening Mrs de Medieros, grade 3 teacher from FES brought with her Sophia, Jaxson, Nora, Chloe, Vincenzo and Kaden and they showed everyone the math program they are utilizing which is so far removed from the math of yesteryear. Inquiry based, student centered, technology driven and interactive our students ability in grade 3 to process and collaborate on higher level problem solving questions was outstanding. Yet what was just as important and highlighted by Principal Ward, was the understanding through this process, and in this classroom, that making mistakes or giving answers that might not have been the correct one Is absolutely ok and in fact is part of the inquiry approach to education.

We must help our students understand that in problem solving and in life, answers that are not correct can help us learn or are simply natural as everyone makes them. Teaching this habit of mind that a mistake is not a failure, is vital in a society that seems to ignore the good and attack the mistakes.It also is necessary to help our students remain inquisitive rather than afraid.  The words of Principal Ward Wednesday evening  led me to our Sunday message and a very famous story.

I recently read on a Social Media post from someone that they received well over 100 hurtful messages because they made three mistakes in a rather lengthy posting on their account. They didn’t lie, nor did they do anything egregious. Rather, they added a word to a quote and  grammar was questioned.  These mistakes were not purposeful, yet people felt compelled to not simply recognize the mistake but to attack the character of the individual when they have never met the writer. This reiterates not only the dangers of social media but also the lessons we must never forget to teach our students daily. It is my hope that the story below reiterates the real message!

Albert Einstein once wrote on a chalkboard in teaching a class:

 9 x  1 = 9

 9 x  2 = 18

 9 x  3 = 27

 9 x  4 = 36

 9 x  5 = 45

 9 x  6 = 54

 9 x  7 = 63

 9 x  8 = 72

 9 x  9 = 81

 9 x 10 = 91

Suddenly chaos erupted in the classroom because Einstein made a mistake. Obviously, the correct answer to 9 × 10 isn’t 91.  And all his students ridiculed him. Einstein waited for everyone to be silent and said:

“Despite the fact that I analyzed nine problems correctly, no one congratulated me.  But when I made one mistake, everyone started laughing.  This means that even if a person is successful, society will notice his slightest mistake.  And they'll enjoy that. So don't let criticism destroy your dreams.  The only person who never makes a mistake is someone who does nothing." 

Our faculty and staff strives to allow students the understand that mistakes are human and that It is my hope that as we already head into the second month of 2023, that rather than continue to ridicule those who make mistakes, we adopt the idea I have referred to previously of Ubuntu, which also includes humanity towards others.

When athletes of all ages miss a wide open net, miss the last shot or drop a ball teammates should and often do come up to them and encourage them, Yet in the stands and from others remarks are made even with young athletes. We do not build people up which helps build confidence, instead we tear them down through shame. The belief that kindness, affirmation and support has more power to change outcomes than shame and punishment.

If we all can approach the mistakes of others in this way without humiliating, without anger and without vengeance then the world will be a better place. After all, we each seek grace when we make mistakes (and hopefully understand we need accountability) yet we often do not give grace to others when they make mistakes.

Our Principals, Assistant  Principals,Counselors, Teachers, Staff, Secretaries, Paraprofessionals, IT and Library Media Staff, Nurses, SRO, Coaches, Advisors, Maintenance, Custodial and Food Service staff as well as Central Office Staff and Administrators, Town Officials, School Committee, First Responders and our community partners give back to our students with grace, regardless of the mistakes of others that have been made. They teach, rather than judge and surround themselves with humility and our students are so lucky for that.

It was my hope that this week allows you to make a mistake as it means you're doing something as Albert Einstein said, and that you are provided with grace and humility when you do. Just as importantly, I hope you provide the same to those who commit mistakes as well.

Be well, be safe and most of all… be in peace.

Alan strauss, Superintendent

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