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From Julie Craven

August 21, 2017

Dear RAUC Families,

I hope the summer has been full of smiles and memory making for you and your student. I welcomed the slower pace, finding plenty of time to revel in the calming powers of New Hampshire lakes and the Maine coast. There were no travels abroad this year, just virtual travel inspired by the Reading Without Walls Challenge that Amy Gonzalez, 7th ELA, is participating in, which asks people to read about a character who doesn't look or live like them. I chose to focus on literature from Ethiopia. Highlights include: Notes From the Hyena's Belly: An Ethiopian Boyhood (Nega Mezlekia), Beneath the Lion's Gaze (Maaza Mengiste), and The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears (Dinaw Mengustu). I am grateful for the power of these beautifully written books and welcome discussing any of them with you. I also look forward to hearing what your student thinks about their summer reading.

The end of August is the time when we begin our transition back to school. Something that smoothed my own transition was my recent attendance at the CitySprouts Garden Expo in the Peabody/RAUC courtyard. Student interns led families and community members on a tour of the garden and their daily activities. Their enthusiasm and poise as they shared newly gained expertise reminded me of the impact that well-designed programs can have on our young people. The program’s focus on economic justice in food production particularly moved me. Students expressed their concern that those doing the hardest physical labor were receiving the lowest wages, and that fear of deportation keeps many of our migrant workers from speaking up about exploitation. The expo also reminded me of the power of partnerships, when community organizations and families join with schools to support and celebrate meaningful learning. I left eager for the energy and promise of a new school year.

To help you and your student feel prepared for the start of the school on Tuesday, September 5th, this August newsletter features information and links, including: schedule information; grade level supply lists; reminders of summer math and reading work; a list of RAUC dates; an overview of Families of RAUC (FRAUC) 2017-18; and links to district policies and forms. For those of you new to RAUC, you can expect a weekly RAUC newsletter once school starts to keep you informed and connected.

I also want to share plans RAUC staff has been working on to ease student transition back to school. After reading a book together last year, How to Create a Culture of Achievement in Your Classroom and School (Fisher, Frey, Pumpian), staff was eager to turn one particular idea into action, a well-structured “First Four Days” that focuses on intentional community building. They began planning in team meetings last spring and continued at a professional day the Friday after school ended. Many also attended a week-long training in Developmental Designs, a social curriculum that embeds strategies to meet adolescent developmental needs into advisories and academic classes. Ideas from that institute are woven into our First Four Days activities, as are our core values: Reflect, Aim high, seek Unity, have Compassion. Intentional community building is particularly important given the tensions around race and identity that continue to roil our nation. The violence sparked by the rally of white-supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, underscores the need to actively and unequivocally confront racism and bigotry in all forms. As former president Obama reminds us in his tweet of a Nelson Mandela quote:  “...No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love…”

As I did last year, I will end my letter with introductions and an invitation. The introductions relate to staffing changes. Jason Everhart, 8th SS, has left for a wonderful opportunity as assistant principal in another district. Tom Trainor, 7th SS, will move into the 8th grade position, one that he previously held and is excited to return to. We welcome Beatriz Motto into the 7th grade social studies position. Ms. Motto brings an excellent foundation in history and a strong focus on social justice. For music, the hiring process did not yield any strong candidates, so we took advantage of the strengths of our RAUC staff. Brittany Phillips, 6th-8th Orchestra, will teach 6th grade Music Studio, and Josh DeWitte, 6th-8th Chorus, will teach 7th and 8th grade. The district has given us permission for one year to use the music teacher funds to hire a full time Student Support Aide, a position we created to better support students who do not always feel fully connected to school and academics. We welcome Michael Sanders to that position; he comes with over 10 years experience in Boston at a similar position and with the highest recommendation from Linette Maloney, our RAUC-star school clerk. We also welcome another talented new hire, Elijah Williams, as an instructional aide in the Structured Academics program. These educators join the two new staff members announced in June: Alexandra Spencer, 6th Math, and Sarah Sheff, 6th-8th Structured Academics.

The invitation is to come together at our Welcome Back Pot-luck Picnic on Wednesday, August 30 at 5PM at the front of the school. Please bring a dish to share. This potluck picnic is a wonderful RAUC tradition, a time to reconnect with familiar folks as well as meet new members of the community. While the main goal is to relax together, there will also be some information available in different forms:

  • Our Middle School Network community partners will be there with information about school year activities for students;
  • Our wonderful Families of RAUC (FRAUC) officers will have information about FRAUC and how to get involved;
  • At 5:15 and 5:45 we will give a tour of the school for new families.
Enjoy the rest of your summer. And know that the entire RAUC staff will be ready when your student returns, excited about another year of working together to Reflect, Aim high, seek Unity, and have Compassion!

Best,

Julie Craven, Head of School