To the editor:
School is ending and many parents are thinking about summer camps, beaches, boats, and road trips.
But some, particularly those with children entering kindergarten, are starting to look for information on the schools their children will be attending in the fall, and some parents are reevaluating their choice of an out-of-district school, particularly if that choice were the charter school.
They want to be sure to choose a school that is stable, well managed, that is making academic gains, that respects parental involvement — keeping them informed of their children's progress and the school's challenges and successes. And they want to know that their chosen school gives their children opportunities to develop a love and capacity for the arts, music, and athletics.
I can say unequivocally that one of the best places to start looking for those attributes is in any one of the Gloucester School District's five public elementary schools: Beeman, East Gloucester, Plum Cove, Veterans, or West Parish.
Five years ago, I was myself a parent of a child entering kindergarten. As a psychologist with a background in learning, I had ideas about the programming children need in order to unleash their curiosity and capacity for learning and social and emotional growth. Yet I knew very little about our public schools, and had mild concerns about levels of student achievement (MCAS scores).
Conversations with other parents, as well as teachers and our neighborhood school principal, soon convinced me that the classrooms in our local school were centers of genuinely innovative teaching, where staff were learning from each other how to cultivate academic skills and creative thought and expression among all their students, both those who were struggling academically and those who were not. These teachers and staff were and remain committed to making sure that each family that chooses a Gloucester public school receives special attention.
Since that time, I've watched how the school has enabled my daughter to make abiding friendships, led her to try violin and recorder, enjoy traditional dance, and extend her interest in gardening and drawing. And I've seen how teachers cultivated skills in math and reading in her whole class, earning astonishing schoolwide student achievement and MCAS gains in the process.
School is ending, but the opportunity to enroll your child in any one of Gloucester's elementary schools is still open. Talk to your local school's principal, or else call Ann-Marie Jordan, at the Gloucester Public Schools' office of Student Health & Services at 978-281-9816. Ann-Marie would be happy to help you select the Gloucester public school that's best for you and your child.
To kindergarten parents who have chosen Gloucester public schools for the fall — welcome! You're embarking on a wonderful journey that will strengthen and deepen your connections in your community.
Teachers and staff of the schools are eager to meet your children and you. Until then, enjoy your summer!
Member, Gloucester School Committee