Superintendent's Message

Phase 3 Tomorrow and more

May 10, 2020

Dear Families:

Happy Mother’s Day!  I hope the time together brought you joy and gratitude for everything that comes with motherhood during this very different time!

As you know, Phase 3 begins tomorrow along with the scheduled live sessions with teachers.  Please consult the school-based schedules for details.  We look forward to “seeing” everyone as the week goes on.

Norms for “Zooming” are found in this article and may be helpful for you to review with students so we all know what to expect.

On Friday, the Department of Elementary and Schedule Education released an updated letter for parents that is posted here:

Finally, please utilize the National PTA web page which has a vast amount of resources for parents.

Enjoy the rest of the evening!


Ambiguous Loss

May 9, 2020

Dear Families:

Earlier this week, a colleague shared the article posted below.  It defines and outlines ambiguous loss and ways to cope.  I hope you find it helpful in supporting students and children.

“Coping with Uncertainty During COVID Ambiguous Loss”

I also share the Department of Public Health’s web page focused on covering your face when in public.  There is a short video that could be useful with children:

Below is a list of upcoming events this week at the Concord Free Public Library.

Happy Mother’s Day!




Comix Zone Virtual Book Club

Ages 11-15

Wednesday, May 13

3:00-4:00 pm


The Concord Free Public Library invites children ages 11 – 15 to join an online book discussion and comic activity on May 13, 3 pm – 4 pm. This month in Comix Zone, we are reading Minecraft: Tales from the Overworld. Featuring stories from star writers Hope Larson (Batgirl), Kevin Panetta (Zodiac Starforce, Bloom), Rafer Roberts (Modern Fantasy, Grumble), and Ian Flynn (Sonic, Mega Man) and exciting artists Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie) and more, this collection brings together stories from all realms, leaving no block unturned!

You can instantly download an eBook version of this graphic novel on hoopla with your Minuteman Library card. Email Cary Stough at to register and receive Zoom link.


Toddler Storytime Online

Thursday May 14 10 am

The Concord Free Public Library invites children to join Toddler Storytime Online live with Facebook Premiere every Thursday morning at 10 am. If you cannot make it to the live storytime, the video will be available with the rest of the Library’s videos on the Library’s Facebook page so you can enjoy this program from the safety and convenience of your home. Join us for stories and rhymes. This interactive program is perfect for busy toddlers and helps develop early literacy skills. Email Royce McGrath at for questions.


Virtual Storytime with Laura 

Friday May 15, 10 am 

Join Laura on Facebook Premiere for a special reading of Patricia Polacco’s book, Emma Kate. It’s a touching story about a girl and her imaginary friend. Children will love the themes of pretend play and real friendship. Can’t make the premiere? The storytime will be available on our Facebook page after the Premiere ends.

This reading is part of our #ConcordReads community reading program. Anyone interested in joining our community reading program can register at:

Don’t forget to use #ConcordReads to share your reading progress and favorite books!


Read to Luna the Dog on Zoom

Friday May 15,11:30 am- 12:30 pm


The Concord Free Public Library invites children to Read to Luna the Dog every Friday in May between 11:30 am – 12:30 pm. Did you know that reading to dogs boosts reading skills & emotional & social skills for children? Join us for a “Read around the Zoom” group reading experience. Using Zoom meeting platform, we’ll all take turns reading aloud to Luna and to each other. Bring some of your favorite poems or short stories. This event is for children ages 5+. This event is for children ages 5+.

Email Royce McGrath at to register.

CCHS Buddies and Opening Night

May 8, 2020

Dear Families:

I share a volunteer opportunity initiated by some of our amazing CCHS students.  They are offering to be virtual buddies with the younger students in Concord and Carlisle.  The information is below.  This is not a school-sponsored activity per se, so parents should plan to meet or connect with the CCHS buddy before the younger children interact with them.


Quarantine Buddies!

Would your elementary or middle school student like to be part of a High School Buddy Program? A lot has changed in a small amount of time with social distancing, virtual school, parents working from home or out on the front lines as essential workers, and so much more. With all this change and a lot of time at home, I am starting a CCHS Buddy Program where high school students can meet over zoom or write pen pal notes once a week with elementary and middle school students. We will match your elementary or middle school student with a CCHS student to write back and forth, talk, play virtual games, help with school work, or just be a friend in a time that kids might feel like they do not always have someone there for them.

If your child is interested in being paired up with a High School Buddy please fill out the Google Form below!

I hope everyone is well and healthy!

Thanks, Susannah Snell (CCHS, Class of 2022)


The production of the CCHS musical “9 to 5” was scheduled for this weekend.  These talented students put together a Shakespearean Monologue Toss for everyone to enjoy!

Their director and the adults who support them shared a video tribute to the show that spoke to me about how the arts get us through hard times.

Have a good start to the weekend.



Upcoming Opportunities

May 7, 2020

Dear Families:

It is a busy time!  Tomorrow, we will host the Virtual Coffee at 3 p.m.  The Joint School Committees meet at 11 a.m.  The agenda is found here:

Thank you to those who attended the special education forum hosted by SEPAC yesterday.  The recording of the session is found here:

Concord Middle School is having a Virtual Career Day on May 26!  If you’d like to participate, please follow this link:

The Center for Parents and Teachers has two events coming up on Wednesday, May 13.  Information is found at the bottom of this email.

We congratulate the CCHS Cast of 9 to 5 which was due to have opening night tonight!  Today, the new edition of The Voice, the CCHS student newspaper came out.  The whole edition is found here:  An article specifically on the pandemic from one student’s view is located here:




(1) Let’s Talk About Sleep: Tips and Strategies for Managing Challenges and Promoting Healthy Habits

Please join Dr. Rachel Kramer for an afternoon webinar on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 3:30pm (please note new time)

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Dr. Kramer will provide practical strategies for families of preschoolers, children, and adolescents and will allow ample time for parents to ask questions.  Can’t join live?  There are links to all of the recorded webinars on Dr. Kramer’s website –


(2) Ivy Child International is thrilled to announce the Mindfulness workshop for Parents, Teachers and Caregivers. The workshop will be conducted by Maya Breuer and Kiesha Battles.

May 13, 7 – 8:30 PM EDT
This workshop is FREE but you will need to pre-register ahead in order to receive the log-in information. Please go to:

Learn about these and other workshops — and how you can support this nonprofit local organization — by visiting:

Graduations and Other News

May 6, 2020

Dear Families:

‘Tis the season!  May and June are typically full of plans for graduations of many kinds.  For our schools, we are used to ceremonies at each of the major transition points in grades 5, 8 and 12.  These plans are a priority for us and discussions are well underway!  We have to move a bit slowly while we await guidance from the Governor about an extension of the stay at home advisory that expires on May 18 and will need guidance from other health agencies including the Concord Board of Health.  That will not hinder us from creating something we hope to be special for everyone.  The principals will continue to provide more information as they have it.  CCHS Principal Mastrullo shared a number of pieces of information about CCHS graduation over the last 24 hours which can be found on the school web page:

It is Nurse Appreciation Day!  We are so appreciative of the school nurses across PreK-12!  If you missed it earlier, here is the link to the video they made for students during the school closure:

We are also well aware of so many parents, extended family and friends of our school community that are serving everyone as nurses during this crisis.  Thank you!!

Thank you to the Concord Middle School virtual track team for creating this slideshow to remind us all about ways to stay healthy!

If you would like to reference any past emails or recordings of Coffees or other sessions, they are all posted here:

The Remote Learning Plan information is also preserved on the district web page at

Have a great night!


Teacher Appreciation Day

May 5, 2020

Dear Families:

During the first week of May each year, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week with May 5th recognized as Teacher Appreciation Day.  This year, like never before, we honor their dedication and commitment.  In their honor, I share several links expressing gratitude for teachers during these unusual times.

School Is Not Cancelled

A Teacher Appreciation Week for the Ages

Our Own Concord Middle School Says Thank You

We are often asked how to show teachers appreciation.  Simple words of thanks mean a great deal, especially now.  We knew they were great before March 13.  Now we think they are extraordinary.




Remote Learning Phase 3 Begins May 11

May 4, 2020

Dear Families:

Every late afternoon or evening, my teenage daughter and I started to take what I affectionately call “drives to nowhere”.  We do not want to be anywhere unessential with crowds but do want to get out of the house.  I was going along but then she asked to come along.  Since she joined me, she consistently asks if we can try new routes and find new places.  I am a planner.  I wanted to take a course I knew to a destination that I had identified before I left the house.  Reluctantly, I started to explore.  We would venture down roads that, although close to home, we had never traveled.  I drive not knowing exactly where I am or where I am going.  This is not comfortable for me.  Sometimes, I end up on a dead-end.  Sometimes, I need reassurance and turn on the GPS.  More often, though, we keep driving only to find ourselves in a very familiar location and are comforted as we recognize it.  Of most interest to me has been the little uplift we get each time we put realize a new path and understand where it led even though we got there in a way we never had before.

I am struck by the analogy with our work in remote learning.   We did not have a road map or a chance to plan.  We thought it was short term but it wasn’t.  We tried many things that worked but not all of them did.  We continue to revisit, revise, and revamp the plan to make it the very best we can for kids.  The challenges are many.  There is research on remote learning.  But there is no research about remote learning during a pandemic.  Teachers are working harder than ever as they have to recreate new ways to do typical things and invent new ways to do things that were not possible before.  This all happens while caring for their own families and responsibilities that now exist simultaneously.  Parents are now coaches, mentors, and teachers themselves.  This happens while there are work demands, isolation, and worry for the future.

I want to take a minute to step back and consider where we are and where we are going.  A week or so ago, I shared Acton-Boxborough Superintendent Peter Light’s reflections to the community that articulately outlines the conflicting emotions and concerns within the school community.  We have been talking as leaders and teachers about what we have accomplished and what we want to accomplish, especially now that there is no return to normal this spring.  We asked for feedback and you responded.  The input regarding the experience of over 1800 students brought important, valuable insights as we reviewed both individual and aggregate results at all levels which are included here.  On April 24, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released its updated guidance for schools.  We melded all of these thoughts and created an outline of Phase 3 which begins on May 11.

Tonight, I provide an overview of Phase 3 that is attached to this email.  Each school will host a parent forum and present additional details as to the specifics of Phase 3 at that specific level.  We hope that more live experiences for students with teachers and peers and additional accountability are a welcome addition. We understand that for some it may not be because of the pandemic’s impact in your home, to your family or overall.  We understand and will support you.  Simultaneously, we are already starting to plan for Phase 4 which will take us forward to the summer and fall where there is still no road map and many variables.  The biggest difference though is the gift of time, collaboration, and creating a shared vision that we look forward to crafting with you.

All my best,


File attachments:
Phase Three.docx

Enjoy the Outdoors Safely

May 2, 2020

Dear Families:

With the gift of beautiful weather, come reminders about how to enjoy the public spaces safely.  Concord Police Chief O’Connor released information about increasing patrols tomorrow to promote and enforce social distancing in Concord’s public outdoor areas.

If you can’t socially distance, please wear a mask.  As you know, Governor Baker’s order begins on Wednesday.

The Town of Carlisle extended its State of Emergency through June 1, 2020.  This includes restrictions on groups of over 10 people.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health released simple tips on coping with stress and fear.  Those are real feeling for all of us.  This video could be used with children of upper elementary and older.

Yesterday’s Virtual Coffee was recorded and is posted here:

Enjoy the gorgeous day!



Census 2020 and Upcoming Parent Sessions

May 1, 2020

Dear Families:

This weekend, we have been asked to encouraged everyone to participate in this year’s national census.  I’ve shared the information below as well as some interesting data links and a video contest.

Below that, please note upcoming events from the Center for Parents and Teachers focused on parenting during the pandemic and social media.

Have a great night.



Complete the Census

There will be parties again soon, and family gatherings. There will be parades and sporting events and concerts. To help our communities when they come back together after the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m asking you to please respond to the 2020 Census now. Spend a few minutes online today to impact the next 10 years of funding on healthcare, infrastructure, and education. We all see how important these are today. So please go to ​ and respond today to make America’s tomorrow brighter.


Join the Response Rate Challenge

  •  Are you curious about how many people in your community are responding to the 2020 Census? Check out how your community is doing and challenge everyone to increase response rates for your state, city or county. (​Response Rate Map​​)

Census Video Prize Challenge

Learn more about the Get Out the Count Video Prize Challenge​, with $50,000 in prizes. This is an excellent opportunity to engage your audiences, networks, partner organizations and trusted voices working on census efforts, as well as individuals, students, content makers and influencers. Challenge ​Rules and Guidelines​ available on, please see ​FAQ’s and/or contact​ ​​ if you have any questions.

Challenge deadline: May 7th at 11:59pm ET

Three prizes will be awarded:

  •  $30,000 grand prize
  •  $10,000 runner up
  •  $10,000 student prize


In collaboration with the Center for Parents and Teachers, two parenting events are being offered free of charge next week:

(1)  “Parenting During the Pandemic: Building Resilience and Optimism” presented by Dr. Rachel Kramer, Wednesday morning, May 6 at 10:30AM

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Password: 672004

Dr. Kramer will provide practical strategies for families and will allow ample time for parents to ask questions.  Can’t join live?  There are links to all of the recorded webinars on Dr. Kramer’s website –


(2)  “Social Media and Mental Health” presented by Adrienne Principe from “Turning Life On”, a grass-roots movement that embraces digital wellness.

Wednesday evening, May 6 7:30 – 9 PM

This seminar is free, but registration is required.  Sign up at the following link and a registration link will be forwarded to you:



We are living in extraordinary times. Our social media feeds are abuzz with funny memes, worrisome articles and incredible acts of kindness and generosity. We are also living during a time in which our adolescents are more depressed and more anxious. Humans need social connection, in real life. How do we achieve this while social distancing? Can we help kids balance technology to achieve digital wellness when so much has moved online? How do we support them during this time?


Please be in touch with the Center for Parents and Teachers if you have suggestions of topics for future online parenting presentations that would be of support to you during this challenging time.  Go to our website at and click on “contact us” to send an email.  

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