Weston schools prepare for opening day

Weston public schools open Aug. 28. —Margaret Wirtenberg illustration
Weston public schools open Aug 28. —Margaret Wirtenberg illustration

Eleven new faces among the faculty and staff, more students, and an enhanced science curriculum await kindergarteners through 12th graders as they return to Weston public schools on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

“We are very excited to welcome students and families back to the Weston campus for what promises to be outstanding school year,” said Ken Craw, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, by email.

The total K-12 enrollment as of Aug. 17 was 2,296 students, which represents a “significant increase over what was originally projected,” Craw said.

The enrollment figures by building are: Hurlbutt Elementary School, 387; Weston Intermediate School, 513; Weston Middle School, 586; Weston High School, 810.

New staff

There will be 11 new staff members on hand at the schools. “We are very excited to welcome an exceptional group of educators to our schools,” said Craw, providing the following list:

Nicole Cichowski, PE/health, Weston Intermediate School
Kristen Olbrych, board certified behavior analyst, Weston Intermediate School
Alyssa Field, speech & language, Weston Intermediate School
Lisa Amore, social worker, Weston Middle School
Brenda Steensma, French teacher, Weston Middle School
Lindsay Murphy, reading specialist, Weston Middle School
Randi Green, College and Career Center, Weston High School
Michael Aitkenhead, environmental science teacher, Weston High School
Stefanie Benson, biology teacher, Weston High School
Michael Rizzo, assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services
Martine King, assistant director of special education

Learning experience

The schools are implementing a number of changes to programs and schedules.

“Weston schools continue to be committed to personalizing the learning experience for all students. We have several goal areas to guide our work, academic excellence, digital learning, and healthy learning environments,” said Craw.

The science program for students in K-12 has been enhanced. “The curriculum has been updated to align with challenging Next Generation Science Standards. Teachers have been involved in ongoing training to facilitate newly designed units of study and lessons, which will further our students’ ability to engage in scientific inquiry,” Craw said.

There are three new courses at Weston High School, Honors Science Research, AP Environmental Science and Accelerated Algebra/Geometry.

The high school also has an enhanced College and Career Counseling Center.

There is a new master schedule for the middle school. “A key feature of this year’s middle school schedule is the addition of a 40-minute period that we are calling Extended Learning Time. This will allow students to receive most academic interventions as well as enrichment, while still accessing the full middle school program,” said Middle School Principal Dan Doak.

In addition, the middle school will pilot two new enrichment courses that will be scheduled during the extended learning time — art enrichment and technology enrichment.

“These courses will allow students to explore topics not covered in the regular art and technology curriculum,” said Doak.

At Weston Intermediate School, students in grades 3-5 will experience a one-semester course called MakerTech, to develop their technology skills.

Digital learning has been improved at Hurlbutt Elementary School where second graders will have on-demand access to iPads, “enabling teachers and students to seamlessly integrate the use of technology into learning experiences, when developmentally appropriate,” said Craw.

“We’ll continue to provide classroom sets of Chromebooks at the intermediate school and issue each student at the middle school their own device for school and home use.”

Working towards creating healthy learning environments, the district strives to provide students with “necessary strategies and resources to manage stress and utilize skills of emotional intelligence. We are eager to share with families our efforts to create a healthy learning environment,” Craw said.

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