Superintendent's Update - April 7, 2023

April 7, 2023

Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members,

I continue to be impressed with the various ways in which our students are taking part in enriching learning experiences.  This past Tuesday, Oak Middle School held a terrific career awareness day for our 7th grade, where dozens of local citizens from different fields of work each presented two sessions where our students learned about their career paths and the skills needed for that job.  Our students were very attentive and asked thoughtful questions, and our guests did a wonderful job conveying information about their careers.  Thank you to all of our community volunteers who participated and to the district and Oak staff who coordinated this excellent experience for our students!

Our students continue to demonstrate success in many different aspects of our program.  I want to recognize the Oak Select Music Ensembles on their superb performances at the recent Massachusetts Instrumental & Choral Conductors Association Festival last weekend.  The Oak Select Band earned a silver medal, the Oak Select Choir earned a gold medal, and the Oak Select Orchestra also earned gold! Congratulations to these student musicians and their teachers/conductors on these great successes!  I also had the opportunity this past weekend to attend the exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum for Youth Art Month, and I was very impressed with the quality of what was created by the 52 Shrewsbury students whose pieces were selected to represent our school district.  Finally, I was pleased and proud to be part of a packed house at the SHS field house to watch the Sherwood and Oak Unified Basketball game between our two teams, the Blue vs. the Gold.  These students exemplified the spirit of teamwork, inclusion, and school spirit!

Reminder: Your feedback wanted regarding our draft strategic plan.  Recently, consultants from Focused Schools presented a draft of the proposed strategic plan for the school district for 2023-2027.  I encourage you to view their presentation slides here, read the draft plan here, or watch the presentation here.  The draft strategic plan proposes three commitments the district will make for its work over the next five years:

1) A commitment to educational excellence
2) A commitment to the enhanced well-being of all
3) A commitment to optimizing resources

There are a number of recommended strategic priorities, potential action steps, and proposed measures of impact listed in the document.  The School Committee and SPS leadership invite you to share your feedback regarding the draft strategic plan through an online exchange by clicking here.  There will also be a public hearing on the draft strategic plan at the next regular School Committee meeting on the evening of April 12, and the School Committee is scheduled to vote on the plan on April 26.

Communication to maintain a strong home-school partnership:  Any time there is student or family need where flexibility could be helpful, I ask that families please reach out to your child's teachers regarding your situation. Our educators are very understanding when there are issues that can affect a student's school experience, and strong communication between home and school is the key to our partnership that promotes students' well-being and academic success.   

One way in which flexibility is required is when our students need to attend to their family's religious observances, and I want to again convey that our schools will provide accommodations when students need to miss school time and/or need extensions for homework due to religious obligations, per our school district's policy and Massachusetts law.  We know that over the past month and in the upcoming days and weeks, many of our students, families, and staff members are taking part in various religious observances, including Holi last month, Passover this past Wednesday, Good Friday today and Easter this Sunday, Orthodox Good Friday and Orthodox Easter next week, and Ramadan, which will conclude with Eid al-Fitr during the school vacation week.  On behalf of the school district, I want to convey best wishes to everyone who celebrates!

I remain grateful for your continued support of our schools.


Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools

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