Superintendent's Update - November 11, 2023

Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members,

I hope you are enjoying today's day off from school in observance of Veterans Day.  I had the pleasure to attend Oak Middle School's Veterans Day assembly on Wednesday morning, and I was both impressed and grateful to listen to Oak students interview three veterans about their experiences in the armed forces.  The insights that the veterans shared provided a window into what it is like to serve in the U.S. military, and I think gave our 950 students in the audience a greater appreciation for what our veterans do for our country.  Additionally, the Oak Middle School Band sounded terrific playing the National Anthem and a military march, and we were fortunate to have the Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard from South High School present the colors.  To read more specifics about the veterans who participated and see photos and video, click HERE to view the Oak weekly newsletter.   To all of our veterans in the Shrewsbury community, thank you for your service to our nation.

It is also important to note that many members of our community will be celebrating Diwali on Sunday.  On behalf of the school district, I wish all of our families and colleagues who will be celebrating this festival of lights a peaceful and joyous Diwali holiday!

It has been a busy fall in our schools, and it has been gratifying to see students thriving in so many ways.  Congratulations to all of our student performers who participated in successful fall concerts; our student artists who have creative work displayed at our Town Hall and in an exhibition at the Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union; our speech and debate competitors who continue to earn accolades at competitions; our high school thespians who put on an outstanding performance of Murder on the Orient Express for the SHS Fall Play; and our student athletes who competed with strong efforts throughout the fall seasons at Oak and SHS -- with many teams achieving strong records and several SHS teams earning berths in the state playoffs, and with our SHS Unified Basketball team playing with the spirit that earned our district Unified Champion status from the Massachusetts Special Olympics.  We are fortunate that our students have so many opportunities to participate in these important co-curricular activities.

Of course, learning in the classroom is central to our mission, and in my visits to schools  I continue to be impressed with what our students are achieving academically, thanks to the skill and dedication that our outstanding educators and support staff bring to their work.  The work of teaching and providing educational services to our students has undoubtedly become more complex since the pandemic, and I am grateful when I see the positive impact our SPS staff members make every day to advance our commitments to educational excellence and to the well-being of all.  In addition to the excellent work done each day, here are some students and staff who were recently recognized with awards:

  • Congratulations to the following four members of the SHS Class of 2024 who were recognized for academic excellence and leadership: Krish Gupta and Marla Zacks who each received a Superintendent's Award for Academic Excellence, and Tyler Fontanez and Yana Teixeira, who each received the National School Development Council's Leadership in Learning Award.  Click HERE to watch these outstanding young people accept these honors.
  • Three SPS faculty members have been recognized in recent months by outside organizations for their outstanding contributions to the education profession.  Congratulations to Emily Bredberg, SHS Media Specialist, for receiving the 2023 Virtual Influencer Award from the Massachusetts School Library Association, given to "school librarians who demonstrate exemplary use of digital tools for teaching, learning, communicating, advocacy, and outreach;" bravo to Michael Lapomardo, SHS Choirs Teacher, for being named as one of 25 semifinalists in the nation for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award; and last, but not least, kudos to Sarah Monica, preschool teacher for our Little Colonials program at SHS, who was recognized as one of only 10 semi-finalists for 2023 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.  We are so fortunate to have extraordinary educators like these teaching our students!

Finally, a week ago I had the honor of being at the grand opening of Maple & Main, the retail business in the center of town that is part of our Reaching Independence through Supported Employment (RISE) Program for post-high school students age 18-22.  The students did a marvelous job with the ceremony and tours of the facility, and we are thrilled that Maple & Main is now open for business.  Check out their website HERE, and I hope you stop by to experience the excellent customer service our RISE students provide and browse some terrific Shrewsbury-themed merchandise.  (Please note they are closed today in observance of Veterans Day).  Click HERE to read an article about the grand opening.

Thank you for your continued support of our community's young people in our public schools!


Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools

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