By Adam Swift
Several weeks into the new school year, administrators took time to reflect on the opening of the Winthrop public schools at Monday night’s School Committee meeting.
“Overall, I just want to say that this is the smoothest opening I’ve seen,” said Interim Assistant Superintendent Lori Gallivan, who is in her sixth year with the Winthrop schools. “We had no issues with students or with the arrivals and dismissals that we’ve had in the past.”
Gallivan said one of the bigger changes the schools are facing this year is the advent of some new curriculums and educational materials.
“Right now, we are feeling very good and very comfortable about it,” said Gallivan. “We’re trying to do ongoing professional development with the teachers at all levels. They are very willing and spending a lot of time both in school and on their own to get a good feeling, especially for the Illustrative Math curriculum that is now being instituted in kindergarten through eighth grade.”
One big change that has helped, especially at the elementary level with the rollout of Illustrative Math has been the expansion of the roles of math coach Dawn Letterie and instructional technology coordinator Anne Sullivan.
This year, Gallivan said Letterie and Sullivan are both working in kindergarten through fifth grade, where previously they had worked at just the Arthur T. Cummings School.
“We’re going to see a lot of wonderful results from this and from the additional supports being added to the Gorman Fort Banks,” said Gallivan.
Both Gallivan and Superintendent of Schools Lisa Howard reported that there has been much positive feedback from the building principals surrounding the opening of school this year.
Gallivan noted that after school enrichment programs got underway at the Cummings School this week, with the middle school starting to get some of its enrichment programs up and running.
In addition, the district is slated to begin its fall session of English classes for family members interested in learning English as a second language at the end of the month. Gallivan said there has been a healthy demand for the classes, with the program having been run through the summer, as well.
Howard said the district is looking at a new online program that aims to broaden its base of substitute teachers. She said she would have more information on the program at the next School Committee meeting.
In other business, Howard announced that school business manager Noel Velez is leaving the district to take a position in the Medford school system. Howard thanked Velez for his service to the district, and Velez thanked Howard, the administration, and the School Committee for their trust and guidance over Velez’s two-plus years in the school district.
Dylan Cook, the town’s CFO who also works with the school department, will take over many of Velez’s duties while still maintaining some financial duties for the municipal government. Prior to coming to Winthrop, Cook was the school business manager in Chelsea.