Principal Julia Bott
Principal Bott's welcome letter for the 2021-2022 school yearAugust 20th, 2021
Dear Mendell Families,
I hope that your summer has been full of adventure, relaxation and laughter with family and friends. I am thrilled that you have chosen the Ellis Mendell Elementary School to educate your students. As articulated in our vision statement, “The Mendell School is dedicated to educating a diverse, inclusive community through rigorous and equitable learning experiences that create lifelong learners who stand tall as a mighty force for good in their neighborhoods.” In simple terms, we are committed to being an inclusive school where ALL students are welcomed, supported and challenged to reach their full potential.
This year the Mendell School will continue to focus on strengthening our school climate and instructional practices to ensure that our full-inclusion model realizes its ultimate goal of excellence for ALL in alignment with our core values: Be Inclusive, Aspire to Excellence, Take Agency. At the Mendell we believe inclusion is the means to excellence. In order for ALL students to develop the habits of mind and character necessary to think critically about the world and take agency to transform it, they MUST be challenged and inspired to realize the greatness within them.
We also recognize that is not enough to stand for inclusivity. We MUST fully and explicitly commit ourselves to being an antiracist, multicultural institution; one that both disrupts inequities AND intentionally affirms the strength, brilliance and resilience of those who have been most impacted by systemic and institutional racism, our students and families of Color. We strongly believe that our commitment to antiracism and equity, in both words and actions, benefits ALL learners because it empowers students to advocate for a more just, equitable and humane society. We strive to push ourselves beyond rhetoric-words or slogans to instructional action all year long and we are counting on you, Mendell families, to partner with us and hold us accountable as we continue on this journey, together.
I also want to acknowledge that we are continuing to navigate the very real challenges of uncertainty and ambiguity amidst a global pandemic. Both as a parent and school leader, I empathize with the difficulty of setting your child and family up for success given all of the unknowns and ever-changing landscape. I also recognize that not all families are experiencing this pandemic in the same ways and therefore, want and need very different things to feel safe, supported and included in our community. To that end, I am committed to maintaining clear, consistent and accessible lines of communication with Mendell families both to share information and better understand your needs.
Therefore, as we prepare to transition back to school year 2021-2022, the following priorities will guide our community:
- We are committed to being an antiracist, inclusive institution. We will use a lens of equity to guide decision-making around all facets of opening. Specifically, we will continue to leverage our Equity Round Table, a cross-functional team of representative staff, families and community partners to inform decisions related to policy, practice and resource-allocation. This includes determining the distribution of federal ESSER funding, in alignment with our priorities.
- The physical and emotional health and wellness of our students, families and staff remains a top priority. We will continuously monitor information provided by the CDC and City of Boston to ensure accuracy and fidelity of implementation. We are also expanding our social-emotional supports to better respond to student and family needs during this challenging time. As of today, all learning will take place in person and staff/students are required to wear masks indoors, including the bus, regardless of vaccination status. BPS is no longer implementing social distancing, but will use assigned seating for lunch/class periods. As BPS continues to solidify COVID-related protocols, we will notify the community accordingly.
- We are focused on providing a high quality, rigorous, culturally and linguistically affirming education for our students. To this end, our instructional priorities will center around:
- High quality Unit Design: ensuring all students have access to high quality instructional tasks every day that integrate rigor, relevancy and culturally and linguistically sustaining content.
- Equitable Literacy Instruction: implementing current research and best practices around structured literacy grounded in the science of reading.
Finally, I want to address some Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to school year 2021-2022:
First Day of School: School will resume for students in Grades 1-5 on Thursday, September 9th. All Kindergarten students (K0-K2) will begin school on Monday, September 13th. September 9th and September 13th are regular school days and students will be dismissed at 4:10 PM. The school hours for ALL students, grades K0-5 are 9:30 AM to 4:10 PM.
Homeroom Assignment: Attached to this form, you will find a letter stating your student’s grade level, homeroom and teacher assignment for the 2021-2022 school year.
Kindergarten Meet & Greet: If you are an incoming K0, K1 or K2 Family, the K0/K1 and K2 teachers will be holding a Meet and Greet session on Friday, September 10th between the hours of 10:30-11:30 AM. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about school procedures, programs and partnerships before the first day. Students are welcome! Due to current COVID protocols and procedures limiting building access for visitors, we are currently planning to hold the Meet and Greet outdoors in the schoolyard. More details to follow from the early childhood team. Additionally, Family Council is hosting playdates for incoming K0-K1 and K2 families (and all other grade levels) in the Mendell school yard on 8/29 at 11am, 9/11 at 4pm or 9/18 at 1pm. Come to any and all play dates!
Before-school Programming: We currently have approval to run an on-site before-school program. The program runs daily from 8:00-9:15 AM and is staffed by Mendell interns and paraprofessionals. This is a drop in program. ALL families must complete an application, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and submit a registration fee of $25.00 to officially enroll in the program. The application//MOU and overview of program fees is included in our weekly push-emails to families and posted on the Communication HUB. Please contact Taylor Anderson-Clemente for more information: email@example.com.
After-school Programming: We currently have approval to run an on-site, after-school program. The Mendell partners with the YMCA to provide After School programming for students in grades K1-5. The After School Program begins on Thursday, September 9th for students in Grades 1-5 and Monday, September 13th for students in grades K1-K2 who have completed registration/enrollment materials. After School runs daily from 4:10-6:00 PM. Slots will be offered on a first come-first served basis and financial assistance is available. If you are interested, please complete an application included in the weekly push e-mail or Communication Hub and return via e-mail to Maggie Mattaini ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her number is 617-620-0292.
School Dress Code: The Mendell School Site Council has established a school dress code policy. Please make sure that your student follows the school dress code every day. Attached you will find important information regarding the school dress code, including what students should wear and where you can purchase clothing aligned to our code, if needed. We will also be holding uniform exchanges in the schoolyard, where families can swap and/or collect free, gently used uniforms on 8/29 at 11am, 9/11 at 4pm or 9/18 at 1pm.
Arrival/Attendance: Please be sure that your student arrives on time for school every day by 9:30 AM. Families of students in grades K0-5 who walk to school may drop off their student(s) to Mendell staff between 9:15 and 9:30. Children in K0-K1 and K2 will enter through the side door between 9:15-9:30 where staff will be available to supervise the transition to their classrooms. Students in Grades 1-5 can enter the building through the main door in the school between 9:15-9:30 AM. Families will not be permitted to escort their children into the building for arrival.
Dismissal: The school day ends at 4:10 PM. Walkers will be escorted to the schoolyard by Mendell staff for dismissal at this time. In order to ensure a safe and orderly dismissal process, families are expected to wait outside, rain or shine. Families picking up students for early dismissal must communicate with their child’s teacher prior to 3:45 PM and wait outside, where students will be escorted.
Policies: A folder containing important materials will be sent home with your student during the first week of school including the Family Handbook. It is required that you read the Attendance Policy, Promotion Policy, Mendell Compact and the Code of Discipline letter and return them signed along with the Emergency/Health card to your student’s teacher ASAP.
Communication: All Mendell families will receive a weekly email from the school community in addition to regular correspondence from their student’s teacher. If you are NOT receiving school emails please notify Taylor Anderson-Clemente: email@example.com so we can update your email address. The weekly family e-mail also includes a link to our Communication Hub, an internal vehicle for sharing information and celebrating our community. Communication Hub Link: bit.ly/MendellHub. Mendell families will also receive an invitation to participate in the Family Directory in the fall.
As a school, we uphold three core values: inclusion, excellence and agency. We remain steadfast in our commitment to these values, now, more than ever. We embrace a collaborative, problem-solving, equity-driven approach with our families to ensure we are truly honoring the values we hold so dear. The road ahead is unprecedented and will take a village to navigate. We will need your ideas, flexibility, collaboration and willingness to both step up and create space for diverse voices at the table; there are many ways to take agency in our community and ensure a more equitable learning experience. We look forward to partnering with you and your family.
I believe in this partnership for success and look forward to working with you this school year!
Julia A. Bott
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