The following is a welcome back letter that Dr. Zrike submitted to area media:
I am pleased to welcome you to the start of the 2013-14 school year in the Wakefield Public Schools. I trust that you have enjoyed a safe, restful and productive summer with your families and that your sons/daughters are ready to continue their academic learning. It is hard to believe that we are merely a day away from the start of school on Wednesday, September 4th. Our first day of school is a full day for all students except for those in Preschool and Kindergarten. They will have orientation. As a reminder our school hours are as follows:
= Elementary Schools: 8:40-2:45 pm, lunch price: $2.50
= Galvin Middle School: 7:55-2:15 pm, lunch price: $2.75
= Wakefield High School: 7:30-2:05 pm, lunch price: $2.75
Please note: There is no school for students on Friday, September 6th which is a professional day for our staff.
With incredible momentum from last year, the school year begins with the prospect of exciting opportunities to propel us even further ahead. Specifically, our schools will open with:
= New, more rigorous Common Core standards
= A “bring your own” program for mobile devices at the high school
= Wireless accessibility across the district
= A new security access system at each building
= The rapid construction of the new Galvin Middle School
Additionally, our students will return to find three new turf athletic fields, a renovated field house and resurfaced tennis courts. I want to extend my gratitude to our town officials who, through their leadership and support, were instrumental in ensuring that these upgrades throughout our school system were successfully implemented.
Entering the year as the new superintendent of the Wakefield Public Schools, I want to share with you some of my priorities. In the next three months, I will be fully immersed in an entry phase, a listening and learning tour where students, parents, staff and community members can share their ideas about and aspirations for our schools. To see this entry plan in detail, please visit my newly launched blog, suptzrike.blogspot.com as well as our district website, www.wakefield.k12.ma.us. Further, as I shared during last Tuesday’s School Committee meeting, school safety and communications will be a special focus for me during my first few months in the district.
School and Student Safety
Nothing is more important than your child’s safety. We must take every precaution to ensure that your child is protected during their learning experience. To this end, I will be walking every building with our chiefs of public safety to carefully examine building safety and emergency protocols. Additionally, we will be working with our district’s Crisis Team in an effort to proactively discuss and refine our processes related to school and student safety. Finally, I will be reviewing our hiring practices in light of the state’s new fingerprinting laws. I want to extend my gratitude to Police Chief Richard Smith and Fire Chief Michael Sullivan who are strong partners and fully invested in ensuring that school safety is a town-wide priority.
With the leadership of the School Committee’s Communications Subcommittee, we are taking a number of steps to better inform you about our school system. In particular, we plan to:
o Expand the iAutoAlert System: We have added an email address field to the emergency address cards you receive at the beginning of the school year (we will, therefore, remove the "signup for email notifications" section found on the District Website.) It is critical that we receive an updated email address for all families so that we can quickly and accurately share information. If your family does not have an email address, please note this on the emergency card when it is returned to school.
o Expand the iParent System: The iParent system allows parents access to some of the data contained in our Student Information System. We successfully piloted it for our freshmen at Wakefield High School this past year. Parents who have used it like having the ability to update their contact information (phone numbers, email, etc.) throughout the school year and they also like the “real time” access they get to their student’s information like attendance data and end of semester grades. Once we have all our parents registered in iParent, we will be able to distribute information electronically, ensuring that communications are expeditiously received. Please look for directions on how to sign-up for this resource.
o Launch of the Superintendent’s Blog and Twitter Feed: I am writing this blog (suptzrike.blogspot.com) and will be “tweeting” in order to communicate more regularly with the Wakefield community about our terrific schools. I want to highlight the dynamic teaching and learning happenings, showcase our educators and students and provide the most up-to-date school news and information. Please share this blog site with others so that we can spread the word about our schools!
o Office Hours: Beginning the week of September 13th, I will continue to hold “office hours” every Friday during my entry period (8-10 am). Each Friday, I will move my “office” to different locations in the community (stores, restaurants, schools, public buildings, etc.) so I can be accessible to all members of the community. These one-on-one meetings can be scheduled with my executive assistant, Karen Fitzpatrick, at (781) 246-6400, x6939.
o Walks and Talks: In order to promote physical fitness, I will host walking and listening sessions around Lake Quannapowitt during the months of September and October. This will give members of the community an opportunity to share their perspectives on the schools while we exercise around our town’s beautiful lake.
I appreciate your continued involvement in your child’s education. We look forward to an outstanding school year. Thank you in advance for partnering with us to best serve your children. All the best as we begin a new year.