Sunday, October 14, 2018

October 14 Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this message finds you well.  I would like to let you know that the McCall School Council will be holding its first meeting this Monday afternoon.  Aside from me, this year’s council members include parent representatives Ms. Karen Bolognese, Ms. Karen Caputo, Ms. Amy Kraft, and Ms Dana Diamond.  I would also like to welcome Ms. Shirin Haddadin, 6th grade Science Teacher, and Ms. Karen Fagan, French Teacher, who will serve as the council’s faculty representatives.  Last but not least, Sarah Adelson, 8th grade student, will be our student representative.  I appreciate everyone for giving up their time to serve and provide me with valuable feedback on important school and community matters.  During our first meeting, we will be discussion the impact of the new school start time as well as morning and lunch supervision.

As the school year progresses, you may find the need to contact the school to ask questions or to express your concerns.  McCall is a big middle school with a variety of staff members who perform different tasks and possess a variety of titles.  Therefore, it is not unusual for you as a parent or guardian to be confused about whom to contact when you have questions or concerns. 

If or when you are in that situation, the general rule of thumb is to contact the staff member who is closest to the situation – typically that person is your student’s teacher.  For example, it would be helpful if you would contact the teacher first if you have questions regarding the curriculum, student progress, homework, or concerns pertaining to classroom behavior since he or she will likely has the most direct and in-depth understanding of the matter.

If you have questions or concerns pertaining to your student’s schedule, social emotional well-being, or his or her 504 accommodation plan (if your student has one), it would be best to contact your child’s counselor first.  If your questions or concerns pertain to your child’s special education plan, it would be helpful if you would contact your child’s special education liaison first.

If the issues remain unresolved after communicating with the teachers and counselors, please do not hesitate to direct your questions or concerns to the assistant principals or me.  Ms. Lavoie works with the 7th grade teams as well as the 8th grade Silver and Gold teams.  Mr. Sheehan works with the 6th grade teams as well as the 8th grade Platinum and Diamond teams.  Lastly, if you need additional support with special education matters after you have communicated with your student’s special education liaisons, please direct your concerns to Ms. Mary Ellen Madden, the Middle School Special Education Supervisor.

As always, you are welcome to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.  I would be happy to direct you to the right person if I am not the one who is in the best position to help you.

As a parent myself, I understand how difficult it can be to watch your child struggle to learn or to cope with an aspect of school. We might be reluctant to bring up the issue with teachers and staff because it can feel emotional, or we fear it might lead to a disagreement. Attached here is some information provided by to help parents navigate through these potentially difficult conversations. is a website created by fifteen nonprofit organizations formed to support parents and families with children who struggle with learning and attention issues.  I have found that strategies that work for students with special needs and their families are often strategies that work for all students and their families.

In my opinion, one of the most helpful tip offered by the website is the idea of focusing on “I” and using “I” statements during meetings with teachers and school staff.  Even if you know that other families and students are having difficulty with the same issue, it is best to focus your communications with teachers and staff on your family and your student’s own experiences. If you know that other parents share similar concerns, it would be helpful for you to encourage those parents to contact the school.

Lastly, please do not forget that the 6th grade Halloween Dance sponsored by the MPA is scheduled for this Friday from 7:30-9:30 pm.  If your child is planning to invite guests who do not currently attend McCall to the event, we ask those guests to also be 6th graders and are Winchester residents.  We also ask those guests to please provide us with emergency contacts information so we know with whom to communicate if emergencies arise.  Please understand that we cannot accommodate guests who are not McCall 6th grade students and are not Winchester residents.

Thank you and I wish you a wonderful week.

James Lin
McCall Middle School

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