Winthrop Parent Survey is Now Open!

Time sure is flying during my first year as principal of Winthrop Elementary School!  While I feel like I’ve spoken to a great many parents and families, and people have been open and honest, I am hoping to reach even more in the coming weeks.  Please set aside a bit of time (it will take no more than 15 minutes) to complete the 2012 Winthrop Parent Survey.

The information collected from this survey, in conjunction with a staff survey, and input from Winthrop Site Council members, will be used in creating a vision for Winthrop moving forward (including the 2012/2013 school improvement plan.)   I encourage you to utilize the feedback/comment boxes for anything you feel isn’t covered by the general questions, or if you want to expand upon or elaborate about one of your answers.

All survey responses are completely anonymous and the deadline for submission is Sunday, February 12th!


In honor of John Winthrop’s 424th birthday I’ve challenged all students to do a bit of research this weekend to learn more about our school namesake!  Mrs. Z’s and Ms. Mazzei’s kindergarten classes got a jump-start and  kicked off the challenge last night, and were our resident experts today!

This is an optional task for students, but as a school community next week we’ll be collecting facts, sharing with other classes and grades, and creating a public display of all we’ve learned.

All students were given a bright orange reminder sheet (white handout in K) outlining the parameters.  Students in grades 3, 4, and 5 were asked to show responsibility and maturity in leaving the easy facts for our primary students, and truly researching unique, detailed, information about Governor Winthrop.  I know they’ll impress us!

Superintendent Search Committee Seeks Additional Input

The Melrose Superintendent Search Committee invites all Melrose
parents, community members, and staff to continue participation in the
process of hiring a replacement for retiring Superintendent Joseph
Casey. Although you may have joined the forum hosted by the Melrose
School Committee on October 26th, 2011, the Search Committee (whose
task is to ideally recommend three to five finalist candidates to the
full Committee) would like to consider additional community input.
Please join us at the Superintendent Search Forum on Tuesday,
January 31st from 7:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m. in the Melrose Veterans Memorial
Middle School Auditorium to share your thoughts on the attributes,
experience, and skill set you would like to see in our next

If you didn’t get a chance to participate in our survey last fall,
we’ve re-opened it! Just click on and the
Superintendent Search link to access the survey that will be open
through Friday, January 27th.

Please visit for more information.

A guest post by Jane Allen, mom of Emily (gr. 2) and Max (K)

Mrs. Allen coordinates our plastic bag recycling at Winthrop, and recently has begun to foster a relationship with Jessie Schmitt, the new recycling coordinator for the city of Melrose.  You may have read about a new offering in the weekly e-Notice and want to know more about it, so here’s the scoop!


Winthrop Parents!
Last year I received a FREE energy assessment of my home and it was a FANTASTIC experience.  A very friendly and knowledgeable person came and showed me with a heat sensing tool where I was losing heat and spoke with me about how I could prevent it. He also gave me free fluorescent lightbulbs which gave off a nice warm glow, changing my perception of fluorescent light forever.  Best of all, he told me about 2 things that made it possible for us to get blown-in insulation in our home: 1) a $2000 rebate, and 2) a NO-interest loan for the remainder of the cost. We did it, and house is noticeably warmer and quieter. Best part, we did not have to go into our savings to do it. I am paying back the loan $52 a month.  I would urge anyone who doesn’t have an insulated home to take advantage of this incredible program. Feel free to talk with me if you have any questions.

And now, the icing on the cake:  For every person who signs up for a free energy assessment through this unique Winthrop school web link, the PTO will receive $10. What have you got to lose except your cold toes?!?

This program is sponsored by the Melrose Energy Commission in partnership with Next Step Living (NSL.)  Here is a Melrose Free Press article on the program.

–Jane Allen

All the news that’s fit to print ….

Fifth graders in Mrs. Lewis’ class have been working hard over the past month to create and publish a Grade 5 Newspaper.  Many students in 5L have stayed after school on Monday afternoons to be journalists, photographers, data collectors, artists, columnists, and jokesters!  Their first edition is hot off the presses and has been distributed to all fifth graders.  The newspaper staff also provided a copy to each teacher and faculty member at Winthrop.  It’s a great read and clearly well thought out and executed.  I’m excited to see our students enjoying the writing and publishing process, and can’t wait to read the next edition.

STEM – it’s Elementary!

Over the past few months the word STEM has been flying around the city, and appearing, almost nightly, on the news. STEM stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education – the “non-liberal arts.” For those of you literary gurus who might already be tuning me out, please read on … I beg you!

Over vacation, I found this article by Dana Goldstein especially relevant to our STEM discussions. The author and leading experts, encourage creating gender neutrality in toys and play items when children are young, and correlate those small changes to improving the advancement of girls and women in STEM sector careers.

If you attended the November STEM Forum (for adults), or the STEM Expo (for families) you learned about many of the science and technology opportunities students have throughout their years in the Melrose Public Schools. I presented an overview of the FOSS curriculum at the STEM Forum, and introduced the audience to the parent component of their website ( After the presentation, several people expressed an interest in going to the website, but wondered how they could navigate around it without really knowing the official name, or title, of their child’s current unit. An updated elementary science and technology curriculum unit guide can now be found on the district website, or by accessing this PDF – Melrose Public Schools Elementary Science Units. Please note the vertical alignment of grade level information, with the horizontal alignment of the specific strand of science learning. A small number of units are “Melrose created” and therefore not purchased through FOSS, so there is no internet availability.

All over the city students are gathering information, and formulating questions to participate in science fairs. Building upon last year’s successful Winthrop Science Fair, there will now be a science fair in each and every elementary school the week of February 27, 2012. This is completely voluntary, and done outside of school. Permission slips for Winthrop students must be returned by Wednesday, January 4th. The Winthrop fair will be held on Wednesday, February 29th. Complete details can be found on the website or by accessing this PDF – Winthrop 2012 Science Fair.  Science fairs are everywhere, even at the White House.  Watch this clip from YouTube for some fresh perspective – it’s not just blowing up volcanoes!

STEM enrichment activities also abound at Winthrop this winter.

– Tim Donnelly is running “Scratch Club” (sorry it’s full!) Scratch is an introduction to computer programming specifically designed for students, and our club members will be creating video games, animated shorts, and interactive stories beginning on January 4th.

– Anne McCarthy and Jeanne McAndrews are running the always popular “Lego Club” again this year. This drop-in program provides students of all ages (and genders) the opportunity to build, create, and explore with Legos.   Another interesting article I read lately, entitled Lego Is for Girls, notes the 1/1/12 roll out of Lego Friends, a full line of 23 different products aimed at girls ages 5 and up, and designed to reach “the other 50 percent of the world’s children.”  (*)

– In response to an obvious decline in upper elementary students participating in “Lego Club”, Anne and Jeanne brainstormed and researched other opportunities for more structured Lego activities. We are pleased to offer Play-Well TEKnologies (Teaching Engineering to Kids) for our 4th & 5th graders this winter. Becoming a Play-Well engineer means students will take on real-life engineering challenges that explore concepts in physics, architecture, mechanical and structural engineering. (*)

(*) detailed information about Lego Club and Play-Well TEKnologies can be found on our website or by accessing this PDF – Winter Enrichment Flyer.

Lastly, in April (thanks to our awesome PTO enrichment funding) our fifth graders will once again participate in the full-day, Lego Your Mind Robotic Workshop!

Melrose is taking the hands-on approach in its elementary school science curriculum, and providing many other opportunities for “tinkering,” so I hope you and your child will find something at home to take apart, or build up; something to fly or launch; something to grow; or something to program!