Notes from the Superintendent’s Update – Friday, Dec. 15

This is a portion of the Superintendent’s Update by Superintendent Cliff Chuang mailed to Bedford Public School community on Friday, Dec. 15. Please find this week’s full issue of Superintendent’s Update and back issues at bedfordps.org.

Cliff’s Notes

Dear Bedford Public Schools Community,

Over the past two weeks, I had the privilege of completing two series of wonderful events.

First, I attended four student music concerts, including the vocal and instrumental concerts at both JGMS and BHS. There were several pieces that moved me deeply, including the final BHS Honors Choir pieces that I just heard right before writing this. Congratulations to all of the students and educators who shared their hard work and talents in this concert series. I will also share more about one particularly enlightening ⚔️ orchestral performance in the new year. In the meantime, I look forward to the Lane School Concert next week. Second, special education director Marianne Vines and I had three wonderful focus group conversations with our educational and teaching assistants (the dedicated Lane group is pictured below) to hear more about their experiences and the changing nature of the work. We learned a lot and are very grateful to these team members who provide vital services to our students and teachers. It truly takes all of us together to support every learner (ujima!).

Sincerely,
Cliff Chuang 莊 宏 毅
Superintendent, Bedford Public Schools

Upcoming Events

December 7 – December 15, 2023: Hanukkah (Chanukah)
December 18, 2023: International Migrants Day
December 19, 2023: School Committee Meeting
December 22, 2023: Last Day of School for Winter Vacation
December 25 2023 – January 1, 2024: Winter Break – No School
December 25, 2023: Christmas
December 26, 2023 – January 1, 2024: Kwanzaa
January 2, 2024: School back in Session
January 10, 2024: Modeling Matters: What Parents Need to Know (and Do) to Decrease Stress, Worry, and Anxiety – Lynn Lyons

Reaffirmation of BPS’ commitment to DEI

Bedford Public School ~ D.E.I. Mission Statement

The Bedford Public School system is proud of its ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a district, we are aware that achieving true equity for all means that we must be on a path of committed and continuous learning of anti-bias and anti-racist practices…

Recently, I have been made aware of several concerning incidents of bias and ignorance at JGMS. When these matters are brought to the attention of the school administration, they are treated with the utmost seriousness, and school staff work diligently to investigate each situation; appropriately discipline students with a focus on growth mindset and preventing future misbehavior; and support and promote restoration for students who are impacted, both directly and indirectly. In some cases, investigations and resolution can take time and may still be ongoing, and in cases where threats may be involved, we partner closely with the Bedford Police to ensure the physical and emotional safety of every student. Principal Hartunian shared a message earlier today with the JGMS community and he and his team will be addressing the broader issues with the student body next week. I am confident that with ongoing learning and growth, the JGMS community will live up to its school charter (pictured).

Though recent events may have occurred at JGMS, during my short tenure in the district, it is clear that we have more work to do as a larger community to reaffirm our commitment to our DEI mission. We unequivocally stand against antisemitism, racism, homophobia, and all other forms of intolerance and bigotry. We encourage all members of the community–including students, parents and staff members–not to ignore or excuse acts of hate, ignorance, or bias, but to report them promptly to school administrators so they can be appropriately and promptly addressed. As shared in my last update, we are looking forward to having more tools to deter, prevent, and/or quickly resolve incidents. We are also proceeding with plans to refine our approach to discipline and restoration to prevent incidents of hate with the $50,000 grant awarded to BPS earlier this year (more information to follow in the new year). As I continue to assess feedback from my entry process, I will be considering additional ways we can systematically improve our practices to actualize our DEI mission to create the safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment we all desire and deserv

School Committee Meeting

November 17, 2023 at 7:00pm
The next School Committee meeting is Tuesday, December 19, 2023 at 7:00pm in the Select Board Room at Town Hall and via Zoom Webinar. At this meeting they will discuss:

  • SY25 District Calendar
  • FY25 Budget Presentation

The agenda is available at: Meeting Schedule & Supporting Documents – Bedford Public Schools

Guest Speaker Lynn Lyons, LICSW – Modeling Matters – Jan. 10, 2024

Modeling Matters: What Parents Need to Know (and Do) to Decrease Stress, Worry, and Anxiety
Join Bedford SEPAC on January 10, 2024, from 7-9 pm at the BHS Auditorium for a Lenora Campoli Speaker Series event featuring Lynn Lyons, LICSW!

The current news about young people and mental health has created warranted concern, but the information can be overwhelming and hard to sort through. Parents need strategies to help their children manage their anxiety, moods, and social pressures. Based on current research and over 30 years of clinical experience, Lynn Lyons will talk about the common traps adults fall into and the key adjustments needed to prevent and help mental health challenges in our kids. Lynn Lyons is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in Concord, New Hampshire. She has been in private practice for 30 years specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders in adults and children.

Behavior ≠ Emotional Impairment

By Marianne Vines, Director of Special Education
Recently, I received questions from community members about the processes and procedures for identifying disabilities. Specifically, the questions were surrounding emotional disabilities.

Does every child who exhibits negative behavior have an emotional disability? Not necessarily. Negative behaviors in children can stem from various factors, including developmental stages, environmental influences, or situational stressors. Big responses and big emotions in themselves do not necessarily equate to an emotional disability. Emotional responses can vary greatly among individuals based on personality, developmental stage, experiences, and situational factors. It’s important to understand that displaying intense emotions or having big reactions to certain situations does not automatically indicate an emotional disability.

An Emotional Impairment, as defined under federal law at 34 CFR §300.7, is when the student exhibits one or more of the following characteristics over a long period and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance: an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. The determination of disability shall not be made solely because the student’s behavior violates the school’s discipline code, because the student is involved with a state court or social service agency, or because the student is socially maladjusted unless the Team determines that the student has a serious emotional disturbance.

It’s essential to note that occasional intense emotions or big responses to certain situations are a normal part of human behavior and development. Diagnosis of such conditions typically involves comprehensive assessments by mental health professionals or specialists in child development. It’s important to consider various aspects and seek professional guidance to evaluate and understand the behavior’s root cause properly.

Please click here to read more and the rest of the Director’s Update: What’s Going On In Special Education In Bedford.

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