Kevin M. Lyons, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Welcome to the 2016-2017 School Year!
It is a pleasure to welcome our students back for an exciting 2016-2017 school year, and to welcome our new seventh graders who joined the Masco Community on Thursday September 1st.
Our students can look forward to an exciting, challenging, and rewarding school year, and parents can be confident that their children will receive an excellent education with many opportunities to explore.
Kevin M. Lyons
Superintendent of Schools
Safety Drill and Canine SearchPosted by Kevin Lyons at 6/14/2017Dear Masconomet Families and Staff,Today, the Masconomet Regional School District, in concert with the Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield Police Departments and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, and with the assistance of the North Andover and Manchester Police Departments, conducted a sweep of Masconomet Middle School and Masconomet High School to identify any presence of illegal drugs. Five teams of police and school personnel and six drug-sniffing dogs assisted in the sweep.No illegal or contraband substances were found in the sweep of lockers, common areas, and random classrooms. Although the canine teams are very highly trained and effective, this does not conclusively mean that there were no illicit substances in the schools during the time window of the search. We know from our survey data that we have students who do use illicit substances – substances that impair health, substances that may cause death by overdose, and marijuana that carries its own health risks and may lead to the use of more lethal drugs.We are proud of our students’ accomplishments and character and the fact that the vast majority of Masco students stay substance free. The Masco Schools, the Police Departments of the Tri-Towns, the Coalition of the Tri-Town Council and other community partners strive to keep students safe and lead students toward good decision-making by providing educational programs that encourage healthy living, and by maintaining high expectations and standards for our students. We are striving as a community to make a difference. We count on parents and all community members to help meet today’s challenges. Thank you for your support and assistance.If you suspect that your child or someone you know may need help with a substance issue, there are resources to help. You can contact your child’s guidance counselor, a school administrator, or call the Tri Town Council’s 24/7 Help Line at (978) 771-4619.Sincerely,Kevin M. Lyons
Superintendent of Schools
Two Tri-Town Superintendents Message Community About Civility and ValuesPosted by Kevin Lyons at 6/2/2017Dear Masconomet and Tri-Town School Union Families and Staff,As we reflect upon a year in which our greater society’s embracing of differences has been challenged, we are pleased to be able to write about civility from a proactive position within our school districts. Both of our entries into our respective districts were characterized by hundreds of meetings with students, parents, staff, and community members and it is very clear to us that the values of civility and appreciation of difference are foundational beliefs of the schools and community.We do not take this for granted. Rather, we are honored to be part of the community leadership that takes the Tri-Towns, and especially its youth, to higher levels of understanding and appreciation for diversity. We want to maintain absolute clarity in the fact that our schools are safe and accepting places for all students. To this end, we are committed to our continued work toward universal acceptance and behavior consistent with the fundamental values of civility and the appreciation of differences. This cannot be stated enough: We are committed to equal educational opportunity for all students irrespective of age, race, gender, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.Whether in the news, in person, or on social media, each of us is bombarded daily by an overwhelming amount of negative opinion and commentary.Nationwide, there is a rising trend of acts of hate and hateful language. As described in a publication titled Responding to Hate and Bias at School (2012), “Growing intolerance can also be found online, posted on Tumblr, or tweeted on Twitter…...In some cases the viciousness is intentional; in others perpetrators may have little clue — other than the shock value — about the meaning behind the words, signs, and symbols they shout, tweet, paint, or text” (p. 4). These trends are disturbing and we would be mistaken to not continually examine our school cultures and challenge our students to appreciate and value diversity.Normalizing kindness has been and will continue to be our goal. Kindness, as a value, is emphasized through thematic programs in each of the elementary schools through Middle School. Additionally, Masconomet High School has programs and curriculum that promote cultural competence and lead to deeper understandings of what it means to be a good person and a good citizen. This year’s community read of Life is Good, has generated new curriculum and programs emphasizing kindness and civility as well as other positive personal qualities.In an essay written over a hundred years ago, Helen Keller wrote, “The highest result of education is tolerance” (Optimism, 1903). This foundational belief serves as an important entry point in the appreciation of our differences and we believe that the core values of the Tri-Town Union and Masconomet demand even more from us and that our expectations for students go further than tolerance. It is our belief that we, as a community, should embrace and celebrate differences. In fact, as we look to the skills and attitudes that our students are required to have in order to be successful in our connected world and the next economy, embracing difference is more important than ever before.In a recently released Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum, the top ten skills for 2020 and beyond were identified. Beyond what one would expect to see on such a list, the following competencies were also identified:· Coordinating with others
· Emotional Intelligence
· People management
· Service orientation
· Cognitive flexibilityIt will take more than tolerance for today’s youth to work together and learn how to solve the complex problems of a complex world. Tolerance leads to understanding and understanding leads to acceptance.Please allow us take this opportunity to thank our highly committed faculty and staff for upholding and teaching our values about the acceptance of differences and, at the same time, thank our families and community members who model these values for Tri-Town youth on a daily basis.As we approach June, it signals that the end of another school year is just around the corner. This has been a remarkable year for the number of ways in which the elementary and secondary districts are working together to support the PreK-12 grade span of learners. As Superintendents, we are working closely together to ensure that Tri-Town students receive an excellent education that includes the personal and social development required for success in the challenging world…of today and tomorrow.With this mindset, we commit our school districts to continuing to work toward universal acceptance and behavior consistent with the fundamental values of civility and the appreciation of differences. Thank you for your continued support.Warm regards,Kevin M. Lyons Scott R. MorrisonSuperintendent of Schools Superintendent of SchoolsMasconomet Regional School District Tri-Town School Union
Participate in the Tri-Town School Start Time Choice Survey Open from March 10 to March 20, 2017 https://www.masconomet.org/MascoPosted by Kevin Lyons at 3/10/2017
Credit for Life to be Hosted by Masco on April 11thPosted by Kevin Lyons at 2/25/2017
The Institution for Savings “Credit for Life Fair” will be hosted for the second year in a row by Masconomet High School on April 11, 2017 in the Masco Field House. Here is a link to the 2016 Community Relations Subcommittee article on last year’s fair. IFS 2016
Masconomet Will Continue Non-Discrimination Rights of Transgender StudentsPosted by Kevin Lyons at 2/23/2017
Mascononomet Regional School District will maintain transgender student rights and maintain its transgender guidelines irrespective of changes in federal guidance. Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester today issued a letter to Massachustts Superintendents, Charter School Leaders and Principals explaining Massachusetts laws and regulatory guidance. [Text Follows]
Dear Superintendents, Charter School Leaders, and Principals:
I would like to affirm for you that Massachusetts remains dedicated to protecting the rights of transgender students even in light of recent federal actions. No one should be discriminated against based on their gender identity, and under existing state statute and regulations, protections for students and families will remain in place in the Commonwealth.
States can issue their own guidance, which can exceed federal guidelines. The Massachusetts state statute, which predates the federal guidance, ensures protections for all students and prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. An Act Relative to Gender Identity (Chapter 199 of the Acts of 2011), amended several Massachusetts statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of specified categories, including gender identity, and subsequently, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued guidance (http://www.doe.mass.edu/sfs/lgbtq/GenderIdentity.pdf) to school districts to implement the gender identity provision.
That guidance includes the following:
- “All students are entitled to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities that are sanitary, safe and adequate, so they can comfortably and fully engage in their school program and activities.”
- “…it is essential that the principal and student address access to the restrooms, locker rooms and changing facility. Each situation needs to be reviewed and addressed based on the particular circumstances of the student and the school facilities.
- “In all cases, the principal should be clear with the student (and parent) that the student may access the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that corresponds to the student’s gender identity.”
- Some transgender students may be uncomfortable using sex-segregated restrooms and should be provided an alternative, such as the nurses’ restroom or a unisex bathroom.
Additional resources are available at http://www.doe.mass.edu/sfs/lgbtq/default.html.
We are proud that Massachusetts was a leader in this area and that schools have worked constructively and without great controversy to support their students. Please do not hesitate to contact our Safe Schools Program team at email@example.com or 781-338-6319 if they can be of assistance.
Commissioner Mitchell Chester
The Masconomet Regional School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability in admission to, access to, employment in, or treatment in its programs and activities. The Masconomet Regional School District is committed to maintaining a school environment free of harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. Harassment by administrators certified and support personnel, students, vendors and other individuals at school or at school-sponsored events is unlawful and is strictly prohibited. The Masconomet Regional School District requires all employees and students to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner with respect to their fellow employees, students and all members of the school community.
Superintendent's Proposed FY18 School BudgetPosted by Kevin Lyons at 2/16/2017
At last night’s School Committee meeting, I presented the FY18 Masconomet School Budget that I have proposed to the School Committee for approval. This overview highlighted the fact that this is an extremely responsible budget that allows us to continue the delivery of an outstanding education to our students. The increase over the FY17 approved budget is 2.8% which includes fixed costs, reductions in force, and several strategic increases.
I also highlighted the fact that only because of the quality staff we have at Masco can we produce the results and student outcomes that we do while bringing in budgets that are very lean.
I have recommended a reduction of teaching staff, primarily at the high school, due to a decline in our student population. These proposed reductions are detailed in the Executive Summary. The background data supporting these reductions can be found in the Staffing/Enrollment Analysis Report.
I have also recommended several increases to staff in critical need areas. These are also elaborated in the Executive Summary. Despite the proposal of this very frugal budget, I firmly believe that we will be able to pursue our Masco Vision 2025 in the next school year and continue to offer excellence in teaching and learning.
Please review the Executive Summary and the proposed budget book to look more deeply into the FY18 proposed budget. There is additional information on the District’s Finance and Budget page.
The Masconomet School Committee will continue its deliberation about the budget this evening and in subsequent meetings posted our web site.
Thank you for your continued support. Please follow the budget process from this proposal to the School Committee, to the final budget approved by the School Committee, and through Town Meetings.
Kevin M. Lyons
Superintendent of Schools
Enrollment and Staff Analysis Report is Basis for Proposed Reductions in StaffPosted by Kevin Lyons at 2/15/2017
The Staffing Analysis Report, presented to the the Masconomet School Committee in December 2016 by the Superintendent, was utilized as important data in the development of the FY18 budget proposal.
Power Outage at Masco 1/12/17Posted by Kevin Lyons at 1/12/2017
Dear Masconomet Families and Staff,
The High School and Middle School were without power today from approximately 11:40 a.m. to 1:55 p.m. It was a National Grid issue that affected at least parts of Boxford. Middle school lunch was completed and the first High School lunch was about to start when the power went out.
Fire safety systems remained operative and Boxford Fire and Police from the three towns came to assist. All students and staff were in areas with natural lighting or moved to areas that did have natural light. Classes were conducted on a normal schedule at the High School. The Middle School did a shelter-in-place for an hour as students returned from lunch, but returned to the 7th period schedule.
Two students were stuck in the Middle School elevator until the Fire Department was able to open the door. The students were relieved and in relatively good spirits after their ordeal.
While we had bus transportation on alert from shortly after 12:00 p.m., I determined that it would be less disruptive, and a safer situation to keep school in session as the buildings were warm, there was sufficient light, and in most situations instruction could continue as normal.
Our cafeteria staff did a great job of improvising serving areas inside the eating area of the cafeteria. All students were able to get lunch on a near-normal schedule. Our students and staff performed wonderfully to make the best of a less than optimal situation.
We had police, fire, and many adults in the hallways throughout the outage to direct students and supervise all areas of the building. It certainly wasn't a normal afternoon of instruction, but it was as good as one could expect.
All Middle School after-school help and after-school activities are cancelled today. All High School after-school help and activities are running on a normal schedule, including tonight's performance of Noises Off.
I want to thank our students and staff today for such a high level of cooperation. Our teachers and staff always step up to a challenge.
Our students showed a high level of maturity about which the school and parents can be proud.
Kevin M. Lyons
Superintendent of Schools
My Brief Experience Returning to College (Yesterday)Posted by Kevin Lyons at 12/22/2016
It has been a long time since I sat in an undergraduate college classroom. It happened yesterday and it has been on my mind for the last 36 hours. At the invitation of the Masconomet High School Psychology Club, advised by Mr. Brian Mintz, this college classroom experience happened in the Masco HS Library from 3:00-4:30 p.m. Mr. Mintz and the Club invited Dr. Paul Whelan, a Dartmouth College Professor of Neuroscience, to give a lecture on his cutting-edge research into emotion and the human brain. Professor Whelan is a research specialist in anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS), and core human emotions. He is sub-specialized in a tiny part of the brain- the amygdala. He and his associates use MRI and Functional MRI (that shows changes in the brain as they happen) to study the relationship of the amygdala to the human regulation of emotion.
As I sat with 35 students and several faculty members, I was transported back to one of my best college classes when I felt like I was learning things that 99% of the world did not know about, taught by one of the foremost experts in the world. It was engaging, exciting, humorous, and filled with implications for me as an educator. How can I not learn much more about the brain when I am in the business of teaching and learning? I sat alongside our Masco students who, I quickly realized, knew much more about current brain research than I did. Humbling? Not really, as I know the quality and depth of our students' learning at Masco, I should not be surprised that I was a freshman among juniors and seniors. What a delight to feel like a teenager in love with learning in a group of like-minded individuals.
Professor Whelan didn't contain himself to just the lecture topics. He answered student questions about careers in psychology and in doing so shared his own experiences as an undergrad and graduate student. To paraphrase one tidbit of advice, he suggested that students should not worry about over-specializing in high school to get ready for a college major and that undergraduates should not over-specialize in getting into graduate school. From his perspective, he did not figure out what he wanted to do until well after he earned his Ph.D. He told students that is good to take some solid math, important to take at least a course in computer science, but otherwise, don't narrow your schooling and career options too early in life.
I guess what most impressed me by this college lecture at Masco yesterday, is the fact that our students get opportunities like this all the time, because we have faculty members who reach out to their professions and disciplines, who reach out to government and community groups, and who organize all kinds of learning activities to expose their students to real-world learning opportunities and insights into careers, college, and life.
Yesterday was just one of the many days I leave work at Masco and think on the way home-- "Wow, am I lucky or what to be a colleague of this caliber of faculty and staff?
As I count my blessings at the end of this calendar year, near the top of the list is the fact that I get to come to work every day in a place where there is a genuine love for learning-- where students come ready to learn and teachers come prepared to give their all to keep learning exciting, enjoyable, and real.
Resolution #1: In 2017, I will learn more about the current research on learning and the brain and apply that learning to my role at Masconomet.
Resolution #2: I will remember that each of us is always ready to experience a spark of joy in learning something new and each of us has the ability to light that spark in another.