Open Letter to the Newton South Community

Dear Colleagues, Students, Parents and Friends,

When I came to Newton back in the fall of 2003, I had no idea that I would enjoy the work so much that ten years would pass in the blink of an eye.  I have worked with upwards of 900 capable, charismatic & kind students on a variety of grade and academic levels, reading the great works of literature together and looking within to discover the wisdom of the ages.  I have worked alongside a talented, dedicated & selfless cohort of colleagues from whom I have learned much about the craft of teaching and the art of being a teacher.  I have partnered with many appreciative, supportive families who have helped me discover what it means to be a positive force in the lives of students inside and outside of the classroom. I have become close friends with many in this community and it is out of my deep appreciation for all of you that I would like to announce that I have recently accepted a position on the leadership team of North Attleborough High School.

What I have always loved about being a teacher is the challenge that you are only as good as how you performed in class today.  You can never take anything for granted in teaching.  You can’t rest on your laurels.  The past is there to examine and learn from, but it will not buy you an easy ride with your current group of students.  Each class of students requires a good deal of creativity as you assess their strengths and weaknesses on the fly and do your best to create new contexts within which they will interact with the content.  As I have been delightfully engaged in this process as a teacher, I have also been a learner. I have been studying education leadership both formally and informally over the last six years.  More recently, I have begun learning from & with an indefatigable group of leaders on social media that has helped prepare for this next step.

Even though I feel prepared, ready and excited to begin the work of helping guide the academic, social-emotional, and extra curricular course of medium-sized suburban high school, I will miss being in the classroom full time.  I feel so sentimental at this moment because I realize how lucky I have been to work with such a wonderful lot of students this year especially.  If you think I am pandering or just exaggerating, please take a look at the blog posts that students published recently:

Sophomore Global English students wrote reflections on their globalization project.

Junior English students created their own blogs that detail a virtual journey based on the book Into the Wild.

I am so glad that students and their families trusted me as I experimented with integrating technology into the curriculum this year.  I encourage all readers of this message to explore the student work linked above and to leave comments for the writers.  I would be thrilled if students could experience the thrill of having their work read by a larger audience.  I am so proud of each and every one of the students in my sophomore and junior classes.  It is no easy task to put yourself out there for the world to read and I hope parents and community members join me in celebrating the accomplishments of these thoughtful young people.

Senior Prank 2013
Senior Prank 2013

 

As I move forward in my career, I hope to stay connected with many of you both as colleagues and friends.  If you haven’t yet made the leap to Twitter, I urge you to do so, to experience the wonder that comes with engaging in thoughtful discussions with connected educators all over the world.  You can follow me by clicking the button to the right of this post.  If I don’t see you on Twitter, I hope you follow this blog, connect with me on LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Goodreads, or Instagram.   It’s also ok to just keep me in your address book for the occasional email update.

Before signing off, I would like to say a few thank yous to the following people or circles of supporters:

to Charlie Myette for providing me opportunities to grow professionally and for taking time to share your wisdom;

to Brian Baron, Joel Stembridge, & David Fleishman for standing behind me;

to Kirsten Russell for being a world-class teacher, collaborator & upstander;

to my teammates in the morning faculty basketball league for reminding me why I love sports;

to my colleagues in the English Department for allowing me to jettison the whisper rule in the department office;

to my colleagues in The Modern Global Communities Program and Brian Hammel for helping me discover tools that open windows to the world;

to Ashley Anderton for making New to South an exceptional experience;

to the Faculty Council, The PTSO, & South Senate for preserving the value of listening to each other in our school;

and finally, to Anna, Jo Joe, Michael, & Mariangela for making me laugh at the end of each day and feel like the luckiest guy in town.

As always, I wish you well, I thank you for reading, and I welcome your feedback!

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Open Letter to the Newton South Community

  1. Ann Knocke

    Joe, Best of luck!!! The new school is fortunate to receive your passion and energy, as well as the compassion for the students. We are very happy that Lisa had the opportunity to study with you this year. Ann Knocke

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s