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Commissioner's Weekly Update - April 21, 2017

National Teacher of the Year:

For the first time ever, a Massachusetts teacher has been named the National Teacher of the Year! The Council of Chief State School Officers announced April 20, 2017 that Sydney Chaffee, a humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, is the 2017 National Teacher of the Year, a recognition that brought Ms. Chaffee congratulations from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and many others.

Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, Commissioner Chester, City of Boston Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey, Codman Academy Head of School Thabiti Brown, Ms. Chaffee, and Codman graduate Latanya Simpson joined Huntington Theatre Company Managing Director Michael Maso on stage at the company's BU Theatre April 21 for a celebration of Ms. Chaffee's recognition. Ms. Simpson, who introduced Ms. Chaffee as her superhero, said, "Sydney was always the first person to reassure me… She said I had nothing but greatness to offer the world."

To watch the full event on Livestream, go to:

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met April 18 and approved a limited reset of school and accountability designations for 2017. Other agenda items included a progress report on civic learning and engagement and an update from UP Academy Holland, a Level 5 school Boston. In addition, Chair Paul Sagan announced that Board member Roland Fryer has resigned. The Board and ESE thank Dr. Fryer for his service.

Save the Date: Conference on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments:

The Department, in collaboration with the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), the Collaborative for Educational Services, and Massachusetts Advocates for Children's Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, will host a gathering on May 24 in Leominster on creating safe and supportive learning environments in schools, districts and community-based programs in order to create equitable and inclusive learning environments for all students. The conference will help participants understand the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework as set out in state law and will focus on aligning important aspects of social emotional learning, trauma sensitivity, and positive behavioral approaches. Participants will have the opportunity to learn with and from grade-span colleagues. A registration link will be available in late April.

Early Education Focus Groups with Public Preschools:

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), in collaboration with ESE, is holding a series of focus groups with educators and administrators from public preschool programs across the state to discuss supporting children with special needs and\or disabilities in inclusive learning environments. The goal is to gain a greater understanding of the professional development needs and interests of teachers and paraprofessionals working in public school preschool programs and to identify opportunities that will complement EEC's current early educator professional development offerings. For dates and registration information, please visit EEC's website.

Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Surveys:

The Department is surveying teachers and administrators in order to collect the data that will inform future sheltered English immersion projects and guidance. Each survey will prompt the reader to share the instructional planning processes and instructional practices that they commonly use or observe. The surveys are anonymous. The teacher survey is for SEI educators, coaches and specialists. District and school leadership – please take the administrator survey.

ESE Resource Corner

Writing Standards in Action Project: To clearly demonstrate strong grade-level writing, ESE's Writing Standards in Action Project publishes annotated student writing exemplars that are available to download for use in the classroom or for professional development. The project continues to grow and welcomes new submissions of student work and additional educators interested in serving as reviewers. To learn more, please contact Rachel Bradshaw.

For Your Info:

Subscriber Information: Superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, and charter school leaders will receive the update automatically. For others wishing to subscribe, send an email to with the following information in the body of the email: subscribe ESEUpdate Your Name. (Example: subscribe ESEUpdate John Smith) Leave the subject line blank. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with the following information in the body: unsubscribe ESEUpdate Your Name. (Example: unsubscribe ESEUpdate John Smith)

Last Updated: April 24, 2017
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