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Office of the Commissioner

Commissioner's Back-to-School Update

Welcome to a new school year!

Fall is an exciting time for all of us as we welcome our students back to school. This past year, we celebrated our aMAzing educators and discussed deeper learning, and I'm excited to collaborate with you again this year.

Building on last year's commitment to begin a new chapter in Massachusetts education, DESE hopes to bring deeper learning into more schools this year. Education works best when there is a strong relationship between the teacher and the student and when curriculum is hands-on and relevant to the world around us. This kind of learning currently takes place in some schools and for some students, but we want to make it available to everyone.

The Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning is a DESE pilot program to nurture deeper learning in Massachusetts schools. It will provide participating teachers, schools, and districts the opportunity to try new approaches to learning and build upon their successes. The application will open this fall, and the pilot will start in January 2020.

In continuing recognition of educators' crucial role, our work this year will also include efforts to recruit people to become teachers in Massachusetts public schools. There are strong students who might not have considered teaching, paraprofessionals already working in our schools, and teachers from outside our state who could all help our students succeed. The 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Takeru Nagayoshi of New Bedford High School, helped with this work last year, and you'll see his face on some of our recruiting materials in the coming weeks.

In a year full of innovation, DESE wants to help you keep your school committee, teachers, parents, and communities informed and engaged. To that end, I have attached or linked the following resources:

  1. The Year Ahead: An overview of work at DESE that will impact your 2019-2020 school year.

  2. Deeper Learning Webpage: Learn more about our deeper learning initiative.

  3. Teacher Recruitment Webpage: Massachusetts needs teachers who are energized, innovative, and diverse.

  4. Back-to-School Basics: A brief video for parents on how the state and districts work together to support teaching and learning. [Video transcript in Chinese | Haitian Creole | Portuguese | Spanish | Vietnamese]

  5. Teacher Recognition: A handy reference for superintendents and principals on ways to celebrate strong teachers.

  6. Superintendents' Checklist: A list of data, financial, and other reports that local school districts must submit to DESE throughout the year, plus reminders about safety drills and other requirements.

Thank you for all you do for Massachusetts students, and best wishes for the school year ahead!


Jeffrey C. Riley

Last Updated: August 29, 2019

Jeffrey C. Riley
Jeffrey C. Riley
Commissioner of Elementary
and Secondary Education

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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