Dear CPS Community,
On behalf of the CPS administrative team, I wish each of you a restful winter break, happy holidays, and a peaceful new year.
As we approach the end of the calendar year, I want to share a few reflections from my first several months in Cambridge. This fall, I have had the opportunity to spend a full day in each of our CPS schools: to observe classrooms and team meetings, talk to teachers and families, shadow students – and enjoy our delicious and healthy school lunches! During these visits, I have been impressed by the strength of our community, the learning happening in our classrooms, the pride that students, staff and families have in their schools, and the commitment to the success of every child.
Our city and schools have also been through a lot in the last few months – including the devastating fire in East Cambridge, political unrest caused by a divisive election, and instances of hate-fueled graffiti in our schools. In the face of these challenges, I have been moved by how our community has come together with an inspiring degree of resiliency, compassion, courage and dedication.
In response to the fire:
first responders, city officials, schools, and families worked tirelessly together to support those affected. Students had transportation to and from school without missing a day and families were quickly re-housed. When affected students returned to school, they found an outpouring of support from their teachers and community. Our schools served as a key connection and conduit for aid and assistance available in the city.
In response to the hateful graffiti:
our school administrators and teachers responded with swift and clear messages rejecting hate and affirming the values of opportunity, diversity and respect. These incidents served as a teachable moment for our older students – allowing us to deepen our dialogue around these issues. At the community level, parents and community members reached out with solidarity and offers to help.
Our ability to respond effectively reflects longstanding practices within the Cambridge Public Schools. Social justice is woven throughout our curriculum -- from the books we assign to the topics students explore. Our highest aim is to teach CPS students to think critically about themselves, their cultures, community, environment, and world. Now more than ever, this work is critically important.
While our primary mission is educational, students cannot learn when they are in crisis. Our family liaisons, counselors, and Title 1 Homeless Assistance Program have built a responsive network of supports to catch students and families before they fall through the cracks. Material assistance is available right inside schools at our School Markets and Falcons Food Pantry
In addition to these supports, CPS works in partnership with the Community Engagement Team
, Family Policy Council
, Healthy Children’s Task Force
, and SafetyNet
, among others to support the safety, stability and health of all students and families.
As we look towards 2017, I’m proud that our school district is unafraid to talk about tough issues and their impact on our students’ educations. There is plenty of work to do – but our community is uniquely prepared to rise to the challenge.
If you have any questions or ideas about the subjects I have written about in this message, please do not hesitate to contact my office
, or email your ideas to our dedicated email box FamilyEngagement@cpsd.us
Kenneth N. Salim, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools