Hawthorne Brook Middle School

Striving for Excellence

This is my third year at Hawthorne Brook Middle School and I am honored to be making my third annual report.

December 1999 marked the twenty-first anniversary of the school operation. It is hard to believe that as we enter the third millennium Hawthorne Brooke will be beginning its twenty-second year of operation. Our entire staff is justifiable proud of our physical plant and is even prouder that we offer a comprehensive, challenging, and developmentally appropriate course of studies to our students.

Currently Hawthorne Brook houses sixth, seventh, and eighth grade classes with a total of 638 students. One hundred and three are from Ashby, 526 from Townsend, and 9 are school choice students. We have 70 staff members. This includes our non-instructional staff as well as all who are employed either in a full or part-time capacity in our classrooms.

In our effort to best serve the needs of all our students, Hawthorne Brook continues to employ the team concept. At each grade level students are assigned to an academic team. This year there are two teams at the grade six level, and three teams at both grade seven and eight.

One of the primary goals of the teaching team is to enhance the student/teacher relationship. By reducing the number of students each teacher encounters on a daily basis, we seek to increase teachers’ knowledge of their students as individuals thereby enhancing teacher/learning relationships, The nurturing of these relationships continues to have a powerful effect on the learning atmosphere of the school. This is evidenced by the fact that over one-third of our students achieve honor-roll status each marking quarter. As further evidence of the impact of these relationships we can point to our scores on the recently released Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) examinations where our students show continued growth.

Our teaching staff devoted a great deal of time in December to an analysis of MCAS tests. Based on these analyses, it was determined that an area in need of strengthening was our students’ ability to respond to open-ended questions in writing. To answer this student need, the school will pilot an ambitious writing program. For two periods each week during the third marking quarter, all of our students will receive small group instruction in a series of writing workshops. The results of this effort will be assessed and future planning for a writing program for the next school year will be refined.

Our programs in foreign language, technology, and the unified arts have been enhanced in response to student need and student interest. All of our students receive instruction at their ability level in foreign language. Our technology program continues to grow. Our technology teacher, Mrs. Barbara Arning, coordinates a program with all our classroom teachers in which their curriculum is aligned to our goals for students in technology. This has had the positive effect of not only making student learning more relevant by taking the work of technology out of the laboratory and bringing it into the classroom but of also adding another learning tool to the classroom teachers’ repertoire. With the addition of computers and specially designed programming a technological aspect has been added to our art and music programs. Our health and physical education programs have benefited from the professional development opportunities given to our teachers and the use of grant money to update our offerings through the health program

Last year our students participated in many one-day field trip opportunities. Additionally, our sixth grade participated for four days in the Stone Environmental School in Maine and 98 of our eighth graders participated in a four-day trip to Washington and Philadelphia.

Hawthorne brook has made a commitment to providing some after school activities for our students. These have been mainly athletic in nature. We continue to have a strong cross-country team with over fifty students participating. Our girls and boys basketball teams have been very competitive. We have provided opportunity for healthy exercise through our Extracurricular Sports Program. The school also sponsors a Ski Program at Wachusett Mountain which is open to all students.

Academic and Arts enrichment have been provided by teacher volunteers but have not been offered on a consistent basis. This year marks the first year that the school has established a yearlong enrichment program. We began by piloting a bridge building program last winter. Twenty-four students participated in this first venture that led to the establishment of a yearlong program. The first cycle comprised six offerings and attracted over one hundred students. A great deal of credit should go to Mrs. Catherine Grosskopf for the success of this venture.

1999 was a year of achievement for many of our students and staff. Nine of our band students were named to the Central District Band. In addition, three of those students had the distinction of first chair honors and were named to the Central District Orchestra. Two members of our school chorus were named to the Central District Chorus. The band also performed at the South Street Seaport in New York City. Several of our seventh grade students qualified to take the SAT through the Johns Hopkins Program for the Talented and Gifted and seven of these students achieved scores equal or better than the average high school senior. Hawthorne Brook hosted the Odyssey of the Mind competition and, in addition, one of our three teams advanced to the district finals. Hawthorne Brook was represented at the Massachusetts Geography Bee and our Spelling Bee Champion made a trip to the finals in Lowell.

Three of our teachers completed a Masters program and were granted an additional degree. One of our staff members attained CAGS status from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. In addition two teachers became certified as Orton-Gillingham reading instructors after a year of intensive study. One teacher attended Space Camp for Educators and was present for John Glenn’s launch in the summer of 1998.

On behalf of our students and staff, I would like to thank our parent community, especially our Parent Teacher Organization, our School Council, the residents of Townsend and Ashby, Mr. James W. McCormick, our Superintendent, his staff, and the North Middlesex Regional School Committee for the tremendous support they give to Hawthorne Brook. I feel privileged to work in such a supportive atmosphere. Our school staff is committed to success for all our students and I will continue to work to help make this possible.

Respectfully submitted,

Timothy J. McGillicuddy