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M a r c h 2 0 0 9 | Vo l u m e 1 , n u m b e r 2


Grading System

ver since the first report cards were
issued in the 1800s, schools have
struggled to find the best way to
communicate with parents and students
regarding academic growth. When MCCPS
opened in 1995, a relatively traditional
report card was adopted and letter grades
were used to describe academic achieve-
ment. However, even in our earliest days,
the founding teachers (myself included)

Our Quest
were determined to create a more compre- Sabrina and Mr. Sullivan dissect a frog.
hensive method of communicating student
progress. Letter grades just didn't do it for
us. We wanted parents and students to
know and understand more than a letter Students are the purpose of our work.
grade could communicate.
BY DR. AL ARGENZIANO to a thriving business establishment. emotions like ourselves.
Not surprisingly, we were not alone in
While waiting in line, I noticed the • A student is one who comes to

our quest; attempts have been and were ext to the quest for peace,
following poster on the wall. It was us with needs and/or wants. It is
being made all across the country to craft our nation’s most important
especially stimulating because the our job to fill them.
the perfect report card. Some districts/states goal is the development of a
employees obviously subscribed to the • A student is deserving of the
remained grounded in the past while others high quality educational enterprise
message. I believe this philosophy is most courteous and attentive
refused to be limited by tradition and dared that will prepare all young people for
as appropriate to schools as it is to treatment that we can provide.
to implement new strategies. As a reform- life in a fast, changing, complex
businesses, and I have chosen to sub- • A student is the lifeblood of our
driven school, MCCPS experimented with a world. Indeed few people disagree
stitute the word student for customer: school. Without him or her we
variety of reporting formats before deciding with the belief of Clifton Fadiman:
• A student is the most important would have to close our doors.
that we must create our own. The innova- “There is an intimate connection
person in any school. The focus of the future will be in
tive C.U.E. Report (Communicating between the survival of democracy
• A student is not an interruption service and excellence to our students.
Understanding through Evidence) was born. and the quality of our public educa-
of our work. He or she is the These words inspire and allow me to
It was created as a direct result of MCCPS tion system.”
purpose of it. support the challenge and commit-
educational pedagogy merging with the With this thought in mind, the
• A student is not just a statistic. ment we educators have to the quality
needs of parents and students. This web- philosophy and attitude of school offi-
He or she is a flesh and blood education at the Marblehead
based system of reporting has allowed par- cials become rather important. I was
human being with feelings and Community Charter Public School.
See Grading, page 3 reminded of this during a recent visit

2 Meet the 2 Chef Laura MCCPS

Teacher: Shares a Musical: Into
Quincy Favorite the Woods
Carpenter Recipe

“There is an intimate connection between the survival of democracy and the quality of our public education system.” — Clifton Fadiman
Meet the Teacher:Quincy Carpenter
Volume 1,Number 2,March 2009

Magna Charter Staff

P eople are always curious about Quincy
Carpenter’s name—a fittingly unusual one for a
teacher with so many interests.
& Contributors In fact, Ms. Carpenter went for three days with no
Dr. Albert Argenziano name at all. Mom and Dad just couldn’t agree. But on
Jeff Barry day three, Quincy’s dad—“one of the most creative
Kathleen Cormier and interesting people I've ever met,” she says—
Nina Cullen-Hamzeh thought of it while riding the train home from work.
Kay O'Dwyer She gathers he liked how it avoided any sort of
Emil Ronchi "label" (male, female, or race) and had an element of
Mike Ruth
patriotism to it.
Laura Smith
A native of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, Ms. Carpenter
Nancy Marland Wolinski
majored in French at the University of Delaware, and
MCCPS Board of Trustees fell in love with painting when she studied abroad in
Emil Ronchi, Chair Paris. Before coming to MCCPS this year, she taught
Cathy Vaucher, Vice Chair French, Sculpture, Photography, Painting and
Dr. John Sullivan, Treasurer Ms. Carpenter uses art to get her students excit-
Drawing at the Bryn Mawr Summer Institute for the
John McEnaney, Clerk ed about French.
Gifted for three years. During the school year, she
Nina Cullen-Hamzeh the attitude is. I know I'll be greeted every morning
worked at Gunning Bedford Middle School in
Cynthia Canavan with smiling faces.”
Delaware, teaching Visual Arts for three years and
Matt Cronin
Gifted Education for two. In her free time, Ms. Carpenter enjoys hiking,
Chris Fauci
The 29-year-old teacher combines her passions at bicycling and traveling to new places, as well as try-
Bob Sousa
MCCPS by teaching French to 6th, 7th and 8th ing new restaurants, listening to music (especially the
MCCPS School Staff graders and running an enrichment to create scenery Amelie soundtrack), watching movies and reading
Dr. Albert Argenziano for the school’s upcoming musical, Into the Woods. books. She’s also busy planning her wedding in
Interim Managing Director August to a Harvard Business School student with an
“We’ve got so much talent here at the school,” Ms.
Nina Cullen-Hamzeh Carpenter says. “The thing I look forward to most on equally interesting name: Shane.
Interim Academic Director
my drive from Cambridge each day is how positive Welcome, Quincy!
Eileen Perry
Assistant to the Directors
Molly Wright
Student Services Coordinator Nutrition News Plus a Recipe
Jed O'Connor
Director of Special Education We asked Chef Laura to share a recipe that is a favorite of our students.
Jeffrey Barry She thought for a moment, and then chose her pulled pork. Served
Business Manager with veggies, it’s a nutritious and delicious lunch.

Recipe for Pulled Pork:

Chef Laura DeSantis
MCCPS fosters a community that empowers
1 (4-6 LB.) Pork Butt Preheat over to 300 degrees
children to become capable, self-determining, fully
(preferably bone-in) In a deep roasting pan (or deep braising pan with a lid)
engaged individuals who are critical and creative
thinkers committed to achieving their highest 2 cups cider vinegar place the pork butt in the pan and season with salt and
intellectual, artistic, social, emotional, and physical 2 cups water pepper. In a separate bowl, mix all the remaining ingre-
potential. We are dedicated to involving, learning 2 cups BBQ sauce dients. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour
from, participating in, and serving our school 1/2 cup brown sugar mixture over the pork butt in the roasting pan, let each
community and the community at large. 4 to 6 cloves of garlic minced side for sit for about 20 minutes. Cover pan ( if you don’t
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced have a lid cover with foil and make sure edges are tight)
Magna Charter is the official 1 med. white onions diced Cook for 2 hours. Turn the pork butt in the pan and cook
newsletter of MCCPS. salt and fresh ground black pepper for 2 more hours. Take foil or lid off the pan and cook for
another 45 minutes. Check for tenderness by sticking as
17 Lime Street OTHER SERVING SUGGESTIONS: fork in the meat and if it goes through with little force it
Marblehead, MA 01945 Corn Bread, coleslaw, braised apples, should be ready. Let cool and then with a fork or tongs
Phone: 781-631-0777 braised cabbage or simply on a bun pull the pork apart, then heat back in the oven if need-
Fax: 781-631-0500 with cheddar cheese ed.

2 W H AT ’ S N EW ( S ) AT M CC PS — M A RC H 2 0 0 9
Write Well,Write Often GRADING
Continued from page 1
ents continual and timely access to students’ assess-
W riting and thinking go hand in hand…so
shouldn’t students be writing in classes other
than Humanities? That’s what Jeanne Dowdell, 4th
ments, assignments, individual goals, behavior refer-
rals, and attendance data. It is our expectation that the
C.U.E. will be an accurate reflection of each student’s
grade teacher at MCCPS, thought—and convinced her
demonstrated level of understanding in relation to the
strands articulated in the State’s Curriculum Frame-
Research suggests that writing in all content areas
work for each subject, and it is our goal that students
enhances students’ critical thinking, allows them to
will demonstrate at least a proficient level of under-
take greater responsibility for their learning, promotes
Students have fun writing with Ms. Dowdell. standing in each strand in each subject by the end of
reflective thinking and questioning, and helps them
the school year.
make connections between events, people, and ideas. (DESE) to help teachers statewide recognize and
To date, parents have generally been pleased with
Through writing, students become active learners, Ms. inspire outstanding student writing.
the C.U.E. One parent recently wrote: “WOW! That
Dowdell says, which can be helpful in grasping a diffi- In the fall of 2007, Ms. Dowdell responded to a
is an incredibly detailed and comprehensive perform-
cult concept in science or math. request from the DESE seeking teachers to participate in a
ance assessment of my student...I can only imagine the
Last February, Ms. Dowdell applied for and received group entitled “Performance Standards Committee for
amount of work it takes to produce it, so thank you.
a grant from The Friends of Marblehead Public Writing Grades 3-5,” with the stated purpose to examine
It's much more valuable to me than a standard A/B/C
Schools. The grant, entitled “Writing Across the student writing and identify exemplary pieces that would
report card. Thank you. My child loves the school.”
Curriculum,” allowed for the purchase of books and be made available to teachers to use in their classrooms.
The MCCPS Charter requires that parents are
resource materials to be used for school-wide profes- The group of twenty-five educators, including litera-
informed regularly about their child’s academic
sional development for all faculty in the teaching of cy coaches, reading specialists, and classroom teachers
progress, and the C.U.E. is designed to do just that.
writing throughout all content areas. from across the state, met monthly over the past year.
The C.U.E. is a comprehensive system that provides
This year, all MCCPS teachers have been reading from Using authentic writing samples from students, they
on-going, detailed, and timely assessment of student
the text Teaching Writing in the Content Areas by Vicki developed a holistic rubric identifying the traits of
work. Students and parents can keep track of assign-
Urquhart and Monette McIver, and are vigorously exemplary writing.
ments, can know the results of tests as soon as teachers
involved in discussing and planning how to implement Ms. Dowdell finds the DESE work to be very bene-
post them in their grade books, and can identify aca-
this facet of Professional Development in their classrooms. ficial and applicable in class. It provides her with “the
demic areas that need extra attention. When checked
ability to really evaluate student writing and has rein-
regularly, the C.U.E. can be a very effective tool for stu-
Focus on Excellence forced the importance of sharing good writing with
dents and parents.
Ms. Dowdell has also been working with the kids,” she said.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Thanks, Ms. Dowdell!

Sports News VO L U N T E E R O P P S
It’s been a busy basketball sea- Thanks to all who are helping us in many
son at MCCPS. The school field- ways!
ed three teams – Boys’Varsity,
Girls’Varsity, and Junior Varsity. Volunteers needed:
Boys’varsity is currently 2-6 • To help the kitchen staff. Ongoing help need-
with wins against Excel and ed in the MCCPS kitchen. Fun, working envi-
Innovation Academies while ronment; no experience necessary! Please
girls’varsity is currently 1-7 with contact Chef Laura DeSantis (ldesantis@mar-
a win also against Innovation. if you can give as little
The JV’s came up short of a win as one hour per week or month.
but fought hard and improved Boys’Basketball Girls’Basketball
on the defensive end. • To run or help staff an enrichment. We are
The varsity teams will be on the road for the remainder of the season and conclude by playing in always looking for adults with time and/or
the Charter Cup Tournament in Lawrence where they are guaranteed a minimum of three games. talents. Please contact Molly Wright
Thanks go to Head Coach, Mike Ruth, JV Coach,Tim Stonecipher, Ryan Redmond, and Howie ( if you can
Rothblatt who came on as the varsity assistant coach and shared a wealth of knowledge with us all. help. Adults needed to supervise student-
Thanks, also, to the parents who helped with the concession stand. run enrichments, too.

"Writing Across the Curriculum" and the school's production of Into the Woods (Junior) has been made possible, in part, thanks to a grant from The Friends of
the Marblehead Public Schools. FMPS raises funds to underwrite excellence in Marblehead’s schools. The organization’s goal is to use the money it raises to
inspire students and teachers while promoting creativity and innovation. FMPS awarded $100,000 in grants for the 2008-09 school year.

W H AT ’ S N EW ( S ) AT M CC PS — M A RC H 2 0 0 9 3
Nurse News MCCPS Musical:Into the Woods
Do your chil-
dren receive
free or
S tudents are busy memorizing lines,
learning melodies, fashioning cos-
tumes, and building sets as MCCPS is
school lunch? getting ready to launch its first full-scale
Are you eligible musical production. On March 13, the
for the Earned curtain will rise on Into the Woods
Income Tax Credit? (Junior). This production was spear-
Do you receive Fuel Assistance? headed and is being directed by our
If you meet the criteria for these pro- beloved music teacher, Adria Smith.
grams, you may also meet income guide- “We have never had a musical at the
lines for the Supplemental Nutrition school and I wanted to feature some of
Emma, Alanna, Gregory, and Jack, rehearse their lines.
Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP can the talent we have here at school. I’ve
help you provide your children with the been in many musicals and personally
nutritious food they need to do their best know how thrilling the experience can be.” Student and artist, Quincy Carpenter. Ms. Carpenter has
in school. actor, Zach Brown, adds: “Everyone needs to pull worked on sets in the past – since she was in middle
For more information about SNAP and together to put on a good show.” school herself. They are using old drop cloths (eco-
other food resources, call Project Bread’s Into the Woods is based on classic fairy tales, by friendly!) to fashion a forest and a tower. The stu-
FoodSource Hotline: 1-800-645-8333. Lines James Lapine with music by Stephen Sondheim. Ms. dents say that the most difficult part is not getting
are open Monday through Friday from Smith chose this musical because she loves the score. paint on their shoes.
8AM to 7PM ad on Saturday from 10AM- “The music is wonderful; you never tire of it.” This production is being made possible, in part,
2PM. Speaking of challenges, Ms. Smith notes that it takes thanks to a grant from The Friends of the Marble-
Also, if you have a child under the age of a village to mount a musical production: “Parents head Public Schools. Into the Woods (Junior) will be
5, are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may have stepped forward to help with direction, lighting, performed in Charter Hall at school on Friday, March
be eligible for the WIC. and the 1,000 other things that need attention.” 13 at 6:30 pm and again on Saturday, March 14 at 2
Another group of students are designing and cre- pm. Tickets are for sale at school. Please support our
ating the set under the guidance of French teacher budding thespians!

E x h i b i t i o n P r e v i e w – Ti m e & S pa c e
Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8
Grade 4 students are get- Grade 5 students are com- Grade 6 students will Grade 7 students are Grade 8 students will
ting ready for a “regional posing music to accompany become geographers, cruising down the Nile. research information about
round-up,” creating state poems. Students will design geologists, geometers, and Students are creating engineering and the
brochures, mixed media a fabric square using their cartographers to design brochures on ancient cities Universal Design Process in
landscapes and studying poem that will be assembled and build a multifaceted and learning about mum- connection with the
natural resources. into a class quilt. Students, puzzle on a European or mification. They will dis- Industrial Revolution.
Students are composing as moviemakers and actors, Asian country. They will sect frogs and research Students will create scale
poems. Student mathe- will film a trailer based on a also write essays on a cho- nothing less than earth models of engineered tech-
maticians will explore a novel. They will investigate sen country. Finally, they and space! They will also nological innovations of the
number and design a geometry including patterns will fashion media presen- compose original music for early 19th century. They will
presentation. Student sci- in nature. They are cross- tations on their country a planet and curate a learn American keyboard
entists will examine speci- stitching from symmetrical using Google Earth. French museum. They are pieces from the 1800’s and
mens of the earth’s crust. designs. Students will Students will explore their busy constructing tables to question how music has
In Community Service examine mandalas from dif- thespian natures with a be sold via silent auction changed over time by inter-
Leaning, each class will ferent cultures and create performance of on Exhibition Night. Check viewing a senior citizen.
correspond with students their own using principles Shakespeare’s Romeo & them out! Students will study linear
at a charter school within from geometry. As a Juliet. and atmospheric perspective,
their chosen state. Community Service Learning look at landscape paintings
project, students will collect from the Hudson River
tabs for Shriners Hospital. School, and paint their own
surrealist landscape.

4 W H AT ’ S N EW ( S ) AT M CC PS — M A RC H 2 0 0 9
From the Desk
From the MCCPS Board of Mr.S.
BY EMIL RONCHI, BOARD CHAIR under whose laws MCCPS proudly exists with equal
standing to other public institutions. Specifically, the reetings! I hope this
P rofound and inspiring ideas underpin the
rationale for public charter schools. Among
Board ensures that school policies comply with the
law, that the school is an academic success, organization-
G finds you well and
eagerly awaiting our second
these are treasured American notions of freedom
ally viable, faithful to the terms of its charter, and earns exhibition of the year. As
and our “unalienable Rights” to “Life, Liberty, and
charter renewal. February was Black History
the Pursuit of Happiness” celebrated in our nation’s
Those are broad responsibilities, requiring full- Month, I wanted to address
Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the
time attention to manage properly. That being the some everyday ways of help-
United States of America. Some nearly eight hun-
case, the function of the Board is not primarily to ing our children recognize
dred years earlier, related ideas were articulated in the
manage, but to govern, which in practice means and appreciate diversity.
Magna Charta, providing inspiration for those found-
focusing on the mission, strategy, leadership struc- Talking about differences is not always an easy thing,
ing documents and, more recently, the name for this but making it a consistent topic of conversation will, no
ture, leadership hiring and performance evaluation,
newsletter! doubt, create a more comfortable and progressive dia-
policies, and financial resources of the school. The
Attendant to any serious exercise of freedom logue for kids to learn. In conjunction with,
school leadership does the managing (currently,
must be opportunities for meaningful choice and here are some tips on teaching tolerance:
Interim Academic Director Ms. Cullen-Hamzeh and
acceptance of responsibility. In the context of com- 1. Model it. Talking to your child about the impor-
Interim Managing Director Dr. Argenziano).
pulsory education, public charter schools provide tance of embracing difference and treating others with
Prioritizing the right goals and avoiding distrac-
communities with what is often the only practicable respect is essential, but it's not enough. Your actions,
tions in remaining focused on those goals are proba-
alternative to their district public school. Simply both subtle and overt, are what he/she will emulate.
bly the two most challenging aspects of Board gover-
put, public charter schools provide a choice; with 2. Acknowledge difference. Rather than teaching
that choice comes responsibility. children we are all the same, acknowledge the many
This school year, the Board chose the following
Families choose whether or not to attend ways people are different, and emphasize some of the
MCCPS. Once attending, there are myriad dimen- positive aspects of our differences – language diversity
• Identify leadership model and hire appropriate various music and cooking styles, etc. Likewise, be honest
sions of choice and responsibility within the school
leaders about instances, historical and current, when people
community. Participation in one form or another is
• Create Strategic Plan have been mistreated because of their differences.
a responsibility common to all students, parents, fac-
• Ensure financial stability and restore the Encourage your child to talk about what makes him/her
ulty, staff, administration, and volunteers. Board
school’s surplus different, and discuss ways that may have helped or hurt
membership is one manner in which community
• Increase non-tuition income to 10% of the him/her at times. After that, finding similarities becomes
members can choose to fulfill their responsibility to
school’s budget even more powerful and creates a sense of common
• Ensure sound governance and trustee training ground.
The function of the MCCPS Board of Trustees is
3. Challenge intolerance. If your child says or does
to ensure that the school meets its responsibilities to
Now it’s our responsibility to meet them! something indicating bias or prejudice, don't meet the
the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
action with silence. Silence indicates acceptance while a
simple command – "Don't say that" – is not enough. Find
the root of the action or comment: "What made you say
P TO N e w s that about Sam?" Explain why this was unacceptable.
4. Seize teachable moments. Look for everyday activ-
The PTO continues to work hard to support our students and teachers. We are evolving into the ities to serve as springboards for discussion. School-age
organization that can work best for everyone. Researchers have studied the effects of parent children respond better to lessons that involve real-life
attitudes and actions and the results have been consistent: the family is critical to student examples than to artificial or staged discussions. If
achievement. Schools with involved parents enjoy better morale among teachers, a better you're watching TV together, talk about why certain
school atmosphere, an elevated reputation in the community, more confident students, etc. groups often are portrayed in stereotypical roles.
Parent involvement can take many forms and the PTO is one way to get involved. Please think 5. Emphasize the positive. Just as you should chal-
about helping out with one event before the end of the school year. Attend the PTO socials and lenge your child's actions if they indicate bias or preju-
get to know your children’s classmates and their families. Supervise a film during Enrichment dice, it is also important to praise behavior that shows
Week. Bake cookies for the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. Help set up an obstacle course for respect and empathy for others. Catch your child treat-
Spirit Week. Watch your e-mails and child’s backpack notices for ongoing information about vol- ing people kindly, let him/her know you noticed, and dis-
unteer opportunities. Parent involvement is a powerful tool. Get involved and spread the word! cuss why it is a desirable behavior.
Hopefully, these suggestions will prove valuable as
Upcoming events: we do our best to mold curious, creative, and open
March 10-13: PTO-sponsored Enrichment Week minds. Here is to a fantastic exhibition, and I will look
Watch for information on volunteer opportunities; WE NEED YOUR HELP! forward to checking in next issue.
March 18: PTO Social Take care,
Mr. Stonecipher
April 14: PTO Social – Planning for next year and election of board
April 29: Teacher Appreciation Luncheon

W H AT ’ S N EW ( S ) AT M CC PS — M A RC H 2 0 0 9 5

March 13 & 14
School Musical: Into the Woods (Junior)
See page 4

March 13 & 15
Charter School Cup Basketball Tournament

March 27
Student March Madness Party

May 4 - 8
Grade 6 Trip to
Nature’s Classroom


What’s New(s) at MCCPS

“Life at Charter is Dear Charter Families and Friends, and among the Board, the faculty/staff, parents, and
very good. We con- students has resulted in a well-crafted Strategic Plan
I LOVE my job! If you haven’t heard me say it that will guide our progress for the next five years.
tinue to enjoy full recently, there it is. I love this place! I am sur- Our recent adoption of Rosetta Stone, courtesy of
enrollment, and rounded by terrific, intelligent, and creative kids. I the MCCPS Education Foundation, has been well
am inspired by dynamic, enthusiastic, and collabo- received by students, and our Korean intern is
the number of
rative faculty/staff, and I am supported by an expected (finally) to arrive soon. We’ve been busy,
applications for extraordinary, generous, and talented Board of but it’s all good.
next year is off Trustees. I am a lucky woman. I hope that you’re planning to attend our 2nd
Life at Charter is very good. We continue to Exhibition. March 5th is just around the corner
the charts.”
enjoy full enrollment, and the number of applica- and the students and teachers have been working
— Nina Cullen-Hamzeh
tions for next year is off the charts. The Charter feverishly to prepare. They’re sure to knock your
School Office recently conducted an inspection of socks off. I look forward to seeing you soon!
our school with a focus on special education and Sincerely,
other federally mandated programs, and I’m pleased
(but not surprised) to report that we met/exceeded Nina Cullen-Hamzeh
their expectations in all areas. Our work between Interim Academic Director