N o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9 | Vo l u m e 2 , n u m b e r 1


Trust and Confidence Are Keys to Peaceful Corps


was walking through the school the other day and it struck me: the work environment at MCCPS is somewhat like the Peace Corps, combining professional expertise with native ingenuity in an environment of trust. Some of you may remember that President John F Kennedy appointed Sargent Shriver as . the first executive director of the Peace Corps. One of Shriver’s first appointments was Nicholas Hobbs as director of selection for the Peace Corps. Hobbs created the first set of guidelines by which Peace Corps volunteers would be chosen. Hobbs considered an important question: Do you look for individuals with technical and professional training or prioritize native intelligence? He believed in finding positive solutions to difficult situations and in not dwelling on the negative, and created his recruitment guidelines based on those beliefs. The goal of the Peace Corps was to promote peace and friendship and improve the quality of life of the people with whom the volunteers lived and worked. Thus, the perfect Peace Corps would be made up of people who share a vision of promoting peace and friendship. They would be secure enough in themselves to be able to go into an environment of hardship and continue their entire tour of service. They would need See PEACEFUL CORPS, page 4

Kay O’Dwyer works with Sophia. Corinne listens to instructions.

Helping Students Succeed
BY NINA CULLEN-HAMZEH CCPS fosters a community that empowers children.” This is the opening sentence of our mission statement, and were I charged with synthesizing who we are and what we strive to do, those are the words I would choose. Last year, we planted seeds of innovation to empower children, and the benefits were such that an even more extensive program has been designed. After a thorough review of MCAS and NWEA scores, the CUE Report, and teacher observations, students needing specialized assistance were identified, and the fol-


lowing initiatives were implemented. • For the struggling students (math, reading and/or writing), additional time on learning has been created by exempting them from foreign language instruction. This is an unfortunate sacrifice (because we value foreign language for all), but this change has resulted in two or three (depending upon grade level) additional 45-minute classes per week in the area of need. Specific enrichments have also been assigned to some students. It is expected that via this support, these children will be better able to achieve at grade-level.

• Some mathematically talented 7th graders have been studying Algebra I with the 8th grade. Mrs. Rebecca Perry, 8th Grade Math Teacher and Math/Science Department Chair, is excited by their progress, and she will consult with officials at Marblehead High School to determine the level of math that these students will study next year. • The strong 8th graders are also experiencing accelerated math instruction. They are expected to complete Algebra I by April and will then study a combined introduction to Geometry and Algebra II. These See HELPING STUDENTS, page 3


New Faces on the Field

3 Hitting the


High Notes

Fifteen Years...

“Our school is small enough that we can experiment, which has been a lot of fun. We have cooked with baby bok choy, a variety
of interesting grains, purple and pink potatoes, and even ‘tie-dyed’ baby carrots!” — Chef Laura

Volume 1,Number 3,November 2009
Magna Charter Staff & Contributors
Dr. Albert Argenziano Kathleen Cormier Nina Cullen-Hamzeh Michael Houlihan Mary McRae Kay O'Dwyer Mike Ruth Laura Smith Nancy Marland Wolinski

N av i g at o r S p o r t s

New Faces on the Field
Soccer Club. He currently holds a United States Soccer Federation Level E License, is certified by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), and obtained his State Goalkeeper’s License from the NSCAA. Coach Daly comes to us with a wealth of running experience— from cross-country, road racing and track in Ireland to marathon running since his move to the USA in the ’90s. Coach Daly's favorite event is the marathon, having completed 10 including six Boston marathons. In 1998, he finished 313th overall at Boston with an official time of 2:46:01.

MCCPS Board of Trustees
Emil Ronchi, Chair Cathy Vaucher, Vice Chair Dr. John Sullivan, Treasurer John McEnaney, Clerk Nina Cullen-Hamzeh Cynthia Canavan Matt Cronin Dr. Alice de Koning Chris Fauci Bob Sousa MCCPS students bond on the x-country team. The MCCPS athletics program continues to expand under the direction of Athletic Director Mike Ruth.This year, we have some wonderful additions to our coaching staff: Mr. George Shapiro, Mr. Alexander Eaton, and Mr. Seamus Daly. Coach Shapiro is a graduate of the University of Dayton. For the past six years, he has been a volunteer coach at the elementary and middle school levels and is a driving force behind Marblehead Youth Softball. He has served as assistant coach for girls’ soccer with the Marblehead Youth Soccer Association and is a Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association Level G certified coach. Coach Eaton has served in multiple capacities with Nahant Youth Soccer and Swampscott Youth Soccer. Eaton also is founder of the Impact

Teams Up!
With all this new help, the athletics department is growing. New this year, we hope to offer baseball, softball and golf, and we are even exploring the possibility of sailing and ski teams! On the field, varsity soccer has been off and running with a 4-2-0 record. The team has been playing and working hard. JV soccer had their very first win against Salem Academy! Navigator Cross-Country has been going strong as well. The team has had a number of meets involving multiple schools. We participated in the 1st Annual Massachusetts Middle School Meet in Devens.

MCCPS School Staff
Dr. Albert Argenziano
Interim Managing Director

Nina Cullen-Hamzeh
Academic Director

Eileen Perry
Assistant to the Directors

Molly Wright
Student Services Coordinator

Jed O'Connor
Director of Special Education

Jeffrey Barry
Business Manager

Nutrition News

Our Mission
MCCPS fosters a community that empowers children to become capable, self-determining, fully engaged individuals who are critical and creative thinkers committed to achieving their highest intellectual, artistic, social, emotional, and physical potential. We are dedicated to involving, learning from, participating in, and serving our school community and the community at large. Magna Charter is the official newsletter of MCCPS. MCCPS 17 Lime Street Marblehead, MA 01945 Phone: 781-631-0777 Fax: 781-631-0500 www.marbleheadcharter.org

Loco for Local Produce
The MCCPS Nutrition Department had a busy summer that has continued into fall. Chef Laura DeSantis has been working with The Massachusetts Farm-to-School Project, an initiative sponsored by the Department of Agriculture and the Farm Bureau Agricultural Preservation Corporation. She was put in touch with local farms and farmers who are now supplying fresh fruits, vegetables and grains to our kitchen. Chef Laura appreciates the range of available items.“Our school is small enough that we can experiment, which has been a lot fun. We have cooked with baby bok choy, a variety of interesting grains, purple and pink potatoes, and even ‘tie-dyed’ carrots!” MCCPS also recently took part in the annual Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week, a week-long celebration of fresh and local fruits and vegetables on our lunch menu, from both local farms and the school’s own vegetable garden, which was planted last spring. With continuing studies indicating that students served fresh, locally grown items tend to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables, the Farm-to-School connection believes it is making a positive difference at a time of concern about childhood obesity, while simultaneously improving the local economy, local food security and opportunities for Massachusetts farms.


W H AT ’ S N EW ( S ) AT M CC PS — N OV E M B E R 2 0 0 9

Adria Smith:Hitting the High Notes

hen Adria Smith arrived at MCCPS seven years ago to be the music teacher, all she had was a piano. There were few music supplies or instruments, which was lucky since there was no music room to put them in. Undaunted, Ms. Smith got a grant for a new drum set, and the music program has been thriving ever since. Thanks to her boundless energy and infectious


enthusiasm, the school now has a music room, and Ms. Smith has a different problem: where to put all the music supplies. “Music is so enjoyable,” she said. “I love sharing that with the students.” With a degree in jazz arranging and composition from the Berklee College of Music, Ms. Smith (who earned four music credits at the University of Madison, Wisconsin while a student at West High School) also performs in a band called the Jazz Navigators, and her compositions have been played by greats such as James Brown’s drummer, Clyde Stubblefield. Ms. Smith understands that each student connects with music differently. “Some students are more comfortable singing, others playing instruments, and still others in composition. I want to be sure there’s something there for everyone,” she explains. A Symphony of Choice Music at MCCPS is fun and elaborate. Every grade has music twice a week, for 45 minutes. Each student learns how to sing, play keyboard, compose, analyze and read music—and is graded in each of the categories. There is a full keyboard lab where students may practice at their own level. During enrichment period, there are often other courses offered such as strings, choir, band, jazz music, MCCPS IDOL, musicals and more. At the end of grade 4, each child has the option to learn a band instrument (flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, trumpet, trombone or drums). The MCCPS

Adria Smith band is very popular, with 60 students meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30-8:15am to practice. The band performs many times each year, at exhibitions and a year-end band competition, and has won awards for excellence. The music program is integrated with other curriculum areas, with fourth graders learning songs in French and Spanish, for example, and sixth graders creating compositions to accompany their poetry projects. Looking forward, Ms. Smith is excited to expand the singing program at all grades. “We’ve gotten in a lot more actual chorus material this year, new scores that we can work on at all grades.” As if there isn’t enough to do, at the top of Smith’s wish list is to take on another musical. “Last year, we got funding to put on the musical Into the Woods, which was an incredibly involved but rewarding experience,” she says. “I’d love to raise enough money to do another show – perhaps Peter Pan.”

P TO N e w s
The school year is off to a great start and it’s been terrific to get to know all the new names and faces here at MCCPS. Thanks to the following folks who have already stepped up this year: • Jim Nye, President of National Grand Bank, Marblehead, for the donation to the general PTO fund. We greatly appreciate your support and will use the money wisely (to support enrichment week activities). • Susan Conlin, who has stepped forth to be PTO secretary for the year. • Kristen Settelmeyer, who recently stepped down as PTO secretary. Kristen, thanks for all of your hard work! • Holly Sullivan, who has stepped forth to assist our Treasurer, Avery Russell. Thanks to you both for keeping the accounts! • Paula Gold, a parent new to the school who dove head first into the waters and organized field day during School Spirit Week. She did fabulous job! Thanks to everyone who helped. • Franny Poisson, who has graciously stepped up to expand our Gift Book Program. The PTO will be sponsoring a Community Service Day as part of the "Giving Thanks Week" that will follow 1st Exhibition. This afternoon of projects was well-received by students, parents, teachers, and the community last year, and we are looking forward to positively impacting as many people as possible this year. If you'd like to help with this or any other PTO project, please contact Kathy Cormier at KMCormier@aol.com. We look forward to another great year here at MCCPS!

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students will likely be placed in Geometry Honors as freshmen. One of my greatest joys as an instructional leader is the opportunity to effectuate change that improves a child’s educational experience. This is not an easy task, but is a worthy endeavor and deserving of the time and effort it requires. Elaine McEwan, in her book, 10 Traits of Highly Effective Principals, states that: “Sometimes programs must be tailored to meet the needs of small groups of students. Highly effective principals have the courage it often takes to step out and meet those needs.” At MCCPS, we have always chosen to do what we believe is in the best interest of the children; addressing the needs of the struggling and the gifted students within our school is certainly in their best interest. The efficacy of this initiative will be monitored closely, and it is our hope that these steps will result in even greater levels of academic achievement.

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Fifteen Years...
mark our fifteenth anniversary and anticipate the renewal of our charter for the next five years, we ne of the first charter schools in Massachuhave much to celebrate. setts, MCCPS opened its doors in 1995 with Our recently revamped mission statement congrades 5, 6, and 7. The following year, grade 8 tinues to emphasize community both within our was added, and in 2004 the school expanded to walls and in the greater community. We actively include grade 4. encourage and promote family involvement in all As with any “road less traveled,” the journey of areas, from participation in MAPs (My charter schools has had twists and turns, and Achievement Plans) to leading enrichments and MCCPS has not been exempt. However, as we volunteering in the kitchen. Parents were instrumental in founding our school and are an integral part of our community. They can log onto Parents’ Corner to check their children’s grades and status of work. At each Exhibition, parents see their children grow as critical-thinking, self-motivated learners. As our student body has expanded, so too has our facility, with the addition of a gym, new classrooms, a computer lab, and music and art rooms. Students have myriad opportunities, including a sports program with cross country, soccer, basketball and track; a vibrant music program (see story, page 3); two foreign languages; a nutrition program that has received state-wide recognition; an organic vegetable garden; an Founding Faculty: Nina Cullen-Hamzeh, Jeff Barry, Bob Erbetta, aquaponics component; a newly-created BY KAY O’DWYER outdoor experience program; and so much more. The Department of Education charged charter schools to be innovative leaders in the field of education, and MCCPS exemplifies that innovation and reform.

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to be able to adapt their individual skills while working with other volunteers and locals. They would be able to integrate themselves into their host community and the culture of the people they are helping. The perfect Peace Corps would be made up of both individuals with technical and professional training as well as local people who show intelligence and ingenuity. At MCCPS, the strategies and skills needed are similar. People need to trust and have confidence in the working relationships of all involved. They need to be flexible and they need to be able to adapt their skills while blending those skills with the skills of others. They need to conduct themselves in a respectful and professional manner. Finally, they need to work within the rules and regulations of the workplace in order to achieve common goals and outcomes. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the building is a vibrant, peaceful place.

Katie Sullivan, Ann Chandler, Pam Miller

E x h i b i t i o n O v e r v i e w — C o m m u n i c at i o n






Grade 4 students embraced the overarching theme of Communication and assumed roles as immigrants. They wrote narratives about their journey to America and hopes for the future, and created collages.They dressed in national costume, researched and recorded recipes, prepared passports and constructed family trees using French and Spanish terms.They entered the bridgebuilding business. As Project Directors, Architects, Carpenters and Accountants, they worked together to build a successful structure and company, reflecting on their progress in journals. Students also explored communication through the study of American Sign Language and will perform a song on Exhibition night.

Grade 5 students are studying communication through culture. Using learned math and science skills, students acted as architects and builders as they created scale model representations of historic buildings from the cultures studied. They researched and represented artifacts chosen from a culture and became curators and guides in their “museum.”

Grade 6 students are poets and will share their work at a Poetry Café. Their poems include Cinquians, Quatrains, Haikus and “I Can’t Write a Poem” Poems. They illustrated their poems. They became transportation engineers as they designed and built working battery-powered cars. Students will display their cars and share their knowledge of subsystems and forces. They worked as pit crews, learning and implementing strategies as a team.


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Plotting a New Chapter


he best laid plans “of mice and men” may often go awry, but the MCCPS Board of Trustees understands that no success is possible without a plan to begin with. The overarching vision of our strategic plan guided us in setting goals for this year: Secure Charter Renewal This is a primary function of the Board. Every five years, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts authorizes—or not—renewal of the charter that allows MCCPS to operate. As the first charter school to open its doors in Massachusetts, this is the third time that we are seeking renewal of our charter. We expect that we have earned the privilege, not without some bumps along the way, and look forward to demonstrating and communicating our success during the state’s official site visits coming up. Add Two New Members to the Board of Trustees Along with developing an orientation program for Trustees and a succession plan for Trustee leadership, we have set a goal of adding two new Members. Our Governance Committee is tasked with meeting these goals, but the volunteer spirit of the MCCPS community must ultimately deliver. Are YOU ready to step up? Consider participating

in one of the Board Committees or any Task Force to make contributions and gain valuable insight. Hire a Managing Director Over the last three years, the Board has developed an understanding of the management model most desirable for MCCPS. We decided on a bifurcated administration with one Academic Director and one Managing Director, each reporting equally to the Board of Trustees. We modified our bylaws to allow for the new structure. We developed job descriptions and contracted an Interim Managing Director, Dr. Argenziano, on a part-time basis. This year, we are prepared to move forward with the hiring of a full-time Managing Director for the coming school year. Create a Detailed Project Plan Regarding the Expansion We intend to add two third-grade classrooms and additional instructional space for existing grades in the portion of our building that we do not yet occupy. We have launched an Expansion Task Force to deliver on this goal, and expect to open our doors to third-graders in the 2012-2013 school year. Perhaps we will then be prepared to formulate plans for expansion into a full pre-K through 12 program… It’s an exciting time in the life of MCCPS!

Counselor’s Corner
B Y M IKE H OULIHAN We welcome Mr. Houlihan, our new guidance counselor, as a regular columnist. ach MCCPS student has unique interests, strengths and needs.The staff and students work together to develop good habits for a healthy body, sound mind, and safe surroundings while overcoming challenges and fostering opportunities. Until good nutrition comes in a pill, a well-balanced diet is the best fuel for energetic and focused students. Combining a good night's sleep with a healthy breakfast ensures that students are ready to learn.Visit www.MyPyramid.gov for resources. Without a release valve, the well-fed and wellrested student can be the hyper-energetic student. Exercise helps students stay on task and builds strength, coordination and stamina. Organized sports and individual activities (biking or walking) offer young people a way to make friends, challenge themselves, and become well-rounded individuals. Go to www.healthierUS.gov for more ideas. Relationships are often a challenge during middle school, and young people reflect on questions such as "Where do I fit in? What am I good at? Who shares my interests?" The answers can lead to happy days and sad times as students become more self-aware. The creative, informational, and social power of the Internet is generally positive and people can now create and post content at websites like Facebook and YouTube. However, it can also mean that the bullying behavior of the school yard now follows young people home.When messages intended to hurt other people are posted or texted, hundreds of peers can read gossip or view potentially embarrassing images.What can parents do? Locate a home computer in a public place (kitchen or family room). Set strict time boundaries for schoolwork or play on the computer. Be aware of the sites your child is visiting. Change privacy settings as you see fit.Visit www.NetSmartz.org or www.safekids.com. By teaching proven habits and learning about modern pitfalls, the MCCPS community offers students a chance to be healthy, happy, and successful individuals. Be well! — Mr. Houli






Grade 7 students developed their own civilizations based on historical evidence, and will attempt to sell plots of land on Exhibition night. In Foreign Language, students wrote “I Am” Poems in the voice of an ancient citizen of Mesopotamia and designed travel posters. In science, they created a simile of a cell’s structure using mixed media and studied the human body, including the nervous, digestive and excretory systems. Students learned about nutrition. In math, they surveyed a sample population on their nutritional knowledge and habits, and will share their conclusions in a corresponding graph.

Grade 8 students wrote essays on the book Animal Farm that presented arguments for which animals were most responsible for the utopia becoming a dystopia. Students also wrote essays on Chew on This. They created propaganda posters based on their essays and Revolutionary American History. Students used their knowledge of slope to determine if access ramps in their communities meet code; they compiled data and evidence to determine such and then wrote letters to officials with their findings. They built their own ramps to code.

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Thursday, December 3 at 7:00 PM MCCPS Board Meeting Saturday, December 5 Artisans’ Craft Fair Monday, December 7 at 4:15 PM MCCPS at My Brother’s Table Wednesday, December 16 at 8:00 AM Dialogue with the Directors

MAGNA CHARTER November 2009

What’s New(s) at MCCPS
“Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, stated that ‘When schools become the center of the community, great things happen.’ MCCPS has always believed this.”
— Nina Cullen-Hamzeh

Dear MCCPS Families and Friends,
As we celebrate our 15th anniversary, we must remember that MCCPS exists because a group of courageous parents and educators converted an old Elks Lodge into a school, created an engaging, standards-driven, performance-based curriculum, and then welcomed community members to participate in the education of the children. This was revolutionary in 1995, and since then, MCCPS has become a successful and replicable example of innovation and educational reform. Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, stated that “When schools become the center of the community, great things happen.” MCCPS has always believed this. The Secretary says that schools should offer a longer day and a longer year, enriching programs,

after school activities, and opportunities for parents to become involved at school. We do all of these things, and are continually looking for ways to do them better. President Obama encouraged students to set goals for their education and to do everything they can to meet those goals. He said, “whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.” We support the President’s call to action; this pedagogy has always been embraced by MCCPS. Since 1995, every student has created, worked toward, and been supported in achieving his/her own goals. So much has been accomplished in 15 years. Thank you for being a part of this remarkable journey.
Nina Cullen-Hamzeh Academic Director

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