Tag Archives: John Monfredo

Make the summer “daze” learning days!

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

If I could give every student just three educational gifts, the first one would be a love of reading. The second would be a LIBRARY CARD with a commitment from a parent to take that child to the library as often as possible. The third one would be the gift of reading aloud to that child every single day. Children who are interested readers and interested learners tend to lead successful lives.
If you read my last story on the “SUMMER SLIDE” [ICT, volume 8 issue 23] you will know what research said on this topic. What is the “summer slide?” The summer slide is the decline in reading achievement that children suffer just from being away from school. Parents, remember reading like playing a musical instrument, is not something that is mastered once and for all at a certain age. It is a skill that continues to improve through practice.

Thus, my resolve is to get everyone involved in summer reading. With access to books and reading encouragement, kids can avoid the summer slide. Continue reading Make the summer “daze” learning days!

Putting Heart-Safe program in the “heart” of the Commonwealth

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillation (AED) training may be the most valuable lessons a student can learn – how to save the life of a loved one, teacher or friend by performing the simple steps of CPR. This method can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

With this in mind, I proposed to the Worcester School Committee that the Worcester Public Schools start a course in CPR/AED training. With the support of Dr. Leonard Morse, Worcester Commissioner of Public Health, Mr. Derek Brindisi, acting director of public pealth in Worcester, and Colleen O’Brien, director of athletics, health and physical education, a plan was put forth in our schools for the first time. Continue reading Putting Heart-Safe program in the “heart” of the Commonwealth

Obesity: a problem for Worcester’s kids – and the entire nation

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

Schools must work on having a balance between wellness and academics as we address the needs of our children. With so much emphasis on MCAS scores, wellness has taken a back seat to achievement. The question is: why can’t we do both – academics and wellness? “If our children aren’t healthy, their learning suffers, and research shows that children who eat high sugar, high fat meals may have poorer cognitive skills, higher anxiety levels, and problems with hyperactivity,” stated Jerry Newberry in an article in the NEA magazine.

Let’s look at a health issue that is affecting our children – obesity. For more than four decades, obesity rates in the United States have more than quadrupled among children ages 6 to 11 years, more than tripled among adolescents ages 12 to 19 years and more than doubled among children ages 2 to 5 years, according to the Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth. Today, almost one third of the children in this country are either overweight or obese. The percentage of young people who are overweight has tripled over the last 25 years. Preventing obesity during childhood is critical because habits formed during childhood and adolescence frequently persist into adulthood.

Are you concerned yet? Continue reading Obesity: a problem for Worcester’s kids – and the entire nation

Putting the skids on “The Summer Slide”

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

Summer slide! It sounds like a new ride at Six Flags or Coco Keys. Unfortunately, it is the gradual erosion of the academic skills students gained during the school year over the summer. Thoughts of math, science and reading are replaced by swimming, hanging out with friends, playing video games and going to the beach. In the case of those students with limited English skills, many lose their newly acquired words. Often, it is the students who can least afford to lose the reading gains they’ve achieved during the school year who fall the farthest behind when they return to the classroom after a summer vacation.

One of the initiatives my wife, Anne Marie and I have put together to prevent student’s falling behind is the “Worcester: the City that Reads” Committee, a committee whose goal is to address the needs of literacy in the city. One of our programs has been to collect recreational reading books and put them into the hands of our children. Already we have collected over 20,000 books for our children. This will enable children from lower socio-economic back-ground to have access to books. It is the lack of books in the child’s home that poses the greatest barrier to achieving literacy. We hope to put those books into the hands of the children in the Worcester Public Schools during the week of June 7th -as we celebrate “Literacy Week in our Community.”

A recent study by Johns Hopkins University adds to the mounting evidence of the “Summer Slide.” Poor students start out behind middle-class students and fall behind each year. Most of that loss occurs when school is out. Continue reading Putting the skids on “The Summer Slide”

“Put a poem in your pocket,” Worcester!

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

We live in a society of doubters, a society in which so many thrive on the negative. Listen to the news or read the newspaper: the majority of stories are about despair. So when two fourth grade students wrote to me last spring from Mrs. Quitadamo’s class at Nelson Place about supporting their initiative to have “Poem in Your Pocket Day” in Worcester I was thrilled to hear about the class’ idea. More important, it was wonderful to have students articulate their ideas in writing.

Callista Pacheco, one of the students, stated in her letter: “My fourth grade class celebrated “Put a Poem in Your Pocket Day” in a very festive way. We made our own paper pockets and shared them with three other classes. We also gave them their own poems for their pockets.” She went on to say the idea originated in New York City and the “Mayor does it too.” Continue reading “Put a poem in your pocket,” Worcester!

School Superintendent Loughlin’s strong leadership (with a smile)

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you will help them to become what they are capable of being.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Interim School Superintendent Dr. Deirdre Loughlin may be considered interim by title but has shown to be an excellent leader for the Worcester Public Schools. Dr. Loughlin came on the scene after retired Superintendent James Caradonio left in September as the Worcester School Committee continued its search for a new school superintendent.

In June of 2008 Dr. Loughlin was asked by the Worcester School Committee if she was interested in being interim Superintendent as we continued with the search. Dr. Loughlin told me that at first she was shocked when she received the call but was honored that the School Committee had the confidence in her to lead the system until a decision was made to select a new superintendent. She brought the idea to her husband, Ray, and the rest of her family. All encouraged her to say “yes” and promised they would support her in every way.

The hiring of Dr. Loughlin was an outstanding choice, for not only did she have the needed qualifications and the knowledge of what works in education, but she brought with her an excellent work ethic and a desire to make a difference in the schools for whatever length of time she would be needed.

Her credentials are outstanding! She has a Bachelors of Science degree in Premed. from the University of Massachusetts, a Doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts, a Mentor Fellow from Harvard University, a Biology Fellow from Boston University and a Master of Nature Science and Biomedical Instruction from WPI.

As a teacher, she has taught science, biology, chemistry, anatomy and physical science in the Worcester Public Schools, as well as Advanced Placement courses in those subjects. Continue reading School Superintendent Loughlin’s strong leadership (with a smile)

Latest research on math; how you can help your students

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

As our children explore and discover their environment, they are exposed to the world of math! Mathematics has become increasingly important in this age of technology. Children need a strong background in math. It’s essential that the school and the home work together to strengthen our children’s ability to understand and apply math in their everyday lives. Many school systems are paying attention to improving early-grades math curriculum instruction, for there is mounting research showing that boosting students’ confidence and effort in math can increase achievement.

For children to compete in the 21’st century global economy, knowledge in math is critical. Today’s high school graduates need to have a solid math background, whether they are headed to college or the workforce. To help ensure our nation’s future competitiveness in the global market, our country created a National Mathematics Advisory Panel in 2006. Continue reading Latest research on math; how you can help your students

GAB! Give-a-Book to inner-city kids!

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

The GAB program is off to a good start! As of this week, we have collected more than 2,000 books! But we still have a long way to go, if we are to reach our goal of 20,000 books.

The drive, supported by InCity Times, will continue until May. This project will only be successful if we have the assistance of the public. We are encouraging people to look around their homes for new or gently used books, from pre-kindergarten to grade 8, and drop them off at the following locations:

* Shaws – West Boylston St.

* Shaws – Webster Square Plaza

* Stop and Shop supermarkets – 940 West Boylston St., Grafton St. and Lincoln St.

* All Flagship Bank branches

* All Bay State Savings Banks in Worcester

* All Commerce Banks in Worcester and the one in Holden

* Barnes and Noble book store on Lincoln St.

* Worcester City Hall, the City Council Office

* Worcester Senior Center – Providence Street

* Worcester Public Library – Main Branch (Salem Square)

* Worcester Credit Union on West Boylston St.

* Annie’s Book Shop – 120 Stafford St.

We need your help if we are to reach our goal of 20,000 books. Many of our students and children are in need of books. Thank you!

(If you need more information, please email InCity Times at incitytimes@hotmail.com)