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Upper Devotion Principal's Blog

  • Leaders as Learners

    Posted by Monica Crowley at 3/27/2017 7:00:00 AM

    Dear Upper Devotion Families,

    I wanted to share a glimpse of our learning experience from the last four days at the Race, Equity and Leadership Institute from March 21 to March 24th at HGSE. I have highlighted the inspirational and highly regarded leaders in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and beyond, and some of the ideas, research and beliefs they shared over the course of our week together.

    I feel so fortunate to have been able to attend the Race, Equity and Leadership Institute with Superintendent, Andrew Bott, Deputy Superintendents, Nicole Gittens and Sam Zimmerman, Gabe McCormick, Director of Professional Development and all Brookline principals. Our time together and with educators from across the country and around the world was invigorating, powerful and has inspired many ideas that I am eager to share, discuss and think about with staff and site council.

    Learning is nourishment for the soul and I have been well fed this past week.  I have been strengthened in my charge to continue advocating for every student by providing the best education for each and every one of them!  


    Day 1: Tuesday, March 21, 2017

     Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot 

    Frame for learning using View, Voices, and Visibility

    Deborah Jewell-Sherman 

    Acknowledging our work as “Containing challenges and opportunities. That we can be busy and excited.” Also how we need to, “Find individual measures of success in addition to measures we cannot control.”

     Beverly Daniel Tatum 

    Reiterated many of the themes and messages from our district PD Day last November, including the ABC of Affirming Identity, Building Community, and Cultivating Leadership

    Day 2: Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Richard Murnane 

    Shared about US economic history of the last 60 years and its impact on the polarization of low and high skilled jobs. He emphasized that the explicit teaching of social skills (critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration) are necessary to prepare our students for the future. Specifically stating that students only talk and write for 10% of teaching and learning time each day and that is not enough time to master social skills.

    Danielle Allen 

    “Inclusive Excellence.”

    We need to start by learning the aspirations of our students. Then focus on “academic and social integration, knowledge and skill development, support ad motivation, and monitoring and advising.” Finally, foster both “bonding and bridging” relationships.

     Lisa Lahey 

    “Immunity to Change”

    Change is hard and, therefore, change needs to matter. We need to understand the difference between “Technical and Adaptive Changes.”

    Day 3: Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Karen Mapp is a serious powerhouse on “Family Engagement” who advised President Obama. She described new ways to engage our families that develop a true partnership for learning.

    Philip Lee

    “A Critical Race Theory Analysis of Educational Inequity in America”

    A look a key legal cases and how their decisions have impacted racial injustice. Understanding Convergence Theory: When the interests of the majority align with the interests of minorities, change can occur.

    Irvin Scott (Brookline parent)

    The Power of Story Telling

    It is important for schools to create safe spaces for people to talk, even if they disagree, because talk is powerful.


    Day 4: March 24, 2017

    Mary Grassa O’Neil and Deborah Jewell-Sherman

    Ensuring safe spaces to have courageous conversations. Understanding privilege and its’ impact on equity.

    Roland Barth (Founder of the Principal’s Center-35th Anniversary)

    Reflecting on the four central elements of school as he experienced them 25 years ago and how we experience them today.

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  • Parent Survey/Race, Equity and Leadership Institute

    Posted by Monica Crowley at 3/20/2017 7:00:00 AM

    Hello Upper Devotion Families,

    Reminder: Please Complete the Upper Devotion Family Feedback Survey

    This month we are doing our annual Family Feedback survey about the climate and culture of our school and the school district. If you have not completed the survey, you should have received an email reminder  from Panorama Education, our partner that is administering the survey for us. Please think of this survey as a way for you to provide valuable and helpful feedback about the climate, culture, and leadership here at Upper Devotion and in the district. The survey is one important way we identify our strengths and areas we can work to improve. We are extending the deadline to March 24 to allow more parents and guardians to respond If you have not received an email with a link to the survey please email

    Also, I am excited to share that all the principals, Superintendent Andrew Bott, Deputy Superintendent, Nicole Gittens, and Gabe McCormick, Director of Professioanl Development, will be particiating in the Race, Equity and Leadership Institute at the Harvard Graduate School Of Education from midday Tuesday, March 22-March 24th.  As Superintendent Bott shared, "This experience provides us the opportunity to learn and work together as a team to develop a common langugae, and a district-wide action plan in this critical work."  I am also so pleased to be attending with Jen Buller and Dave O'Hara as we continue to strengthen the Devotion School to meet the needs of all students.



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  • Powerful All School Event

    Posted by Monica Crowley at 3/13/2017 7:00:00 AM

    Powerful "Hidden Figures" All School Event:

    This past Friday, Every student and almost all adults at Upper Devotion were divided into small groups comprised of 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders with each group totaling no more than 9 members.  During our all school advisory period, these groups met to discuss various quotes from the movie, "Hidden Figures" that all students and most staff were able to view during school at no cost thanks to the Devotion PTO.

    As Saeed and I visited the small groups this past Friday, we were filled with a sense of excitement and pride for all the students and staff. It was evident how bringing students and staff from each grade level created a heightened sense of community and learning. Yes, some were quiet at the start as they were possibly unfamiliar with the adult/s and/or some peers, but that melted away and almost all students were able to participate and have their voices heard. Remember Dr. Tatum’s reference on November 8, 2016, “Every person wants to see herself/himself in the picture!”

    The prepared activity allowed for students and staff to have a common experience that asked us to reflect on important quotes from the movie, make personal connections and identify possible action steps! These rich discussions among cross-school members were powerful and demonstrated that this structure has great potential for our school moving forward. Thank you again to all who made this event so successful, especially Elisabeth Woflson, Joan Kreie, Jen Jordan and Jennifer Laughlan for organizing this powerful learning expereince!



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  • Spotlight on Teaching and Learning (#5 Support Services)

    Posted by Monica Crowley at 3/6/2017 7:00:00 AM

    Hello Families,

    This week's spotlight shares the imortant work that our support services professionals do with many of our students in grades 5-8



    ETF - Educational Team Facilitator

    • A facilitator helps the special education team, which includes special education teachers, related service providers, coordinators, and principals,  free themselves from internal obstacles or difficulties so members may more efficiently and effectively accomplish their goals.
    • A facilitator guides the team’s work without directing it, helps the team discover ways to address challenges and maintains safety and trust within among members.
    • A facilitator brings structures and processes to help the team accomplish its goals.


    • Schedule IEP Team meetings
    • Chair all IEP Team meetings
    • Identify the timeline for assessment due dates for evaluations
    • Talk to parent/guardians if they think that their child may have a learning disability
    • For students who are already receiving special education services answer questions or discuss concerns around Goal Areas, Services, Progress etc  
    • Generate the Agenda and Facilitate a weekly meeting with the special education team, which includes principal, guidance, related service providers, and coordinators
    • Provide support to staff when needed around policy, procedure and consulting to staff around specific situations related to student support
    • Relay changes in policy or procedures from Town Hall


    OT - Occupational Therapist

    Work with students with a wide variety of diagnoses (ASD, ADHD, developmental delays, brain injury, CVA, seizure disorder, cerebral palsy, physical, cognitive, neurological, & congenital deficits, etc.)

    Help to develop lagging underlying skills, remediate lost skills, and accommodate for deficits that cannot be remediated/improved upon in the areas of:

    • Fine motor
    • Gross motor
    • Visual motor integration
    • Graphomotor (handwriting)
    • Oculomotor/Visual Tracking
    • Sensory processing & modulation


    • Strengthening activities
    • Exercises
    • Arts & Crafts
    • Assistive Technology
    • Handwriting/Keyboarding programs
    • School-based self-care / ADL’s
    • Visual supports
      • schedules, routines
      • “Menus” for breaks
      • visual timers
      • First-Then boards
      • Icons / emotion charts
      • Home routine (AM, PM, homework)
    • Task analysis (breaking down into achievable pieces)
    • Sensory strategies for Self-regulation
    • Movement breaks/sensory diets
    • Calming sensory strategies


    SLP - Speech Language Pathologist

    Provide specialized support to students in order to remediate receptive, expressive, and social language for those children who  are lagging behind their peers and age expectations.

    Provide tiered instruction and scaffolding to accommodate the wide range of skill levels students present with.  

    Responsible to adapt instruction, materials, and assessments to make material accessible to students. Incorporate strategies and therapy lessons which are high interest topics which foster student engagement across grade levels


    • Use of hands on manipulatives
    • Visual supports; videos, power-points, graphic organizers
    • In class observations
    • Weekly/monthly teacher consultation and collaboration
    • Weekly building based special education meetings
    • Baseline and data collection
    • Standardized Assessments
    • Manage behaviors in group settings
    • Use incentive plans
    • Use of clear and concise language
    • Consistent language for pragmatics
    • Teaching fluency enhancing strategies to students who stutter
    • Implement Auditory Verbal therapy to hearing impaired
    • Teach self advocacy strategies


    BCBA - Board Certified Behavior Analyst

     Use ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) to collaboratively develop proactive positive behavior management strategies that build on student strengths and preferences in order to prevent challenging behavior from occurring by developing fluency with replacement behaviors. Evaluate student progress using Single Subject Design, where students current rate of behavior are compared to their own past rates of behavior. This model is complementary to norm referenced evaluations that provide other professionals with information on how the rate of a student’s behavior compares to their peers. Single Subject Design allows for an analysis of current interventions on a specific student so ineffective interventions are not continued unnecessarily and effective interventions are not ended prematurely. Work collaboratively with Teachers, Parents, Classes, Programs, and School Wide Interventions.


    • Direct Observations
    • Meetings
    • Data Collection
    • Qualitative Analysis
    • Quantitative Analysis
    • Behavior Plan Writing
    • Longitudinal Assessment
    • Research
    • Trainings
    • Resource Procurement
    • Documentation
    • Visually represent data



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