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Thursday, August 28, 2014

ACE funding brings WeatherBug to Andover Schools

In February of 2014, Earth Networks installed a new weather station and web cam, funded by ACE, on the roof of Andover High School signaling the arrival of Andover Public Schools as member of the national Weatherbug network of schools and organizations.  

Along with the weather station equipment, lifetime access to Weatherbug online resources was acquired for all 10 of Andover’s public schools.  This includes use of the Weatherbug Achieve web resources, a rich collection of tutorials, videos, maps, lessons, and other curriculum resources designed for different grade levels for use in all subject areas.  Many of the Achieve lessons integrate live data from the Andover station.

AHS webcam view of the sky above West Middle School

Andover’s Weatherbug station data can be accessed by anyone by visiting and entering 01810.  Check it out !

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Welcome to the 2014-2015 School Year!

Happy First Day of School! “Excitement” is the operative word as we welcome students, faculty, and staff to the 2014-2015 school year!  While summer is a time to be with family and friends, to enjoy quiet time, and to pursue new adventures, summer is also the time when, as educators, we prepare for the new year. Everyone has been very productive this summer, participating in APS curriculum and staff development programs and working on capital projects and improvements in the technology infrastructure in each of our schools.

As we look forward to the new school year, we have much to celebrate… and at the top of the list is the opening of the NEW Bancroft School! Its completion is a testimony to the citizens of Andover, who recognized our children’s need for a new school in 2008 and rallied behind the project with tremendous support, and to the School Building Committee who oversaw its design, construction, and completion.  We anticipate holding the formal dedication of the new Bancroft at the end of October, so watch our website for further information.

In the “What’s New” for 2014-2015, we are very excited about advancing the work of our Strategic Plan to realize the APS Vision and Mission through

  • Our continued focus on the 4 C’s – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication;
  • Implementation of several new programs, including, but not limited to…
    • Grades K-8 -  New math program - Math,  In Focus
    • Grades 3-5 - computer science modules will introduce students to computer science and show them that it’s fun, collaborative, and creative!
    • Middle School Science/Engineering Program - Lego/Mindstorms
    • High School - computer science courses as well as new engineering and humanities courses;
  • 2nd Annual Tech Conference for all APS teachers with 33 teacher leaders offering sessions on technology-supported learning for their colleagues on August 25;
  •  60+ elementary, middle and high school teachers who participated in the Project-Based Learning (PBL) staff development program offered by the Buck Institute ( here in Andover;
  • 137 APS teachers who worked on summer curriculum projects which will greatly benefit our students;
  • First phase of converting the AHS Library into a “Learning Commons” concept where the space and furniture is designed for communication, discovery, and learning; and the
  • Launch of our 1:1 laptop program in grade 8 in January 2015.

With respect to communications, I want to take this opportunity to remind you of the resources available for parents to stay connected and get involved with the Andover Public Schools. Principals will send announcements home through the Connect 5 notification system and I will use Connect 5 for announcements such as “no school” or other district communications.

On the District website – - you will find, among many other things,
  • District Calendar –APS Learning, Teaching and Leading Blog - Twitter Updates – News & Announcements in the “Spotlight” section – APS Strategic Plan - Links to all 10 APS Schools – Curriculum & PARCC  Information – Digital Learning - Student Handbooks - Links to Community Partners – School Committee Contacts, Meeting Dates, Agendas – Budget Information – APS Policies – Human Resources Information – Digital Learning – Bus Routes – Aspen Family Portal – Student Services Information – Educator Evaluation– Nursing Information

As the result of an APS summer course, many Andover administrators are now “tweeting” news about their students and schools.  Sign up to follow APS happenings on Andover Schools @APSTWEET_SUPT and through our new APS School App – SchoolWay (schoolconnect

I hope you will enjoy these last days of summer as we move into the promise of a new school year.  For all of us who work in schools, the start of school is a joyful time; it is when we return to the work we love. On behalf of the Andover faculty and staff and the Andover Committee, I thank you for making this a remarkable place for children to learn and for our staff to work. We look forward to having you join us in making this a wonderful school year!

Best regards,

Marinel D. McGrath, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Monday, August 25, 2014

APS TechCon 2014 Jump Starts the New School Year

After being greeted and welcomed back early Monday morning at the high school cafeteria by Andover Schools Superintendent Marinel McGrath, Andover staff quickly checked their schedules and began to make their way to their first class of the day. For the second year in a row, all Andover teaching staff started off their year by participating in a one day Technology Conference (APS TechCon 2014). At least 33 APS teacher leaders offered technology focused sessions to their colleagues in the 2nd annual event.

From hands-on workshops to multimedia presentations, the wide variety of sessions offered this year were aimed at helping Andover teachers enhance their ability to integrate technology use into their daily teaching, which in turn enables them to transfer these very skills on to their students. Skills that, in today's society, help their students manage, filter, and organize the ever expanding content of their digital lives.

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