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Supt. selects new asst. principal

AYER — Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lore Nielsen has announced her selection of Ayer High School guidance counselor Richard McGrath to serve as the acting assistant principal at Ayer Middle School next year.

In a June 2 memo to the School Committee, Nielsen said McGrath will be a good fit having shown leadership qualities in his current capacity. He will be a valuable asset during the district reorganization process.

McGrath outlined his credentials in his letter of application, citing 10 years of experience in Massachusetts public schools, five of which have been served at Ayer High School. He is a licensed guidance counselor with a masters degree in counseling for grades five through 12.

Before coming to Ayer, McGrath worked at Hudson High School with eighth- and ninth-graders. In the fall, he plans to begin course work at the Merrimack Leadership Academy to obtain a certificate in school administration.

Nielsen said she based her choice on the recommendations of middle school Principal Lyn Lawrence and high school Principal Don Parker. — M.E. Jones

School Improvement Plans

AYER — School Improvement Plans for Ayer Middle School and Page Hilltop School are complete and have been presented to the School Committee.

The SIP is an annual document that states goals for the coming school year. It is mandated by the state Education Reform Act and is a key function of school councils based at each facility. The councils, another tenet of education reform, serve as advisory boards to school principals.

The middle school goals are:

* To maintain middle school philosophy.

* To continue to improve math learning.

* To increase students’ English language arts skills. The plan includes introducing a program called “Literacy Across the Curriculum” in grades six and seven.

* To continue to upgrade safety and security for students and staff.

* To implement the Stan Davis anti-bullying program.

The elementary school goals include dedicated faculty meetings, ongoing for the past year, that teachers can use as “adult contact time” to interact, share and cross match available resources.

“It has been a big success,” said Page Hilltop Principal Rob Ackerman, who is wrapping up his first year on the job. He outlined the schools’ plans, priorities and progress at the June 21 School Committee meeting.

Asked to prioritize a wish list, Ackerman said a top priority was to hire a new English language learner staff member to serve the district. Other improvement goals include finding new and appropriate ways to use student assessments to address a variety of needs.

In addition, he said a program called Everyday Math offers help, but is not easy to implement. The program was once common knowledge among the teachers at the school, but was lost to staff turnover and never reintroduced. — M.E. Jones

Introducing a Wellness Policy

AYER — An Ayer Middle School Wellness Policy Committee has come up with a draft policy the school board recently read through for the first time.

Every public school is required to adopt such a policy.

Many staff members took part in creating this policy, said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lore Nielsen. Its goals follow federal guidelines and include input from parents, students, teachers, food service and medical staff members.

Good nutrition is a key piece of the new plan along with physical education programs.

Other elements include using qualified people to teach and implement the programs and provide access to resources and accommodations for a diverse school population. The document presented to the committee includes a detailed action plan as well.

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