Letter from Principal Suzie – November 2021

Dear Underwood Families,

What a beautiful fall we are enjoying so far, with temperatures so warm it is hard to believe we are part way through November. As you know through participation in recent parent-teacher conferences, students are well into their routines here at Underwood.

This week we held our first virtual All School Meeting (ASM) during our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) time on Wednesday. During our weekly SEL block, we all engage in activities that build a sense of community within and across all grade-levels, teach and reinforce social/emotional skills, establish connections between all adults in school and children, and foster an environment where students feel as though they belong, are safe, and can have fun. ASM is a time when the entire K-5 community joins together and, due to COVID restrictions, we will do so via Zoom. Our 5th graders will play an important leadership role to guide us in ASM through greetings, birthday shout-outs, and by introducing the core value we will focus on each month. During ASM, we will also take time to “clap it up” and recognize students who are “caught in the act” of showing our Underwood core values (CARES: Cooperation, Accountability, Respect, Empathy, and Self-Control). We will close out each meeting by performing our Underwood School rap song together as a community. Lots of fun for everyone!

November also brings so many celebrations and commemorations across our community, country, and world. Whether you are celebrating Native American Heritage Month, Diwali, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah, we are excited to honor the diversity of Underwood. Teachers are taking time to spotlight several of these important days by using a variety of lessons and resources curated by teachers and provided by our Social Studies Department and Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. We welcome students and families to share traditions that are important with us and cherish opportunities to learn from one another.

Beginning later this month and continuing through January, Underwood students will participate in workshops presented by Understanding Our Differences (UOD), a non-profit organization founded in Newton in 1978 that works in partnership with the Newton Public Schools to teach elementary school students about disabilities. The curriculum fosters the inclusion of people with disabilities in our schools and in our community. Beginning next week, students in 4th grade will learn about Physical Disabilities and Chronic Medical Conditions (or Learning Disabilities). In December, students in 5th grade will learn about Autism and Intellectual Disabilities and, in January, students in 3rd grade will learn about: Blindness/Low Vision and  Deafness/Hard of Hearing. Due to COVID restrictions, the Fall/ Early Winter UOD unit will be held virtually using Zoom Webinar.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to our PTO for their coordination of the recent Fun Run, a spectacular day that promoted a healthy lifestyle while raising nearly $10,000 for Underwood School. Along with our parent volunteers and staff, I was able to cheer on students across every grade level and witnessed the joy so many children experienced. Whether walking, jogging, skipping or walking, seeing the smile on the faces of students as they crossed the “finish line” was simply priceless. Our community has remained resilient amidst a pandemic and events like these serve as a reminder of the fun we can still have as well as the endless support we have for our school. Go Underwood!