August 24, 2021
Dear Underwood Families,
Welcome back to school! A special welcome to our incoming kindergarten families, our “New to Underwood” families, and our returning DLA families! I hope this letter finds you well and rejuvenated, particularly after such a challenging year. Summer is intended to be a time filled with laughter, relaxation and new adventures. My family enjoyed time together and took an exciting trip to Maui where my son went snorkeling for the first time. We met up with friends there and took time to explore the island and experience the culture. This year, my son (Jonathan, 13) will attend a new school and enter grade 7. This is an exciting time for my family. I know it will come with the many ups and downs of adolescence and middle school, all while navigating the challenges that linger due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I recognize that you, too, must have many hopes and wonderings about what the upcoming school year will bring. I remain beyond enthusiastic about continuing as your principal and partnering with all of you and our Underwood team to ensure that your children have an amazing journey of social-emotional and academic growth under our care.
In accordance with health and safety guidelines, our custodians worked tirelessly all summer long to prepare classrooms for the fall. This involved returning previously moved furniture back to their original classrooms, intensive cleaning and disinfecting, and cleaning out excess furniture and materials to prepare for the arrival of children. On September 1, our teachers will return to set up their learning communities with pride as they balance critical safety considerations with effectively meeting the educational, social, and emotional needs of our students. Our Underwood team are doing an exceptional job getting the building ready for the first days of school and so I extend a big thanks to our outstanding custodians (Mr. Charles Tarabelli & Mr. Jim Jolliemore), our wonderful Executive Assistant (Ms. Lacey Rochford), and our dedicated team of teachers and staff!
When school begins, three new teachers will join the Underwood community and they include:
- Ms. Mary Brown (Grade 1 Teacher; taught at Horace Mann in 20-21);
- Mrs. Lucy Roy (3rd Grade Special Educator/Co-Teacher in 3M; formerly known as Ms. Keeney who taught Grade 1 at Underwood from 2014-2018);
- Ms. Hallie Kazsas (Music Teacher)
In addition, we are THRILLED to welcome back Mr. Joseph Solof (Kindergarten Teacher) and Mr. Ernesto Hernandez (Grade 3 Teacher) who taught at Ward and in the DLA respectively in 2020-21. We will also welcome back returning and new support staff who will work closely with students and teachers throughout each day during the year. We look forward to their contributions to our students and know you will welcome and support them.
Teacher and Cohort Assignments: On Friday, August 27, you will be able to log in to Aspen to see your child’s classroom teacher assignment for this year. Please note that Newton Public Schools has discontinued the practice of sending elementary class lists through email and ask that you please find your child’s teacher through Aspen instead. Teachers will be in touch after that with classroom welcome information and/or it will be available to you online.
As we approach the start of the new school year, there is more information you will need to know about health & safety updates, new school hours, noteworthy dates, and arrival and dismissal procedures. The district is hosting a community informational webinar this Wednesday, August 25th at 7:30 pm which I encourage you to attend. You can join via this Zoom link. Also, please join me for a personal welcome to Underwood on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, at 7pm via this Zoom Link where I will review useful back-to-school information specific to Underwood School. If you cannot attend, please do not worry as I will share my PowerPoint slides with all necessary information on the PTO website. Please note that I have also included some information below about important dates and arrival/dismissal times.
It is hard to believe we are entering a second school year with COVID-19 at the forefront of our minds. I understand how challenging this continues to be. While I may not have all of the answers, please feel free to reach out anytime with questions or concerns. I am happy to listen and will try to help and respond as best I can. I care deeply about our entire Underwood community and will do my best to ensure our students are safe while they discover the joy in learning together.
Have fun during the remaining days of summer. The entire Underwood Team and I are looking forward to a fantastic year!
Dr. Sujan S. Talukdar
Newton Public Schools