Argenziano School Improvement Council Meetings are the 1st Thursday of every month from 6:00 - 7:15pm. Meetings are open to all AFAS parents to attend.

School Improvement Council Meeting Notes  

December 1, 2016   6:00pm - 7:15pm


Parent Members: Donal Waide, Helen Hendrickson, Rob Odilon

School Staff: Sharyn Lamer, Nancy Bakey Kun

Community Members: Stephanie Hirsch, Natalie Viera, Marian Berkowitz

Participants:  Dan Futrell, Damon Sidel, Finn Moore Garrity, Randy Gary, Jocelyn Kasow, Lumina Gershfield Cordova

Notes from November meeting reviewed.  Natalie made a motion to approve them and Donal seconded the motion.  Notes were approved.  Lumina assigned as notetaker, she will get instructions from Stephanie for getting notes approved and posting to website.

Lumina will also add future meeting dates to the website.  


Objective of the council, how often it meets, introductions around the table (name and role - SIC elected member / parent / faculty).

6:05-6:10:  Principal updates

  1. Spanish/English lessons: a trade.  Flyer - Dec. 13th - 2:45 pm
  2. Nets arrived—finally.  Protect from flying footballs
  3. I continue to meet people and learn about the community; some practices reflect that, while others are my way of working
  4. Upcoming conversation about values—in a community in which many worry about their positions, there’s a new need to be explicit.
  • Clearly establish for our community what our values are as a school. 
  • Conversation somewhere in January.  SIC will help facilitate.  Incidents of aggression, remarks, and anxiety. 
  • Where diversity is valued and all views are welcome.  Discussion of Somerville as a sanctuary city. 
  • Want students to be present and part of the conversation.  
  • Address particular issue of being undocumented. As a school we don’t care what your status is.  Resolution from the school committee regarding being a sanctuary city.  We will have to reach out to our fellow parents and personally invite them to participate in this important discussion to be sure all are included.

5.  Parent Teacher Conference Discussion: Change in format for report card night? 

  • 3 total meetings a year, each 1.5 hours.  LM proposed combining 2 remaining all into 1 - to be voted on by the teachers for approval.  
  • 7/8 grade teachers do 5 min slots, all full.  We teach 90 kids but only get to a portion of the kids the way conferences are right now are not good for parents, not good for teachers, not good for anybody.  Almost every teacher stayed more than the allotted time. 
  • Have the entire school here for a longer time would calm things down.  
  • “How do you get the parents of the kids that the teachers really want to see?”
  • How does the Teacher’s Union contract affect school ability to change the Conference format?  
  • How can we know more about Union contracts?   There is a lawyer representing the school committee.  Lawyer goes with Superintendent to go in with the Union President.  Staff has a colleague that is a Union rep to ask for clarification.  Lots of work we can do without Union approval.
  • Possibility of having a PD day for Conferences?  Friday May 12 - meeting?  Required Evening meetings.  Contractual issues?  Evening hours vs. day hours?
  • Haven’t said as a School Committee or District we want enough time for every kid.
  • Agreed that this combining of two-meetings solution will be a temporary solution before we create a better infrastructure for parent teacher meetings.  SIC voted in favor of LM taking issue to teachers for a vote.  


  1. Awards—how can we change them to support our community?  Brainstorm, then decision: proceed or move to a work group?

Current award format—share then react in groups of three.  Next, trio decides on goal of an award ceremony.  Now, trio considers if it’s what we want, and what else could potentially be better

small group feedback:

  • each kid sets their own goals/contribution plan/leadership plan, get awards on whether they met their goals
  • opportunities for leadership
  • clear criteria
  • Avoid gender bias
  • increase frequency of school wide awards
  • find someone who demonstrates explicit school values not just academic


Introduction of dual language conversation that school committee is having about AFAS

Long waiting list at Unidos - expansion?  (Clarification that Mary Skipper remarked, “maybe it would work at the AFAS”)  

Suggestion that SIC should own whatever happens at AFAS,  it should come from us, to push the Superintendent.  Do we as a community, do we want Early language exposure?  Or do we want to be play based learning?  


Update on differentiation:

PDs, decision to extend beyond first year; conversations in different grade levels

Ran out of time for this, need to hear update at next meeting.


Update on after-school

Meeting with after school (follow up from last meeting) and subsequent action


Work groups make time for work, meetings that occur prior to next SIC

Ran out of time for this.


Items for next meeting:  

  • How to structure a conversation about our values as a community
  • Always the first Thursday of the month.  Next meeting is Jan. 5th, 6:00-7:30, bring a friend.  Translator can be arranged.

Additional Notes:

  • Extracurricular clubs (like Drama Club)
  • Revive student led newspaper?
  • AFAS will be a Pilot site for recycling due to student efforts
  • Hiring people of color at AFAS, AFAS interviews are open to community.   Dan Futrell told us that Superintendent is very focused on revamping HR hiring, how we attract and develop pipelines for people to become teachers.  Training for current teachers re: race?  Post-election talk is not new to this school.  How to engage in the conversation about race and equity.  
  • Gratitude to Mr. Mathews for making parents feel welcome to join the SIC conversation
  • Mural - hours are Wed midday, can it be into evening?


Argenziano School Improvement Council

Meeting Minutes 11.3.2016  6:00-7:15pm

Attended: Principal Mathews, Sharyn Lamer, Nancy Kun, Stephanie Hirsch, Marian Berkowitz, Helen Hendrickson, Rob Odilon, Meghan Bouchard, Donal Waide, Damon Sidel, Paris Barker, Lumina Gershfield Cordova


6:00-6:10 - Principal Updates

  • Funeral
  • Learning walk—Harvard students
  • Late family bulletin
  • This meeting as a forum for general questions (small but consistent time slot)
  • Robocall today - funeral arrangements set, not giving notice to all students
  • Paper hearts activity for students
  • Learning Walk - $600 for the school
  • Family bulletin forthcoming, needs to be translated


  1. Data story--what’s our biggest achievement challenge?
  • Achievement Gap among ELL relative to Winter Hill and ESCS
  • Discussion: is the data we reviewed on this apples-to-apples?
  • This may be a good opportunity to benchmark with other schools


Each work group presents for three minutes or so.  What’s the current status of your work?  What’s been done?  What needs to be done?  What obstacles exist?

Work Group: After School:

  • Proposal to survey families to assess needs relative to after school
  • Discuss with Community Schools the need for more after school spots at Argenziano


Work Group: Differentiation:

  • Book group for high-level readers began week of Oct 31
  • Faculty will be learning about differentiation - PD Day Nov 8 will be dedicated to this
  • 91 parents have offered to volunteer, some of whom are willing to help with reading
  • 14 hours of PD remaining after Nov 8
  • ELL students are part of differentiated groups


General concerns and questions

  • How is SIC put into place? Discussion
  • It’s an open meeting, anyone can attend
  • Only SIC can vote
  • Do new parents know about SIC?
  • Community members - Ron, Meghan, Stephanie, Natalie
  • Parent members - Donal, Helen, Rob
  • Teacher - Sharyn, Nancy
  • But all are welcome to participate


Agenda items for next week, formally adopt notes from prior meeting

How do we ensure different kids get Superintendent’s Award?


Meeting Minutes 10.07.2016

School Improvement Council

Attendance:  Principal Mathews, Sharyn Lamer, Nancy Kun, Stephanie Hirsch, Marian Berkowitz, Helen Hendrickson, Rob Odilon, Meghan Bouchard, Natali Vieira, Donal Waide, Damion Sidol

Meeting Structure

  • Note-taking role will rotate
  • Facilitation

Goals of the meeting/possible goals brainstorm

  • Support the running of the schools by group of stakeholders
  • Prepare the school improvement plan and prepare for the presentation to the Superintendent and School Committee
  • Opportunities for systemic issues raised by parents (or teachers)?  
  • In past the SIC has conducted parent surveys to better understand parent feedback and perspectives that can inform goals for the SIC  Those surveys would be framed to identify systemic issues, stay positive, and avoid personal attacks.  
  • Take our direction from the community.  
  • Council should identify the issues in the school and vote on priorities for the year.
  • Process to identify important issues
    • Council could identify the key issues and then gather more data.
    • Also offer opportunities for issues we may not have identified.

Pair share on identifying working projects & Report back on the following issues raised:

  • Classroom support (paras, volunteers etc)
  • Access to afterschool programming like tutoring and other programing
  • Appropriate teaching for little kids to allow for play time (homework, recess time, reasonable expectations)
  • Afterschool programming for afterschool (perhaps with focus on 6, 7 and 8 grade).  When afterschool opportunities are taking place at other schools but transportation is tricky.. Teachers run the programming for older kids, but doesn’t have a lot of capacity after school. (Note:  our middle school is doing an amazing job, 2nd in the state!)
  • Different types of learning opportunities for kids in the classroom (differentiation, doing both enrichment/advanced work and remediation) (Came up in two groups)
  • Parent conferences - want parents to come in and make it valuable and meaningful.  
  • Out of school time, fewer low-income and ELL kids as a proportion are served in current programs.  
  • What about the school gym - the school should use it for student needs, and should not be charged by the city to do this.
  • Concept of making schools a place where students can be from 7am to 6pm and should want to be there.  
  • Cross-cultural relationship building
  • Recycling
  • Morning drop off (safe play before school starts)
  • Parent engagement is linked to school performance.  How can we support parents of ELL learners to help overcome barriers to engagement (i.e transportation, after hours, translation).  This has come up at the PTA. SFLC is considered the parent engagement arm of the schools with a multi-lingual team, but underfunded.

Voting process:

  • Parent engagement (2,2,2)
  • P/T conferences (1,2,3,2)
  • Homework lower grades (2)
  • Classroom support (3,3)
  • Differentiation (1,1,3,1,1,1,3,2)
  • Cross Cultural Relationship Building (2,2)
  • Afterschool (3,3,3,,3,2,1,2,1,1,1)
  • 8th/9th grade transition (3,2)
  • Parent homework help ()

Discussion: Differentiation is the focus of the leadership team (55% of teachers identified differentiation as their top priorities).  Will need to determine how this group can do something alongside that additional work.

Next steps:

  • Divide into working groups – Differentiation and Out-of-School time.
  • PTA is already working on differentiation, so this group will be merged with the PTA conversation.  Could be held after the next PTA meeting in a smaller group.
  • Workgroups will report out at November meeting
  • Next meeting discuss membership of the SIP, and ensure we have the correct elected representation into the group.

School Improvement Plan

2015 Argenziano School Improvement Plan