Below is a letter, dated April 11, from Pamela Simpkins, retiring principal at the McAuliffe elementary school. A graduate of Harvard, Tufts, and the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Ms. Simpkins has been a principal in the Lowell Public Schools for 18 years. She has graciously given us permission to post her letter:
Dear Parents and Friends,
I am very happy to report that Dr. Baehr, superintendent of schools, has announced that the McAulifee School’s current assistant principal, Jason DiCarlo, will become the new principal of the McAuliffe after my retirement in June. I’m looking forward to retirement—being able to sleep late, taking a walk in the sunshine whenever I want, having time to read and write and take art lessons, having time to try out new recipes, having more time to spend with my husband and daughter—but in a way I envy Jason.
You see, I’m very excited about what’s happening at the McAuliffe and other Lowell schools, and I wish I could be a part of their future. I think the programs we are using now to teach reading and math and social interactions are fantastic, and I can see that good things are happening. The McAuliffe students seem smarter to me than they did a few years ago. They seem more reflective, more articulate, and more confident. They seem to understand and believe that if they make the effort, they will achieve. (My daughter Katya, who is now a sophomore at Lowell High, attended the McAuliffe School, and I am sorry that during those years, the programs we are using now were not available.) Staff members seem more confident too, as if they know they have the right tools to help students, and, if they don’t, they know they can work together to find them. Things we talked about doing for years, we’re doing—things like using data to inform instruction, peer coaching, and developing a volunteers-as-tutors program. Don’t get me wrong. We still have a long way to go. If the measurement of success is MCAS scores, we’re not going to have a legion of reporters beating down our doors to ask how we did it. But the quality of teaching and learning is rising, and it’s clear to me that the momentum is there to continue the excitement, to continue the rise.
Recently an article in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine named Lowell as one of the five hot places in the Boston area’s housing market. It stated that although the Lowell special education program excels, the schools are considered troubled by some and suggested that parents might consider Dracut or a parochial school as an alternative. I disagree. The Lowell schools are excellent. I’m not putting down any neighboring systems or private schools, yet I know most of them are jealous more »