State Awards Haverhill Schools $141,535 to Implement ‘Appleseeds’ Early Literacy Program

Haverhill Public Schools is one of only 18 school districts and collaboratives statewide to share in $1.2 million in grants to implement “Appleseeds,” a package of materials for teaching foundational reading skills in kindergarten through second grade. While Appleseeds is free to state school systems, Haverhill was awarded $141,535 by the Healey-Driscoll Administration to pay for professional printing of the materials and professional development for educators. “This Appleseeds grant is an important part of our administration’s commitment to improving early literacy instruction,” said Gov. Maura T. Healey. “We also recently proposed Literacy Launch in our latest budget, a historic investment in early literacy from age 3 to grade 3, on top of additional funding for continued literacy programming from DESE.”

The state said districts may use Appleseeds to supplement existing early literacy curriculum that does not have a strong foundational skill component. “Learning to read is a fundamental skill critical to every aspect of students’ education, but more importantly throughout their life,” said Education Secretary Patrick A. Tutwiler. “I have heard strong interest from many districts and educators in improving early literacy instruction.

Mass. Wildlife Officials Visit Three Falcon Chicks Hatched at UMass Lowell Nest Box

Three peregrine falcon chicks hatched in a nest box atop UMass Lowell’s Fox Hall last month are healthy and thriving, according to wildlife officials. Last week they visited campus to check on the birds and fit them with ID bands that enroll them in state and federal preservation programs.

An adult female falcon new to the neighborhood and never-before-seen by Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife officials hatched the chicks the first week of May. The female and her mate, along with the chicks—two males and one female—live in the nest box maintained by the university as part of its effort to grow the peregrine population. The birds are monitored via webcams that allow the public to see them in their urban habitat high above the Merrimack River. Area schoolteachers often use the birds’ story to help educate children about wildlife.

Haverhill School Committee Adopts Diversity Policy, Reflecting Changing Populations

Haverhill School Committee members formally passed a diversity policy in late May, reflecting the increased diversity of the student population and the Committee itself. Member Yonnie Collins said, “Research shows that, when students feel engaged in their community at large, and they feel like they’re part of the whole, and not just a floating piece of a puzzle, that they actually thrive in the classroom settings, there’s less violence, there’s more engagement and more productivity.”

With roughly half the student body of “minoritized communities,” she said the School Committee needs to work to make everyone feel welcome. In the past six years, state data shows the proportion of English-language learners in the district grew from 9.5% to 13%. Haverhill adopted a policy written by the state association of school committees in 2019. Vice Chair Paul A. Magliocchetti said, “As we proceed and we dig deeper into DEI, we’ll make amendments to the policy.”

The city’s adoption on May 23 comes five years later because, he explained, previous Committee “leadership” was not as dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion—or DEI.

With No College Required, Doula Training Offers Hillies Engaging, Meaningful Job Option

“A doula is a soon-to-be mother’s best friend,” said Adalis Gil, sophomore at Haverhill High School who completed a workshop about the profession. Of the 11 students in the class this year, all five Haverhill High sophomores, part of the Career Technical Education Healthcare Occupations class, hope to become certified birthing doulas with Birthing Gently, the agency that facilitated the training, according to Healthcare Occupations Teacher Kristen Hentschel. The other six, all seniors, will use what they learned in their planned careers in healthcare-related fields. Unlike physicians or nurses, doulas do not perform medical tasks, instead advocating for expectant mothers and providing emotional support before, during and after birth. And, they do not need to attend college, which, Hentschel pointed out, has become outrageously expensive and competitive.

MakeIT Haverhill Offers Free 8-Week Computer Basics Courses; Register June 11

MakeIT Haverhill, in partnership with UMass Lowell and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, is offering two free Computer Basics courses over eight weeks beginning in July. Classes are available in both English and Spanish languages and take place Tuesdays, from July 2 to Aug. 20, from 4-6 p.m., at MakeIT Haverhill, 301 Washington St., Haverhill. There are only 15 seats for each course and registration is required. Those interested my signup Tuesday, June 11, from 4-5:30 p.m., at MakeIT Haverhill.

Comfort Dog Teams to Gather for Training June 4 at Northern Essex Community College

The Essex County Sheriff’s Department will host a convention for law enforcement comfort dogs next week at Northern Essex Community College’s Haverhill campus. Comfort K9 teams from law enforcement agencies across Essex County will come together for a meet and greet, free obedience training and fun. A second convention is planned for later this summer and a third one for fall. There will be an obedience competition at the third event. The get-togethers and trainings are paid by a grant from Essex County Outreach and training will be provided by Professional Canine Services of Middleborough.

Haverhill Boy Struck by Alleged Drunk Driver Back in School, Suffers From ‘Facial Scarring,’ Mother Says

A 9-year-old Haverhill student struck by an allegedly drunk driver returned to school part time and is happy seeing friends again, his mother told WHAV. At the same time, she said he suffers from “facial scarring” and full recovery will take “a long time.”

Pentucket Lake School Principal James Brennan relayed the mother’s words to WHAV over email. WHAV did not receive the family’s blessing to use the student’s name in time for this story’s deadline. As WHAV reported in early January, the boy was airlifted to a Boston hospital after the accident. Forty-four-year-old Tiffany L. Zembower was charged with five driving-related offenses.

Haverhill Schools Explain Disciplinary Methods and Protocols

With a therapeutic YMCA program for students who have been suspended, spaces for students to go when they experience conflict and internal data on disciplinary measures, Haverhill Public Schools administrators explained how the district approaches discipline to School Committee members last week. The presentation comes in the wake of John Greenleaf Whittier School staff voting no confidence in their principals, which resulted in Principal Matthew Condon being reassigned to the high school. In part, they argued the head administrators had failed to rein in bad behavior. “There has been a lack of consistent and structured response to discipline and enforcement of consequences,” a letter from the Haverhill Education Association reads. Superintendent Margaret Marotta said at last week’s meeting she has been working with the union to develop a standardized approach to discipline across the whole district.