WARE — During the May 8 School Committee meeting, the principal of each Ware school gave a brief presentation on updates within their building. Each highlighted ongoing programs as well as recent achievements in supporting students.

Stanley M. Koziol Elementary School Principal Pamela Iwasinski began the presentations by providing information about a recent event to welcome upcoming kindergarten students. At the event, 46 students were able to tour two kindergarten classrooms with their families as well as take home a bag with materials to prepare for the upcoming school year, she said.

In total, the school is expecting between 75-95 kindergarten students in the 2023-24 school year, Iwasinski stated. This includes the 40 preschool students who will graduate this spring. However, the exact number of students will not be known until the fall, as sign-ups occur throughout the summer, Iwasinski said.

Another update Iwasinski shared was the recent positive evaluation of the school’s 21st Century After School Program. “We just went through a review with [the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] and we not only passed but we got exemplary status, which is just a great feeling,” she stated.

Iwasinski explained that DESE highlighted the use of second and third graders’ leadership skills when teaching kindergarten and first grade students. She thanked the staff of Koziol Elementary for their commitment to students, stating that many staff have been working at the schools for more than 15 years.

Following Iwasinski’s update, Principal Kimberly Thompson presented on Ware Middle School. She highlighted the work of the school’s student leadership council and PTO, describing various events that each group has hosted.

Thompson also explained that the school recently implemented a behavior contract for students, which are sent out two weeks before every event. While the new policy wasn’t initially well-received by students and their families, Thompson emphasized that it demonstrated students’ work to “take on that challenge.”

“It really encouraged students to be respectful, to be academically on task, in the classroom, no work refusal, [and] to be appropriate with their language,” she said. “We’re really making respect and self-control and self-regulation a really important piece of our buildings.”

Additionally, the middle school will begin “a new tradition” this school year to celebrate sixth graders as they transition to Ware Junior Senior High School, Thompson said. Each student will cross the high school’s stage at the event, which will occur in June.

In his presentation for Ware Junior Senior High School, interim Principal Scott Slattery first addressed the administration’s work to encourage students to speak with academic language.

Use of this language has increased significantly since the beginning of the year, Slattery stated. Similarly, students are using longer sentences. “It’s not even close to where we need to be, but we’re seeing growth at the high school,” he said.

Coming in the fall, the school is also looking to offer college classes to students through its new partnership with Holyoke Community College, Slattery stated. These classes would take place during the school day. Similarly, the administration is working to organize night courses for community members.

Slattery went on to highlight the school’s work to reduce vaping as well as encourage students to participate in internships. The school also recently implemented a summer school program, he said. This two-week program will occur in June and is required for grade 7 and 8 students who fail two or more core classes.

“We’re in the business of kids here,” Slattery emphasized. “I feel like it’s our job as the admin to find ways to educate all the kids … and that’s one thing I’m probably most proud of as my year here as principal is every decision we’ve made, the admin team here, it was for the kids.”

Superintendent contract

During the May 8 meeting, the School Committee also voted to extend Superintendent Michael Lovato’s contract.

Lovato started in his position on July 1, 2023, and has currently served just under a year of his original three year contract, Chair Brian Winslow stated. At Lovato’s request, the committee voted to extend his contract to June 30, 2029. In a secondary vote, the committee also agreed to maintain the rate of compensation in Lovato’s current contract within his extended contract.

Following the votes, Lovato thanked the School Committee for its support, emphasizing that his family “love[s] living in the area … [and] we’re looking at the long term here.”

“I appreciate the support and I appreciate the commitment. You won’t be disappointed. We will continue to make growth and we’ll continue to make progress without question,” he said.

lmason@thereminder.com | + posts