Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pat Schettini

A week after the passing of Reading's superintendent, Pat Schettini, I am just beginning to be able to write about this tragic loss. It's hard to put thoughts into words when someone so young, with so much enthusiasm passes away tragically. Therefore, I write this entry the best way I know how to articulate the many emotions which I have today.

Although my time in Reading is short, make no mistake I witnessed Pat Schettini as an exquisite leader . Reading Public Schools is Pat Schettini. Pat's style was to bring everyone on the bus and then he was going to drive us to greatness. You didn't have a choice with Pat. We had to be great because he wouldn't settle for less. In addition, he wasn't going alone. The district and everyone in it was going with him. Everyone had to work together. His unique style of being highly motivated brings everyone together for success. He was masterful. He set Reading Public Schools on the path to greatness and we are here to continue the collaborative journey he created for us.

Many of you may not know that this is the 2nd time I have experienced the tragic loss of a superintendent at such a young age. Just over 2 years ago, the superintendent where I worked in Burlington, Katie Spinos, passed away suddenly. No one knew Katie was sick when we received a call from her family that she had passed away unexpectedly from a life long blood disorder. She was a single mother of two teenagers, ages 13 and 17. She was 49.

I feel similarly about Katie to the way I feel about Pat. Katie and Pat were more than just superintendents. They were inspirations! The type of leaders who carry a district on their shoulders and you are fortunate to be along for the ride. I left meetings, conversations, and interactions with Pat and Katie energized to work harder, lead others, and allow their visions to carry me. Each in their own way made me a better principal, leader and person.

Katie always started our conversations with the words, "we need to do what's best for kids" - A saying I always follow as I make decisions about the direction of Birch Meadow. This simple idea was the premise for everything which Katie was involved with and she never wavered.

Pat was always personal in his interactions with me. School administration is a challenge and so much time is spent leading initiatives, creating a vision, problem solving, etc. After Pat and I spent time talking about school business, he always thought about me personally. He always ended our conversations with, "Are you happy?" He really meant this. It always came back to him wanting me to be happy in Reading. That was special for me. Even the last time Pat and I spoke, just after Thanksgiving, he said those same words. "Are you happy?" Those were the last words he said to me. That's a rare quality in a person and leader.

It is no surprise that Pat and Katie were friends. The selfish side of me is angry because I didn't get more of an opportunity to spend time with these two special individuals.

It is a rare opportunity to work with people with unrelenting drive, vision, and commitment. Pat Schettini and Katie Spinos were two of those people. They never allowed any challenge to get in their way of doing what they knew was best for the children. They touched my life in many ways, teaching me the importance of leadership, remaining focused on a vision, and not accepting anything less than my best.

I don't expect the pain or hurt from their loss will go away any time soon. I can only hope to honor Katie and Pat by being the type of leader as they inspired me to be.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Are you overwhelmed with the number of web sites which may or may not benefit your child? Do you have a hard time deciding what is appropriate to support your child's education or interest? Do you run out of time navigating the web? Hopefully the information below will help.

I have compiled four documents listing some of my favorite education web sites with a short description of each one. The documents are organized by grade level. Cut and paste these links into your web browser or visit EdLine to see the documents under Birchie Notices.

This link will provide a list of web sites for parents.
\\BirchDC-1\ESprung$\DT DO NOT DELETE\Reading Monthly\tech directions\web sites for parents.htm

This link will provide a list web sites for students in all grades.
\\BirchDC-1\ESprung$\DT DO NOT DELETE\Reading Monthly\tech directions\web sites for all grades.htm

This link will provide a list of web sites for students in
grades K-2.

\\BirchDC-1\ESprung$\DT DO NOT DELETE\Reading Monthly\tech directions\grade K-2 web sites.htm

This link will provide a list of web sites for students in
grades 3-5.

\\BirchDC-1\ESprung$\DT DO NOT DELETE\Reading Monthly\tech directions\grade 3-5 web sites.htm

Friday, December 18, 2009

Shelter In Place

Dear Birch Meadow families,

I would like to bring to your attention to a safety drill that we conducted at school today. This is part of the district-wide safety plan and recommendations for all schools in our district. It is called a “shelter-in-place” drill.

Please read below for the specifics of Shelter in Place.

1. No one from the outside is allowed entry during the drill. This applies to all parents, delivery men, and all other visitors.

2. All teachers and students remain in their classrooms. The teachers conduct the usual activities and maintain normal classroom routines. Students and teachers are not required to sit on the floor with the lights out as in a lockdown.

3. We explain to students that this drill is the opposite of a fire drill. Rather than leaving the building, we stay where we are until the Shelter in Place is completed.

This would be used in the event of police activity in the neighborhood, serious weather conditions, or other situations when we would want to limit access to our school without interfering with learning activities.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Eric Sprung,

Friday, December 11, 2009

BEFORE SCHOOL - Are we in or out?

We monitor the weather daily to determine whether students will be inside or outside in the morning. Decisions are based on temperature, safety, precipitation and wind chill factor. We use resources such as the news, internet, and sound judgement to determine if students are outside or inside each morning.

Mrs. Flatley will inform parents about being inside or outside in the "NEWS" section of EDLINE around 7:30 AM. You will see the following words:

OUTSIDE BEFORE SCHOOL along with the date.

In addition, on inside days a sign will be visible between the grade K-1 wing and the grade 2-3 wing indicating it is an "in" day. In addition, a sign will be in the office window indicating we are inside.

Decisions to determine whether students go out or stay in for recess will be determined as lunch time approaches. Due to temperature and weather changes during the day students may be inside in the morning and still have the opportunity to go outside for recess after their lunch. Please plan accordingly as students dress or bring warm clothing to school.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to call.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009