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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Learning how their children are taught
Lawrence holds first of four town hall meetings
Jeffrey Bessen/Herald
Dr. Ann Pedersen, Lawrence School District’s assistant superintendent for academic affairs and Number Four School principal, spoke about the importance of instilling confidence in students at the first of four district town hall meetings.

In an intimate setting where an assistant superintendent sat on a stool in the middle aisle of Lawrence High School’s little theater, district officials presented an overview of its academic initiatives to a small audience on Oct. 4.

Using information that was part of a district staff development day in August, Superintendent Gary Schall, assistant superintendents Dr. Ann Pedersen and Pat Pizzarelli, and high school Principal Dr. Jennifer Lagnado addressed how teachers will go about educating students throughout this school year.

Pedersen, who is the district’s assistant superintendent for academic affairs and the principal at the Number Four School, said that younger students need to learn how to be organized and pay attention to detail. She also said that positive actions are being taught and reinforced. “State what you want to see,” Pedersen said, “it’s not ‘don’t run’ say ‘walk, walk’.”

Pizzarelli, who also serves double duty as the assistant superintendent for Student and Community Affairs and is the district’s athletic director, reiterated Pedersen’s message about being positive and spoke about Lawrence trying to be flexible with its eligibility policy for athletics and other student activities.

“Academics is the most important thing,” he said, noting that students cannot take part in sports and other activities if they failed two or more classes and/or are not maintaining a 70 average. However, Pizzarelli, said that the district is taking into consideration what he called “extenuating circumstances” to keep the students involved. But they are monitored. “Our goal in athletics is to help students reach their fullest potential,” he said, adding there are 170 varsity athletes and more than 87 percent have an 83 average or higher.

He also addressed the district’s emphasis on literacy and said that in physical education classes the teachers are reviewing and reading written material with the students using newspaper sports coverage to demonstrate how one specific athletic event or game is viewed by two different writers.

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