LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A Look at the Sudbury K-8 Years

Sudbury residents Rick and Tracy Billig share tips on how you and your students can get through to the high school years.

With our daughter’s college applications submitted and our son preparing to start the process, we thought it was time to share our experience in Sudbury Public Schools (K – 8). It goes faster than you can imagine. There are no opportunities for a do over – you need to get it right the first time. 

We found the best way was to get involved directly with the teachers, principal and superintendent.  We also recommend you introduce yourself to school committee members and get on their radar. They’re some of the most dedicated and determined people we have ever met in this community. Do everything you can to support them. Their leadership is critical to the quality of the schools.   When they or the superintendent extend invitations for coffees, take advantage of them. It’ll make the experience much more meaningful when you understand what the goals and strategies are and what you can do to support them at home. 

We found that these relationships gave us access to opportunities and support we would not have otherwise known were available. You must advocate for your children and the schools. The elementary portion of their education will include the introduction of “core values” or as we like to refer to them “family values.”  It’s what makes the difference in this community. They will be taught what respect is, how to mediate disagreement and how to embrace the differences that makes this community so wonderful. Don’t be surprised if your child points out that something you’re doing is bullying and not acceptable. Try to make it to every school event and encourage your child to participate too. 

In fourth grade, there is the Odyssey. You’ll be apprehensive letting your child go away without you, maybe for the very first time. But rest assured they will survive. Both of our kids recall this as the single most memorable experience during their education. You will start to see changes with your child coming faster now. Homework and study habits will begin to be much more important. You might be surprised by what they’re studying and how much they’re embracing learning. Fifth grade is when the tears start, not from them, from you. There will be several milestones this year that will make you very proud.  Do whatever you can to make it to the clap-out at the end of the year; it’s a once in a lifetime event. 

As we look back, it’s obvious that Curtis Middle School was preparing the children for Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. Curtis introduces you to the team concept. We’ve found that teachers make a significant difference in the education experience, but each student’s experience is different with each teacher and team. Your child will be encouraged to self-advocate and to be more accountable for their learning. They must develop these skills that will help them succeed at LS.  Poor study habits or missed homework have much more impact now. You will see remarkable changes with their bodies and attitudes, not all positive, but this too shall pass. Don’t skip the ballroom dancing.   We’re not sure which is better seeing the kids all dressed up or being a chaperone. 

Some things have changed over the years, and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention important aspects of our schools that should remain a focus. People will tell you that the schools are the crown jewels of this community and great things are happening there. While our experience supports this notion, we should expect continued improvement. We need to remain focused on things that matter, some of which are:  class sizes; technology in the schools; attracting and retaining qualified and caring teachers; opportunities for every child.  How do we remain fiscally responsible (balancing spending and even cutting when necessary) while providing the education we expect for Sudbury’s children? How can we make sure the superintendent and school committee have our support while they do this important work? We need to make our concerns known but also be mindful that the tenor and communication methods we choose could be more of a distraction than a benefit. We are all caretakers of this community. We need to find ways to come together to achieve our common goals.

We are proud to call Sudbury home and feel fortunate that our children have had such a great educational experience and are especially appreciative of those who volunteer or work for Sudbury Public Schools and LS.

Rick & Tracy Billig
Robert Best Road

Thrice Rusty November 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Some great points here but also some very questionable ones. I'm still trying to figure out what the whole point of this letter is. I respect that SPS was such a good time and experience for your child but I question the statement that we should be expecting SPS to teach our children respect. That's the problem with today's society; this is stuff that should be taught at home by PARENTS and not in the schools. I also seriously question the part about SPS teaching our children how to "mediate disagreement". If you think our SPS Committee shined in this aspect during the whole Janice Donahue incident, then I have an iceberg I would like to sell you in Hawaii. I also question "doing everything" we can to support the SPS committee. With all due respect life is a two way street. Can you honestly say they have "respected" parents, taxpayers, or their teachers over the last 18 months? It would appear that the only person they have "respected" is Ann Wilson, Mary Will and the Director of Human Resources. Like I said your letter is nice yet it's confusing and very flawed. Just my opinion.
SkimThreePercent November 30, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Reading between the lines, I sort of saw this letter as the first volley in the Gutch reelection campaign. Expect more of the same as we move closer to when nomination papers are out.
Edward Stark November 30, 2012 at 01:22 PM
If that's the case Skim-3% the great thing is that the people of Sudbury will not fall prey to this. There was a time when these tactics worked in town. No longer. The people have woken up and see right through this. We must always remember that actions speak louder than words. SPS has done nothing over the last two years except to confirm that every single member of their committee needs to be voted out when their term is up. I seriously don't think in her right mind that Lisa Gutch can possibly run again. That being said if she does we need to make her the first to be shown the door. Nothing against Lisa as a person and a volunteer as I don't really know her. I just know her for her leadership on SPS and based on her actions and decisions over the last 3 years we can obviously do a lot better.


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