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Belchertown School Superintendent Judith Houle on target to reach her goals, school board says

Judith C. Houle, superintendent of Belchertown Public Schools, in 2009

Judith C. Houle, superintendent of Belchertown Public Schools, in 2009 Purchase photo reprints »

Houle began with a description of her blog, “Superintendent’s Update,” which she began last summer. She said that she had been distributing school news through a small email list, but has since worked the content into blogging, promoting it through her Twitter and Facebook accounts. The blog highlights student achievements and provides resources for parents.

“It’s got a nice upbeat tone to it,” said School Committee member Beverly Phaneuf. She called it “a very strong communication tool.” Houle said that while she has not opened the blog to comments, a feature that would require moderation, she invites community members to respond by phone and email.

As another part of a goal to broaden community outreach, Houle explained her efforts to better understand issues that affect students in the “social and emotional learning realm” and become aware of services that are available.

“This is an important part of reaching out to the community, because if we want kids to have success every day, if they are struggling on a social-emotional level, academic success is hard to come by,” Houle said.

According to her presentation, the school system is also working to address students’ well-being through the implementation of anti-bullying initiatives such as PeaceBuilders training for bus drivers and custodians to effectively respond to student behavior, and the Pinwheels for Peace project. Pinwheels for Peace, in which students make pinwheels containing peace messages, is set to begin next fall.

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