• Superintendent Mark Benigni met with Michele Femc-Bagwell, Jocelyn Ault and David Cordona to review the implementation of the Parent Teacher Home Visit initiative. We will be launching the Parent Teacher Home Visit Initiative at John Barry Elementary School. If this pilot is successful Dr. Benigni is ready to explore expansion to other schools in the district. Currently one third grade teacher is trained with the plan to train the other two third grade teachers.
  • Nov 3, coordinated by teacher Steven Higgins, and led by District Veronica Marian, Coordinator of Family & Community Partnerships the Welcoming Schools Walkthrough was introduced to O’Brien. Assistant Superintendent Cynthia Ritchie participated showing the district support for this initiative. There was a large turnout that included many parents.  Walk-throughs shined a light on things that are going well and discussions were held regarding suggestions that can be implemented as the team moves forward.
  • Monique Butler and a team from O’Brien will host the 2nd of their family wellness nights on November 30 with focus on fitness, nutrition and mindfulness.


  • As a tool of asset building and family engagement, ASPIRE usage is being developed, with focus on the kindergarten classes. Parent Conferences were used to start to inventory the assets of parents/caregivers. Staff and teachers are looking at ways they could use enrichment from the families and the community in their classes. The goal will be to have 100% of the kindergarten caregivers participate in the ASPIRE Survey tool. ASPIRE is a simple and effective program to foster mutually meaningful engagement with parents and other members of a school community. Last year the staff at John Barry had professional development to learn about CommPACT’s best practice of using the ASPIRE survey ( This is a tool that enables them to learn about the assets, talents, interests and relationships that abound with their families and in their community. This year there is a focus on mapping the assets and relationships of the kindergarten families in an effort to build knowledge and to capitalize on their strengths.
  • Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, all came with their children to celebrate their diversity and to have fun together at Multicultural Night. Families saw the weeks of interdisciplinary work students have done with their art and classroom teachers. Their attention-grabbing multi-cultural projects were proudly showcased in the gym featuring countries and cultures from around the world. As parents and children entered the gym, they were given a stamped passport and told to enjoy their travels and be safe. Students were delighted to show off what they learned about different countries. When asked what he had learned, one student shared that in Brazil they have a passion for futbol, which American’s call soccer. Students made ceramic clovers for the Ireland display as signs of good luck. A student whose family is from Ghana was able to proudly share his heritage with classmates. Egypt was a favorite display of many students featuring their Arabic letters and pyramids. Celebrating the diversity of John Barry families has never been more fun! Multicultural Night at John Barry Elementary School was shared by over 300 people on a beautiful Friday night. Families got to know each other and students had time to run and play together. In the process, lots of hugs were given to teachers. In addition to embracing diversity and sharing cultures, the night featured information for parents from the many community partnerships John Barry has and families had the opportunity to sign up for summer programs. A “bounce- house” manned by the Boys and Girls club was fun for kids of all ages. Foods from many nations including hot dogs and hamburgers as an American staple were featured. Students and adults alike discovered that they liked both Polish pierogis and Spanish empanadas. As a city built around manufacturing, with waves of immigrant families, this was a wonderful way for all to appreciate the rich heritage of the community.CommPACT helped support this event and everyone got to find out more about CommPACT’s initiatives to engage families and community resources in schools to benefit students. This was a night whose success was a result of the efforts of the outstanding teachers and staff at John Barry as well as the support of many community partners.
  • At John Barry Middle School in Meriden, the whole staff including specialists and support staff came together for professional development. Michele Femc-Bagwell introduced them to ASPIRE, an innovative tool for them to build meaningful connections with the John Barry families and community. She introduced ways for them to discover the talents and interests of their families while also discovering resources.The staff will now have this on-line tool that makes building connections to families and community easy and will create new pathways to build social capital – increasing informal links among parents and between families and teachers.  They can use these new links to develop enriched programs, partner to bring no-cost resources into the school, create innovative fundraising ideas, and at the same time use the assets of our families in ways that help them become integral parts of the school.

Johh Barry Elementary School

Phone: 203-237-8831
Address: 124 Columbia Street
Meriden, CT 06451