Natick citizens have been committed to high-quality education for over 350 years. The general court began requiring public education in 1691. Although in the early years teachers taught in their own homes or made “house calls,” by 1704, a portion of the Mitchell House was being used as a school. At present, 4,500 students attend Natick’s eight public schools.

Our five elementary schools - Lilja, Bennett-Hemenway, Johnson, Brown, and Memorial - have a total enrolment of 1,846 and educate our children through the fourth grade. Each elementary school offers an innovative full-day Kindergarten program as well as a rich music and art curriculum. Each classroom has at least two computers, and each building has a computer lab.

Natick elementary schools are highly regarded, particularly for literacy development. Our high-quality reading and writing instruction is such a hallmark that we frequently host visitors from other school systems interested in the way we teach literacy. Part of that approach is having a superb library in each building -- these facilities contribute significantly to the literacy development of our children.

In 1999, Lilja received the International Reading Association’s Exemplary Reading Program Award for Excellence in Reading and Language Arts Education, reflecting on our system-wide literacy education efforts. This prestigious award has pride of place with Johnson School’s 1997 designation by the U.S. Dept. of Education as a “Blue Ribbon” school.

Not well known is the fact that Natick elementary schools are some of the only elementary schools in New England accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Natick is one of the few communities in New England in which all public schools have received this accreditation. Most communities only seek full accreditation for their high school(s).

Our middle schools, Kennedy (593 students) and Wilson (763 students) are in the first year of implementing a sweeping series of curricular and program changes. In the new system, children are assigned to teaching teams. Each team and each individual teacher team member is fully accountable for the success of each child.

In this innovative program, department heads for mathematics, science, and language arts are responsible for ensuring curriculum delivery in terms of both content and methods. Particular attention is focused on making sure that our middle and high school curricula are well integrated.

The quality of our middle school education has dramatically improved over the past five years; changes initiated this year will help us achieve new levels of excellence. Wilson, for example, has fielded a math team for the past two years, and the team has been very successful in competitions with all of the surrounding communities.

Natick High School has done a good job for a long time. In recent years, it has significantly increased academic rigor and teaching effectiveness. Over the past six years, Natick High School students have delivered an astonishing 60 point increase in average SAT scores.

While this is a huge achievement, we can be particularly proud that much of the improvement was delivered by children of average academic aptitude. This means that many children whose college opportunities might have been limited to Framingham State can now qualify for consideration by UMass Amherst or similar institutions. It means that children who otherwise may not have qualified for financial aid have improved their chances for receiving assistance.

Our best NHS students are also doing better. Last year, average SAT scores for our top 20% were ahead of Wellesley’s top 20%. NHS MCAS pass rate for 203/04 is 100%.

Approximately 67% of Natick High School students attend a four-year college or university following graduation. Another 20% attend a junior college or pursue other specialized training.

Facilities and Staffing

With over 1 million square feet under eight roofs, Natick’s school buildings are maintained by a maintenance and custodial staff of 36. The cafeteria staff, with 36 part time and full time employees, serves approximately 270,000 lunches per year.

Our elementary classrooms are staffed by 95 teachers, our middle schools are staffed by 90, our high school by 78. In addition to its principal, each elementary school has an Assistant Principal who is also a classroom teacher. Kennedy has a Vice Principal in addition to its Principal; Wilson, because of its larger size, has a Principal and two Vice Principals, as does Natick High School.

Also delivering services to our children are approximately 150 special educators, psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses, teacher assistants, literacy specialists and social workers.

Superintendent Jim Connelly has a small staff that includes Assistant Superintendent Audrey Seyfort (Pupil Services), Assistant Superintendent Dr. Karen LeDuc (Curricula and Instruction), Marianne Davis (Personnel Director), and Bob Graham (Maintenance and Custodial Services). Across the district, 33 secretaries deal with the flood of paperwork associated with public education.

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