The Salem Public Schools Weekly Newsletter

Posted on: February 3, 2023

Salem Public Schools Weekly Update

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Salem Public Schools Weekly Update
A Note From the Superintendent

February 3, 2023

SPS Families,

Please take extra care this weekend with the frigid temperatures. If you do need to leave your home, please wear extra layers, gloves and hats to protect yourself from the extreme wind chills.

This week marks the beginning of Black History Month. Throughout the month, you will see multiple examples of students learning about black excellence in history, culture, academia, etc. It is important for our students to understand that Black history is American history.

Specifically, Salem Public Schools will be kicking off Black History Matters Week of Action during the week of Feb. 13-17th. This week is focused on learning about Black experiences beyond slavery, with the purpose of affirming all Black identities and voices in the past, present and future. The goal is for all Salem educators and students to participate in this week of action by creating a classroom promise, launching a letter writing campaign, designing powerful videos, completing art projects and sharing poetry about racial justice, youth agency and the importance of Black history. Projects generated from this week of action will be displayed throughout our schools and the community in the coming weeks and months.

Please also note the information for the celebration of the Black Diaspora History Month events scheduled throughout the City of Salem during the month of February. The kickoff for the exposition is this Saturday, February 4th from 6-9 pm at Old Town Hall (32 Derby Square).

And lastly, we want to give a shout out to all of our school counselors. Next week is National School Counselor Week and we are grateful to our team who offer care and support to our students every day. Thank you for everything you do.

Have a great weekend!

And the winner is……

At Salem Public Schools, we are recognizing one staff member a week who exemplifies our core values of celebrating differences, facilitating collaboration, fostering innovation, creating equity and access, growing all students, and upholding high standards for all. We are surprising a deserving SPS team member with a rock star trophy.

This week’s rockstar is Jabari Tovar, district-wide music teacher. Mr. Tovar is dedicated to creating a culturally responsive curriculum. Working with beginner percussion students, he works hard to find material that is at an appropriate level of difficulty but challenging at the same time. An alumnus of the Salem Music Department himself, we’re proud to have him in the classroom sharing his talents.

Mr. Tovar was also recently recognized by Yamaha’s 40 under 40 Excellence in Music Education. (See more below.)

2023-2024 Budget Forums

It’s budget season for Salem Public Schools! 

Each year, Salem Public Schools submits a budget to the School Committee and the City Council for approval. We believe that a budget is a reflection of our community’s values and that it is important that we hear from families and community members about how we should be thinking about and prioritizing funding for the next school year.

Please join Superintendent Stephen Zrike in February for a conversation about what the budget priorities should be. We will be hosting an in-person public Budget Forum on February 15 from 6:30-8:00 at the Salem High School Library/Integrated Media Center. Or, join us online on February 28th, from 6:30-8:00. Please come with your thoughts about the programs and initiatives that should be prioritized in the year ahead.

To register in advance, please fill out this form. Walk-ins are welcome.

February Vacation Literacy Camp – Grades 3-5

We still just have a few spots open still for our February Vacation Literacy Camp serving grades 3rd, 4th & 5th. The February Vacation Literacy Camp is a great opportunity for students to receive small-group literacy instruction while also having fun with peers during our SEL movement blocks. Click on flyers below (English / Spanish) for more details.

Extra COVID Food Funds for Families Ending March 2

Recent action by the federal government will end the extra COVID Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits created during the pandemic to help individuals and families buy food. Massachusetts households will receive their last extra COVID SNAP payment on March 2. The Department of Transitional Assistance has launched a new website,, to help residents plan for the end of these temporary federal benefits. Over the next several months, individuals and families should examine any optional expenses that may increase their normal SNAP benefits.

Yamaha Music’s 40 under 40

The secret’s out! Yamaha Music launched the “40 Under 40” music education advocacy program in 2021 to celebrate and recognize outstanding music educators who are making a difference by growing and strengthening their music programs. Today they introduced the 2023 group of remarkable educators who triumphed before, during, and after the pandemic to keep their programs thriving. Our own Jabari Tovar has been named as part of Yamaha Music’s “40 Under 40” Class of 2023! 

Tovar himself is an alumnus of the Salem music department, and he’s thankful to give back to the community that has given him so much and developing a culturally responsive curriculum is one of the tenets of his teaching philosophy. The core of Tovar’s job is working with our beginner percussion students, “any repertoire must be at an appropriate level of difficulty for them but still challenge them,” he explains. “I do a lot of research and usually start by looking for folk songs or children’s songs that are melodically and rhythmically appropriate. I spend a lot of time finding pieces that fit my students’ needs.”

Read more here:

We need YOU! Let’s get our students to Carnegie Hall!

Please mark your calendars and join us to support our music students on February 16th at 7 pm in the SHS auditorium.  This show, which serves as a fundraiser for their trip to Carnegie Hall (NYC), will feature trumpet virtuoso Jay Daly. Daly’s career spans more than 40 years, taking him around the United States and the globe with top-ranked bands and professional ensembles. As a sought-after Boston musician, Jay has performed with Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Linda Ronstadt, The Who, and many other celebrity artists. 

“It will be a thrill to perform my Celebration of the Popular Trumpet show with the Salem High School concert band and especially satisfying to help support its trip to play at Carnegie Hall,” he said. “I think it’s every musician’s dream to take the stage at Carnegie, and I hope we’ll have a full house in Salem on February 16 to make that dream a reality for these hard-working students. That will be a life-changing experience for them, I’m sure.”

Food Services Updates

Hello from Food Services! The menus for February 6th – 17th are now live on our menu site. Here is the Link:

We are excited to launch our after-school snack program at Salem High School! The snack program kicked off after school on Tuesday 1/24. After school snacks are served at 3:00pm outside of Black Cat near the Field House. This is a two component snack. We are excited to launch this program as students often spend many hours in the building to complete their after-school activities. However, they end up remaining on campus long after lunch time, so this will ensure students remaining in the school for long hours don’t go hungry. 

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Project Bread hosted a “Sheet Pan Showdown” at Salem High School. School nutrition staff members participated in teams to create delicious new recipes cooked on sheet pans using all ingredients provided in a mystery box, including a lean protein and a variety of vegetables, with access to a full pantry of spices, vinegars, cooking oils, dairy and bread products. Following the competition, Project Bread Chef Educators Sam Icklan, Ryan Eckles and Sherry Hughes will work with staff to ensure some of the day’s recipes are added to the regular school menu and introduced to our student population.

Did you miss the Early Education Expo? Click here for the recording

Dr. Zrike on SATV!

Superintendent Zrike will be hosting a monthly show on SATV beginning in February. We want to hear from you! What would like to hear from us? What guest speakers should we bring on? What other types of things should we do on this show? Let us know in this form so we can tailor the show just for you.


As winter approaches, we want to remind staff and families to be sure we have current contact information to reach you in the event that we have a cancellation or delay. Notifications will go out through ParentSquare via automated phone call, text, and email. It will also be posted on our website as well as social media and local TV channels. We do not have the option of remote instruction in the event of a closure.

kids with backpacks

The Virtual Backpack

Welcome to the Virtual Backpack. This is a space where we will place items that in the past may have been a flyer in your student’s backpack from friends and partners to SPS.

Inscripciones de la liga pequeña de Salem

Salem Little League registration

QR codes for ParentSquare

Download the ParentSquare app today!

A reminder that ParentSquare is the district platform for communication. You will receive communication from the district, your school, and your student’s classroom all in one space. You can communicate 1-to-1 with teachers, sign up for parent-teacher conferences, and more.

This is how our school and teachers communicate with families districtwide. Please be sure you are receiving messages from ParentSquare. If need support downloading the app or receiving messages, please contact your school’s front office. You can visit for more information.

Find tech support for Chromebooks, Aspen, ParentSquare and more

click here

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Salem Public Schools

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29 Highland Ave.

Salem, MA 01970