May 2023 News

May 23rd, 2023

Dad’s Actively Participating Sends a Positive Message to Northeast Elementary Students

“Oh man, all these kids? It’s going to be loud,” John Washington laughs as he explains his first thoughts about stepping into Northeast Elementary as part of their new Dad’s Actively Participating (DAP) program. In the month since the program’s inception, the school has seen the difference these positive male role models have on students.

Across the nation, school districts and families are having conversations surrounding parent engagement in schools, including an increased presence of families during the school day. At Northeast Elementary School, the administration began the Dad’s Actively Participating program, allowing students’ fathers, grandfathers, and more to apply to serve as volunteers with the Pre-K through 5th-grade classes. The school has seen success in similar programs, including one they lovingly call the “Grannies Program,” where retired women can come in to play games and assist with one-on-one help. When Washington, a military veteran and father of three, first learned about the DAP program, he was intrigued.

On this particular day, the school’s noise level was at an all-time high as students nearly burst with excitement for the annual Northeast High Senior Walk. Students lined the halls with colorful signs, posters, and cards, cheering, “Let’s Go Eagles.” Washington embraced the volume and interacted with students, offering high fives and engaging in conversations.

“Number one, I get to spend more time with my kids, but also for those kids who don’t have that father figure,” he said. He explained that the goal is not to step in as a parent or teacher but instead to serve as a consistent presence for children struggling to find a positive male adult.

“A lot of kids, I’ll see them, and they look down,” he says, slumping his shoulders and hanging his head. “So I’ll tap them and say, “What’s up man, what’s wrong with you?” He says even that simple recognition will encourage the children to stand taller, and he hopes to engage them in further conversation.

Studies show that children with a consistent adult male presence perform better academically, socially, and emotionally. Washington shared his perspective, saying, “If you have both parents, cool. Mom talking to you and Dad talking to you is two different things, though, especially to many little boys. There are a lot of dads that want to be here but can’t be here. I’m fortunate to step in and help with that.”

As he interacts with the students, he is mindful of respecting the authority of the teachers. As a football and baseball coach, Washington understands the importance of children building respect and listening to their teacher. Ultimately the DAP participants serve as volunteers to support the faculty and staff. Their role is to show the students that adults are willing to take the time and be present.

There are two different shifts from which volunteers can choose. In the morning, dads will welcome students to school, giving high-fives as they get off the bus and walking students into the building. Mid-morning and into the lunch hour, volunteers will be inside the cafeteria, speaking with students and walking through the halls during transition periods.

Washington cautions that supporting the school and students requires patience. “You are not these kids’ parents,” he said. “You have to be mindful of how you come at them.” The program’s goal is to increase family engagement, which will then positively impact student behavior.

He’s seen the positive impact of his presence first-hand. When he began volunteering, Washington noticed a student struggling to make good choices. After watching how he interacted with other students, Washington said, “You could tell he was not getting the support and needed attention at home.“ He took it upon himself to mindfully connect with the student in simple ways. “Just speaking with him, talking to him, being around him,” he said. The consistent presence produced significant results. Today, Washington says the student will find him in the hallways to share news of his day. “He comes up to me and says, ‘I’m being good today,’ or ‘I’ll be good the rest of the day.’” Washington says the student wants to share his progress, even though their relationship never centered on or discussed behavior.

When asked if he would continue volunteering with the program next year, Washington smiles and says, “I’ll do it as long as my boys are okay with it. They’re still young, so they’re not at that embarrassed stage yet. I’m still Cool Dad.”

May 11th, 2023

End-of-Year Updates and Reminders for Families

As we wrap up the 2022-2023 school year, please see below for a few updates and reminders:

Calendar Reminders

  • May 19, 22-23 – High School Exams
  • Wednesday, May 24 – Last Half Day of School
  • May 24-27 – High School Graduations (Click here for info on livestreaming)
  • Monday, August 7 – First Half Day of the 2023-2024 School Year

Visit to view calendars for upcoming school years. Jostens is generously sponsoring the CMCSS printed calendar for next school year! We hope to have calendars delivered to homes by the end of July. 

Communication/Technology Updates

CMCSS is announcing three exciting updates that will begin next school year:

  • ParentSquare: CMCSS will be transitioning its mass notification service from SchoolMessenger to ParentSquare. ParentSquare provides families with improved options to receive communications from schools and the District when and how families want to receive them, with translations in 100+ languages. Phone calls will still be available for emergencies or other urgent communications, but families will primarily receive communications via text, email, and the ParentSquare app and/or desktop version. Additionally, ParentSquare will provide a platform for translatable, two-way communications between educators and parents/guardians and open mass notification access for teachers to families of students in their classes. All families will receive invitations via text and email to join ParentSquare over the summer.
  • StopFinder: If your child does not ride CMCSS transportation, please disregard. During the 2022-2023 school year, CMCSS piloted StopFinder on a few campuses. The StopFinder app uses GPS tracking information to determine the location of a school bus along its route. StopFinder provides real-time information on where your child’s bus is as they travel to and from school. In 2023-2024, CMCSS will be expanding StopFinder access to all families across the District. For details on StopFinder, click here. Families will receive an invitation in the coming weeks to activate accounts and download the app.
  • Student IDs (K-5): During the 2022-2023 school year, several CMCSS schools participated in a pilot program for student identification cards. CMCSS will be expanding implementation to all elementary schools in 2023-2024. The student ID cards use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology to monitor when students get on or off a CMCSS school bus and allow students to use them when purchasing breakfast or lunch items. At no time do the ID cards track or monitor a student’s location in any way. Student identification cards will not have a photo ID but will have their personal QR code, which assists with logging into school-issued laptops. Cards will not contain any information, including home address, birth date, health-related information, or other personal details.

CMCSS will share more information with families on the above updates over the coming weeks.

Get Ready for 2023-2024!

There is always much excitement about summer break. With only a few days of school left and warmer temperatures arriving, we know the anticipation is only growing. We hope all families have a safe and enjoyable summer! CMCSS will share our Family Guide to the 2023-2024 School Year in July. In the meantime, please see below for a few items:

  • Free/Reduced Meal Applications: Even with a few days of school left, it is not too late for families of traditional (non-virtual) students to apply for free/reduced meals for this school year. Families may apply and potentially qualify for free or reduced-price meal benefits at any time during the school year. Online applications are available at If you need a paper application, please contact your child’s school or the Child Nutrition Department. Applications for the 2023-2024 school year will be available beginning on Monday, July 17. Applications must be submitted and approved each school year for a student to receive benefits.
  • Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 7th Grade Immunizations: Per state law, no child can be permitted to attend any public school until proof of immunization is presented. If your student qualifies for a Medical or Religious Exemption, documentation must be provided. Please click here to learn more. We ask families to please make arrangements before the first day of school.
  • Registration: If your family will have any students who are new to CMCSS in the 2023-2024 school year, visit to learn more and begin the enrollment process online.

School Safety

In monthly communications, CMCSS has been providing updates and reminders regarding school safety. In this last month of school, our community faced several concerns with social media threats and “swatting.” Although these are terrible situations that CMCSS and school systems across the nation have been facing for years, the number of threats occurring over a few days and in the wake of the tragedy at the Covenant School in Nashville created even more fear and anxiety in our community. School safety will always be our top priority, and we appreciate our strong collaboration with law enforcement and partnership with families to help make our schools and communities safe. Please see below for a reminder and two updates:

  • School Safety Hub: Last summer, CMCSS launched the School Safety Hub. This online resource for families provides important information about CMCSS’ safety and security measures. CMCSS does not publicly advertise its complete plan to ensure that those who wish to do harm do not have access to the information, but the School Safety Hub provides an overview of protocols and practices. We encourage all families to review the information and resources on the School Safety Hub. The Active Threat tab on the top left provides families with information and a video on the quarterly drills all CMCSS schools conduct to prepare in the event of an active threat on campus.
  • NEW Social Media Lawsuit: This week, the Frantz Law Group, APLC, working with Lewis Thomason, P.C. in Tennessee, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of CMCSS for the damages and growing mental health crisis among students that have been caused by social media companies. Over the past few years, CMCSS has experienced a rise in mental health issues, threats of school violence, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and other challenges, damages, and disruptions linked to students’ use of social media and the lack of protections, controls, and cooperation by social media companies. Without cooperation and support from social media companies, CMCSS has been fighting an uphill battle. It is time for social media companies to be held accountable for the lack of monitors, controls, and cooperation to protect children and our society, and CMCSS appreciates the partnership with the Frantz Law group to do that. We will keep families updated as the litigation progresses.
  • NEW Weapons Detection Pilot: A team from CMCSS and MCSO conducted a metal detector feasibility study. The team studied the research and best practices; types of metal detectors and new technologies; practices of other school districts; and the costs and logistics for implementing metal detectors. Through this research, MCSO and CMCSS leaders are planning a pilot for Evolv technologies. Unlike metal detectors, wanding, and other traditional solutions, Evolv offers an innovative and accelerated approach to physical security screening and weapons detection through enhanced sensors and artificial intelligence (AI). Sheriff Fuson is committed to partnering with CMCSS to proactively enhance layers of security, and MCSO has established funding for a pilot program for mobile units that can be piloted at multiple campuses to determine logistics and feasibility with various building and campus layouts. As details are confirmed about where, when, and how the pilot will be implemented, CMCSS will share information directly with families.