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Merion Elementary School


February 2, 2024, Update from Dr. Yanni

Dear LMSD Community,

After a blast of winter over the last few weeks, February is here! For those of you who have an affinity for Punxsutawney Phil, you’ll be happy to know that he did not see his shadow, so an early spring is assuredly on its way! I’m counting on Phil…and thinking spring!

I am pleased to offer another update. Moving forward, my updates will be sent monthly, with the next update coming at the end of February. In that update, you can expect information on a variety of topics, including additional professional learning for our staff on how to enhance the inclusive cultures of our schools.

February is Black History Month

This month, LMSD schools are celebrating Black History Month with a variety of educational and enrichment activities. African American history is part of the year-long curriculum at all levels, but teachers and students will take extra time throughout the month for further exploration of significant historical figures and events. 

This year’s theme is “African Americans and the Arts.” The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) states, “African American art is infused with African, Caribbean and the Black American lived experiences. In the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression, the African American influence has been paramount. African American artists have used art to preserve history and community memory as well as for empowerment. Artistic and cultural movements such as the New Negro, Black Arts, Black Renaissance, hip-hop and Afrofuturism, have been led by people of African descent and set the standard for popular trends around the world. In 2024, we examine the varied history and life of African American arts and artisans.”

Click here to learn more about how our students and staff are celebrating Black History Month.

A Sense of Belonging in a Complex World

In last week’s update I shared information about how we are continuing to build a culture of belonging among all students and staff, while also acknowledging we live in a time with incredible complexities. As you have heard from me before, student voice is important not only to me, but to our Leadership Team, School Board and the greater community. With great latitude comes great responsibility. While students enjoy many protections under the First Amendment, some limits on speech can be imposed to minimize disruption and interference with the rights of others.

On December 21, 2023, I shared a community letter in which I acknowledged the hurt and fear caused by an article in the December edition of The Merionite. Given the concerns about antisemitic language, access to the online article was removed to protect the safety and well-being of all students. In last week’s update, I included information about the latitude students, staff and other groups have when it comes to speech and expression in schools. Those guidelines will be used moving forward to ensure that we honor students’ speech and expression, while simultaneously fostering a sense of inclusivity and belonging in our schools. We will continue to honor and value the diversity of our student body, staff and community!

In previous updates, I shared information about professional learning in which we are engaging. My next update will share additional information. As learning continue, so do our needs; therefore, we continue to dialogue and engage with groups that will serve us well. More exciting new is to come!

Inaugural State of the District

As part of my entry into LMSD, I had the opportunity to evaluate All Forward, our Strategic Plan. After reflecting on the goals outlined in the plan and collecting evidence of work toward achieving those goals, I developed a presentation that focuses on where we are now and future-focused plans that articulate goals moving forward!

A big thank you to everyone who joined me for the Inaugural State of the District. If you were not able to attend, you can click here to view a video of the event.

Enter to Learn Podcast

Members of our curriculum and instruction team joined me on Enter to Learn, episode 2, to discuss changes to high school grade point averages, weighted grades and graduation requirements starting with the 2024-2025 school year. You can hear my discussion with Dr. Alexis McGloin, Assistant Superintendent; Dr. Jason Lilly, Supervisor of K-12 Math; and Dr. Lauren Hopkins, Secondary Humanities Supervisor in this episode.

Stay tuned for more information on how you can access my next podcast on your favorite platforms.

A Few Reminders

  • Kindergarten and first grade registration is now open for the 2024-2025 school year.
  • Despite our friend Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction, winter may still make a few more appearances before spring. It is important to be reminded of our procedures now that we have exhausted our traditional snow days.
  • Bookmark our Making Practices Public page so that you can refer to it often and see the various resources we are posting for our community.

Best wishes for a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.


Steven M. Yanni, Ed.D.