Social Emotional Learning & NSCS SAFE Groups

Written by Pam Heintz, Head of School

The COVID pandemic has brought to light some interesting things. For example, we have learned that you can never have too much toilet paper in your linen closet, it is difficult to understand someone while they are wearing a mask, and we all measure 6-feet differently.  Regardless of the COVID takeaways we will all be left with when we are on the other side of this pandemic, one thing is for sure, school-aged children have been emotionally affected by COVID.  It has infiltrated their world, and for many of them, they have needed a safe place to process the many implications of this virus, as well as the social and political climate we currently find ourselves in at this juncture in history.  NSCS was able to respond to this need by providing a safe place for our students.

We are thrilled that we were able to accelerate the launch of a new program at NSCS, as we responded to the need to provide Social and Emotional support to our students, and NSCS was able to open our doors in September with 100% in-person learning and our new SAFE Groups!

What is SAFE Group?  SAFE stands for Students and Faculty Engaging.  Twice a week our Middle School faculty team and their students hop off the academic track.  Gathering in small breakaway groups, our faculty provides a safe space and critical time to engage students around social and emotional issues.  Research supports the fact that students must have SEL (Social Emotional Learning) opportunities that are authentic and leave room for students to ask questions and wrestle with important, and often difficult, ideas, concepts, and experiences in a safe space.  Especially now, during a pandemic and post-pandemic, students will need time to process and purposefully engage in community building efforts that support emotional well-being.

Research indicates that providing these intentional times for students will aid in increasing student learning by 11%, and will make for stronger communities.  NSCS is thrilled to be on the cutting edge of this type of critical learning and student engagement.  Our Deans of Students take very seriously their responsibility of providing the structure and oversight to these important groups, as well as being available to students as they provide emotional support.

SAFE Groups seek to foster Five Key Areas of important development for middle school-aged students; Self Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, & Responsible Decision-making Skills.  In keeping with our school Mission and our Four Pillars of Distinction, our SAFE Groups are facilitated through the lens of a Biblical World View, helping to shape confident, well-rounded, & faith-grounded children!

Literacy Week Fun with the 3rd & 4th Graders

by Kirstin Lick, 3rd/4th Grade teacher on the Beverly Campus

This past week at NSCS all three campuses intentionally took the time to slow down from the business of school and just read! I am the 3rd and 4th Grade teacher on the Beverly campus and wanted this week not just to be a time to just to read, but also to challenge and allow each student to share and get excited about the next page.

On Tuesday morning when all the students came in they noticed plastic bins with their names printed on them and two books neatly stacked in them. The students were full of questions and eventually it was time to hand out the bookmarks that had eight stars. Each star represents a challenge, our goal as a class was if we could get 56 stars punched by Friday they would get a free snack and an extra recess next week. This was a huge incentive, and the stakes became more exciting as I told them there will be two alarms that will go off randomly throughout the day. It could happen at any time and we HAD to stop whatever we were doing (math, social studies, ELA, Bible…) and READ!

They were told how they had to read, on the floor, under desks, on the stairs, even chewing gum!  The challenges ranged from showing what they were reading through Playdo or forming a mini book group to share what their book was about. All the challenges had to do with what they were reading so they had to pay attention so they could win!

I was so amazed to see all my students, all with different reading levels, rise to the occasion. Students who traditionally weren’t comfortable sharing in class were jumping to share about their book with each other even before the challenge was read aloud. As a teacher, I learned just how easy it can be to get them excited when there is just the right motivation but also allowing them to talk and share what they are reading. This is something that I hope inspires you as parents, if you are struggling to get your child to open up their books at home to come up with fun incentives that will excite and engage them. 

I am proud to say my students did indeed achieve the 56 points and will be enjoying their prize this week; but the bigger prize was they didn’t want it to end. They wanted to keep reading and that is the desire I want for all my students, to love to read and not to stop!

Letter From HOS to begin Black History Month

Dear Families,

February 1 marks the beginning of a special month. Black History month is a very important month. It provides an opportunity for our country to reflect upon the past contributions of many, many outstanding Black individuals.  Men and women who blazed uncharted territory in the hopes of creating a pathway for others to follow…a path that would be smoother, and perhaps contain less obstacles, and this fight continues on today.  You can read more about Black History Month by clicking on the link.

Recently, Ms. MacDavitt, our Dean of Students and Middle School Team Leader on our Beverly Campus, asked her students to write an essay responding to one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quotes.  I was very impressed when I read a few of the students’ responses, so much so I have included excerpts from Daniel Gardner’s essay (grade 6).  This is exactly the type of deep thinking we want our students at NSCS to engage in.  We want our students to be aware of their history…a history that includes many diverse people, and how God might be calling them to respond in the present. Daniel based his essay on the MLK quotefollowing quote by Dr. King, Jr.; Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.  Dr. King, Jr. had a faith steeped in the tenets of the Christian faith, and while Dr. King, Jr. exposed light on the travesties of what was happening in our country in regards to racial inequality, it was King’s faith that also was exposed, reminding us time and time again, that we fight battles without a guarantee of the outcome or where it will take us, but by faith we respond.  Here are some of Daniel’s reflections;

“We also need to trust in God during this time of hardship and struggle (COVID).  We may not know when we get not to wear masks or go into public indoor spaces or feel like it was like before (COVID), but we can however, hold it in God’s hands…we may be discouraged or uneasy at times…but, He is our everlasting Lord and Savior who is always on the throne, who we can give our worries to and lean on…This (quote) reminds me that through all circumstances, big or small, we can say with confidence that our Lord and Savior will be there every step of the way.  Who gives us faith in our hearts so that we can take the first step.  Though the staircase may be foggy, I am thankful that we have a God who we can always, always put our trust in.”

Hearing a student express these sentiments is heartwarming, and encouraging.  To think that we have students who recognize that life will hold hard battles, but by faith we are called to participate nonetheless. We have indeed been called to commit to fighting battles for the good of others, and for the hope of a better world.  We can fight the battles that come our way by taking the first step, without seeing the whole staircase, because we have the help of a good and faithful God.  May this generation of children be the ones to fight bold battles in the name of God.


Pam Heintz, Head of School

Music blog pic

Adapting Music Education to a Pandemic

By Darby Martin, Music Teacher on Lynn & Beverly Campuses

No singing, no sharing instruments, no cross-classroom movement, no touching, stay six feet apart, masks on. Seems like a recipe for a very boring and unproductive music class…but not necessarily! Music educators all over the world have been thinking of new and exciting ideas to keep music class fun, but also safe amidst a pandemic. This year at NSCS, I’ve tried my best to incorporate some of those lessons. Here are a few that I’ve tried this year that the students have loved!

Instead of singing this trimester, we are learning American Sign Language signs to the worship song “What a Beautiful Name” by Bethel Music. Students in grades K-5 on Lynn campus and K-4 on Beverly campus will be learning the signs and I will be recording some of them performing. This is a safe way to have students participate in music making without singing. Last trimester before Christmas break, the students had the option of participating in a virtual choir experience for the virtual Christmas concert. Several Concert picstudents submitted a video of themselves singing “Silent Night”, and I edited together the different videos to make a choir. It was amazing and enriched the students experience. Students in middle school learned various Christmas tunes on Tone Chimes and performed those in the concert as well. Though perhaps not apparent at first glance, there are so many options for students to learn music without singing and maintaining social distancing!

In February and March, 1st – 4th graders will be learning about instruments of the orchestra in various capacities. 1st and 2nd graders will be studying Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals as well as Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. In these units students will analyze how each instrument represents a different animal or concept, based on the timbre of the instrument (or group of instruments). For example, the Wolf is played by “three mean French horns”. 3rd – 5th grade on Lynn campus and 3rd and 4th grade on Beverly campus will be studying instruments of the orchestra through interactive videos, research and even seeing some live orchestra instruments (they will not be shared, however).

Also, in February and March, 7th and 8th graders will be studying film music as well as music by Black composers to celebrate Black History Month. In addition, middle schoolers will be learning Bucket Drumming (drumming on buckets with drumsticks) and recording a mini performance later this spring.

Pre-K and Kindergarten students have been and will be working on movement-based learning, performing movements to classical music, and practicing dynamics (soft and loud) and tempo (fast and slow).

These are just a few of the musical activities the students at NSCS have been working on this year and will continue to explore and discover the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. I am so excited to share more videos and pictures of their hard work and determination in the future. Each day the children are proving that even during a pandemic, music class is fun!




Response to Recent Capitol Events

Dear Friends,

It is difficult for me to turn a blind eye toward the events that took place at the Capitol in Washington D.C. yesterday.  Watching the images on the news made me feel like I was watching something happening in another place. This certainly could not be America?

How did we get here? How have we lost our sense of decorum? How have we lost our sense of civility?

Watching the news and seeing the protesting, the confusion, and the chaos, and the utter disregard for order was frightening and disturbing.

I want this generation of children to live in a country that is peaceful.  I want this generation of children to witness the adults around them settling their differences in a respectable manner, that supports civil discourse, and meaningful rhetoric.

How I give thanks to God for NSCS and our devoted teachers who work very hard to engage our students in meaningful ways, as they challenge students to resolve differences with their classmates, share ideas and opinions with others that may be different, and live out their convictions – all in a winsome and civil manner.  Through Socratic dialogue and debates, our students are learning how to use rhetoric, be it in speech or writing, to draw people in, and invite others to participate in acknowledging the similarities we share and the good work that we can accomplish together, rather than arguing the differences and asserting our opinions.  I feel very blessed to be associated with NSCS.

We have an opportunity right now, at this juncture in history, and that opportunity is to be godly witnesses to those around us.  We have the opportunity to behave in a way that is representative of being a follower of Jesus Christ.  We have an opportunity to live out our faith in a manner that will be attractive to others.  As Christians we are called to live our lives differently, and we have been called to pray.Response

Please join me in praying for our Country.  Our leaders.  Our future.  There is an opportunity to shine the light and showcase the love of God.  We need not live in fear.  We need not despair.  Our good and Faithful God is still on the throne, and is still in control.

May your hearts embrace the reality that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He loves us with an everlasting love.

With Love,

Pam Heintz, Head of School



Resuming School on January 4th Parent Communication

December 31, 2020
Dear Families,
I trust that you all enjoyed a very special Christmas as you celebrated the birth of our Lord and Savior.  As we are on the cusp of a New Year, I feel hopeful that brighter days are within our reach.  God has been so faithful to our school, and I am confident that He will allow us to pick up where we have left off with our learning, upon our return to school on January 4, 2021.
The North Shore Christian School will be opening on January 4th to receive our students back for in-person learning.  Our medical consultants recently met to discuss how to best ensure that our re-entry is as safe as possible, with the obvious goal being to minimize the risk of COVID-19 brought into our learning community.  This will require all of us working in a coordinated fashion, and with a level of transparency.  The NSCS administration is not about the business of patrolling our families, and we lean on the honor system, whereby we trust one another to be forthcoming with pertinent information, and take the appropriate steps to care for and protect our learning community.
NSCS will be requiring adherence to the following two protocols for re-entry to school on January 4, 2021.  Please note that the Travel Guidelines are only one part of the protocol that NSCS will be instituting.  NSCS will also be utilizing the Quarantine Guidance, as set forth by   Please also read the other requests and restrictions set forth by NSCS.
  • Should you have traveled outside of the state of Massachusetts, please visit and follow the required guidelines.
  • Potential Exposure Encounter – NSCS defines potential exposure encounter as, “Anyone who was in a gathering after December 27, 2020 with individuals other than their immediate household and/or “close circle”, whereby masks/face coverings were not consistently worn, nor was social distancing consistently adhered to.”  Please be sure to fully acquaint yourself with the Quarantine Guidance, as set forth by (
  • To clarify, should a family have traveled outside of Massachusetts, and also experienced a potential exposure encounter, NSCS is requiring that families follow the Quarantine Guidance, instead of the Travel protocol.
  • Additionally, if your child, or anyone in their immediate household, has been informed of a positive case of an individual that they were exposed to after December 25th, please follow the appropriate Quarantine Guidance.
  • If you are in doubt as to what to do in way of returning to school next week, you are encouraged to stay home and speak with your PCP.  Your child’s teacher/s will work with you to ensure that your child does not miss school work, should quarantining be required.
  • As always, we also trust our families to keep their child/ren at home if they are experiencing ANY COVID-like symptoms, and to contact their PCP or child’s pediatrician.
  • NSCS will not be allowing volunteers and/or parents onto our Beverly or Lynn Campuses for the first two-weeks.  We hope to lift this restriction on January 19th.
  • Our SALT (Senior Administrative Leadership Team) members will follow a Smart Start re-entry, whereby each member will remain exclusively on one campus for the duration of the first two-weeks, in order to avoid cross-contamination between campuses.  Should you need to get in touch with any of our SALT members, you may find their emails below.  SALT members will resume a regular schedule on January 19, 2021.
*Please note, that teachers will work with any families whose child is unable to return to school on January 4th due to potential exposure, travel, or other COVID related matters.
As has consistently been the case this year, I am exceedingly grateful to each of you, and for the ways in which you have worked with the administration to ensure that our students and staff remain safe.  I have been humbled by the ways in which I have witnessed our learning community come together and support one another through this global pandemic.
These recent months have indeed been among some of the most extraordinarily trying, but God has remained faithful. It is my sincerest prayer that we will welcome the New Year with a sense of hopefulness, and that peace will settle in and take root in our hearts as we trust our good God to lead us confidently into 2021.
With Every Blessing,
Pam Heintz, Head of School
SALT Team Members:
Patti Cook (Business Manager) –
Pam Heintz (Head of School) –
Robin Lowe (Lead Principal) –
Renee Southard (Senior Administrator) –
Christine Saia (Director of Admissions and Community Engagement) –
Jill VanderWoude (Advancement Associate) –

Christmas Musings

by Kathy Ely, Assistant Principal and Kindergarten Teacher

I love this time of year for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is that I get to teach my Kindergarten students the story of Christmas. I always begin with Zechariah the priest. It is in this context that we first see heaven breaking through to earth in the appearance of the angel Gabriel. He was sent from the throne of God to bring a message of hope and joy to Zechariah. Not only was the content of this message for Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, but it was also for the nation of Israel who had been waiting for the Messiah to come for hundreds of years. The message was that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth would have their prayers answered and that Elizabeth would give birth to a son. This son would grow up to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. Zechariah’s response was “How can this be, since I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years?” Gabriel instantly rebukes Zechariah for his lack of faith and pronounces judgment on him declaring that he would be mute until the baby is born. 

We next see Gabriel appear to Mary in her house in Nazareth. The same angel appears to her and announces that she will give birth to a Son and He will be the Savior of the world! Mary’s response to this was to basically ask the same question but for a different reason, “How can this be?” I used to wonder why Zechariah incurred judgment and Mary did not. Didn’t they ask the same question? I decided to look at it more closely.

 Zechariah’s posture was “This can’t happen. I am too old and so is my wife. This can’t be true. It’s impossible.” Zechariah wanted to be sure this word was from God. He doubted the angel’s message. He promptly received a rebuke from Gabriel for his unbelief and then a consequence. Mary, on the other hand, didn’t doubt the angel’s word to her, she simply wanted to know how God would do this thing since she was a virgin not if He could do it. Gabriel’s response to her was, “With God, nothing shall be impossible.”

One person approached their situation with faith and one with doubt and unbelief. Even though Zechariah was a priest and ministered before the Lord, he did not believe the Lord. Mary was full of grace. Grace embraces faith because we cannot receive anything from God unless He gives us the grace to do so. It is the Law versus grace.

Where are you today in your relationship with the Lord as the day hastens to celebrate His coming into this world? Do you approach Him with doubt and unbelief or do you walk in the grace that He has lavished on us?  He is still full of grace and truth. Come to Him with a humble heart and receive His grace anew! Perhaps you will see impossible things happen in your life!


How are you serving in His name?

by Christine Saia, Director of Admissions and Community Engagement

I remember the day that God called me to serve in His name. I was sitting in church and we were watching a video about an orphanage that needed some financial help.  I watched those kids on the big screen and my heart ached for them.  They were parentless.  It was so hard for me to process.  I had 2 small children of my own at the time ages 2 and 3.  How come my children had both parents and a home to live in?  How was that fair?  I
immediately wanted to sell my home and move to this orphanage and help.  My emotions blog versewere running wild!  In that moment I knew that God wasn’t asking me to move to another country but to serve the children in my community. All children are His.

I knew this unsettled feeling I was having was from God.  I was very uncomfortable.  I knew I couldn’t just sit and not help.  I needed to act immediately even though I had 2 young children at home and I was going to add another!?  Maybe 2?!  It was very scary but yet so exciting! God was going to use me as a foster mother to these children!  Me…a person that never planned on a family. Me… with an unhealthy childhood.  Me… verse

It has been 9 years since the day I said yes to serve in His name.  Our family has welcomed over 20 children into our home since then.  Some stayed with us for years and some just for the night.  I have learned a lot through these children.  I have cried so many tears of joy and sadness.  As I write this my eyes fill with tears thinking of the children we said goodbye to.   I smile remembering the laughter these children brought into our home.   Foster parenting is not easy but God is faithful.  That day I said yes, He has been there to walk alongside me getting me through the hard days and nights.  I have been stretched for His glory. Serving in His name looks different for everyone.  This is just my story.  What does yours look like?

November 19, 2020 – Travel Protocol Communication

Dear Families,

As the Thanksgiving and Christmas Breaks are upon us, it is important that we remain vigilant in caring for our Learning Community. This will require all of us to be mindful of how we are spending our time during our school breaks, and how this may impact those around us upon returning to school. With that having been said, we want everyone to enjoy their school breaks and vacations with friends and loved ones. These opportunities to connect with others are very important.

NSCS is requesting that each family refer to the guidelines around protocols pertaining to travel. You may reference the COVID-19 Travel Order for Massachusetts information below, and we ask that you reference it again upon returning to school after both the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, as we all know how rapidly, and unexpectedly, things can change.

Below, you will find links to the current Massachusetts guidelines for travel protocol. These guidelines will be ones that NSCS will follow. Again, please be sure to reference the website for the absolute latest information. We urge all families to follow the guidelines prior to their child’s return to school from breaks, and to participate in the recommended protocol for travel, quarantine, and/or testing. As a reminder, not all insurance companies will cover COVID-19 testing if it is travel related, and not due to symptoms of COVID, so you may want to confirm with your insurance company what the expense will be.

As is always the case, our Task Force, and Faculty & Staff are grateful for all the ways you have come alongside NSCS to ensure that our community is safe. We know that this has not always been easy or convenient, and so all the more we thank you.

We serve a living God. Even in these trying times, He is faithful. He is holding us safely in the midst of the storm. I know it doesn’t always feel that way during the hard times, but God has hemmed his children in, and is providing divine protection as he gently cares for each of us. As we walk through these uncertain times as a community, it is my prayer that we will do so with a hope so big that it is contagious!

We Love and Appreciation,

Pam Heintz, HOS on Behalf of the Reopen School Doors Task Force


Guidelines Directly from

All individuals arriving in Massachusetts by any means or mode, including Massachusetts residents who have left the state for anything more than transitory travel, are covered by the Massachusetts travel rule. Accordingly, even travelers not required to complete the form should act in compliance with the rule.

The rule requires that you MUST quarantine for 14 days unless you:

  1. are coming from a lower-risk state or
  2. can produce, on request, proof of negative test result for COVID-19 from a test administered on a sample taken not longer than 72 hours before your arrival in Massachusetts, or
  3. meet the exemption criteria.

MUST quarantine until you receive the negative result. You may obtain a test at your own expense after your arrival in Massachusetts but you MUST quarantine until you obtain a negative result. Individuals who fail to quarantine are subject to a $500 fine per day.

Detailed information about the quarantine requirement and a list of exceptions can be found here.

By completing this form, you consent to receive text messages from the Commonwealth. If you have indicated that you will be quarantined, you will receive daily text message reminders starting on your arrival date and for the following 14 days or until your departure date, whichever comes first. Message and data rates may apply. For help, reply HELP. To opt-out, reply STOP. SMS Terms and Conditions/Privacy Policy.

Downloadable file here:
Travel Protocol Letter to Parents

Faith Rewarded

Written by Martin Trice in 2011, while he was Head of School at NSCS

When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, after an 86 year journey, the documentary created to celebrate that moment was called Faith Rewarded.  I understand that feeling of accomplishment when I received one of the most precious gifts I have even blogbeen given.  It was from my sons on the occasion of my birthday.  It wasn’t a wide screen TV or a piece of jewelry or even a new bowtie.  No. What my sons gave me were words of appreciation.

In simple cards were written the words every father longs to read but doesn’t dare to hope for, for fear that they will never be received.  In my oldest son’s card he wrote, “Dad, you are my hero.  The older I get, the more I realize that you are the man I hope someday to be.”   He went on to tell me his reasons why he felt compelled to write such a statement.  Choking back my emotions, my response in a return thank you card was, “Son, my prayer for you is not for wealth and fame, but that someday, you will receive a card like this from your son.  Thank you.  Love, Dad.”

I wish I could say that my wife and I are the kind of iconic parents where every thought and every decision were prayerfully wrought and strategically timed for the greatest impact.  Unlike television shows that are now relegated to the Classic TV channel, lessons in our family took much longer than 30 minutes to learn and were much messier.  As Ian and Andrew moved closer to adolescence, my not- so- recessive rebel gene began to materialize in their personalities.  For me it was the Vietnam war era counterculture movement.  For my boys it took shape in the form of skateboarding.   Their hair grew, their jeans got skinny, studded belts made an appearance and the music grew angry.   The proverbial apple doesn’t fall far they say.

The skateboarding world has a strange mix of the wholesome Tony Hawk types with hard core, tattooed punk rockers.  Care to guess which held the most attraction to my boys?  Beverly and I often felt that as they entered their teens, they stepped out onto a tightrope.  Just when it seemed they were making progress, suddenly they were tip toeing on dental floss – their arms and legs swaying wildly from one side to the other to prevent a fall into the world’s abyss. These were scary years.

So how did this amazing thing happen?  How does it come about that your 21 and 23 year old children come to recognize and embrace your faith and your values when, for a while, the outcome looked bleak?  Like an episode of Seinfeld, I am tempted to simply say the boys were into punk rock and yada yada yada they are now graduating from Christian colleges and warming a father’s heart.  But it’s in the yada, yada where prayer, wisdom and faithfulness is found.

Beverly and I are not child psychologists, bestselling authors on child rearing or experts on a speaking circuit following some master plan that we had developed while the boys were in utero.   We made our share of mistakes and errors in judgment.  What I can say is that we were purposeful in the raising of our sons.  We knew that someday the Lord would hold us accountable for our children and we were not going to sit back and watch life simply unfold.  We recognized that the world was going to work against us as Christian parents so we were determined to do everything in our power to tip the scales in favor of growing our boys into men of God.

In order for this to happen, we needed as much help as we could possibly find.  We both knew that in addition to their parents and our church, Christian schools and the influence of Christian teachers were going to be an important part of their lives.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”   We were willing to sacrifice, time, money and even homeownership to make this happen.  While we knew there were no guarantees, (Ecclesiastes does not promise that the cord cannot be broken, just that it is not easily broken), we wanted to provide our boys an environment where the ways of this world would be consistently exposed for what they really are.

Now that our boys are standing on the other side of the chasm, there is no question that in spite of all of the hardships, we would do it all over again.  All the while they were balancing on that wire, God repeatedly used Christian men and women to say the right thing at just the right moment to keep them moving forward.   My wife and I remain in the Christian school ministry not because we understanding its value theoretically, but we know it personally.  We both feel a deep responsibility to pay it forward to a new generation of children.  It is my prayer that North Shore Christian School is and will remain that third cord that helps grow men and women of God.