It’s been a long, cold month and I think we’re all hoping that little groundhog gives us some good news this weekend!
We owe a big thank you to all of our families and students for the outpouring of support in for library this month. After some third floor pipes burst on January 4th, we lost hundreds of books and materials in our ELL room, reading room, and library. Thanks to some hard working and dedicated 5th graders, who organized the book drive, we have replaced just about every library book that was destroyed, in only a few weeks. Mrs. T had some credits and donated money that she will use to replace the rest. This was a huge undertaking, so thank you 5th graders, Mrs T, families and community members, your support was priceless!
It has been a crazy few weeks here at the Peirce school, but it is reflective of the hustle and bustle of the season.
I just wanted to share a few nice moments; practicing our writing in Kindergarten to classical music, show and tell with some sweet holiday treasures in first grade, and a wonderful school assembly in the gym.
If you did not hear about it, ask your child to tell you about Rob Serrett. He shared messages of perseverance, kindness, and triumph. I especially like the way he shared the results of Dr. Emoto’s water experiment (you can You Tube it too) as a reminder of how our positive energy can effect those around us.
I wish you the happiest of holidays, a Happy New Year, and a wonderful break with your family.
It was great to see so many of you at the Micheal Thompson presentation on the 21st. I hope you took away as much insight and advice as I did. If you missed it, I recommend reading any of his books. He has a lot to share about the social development of children. A few things I took away:
It is ok to raise our expectations for independence in our children. In other cultures, such as Japan, students in Kindergarten go on overnight field trips with their teachers. They also successfully navigate the subway system at this age.
Children learn a lot of their social skills in school. Support your child’s teacher(s) in helping them learn how to navigate in a social world on their own.
Let them play! Playing is their job, it’s their work. It doesn’t have to be structured all the time.
We also just had an assembly called “The Power Of One” on Wednesday. Ask your child to share the clear message – bullying is not ok, and if you see it, you ‘HAVE TO TELL A TEACHER!!!!” If they yell that part, that’s because that was how we said it!
Tomorrow (Friday) is our Peirce Pride assembly for ‘Perseverance’, as well as our kick off for the Peirce Savings Bank.
Oh yes, and we’re still reading, writing, and doing math every single day!
You may notice that our teachers are very very busy this year, even more so than usual. Beyond the new teacher evaluation system, and the usual daily grind of teaching the most wonderful students in the world, there is another huge undertaking on their plate: RETELL.
The state has mandated that all teachers who have ELL students (English Language Learners) must be properly trained to do so. It is up to Arlington, as a district, to ensure that happens by 2016. The following is from the Massachusetts Department of Education website:
“In June 2012, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted regulations for the SEI endorsement that core academic teachers1 of English language learners (ELLs), and building administrators who supervise such teachers, must earn over the coming four school years. The new requirements are designed to strengthen instruction and better support the academic achievement of ELLs. Our work to address the ELL proficiency gap was accelerated in 2011 when the U.S. Department of Justice notified us that we must mandate professional standards for educators who provide sheltered English instruction to ELL students and must require incumbent SEI teachers to participate in updated SEI training to obtain the essential knowledge and skills needed to provide that instruction.
The centerpiece of the approved regulations is the SEI Teacher Endorsement, the credential that documents a teacher’s preparation to provide subject matter content instruction in English to students who are learning English. The new regulations require that all core academic teachers responsible for the education of one or more ELLs hold an SEI Teacher Endorsement by July 1, 2016. In addition, the SEI Administrator Endorsement establishes that a principal, assistant principal, or supervisor/director is trained to supervise or evaluate core academic teachers who provide SEI. The building administrators will be required to have their SEI Administrator Endorsement by July 1, 2016.
There are four options for incumbent SEI teachers and administrators to qualify for the endorsement:
Successfully complete a Department-approved course of study;
Pass a Department-approved test;
Hold a bachelor’s degree in a major approved by the Department (e.g., applied linguistics) or have other graduate level training approved by the Department that embodies the required standards; or
Hold an English as a Second Language or English Language Learners educator license.”
In short, our teachers are participating in a Master’s level course this year, on a series of Thursdays and Saturdays. It is a demanding course with assessments and homework.
So if it seems a little harder to meet with a teacher, there’s good reason, but don’t worry. They are still giving 110 % in our classrooms – and that’s where it really matters.
When I ask students what their favorite subject is, I often hear “Lunch!”, it is almost as popular as gym. And that is understandable, it is a time to relax, be social, eat, and have some fun.
It can also be stressful time for some children. When we talk to the kids about friendships and bullying, the lunchroom can be a place where bad behavior surfaces, for the same reasons it can be fun – more chance for unstructured socialization.
To help lunchtime be a safe, happy, healthy and somewhat structured time, we do have simple rules that are non-negotiable. When you talk at home about lunch time, it would be helpful for you to know the rules and why they were created.
#1 Speak respectfully to each other, using an indoor voice. (helps reduce volume, and foster respect)
#2 Walking only, no running. (safety)
#3 Keep your hands and feet to yourself. (safety)
#4 Go right to your seat, or line up politely to get your lunch. (safety and order, up to 100 children can be coming and going in a short period of time)
#5 Raise you hand to leave the table. (safety and supervision)
#6 ONLY nut free foods are at the nut free table. (safety – no lunches from home are allowed at this table as we can guarantee their ingredients; school lunches are nut free, and students with allergies who bring nut free foods are allowed)
#7 Listen to the lunch monitors. (they are the adults and are in charge)
#8 Reports and ‘Double D’ behaviors to a monitor and your teacher, using your Open Circle skills. (Open Circle is our social-emotional learning program that supports children in the development of good social skills)
#9 Do not exclude others from you table or play time.
#10 Please recycle.
Everyone wants lunch to be safe, happy, and healthy. We have over 272 children moving through the lunchroom in less than two hours. In that time, our monitors do a great job of cleaning every table so the children sit at a sanitized spot, including the nut free table. They help children open containers, cut food, put on clothing, and they supervise children inside, outside, and if they need to go to the bathroom. This is a lot to handle, but they try to do is as kindly as possible.
When children move about unexpectedly, they will be asked to sit down or get into line with their peers. Often, children are under the impression that lunch monitors don’t have the authority to do this, and it is important to remind them that the rules are there for safety, not to spoil their fun. The lunch monitors have a most important job, they are keeping our children safe.
Most of you have already received a hard copy of this letter, but just in case:
July 18, 2013
Dear Peirce Families:
It is with great pleasure that I welcome the students and you to the Peirce School for the 2013-2014 school year.
We had some staff changes once again, so here is our lineup:
Two kindergarten classes – Ms. Flynn and Mrs. Lamont – There will be NO Kindergarten/First grade combination as there was last year.
Each room will have a morning assistant.
Two first grade classes – Mrs. Wall and Mrs. Hurley. There will be an aide to help out both rooms.
Two second grade classes – Mrs. Manning and Ms. Coletti – There will be an aide to help in both rooms.
Patricia Lynch, formerly in the 4th grade co-taught, will be the special educator working with the younger grades. Additionally, we will have Mrs. Smith to help cover many classrooms.
Two third grade classes – Ms. Power and Mrs. Kennedy There is no job share this year.
Ms. Healey will stay as the 3rd grade special educator
Two fourth grade teachers – Mrs. Hayes and Ms. Burke
Kelsey McKenzie will be the 4th grade special educator
The fifth grade co-taught program will remain in its current model, with Ms. Dooley and Ms. Montgomery. The second fifth grade will be Mrs. Perkoski and Mrs. Goodbody (job share).
Nadine Solomon joins us as a math coach. Other support staff has remained the same.
Enclosed is your child’s class list and assignment. The entire staff worked very hard to make the classrooms as well balanced as possible; we will not change classroom assignments from this point on.
Grades 1-5 open on Tuesday, September 3rd. It is a full day. Students should assemble on the playground behind their designated classroom sign. Teachers will greet the students and walk them in.
In case of rain, 1st and 2nd grade students will assemble in the gym. 3-5 will assemble in the cafeteria. Due to our increasing numbers, please, no adults in the cafeteria, teachers only. This will be the routine for all inclement weather days.
Kindergarten opens on Monday, September 9th. There will be visits scheduled for the 3rd, 4th and 5th. Please keep those dates open!
Arrival and Dismissal
If you are driving your children to Peirce school, please obey the “Drop and Roll” policy of not leaving the driver’s seat when you are dropping/picking up.
All students, except kindergartners, will enter school by the rear doors located next to the playground. Please, no dogs allowed on school property when our children are here.
School begins promptly at 8:15 a.m. Students file in the building when the 8:10 a.m. bell is sounded.
School is dismissed at 2:15 p.m.
If your child is tardy please they must report to the office before going to their classroom. Also, if your child is being dismissed please make sure that you send a written request of the dismissal time to the teacher. Students will be dismissed from the office at the designated time.
A reminder there is no parking allowed in the drop-off areas in front of the building or in the lot. If you feel you need to walk your child to their playground, please park in a legal parking spot on Newland Rd. or further down Blossom St.
At dismissal time, students will be released in the following manner:
Kindergarten – Teachers will escort the students to the small playground in the front of the school to their parents.
Grade One – Teachers will escort the students to the front door on and dismiss near the science garden.
Grade 2-5 – Students will be released through the rear doors by the large playground.
No kindergartener or first grader will be dismissed unless met by a parent or responsible adult. However, please reinforce to your child that they may ALWAYS return to the school office if in need assistance or help.
PARENTS ARE ASKED TO CALL IN CHILD’S ABSENSES!
Safe Phone Number 781-316-3298
Remember to call your student in if he/she will not be attending school by 8:15 AM on the day of absence. Please do not call the teacher or the secretary to leave this message. Procedures are as follow: This phone is on 24/7.
REMEMBER TO SPEAK SLOWLY AND CLEARLY
State your name, child’s name, teacher, and reason for absence
Our Safe Alert system will notify you if your child has been marked absent. We can not override the system, so please expect a phone call even though you have informed us of the absence.
Please bear in mind that only absences for illness and family emergencies are considered excused absences. Good attendance leads to success!
The federal No Child left Behind Act requires that all volunteers submit to a CORI check. The CORI is necessary even for a one-time event. CORI forms are available in the office through Mrs. Costa.
Back to School Events – Mark your calendars!
Thursday, October 10 from 6:30 – 7:30,
Peirce teachers will present of overview your child’s grade level curriculum. This is a parent only event so please consider childcare arrangements now if you are planning to attend. The teachers will provide the same presentation at 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. so parents with children in different grade levels may attend both sessions. We are hoping to be able to provide some level of baby sitting as well, we will keep you posted.
January 16th from 6:30 – 7:30
This will be our open house event
In our efforts to ‘go green’, Peirce strives to be paperless. Please utilize the Arlington Public School website www.arlington.k12.ma.us/home/ for district news and the school year calendar, also, the Peirce website which is linked there.
Each classroom has additional means of communication, from agenda books to Twitter. If you do not have internet access or prefer hard copy notices, please alert your child’s teacher at the beginning of the year.
Your child’s success and happiness at Peirce School is important. If a problem or concern arises, please make an appointment with your child’s teacher. Impromptu meetings at drop off and pick up distract attention from the children. It is better to set a time to have a focused conversation. If you need to speak with me, I would appreciate the same.
Enjoy the rest of the summer! Play some math games and read!!!
I had originally wanted to collect some examples of academics to share with you this week, but instead I got wrapped up in some of the amazingly adorable things I have seen here at Peirce lately.
In Kindergarten, I joined the kids as they worked on some ocean study. One little boy mentioned that he would like to be an octopus. Naturally, I had to ask, “What would you do with all those arms?”
“I would hold all my babies.” he replied.
In first grade, a little girl gave her teacher a plastic ring for her birthday.
In second grade, I saw a little boy take time out from playing to tie a classmate’s shoe.
In third grade, friends working together to find a student’s missing toy.
The 4th grade, as you probably know, has been putting in hours before and after school to raise money for the Alanna and Joshua fund.
In 5th grade, I saw a young man wave to his K buddy, who was frantically trying to get his attention – and made that little guy smile.
And of course, all of them did such a great job at the concert rehearsal. These kids just could NOT be more adorable!!
It seems the weather is finally catching up with the calendar, and spring has arrived! The kids are able to go outside more often, which always makes learning easier.
As I’ve walked through the halls and classrooms, I’ve seen wonderful things; home-made instruments that produce sound (attached to a science unit), structures made of recycled materials, bridges built, neighborhoods designed, and lots of spectacular writing. Stop and look at a bulletin board the next time you are here, there are great things going on!
Our 4th graders have been especially busy, they have worked with CBS Meteorologist Todd Gutner (you may be able to catch them on the CBS news website) and they are running a baseball store. All proceeds go to ‘Pitching in for Kids”. The store is open before school, come on in and shop!
We are in the last ten weeks of school, so we are already planning for next year. Look for an email from me soon that will give you the line up of staff. With the shifting in the co-taught program, we will be reducing staff, and I know you have questions. I will get that out to you as soon as I can.
Enjoy the weather!!!
Each year, the Peirce School Advisory Council, consisting of the principal, teachers, and parent, meet to discuss the hopes and visions we all share for the improvement of our school. We are not unique in this process, as each Massachusetts School is mandated to have such a council in place. You can find more about the council and our members through the Peirce website.
This year, you will notice there is a strong push for improvement in math. By no coincidence, that is a district goal as well. Our school improvement plan strongly reflects the goals of the district. We have three major goals and action steps, and the APS goal it reflects:
Arlington Goal 1:
The Arlington Public Schools will ensure that every graduate is prepared to enter and complete a post-secondary degree program, pursue a career, and be an active citizen in an ever-changing world by offering a rigorous, comprehensive, standards-based and data-driven K-12 system of curriculum, instruction, and assessment that integrates social, emotional and wellness support. Student Achievement
Peirce Goal 1: 70% of students in grades 3, 4, and 5 will score either advanced or proficient in the MCAS
|Action Steps||Person(s) Responsible||Timeline||Resources Needed||Success Indicators||2013 Progress|
|Incorporate challenge activities into each math unit
|Principal, Teachers, Math director||July 2012 – June 2013||Think Tanks (previously purchased, already in classrooms)
Teacher and math director time, AEF grant funds (already acquired)
|3% or more increase in MCAS scores in proficient and advanced|
|Bring in and utilize a math coach for teachers
|Principal, Math director||2012-2013 school year||Title One funds,
Teacher time beyond the school day
|Increase PPI to 50% in MCAS scores|
|Implement an after school tutorial program for at risk students||Principal,
|2012-2013 school year||Title One funds, teacher time,
|Tutors pre-assessment and post assessment results, teacher observation|
Arlington Goal II – Staff Excellence and Professional Development
The Arlington Public Schools will recruit, hire, retain, and build the capacity of a diverse staff to
be excellent teachers and administrators by providing high quality professional development
aligned to needs, instructional support, coaching, and an evaluation framework that fosters
Goal 2: Ensure that Peirce teachers are providing assistive technology for all students
|Action Steps||Person(s) Responsible||Timeline||Resources Needed||Success Indicators||2012-2013 Progress|
|Expand use of assistive technology in the classroom||Building tech person (Rebecca Kapler), Principal
|2012-2013||IPad, lcd projectors, professional development from the district and school leadership, feedback by teachers formalized in a survey||Kid survey? To measure their opinion of the impact|
|Identify classrooms in need of lcd projectors & document cameras, and acquire them||IT, teachers, Building tech person||2012-2013||IT department, possibly PTO funds||Equitable classroom inventory by 7/13|
|Expand PD at the building level||Principal, staff, Building tech person||2012-2013||PTO, Grants, Teachers,||25% of building meetings devoted to technology related PD|
Arlington Goal IV – Operations, Communication and Stakeholder Engagement
The Arlington Public Schools will be run smoothly, efficiently and professionally. The district will operate transparently and engage in effective collaboration and responsive communication with all stakeholders. It will provide timely, accurate data to support financial decision-making,
envisioning of the district’s future, and long-range planning in partnership with other Town
officials. Through these actions it will create broad support for a high quality education system,
that is the community’s most valuable asset.
PEIRCE Goal: 3 Improve Communication Between School and Home
|Action Steps||Person(s) Responsible||Timeline||Resources Needed||Success Indicators||2012-13 Progress|
|Needs assessment from the Peirce Community via survey.||Principal, secretary,
|Teacher communication with parents, office communication (summer)||Survey Monkey and hard copy results; protocol for creating a hard copy list|
|Communicate confidentiality policy and FERPA law to staff and community
|Principal, Advisory Council||2012-2013||Information provided by the DOE, slide show at PTO
|Information shared this year and annually.
|Create Grade level websites: Prepare supply lists and class lists before the end of the 2013 school year for 2013/2014||Teachers, Principal
Building tech person
|Faculty time; teacher time
|Completed websites and lists by June 2013
Some of these goals will be met at the end of the school year, and that progress will be reflected in the progress column. Others will continue, or be altered, to reflect the ever-changing needs of our school.
If you think you would like to be a member of our council, we are always looking for candidates, check the Peirce website for more information!
Many of you may be hearing about the new curriculum standards, “The Common Core”. Next year, we will be shifting away from the Massachusetts Standards and into the Common Core. There will be some changes in your child’s curriculum, and I think it is for the better.
For those of you with iPads or smartphones, there is a great, free app called, simply, CmmonCore (no spaces if you want to look it up). It is clear about the standards in English Language Arts and math at all grade levels. With just a few taps, you can see what will be expected of your child next year in any grade level.
Arlington has been preparing for the change, and adaptations have been made along the way. The Common Core will be the national benchmark for students, as opposed to states determining their own. Massachusetts was already well ahead of the game.
There is oodles of information on-line, but the important thing to remember is that we are ready for the transition. Our school is ready for the change!