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Highlights From Peirce This Year

Peirce Elementary School


Peirce has a healthy focus on activity this year. We have continued with our monthly “Walk to School Days” with great participation. We added a new bike rack out in front, and biking to school has become a regular family event. We are planning bike safety programs for the spring.

We started the BOKS before school fitness program for our students this year, and have continued to offer the “Fit Girls” running club as well. Look for us at the ‘Cause and Event’ 5K this May.


The Peirce students and community continue to show their generosity and community spirit all year long. We participated in the Cradles to Crayons collections, the November Turkey collection for the local families, pajama and coat drives, Pennies for Patients, and food pantry drives, just to name a few.


Our 4th Grade teachers and students will once again be donating their time to run the Peirce Baseball Store at Peirce, where all the profits go to the Alana and Joshua Fund, and “Pitching in For Kids”, a charity sponsored by the Red Sox.


Peirce is a very social community. The parents organize a Bottle Rocket exposition in the fall, a talent show, movie night, family dance, art show, International Night, and our Spring Fair, coming up in June. We added a new Lantern Walk in November this year, and also continued our traditional pumpkin decorating, cookie decorating, and ice cream social for the students.


Our teachers have been busy looking at students’ work and assessments. Grade levels hold periodic data reviews to track their students’ progress. They pour over MCAS data and district assessments to measure where our student’s strengths and weaknesses are. That information helps steer our instruction.


Most of our teachers have completed a RETELL course on behalf of our ELL students. They are also studying “The Behavior Code” with in-services from one of the authors, Jessica Minnehan.   “The Behavior Code” is collaboration between a behavioral analyst and a child psychiatrist, which offers a systematic approach for deciphering causes and patterns of difficult student behaviors, and matches them with proven strategies to get the student back on track.


Third grade parents and teachers are beginning preparations for “Colonial Day” in May, and educational day about life and learning back in Colonial Times.


Once again, the Peirce Chess Club, the ‘Castle of Chess’, has once again come back with a trophy from the Rhode Island Scholastic Chess Championship. Their yearlong practice paid off again!


We continue to celebrate ‘Peirce Pride’ every day in our Perseverance, Effort, Integrity, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Excellence, just as we celebrate our motto, “Strive to Shine, as a Student, as a Friend”.


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Great Things Happening at Peirce

I thought it might be a nice time to share some great learning moments I have seen here at Peirce recently:

Kindergarten – students playing math games in groups, working together, and learning about numbers.

First Grade – students breaking apart big numbers into 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s, in order to understand their value.

Second Grade – math centers using iPads, dice, ping pong balls, and game boards to add and subtract large numbers and TIME (that’s tricky!!)

Third Grade – students working on math strategies, and looking over their work and identifying their best work, reflecting on what made it their best.

Fourth Grade – students working in groups to discuss and identify character traits, and finding evidence to support their decision.

Fifth Grade – working in pairs to discuss word problems, and best strategies for solving those problems.

In art, 4th grade students are learning about pottery styles and ‘pinch pots’.

In music, students are learning types of music, and of course, new songs.

In gym, students are leaning about sports and nutrition (ask your 2nd grader about the food groups)

In library, students are browsing books and listening to stories that tie into their curriculum, like the 3rd grade making Pilgrim and Native American puppets after listening to historical fiction.

We are very busy and productive every day!!!

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Advice For Parents on Homework

This was an interesting summary I found on “The Marshall Memo”, I especially like the historical perspective on the reasons why homework exists:

8. Advice for Parents on Homework
“Homework has a branding problem,” says author Bruce in his article posted about the online IELTS course. “Or, to be a little less pointy-headed about it, everybody hates homework.” But this hasn’t always been so. “Parents have been having these battles since before electric lighting,” he says. In the 19th century, homework was popular because people viewed the brain as a muscle that needed to be strengthened by nightly exertion. At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a backlash against repetitive drills, and by the 1940s, homework was out of favor. Then Sputnik got people panicked about the U.S. falling behind the Soviets and lots of homework was part of the solution. There was another dip in the 1960s, and then A Nation at Risk caused yet another surge in the 1980s. Today we’re hearing from both sides: Chinese kids are doing six hours of homework before breakfast! No, play is more important than make-work and Google wants employees who are creative.
In Feiler’s own household, the homework wars come down to squabbles over several questions, and he went looking for answers from experts:
• Do children need to work at their own desks or is the kitchen table okay? Eva Pomerantz, a specialist on parent involvement at the University of Illinois, likes the kitchen table because a parent is usually around, increasing the chance of connections, but is busy preparing meals, which makes it less likely they’ll do the homework themselves. But it depends on your house, she says: “If you have a crazy, noisy kitchen, that’s probably not the place for your kids to be doing homework unless they have amazing concentration.”
• Is it okay for children to do homework sprawled on their beds? “It’s not about the kid being on their bed while they do their homework,” says Erika Patall, a University of Texas expert on motivation and achievement. “It’s about the extent to which they’re really engaged and attentive to their work.” Young people vary in their preference for bright or dim lighting and sitting up or lying down. If the kid is falling asleep, looking out the window, or on the phone, then bed homework is a problem.
• How about listening to music or doing FaceTime with friends? Patall says the research on multitasking is pretty clear: “People tend to be very bad multitaskers, even people who say, ‘I’m a great multitasker.’” Doing other things extends the time homework takes and erodes the quality of work.
• Should parents go over homework to check for errors? “If you’re concerned that imperfect homework makes you look bad, that’s problematic,” says Pomerantz. But regularly looking over homework may help students put in more effort and catch their own mistakes.
• Should parents criticize sloppy homework or stick to encouragement? “You don’t always have t
o be upbeat,” says Patall. “You don’t want to deliver critical messages that imply things can’t be fixed. So you never want to say things like, ‘You’re stupid.’ But pointing out a situation where they should try harder would certainly be justified.”
• What will make children more self-motivated? The key is to give them as much control over their homework as possible, says Pomerantz, who has to fight her own tendency to be controlling. She tells her children how hard she works and says she expects them to do the same. “If you give them space to be self-reliant,” she says, “they usually will take it.”

“The Homework Squabbles” by Bruce Feiler in The New York Times, September 14, 2014,

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The First Full Week

We are now in 7 (or day 3 for Kindergarten) and it feels like we are in a good routine.  As I walked through the classrooms today, I saw kindergarteners holding hands, helping each other read, and answer,  the “Mystery Question” of the day.  I saw first graders reciting the pledge of allegiance, and second graders sorting out the difference between asking and telling sentences.  Everyone seems happy and engaged in their work.

Thank you all for your help in starting this year on a happy, positive note!!

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Thank You!

Hi all!
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!

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The Happiest of Holidays

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.

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An Update for November

Hi Families!

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!

Happy Fall!!!

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RETELL for teachers

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.

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Lunch Rules!!!

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.

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Welcome Back Letter

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.



Opening Day


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.




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.


Ÿ   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!


*Curriculum EVENING

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 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!!!

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