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Monday, February 6, 2012

Community, Volunteers and More-February 7. 2012

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                                  

Sexton Mountain School is a great place to learn!  Our kids are doing amazing things.  If you haven’t been in for a while to see first hand what is happening, let me tell you about some of the things that make our school special.  Our students are engaged learners.  Watching every child in the school read and discuss Where the Mountain Meets the Moon has been a powerful experience.  Having a common text for discussion brings us together. Teachers have been reading this in the classroom, so when you read it at home, your children will likely have interesting discussion points.  In addition to what is happening with One School, One Book, our teachers provide powerful integrated projects for learning. Recently, first graders were having a heated discussion about how to write about football.  I had no idea that favorite quarterbacks (including Tom Brady) would be such a topic of interest.  Fourth graders in Mr. Shotola’s class were researching owls and finding all sorts of interesting facts about them.  Mr. Pfaff brought a leaf blower to illustrate a weather related topic in his room.  Kindergarten students in Mrs. Loumena’s classroom were practicing interview skills and asking good questions.  We certainly have engaged learners!
One of the things I’ve observed about Sexton Mountain is that we also have a great sense of community.  Our adults model volunteering and service in such a positive way that our children also have a strong desire to serve.  In addition to our parent and family volunteers, our third, fourth and fifth graders will have opportunities to have big buddies from Canfield Place each Tuesday morning.   These volunteers are providing an intergenerational experience for our students as they practice math flashcards.  We are so lucky that local businesses are willing to partner with us.  Our students are working with one another within our building as well.  First grade and third graders enjoyed buddy time on Friday morning.  They were reading together and discussing texts.   In the gym, our fifth graders serve as mentors during Adaptive PE with students in Ms. Yokom’s and Ms. Burnett’s classes.  Great things are happening in our building!
At Sexton Mountain, we have amazing volunteers.  Art Literacy volunteer, Stephanie Amann was teaching students in Mrs. McConnell’s class about French sculptor Auguste Rodin on Friday.  As they analyzed a slide of “The Thinker” many students adopted the pose.  In addition to teaching our kids, volunteers also do support work outside the classroom.  Our students are doing incredible projects and others can learn so much by looking at the work displayed in our hallways.  Our hallways resemble museum displays thanks to the work of the many volunteers who put up the work.  Diane Scannell spent a chunk of her Friday morning paying close attention to detail and kids appreciate knowing that their work is valued.  Also on Friday morning, a team of parents was hard at work for popcorn Friday.  Students certainly look forward to this special day.  Our volunteers enrich recess time.  On Thursday afternoon the sun was shining and students were running around the track for Sparky’s Running Club. Zak, in Mrs. Stratton’s class, was pink cheeked and proud of the number of laps he ran during that time.  Our volunteers also work with individual students.  We now have over twenty parents who have been trained in the Read Naturally reading intervention program.  Thanks to all the volunteers who spent time learning how to use the reading program to improve reading fluency and comprehension one child at a time. 
            In addition to the exciting things that happen during the day, we also have evening events.  Family nights with business partners and special events like our upcoming Family Dance, Family Art Night and Ruby Tuesday’s Give Back program are just a few of the examples of how our PTC reaches out to the community for fundraising, fun and learning.
You have probably noticed that some of the teachers in our school are expecting exiting things in their lives away from school too.  Can you think back to the day when your child entered your life?  I bet it was full of excitement and you were filled with a range of emotions.  If you are like me, it seems like just the other day, my kids smelled like Baby Magic baby wash and I enjoyed nibbling their toes as they cooed. When teachers are out on leave, I believe that hiring the very best teacher is very important.  Whether a teacher spends thirty days in a classroom or thirty years, their time with kids makes a lasting difference.  Because of my passion for hiring the best, when our staff members will be on family leave, I take the job of finding replacement teachers very seriously. I have been busy contacting my colleagues for recommendations, pouring over resumes, checking references and interviewing to make sure that the teacher who fills in for our teacher will be awesome!
            Karen Grant will be replacing Mrs. Hiatt in May when she is on leave.  Karen started the school year filling in for a teacher on maternity leave in a first grade classroom at Scholls Heights School, so she knows first graders!  She served students as a teacher at West TV Elementary School for 6 years before taking a leave to stay home with her own children.  She is described as a caring, calm teacher with high expectations for children.  We are excited that she has agreed to join us this spring and hope to have her in the building when other teachers are sick between now and May.  She will join us for spring conferences so that families can get to know her.  Coincidentally, her twin sister was a guest teacher in Mrs. Hiatt’s classroom earlier in the year, so students may have a feeling that they know her already.  We are excited that she will be joining our team!  We are still working on interviewing teachers for Mrs. Loumena’s position.  The Special Education department will appoint a Speech and Language Pathologist during Katie Walker’s leave.
             We do indeed have a lot going on here at school!  Thank you for sharing your children with us and for supporting them in their learning away from school.  As I reflect back on the first half of my school year, I am so appreciative of the open lines of communication I see between home and school.  Thank you for helping me to feel so welcome and for providing me with an opportunity to learn about your children.  If we haven’t had a chance to meet yet, I’d love to spend 15 minutes with your family getting to know your hopes and dreams for your child.  Please check with Mrs. Z to set up a time for us to talk. 


Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
A.k.a.  Mrs. C.-B.

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids.  If you have things you'd like to share, feel free to send them in.
  • Prizes for Sparky’s Running Club
  • Wide-ruled notebook paper
  • Pencils and Pencil topper erasers
  • Legos and Board Games (on really rainy days we are trying to find alternatives for recess)
  • Playground balls

Thank You Business Partners!
Pizzacato, Subway, Canfield Place, McDonald’s, Ruby Tuesday, Johns Incredible Pizza, and Portland Bagel Company are just a few of the local businesses who’ve supported our school this year.  If you happen to visit one of these places, please let them know how much we appreciate their support.

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