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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Prizes, Gratitude, Emergencies, Courage, Goal Setting and Dressing for the Weather-Dec. 15, 2015

The purpose of today’s newsletter is to:                                                                                                                    

  • ·       Celebrate because your child WINS a special prize
  • ·       Express GRATITUDE to voters and volunteers
  • ·       Update you on our EMERGENCY backpacks and encourage you to take action at home
  • ·       Tell about our school focus of COURAGE during the month of January
  • ·       Compel you to set reading GOALS as a family for winter break
  • ·       Share a new MOTTO I learned about outdoor activity in Oregon

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

The anticipation of receiving a special gift can be as much fun as actually opening it.  The joy of giving a special gift may even be more exciting than receiving a gift.  The act of giving and receiving is MAGICAL!  It seems that many people in my life have recently made reference to  a show about giving and receiving so I checked out the clip I wasn’t familiar with.

When I watched this, I wondered if there were any people who had planned to be there but didn’t show up that day.  How would someone feel if they missed the plane to Chicago and the next flight got them to Oprah after the show was over? 

While Oprah gave away cars, at Sexton Mt. we give the special prize of LEARNING!  Every day, our teachers look forward to sharing this gift.  When our students are here and ready, they are equipped with skills and habits of mind that help them be ready for tomorrow.  This is a gift that will last a lifetime.  While a car might get you places, it’s limited to roads and maybe 200,000 miles.  Learning can take one ANYWHERE!  The possibilities are endless and last a lifetime!    Like with all fabulous prizes, CHILDREN MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN!   Our learning plane boards daily and 8:25 and we take off promptly at 8:30.  Make sure your child is ready to be off to adventure!  You might even send them off with, “And you win the GIFT of learning!!!”

We have amazing teachers ready to share the gift of learning with our students.  Because of the support of our community the Local Option Levy passed a few years ago and our school has 5 classroom teachers and part of the Intervention Teacher position.  We have 20 classroom teachers currently with 3 or 4 at each grade level.  I can’t imagine how we would function with all our kids in just 15 classes.  Because it was passed several years ago, I sometimes forget about the very special gift our community gave our students (a.k.a. the future of our nation) by supporting children with extra funding for staffing.  Since less than 30% of our community has children in school, I know that voters know that great schools benefit more than just the students.  Strong schools mean strong communities.  I invite you to extend my appreciation to your childfree neighbors and co-workers.

Nicholas Boss’ Eagle Scout project invited countless community members to support our school with finances for Emergency Kits and tons of teens to donate time to get the project done.  Twenty-six community members contributed to the project and last Saturday, backpacks were organized and distributed to classrooms.  While we hope we will never need to use the backpacks, we now have “grab and go” supplies in case we need to exit the building quickly. Being ready for an emergency is an important LIFE SKILL!  Students will be learning how to grab the backpacks so they can go outside quickly while at school even though they spend less than a third of their time at school.  Now is a great time to make a grab and go pack at home too.  Each of my family members has a pair of shoes stored under the bed and a backpack with a rain jacket, flashlight, essential medication, important phone contacts, a few bucks and a bottle of water just in case we need to get out fast.  What do you have in your emergency “grab and go” bag?

We know that what we focus on grows.  Over winter break, kids will have 14 days away from school.  If it were up to my son, he would focus entirely on video games during the time off.  As a parent, I have to help my son set specific goals for how he will spend his time and help him track progress in a public place.  Somehow, our youngest child mastered the art of invisibility early in his life so he’s good at slipping under our radar for hours if we are not diligent.  I invite you to be mindful of the supports your kiddos will need in order to do brain and body healthy things over the break.

During the month of December we focused on COMPASSION as a school. We celebrated the compassionate actions of our students and recognized compassion in others.  During the month of January, our school will focus on COURAGE!  Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one.

School is a great place to practice being courageous.  During the month of January, we are going to ask students to show courage in safe ways.  Our first goal will be for all children to enter the building INDEPENDENTLY.  By Wednesday, January 13th we would like all of Sexton Mountain’s children to say good-bye to parents at the front door and proceed to their classrooms.  Mountain Guides will be in the hallway to count independent students showing courage as they make their way to their morning choice then classrooms without being accompanied by parents or grandparents. (We realize this might be harder for parents than kids.  Check out Dad's First Day by Wohnoutka if you need biblio-therapy.  We hope adults will show COURAGE too.

Thank you for sharing your very special children with us.  I delight daily in students’ stories and growth.  Last week I shared info about my observations about kids and rain.  Later in the week, a safe routes to school representative shared more research about the benefits of students getting to school by their own power or by taking provided transportation (like school buses).  My new MOTTO is going to be that the weather in western Oregon seldom makes it impossible for us to walk to school. She noted, “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BEING TOO WET TO WALK TO SCHOOL.  THERE IS SUCH A THING AS NOT HAVING THE RIGHT CLOTHES FOR THE WEATHER.  DRESS WISELY.  This week, a student shared his observation that the air closest to the school smelled foul due to all the exhaust fumes produced by cars (as they dropped one child at a time).  He noted that air near school should smell refreshing.  The observation of a ten year old made me wonder how the world will be different as OUR kids make OBSERVATIONS about needed changes then DO something to right the wrong. 

Thank you for sharing your thoughtful, compassionate, courageous, solution-oriented children with us.   It is indeed an honor to know your children!  I hope you have a great vacation

Happy Reading,

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

Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school. Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.

Donations of Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, Lego Magazine, Zoo Books, American Girl and more will be put to good use.
Thanks to…
Thanks to the Vogel family for the donation of Highlights magazines.
Upcoming Events
Dec. 18-PBIS Spirit Assembly at 8:30am
Dec. 21-Winter Break Begins
Jan. 4-School Resumes
Jan. 18-Martin Luther King Jr. Day-Holiday-No School
Jan. 28-Bingo Night-6:30pm
Jan. 29-Staff Development Day-No School
Feb. 15-Presidents’ Day-No School
Feb. 19-Talent Show 6:30pm

*District employees are subject to Oregon ethics laws that govern the receipt by employees of gifts that may not exceed $50.00 from any individual giver on an annual basis.   Parents/guardians should refrain from giving gift cards or other items of significant value to our staff.  Instead, we encourage you to write a note of thanks to staff members.

Teresa Clemens-Brower, Ed.D.
a.k.a. Mrs. C.-B.

Sexton Mt. Elementary School

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Rain, Routines, Readiness-December 8, 2015

The purpose of today’s newsletter is to:

  • Remind you of the importance of ROUTINES for children
  • Tell about our school focus of COMPASSION during the month of December
  • Reiterate the importance of PREPARATION- District Goal for 2010-2015:  All students will show continuous progress toward their personal learning goals, developed in collaboration with teachers and parents, and will be prepared for post-secondary education and career success.

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

I LOVE my job!  Monday morning it was so interesting to see the kids’ rain response.  I noticed that those who were most prepared (rubber boots, raincoat and umbrella) had amazing attitudes whereas those who weren’t prepared seemed to grumble a bit more. More than once I saw a rain boot or a sneaker land in an ankle deep puddle.  I would guess that the soggy socks of the ill prepared might have impacted learning throughout the day.

Equipping kids with the right tools (habits of mind) and skills for college and career readiness is our District’s mission. Today I want to share several connections I made about the importance of preparation for wet weather and life.

Weather Preparation
Learning Preparation
Preparation allows for flexibility and choice.
When kids wear layers and rain gear, they can remove what isn’t needed when they are in class.  They can walk through puddles, build leaf boats to float in the gutter streams, and have a dry under layer for when they return from recess.  Dry clothes make it easier to focus on learning during class time.
When kids are prepared to think critically and creatively, know master content, can act in a self directed AND collaborative manner and are able to navigate locally and globally, they have lots of choices when it comes to what happens AFTER high school. 
Preparation saves resources.
When kids dress for the forecasted weather, they have what they need during the day so that parents or child care providers don’t need to make extra trips to school to deliver dry clothing.  Learning time isn’t lost.  Work time isn’t lost.
When students come to school each day ready to learn and are able to focus on learning throughout the day, they are investing TIME wisely.  Time engaged in learning or practice is essential!  Practice makes proficient.  Extending practice at home also makes proficient.  When kids don’t spend enough time practicing, they sometimes need remediation.  That extra support may mean time away from peers as kids get intensive intervention or instruction or fewer options for electives in middle school.  That extra support may also have a financial cost if families opt for tutors to help play catch up.  Preparation saves resources
Preparation influences attitude.
Prepared kids were able to enjoy the weather, recess in the weather and even the trip to school.  Prepared kids could take time out to make observations (new rivers, ducks, items clogging drains, depth of puddles, splash radius) because they weren’t worried about getting wet.
Prepared students are able to enjoy the learning process as they aren’t spending as much time playing catch up.  They are confident in knowing that they put in the effort and hard work pays off.
Preparation saves time.
52 students were late to school on Monday morning. That means at the very least 52 minutes of learning were lost if kids were just one minute late.  Collectively, every minute counts.
Prepared students save time in college by not having to take remedial classes.  Math 95 is a prerequisite class students have to take if they are not able to demonstrate proficiency to take higher-level classes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really count.  If students had to take this class during the first year of college, it would mean about 45 hours of seat time, perhaps the same number of hours of study time, plus about $400 for tuition.  If students learn to understand during middle school or high school classes, they won’t have to take Math 95 because the will be able to show proficiency.  If they learn just enough to pass the quiz, it’s likely they’ll get to take the class again. 

At Sexton Mountain Elementary School, we are working to prepare students with the academic skills they will need for later success.  We are also working on the habits of mind and social skills students will need for success later.  This month, our focus is compassion.  My favorite children's book is about a very shy lady who lives in a tree. When her town is flooded, she overcomes her shyness and invites everyone into her house. I shared the book with students in grades K, 1, 2 and 3 recently and followed it with a writing prompt about compassion. Monday, as our lovely local wetlands overflowed and nearly cut us off from the main road, I went out to remove debris from the storm drain. A red truck stopped and a guy jumped out with a shovel and made quick work of what I'd been using plastic gloved hands to clear.  He was “just a neighbor” who wanted our school and kids to be safe.  I am glad I get to read about compassionate people AND interact with compassionate people regularly. I am grateful to work in such a caring and supporting community. 

With the wind and the rain, the upcoming winter break and dark mornings and evenings, it seems that kids COULD be and often are a bit more wild or emotional than usual this time of year.  Time and time again, YOU (Sexton Mt. Families) have reminded me about how hard you are working to maintain a calm routine at home in order to maximize learning time here at school.  Thank you for understanding the importance of routine and how it sets the stage for kids to be prepared for learning. 

Stay dry,

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

Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school. Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.

Donations of Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, Lego Magazine, Zoo Books, American Girl and more will be put to good use.
Upcoming Events
Dec, 10-PTC Meeting at 3:15pm
Dec. 11-PTC Sponsored Assembly-“Zaniac” at 9:00am
Dec. 11-Passport Club
Dec. 12-Eagle Scout Safety Project in the Cafeteria 11:00-3:00-Come and help assembly safety kits.
Dec. 18-PBIS Spirit Assembly at 8:30am
Dec. 21-Winter Break Begins
Jan. 4-School Resumes

*District employees are subject to Oregon ethics laws that govern the receipt by employees of gifts that may not exceed $50.00 from any individual giver on an annual basis.   Parents/guardians should refrain from giving gift cards or other items of significant value to our staff.  Instead, we encourage you to write a note of thanks to the classroom teacher or staff member.

VALUABLES and TOYS (reminder from Sexton Mt. Student Handbook)
Sexton Mountain is an open school.  This makes it impossible to lock up or secure valuable (or treasured) items.  As a result, we ask that students not bring valuables or toys to school.  The school or district cannot be responsible for or replace personal possessions lost by students.  In addition, such possessions often disrupt the educational process and therefore, are not appropriate to have at school.

DOGS (reminder from Sexton Mt. Student Handbook)
We request that only service dogs come to school.  Unpredictable animals, even when on leashes, coupled with 500+ sometimes-unpredictable children, can create unsafe conditions.

BIRTHDAYS(reminder from Sexton Mt. Student Handbook)
The teacher or principal gives students special recognition during their birthday month. Do not send edible treats, balloons or flowers on your child's birthday. Their delivery interrupts the teaching and learning time.  Some students like to recognize their special day by donating a favorite book to the classroom library.  The child can write a special dedication inside the front cover and the teacher can share all or part of the book with students to enhance student learning.  Birthday invitations may not be given out at school. We do not give out student phone numbers and addresses.  Please generalize this and understand that families and students should NOT BRING FOOD FOR OTHER CELEBRATIONS either.

CLOSURE OR DELAYS DUE TO WEATHER (reminder from Sexton Mt. Student Handbook)
On occasion, weather conditions require that the opening of school be delayed.  On a delayed school day schedule, instruction will begin at 10:30 A.M. and buses will operate two hours late. Students should report to their bus stop exactly two hours later than their usual time.  If you live in a higher elevation, please know your bus service may not be available. Announcements of delayed school openings, or school closures, will be made between 6:00 and 7:30 A.M. on local radio and TV stations.  The District Website also posts this information and you can register for text alerts from the school district or the principal (see Remind 101). 

Remind 101--Text @drcleme to 81010 to receive text messages regarding “breaking news” for our school.

Facebook-Are you on Facebook?  Stay connected by liking the Principal CB’s Facebook page.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Reporting Progress-December 1, 2015

December 1, 2015
The purpose of today’s newsletter is to:
·    Inform you about the student report card
·     Share strategies for goal setting with your student

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

A friend is planning a trip to a tropical island next summer.  She found that stepping on the scale on Monday, November 30 (after a holiday associated with food) was disheartening BUT she quickly changed her attitude to reflect her growth mindset.  She acknowledged the point in time measure, refocused on her summer goal then reflected on her learning from the food filled weekend.  She shared that she has 202 days until her trip including 4 holidays and a birthday.  She plans to increase her time exercising and use better strategies around special occasion eating in order to rest assured that she will be where she hopes to be physically by the time the school year ends.

I share this story because students will bring home report cards via backpack mail by December 8.  Teachers recorded the point in time progress of students as of the November 30 workday. Use the report card to inform you about how your child is progressing and to help your child set goals. Perhaps you need to set goals to increase the time your child spends exercising his or her brain (by reading or writing) and develop some strategies for areas that are a bit more difficult (planning for big projects or avoiding the distraction of screen time).  Know that you have about 200 days until the end of the school year, so plan to make the most of every minute, but don’t freak out.  Instead, have a solution focused attitude.   Help your child set goals.  Personal goals help motivate, energize, and focus students, and goal setting is a valuable skill that will benefit learners throughout their lives.

The purpose of the report card is to:
·       communicate a student’s academic achievement or progress toward District learning targets.
·       separately communicate a student’s use of key academic behaviors that are critical to student success.
·       indicate areas of strength and areas where additional time and effort are required.

This report summarizes information in three areas:
        1. Behavior Progress: How a student learns.
        2. Academic Performance: What a student has learned.
        3. Learning Progress: How a student is progressing.

This section of the progress report addresses those classroom behaviors that are key to school success, such as managing responsibilities and communicating with others. A student will receive a C, G or R to indicate current performance in each area:
        R--Rarely/Sometimes (Needs Improvement)

This progress report provides information on your student's current level of performance in Reading, Writing, Language, Speaking and Listening, Mathematics (all aligned to the Common Core State Standards) and Science, Social Studies, Health, Physical Education, Music, and Visual Arts.  A student will receive a 4, 3, 2, or 1 to indicate current performance in each area, based on the end of the year grade level expectations.  The scoring guide or rubric, which provides a description of each level (1-4) for each learning target, can be viewed on the district website or obtained through the teacher. A "1" should be accompanied by a teacher comment or additional communication.  An X is used when an area has not been assessed or when there is not enough information. 
        4--Highly Proficient
        2--Nearing Proficiency

This section describes your student's progress over time.  A student may be performing below expectations for a grade level but still have made significant progress during the trimester. Alternately, a student may be performing at or above standard academically, but only making minimal progress.  It is important that students of all developmental abilities are making steady or significant progress.  A student will receive either a  +  =  or  -  to indicate current progress in each area:
        +   for significant progress
        =   for steady progress
        -   for minimal progress

If you have questions or concern, you  are encouraged to contact the classroom teacher or the PE or Music teachers for marks in those subject areas.

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

Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school. Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.

Donations of Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, Lego Magazine, Zoo Books, American Girl and more will be put to good use.

Donations of foaming hand soap dispensers (empty or full) will be put to good use

Upcoming Events
Dec. 21-Winter Break Begins
Jan. 4-School Resumes