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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Text to Life Connections, Close Reading, Testing and Planning for Next Year-May 12, 2015


Dear Sexton Mt. Families:
As I visited classrooms this morning, I was once again reminded that AMAZING things are happening at Sexton Mountain Elementary School.  In the lab, students were reading, thinking, calculating and keyboarding as they worked on the statewide assessment.  In classrooms students were discussing the branches of government, taking math tests, working on biographies, discussing who has the right to vote and many students around the school were reading or writing about books.

Last week I shared that the scent of pine needles reminded me of my third grade teacher.  Back then I lived on the west side of Bend. Every day at recess, I would work collaboratively with others to arrange the pine needles on the field to create floor plans for our imaginary homes. The abundance of needles made it easy for several “homes” to be constructed over the day. My family spent last weekend at South Twin Lake and on one of my walks, the abundance of pine needles reminded me of how I much I enjoyed using my imagination and that my imagination was ignited by what I read.  Inspired by the independence and resourcefulness of the Boxcar children, I imagined creating shelter out of found resources.    My Side of the Mountain, Little House on the Prairie, Where the Red Fern Grows, Charlotte’s Web and My Friend Flicka provided me with a glimpse into other times and ways of living. 

The pine needles around the lake also brought back memories of discussions about survival and independence.  In Falling in Love with Close Reading by Lehman and Roberts, it’s noted that, “we examine ourselves by seeing who we are in the context of others.”  As a young reader, I compared my chores to the chores Laura had to do in the big woods or on the prairie.  I used Sam’s voice to describe my surroundings when I hiked and thought about how I would survive if I got separated from my parents.   I could learn about myself as I read and retold the stories in my head.  Through books, new insights are revealed.    

As I walked, I was amazed to think about the details I still remembered from the books I’d enjoyed nearly four decades ago. During our family read aloud time, my mom would help us find patterns or identify themes in different books.  This explicit conversation during our shared stories, carried over to my independent reading.  As you read with your child this week, talk about themes and patterns.  Use evidence (or quotes) from the text to support your thinking.   Forty years from now, will your child remember the richness of your conversations? 

Our teachers are working daily to build skills to last a lifetime.  From close reading strategies to problem solving skills, great things are happening for kids here every day. We are working to make sure learning happens through the next month but we are also hard at work preparing for next year.  This spring we’ve been building classes for next year.  Class groups are balanced by gender as well as strengths and needs of students. Additionally, we aim to balance classes by Special Education needs, English as a Second Language needs, and Talented and Gifted needs. Teachers also look at the behavioral needs of students. We attempt to balance class groups by size.  We will have three balanced classes at each grade level next year.  The work of creating balanced classes is complex and I’ve named just a few of the variables involved as we do this very important work.   We know that starting the year with balanced classes sets students up for success.

As of now, we will have few changes in teaching teams.  Megan Smith (our former intervention teacher) will be returning from leave to join the kindergarten team.  Mrs. Diresta will be moving to Seattle with her family so we currently have an open position.  Our fifth grade team will be made up of three teachers as the group moving up to 5th grade is much smaller.  Mr. Simpson and Mr. Roshak will be leaving the team and our school.  Mr. Davis will be retiring so we will have a new music team (yes, team) as we are staffed to have 1.5 music teachers next year.  Our PE allocation has also been increased to 1.5 so Mr. Miller will also get a new teammate. I spent Monday interviewing for PE and Music and I’m thrilled with the high quality of candidates this year!  The role of intervention teacher is expanding to full time with additional responsibilities and qualifications.  Katrina Simkins-Moore will be serving in this role.  She comes to us from Cooper Mt.   We will continue to make adjustments throughout the spring as we work to build the very best team.

We are doing the right work with the right people. As I visited the lab this morning and kids were doing the new state test, I was proud to see the hard work our staff has put into teaching at high levels pay off.  Kids were confident and working hard to do their very best!  My own son took the SBAC math test last week and he was surprised that his score didn’t pop up on the screen the minute he was done.  He’s only taken state tests and DMV tests where scores were instant because they were multiple-choice.  After his teacher reminded him that real word experiences and real world answers are more complex, he too was proud of the effort he put in and will wait patiently for his score. Our children are learning the skills and habits of mind necessary for them to have a wide range of options after they leave high school.  Thank you for partnering with us in this important work.

Thank you,


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

Reminders:
·       Please remind your child to check the lost and found regularly.  Items still left after the school year ends will be donated.

Thanks:
·       Thanks to all who contributed time and treats last week.  Our staff felt loved!

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.
·       Our building will be under construction this summer so we are looking for someone to provide temporary care for the 10 community tetras (fish) and one algae eater.  Please contact Mrs. CB if you have room in your tank for these fish. 

Upcoming Events

May 12 PTC Meeting at 9:00am
May 13 Passport Club
May 15 PTC Carnival 5:30-7:30pm

May 22 Assessment Day- No School
May 25 Memorial Day-No School
May 29 Volunteer Appreciation Celebration 2:00 – 3:00 PM
May 29-ALL STUDENT LIBRARY BOOKS DUE


June 5 Field Day-Hat Day
June 8 Tie Dye Day
June 9 Mismatch Day
June 9 PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
June 10  Sports Attire Day
June 11 Dress-Alike Day
June 12  Crazy Hair Day
June 12  PBIS Assembly at 8:30am
June 12 Last Day of School
June 17  ALL STUDENT MEDICATION MUST BE PICKED UP BY 4:00PM


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Staff Appreciation Week-May 5, 2015

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

Mr. Pfaff and I both grew up in Bend. We attended different schools in different decades but we have one educator in common--Mr. Danford. Based on our interests and talents, we both remember Mr. Danford in different ways. He connected with Mr. Pfaff through sports and family.  I remember him for how he taught science.  When I was in Bend last weekend, the smell of pine needles reminded me of Mr. Danford. (I’ll tell why in next week’s newsletter.)  

While Mr. Pfaff and I both share fond memories of the educator we have in common, my husband and I shared many teachers but one of us LOVED the experience while the other did not.  My least favorite middle school teacher was my husband’s favorite.  Another teacher we neither connected with taught us important skills we use everyday in the work place.  Though she wasn’t among our favorites, the skills and work habits she instilled remain, so she’s likely had a longer positive influence than most.   Educators change lives.  It’s clear that Sexton Mountain families agree as evidenced by the many ways you’ve shown appreciation to the staff this week.  Thank you for noting how hard this staff works for your children!  They are top notch indeed!
Thank you,

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

Thanks:
·       Thanks Kate for organizing Staff Appreciation Week.
·       Thanks to Robyn for organizing the Book Fair.
·       Thanks to all who contributed time and treats this week.  Our staff feels appreciated!

Upcoming Events

May 4-8  Book Fair Open 8:00-4:00
May 7  Book Far Open 6:00-8:00pm
May 12 PTC Meeting at 9:00am
May 13 Passport Club
May 15 PTC Carnival 5:30-7:30pm
May 22 Assessment Day- No School
May 25 Memorial Day-No School

May 29 Volunteer Appreciation Celebration 2:00 – 3:00 PM
May 29-ALL STUDENT LIBRARY BOOKS DUE
June 5 Field Day-Hat Day
June 8 Tie Dye Day
June 9 Mismatch Day
June 9 PTC Meeting at 6:30pm
June 10  Sports Attire Day
June 11 Dress-Alike Day
June 12  Crazy Hair Day
June 12  PBIS Assembly at 8:30am
June 12 Last Day of School
June 17  ALL STUDENT MEDICATION MUST BE PICKED UP BY 4:00PM