It's Elementary - DES Newsletter

May 2021

Dates to Remember

May 17 - May 20 - FSA Testing Grades 3-5, see schedule below

May 18 - Title I/School Advisory Council Parent Advisory Meeting (virtual)

May 31 - No School/Boarding Students Return

June 3 - FIELD DAY!

June 10 - Last Day of 2020-2021 School Year

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Please review this important information! FSA testing is scheduled for grades 3 - 5. This testing is one measure that is used to determine how students have mastered grade level content. Please help your child do his or her best on the test by being mindful of the dates, coming to school well-rested and having had a healthy brain-food breakfast, and using allowable accommodations on the test. Your child's teacher will also review these strategies (and more!) with your child as we approach the testing dates.

May 17 FSA ELA Reading (Gr. 4-5)

May 18 FSA ELA Reading (Gr. 4-5)

May 19 FSA Mathematics (Gr. 3-5)

May 20 FSA Mathematics (Gr. 3-5)

We know the test can cause anxiety for some students and families, so reminders to take slow, deep breaths help. And as always, please remember that while we take the FSA very seriously, we also recognize that it is just one of many measures of growth we use in Deaf Elementary School.

Dr. Heidi's Happenings


The end of the school year brings so many activities! While students are still working hard finishing up the school year's curriculum, they are also looking forward to some fun activities. One of these activities is our annual Field Day. As is the case with everything this year, Field Day will look a little bit different, but we are still working hard to plan a wonderful, fun-filled event for our students and staff! Field Day will be on June 3, and while we are excited to celebrate this year, we are sad to announce that due to our current COVID restrictions, we are not allowing family visitors and/or volunteers this year. We hope that next year our school community will be fully represented during this annual celebration!

Students in our Early Learning Center (ELC) who will be transitioning to Kindergarten next year participated in our annual Countdown to Kindergarten program. They were able to take a virtual tour of the Kindergarten classroom, get a glimpse of the Kindergarten schedule, and meet the current Kindergarten students. We are also lucky that our ELC is housed in Gore Hall, so the students in that program see the Kindergarten students and teacher during transition times every day. We are optimistic that this will be a smooth transition for our ELC students.

On the other end of the spectrum, our fifth graders enjoyed their "Step Up to Middle School" orientation. They were able to visit the Middle School building, meet the teachers and support staff, and take a tour of the school. Students had a lot of really good questions and the very patient and kind Middle School Assistant Principal, Karen Newton, answered them all! The biggest surprise? Middle School does not have recess!

Finally, this month we celebrated Teacher and School Staff Appreciation Week! What a wonderful celebration it was! Thank you so much to all of the families who showered us with gratitude. Some of this was in the form of hand-written letters, homemade gifts, and gift cards to local businesses. I can tell you that every teacher and member of our support staff felt valued and appreciated. This year has been unlike any other in recent history for educators, and the gratitude shown to them is appreciated more than I can say. Thank you! We are so appreciative! And a special thanks to 2nd grade teacher Jessica Kaspar, who came up with such fun ways for our students and their families be involved in this celebration!

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A Note From Deaf Department Principal Angela Saunders

Deaf Department Families,

As we move through the last quarter, we are continuing with our reopening plan and the safety protocols that have been in place this school year even though many of our staff have been vaccinated, adding to the safety of our environment. We have had some students who have been asking about receiving the Covid 19 Vaccine. FSDB will not be providing vaccines or bringing students to vaccination sites.

Let's make it a great last month of school! There are a lot of fun celebrations to look forward to!

Angela Saunders

Updates from Vaill Hall

Greetings from Vaill Hall!! This has been a different kind school year and I couldn’t be more proud of our children and staff, the way they adjusted to the changes. Here is a picture of our “little girl unicorns” K -2nd; my staff member Joann Janson made these for her little group. As the end of the school year approaches soon, we would like to thank the parents for their continued support and for sharing your child with us, serving you and your child, is a Blessing.

Spotted in Each Grade Level

Every month we ask grade level teams to tell us something special they spotted in Gore Hall. Here are their responses!

Kindergarten: Students outside at recess gathering others to line up when play time was finished. They were a big help to their teacher!

First Grade: First graders enjoyed free art choice day where they were able to be creative with mixed-media art supplies after reading the story “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds.

Second Grade: Students are wrapping up their own fairytale story. They were given character, setting, and problem prompts to help them brainstorm. They will be sharing their stories with others to solicit feedback.

Third Grade: Mayrani and Minaal decided to partner read during their free reading time.

Fourth Grade: Mrs. Jenny's class working with robotics.

Fifth Grade: Alyson - one of our 5th graders was very respectful by copying the homework for two students that were late getting back from Speech and Language class. Also, there were many bikes laying around kids town and it was Charlotte's idea to clean up. Charlotte, Madison and Jav'ion were very responsible putting away all the bikes.

Learning Lab: A fifth grade student, on the playground, organizing a game for Kindergarten, First and Second Grade students.

Favorite Moments From Each Grade Level

Every month we ask grade level teams to share a favorite moment. Here are their responses!

Kindergarten: One kindergarten student counted a group of objects incorrectly in math class and another student said/signed, "Ooops! That's wrong. Let me help you count them again." 🙂

First Grade: One first grade student held out his umbrella for his friend on a rainy day. It was so sweet!

Second Grade: Students learned about paleontologist and archaeologists in both reading and science. We had so much fun excavating our dinosaur fossils!

Third Grade: One girl noticed another student left their jacket at the table during lunch. She picked it up and made sure to return it to the other student.

Fourth Grade: Going over to the Garden Center and potting Mother's Day plants.

Fifth Grade: The 5th graders had a Middle School orientation this month. They are so excited to be moving on to 6th grade.

Learning Lab: When a student completed a task, smiled, and said, "I know!"

Child Safety Matters

As you are aware, all students in the Deaf Elementary School participate in Child Safety Matters groups. They not only learn about personal safety; they are also taught digital safety rules. We talk about the fact that we never share personal information with someone we meet online. They are reminded to tell their parents if someone sends them inappropriate pictures or emails. Cyberbullying is discussed and we role-play ways to be assertive when others try to convince us to bully others online.

Please keep a close check on your child’s texts, emails, and other online activity. Some of our elementary students do not have the level of maturity needed when it comes to sending appropriate messages to others. It would be helpful if you let your child know your expectations for online behavior and that you will be monitoring their messages.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

Rhonda McCahill


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Summer STEAM Camp for Next Year's 4th and 5th Graders!

FSDB Distance Learning! Summer STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) Camp Kit

This year instead of virtual camp or in-person camp, we will be providing STEAM kits to interested participants to independently work on at home with their families . They can share their completion of activities in Flipgrid or in their provided journal.

Students going into 4th and 5th grade (2021-2022 school year) are eligible to attend.

Our teachers are busy planning activities your child will be able to do AT YOUR HOME with minimal guidance from you!

* Students will have one-two activities to do each day around a specific theme with directions.

* Students can submit their completed activity on Flipgrid or in the provided journal. Your teacher will respond on Flipgrid if you choose or look at your provided journal in August.

* Materials and supplies will be mailed home the week before the asynchronous STEAM camp kits starts so your child will have the resources they need. (We are planning to have one- two different activities for students to engage in each day.)

* There will be not be conferencing with the teacher daily. It will be asynchronous learning. Your child will complete the activities and the teachers will respond to them on Flipgrid or review to their journal entries.

All the activities are based on a challenge! So we are challenging you to work through these self-paced activities. You can document in the log (Flipgrid or provided Journal)

Dates: Monday, June 14th - Friday, June 18th

We are requesting that all participants complete activities each day during the week.

Students will upload their completed project to Flipgrid or document in their journals.

If you are interested in your child participating, please complete the registration form (below) by Friday, May 14, 2021, at midnight. DEADLINE EXTENDED UNTIL MAY 18!

Limit: 15 participants for the STEAM camp kits for students who are deaf/hard of hearing

*This camp is only for currently enrolled FSDB students who are deaf/hard of hearing.

*All 3rd-grade students are invited to attend 3rd-grade reading camp through distance learning

* Minimum of 5 participants for camp to happen

If you have any questions, please contact Jessica Kaspar, Camp Coordinator -


Let's make this summer count!

Zearn Summer Intensive Series are multi-week programs for each grade, with daily lessons designed to catch kids up on their math learning and build a strong foundation for next school year.

Watch our webinar to preview the series and models of how schools and districts are using it this summer to accelerate math recovery.
Recorded Webinar: Using Zearn Summer Intensive Series

Help Needed! Lost & Found is Overflowing!

The weather in St. Augustine is tricky! It can be chilly in the morning, but by afternoon, the sun is shining and recess gets hot! Students often take off their jackets and sweaters, and more often than not, leave them on the playground. You can help us by making sure your child's name, or even initials, are written somewhere inside the garment. We usually check the tag to see if we can identify the owner of a lost article of clothing, so it would be a great kindness if you could put a name there for us! THANK YOU!

Deaf Elementary Named a PBIS Model School!

The FSDB Deaf Elementary School celebrates being named a Model School from the Florida Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBiS) project.

This model school award is given for implementation of positive school outcomes and exemplifies the achievements of teachers,

staff and students.

Check out the video of our celebration here!

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Did you know that we have a new DES Facebook group? In order to enhance digital security for our students and their families, we are transitioning our school Facebook page to a private group, which affords us better screening and monitoring measures. If you would like to join the group, please click this link: Our goal is to post pictures and/or updates daily.

Title I Information

Our final Title I Parent Advisory Team/School Advisory Council meeting for this year will take place on May 18 at 1:00. If you would like to join us, please email Dr. Heidi for the meeting link! We will be reviewing the 2020-2021 spending and highlighting the projects written in to the 2021-2022 grant application. These projects are directly related to the results of our Title I 2021 Comprehensive Needs Assessment. We will also review our progress on this year's School Improvement Plan. Dr. Heidi can be reached at

Title I, Part A is a component of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that provides supplemental funds to approved schools to meet educational goals, support professional development of staff and support parent engagement programs.

Things to Say to Your Child

Here are a few things you can say to your child to encourage discussion. Source:

  1. Your ideas are great.
  2. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.
  3. Anything is possible.
  4. You can make a difference.
  5. I love how you said that.
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Opt-in for Skyward Text Alerts

FSDB encourages parents/legal guardians of enrolled students to regularly log onto the Skyward Family/Student Access portal to keep their contact information up-to-date.

Skylert (School Messenger) is the system that FSDB uses to send out automated phone calls, text messages and email notifications families for general purposes ann case of emergencies.

Opting in for automated Skylert text notifications makes it possible for FSDB to quickly inform families about situations that may impact their child/family (e.g., weather, safety and bus alerts) as well as other school-related information. To opt-in, text "Y" to 67587.

Cutie Patootie Picture of the Month!

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Want to contribute a Cutie Patootie Picture of the Month submission? Join, like, and share our FSDB Deaf Elementary School Facebook Group and let us know! But also know the competition is pretty tough because DES is FULL of Cutie Patooties!

Dr. Heidi's Virtual Office



FSDB Welcome Back 2020

Contact Us

DES Office

PH: 904-827-2520

VP: 904-201-4505

Health Care Center

PH: 904-827-2410

VP: 904-201-3910


PH: 800-992-8747

Vaill Hall (Dorm)

PH: 904-827-2806

VP: 904-201-4461

Parent Services

PH: 904-827-2212

VP: 904-201-4527

Campus Police

PH: 904-827-2315