Soaring News

May 23, 2016

Principal's Message

Recently I had a conversation with a couple of staff members about student achievement and behavior and the teacher’s impact on student learning.

We spoke about how classroom interactions amongst the teacher and the students must be highly respectful, full of genuine warmth and care, and sensitive to students as individuals.

In my conversation I pointed out:

  • As educators we need to be sensitive to students as "as individuals", not as students. Our students come to us with different types and amounts of emotional baggage. They are all kids, but they are not all the same.
  • Students who feel valued are more likely to meet behavioral expectations
  • Students who meet behavioral expectations are more likely to work towards academic expectations

If you know your students, if THEY know you care about them as little people, AND if you create an engaging and exciting lesson with transitions that aren't slow where they can get off task, learning will take place. I remember some great advice given to me by a teacher, Mr. Hayes, I met during my student teaching. He told me that after kids leave school for the day, I should walk around my room, going through my class list to see if I can recall a direct one-on-one interaction with each of my students that day. If I can't recall praising them up front "being the teacher" to solve a math problem, giving specific positive feedback, sharing a hug with that child, I put their name on a post-it note on my desk so that I can be sure to greet them in the morning. So, so important.

I feel it’s important to let our students know: that tomorrow is a new day- we get to start over: is pretty important. If those challenging children don't know that we love them even after they mess up- and each day is NEW, they begin to feel defeated pretty quickly.

We should NEVER want anyone to walk in our classroom door thinking "is she/he still mad at me?" THAT is why standing in the hall and trying to greet and "friendly chat" with everyone BEFORE getting started is so important. Also, loving the students out the door and giving them hope is important.....

We can be the greatest masters of our content, but if we don't know how to reach our students and provide hope, then what is the true worth of that knowledge? To drive this point home, I have placed a video from Erin Gruwell (Freedom Writers) from when she presented a Ted talk from Conejo, California under videos to watch. See video here before going on (it's 18 minutes, but worth it):

If you watched the video, you heard Ms. Gruwell talk about Maria.

In the video, Ms. Gruwell gets choked up when talking about making an assumption regarding Maria and then states.

"The last thing I want to do is take away hope from my students."

The greatest power we have as educators (regardless of title) is to instill hope in our students. Each day we have the incredible power to change and even save lives.

Imagine if each of us reached out to one student and became the agent of change in that student's life: In our building, that would impact about 80 students. It may not make the difference between partially proficient and proficient on a state test, but it could make the difference between success and failure in life. It could make the difference between giving up or giving it a try. Educators who don't see this as their role are usually the ones with the most problems and tend to be the most miserable. I am not suggesting this is easy, not in the least. However, if you believe in the power of potential, both yours and your students, it can be done. The same way Ms. "G" did for Maria.

I challenge you to ask yourselves, “Who is my Maria?” "What will I do next?"

Articles Worth Reading

Videos Worth Watching

TEDxConejo - Erin Gruwell - The Freedom Writers
Baby Boomers vs. Millennials
Hashtags: #MyPetIsWeird


*Congratulations Ms. Schmitt on your wedding! We will now get used to your new name, Mrs. Harder!

*Wow! What an amazing Field Day! Kudos to Steve Preston and his entire committee for their outstanding planning effort. A fun time was had by all the students. Special shout-outs are listed below:

***Miriam Bogdanova deserves a gold medal for her herculean efforts in organizing and mapping out the Field Day event! Without your attention to detail, the numerous events would not have gone off as smoothly as they did! You went above and beyond the call of duty when you agreed to help out. The hours and hours of work you put into the event showed when everything fell into place and ran so smoothly.

***Alexandria Blackwell and Danielle Hill for their support and organization of the numerous volunteers that signed up ahead of time and the many parents who came out in large numbers to run the 31 events. Thank you to Danielle for calling the volunteers ahead of time and ensuring the proper paperwork was filled out. Additionally, your willingness to make the goodie bags for the 70+ volunteers we had was much appreciated. Kudos to Alexandria who must have walked the perimeter of the school no less than 20 times confirming that all stations were covered and volunteers were where they needed to be and had all the necessary items.

***Thank you to Tammy Doucet for her endless amounts of patience as no less than a 150 parents signed in to volunteer, watch field day, or pick up their son/daughter early. You made each guest in our building feel welcome and ensured the visitor we could find their child's class.

***Clem Stephens for always going the extra mile for our students. She was always right where we needed her when Field Day began and made sure she was moving all around the building to check on the stations and what was needed. A huge thank you to her for setting up the games/event early and dragging the equipment back in.

***Mr. Eason and Mr. Elliott for their endless amounts of energy and manpower moving hundreds of pounds of ice, water bottles, and freezer pops to the different locations around the school so students had access to them. You both were troopers and never complained one time when you were called on the walkie talkie no less than a hundred times for something else that was needed on the opposite side of the building from where you were.

***Steve Preston for the best field day ever! A great time was had by our students, staff, and volunteers.

***Mary Garnier your organization of the cake walk was awesome. We had more treats than we had students. Thanks for reaching out to our staff and community to support a fun event. Additionally, thanks for processing the numerous volunteer applications so our parents could run the stations.

***Cafeteria Staff for preparing yummy lunches and hand delivering to each of the classrooms. The delivery was an added bonus and appreciated by all. Thanks for freezing the freezer pops and chilling down 700 bottles of water.

***Teachers you were simply amazing all day. Your patience was as thick as the ocean and you encouraged your students to have fun and display good sportsmanship. It was so cool to see you participating right along side of your students. (Mrs. Staton, you have a great layup on the BB court).

***PE department for coming out early and helping set up the stations and break everything down once the students returned to their classes. You don't get enough credit for all the behind the scene work you did. Way to go team!

***Our very own Newtown Volunteers were amazing. You were the ones we could count on to pitch in wherever needed. Thanks a million.

***To the entire custodial department for earning the Gold award for Newtown. Our custodial department has been recognized for their exemplary practices. Earning the Gold award is an honor and is based upon tours/inspections of the schools as well as consideration of the custodial staffs’ teamwork and proper use of chemicals in the schools. Way to go team.

Upcoming Events

This Week

May 25: SOL training at 12:10 and 2:05pm. If you are an examiner/proctor, please plan to attend one of those sessions or see Dr. Sedory in advance for alternate arrangements.

Coming Soon

May 31: SOL Pep Rally, 1:45pm

June 2: Reading Part 1 SOL

June 3: Reading Part 2 SOL

June 6: Math Part 1 SOL

June 7: Math Part 2 SOL

June 8: Oceans of Success Field Trip (10 selected 3rd graders)

June 13: PAC Meeting

June 13: Talent Show

June 16; End of Year class party (1:30 pm)

June 17: Early Dismissal, Last Day of School

News to Share

~Formative Option #2 in Talented is OVERDUE!

~There are planters that need adopting by classrooms in the courtyard. Please see Amanda Howse or Colleen Kelly.

~VBEF Grants are available!

Fall - applications due Oct. 7, 2016:

  • Sustainability Impact Project Grants - up to $1,000 for projects that involve math andscience and engage students in the process of researching aspects of our local watershed.

  • Innovative Learning Grants - up to $2,000 for innovative learning projects benefiting students.

~The Career Teacher Application for 2016 will be available for downloading from the Intranet (Forms/Human Resources/Career Teacher Application) beginning in February.

~Check out the info on the new BE Well program VBCPS is offering. You can track your healthy habits and earn up to $500 a year!


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Dr. Sedory has created a blog, My AP Tried It, where she will share out new ideas for using web sites and apps in your classroom. Some may help with classroom management while others may have instructional ideas. The blog will hopefully have new ideas each week!


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Alexandria Blackwell: May 22

Darnita Pearce: May 25

Paulette Brown: May 29

Wendy Lyle: May 31

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