Shark Tales

Southbury Elementary


Administration Letter

Dear Shark Families,

It’s hard to believe that we are in the second trimester of school! Throughout the first trimester students were busy reading, writing, increasing math fluency and showing great character! We have also set School Improvement Goals this year that encourage all students and staff to continue to grow:

Goal 1: Southbury staff and students will utilize AVID Reading to Learn strategies to improve vocabulary and understanding in Math.

Goal 2: Southbury staff and students will utilize AVID Reading to Learn strategies to improve reading vocabulary and comprehension in ELA.

Goal 3: Southbury staff will learn, explore, and increase familiarity with Culturally Relevant Teaching practices.

In order to achieve these goals, we hope to work closely with all our students, staff, and families to ensure our children are receiving the best education to succeed in all areas! By teaching and reinforcing academic behaviors and higher-level thinking at a young age, AVID Elementary teachers create a ripple effect in later grades. Elementary students develop the academic habits they will need to be successful in middle school, high school, and college, in an age-appropriate and challenging way. Children learn about organization, study skills, communication, and self-advocacy. AVID Elementary students take structured notes and answer and ask high-level questions that go beyond routine answers. Please talk to your child(ren) about what AVID vocabulary strategies they have learned thus far!

As we move into the chilly months, please remember to dress your child accordingly. Winter coats, hats, and gloves are essential for outdoor recess. All students go outside as long as the temperature (with wind chill) is above 10 degrees.

Here are some upcoming December events:

December 2: HSO Meeting 6-7 pm

December 9: Culver’s Night

December 23-31: Winter Break (No School)

Stay warm in this cold weather!!

Samantha Sinovich


Blake Cline
Assistant Principal

Read. Write. Think. Grow. Southbury, A Community of Learners

From the Front Office

Happy Fall Southbury Sharks!

Help Wanted - Help is needed in the form of both substitute teachers and substitute teaching assistants! If you might be interested in learning more about this opportunity at Southbury, please visit the district website ( and click on the Employment Opportunities tab. Interested individuals would need to fulfill the job qualifications and the job duties would also follow suit.

A few gentle reminders from the front office:

  • If your student is going to be absent or tardy, please call the attendance line at: 630-551-9801 to report the absence or tardy before 8 AM if possible.

  • Please do not email the teacher to report an absence as we do not always get them forwarded to us in a timely manner. Also, if the teacher is absent, substitutes do not have access to their emails.

  • We encourage students to take responsibility for forgotten items but if you must drop something off for your student, please be sure it is clearly marked with their name and their teacher’s name and place in the blue box located in the front corridor.

  • Students are not called out of class to pick up items left in the office. Items are placed on the counter adjacent to the school hallway for students to pick up at an opportune time.

  • With the weather changing, please remember to send your child with winter clothing. Students do go outside for recess when the temperature is above 10 degrees F.


Home and School Organization Happenings

Happy December Shark Families!

Just a few reminders from your HSO this month.

  • First off, thank you to those who have been participating in some of our fundraisers….cookie kits, restaurant nights, and spirit wear!! Every little bit helps our HSO as we didn’t have our annual Fun Run this fall. Keep on the look out for other fundraising such as our Luigi’s Pizza kits and Panda Express night this month. Also, a great big thank you to those who volunteered their time and effort for a trunk for trunk or treat. Also, for all of the donated candy! It was a blast.

  • Last month, we worked to honor all of the staff requested grants and were able to provide over $3000 in much needed supplies for our teachers and students.

  • Yearbook sales are underway! We will not be taking any late orders this year so if you plan to purchase one, do so today. Please follow these steps to order through our printing company. First, go to Then, enter our school code of 208741 and click go to your school account login. Next, click on the link below our school name. Then, register as a new user and follow the onscreen directions for purchasing your yearbook. They are $20 and you will need to complete the portion about your child’s name and teacher!

  • As events happen such as Donuts With Dad Drive Thru or Trunk or Treat, please send those pics asap as we work to put the event pages together as they happen and it is harder to add pictures after several months have passed. Go to this link for submitting pictures. Visit Browse to select the photo(s) you wish to upload, click on “Select My Images.” Enter information about the photo, especially your child’s teacher and provide contact information in case the committee needs additional information. Click “Upload Chosen Images.”

  • Our staff favorites list is complete! Please use the link below when trying to spoil ANY staff member or feel free to use it with the holidays coming up!

Please join us for our monthly meetings. Our next one is Thursday, December 2nd at 6pm in the community room! Hope to see you there.

Sarah Brown and Kristy Stith

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We love seeing the students show what they know about concepts we are teaching and using persistence when things get tricky. Our Social Emotional lessons have taught us 2 important phrases “Practice” and “keep going” to help your brain grow!

ELA: As readers we have focused on nonfiction texts and using text features and facts to learn about animals and their habitats. We have also started our weather unit and have been making observations, predictions and forecasts using our weather vocabulary.

As writers we have written telling sentences to share facts we have learned. We have written telling sentences to share our weather observations. We have been focusing on vowel sounds, vowel teams and digraphs (th, sh, wh, ch).

Math: Calendar and counting routines are being continued. We have been focusing on numbers 1-10 and all the different number combinations to make these numbers.

Science: We finished Unit 1, Pushes and Pulls. The kids had fun learning that we use force all day long to pull and pull things. They used observations and investigations to learn about gentle/strong forces. Our next Unit will start after winter break.

Tips for at home:

Math around your house. Can you break apart your group of cars to find 2 number groups? I have 5 cheerios, how many more do I need to have 10? Listen to Jack Hartman (on youtube) songs about ways to make numbers and counting.

Letters and Sounds: Use letters/sounds they know to build simple words. (cat, net, big…) Fill in missing vowels to words you write ( b__g - big, c__t - cat…).

Thanks for all the continued support at home!

1st Grade

We are so thankful for how hard all of the first graders have been working! Here is what we have been up to this month:


  • Sequence of events

  • Genre study - we will pick our favorite genre to wrap up our project

  • Narrative Writing process

  • Writer’s Workshop: working on mini books

  • Practice reading high frequency words and/or fluency passages


  • Number talks will continue all year long

  • Addition strategies to 20 we will learn and practice: counting on, doubles, doubles +1 and -1, making ten to add

  • Vocabulary we will practice: count on, number line, addends, and doubles


  • Our next unit is Light and Sound

  • Identify how to make a dark area bright

  • We will go on a light source hunt

2nd Grade

We have been so busy in 2nd Grade! In ELA, we have completed our Unit 2 Module B on Money Matters and I Wanna Iguana. In Writing, our focus has been on opinion writing and supporting our opinions with facts and reasons. We have been utilizing AVID strategies to share our opinions.

In Math, we have started Unit 2, which focuses on multi-digit addition and subtraction. Please continue to practice adding and subtraction facts at home to help support this unit of study.

In Science, we have started our second unit of study, Changing Landforms. In this unit, we will be studying different landforms and how they change over time.

In SEL, we have been learning about different feelings and how we can help make ourselves feel better. We will be talking about gratitude, thankfulness and kindness.

3rd Grade

It was so nice to talk with you at Parent-Teacher Conferences this past month! We loved sharing your child’s wonderful progress in so many areas as we are back to in-person. Students are thriving! Currently in ELA, we are reading about an Athabascan village in a remote region of Alaska. Learning how different cultures survive and adapt in different environments has been very educational for the students. As we wrap up reading The Year of Miss Agnes, students have learned how to identify the Central Message and use key details to support the central message. Knowing how a character’s actions affect the sequence of events and the plot in a story, has also been a point of study. As we conclude this chapter book, students will be asked to write a final ‘chapter/epilogue’ for their Performance Based Assessment (PBA). We are moving along in our unit on Multiplication and Division. It is great to see students start to master their facts. This unit will take us right up to Christmas break! Finally, in our Science unit on Balancing Forces, we are continuing to help the citizens of fictitious Faraday understand how the new train in their town actually ‘floats’ and moves using non touching magnetic forces and gravity. We hope this will make them more comfortable and less wary to ride their new train.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

The Third Grade Team

4th Grade

Perhaps you noticed this month that your fourth grader began spinning colorful, descriptive yarns full of figurative language and exaggerated events.

Well, that might have been because the children finished an ELA unit on tall tales by writing stories of their own. Throughout November, fourth-grade students read and re-read some of their favorite tall tales such as “John Henry” and “Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett.” Students learned about story elements like character, setting, conflict, resolution, and figurative language, and then each student created a tall tale as a final assessment. Also in November, the children began an ELA unit in which they learned about earthquakes and other natural disasters by reading both informational text and fiction.

In math, the students finished a unit on multiplication of multi-digit numbers, and they began learning about division. The children practiced long-division algorithms, and they used those new division skills to solve story problems involving remainders. Fourth graders continued to practice and memorize multiplication facts, as well as basic addition and subtraction facts, because the multi-digit multiplication and division procedures required students to know their basic math facts well.

The children concluded a science unit on vision and light in which they explored how we are able to see various objects and how we understand what we’re looking at. About midway through November, the students started a new science unit about Earth’s features.

Throughout all subject areas, the students used AVID strategies such as taking organized notes, and they utilized those strategies to review and remember vocabulary. Also during the month, the children successfully presented their achievements and goals in student-led conferences with parents and teachers. Finally in SEL sessions, fourth graders practiced mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, and they learned about ways to re-think difficult or embarrassing situations instead of viewing those events as catastrophes.

5th Grade

Thank you so much for meeting with us at Parent/Teacher Conferences. We enjoyed sharing your child’s progress with you, and we look forward to everyone’s continued growth during the second trimester.

We have been very busy! In ELA, students have been reading different texts in order to understand the different ways in which people respond to inequality and injustice. Students have been working on a variety of reading skills including understanding point of view, story structure, theme, tone, and summarizing. In math, students have been learning how to use place value and properties to add and subtract decimals. Our next few lessons will focus on multiplying and dividing decimals. In science, students have taken on the role of water resource engineers to help a fictional town figure out why they are having a water shortage. In regards to AVID, our students have been doing a great job utilizing a variety of vocabulary, note-taking, and organizational strategies.

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Hi STARS families! We had a great November in the STARS classrooms! Students worked hard on their IEP goals, in Speech, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, ESL and/or Physical Therapy. We had our first session with our Therapy dog, Bella - students REALLY enjoyed meeting Bella. We also participated in Southbury’s virtual Veterans Day celebration as we all completed many Thanksgiving-themed activities.

Please remember to send students with coats, hats and gloves each day as it’s often much colder in the open-field playground than it can be in neighborhoods. We also do daily snack breaks so please continue to send in a daily snack (or send in bulk for the teacher to store).

We had a great time celebrating autumn, Thanksgiving and Veterans Day this month and look forward to all of the holiday activities in December!

Go Sharks!!

Mrs. Balcerak, Miss Bolton, Miss Dowjotas, Mrs. Kurth, Miss Jungels and Mrs. Wilson


Parent Teacher Conferences

We are glad we had the opportunity to meet with you during conferences. If we missed you or you’d like to set up an additional conference time please contact your child’s ESL teacher.

Blue Folders

Please remember to empty your child’s ESL folder and sign the communication log daily.

Progress Reports

Your child’s ESL teacher sent home progress reports. If you did not receive your child’s please reach out to his/her teacher.

Please reach out to us if you need any assistance or if you have any questions regarding your child.

Alyssa Ahlstrom

Kristen Serio

GE - Math

GE Mathematicians have been

In fourth grade we spent the first part of the month digging deeper into division. We found many ways to make long division more than just practicing calculations. Some highlights were playing I Have…? Who Has…?, Quiz Quiz Trade, Blooket, Quizizz, a relay game, and a mock game show. And when it came time to interpret remainders, we didn’t play around! Instead, we performed plays! I was very impressed with the speaking skills and stage presence of our thespians; a bonus that had nothing to do with math. LOL! Add ‘Em Up and Find the Error activities encouraged us to become problem analysts. We leveled up and applied what we learned to solving multi-step word problems, writing one equation with grouping symbols to represent the math happenings in the story. Then it was off to decipher decimals! This month rounding followed by a peek at adding and subtracting before multiplying and dividing decimals in December. We can’t forget all the hard work by our think tank groups, who solved puzzles and problems by talking, thinking, and solving until each group made sense out of the situation. I love how each group finds a unique way to work together and show their mathematical thinking with every challenge presented.

In fifth grade conversions came to a conclusion. We were converting champions across multiple standards! First we converted units using rate conversion factors. We applied that strategy to convert amounts within and between the metric and customary measurement systems. Then it was onto a different kind of equivalency conversion. We learned many varied ways to convert between fractions, decimals, and percentages. To remember all these ways, we took lots of notes! We even learned a little Latin. Our word percent comes from percentum, meaning “out of 100.” The % sign even reminds us that percentages are just ratios out of 100! Solving percentage problems was timed perfectly for all those Black Friday holiday shopping deals! At the end of the month mathematicians were introduced to integers, which include positive and negative whole numbers and zero. Comprehending something less than zero is abstract, but we will be finding lots of examples of negative numbers to relate to our daily lives! You can help your mathematician by pointing out moments in your lives when negative numbers are needed and help us express an amount less than zero.

Speech and Language

Giving and following directions are great ways to work on your student’s Speech and Language goals. Have your student help prep a meal and follow spoken directions or written directions. After they have a direction, have your student talk through what they are doing as they are doing it. For example, “I am pouring the milk. Now I need to stir it. It looks bumpy.” Once done, have them talk through the steps that were done using specific vocabulary. For example, instead of saying “we poured it into there” you can work on what was “it” or where was “there”. “We poured the milk into the bowl.” Another fun activity is to pretend to be a robot, with your child being the controller. Have them walk the robot through familiar activities giving verbal directions. Remember, robots shouldn’t respond to gestures, only voice commands. Feel free to misinterpret vague directions incorrectly. All this talking works on grammatically correct sentences, organizing thoughts, remembering order, following directions, use of adjectives, past tense and present tense verbs, and of course speech sounds! Activities to try this with: Setting the table, making a simple snack or part of a meal, picking up toys, brushing teeth, going on a walk, doing a craft. The biggest thing, HAVE FUN!

Lauren Paver, Deb Convey, Kelly Okel


The LRC’s Monarch and Bluestem Award Nominee Reading Incentive is BACK!

Kindergarten - 3rd grade - Monarch Book List 2022

  • Read 5 Books - get to vote for your favorite nominee.

  • Read 10 Books - bring your lunch up to the LRC to eat your lunch and some goodies with Mrs. Rossi

  • Read all 20 Books - win a gift card to the Spring book fair

3rd - 5th grade - Bluestem Book List 2022

  • Read 4 Books - get to vote for your favorite nominee.

  • Read 10 Books - bring your lunch up to the LRC to eat your lunch and some goodies with Mrs. Rossi

  • Read all 20 Books - win a gift card to the Spring book fair

Students may get the books from anywhere (Southbury’s LRC, Oswego Public Library, own purchase) and need to have a slip signed by an adult who saw them read or read with the student. These slips are available in the LRC. Some of these award nominees are read during library time. Students will automatically get credit for these books! DEADLINE for reading is Monday, February 28th, 2022.

Friendly Reminder - Please keep your library books away from water! We’ve lost several books over the past few weeks due to water damage (water bottle leakage and other miscellaneous backpack spills). Please make sure water bottles stay in a separate backpack compartment. If a book is returned with significant water damage, the student will be charged the cost to replace the book.

Oswego Public Library

Did you know that the Oswego Public Library has more than just books? Perhaps you’d like to listen to some new music, or watch a new movie? Maybe you’d like to start a book club with your friends or neighbors? Are you looking for STEAM activities to do with your children or your scout troop? The public library has everything you need! We encourage you to explore the library website, or visit either campus in person, to learn more! Click here to visit the website.

Mrs. Rossi ( and Mrs. Dietz (

From the Reading Department

Creating Holiday Learning Traditions

Reading Rockets has some great ideas for adding new traditions to your holiday memories all the while strengthening reading and writing skills at home.

Listen, Laugh, Learn

  • Listen to audiobooks while you're traveling to visit family, wrapping gifts or cooking for the holidays.

  • Lyrics to holiday songs are fun to read and sing together. It is also good fun and good collaborative writing practice to make up your own lyrics to familiar tunes.

  • Start a story-telling tradition by revisiting holidays of the past. Old family photographs at holiday gatherings will help prompt stories about your own life and family traditions.

Read, Relax, Respond

  • Put reading and writing skills to practical use. Plan holiday meals by reading cookbooks together, writing the shopping lists and finding the needed items at the store by reading signs and labels. Read the recipe and cook together. During the simmering and baking, kids can write and decorate menus or place cards for special holiday meals.

  • Set aside time just for reading. Curl up on the couch together and read aloud an old favorite or check out books about another culture's winter celebrations.

  • Work on those letters. Improve writing skills with notes or letters to relatives and friends, thanking them for their holiday gifts.


Thank you to everyone who bought items through our Square 1 Art fundraiser! Our young artists will be enjoying some fun and fresh new art supplies in the art studio thanks to your purchases. I look forward to handing out the purchased items when they arrive shortly.

Magazines wanted! Magazines are a fun collage medium, a place for color, pattern, texture, value, etc. hunts, and they provide inspirational reference images. Send them to school with your child labeled with a note “for the art classroom”. Thank you in advance for any donations!


In the month of November we finished Trimester 1 and moved into Trimester 2! All of the students did well on their assessment and I am very proud of them! Now in November we started a new musical unit focusing on rhythms. Students have been working on creating, performing, and analyzing different rhythms in our classes.

In December we are continuing to move forward as we finish reviewing familiar rhythms and start learning new rhythms. 5th graders are going to begin playing xylophones in class to work on rhythm and note reading. It has been wonderful to have students back in the music room and we are enjoying our time connecting with music and playing together!

If you ever have any questions or additional ways I can support your student, please feel free to email me at

Physical Education

What a great month November has been for Southbury PE!! We were able to enjoy one of our favorite units, basketball, this month and we have some real talent. The younger grades had fun working on simple skills like dribbling, passing, and shooting, while the older grades engaged in games like steal the pin, shoot it in the hoop, and even some real basketball game action! This unit was followed by a team games unit and then followed by a week of the Southbury classic game called “Turkey Shoot”. At the end of November we started the favorite unit of the year floor hockey. We hope everyone is enjoying the fall season, and we look forward to a great December of fun and games in PE!

Greetings from Nurse Sara & Paige

Hello parents! Here are a few quick messages from the health office:

To all parents- I am still in need of some student’s electronic health history forms to be submitted. If you do not recall submitting this electronically prior to the beginning of the school year or recently, please send via the link below as soon as possible. It was part of the online registration process and required a Jotform to be completed for each student.

Link for Electronic Health History:

2021-2022 Annual Health History

Clothing donations are always appreciated. If you are going through old winter clothing your child no longer fits into, please consider sending it to the nurse’s office. Occasionally, students need a change of clothing, and I may not have the appropriate sizes for all school children. Items in need are winter items such as: boys and girls pants and long sleeved shirts of any sizes ranging from 4/5 and bigger. New underwear (any size) are also appreciated.

Also, any medications prescription and non-prescription needs to be accompanied by a School Medication Authorization Form. This includes cough drops, nasal sprays, ointments, and creams. Students will not be allowed to take medications with a parent note only. The link for the form is found below and also available on the School District website.

Have a restful Thanksgiving break!

Nurse Sara & Paige Brawdy

Office (630) 551-9802

Fax (630) 551-9897

Social Work

As we enter Trimester 2, students have found their place, established their routines, and found comfort in knowing what their schedule holds each day. While students and staff get excited about special breaks, long weekends, or early dismissals, we also know our students thrive off of routine and a disruption to their schedule is a disruption to their sense of safety. We are thrilled that students are back in the building and are always looking for ways to offer support. One of the ways we do that in our role is by continually reassuring students we are looking forward to seeing them when they return and preparing them for any upcoming changes when appropriate. If you’re seeing new behaviors at home, try focusing on a consistent routine that includes bedtime and morning routines. Ensure that your child knows your expectations of them on “No School” days ahead of time. We are in this together and know that it is our team efforts that make the greatest impact on our students so always know we are here to support you!

Mentor Group is underway for several of our STARS classrooms. We have enjoyed our 5th grade Mentors visiting each week for a special activity! Some favorites so far have been Fall crafts, BINGO, our Fall Scavenger Hunt, and of course our game day!

Check out our most recent Social Emotional Newsletter for upcoming events and local resources from our Director of Social Emotional Learning for SD308, Heidi Podjasek!

Community Resources:

Kendall County Community Food Pantry is open each Thursday from 12-6pm.

Kendall County Community Food Pantry Clothing Dept:

Every Monday: 9:00 - 11:00

First and Last Saturday of the month: 9:00 - 11:00

Local Cooling/Warming Shelters

The Oswego Satellite Location runs the first friday of each month from 6-7:30

As always, please reach out to your child’s teacher or the main office if you have any questions or concerns that our Social Workers may be able to assist with. Happy Holidays from your Southbury Social Workers!

Kristin Epstein, Tanya Yuvan, & Kristina Flinn