The Tiger Times

The Thomas Jefferson Elementary Parent Newsletter

December 21, 2019

Chalk Dust: Notes From The Principal's Desk

My wife and I are avid theatre-goers. One of the many blessings of moving to the DC area was the instant access to some of the nation’s best theatres, such as the Arena Stage, the Kennedy Center, the Shakespeare Theatre, and numerous others. Here is Falls Church, Creative Cauldron not only produces great work, but even affords some of our own TJ students the opportunity to engage in the arts, both as audience members and cast members.


Earlier this year, we saw a play at Arena Stage that stayed with me and led me to think quite a bit about our kids here at TJ. The play was titled “Right To Be Forgotten.” The protagonist of the play is a 27 year old graduate student named Derril Lark. Ten years earlier, as an awkward and confused teenager, Lark had followed a girl he liked to the point of stalking her and making her uncomfortable. The girl, traumatized, wrote a blog about the experience, and before long, the blog went viral, with ten of thousands of readers commenting on it and pouring out vitriol towards Lark and other stalkers they have experienced. Thus, any internet search for “Derril Lark” instantly turns up story after story about stalking and restraining orders and what not. Even ten years later, Lark points out that any attempt to get a job, any attempt to make a name for himself, is sullied by the things he had done as a teenager.


As the title suggests, the play explores questions of privacy in the age of social media and the internet. How much of our lives can be impacted by the things that appear about us online? What rights should we have to have our names and mistakes kept out of the public domain? What rights do victims have and to what extent should victims be able to share their full stories in public view on the internet? What are the dangers of online mistakes and how long do we pay a price for them? These are hard questions without easy answers.


But these are questions our kids are going to face. Sadly, kids occasionally bring these questions on themselves because of mistakes they make online.


Frankly, it is surprising in a positive way to us that we do not experience more problems with social media amongst our elementary kids. Perhaps the fact that it is a rarity is indicative of their age, or perhaps the strong, caring community our kids grow up in, or perhaps the signs that the kind of community-building efforts we do here at school has taken some root. Nonetheless, many of us are familiar with stories from the news – or perhaps even our friends – of instances in which kids have made poor and even harmful decisions with social media.


What is to be done about this? Our initial gut reaction may be to withdraw, to build a wall of separation between our kids and the technological realities of the 21st century. It’s an understandable reaction. Still, one cannot help but realize that the world of online collaboration and research is itself an essential skill that our kids need to master. To deprive them from learning these skills not only comes at a cost, but it also deprives them of the many positives the internet brings.


The importance of internet safety is not lost on us at TJ. In our technology classes, kids receive instruction in safe internet use. They are taught the difference between credible web sites for research and questionable ones. They are taught ways to stay safe online and are taught appropriate ways to use social media. As recently as last week, our 5th graders attended a presentation on social media and how to stay safe online. We will continue to reflect on our instruction and how we can prepare kids for both the blessings and the dangers of the internet.


As parents, you, of course, play a vital role. It is a family decision as to how much privacy you wish to extend your child, but it is not unreasonable to keep a careful watch on your child’s online activities. Interestingly, the minimum age for people to have social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, and numerous other social media outlets is 13 years old, meaning that no TJ student should have an account on those outlets.


(It is to be expected that telling your students “no” to their request to have a social media account may lead to a family discussion with some vehemence…)


At the end of the day, it is unlikely that any of us can with unimpeachable certainty prevent kids from making mistakes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, the purpose of youth is to make the mistakes that will make us wiser, more empathetic adults. But I think we can all agree that relative to social media and internet dangers, the far better course is to try to prevent the mistake rather than managing it once it has happened. The first step is having these conversations and doing everything we can to make our students safe and responsible consumers of technological resources.

Staff Spotlight: Ms. Yoki Jeffers

By Maura Hughes, Lucas Mahini and Ava Bitici


Mrs. Jeffers, a paraprofessional, has been working at TJ for many years. She works with different kids and students. She chose this job because out of all the schools in the Virginia area TJ was the first one to call her. Her favorite part about working here is “the different students I get each year. They all have their own spirit coming into the class, and so I’ve learned and enjoyed all of the students that come here.”


Before teaching at TJ, Ms. Jeffers was a nanny for 12 years for ages from infancy to four. Then she taught at a D.C. Public school for about a year. She grew up in Washington D.C. but also in Herndon. She went to Dodge Park Elementary. She adopted 2 daughters. They are the same age and are both from foster care. Her favorite subject was music, and she played the flute for 12 years. Her second favorite subject was english. Her favorite animal is birds. “I’ve grown up with birds my whole life.” Her favorite grade was fifth grade.


Her favorite book is Charlotte's Web and she has always been passionate about reading. Ms. Jeffers loves the movies. She is part of AMC A+ Club. She loves all kinds of movies, but her favorite would be drama. She goes to the movies 3 times a week with friends and family. Her favorite colors are blue and white.”Those have always been my favorite colors.” She doesn’t have a favorite quote, but the most encouraging thing she would say to any child is “you need to do something you love, so that its not a task or something you are making yourself do. Do something you have a passion for, so that it is not a job.” Her favorite place to travel to is St. Thomas.


We are so lucky to have her with us at TJ!

Students Return To TJ January 6, 2020.

We ache now completed the last school day of the decade...:) Students will return to TJ on Monday, January 6, 2020. TJ will be closed during winter break.


Wednesday, January 8 will be an early release day, with students dismissing at 1:15 p.m..

FCCPS Choral Boosters Formed

The three FCCPS choir teachers, Ms. Reid, Ms. Carpel and Ms. Sample, are delighted to announce the newly approved FCCPS CHORAL BOOSTERS. Like other FCCPS Booster groups, Choral Boosters will support our teachers and singers in their many activities, including school performances, community outreach, clinics and competitions, fund-raisers and more!


Beginning in January, Choral Boosters will begin an affordable after-school voice & piano lessons program open to any student whose family becomes Boosters. So, if you have a student who loves to sing, look for the Choral Boosters table at one of the upcoming concerts to get all of the information. Or, to find the membership form and lessons program application, check out the website www.fccpschoralboosters.org or contact president Becca Tice at beccatice@yahoo.com.

Check Out the FCCPS App!

CAMPAIGN SLOGAN:

It's everything FCCPS, in your pocket.


THE BIG IDEA:

This is a primary form of communication to staff and families - ESPECIALLY - during emergencies including SNOW CLOSINGS!


CORE MESSAGE:

Falls Church City Public Schools is launching a new mobile app that helps students, parents, and community members know what is happening on campus, right from their phones. We know that families are using smartphones as a primary means to communicate. That’s why we’ve created an app that is custom-built for mobile. On the app, you can find alert notifications, cafeteria menus, contact information for staff, and event information. You can download the app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.


THREE MAIN BENEFITS:

1) Know what’s going on at school.
Ex: Find real-time updates from the website’s live feed about stories happening inside the classroom, on the football field, or in the art studio.


2) Connect with teachers and administrators.
Ex: Learn about parent-teacher conferences, access staff contact information, and quickly find out about district news.


3) Stay up-to-date with school information.
Ex: Receive updates about events occurring on campus, the daily cafeteria menu, and of course emergency notifications.


LINKS:

The App - Android: http://bit.ly/30xyIV5 or iPhone: https://apple.co/30xh03S

Or just search "Falls Church City Public Schools"


YouTube Walkthrough of the FCCPS App

TJ Yearbook Sales Continue

Early bird TJ yearbook sales have started! If your family would like to buy a yearbook at the $20 rate, you may order online at:


ybpay.lifetouch.com

ID Code 11380120


The $20 early order discount ends in March. At that time, the cost of the yearbook will increase to $25. Should you have any questions about the yearbook, do not hesitate to contact Ms. Brooke Davis, TJ's librarian and yearbook sponsor, at davisb1@fccps.org.

Learn About The Falls Church Elementary PTA

FCCPS elementary schools are incredibly lucky to have a great partner in the Falls Church Elementary PTA (FCEPTA). To learn more about the FCEPTA, please visit https://fcepta.org/.

Lost And Found

Another reminder to TJ families to take a look at our lost and found, as we have numerous unclaimed items there. Shortly after winter break, unclaimed items will be donated to local charities.

About TJ

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is a grade 3-5 school in Falls Church. Like all Falls Church City Public Schools, TJ is an IB school. Our students are the beneficiaries of the Primary Years Program, which focuses on thematic instruction, international mindedness, and the development of the whole child.

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