It's Elementary - DES Newsletter

September 2020

Dates to Remember

September 30 - Midterm

October 12 - NO SCHOOL/Boarding students return

October 13 - Classes resume

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Dr. Heidi's Happenings

We are really getting back in to the swing of things here in Deaf Elementary School! Students are learning new routines and remembering old ones. Everyone is navigating how to equally involve students in the Brick and Mortar (BAM) program as well as the Innovative Learning Environment (ILE). We have developed new skills with technology tools and tricks, and are learning how to have productive meetings online. While no one could have predicted, nor would we have wanted, a global pandemic during the reopening of school for the 2020-2021 school year, it has helped us realize that we are stronger than we think we are, and we can do more than we think we can.

Returning to school always finds us celebrating summer learning, and this year was no different. We celebrated summer learning by awarding medals to students who completed their ThinkStretch Summer Learning workbooks. Students were excited to receive their medals, and they wore them proudly. They earned praise and applause from their peers.

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: Pictures and/or updates are posted daily.

A Note From Deaf Department Principal Angela Saunders

This week, our hearts go out to the families, schools, and businesses in the Pensacola area who were affected by Hurricane Sally. It is a reminder that we are right in the middle of a very busy hurricane season and that we all need to be prepared for weather emergencies. FSDB has an incident management team who monitors weather situations closely and are ready with plans to keep our students safe and to ensure that families can be together should there be an imminent storm. This week take some time to make sure that your hurricane kit is ready. Have a safe weekend!

An Invitation from Dr. Heidi! (she looks lonely)

Are you..

  • A parent or family member of a student in Deaf Elementary School (DES)?
  • A person who wants to have say in our school goals or spending priorities?
  • Available for a one (or at least no more than two) hour meeting each quarter (only four times per year!)?

If you answered “yes” to all these questions…or even two of these questions…Dr. Heidi wants to hear from you! Please join our DES School Advisory Council/Title I Parent Advisory Team! Reach out to or (904) 827-2520 (voice or text).

Brick and Mortar (BAM) Student Absences

Please view the video included below from our Administrator of Instructional Services Tracie Snow who clarifies how students participating in the brick and mortar (BAM) model who are absent from school will not participate in the synchronous lessons by joining the Teams call unless they have selected to participate full-time in the innovative learning environment (ILE) at the start of the school year or due to quarantine requirements. Students may, however, continue working on assignments as they would have done in previous years. This could include taking work assignments home prior to an absence, completing assignments posted in their Google Classroom, or making up work when they return to school. Please see the FSDB Student Progression Plan for more information regarding making up work due to absences. For those with children in the ILE model: if you would like your child to return to the campus from ILE, please contact me to make arrangements one week in advance. There are two videos to choose from; ASL or Spoken English with captions.
Brick and Mortar (BAM) Student Absences in ASL
Brick and Mortar (BAM) Student Absences in Spoken English

Updates from Vaill Hall

Vaill Hall is growing; we now have 5 new students, and they are so sweet. One of the boys, Xander, is so thoughtful. He uses his manners and is always opening doors for people, letting them go first. What a great example of Character Counts behavior. Kudos to him! Our PBIS theme for this month is Responsibility. Staff have been reviewing their expectations with the students. Also, they have been teaching students how to be responsible for their things, taking care of their room, and keeping up with their homework. They are learning something new every day. If you need to reach out to Rita Baker, Boarding Supervisor of Vaill Hall, you can reach her at 904-827-2806 or 904-201-4461 (VP).

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: Children enjoying the new Sensory Path in the hallway.

First Grade: Students have been doing a wonderful job showing responsibility by wearing their masks and following the new safety procedures.

Second Grade: Students attending to math lesson and completing their Problem Sets, turning it in via Google Classroom.

Third Grade: Students have shown incredible patience since the start of the school year! They help each other to remember the steps involved in submitting work.

Fourth Grade: Students are applying their understanding of map elements (compass, symbols, legend, scale, and title) by finding items around campus!

Fifth Grade: Our ILE students have been logging in on time and completing tasks. All our students are participating in group discussions. They all have been Cooperative, Respectful, and Responsible.

Favorite Moments From Each Grade Level

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

Kindergarten: Seeing a student put together a puzzle on his own.

First Grade: Students celebrated International Dot Day on September 15th! They read the story “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds and made their own artistic dot creations.

Second Grade: When I finally was able to get my 2 ILE students into class time with my 3 B&M students!

Third Grade: Students volunteered to hold doors open so that other students can hold on to their iPads safely.

Fourth Grade: Friends being able to play together and see each other for the 1st time in months!

Fifth Grade: When we had a "brain break" and got to explore the NEW sensory walk.

Board of Trustees Meeting

The FSDB Board of Trustees will hold a meeting at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Two committee meetings will be held prior to the board meeting, starting with enrollment/outreach at 8:30 a.m. and endowment/investment at 8:45 a.m. All meetings will be held in Kirk Auditorium and are open to the public. The board meeting will also be live streamed on the FSDB Board of Trustees Meetings page. American Sign Language interpreters will be provided.

Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15-Oct. 15

The theme for this year's Hispanic Heritage Month is "Celebrating Untold Stories of Hispanic Americans in Florida." The state released information regarding the student art and essay contests and Excellence in Education Awards. Hispanic Heritage Month is recognized and celebrated in the U.S. from Sept. 15-Oct. 15. Students and educators are invited to participate in academic and creative contests based on this year’s theme including:

  • Student Art Contest: The art contest is open to all K-3 students in Florida. Each student will submit original, two-dimensional artwork based on this year’s theme. Two winners will be selected.

  • Student Essay Contest: The essay contest is open to all 4-12 students in Florida. Each student will submit one essay no longer than 500 words based on this year’s theme. Three winners will be selected: one elementary school student (grades 4-5), one middle school student (grades 6-8) and one high school student (grades 9-12). Each winner will receive a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

  • Excellence in Education Award: Contest is open to all full-time educators in an elementary, middle or high school in Florida. Three winners will be selected from each and nominations may be submitted by a principal, teacher, parent/guardian or student.

Student contest forms and educator nomination forms must be mailed to Volunteer Florida or submitted online with all entries received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2020. If mailing, send to Hispanic Heritage Month Committee, 1545 Raymond Diehl Road, Suite 250, Tallahassee, FL 32308. Click here for more information.

McKinney Vento Act

The McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program is designed to address the problems that homeless children and youth have faced in enrolling, attending and succeeding in school. Under this federal program, state educational agencies must ensure that each homeless child and youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as other children and youth.

If you are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason, you may qualify for McKinney Vento services. FSDB has a program. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help. You have already helped your child greatly by keeping them in school. Let us help you by finding resources for your family.

Please contact the Liaison for Homeless Students, Christi Boortz,, 904-827-2284.

FSDB Parent University

FSDB Parent University is hosting two virtual sign language classes for FSDB families starting the week of Sept. 21, 2020 and continuing weekly through the end of October. Beginner and intermediate classes are available, both from 4-5 p.m. No advance registration is required and classes will be held via Zoom. Click here for dates and more details.

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Parent Right To Know (PRTK)

Section 1119(i) of ESSA (formerly NCLB) states that districts receiving funds under Title I shall ensure that all teachers hired and teaching is a Title I school are “highly qualified." This changed slightly with the reauthorization of NCLB into ESSA; teachers are no longer given a highly qualified status, but the school must let parents know if a teacher does not have the required state certification.

Parents of students in a school funded through Title I part A must be notified if a teacher who is not state-certified is teaching their child within four weeks of the beginning of school (and beginning of second semester if there is a class change). Teachers may not have the state certification because they are teaching an out-of-field class, lacking an endorsement, or not yet certified in their subject area or grade span.

Paraprofessionals in a Title I school hired after Jan. 8, 2002, must have a) obtained an Associate Arts degree (or higher) or b) completed at least 60 college credits or c) passed a paraprofessional assessment with a score of 464 or higher. At FSDB, the Parapro is administered twice a year for those interested in taking it.

As a Title I parent, you have the right to request information regarding the professional qualifications of any teacher or paraprofessional teaching your child. You may request to know:

  1. Whether your child’s teacher is state-certified;

  2. Whether your child’s teacher is teaching under emergency or other temporary/provisional status;

  3. The bachelor’s degree (or higher) of your child’s teacher;

  4. The certification areas of your child’s teacher;

  5. Whether your child is receiving services from paraprofessionals; and

  6. If so, the qualifications of the paraprofessionals.

To receive this information, please contact the Assistant Principal Dr. Heidi Jordan.


FDLRS Offering Free Monthly Parent Workshops

The Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System (FDLRS) is offering free monthly parent webinars throughout the 2020-21 school year. First one is being held Sept. 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on "Understanding ESE: An Overview." Registration is available here.

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!

Disasters Don't Wait. Make Your Plan Today!

National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster planning now and throughout the year. As our nation continues to respond to COVID-19, there is no better time to be prepared for an emergency. The Department of Homeland Security has great checklists and other resources. Make your plan today!

Campus Events

PEW Dates for the 2020-21 Academic Year

Parent Engagement Workshops will be held virtually through the first semester of the 2020-21 school year. Dates forthcoming (Please confirm meeting dates prior to making travel plans, as these dates are tentative and may change).

Dr. Heidi's Virtual Office



FSDB Welcome Back 2020
Hello from FSDB Deaf Elementary School

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