September 2015

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Principal's Message

Welcome back! It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your principal and to be entrusted with your child’s education and safety. It was a pleasure to open the Westowne doors this past August 24th to the smiling faces of 585 students. We enjoyed a most successful opening thanks to the cooperation of all students, parents, and staff. The students did a fine job transitioning to their new grade levels and teachers worked diligently to set up classrooms, organize supplies, and get to know new classmates. What a great start!

In addition to extending a “Welcome!” to our new families, please be sure to welcome thirteen new faculty members to WES. Staff new to WES includes Ms. Krysta Durm, kindergarten, Ms. Victoria Myers, kindergarten, Mr. Yongjoo Jim, ESOL, Ms. Diane Brumfield, school counselor, Ms. Jennifer Stine school counselor, Ms. Rachel Barer, speech & language pathologist, Ms. Rachel Wirtz, speech & language pathologist, Ms. Katie Millet, physical therapist, Ms. Brittany Wilkerson, para-educator, Ms. Lisa White, additional adult support, Ms. Tashia Burden, additional adult support, Ms. Jean Thompson, additional adult support, and Ms. Megan Massie, ten month secretary. These faculty members are great additions to WES staff and community!

Westowne Elementary has enjoyed much success over the years due to the talented teaching staff, motivated students, and supportive families. I encourage all members of the school community to support the PTA by becoming a member, participating in the many school and evening events planned for the 2015-2016 school year, and supporting the PTA fundraisers scheduled throughout the year. We certainly appreciate the many hours our PTA volunteers give for the benefit of the WES students.

In closing, Ms. McBride and I look forward to working with all students, parents, and families to ensure that your child has a very successful school year. We encourage you to become involved as we strive to provide the best educational experience possible in a safe and nurturing environment.

Arrival and Dismissal Reminders

The school building is open to students at 9:00 a.m. Due to safety concerns, unsupervised students are not permitted on the property or in the building prior to 9:00 a.m. Please do not drop students off early. The late bell rings at 9:15 a.m. At that time, all students are to be seated in their classroom and ready for morning announcements. If your child arrives after 9:15 a.m., please park and visit the main office to sign your student in. Late students will receive a late pass before moving to their classrooms. Dismissal will begin at 3:40 p.m. for walkers and car riders. Bus Riders will begin being dismissed at 3:45 p.m. All walkers and car riders will exit their classrooms when called and report to the main lobby doors for dismissal. Walkers will begin their trip home and car riders will move to the arrival/dismissal on Harlem Lane where staff members will supervise the loading of vehicles. Each student will be released to his/her car after the car pulls forward and comes to a complete stop. Drivers in the carpool line may not park or leave their cars in the line. Please do not meet your child at a different location. In the spirit of safety, car riders will not be dismissed from any other area. Car riders who are not picked up from school by 4:00 p.m. will go directly to the office and we will begin calling emergency pick-up numbers. For additional information about car rider procedures, please see the Westowne Elementary Parent/Student Handbook and/or the WES website (http://westownees.bcps.org). Please be considerate of those staff members on Car Riders’ duty and understand that the enforcement of this policy is to ensure the safety of our children.

To alleviate lengthy carpool lines and students being late for school, we urge parents to utilize the provided bus transportation for students. It is helpful if all eligible students ride the bus, especially during the first few weeks of school, in order to help the drivers become familiar with stops and students, and develop a consistent, timely route more quickly.

Please for the safety of the children, no cars may enter the bus loop during student arrival and dismissal. Please be considerate of those staff members on walker, car rider, and bus duty and understand that the enforcement of the arrival/dismissal policy is to ensure the safety of our children. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

September Construction Updates

Yes…the construction site for the new WES has been very active of late as the project moves forward. The limited amount of rain has helped as the construction schedule has not been impacted over the last several weeks. At this time, all 144 Geo Wells are complete. Site grading should be complete in another two to three weeks and concrete foundation footings were started during the week of August 24th. The addition of Geo Piers (needed for the foundation on the back side of construction site) will begin next week and the mason is on site and will start on the exterior walls in the next week or two. The instructional day has not been impacted by the happenings and we all remain patient and look forward to a brand new building for the 2016-2017 school year!

Completing The Volunteer Training Application

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Fall MAP Testing FAQs

What is MAP?

MAP stands for Measures of Academic Progress and tests what a student knows and can do at the time of the test in reading and mathematics.

· MAP is a pair of tests, one in reading and one in mathematics, which your child will take on a computer two or three times during the school year, depending on grade level.

· The difficulty of each question will adjust as your child answers questions.

· The MAP narrows in on your child’s learning level by presenting questions based on how your child answers. This is called a computer adaptive achievement test.

Who takes MAP?

All BCPS students in Grades k—8 will take the MAP test in reading and mathematics.

For students in Grades K—2, the test is given on the computer and students listen to the questions through headphones.

MAP Testing Schedule

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Counseling Corner

We hope you had a wonderful summer and are ready for a great school year! We welcome all of our students and look forward to getting to all of them and all our new families soon.

Diane Brumfield and Jennifer Leo Stine are our new full time professional school counselors at Westowne Elementary and we are so happy to be here. Although we will be working together, Ms. Brumfield will be counseling the Pre-K, 1st graders, 2nd graders and 4th graders. Ms. Stine will be counseling kindergartens, 3rd and 5th graders. We will also be going into each classroom weekly providing lessons on appropriate character traits as well as other counseling topics such as social skills, Red Ribbon Week, Anti-Bullying Week, conflict resolution, just to name a few.

As professional school counselors, our goal is to help all students be the best student they can be in the categories of academics, career and social/ emotional competency; this includes working directly with students as well as collaborating with families and staff.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help your child this year!



There has been a pretty big shift in thinking about study skills, but most of us parents (and especially students) are unaware of it. In this column, I will debunk some myths and will hopefully increase the enjoyment, or at least decrease the dread, of homework.


There are lots of articles that tell parents to have a dedicated study place for kids. Recent research is telling us that studying in the same place every time is actually not a good idea. It’s important that there be a place where all the books and supplies are located, but it is not so important that students use the area to study. In fact, most research is telling us that learning is better when homework is done in multiple locations. Some kids need to work around others, so having them isolated is a bad idea. Some kids like to do their math at one place and their social studies somewhere else. Fantastic, let them do that.

One of the most interesting ideas that has come out in recent years about learning is that some distractibility is actually a good thing. A bit of distraction puts the brain in better focus and, for most kids, will increase the ability to perform and remember better. This is why having some background music helps most kids stay focused. Background music does tend to get in the way of reading assignments, but for most other assignments it actually helps performance. Television is still a complete no-no during studying. It is so distracting that the ability to focus decreases dramatically when the TV is on.


Another myth that has been debunked is that students should study at the same time each day. For most families these days this is an impossible task. The good news is that learning actually increases if studying happens at different times. So don’t worry so much about the timing. Find what works for your child.


We used to think that willpower was like a muscle: The more you exercised willpower, the more you would have. Actually, willpower is like a fuel tank: Once it’s empty it’s very hard to get anything done. This explains why some kids can’t come right home from school and start their homework. Their tank is empty. You might be able to get them to sit in front of their books, but they will just sit there and whine. The good news about filling the willpower fuel tank is that it doesn’t take long to add some to the tank. Fifteen minutes of relaxation can fill the tank enough for a half hour of homework time, especially if the relax time is physical. Get your kids to run around for a while doing something physical and their ability to stay focused will increase dramatically.


When adults compliment kids on their intelligence, performance decreases. When adults compliment kids on their hard work, performance increases. This is an important fact to keep in mind when it comes to giving feedback to your kids. For instance, if you are reviewing math facts and it’s going well, try saying something like “Great job! You worked really hard on this,” instead of: “Great job! You are so smart!”


This is one of the most important ideas I focus on in my book: Homework – A Parent’s Guide To Helping Out Without Freaking Out It seems counter-intuitive. “Of course my kids need my help,” you might be thinking. The problem is that the more we think our kids need our help, the more dependent they will become on us. The origins of the word “help” implies that I cannot do something on my own. Kids know this, which is why they often react negatively when we help them. Leading them, on the other hand, is something they need. When we are a leader, we are not doing it for them. Leadership is more about inspiring, reminding, and at times reinforcing.

Teach the children so that it will not be necessary to teach the adults.

~Abraham Lincoln

Neil McNerney is a Licensed

Counselor, Professional Trainer,

Community Speaker, and Author.

He has worked with parents for the past 25 years as a school counselor and in private practice in Reston,VA. He serves on the faculty of the Virginia Tech Graduate School of Marriage and Family Therapy, where he teaches courses on counseling children and their parents. Neil is author of “Homework – A Parent’s Guide To Helping Out

Without Freaking Out!” which is a guidebook based on his 25 years helping parents become the best leaders they can be. For more parenting advice visit:



Character Education

Students are taught to develop good character through the character education program taught by professional school counselors and reinforced in the classroom by teachers, administrators and staff.

The following traits will be assigned to each month:

September: Responsibility

To complete tasks and assignments on time

  • To do what is right

  • To accept responsibility for the consequences of my choices

  • To be reliable

October: Respect

  • Being kind to others

  • Being personally responsible for yourself, and others

  • Treating everyone as you would like to be treated

November: Citizenship

  • To understand my present role, responsibilities and duties of the school

  • To follow the rules of the school

December: Self-Discipline/Impulse Control

  • Ability to control oneself and conduct for self improvement

  • Ability to resist temptation for immediate gratification

January: Caring/Empathy

  • To show acts of kindness to others

  • To take the initiative to assist someone who has a need

  • To help others without being asked

  • Truly listen to someone in need

February: Trustworthy/ Integrity

  • To be truthful to myself and others

  • To never deceive, steal or take advantage of the trust people have in me

March: Perseverance

  • To understand that my present struggles are essential for future achievements

  • To expend whatever energy is necessary to complete a project

April: Positive attitude/ Optimism

  • Being accepting of others

  • Expect the best possible outcome

  • Recognize the most hopeful aspect of a situation

May: Cooperation/ Sportsmanship

  • Willingness to assist

  • Showing courtesy and grace in losing during fair play

Show Your Green Spirit

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Nurse's Nook

Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year! Please encourage your child to bring a water bottle to school every day. If your student will require any prescribed medication, including medication for Asthma, please contact me to obtain the necessary form and to discuss the procedure for bringing medication to school. All once a day allergy medications should be given at home. I have mailed home letters to the families of students who are not in compliance with immunizations. If you receive a letter from me, please ensure that your student’s immunizations are administered prior to the exclusion from school date of Sept. 11, 2015. I will need an updated copy of the immunization record for the health record. Parents of PS, PK, and K students, please remember to provide your student’s teacher with a weather appropriate change of clothes to be kept in the classroom in the case of emergency. Please feel free to contact me at jmartin13@bcps.org or 410-869-0023 if you have any questions about health suite procedures. Thank you, Nurse Martin.

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OT Resource

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