September Newsletter

Westwood Elementary

Please scroll down to see what is going on in the different classes this month!

Principal's Message:

Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year. I am thrilled to welcome our students and staff back to school. We hope that you were able to relax and make special memories with your friends and families. Now it is time to look forward to a wonderful new school year!

Our incredible staff of educators have been in school throughout the summer to prepare classrooms for the new school year. We are excited to welcome a few new staff members to our Westwood family. We recognize that students may be feeling anxious with the start of a new school year, and we will continue to place a strong emphasis on social emotion learning while focusing on building relationships and classroom community.

Our classrooms start each day with a morning meeting. These meetings are an engaging way to start each day, build a strong sense of community, and set children up for success socially and academically. Each morning, students and teachers gather together in a circle for twenty to thirty minutes and interact with one another during four purposeful components:

  1. Greeting: Students and teachers greet one other by name.
  2. Sharing: Students share information about important events in their lives. Listeners often offer empathetic comments or ask clarifying questions.
  3. Group Activity: Everyone participates in a brief, lively activity that fosters group cohesion and helps students practice social and academic skills (for example, reciting a poem, dancing, singing, or playing a game).
  4. Morning Message: Students read and interact with a short message written by their teacher. The message is crafted to help students focus on the work they’ll do in school that day.

Our district also adopted Second Step. This is a classroom-based, social-emotional learning curriculum for Kindergarten–Grade 5 that nurtures children’s social-emotional competence and foundational learning skills. It includes a bullying prevention component to help create a safer, more positive school community. These Second Step lessons will take place each Monday in your child’s classroom.

I would like us to come together as a school community to work to improve attendance at Westwood Elementary. Last year we had approximately 35% of our students at risk of being chronically absent. These absences did not include students that were quarantined due to COVID-19. Starting in preschool and kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school. Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school and themselves. We can start building good habits in preschool and kindergarten, so our students learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Eventually good attendance will be a skill that will help them succeed in high school and college. Let’s work collectively to make regular attendance a priority.

As a reminder, our doors open at 7:40 A.M. Supervision is not provided prior to that time. We have many students that are arriving as early as 7:15. Unfortunately, this tends to create behavior problems and affects the start of the school day. Please ensure that you child is not arriving prior to 7:40. Thank you for your support and assistance with this.

Thank you for being such a strong part of our school community. Please feel free to stop by or call the office at anytime at 785-717-4150.

Kimberly Dressman, Westwood Principal

Counselor's Corner:

Welcome Back Wildcats

All about me:

My name is Ms. Christion and I serve as your School Counselor here at Westwood Elementary. This will be my third year here and I am excited about getting the year started. I have a high-school daughter who will be graduating this year. I love spending time with my family and traveling.

Reasons to see the school counselor:

Students can visit me for many reasons or no reason at all😊 If you need someone to talk to, I am always here for you.

Please see me if there is any: bullying, sad/angry thoughts, or problems with getting along with friends

During the month of September, we will be discussing the following lessons in our counseling class. ZONES of Regulation, which is a curriculum that develops awareness of feelings, energy and alertness levels while exploring a variety of tools and strategies for regulation, prosocial skills, self-care, and overall wellness.

We will also be discussing a growth mindset which is: talent and intelligence can grow with practice, effort, and experience.

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time if you have questions or concerns.

Ebonie Christion

School Counselor

Library News:

Hello! My name is Shanae Stanton and I am the new librarian at Westwood this year! I am so excited to join the Wildcat family. I want to bring several new and exciting activities to the library throughout the year, so stay tuned for more information about that! My clerk, Mrs. Houck, is new to the library but not new to Westwood. She also has great ideas and is adding some beautiful artwork to the library. Students have already begun checking out their own books and are doing a great job with it. Please remind your kiddo that library books are due back every week so that other wildcats can enjoy them. I look forward to all of the awesomeness this year will bring. Happy Reading!
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During the few weeks of school, our class will be focusing on key skills that will provide a strong foundation for our learning this year. We will be reading stories and talking about the different ways that each of us is special. We will also be focusing on ways in which friends get along with each other. Children will be reading stories about how friends share, take turns, and resolve conflicts, or problems, with one another. Next, we will be reading stories about baby animals and their families. Your child will also discover ways in which baby animals move, such as hopping, running, galloping, and crawling. Finally, our class will be focusing on ways in which we use our five senses to hear, taste, touch, see, and smell. Children will read about how they can explore the world around them by using their senses.
Throughout the year we will be focusing on various phonological awareness skills. We will do daily lessons on letter naming, letter sounds, rhyme recognition, rhyme production, onset fluency (recognizing beginning sounds in words), blending words, identifying final sounds, segmenting words, substituting words to make new ones, adding words to create a new word, deleting words to create a new word, and language awareness – such as counting how many words are in a sentence. These skills are imperative for our students to become fluent readers who comprehend texts. The activities will progressively get more challenging as the year goes on, and we will add new skills as they master the first ones.

Reading Tip: We have learned the following high frequency words: I, can, a, the, we, see
Activity: Help your students learn these words by having them find them in books, on websites, in games, and while driving around town. These are words we want students to recognize just by looking at them!

In math we are discussing reasons that people count and why it is an important part of everyday life. For example, a teacher might count the books on a shelf to make sure there are enough for each child. Or, a child might count the number of days until their birthday. By counting objects in groups of 1 to 4, your child will also develop the understanding that when counting a group of objects, each number is associated with one object and the last number counted tells the total amount in the group. Through learning what it means to count and developing strategies for keeping track of objects being counted, your child will start to build a strong foundation for success in math.

Math Tip: Group together some items and count them aloud with your child. Write the number of items that are in the group. Move the objects to the side as you count them if needed!

First Grade:

Welcome Back! It was so nice to see you and your child at Porch Pop-Ins, Sneak-Peak and Family Orientation Night! First grade is ready to Thrive in 475! We are working diligently to reinforce rules, routines, and expectations and we are off to a great start!

Young learners arrive with a love of learning and a sense of wonder. We are using 2nd Step for positive social emotional learning (SEL) which provides them with knowledge and strategies for helping and understanding themselves and others.

Currently, in our reading program, first grade is reviewing prior knowledge and discussing the concept of print. The students are listening carefully to rhyming words, and beginning, middle and ending sounds. We have also started to put parts of letters and sounds together to say the word. For example: The parts are /sss/ /it/ = sit or /gr/ /ab/ = grab. They are doing wonderful!

Our math program is iReady. We are working on combining and breaking apart numbers within 10 with addition and subtraction. The students will build on counting skills, and an in depth understanding of what addition and subtraction mean. One of the biggest and most efficient strategies that we are introducing is to find a total by “Counting on.” For instance, 5+3. “Say 5. . . . 6, 7, 8” instead of counting “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.”

The first-grade team is so excited to work with you and your child this year! Let’s keep growing.

Second Grade:

Second Grade is off and rolling! Thank you for sharing your amazing little people with us! We are continuing to learn about each other and work on our social skills with our new Second Step program. We do one Second Step lesson every Monday morning and then reinforce that skill all week. Our morning (sunrise) meetings consist of a fun “greeting” usually with a “share” of some sort, followed by a quick “game”. Ask your student what their favorite morning meeting activities are.

During the month of September, we hope to get some vegetables planted in the greenhouse. We like to plant lettuce, spinach, green onions, and carrots so that we can harvest them and eat them for snack. Once we get the lettuce and spinach growing, we have a continuous supply.

In reading this month our stories will be about friends helping each other. We are working on identifying the characters, the setting (where the story takes place), and the events in our stories. We are also working on decoding our short vowel sounds. Reading with your child at home helps them become better readers. Even if you are reading to them and they are looking at the words. Every little bit helps!

We are looking forward to an amazing year of learning!

Third Grade:

3rd Grade Wildcat Families,

This school year is off to an amazing start! To kickoff Reading off this year, we are learning about how people from other countries contribute to communities. Our students have been doing an awesome job sharing examples about traditions their families have. Meanwhile in Math our early focus is a mix of rounding, adding, and place value. If you get a chance at home, have your student round a few three-digit numbers for you.

In Science, Motion and Matter has been our focus. The students will be experimenting with forces and magnetism observing the different interactions it has with different materials. Soon we will begin planning a Greenhouse Project. Our first plants will be a variety of greens that we will use to make salads. Over the next few weeks, we will also begin to tackle Civics & Government during Social Studies. Thank you for all the support, this group of 3rd Graders are amazing!

Fourth Grade:

Hello Fourth Grade Families!

Here is a quick snapshot of everything we will be learning in the month of September:

In reading we are working with comparing two texts, and finding the Authors purpose this month. We are working on reviewing our standards like finding the main idea and using text features. In math we are jumping right into Place Value and Multi-Digit addition and subtraction. We ask you to review multiplication facts 2-12 at least three nights a week.

In science we are learning about Mealworms and their environments. We will get into Isopods as we get closer to October and will be learning about their adaptations overtime.

In Social Studies (Civics and Government), we are learning the Three Branches of Government and what the roles and responsibilities of a citizen are.

We are so excited to get back into routines and being back at our favorite place, BESTWOOD.

Fifth Grade:

Hello 5th Grade Families!

Our 5th graders have started the year off strong and we look forward to a great year. In math, we have started multiplying two-digit numbers to find area and started exploring volume. In Language Arts, we are learning how to compare different stories within the same genre, as well as writing various narrative pieces. We are developing our understanding of the relationship between the sun, Earth, and moon, as well as investigating the effects of the Earth’s rotation. In Social Studies, we are beginning our research about the impacts geography had on the Early Americans.

We loved seeing so many of you at our porch pop-ins, sneak peak, and parent orientation. We are in awe at the amount of family support we have already had this school year as we know it is a joint effort to ensure your student succeeds. Please reach out with any questions and we can’t wait to have an amazing year!

Mrs. Mackay and Mrs. Ramos


Hello Westwood Families!

My name is Sharon Williams and I am going to be your student's music teacher this year! We are already off to a good year in music and I am so excited for all the musical adventures planned for this year. At the start of the year we spend a majority of our time getting into a routine, reviewing from the year past, and remembering the music room's goals.

Our goals in the music room are: Act Responsibly, Be Friendly and Respectful, Come Ready to Learn, Doing Our Best Work, Engaging in the Lesson, Following Directions and Growing From Our Mistakes. When we all set these as goals during our music time it creates a safe and fun atmosphere for students to explore and learn about music.

Here is what each grade will be doin for the next couple of months:

5th Grade: We are already in program prep for our program that will be in October. I will send out more information with students when we get closer to the date. We are learning more about singing and learning new fun songs together. I am really excited for this program and excited for the 5th Graders to show off their singing.

4th Grade: In 4th Grade, we are reviewing all the different concepts that we learned in 3rd Grade. Some of these concepts are singing, simple rhythms, solfege, xylophone playing, and staying on beat. We will spend the next few months really growing in our musical skills before we start program prep in October.

3rd Grade: We are reviewing concepts from 2nd grade and getting ready to learn new concepts. We will begin adding some new rhythm concepts as well as solfege. We will begin doing some folk dances in class and learning about the cultures associated with each dance. We will also be starting program prep in October.

2nd Grade: Also reviewing concepts from 1st grade but we will shortly start learning some new rhythm concepts and exploring more instruments in the music classroom. We will start more extensive studies of xylophone as well as singing. We will also be spending more time being able to write our own rhythms and mini compositions.

1st Grade: Starting the year off with learning a lot of new songs. 1st grade music is learning a lot of the basic music theory that will allow for us to play more instruments, sing more complicated songs, as well as set up the stage for dancing in later grades. Students are already doing an excellent job getting use to the difference from kindergarten and I am so excited to watch them grow.

Kindergarten: Our first few months are spent teaching basic musical skills and how to behave in the music room. We will spend a lot of our time learning songs and then playing a game that helps students learn the concept of music. We will also read lots of books together and sing songs that go with the book.

Thank you for your support of music education here at Westwood. If you ever have questions please reach out at

Let's have a great year!