Comet Chronicle, Jr.

September 25, 2020

Read by Grade 3 Law Parent Information

It's important that parents understand Michigan's Read by Grade Law (RBG3) and the effects it can have on your child's education. Below are some parent resources from the Michigan Department of Education about the RBG3 law followed by some short videos:

What is the Read by Grade 3 Law? English

Factores para las Familias ¿Qué es la Ley de Leer para el Tercer Grado? Espanol

EiE MI short Parent Involvement FINAL
EiE MI full video FINAL
Michigan Read by Grade 3 Spanish Final

Assessing Social Emotional Learning

Last school year Coloma Elementary added the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment, or DESSA, to our social and emotional learning program. The purpose of the DESSA is to identify which social and emotional skills our students have already learned and what skills they might still need to develop. Once we identify the skills our students still need to develop, data-driven small group and/or individual interventions are formed to provide short-term targeted support on those skills. Our goal is to ensure that our students are continuously developing the social and emotional skills that they need for lifelong success.

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School Social Work Scene

Last November, our district staff were fortunate enough to hear a presentation from Allison Nelson, Educational Advisor for Trauma Informed Communities, on Creating and Supporting a Trauma Informed School. Allison recently took to social media to post about dysregulation. You can read the full Facebook post here.

Allison points out that many of our children (and many of us adults) “are experiencing more sensory input right now than they have in HALF OF A YEAR. There are more adults. More kids. More voices. More noises. More directions. More distractions. More rules. More schedules. More stressors. More masks. More screens. More EVERYTHING.” She encourages us to avoid the blame game and to look at undesirable behaviors not as “bad behavior”, but as stress responses. When we change the question in our mind from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What’s happened to you?” our perspective changes and so does the way we respond.

Allison writes, “Get into the habit of asking your child, “What is your body telling you it needs right now?” And then do that. And while you’re at it, get into the habit of asking yourself, too.”

❤ ~Mrs. DeMercado

Welcome Back Comets, From our Literacy Department

With the start of the new school year comes the excitement of being back together and the anticipation of all the learning adventures that will happen over the course of the year. For the teachers and Literacy Team, the initial task of assessing so that we can determine where we need to begin instruction is always a top priority. In the uncharted times we find ourselves living in this year, determining what instruction students need has been even more important. All Coloma Elementary students were assessed using our district benchmark screeners. We used the results from those screeners to identify additional areas to assess. We need to give a HUGE THANKS to Mrs. Savenas, our Title One teacher, and paraprofessionals Mrs. Hamilton and Mrs. Crisenbery for the work they put into assessing students to ensure that teachers had the data they needed to make informed decisions for meeting students’ individual needs. We have to say that while we understand there is much work to be done, we have been encouraged in multiple areas by the learning that students have been able to maintain during their extended time away.

One specific area for celebration is a direct result of the intentional focus we have had here at Coloma Elementary updating our curriculum resources and instructional practices to align with current research on how students learn to read. Almost two years ago we identified an area of focus related to Phonological Awareness (one of the primary building blocks in learning to read). As part of the initiative we implemented a research based program, trained teachers to ensure consistent instruction, and built a designated time in the schedule for the instruction. During our assessments that we recently administered, we were unbelievably excited to see that in several areas related to Phonological Awareness, upwards of 80% students assessed are currently meeting grade level expectations. These percentages are significantly higher than the percentages from years prior to this initiative. At Coloma Elementary “All Means All” and this data provides us the ability to provide targeted instruction that will bring us to 100% of students.

As a Literacy Team, we are excited to work alongside the families and teachers of Coloma to provide the best education possible for all our students. One way you can help at home is to read to and with your child daily. Together, we will develop readers!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us!

Sherry Wheeler

Literacy Specialist

Joy Savenas

Title I Teacher

Dismissal @ the Elementary

Dismissal can be hectic when your task is to move 300+ children from one place to the next in a relatively small area filled with moving vehicles. For those new to Coloma Elementary, our first priority as a staff is student safety. After safety, we want our process to be efficient.

In order to maintain student safety, it is critical that we keep walkers and transportation separated. This is why walkers are dismissed from the rear of the building. If we have car riders, bus riders, and walkers coming out of the same exits it becomes very easy to lose track of where students should be going. I know this from dismissal plans at schools where I was previously principal. We do have walkers that exit the building up front, but they are walking to the Intermediate building to link up with a walker or car riding sibling that attends that building. That group is escorted by staff, given the hazards of buses and cars waiting at the front side of the school.

As for our riders, we dismiss bus riders out of two doors adjacent to the bus lane that passes between the Intermediate building and the Elementary. Teachers escort bus riders to their buses and ensure they get on the buses they are supposed to. Once those teachers have their bus riders securely on their buses, they come to the car rider area to assist with that process.

Finally, our car riders wait in the Multipurpose Room for staff to call them out to traffic cones, when their ride pulls forward to a marked cone. We need cars to pull as far forward as possible in the drop off lane so that we can load as many vehicles as possible in batches. This will make pick up go quicker for everyone. The drop off lane is a fire lane so parking there is prohibited by law. If you need to park, please park in a space. Students will not be released for an early pick up after 3:00. We have many cars who wait in line and to allow someone to park and bypass the line would not be fair to the parents waiting in line.

If dismissal plans change, call the office before 3:00 so that we can communicate the change to our staff. We will not make changes to the regular dismissal plan after 3:00. The car rider line will continue to get quicker as everyone gets into the routine. We average 16 minutes for dismissal when everyone is on the same page. Thank you for your support!

Mask Care

Students have been given two face masks from their teacher. Per our Safe Return to School Plan reusable face masks must be washed daily. Please help us in our efforts to keep our students and staff healthy and safe!

School Messenger

Communication is a priority for all Coloma staff. We use SchoolMessenger to share information electronically with our families. Over the last few months we have received feedback from parents that they are not receiving emails with important messages, reminders, and newsletters. If you find yourself in that group, please reach out to our office staff to make sure we have a current email address in PowerSchool. If we have the correct email address, then the situation is that the parent may have changed their settings to have our emails blocked. If you would like to fix that, our office staff can help you with that too.

CARE Expectations

Coloma Elementary's schoolwide expectations for student behavior follow the acronym CARE. It stands for:

  • Come ready to learn
  • Always respectful
  • Responsible
  • Exceptionally safe
Expectations for the hallway, bathrooms, cafeteria, playground, arrival, and dismissal are posted throughout the school. We teach the expectations and review them throughout the school year. Students also earn CARE tickets when they follow the expectations. The office does a ticket drawing where students pick a prize from the CARE Box.

Stay Connected!

How can you stay connected to what's happening at Coloma Elementary?

  • Follow us on Facebook.
  • Make sure the office has your email address on file so we can communicate via SchoolMessenger.
  • Read the Comet Chronicle, Jr. (twice a month).
  • Read your classroom newsletter.

A Common Question

One of the most commonly asked questions is: “How long will someone have to quarantine if there’s a case of COVID-19?" Our response is:

“The health and safety of our students, families, and staff is and will always be our primary concern. We have been working diligently over the past several months to prepare for the safe return to school for our students and staff—implementing sanitization and social distancing protocols across the district. In the event of a COVID-19 situation in one of our buildings or classrooms, we will work with the Berrien County Health Department to assist in contact tracing to determine who needs to quarantine and for how long as every COVID exposure is unique. Ultimately, the BCHD will provide specific guidance related to quarantining and isolation.”

Did You Know?

Becoming a good reader takes practice, but how much practice should children get? Research recommends reading at home (or being read to) at least 20-30 minutes a day. It's never too late to start!