Soaring News

April 17, 2016

Principal's Message

I started reading Teach Like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess. In the book, Dave includes a fictional reflection from a student that serves as a vision for how he wants students to feel about his classroom. This reflection inspired me to write a fictional reflection from a teacher that describes the principal I aspire to be at Newtown.

My principal has a happy smile, and she is so positive, passionate, and has pep in her step. However, she is also real–we can talk about concerns and I always feel heard and inspired to think of solutions. When I need her, she is there. All there, she really hears me. I know she is busy, but I never feel her busyness. She always makes time for me and lets me talk things all the way through without jumping in.

She is student-focused and everything centers on what is best for our students and their learning. She encourages me to get to know each of my students and their story. She helps me think from their perspective; about what they really need as they progress through elementary school. I love that she challenges my thinking in a way that seems doable.

She helps me recognize my strengths and that gets me excited to learn and try new things. She is always learning through reading books, articles, being connected on Twitter and she shares her learning with me when it matches my goals. I have even started getting connected with other educators on Twitter.

The staff has fun together, there is hardly any complaining because we have great relationships and want to positively support each other and the students. I look forward to coming to school every day. We collaborate and communicate well, and visit each other’s classrooms to learn from each other. We love to develop lessons together and dream of things that will get the kids excited about learning. We are a team and we are all leaders in our own way.

Once upon a time, technology in the classroom scared me, but not anymore. My baby-steps are okay. We are moving toward using technology to help us empower students, to allow them to discover, and for them to share their work with authentic audiences. Technology is the vehicle we use to personalize student learning.

We use assessment data to direct our teaching, especially in our small group work with students during reading, writing and math instruction. We customize instruction to exactly what our students need on a daily basis as there isn’t a one size fits all model.

I am ready to try new things with our students to engage and empower them in their learning. I know that my principal will be with me through both the failures and successes. We laugh, enjoy our work, and feel great knowing that we are doing what is best for our students. When we fail, we will get up, brush ourselves off, and learn from our failure to improve.

Students have great relationships too, and they treat each other well because we actively teach character education within our curriculum and we focus school wide on developing the Leader in Me in our students. Most importantly, we have a joyful and need-satisfying environment for students, staff and our volunteers.

I have even found myself daydreaming about becoming a principal. I never thought I would ever even ponder that idea. She makes being a principal look fun!

This work of fiction will serve as a reminder of who I aspire to be for staff, students and parents at our school. I have my share of failures and I’m a work in progress, but as Dave Burgess says in Teach Like a PIRATE, “When embarking on a journey, choosing the destination is a critical first step.” I am a learner and will continually adjust my aim as I work toward my professional goals.

Articles Worth Reading

Videos Worth Watching

MetLife Asia: My Dads Story - Dream for My Child
My Favorite Teacher - Man On The Street
So You Want to Move to Canada, Eh?


*Thank you Mr. Bolden for organizing Career Day for our students! I think they really enjoyed it and benefited from hearing from the guest speakers. ~Dr. Sedory

*I read 3rd grade report card comments this quarter and I must say....Outstanding job 3rd grade teachers on your report card comments! Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the thoughtful comments you wrote for each of your students. I greatly appreciate the time you took to write so much detail about your students. It was apparent you knew your students strengths and weaknesses. How lucky are our students to have such awesome and amazing teachers. ~Shannon Panko

*Kudos to Lucinda Johnson for being on the ball with bookkeeping! What an amazing job you have done stepping into the role as our bookkeeper. So proud of you. Shannon Panko

*Awesome job to the presenters for last week's staff development (Crystal Felton, Wendy Lyle, Geniece Hyman, Mary Garnier, Marlena Parra, Kevin Rickard).

*A big thank you to Amanda Howse and Colleen Kelly for their hardwork in the courtyard. The new plants look amazing.


Upcoming Events

This Week

April 18: Math Mock SOL Part 1 test

April 18: Shannon at Talent Ed training all day

April 19: Math Mock SOL Part 2 test

April 19: Report Cards go home

April 20: Reading Part 1 test

April 20: Shannon to Title 1 Principal Meeting and Principal League Mtg. (10 am)

April 20: Digital Anchor School showcase at Great Neck Middle (5:30 pm)

April 21: Reading Part 2 test

April 22: Shannon at Talent Ed training all day

Coming Soon

April 25: PAC

April 26: Math Hour of Power for Parents, 12-1 (Lunch 11:30-12)

April 26: PTA/School Planning Council, 5:30pm at NES

April 28: PE Night and Club Showcase, 5:30pm

News to Share

~There are planters that need adopting by classrooms in the courtyard. Please see Amanda Howse or Colleen Kelly.

~VBEF Grants are available!

Spring - applications due May 6, 2016:

  • Schoolwide Grants - $2,000 to $5,000 offered for projects that impact at least 25 percentof the school’s student population or one grade level.

  • Innovative Learning Grants - up to $2,000 for innovative learning projects benefiting students.

Fall - applications due Oct. 7, 2016:

  • Sustainability Impact Project Grants - up to $1,000 for projects that involve math andscience and engage students in the process of researching aspects of our local watershed.

  • Innovative Learning Grants - up to $2,000 for innovative learning projects benefiting students.

~Teachers should have received an email inviting them to participate in a survey about division-wide local assessments, along with directions on how to complete the online survey. The window for teachers to take the online survey is from Thursday, April 7 through Monday, April 18. All responses to the survey are completely anonymous provided the participants do not disclose personally identifiable information in their open-ended comments.

~The Career Teacher Application for 2016 will be available for downloading from the Intranet (Forms/Human Resources/Career Teacher Application) beginning in February.

~Check out the info on the new BE Well program VBCPS is offering. You can track your healthy habits and earn up to $500 a year!


I, Tammy Doucet, want to pass the I Make A Difference Award to Ms. Stephens. She is always thoughtful and cares about other people's feelings. If you ask her to do something she will do it with no second thoughts. Thank You Clemm for being who you are. I appreciate my friend.


Dr. Sedory has created a blog, My AP Tried It, where she will share out new ideas for using web sites and apps in your classroom. Some may help with classroom management while others may have instructional ideas. The blog will hopefully have new ideas each week!

This week's post is about Exit Ticket. It is a Google Chrome extension that lets you easily create and share assessments and data.


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Arlene Miller: 4/14

Ebone Taylor: 4/19

Arlina Staton: 4/22

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