Principal's Corner #9

October 27, 2019

Our staff can really ROAR

  • To the amazing 1st grade teammates for stepping in and each taking a few of my students when I was sick and needed to leave. Thank you for taking care of me and always having my back. You are truly the best! I appreciate all that you do.

From Caroline Garey


  • To Kelli Minatta, Jennifer Wortmann, Brooke Hall, Lisa Incitti for being amazing friends and coworkers during a tough time. I appreciate you all so much! I am truly blessed to get to work with you each day!

From Jackie Moore


  • To Lisa Gelwick, thanks for your flexibility and for helping me get my copies together for the math cohort!

From Kristina Layman


  • To Kristina Layman and Darren Dennstedt for being great help and wonderful teammate.

From Pinki Singh


  • To Sally, Glenda and Melissa for helping out my class and supporting me with a student's needs.
  • To Michele and Nicole for supporting me with a student's needs.

From Hannah Frick


  • To Sarah Hammershaimb and Scott Rogers for driving miles to track down our balloon. What a great experience for our students.
  • To Dawn Thompson for sharing her art supplies with me so I could complete an art assignment for principals.
  • To Alison Berner for providing our staff with an additional professional development opportunity. Thanks for helping lead our school.
  • To all Chris Koerber, Dana Schwartz, Stacey Shwayder, Lori Matsumoto, Thessica Covato, Melissa Adler and Joan Salinger for their amazing efforts to help cover lunch and recess duties!

From Katie Johnson

From the Desk of Katie Johnson

Classroom Teachers,

I want to thank you for speaking your truth and being vulnerable during our last staff meeting. As I shared during work week, one of my core values is relentless improvement, and part of that value is looking for opportunities to grow and learn. IRLA is one of those areas where we ALL continue to grow and learn, and I recognize the need for additional support in order for us to utilize this formative assessment in meaningful ways. It's a shift for all of us, but it is a tool for us to use to monitor and record our students progress. I don't expect us to be experts overnight with IRLA, but I do expect us to continue to grow and learn. So...where do we start? We start by continuing to do what you do already - conference with students - but then utilize this tool to record your observations.

Before Fall break IRLA indicated that 64% of our students had a conference with a teacher in the past 14 days. A goal for us would be by November 27, 80% of our students will have a conference with a teacher in past 14 days. Lois is offering an optional IRLA work session on Thursday, October 31st (see message from Lois below).

I've also reflected on our conversation regarding IRLA and Parent-Teacher Conferences. For our fall conferences, please share the following:

  • IRLA overview information sheet (copies will be provided for you)
  • Appropriate skills card for each student
  • Individual power goal for each student
  • Next steps for the child as a reader

If you have any quesitons/concerns, please come talk to me.


Literacy Notes from Lois

After our staff meeting Wednesday afternoon, I wanted to make sure everyone knows about the

following helpful reports in School Pace:

Found in the Blue Bar to the left of your class list in your classroom dashboard:

  • Status of the Class - Shows students grouped by level and power goal
  • IRLA Organizer - Snapshot of various data points including power goal, last date of conference or data entered (which can be anecdotal notes), and student level

Found underneath student name in the upper left-hand corner once you have opened that individual student's IRLA

  • Click "19-20" under Student History next to the student level marker: Here you will see all data you have entered for that child organized by power goal. It will include any comments you have entered under the blue evidence bubble in each power goal as well as any updates you have made to power words and foundational skills progress monitoring
  • Click "View Power Goal History" under the student name to see a list of power goals that student has had throughout the year

I will be hosting an optional IRLA work session on Thursday, October 31st, in the collaboration room. Please stop in if you have general IRLA/School Pace questions or if you would like help using School Pace to enter data as you monitor student growth with IRLA. Stop in during your plan or lunch time, or after school. I can show you some School Pace TRICKs and there will be TREATs available. Hope you can make it!

If this doesn’t work with your schedule, please let me know. I’m happy to meet with you or your grade level team.

Thank you for all that you do!

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From the desk of Alison Berner

READ Act Work Session

Due to another meeting needing to take the planned time slot, Lois and I are going to have to cancel the READ Act work session we planned to have this Monday, October 28th at 3:00 PM. Instead, we are going to coordinate with individual teams to make ourselves available during your planning or PLC time one day to support you with your READ plans (if needed).

Veteran’s Day

This important holiday is quickly approaching. Matthew has been working with each and every class to learn songs for our whole-school assembly. On Monday, November 11th, we will follow an AM assembly schedule and convene at 8:15 AM in the gym to celebrate our veterans. Since we want to make sure our veteran guests feel welcome and respected, please front-load your class with a quick review of this before you make your way down to the gym. Also, please help hold kids accountable by monitoring behavior and giving individual reminders during the assembly if necessary.

If you know of friends, family members, and/or community members who are veterans who you think might want to come, we would love to have them join us for breakfast from 7:45-8:15 and for the assembly to follow. Please have them rsvp to me at so I can prepare appropriately for breakfast and for assembly seating. We are also creating a Veteran's Day Slideshow, so feel free to complete this Google Form if you'd like to include a family or friend in this slide show.

Veteran’s Day Writing Contest

Last year, several students were selected to share essays during the assembly, and I’ve heard this was a big hit. I know it is super late notice, but I’d like to create a similar opportunity again this year. This is 100% optional, but I would love for any interested young writers to respond to one of the following prompts:

What does the word veteran mean to you? or Write to tell a veteran in detail why you are thankful for his/her service.

This is pretty open-ended. Kids can respond with an essay, paragraph, poem, or any other age-appropriate writing sample, as long as it’s something that can be shared with the crowd. I will need the final products submitted by Wednesday, November 6th, so we can choose winners and notify them with a bit of time to practice before the big day. I apologize for the short notice on this!

Recycling Refresh

During the weeks of November 4th and November 11th, a local recycling group is going to send two volunteers each day to help out in our lunch room. We already have some solid recycling practices in place. In fact, Cottonwood currently ranks 14th out of 81 schools who recycle with Alpine Waste and Recycling. The volunteers will be focused on educating the students about what can and cannot truly be recycled and helping to teach them and hold them accountable for correctly sorting their waste at the end of lunch. The volunteers will completely run the show. The only thing that would be helpful would be for you to prep your class for their arrival with a quick chat at the end of next week. It will hopefully get the volunteers off to a smoother start if the kids are expecting them in advance. I can’t wait to see if we can climb even higher than our current ranking of 14th!

If you have not completed your Emergenetics Profile, please email me ASAP. There are upcoming opportunities available.
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  • Monday, October 28: 3rd-5th Grade Math Programming Meeting (Conference Room)
  • Tuesday, October 29: Katie and Alison Out, Beyond Diversity
  • Wednesday, October 30: Katie and Alison Out, Beyond Diversity
  • Wednesday, October 30: Inclusive Excellence Committee CANCELED
  • Thursday, October 31: IRLA Support Day
  • Friday, November 1: Sister Schools 7:45-10:45
  • Friday, November 1: Math Parent Conversation Meeting 8:30-9:30, Cafeteria
  • Monday, November 4 - Friday, November 8: CONFERENCE WEEK
  • Thursday, November 7: Late Night, PTO Dinner Provided
  • Monday, November 11: Veteran's Day Assembly, AM Assembly Schedule
  • Tuesday, November 12 & 13: Sungate (3rd/5th Grade only)
  • Tuesday, November 12: Katie Out (ADCO)
  • Wednesday, November 13: Staff Meeting (District Leadership presents Future Forward)
  • Thursday, November 14: 1:45 & 6:30, 3rd Grade Program
  • Friday, November 15: Katie and Alison Out, EPC
  • Monday, November 18: SpEd Collaboration Day (Watch for more information)
  • Friday, November 22: Katie Out, UIP Workshop

Cottonwood Creek Elementary School