Knights Watch

December 14 - 18

All In, Mt. Gallant!

How We Win:

  • Building and sustaining relationships with students, parents, and colleagues
  • Improving our core instruction in the areas of Guided Reading, Lucy Calkins' writing, and Number Talks.
  • Personalizing the MGES experience and learning for each child
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Enjoy this week with your students and know that some of them are going to miss you more than the excitement we have for a much needed and well-deserved vacation. You matter so much to them.

I hope you all have a relaxing and Merry Christmas! Please be safe in all that you do and take the time to enjoy yourself and your family. Ms. Leonard and I see and appreciate the hard work you each put in daily for our students. With that being said, we have some homework for you to do over the break so read carefully: DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Also, be comfortable this week by wearing jeans and feeling as normal as possible.

We will see you all back refreshed, revived, and ready in 2016!


I think I shared this with you last year around this time. It is worth the repeat:

Dear Young Teacher Down the Hall,

I saw you as you rushed past me in the lunch room. Urgent. In a hurry to catch a bite before the final bell would ring calling all the students back inside. I noticed that your eyes showed tension. There were faint creases in your forehead. And I asked you how your day was going and you sighed.

“Oh, fine,” you replied.

But I knew it was anything but fine. I noticed that the stress was getting to you. I could tell that the pressure was rising. And I looked at you and made an intentional decision to stop you right then and there. To ask you how things were really going. Was it that I saw in you a glimpse of myself that made me take the moment?

You told me how busy you were, how much there was to do. How little time there was to get it all done. I listened. And then I told you this:

I told you to remember that at the end of the day, it’s not about the lesson plan. It’s not about the fancy stuff we teachers make -- the crafts we do, the stories we read, the papers we laminate. No, that’s not really it. That’s not what matters most.

And as I looked at you, wearing all that worry and under all that strain, I said it’s about being there for your kids. Because at the end of the day, most students won’t remember what amazing lesson plans you’ve created. They won’t remember how organized your bulletin boards are. How straight and neat are the desk rows.

No, they’ll not remember that amazing decor you’ve designed.

But they will remember you.

Your kindness. Your empathy. Your care and concern. They’ll remember that you took the time to listen. That you stopped to ask them how they were. How they really were. They’ll remember the personal stories you tell about your life: your home, your pets, your kids. They’ll remember your laugh. They’ll remember that you sat and talked with them while they ate their lunch.

Because at the end of the day, what really matters is YOU. What matters to those kids that sit before you in those little chairs, legs pressed up tight under tables oft too small -- what matters to them is you.

You are that difference in their lives.

And when I looked at you then with tears in your eyes, emotions rising to the surface, and I told you gently to stop trying so hard -- I also reminded you that your own expectations were partly where the stress stemmed. For we who truly care are often far harder on ourselves than our students are willing to be. Because we who truly care are often our own worst enemy. We mentally beat ourselves up for trivial failures. We tell ourselves we’re not enough. We compare ourselves to others. We work ourselves to the bone in the hopes of achieving the perfect lesson plan. The most dynamic activities. The most engaging lecture. The brightest, fanciest furnishings.

Because we want our students to think we’re the very best at what we do and we believe that this status of excellence is achieved merely by doing. But we forget -- and often.

Excellence is more readily attained by being.

Being available.
Being kind.
Being compassionate.
Being transparent.
Being real.
Being thoughtful.
Being ourselves.

And of all the students I know who have lauded teachers with the laurels of the highest acclaim, those students have said of those teachers that they cared.

You see, kids can see through to the truth of the matter. And while the flashy stuff can entertain them for a while, it’s the steady constance of empathy that keeps them connected to us. It’s the relationships we build with them. It’s the time we invest. It’s all the little ways we stop and show concern. It’s the love we share with them: of learning. Of life. And most importantly, of people.

And while we continually strive for excellence in our profession as these days of fiscal restraint and heavy top-down demands keep coming at us -- relentless and quick. We need to stay the course. For ourselves and for our students. Because it’s the human touch that really matters.

It’s you, their teacher, that really matters.

So go back to your class and really take a look. See past the behaviors, the issues and the concerns, pressing as they might be. Look beyond the stack of papers on your desk, the line of emails in your queue. Look further than the classrooms of seasoned teachers down the hall. Look. And you will see that it’s there- right inside you. The ability to make an impact. The chance of a lifetime to make a difference in a child’s life. And you can do this now.

Right where you are, just as you are.

Because all you are right now is all you ever need to be for them today. And who you are tomorrow will depend muchon who and what you decide to be today.

It’s in you. I know it is.


That Other Teacher Down the Hall

Written by Lori Gard


Congrats to Katie Abril for being selected as our Employee of Excellence for second quarter. Katie does an excellent job working with our students and creates opportunities to get them and our school in the community spotlight. I think we all agree that her positive attitude is contagious and is a bright spot on tough days. Thanks, Katie, for all you do for our students.


This year, we will be administering SCPASS online. Testing will take place over a 3-week window and completed in the computer lab. Fourth and fifth graders will take the science and social studies tests.

AP's were asked to share with teachers (use Chrome). You can go ahead and explore the site, but I suggest waiting until closer to testing dates to expose to students. The purpose is to allow students to become more familiar with the online testing format and to practice using the online tools.

What standards will be assessed?


Grades are due December 18th by 5:00. If you complete your grades before then please email Ms. Leonard so she can begin checking grades and have you sign off on the verification form.

Monday, January 4th

The following tentative schedule will be used for Monday, January 4th. This time will be spent planning to teach the first lesson of Calkins.

  • 8:00 - 8:40 - 5th Grade
  • 8:45 - 9:30 - 1st Grade
  • 9:35 - 10:15 - 3rd Grade
  • 10:20 - 11:00 - 4th Grade
  • 1:00 - 1:40 - Kindergarten
  • 1:45 - 2:30 - 2nd Grade

The remainder of the day is for your PLC time.

January 8 - Community Open House

On Friday, January 8, the board, district cabinet, and community members will visit our classrooms beginning at 8:30am. This is a chance for us to show off a bit for those outside of our school so please be mindful of your displays of student work inside and outside of the classroom. Prepare yourself to have visitors observing and talking with your students that day.

Prep for January 13 Number Talk PD

Each teacher will prepare a Number Talk to teach to their grade level during our team meeting on January 13. Michael, Kristen, and your team will be able to ask questions and give constructive feedback. Thanks, in advance, for being prepared! We are very excited for this micro-teaching opportunity!

Possible Retention

If you have a student in your classroom that you are considering retaining, you need to schedule a PST meeting now. Any student not involved in PST prior to February 1 will not be considered for retention.

This Week:

Tanya Campbell will be on call in my absence. You may see her around the building.


      • Holiday Breakfast
      • Heather Rollings here all day
      • GT Open House - 5th Grade


        • GT Open House - 4th Grade
        • Media Center will be closed for the day at 11am
        • 2:45 -Nuclear Emergency Training


        • K-2 Knights Doing It Right at 2pm
        • GT Open House - 3rd Grade


        • PST (See MGES Calendar)
        • Leonard at DO, AM


        • Follow district shutdown expectations before you leave.
        • Recycling boxes out by 7:45AM
        • Grades due by 5pm
        • Holiday Sing-a-Long by Fourth Grade in Cafeteria:

          -----8:15-8:45 - First, Second
          -----9:00-9:45- Kindergarten, Third, and Fifth

        • PLC Minutes to Canvas
        • Afternoon Performances:
        -----12:50 - 1:25 - First, Second, and Fourth
        -----1:35 - 2:10 - Kindergarten, Third, and Fifth

        Coming Up:


        4 - Workday

        5 - Task Force Tuesday

        6 - Team Meetings with Lisa - Calkins

        8 - Community Board Visit - 8:30AM; Terrific Kid Nominations Due

        12 - PLC Tuesday

        13 - Team Meetings - Number Talks

        14 - SIC at 5:15; PTA at 6:00pm

        18 - No School

        19 - Faculty Tuesday

        20 - Team Meetings with Lisa - Calkins

        26 - John Hodge - Collab Tuesday

        30 - Back the Pack Winthrop Basketball Games - Women's at 1pm; Men's at 4pm


        12 - No School

        15 - No School


        14 - Teacher Workday

        25 - Teacher Workday (Trade-in day if you attended the summer PLC Conference)