From the Principal's Pen

March 31, 2019

Our Extraordinary School

On Thursday night, we were honored to host the Board of Education meeting here at Julian Curtiss. The hosting principal is asked to give a welcome message to the Board and meeting attendees. I am sharing my speech with you so you are able to see what I shared about our extraordinary school!

Good evening Chairman Bernstein, Superintendent of Schools Mr. Mayo, Members of the Board of Education, Cabinet, and guests. Welcome to the Julian Curtiss School of World Languages.

It is my honor this evening to give you a quick glance at the extraordinary work being done here at Julian Curtiss School. We have a school community that builds a safe, positive learning environment, where all members of our diverse group are valued and respected for their unique strengths and differences. By fostering a sense of curiosity and a love of learning in our students we are helping them become responsible and self-motivated learners.

For the last few years, our focus has been on using personalized learning as a tool to meet the goals of the district's strategic plan. We are working toward maximizing each individual’s potential, increasing their level of motivation and engagement and building their sense of ownership of their learning.

Each student in Kindergarten through grade five is engaging in a process of goal setting, implementation, and reflection. At the conclusion of each cycle, the students discuss their level of success in relation to the goal with the teacher and determine next steps.

Additionally, teachers are offering choice through a variety of strategies including daily menus, variations of the station rotation model, and instructional playlists. This allows the students to work on skills and strategies at their level of readiness in order to meet them where they are and move them forward.

We would not be an extraordinary school without the highly talented and dynamic team of professionals dedicated to the success of each and every student. I am proud to say that our extraordinary teachers have been early adopters of strategies that support personalized learning and they are now sharing their knowledge with the district, the state, and the international community. Two of our amazing JC teachers, Sandra Grandinetti and Mary O'Connor, traveled to Australia this past November to share about how personalized learning is implemented in their classrooms. These Greenwich teachers were recognized on an international stage for the work that they do right here in our school. We are so proud that our teachers are spreading their knowledge worldwide!

Most recently the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents has highlighted the work of the Curriculum Playlists in Greenwich. This work has been largely guided and supported by Irene Parisi and her team, but our innovative second grade team (Kerry Brown, Dana Gubitosa and Samantha Shuster) as well as our fourth grade team (Sandra Grandinetti, Jimmy Librandi and Kera Engle) have become leaders of the development of these playlists inviting teams from New Lebanon , Glenville, and Cos Cob Schools to visit and learn from their creativity, challenges, and successes.

While on the topic of innovation, let me boast about the work our Library Learning Commons under the Leadership of our amazing Library Media Specialist, Heather McGuinness. Thanks to the support of our district, The Greenwich Alliance for Education and our generous PTA our LLC is a place of thriving innovation for our students.

Our youngest students in Kindergarten completed a coding unit and are now building math fluency in hands-on centers. Our 1st graders are writing book reviews using Seesaw. Our 2nd graders are writing digital stories using coding skills and Scratch Jr. Storytellers who can program? Now that’s innovation! After researching animal adaptations, third grade students created their own games, showcasing animal block towers that highlight survival characteristics. A unit on force and motion, afforded teams of our 4th graders the opportunity to design and build Rube Goldberg Machines. The goal of these multistep machines is to "Pop a Balloon". Next, they embarked upon a unit on electricity. Students created Wigglebots and paper circuit lightsabers using coin cell batteries, copper tape, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and lots of perseverance. Our fifth graders most recently set personalized reading goals for 2019 by selecting a stack of books to read and choosing a reading goal. Traditional? Yes. Effective? Absolutely! They were encouraged to branch out from their go-to authors and genres to try something new in addition to the books they are naturally drawn too. Students also created and shared book reviews with peers to entice and excite one another about reading, thereby keeping the momentum going.

Finally, the true definition of success is the numbers of students that voluntarily arrive early every day and stay late after school to participate in Student Council, Service Club, the JC Weekly Show, and the Art Club. We had 17 children sign up for the Odyssey of the Mind program and sent three teams from Julian Curtiss to compete in the state finals. Two out of our three teams took 3rd place in their division groups! Success is the number of musicians knocking on the front door at 7:15 am to get in for 7:30 am practice. These are the telling signs of success where we breed opportunity for creativity, service for the community and academic success.

Julian Curtiss School is striving to continue to create meaningful learning experiences for all of our students to ensure that each individual finds success with personal, interpersonal and academic goals. Thank you for your support and thank you for the opportunity to work in such an extraordinary community.

Second Trimester Report Cards

Report Cards were sent home in your child's Friday Folder. Please be on the lookout! The teachers provide written comments to help you understand your child’s learning and progress but if you wish to meet with your child’s teacher please feel free to send them a request through email. Thank you!

Fire Emergency/Crisis Response Drills

Fire drills are held about once a month in each school building. A crisis response drill is held at least three times a year. The crisis response drills include two lockdown drills and one shelter in place drill each school year. Fire drills are planned in such a way to accomplish the evacuation of the school building in the shortest possible time, and in the most efficient and orderly fashing. The format of the crisis response drills (lockdown or shelter in place) is developed in consultation with the appropriate local law enforcement agencies (Police and Fire Department).

Further, a representative of the law enforcement agency may supervise and participate in any of the required crisis response drills. A lockdown is essentially a "reverse fire drill" which calls for students to stay in their classrooms, out of sight of the door and windows, and remain quiet with their teachers. A shelter in place calls for teachers and students to remain in their classrooms, but go about their regular instruction. Shelter in place is typically used when there are crisis situations outside the school where keeping students in the building and in their classrooms is the safest option.

Our goal with these drills is to foster confidence in the steps the staff and children need to take to stay safe in the event of an emergency.

The local police and fire department evaluate and provide feedback on fire drills and crisis response drills. This year so far, we have practiced xx fire drills, along with one lockdown drill which included the support of the Greenwich Police and Fire Department. All drill have been well organized and uneventful.

Students are prepared by their teachers for these drills, and they are taught that it is a practice to keep them safe. We purposefully try to keep the drills unannounced so that we might replicate the response of the staff and students in a real-life situation and therefore learn from the drills if any adjustments need to be made in process or procedures.

We will continue to have monthly fire drills and will practice at least one more lockdown drill prior to leaving for the April break. Parents have requested to be informed of the lockdown drills after they take place so that they might discuss the procedures and importance of being safe with their children. I am happy to send out a ParentLink message following the next lockdown practice drill.

There is nothing more important than the safety of our students. We don't just practice safety but also work hard to provide a safe, orderly, warm, and inviting environment for our students and their families.

Should you have any questions regarding our safety and security procedures, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.

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A Greenwich Public Schools Social Emotional Learning Event

On Monday, March 25, 2019 GPS celebrated the Be Honest - Honor the Code event.

This is a common initiative across grade levels to promote responsibility and the importance of having values, rules, and principles to guide our life.

Students participated in activities that helped them to:

1. Learn how to be personally and socially responsible.

2. Learn about the importance of having values, rules, and principles that guide their life.

3. Identify their own values and principles (their own “Code of Honor”).

Teachers used lessons developed by the district SEL committee with their students to promote the event. Below is how our kindergarten students developed their own "Code of Honor!"

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The Annual Julian Curtiss Art Show

Wednesday, April 10th and Thursday, April 11th

Opening reception - Wednesday, April 10th at 6:00 pm

Pieces from ALL students at Julian Curtiss will be displayed!

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The JC Weekly Show

Please click below to enjoy this week's episode of the JC Weekly Show starring students from 5F!

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