Champions for Children
My career as an educator has brought me much joy, but my time in Waterford Township School District has allowed me to build relationships with so many wonderful people. We have a fantastic group of teachers, support staff, and related service providers! This Holiday Season, I reflect on the contributions that have been made by so many of you. Our staff have dedicated their careers to making an impact on the lives of the children that are so dear to your heart. Our parents have worked along with us to assist in the process that is education.
We are working within a new paradigm of accountability that has placed a great deal of pressure on educators around the state. That being said, as a principal, I welcome this change with open arms and I am ultimately responsible for the success of our school. Running a school is not an easy task, and I give credit to my fellow administrators for tackling this challenge with professionalism and a desire to make our schools better.
In all schools across the nation, there exists a number of obstacles that educators face on a daily basis. I have learned that in order for a school to achieve greatness, all stakeholders must come together and build a strong learning community. This process starts with administrators; building a community of trust and accountability requires strategic planning, forward thinking, and the involvement of teacher leaders who work collaboratively to make decisions that have students' interests first.
My commitment to the community of Waterford Township has not wavered, but my leadership philosophy has evolved thanks to those who have had the foresight and reflective practice to communicate effectively, keep students at the forefront, and the professional courtesy to provide me with constructive feedback. Ultimately, great schools start with professionals who are determined to push through the obstacles, run circles around the challenging circumstances, and master the art of teaching by continuously reflecting on their craft.
Thank you to all of you for your support, advocacy, and value for our profession. I hope all of you enjoy the break and the Holiday Season.
Principal, Thomas Richards Elementary School
Winter activities are in full effect in our preschool classrooms. Despite the fact that the weather has been so warm the students were still able to learn about what the winter weather brings us. They have been introduced to the different Holidays around the world. Mrs. Litchko’s class learned about St. Nicholas Day and received little gifts in their shoes. Mrs. Matteo came into the classrooms and taught our students about Hannukah. They were super excited to see the candles lit on the Menorah and play with Dreidels. They also learned about Kwanzaa, the Kinara and the seven days of celebration. During our Winter Celebration Parties the students made ornaments, snow globes, snow out of baking soda and shaving cream and other activities. The students also came to school in their pajamas and took a magical ride on the Polar Express. All the staff in the preschool program with everyone a safe Holiday and Happy New Year!!!
Second Grade News
Can you believe that we have been in school for four months already? Time sure does fly when you are having fun!! As we approach the halfway mark of the second marking period, our students continue to work very hard taking on the challenges of second grade. If you peruse the second grade hallway and classrooms, you will find Elf Glyphs, Elf Applications, Stocking Wishes, Grinch demonstrating adjectives, and you can learn how to build a snowman!
In math, students are drilled daily on addition and subtraction basic facts. Students are learning to subtract 2-digit numbers with and without regrouping. ST Math, games and/or centers continue to be utilized to reinforce previously taught skills.
In science, students continued to study Forces and Motion by constructing ramps, building catapults, and identifying magnet forces. Some of our students took on the following STEM Challenges this month:
Evergreen Tree - students constructed an evergreen tree out of gumdrops and toothpicks.
Gingerbread Man Trap - students were given a variety of materials (scissors, string, tape, glue, cardboard, paper scraps, popsicle sticks, and straws) and asked to create a trap to catch a Gingerbread Man.
Magnet Pathways - students created a pathway to maneuver a metal car without using their hands.
We continue to try to instill the love of reading in each of our second graders. Students are diving head first into our new reading program MYON. MYON is the only literacy program available today that creates individual dashboards for students based on their specific interests and reading abilities and provides writing to enhance their experience. After an initial Lexile Placement Exam and Interest Inventory, MYON generates a dynamic recommended book list from which students can choose books at their level that interest them. Students receive a benchmark test periodically to maintain an accurate Lexile score. MYON also provides teachers with a plethora of reading materials that can be utilized to supplement the curriculum.
During Writer’s Workshop, our students are learning to write informational books. Students are focusing on How To Writing:
How to “Get Santa Unstuck From the Chimney”
How to “Make the Grinch Smile”
How to “Help a Gingerbread Man Escape from a Trap”
How to “Make an Applesauce & Cinnamon Ornament”
During Spanish, Senora Moreira taught our students to sing “Mi Burrito Sabanero” which means “my little plains donkey”. It is a Christmas song in which a boy travels to Belen which is Bethlehem in Spanish. He is traveling to the manger to see Baby Jesus. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, you can see Mrs. Romsteadt’s Class decked out in sombreros and ponchos playing banjos and singing just by clicking on the link Mi Burrito Sabanero.
The weather over the past month has definitely been uncharacteristic. With the rise and fall of the temperature, somedays it is hard to know how to dress. That is why we are asking that you check the weather report daily to ensure that students are coming to school dressed appropriately. We have many students coming to school without their coats or appropriate winter attire on very cold days. Please remember that our students go outside every day for teacher P.E. unless the temperature is below 32 degrees. Unfortunately, we do not have coats, hats and/or gloves for students to borrow. So, please double check with your children as they head out the door to make sure they are grabbing all of their cold weather gear!
December is definitely the most wonderful time of the year for our students! The holiday season is the perfect time to teach our children to be thankful and show them the value of generosity and kindness! Our hearts were broken when several of our teachers this year had to say goodbye to cherished loved one: Mrs. Carolyn McGinnis’ husband, Wendell and Mrs. Sally Schaller’s father, Tom Wood. Please keep both Carolyn and Sally close to your heart during this time of year! It is times like these that remind us that life is very short and should never be taken for granted. Especially during this time of year, we need to slow down and pay attention to those things that matter most. Be sure to embrace the little moments in your life and be grateful for the family and friends that surround you. Take the time to snuggle up and read a book with your child, keep a promise that might have been broken, play outside in this unusually warm winter weather, or watch a holiday flick with a cup of hot chocolate and cookies!
As we bid farewell to the year 2015, it is hard not to look back and reflect on the wonderful accomplishments we made this year, yet look forward to a fresh new beginning! We have already begun planning great new adventures for 2016, and we cannot wait for the a new chapter to unravel! On behalf of the 2nd grade teachers, we wish you a safe and happy holiday!
Third Grade News
Tis the season to celebrate the holidays! 3rd grade had the privilege of learning all about Hanukkah from Miss. Randee. We lit the Menorah and we all learned how to play dreidel. We had so much fun!
To add in some Christmas fun we will be doing a S.T.E.M. challenge as a grade level to design "Santa's Sleigh" and make them FLY!
3rd grade successfully presented our holiday concert to our peers and the community! Great job to all who helped put it together!
Thomas Richards 3rd grade staff and students would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!
Enjoy the break!
Reading is the Gift that "Keeps on Giving"
As we near the holiday season, we all find ourselves bustling about in search of the perfect gifts to give to each of the loved ones on our Christmas lists. Time and dollars fly through our hands as we search for a gift that will make this year's celebration memorable for the giver and for the receiver. Often we think of these gifts only in terms of being material possessions that can be given in brightly colored packages. However, those possessions are soon discarded and forgotten as the holiday season fades to a distant memory.
In our fast paced contemporary world, adults and children often find it difficult to communicate effectively. Research indicates fewer and fewer words are being shared between adult and child populations. As a result of the decline in communication between the generations, vocabulary skills, comprehension skills, and communication skills are suffering in many of today's young readers.
Reading with a child is a lasting gift that bridges this gap in communication. Children of all ages benefit from sharing the reading experience with an important adult in their lives. Books can be shared in a vast variety of ways. Traditionally, we think of reading with a child as being a time when the small child curls up on the lap of an admired adult to hear a favorite story read aloud. While this setting is certainly one that should be cherished and repeated over and over again, the process of sharing good quality literature should not be limited to this format. Children of all ages benefit from shared reading with an adult. Finding unusual reading spots, sharing read-aloud luncheons, having book theme parties, and conducting family reading nights are just a few of the ways that reading can be shared.
Reading across the generations is what is commonly referred to as a "win-win" situation. Certainly the children benefit from the improvement in their skills and the closeness they feel toward the caring adult who has shared the reading experience with them. But the benefits don't stop with the child participant. Adults will also find that the rewards of spending quality time with the special children in their lives will be felt long after the "story has reached its conclusion." Memories of reading with a special child nestled in the reader's lap are memories that will be remembered long after the holiday season has passed.
Reserving time to read with a child during the holiday season is truly a gift that will be remembered for many years to come. I wish all of you a blessed and healthy holiday season, and I hope that the gift of reading is one that brings you special holiday joy all year long!
District Literacy Coach