The Eagle Call

January 2016

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2016! I have been amazed at how as I have walked classrooms this week how easily our students have gotten back into their routines of thinking, learning and problem-solving! If a someone who hadn't been here before were to tour the building, I don't think they would be able to tell that everyone had been gone two weeks. As a principal, that is a great feeling!

In one of the classrooms, I was visiting, the teacher was speaking with students about how doing their best to produce quality work is important. It evolved into a discussion about how learning looked when the teacher and I were in school versus how it looks now. I was explaining how things like cell phones, iPads and Smart Boards didn't exist when I was in school. I shared how learning when I was in school looked mostly like a teacher telling us step by step what to do and how now they have to figure out so much for themselves to become great thinkers because the world when they grow up, the world will look even more different...there probably won't even be iPads! They were shocked, they just couldn't imagine the world without iPads, even if it is some "incredible-new-amazing-even better-technology".

After I left it got me thinking about how schools have such an incredible responsibility. Predictions for the future show that our students will have to have strong collaboration and problem solving. They will have to have the grit to solve problems that just don't exist yet. While they will have to have strong reading skills and core math skills, they won't have a need to memorize facts. The amount of facts today is too numerous and easily available at the touch of a button.

It's an incredible transition in what students are expected to learn, but I think it is a good one. There is a lot of research out there right now showing how many students of college age are struggling because they have been educated in a world being told exactly what to do and how. In my 25 years in education, I think we are preparing stronger thinkers!

With that said, you might think, "well how can I help my child?" These are easy things that you can do every day to help your child grow.

  • Read out loud. When we read silently, we tend to skip over words where we are unsure. Reading out loud will allow them to catch words they may not be familiar. If you hear them get stuck on a word, just walk over and give them the word. This will allow them to keep their flow. Reading out loud needs to be with a book that is on their reading level or a little harder. Your child's teacher can help you with this.
  • Read silently. This book also needs to be on their level or easier so that they are not practicing incorrectly. Reading silently will build their stamina and allow them just to enjoy and comprehend what they are reading.
  • Read to them. Even older students need to be read to, especially if they are not strong readers. Reading to them allows them to explore the wonderful world of books they might not be able to read themselves, and it shows them we value reading. It helps them to be motivated to learn to read because if they are reading lower books because that is their level, they may not be as interesting.
  • If you have a child who is reluctant to read, tie it to something they prefer to do. Let's face it, it's human nature to avoid things we are not good at, but it takes practice to get better. I thought my oldest would never learn to read. When I told him he could have as many minutes on the computer as he spent reading, he learned very quickly five minutes wasn't very long. He pushed himself to build stamina and read more each day and was rewarded for his efforts!
  • Ask your child "how" and "why" questions. As you are driving down the road, ask them how they think the traffic lights work. Ask them why they think they put a drugstore on every corner. Ask them why there are three different banks next to each other. Ask them why they think it gets dark at 5:30 in the evening now while it gets dark so much later in the summer. It gets them thinking, and it gets them to communicate their thinking. Both are important 21st Century skills. You don't have to know the answers. Just find out what they think. If you want to know the actual reason, you could look it up together when you get home.
  • Give your child a task, but don't tell them exactly how to do it. Sometimes as adults, we have a hard time letting go of control. However, giving a child a chance to figure out a chore by themselves builds their skills. They either problem solve and figure out a solution, or they make a mistake. If they make a mistake, we get to help them think of ways they could have done it better. They learn the independence they need rather than depending on someone to tell them how to do things.
  • Set goals. Ask your child to set a goal. Monitor it. If they make the goal, celebrate. Then set a goal to improve on that goal, so they learn you always keep improving. If they don't, help them think about how they can regroup and get there. Setting goals teaches children resilience. Too often they children think if they can't do it the first time, they just can't do it, which results in adults who struggle and give up. Make sure you share your stories of how you have set goals and met them and not met them.

Often we think we want to help, but we don't know how. We think we need things from the school. The truth is, all of these things can be done anytime and anywhere with no extra materials (other than books). They are real world and make the biggest difference.

Thank you for all you do to support Degan. A partnership between home and school is the best way to guarantee our students are prepared for this amazing new world they will face. If you ever have any questions, concerns or ideas of how we can make Degan better, please don't hesitate to contact me.


Mrs. Stuart

"Glitzing Up" Your Understanding of the Brain

Knowing how to help a child self-monitor and calm down when they become upset can be a challenge. Our counselor, Mrs. Blevins, keeps glitter jars in her office and several teachers use them as well. Here is some great information about this technique and how you might use this at home.

Don't forget these important dates!

January 6th Sonic Fundraiser Night

January 7th Think College Thursday

January 8th Club Friday 5th/Kinder

January 13th LakeCities Ballet (Forms sent home before Christmas)

January 14th Think College Thursday

January 15th Early Dismissal 12:30 p.m.

January 18th School Holiday/No School

January 21st Think College Thursday/PTA and 1st Grade Performance

January 22nd Club Friday 4th/2nd

January 26th Degan Family Night

January 28th Think College Thursday

January 29th Club Friday 3rd/1st SOAR Ceremony for 2nd Nine Weeks

A monthly calendar is sent in the 1st Newsday Tuesday of the month. Weekly updates and reminders are sent each Tuesday.

We are so excited that we were able to secure a deal to get hardcover yearbooks this year at an even lower cost than the soft cover yearbooks from last year. The cost is $22. You can see Mrs. White in the library or click the link above and order online with a credit card. There is a limited quantity, so order now so you don't miss out!

Essential Eagle "Need to Knows": Set High Goals for Attendance in 2016! (When You Miss School...You Miss Out!)

As we near the end of the semester, it is critical to remember district attendance policies:

  • Your child must attend 90 percent of school days to receive credit for the year. Failure to do so may result in having to attend summer school or being retained (even with passing grades).

  • If you are going to be out for a preplanned event (not illness or doctor's appointment), you must request approval for an excused absence before the absence. This form is available on our website or through Mrs. Casarez. (only five preplanned absences can be approved per year, grades must be passing, and these absences cannot put the student above 10 percent absences).

  • Only three days per semester can be excused for illness based on parent notes. Otherwise, you must have a doctor's note for it to be excused.

  • Excused absences are required for makeup work.

  • Only three excused absences are allowed to be considered for Take Flight and SOAR. (No unexcused absences).

  • If you have a transfer to attend Degan, you must comply with attendance policies, maintain passing grades, and refrain from discipline issues to keep your transfer status.
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Don't forget your college shirts every Thursday and Degan spirit wear every Friday (if you don't have a Degan shirt, wear GREEN)!

This Week's Eagle Essential Skill and Nine Week's Foundational Character Trait

At Degan, we believe it is important to teach and practice critical life skills. Each week we teach an Eagle Essential that aligns with our Foundation of Character trait for the 9 weeks. During January, we will be working on reviewing all of our Eagle Essentials.

All of these are great life skills and continue to support our 2nd Nine Weeks Character Trait of Respect. Doing these things correctly demonstrates respect for those around you.

Didn't Make it to Watch DOGS or MOD Squad Sign Ups?

It's not too late. Contact Mrs. Espinoza in the front office to get a registration form, complete your Volunteer Training and we can sign you up for a date.

Degan Office Staff

We are here to help with any needs or questions you may have. Stop by or call: 469-713-5967

Vanessa Stuart, Principal

Kyle Smith, Asst. Principal

Shelley Blevins, Counselor

Jill Fuller, Nurse

Chandra Ayres, Secretary

Kelly Casarez, Attendance Clerk

Megan Espinoza, Office Clerk

Kim Teamer, Data Clerk

Office Hours 7:15 a.m. -3:30 p.m.

For assistance/questions outside these times, please call 469-713-5967 and leave a message, someone will get back with you shortly.

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We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to be educated in a way that prepares them for college. When schools exhibit a culture of universal achievement by believing in students, they collaborate around that belief. During collaboration, they align their standards as a team. As teams align standards, they need to assess the standards and manage the data. Then, and only then, can they pursue meaningful interventions with their students.