The PRES Press

Principal's Monthly Newsletter, January 2019

A Message from Principal Amy Fishkin

World Read Aloud Day

On Friday, February 1, 2019, Pound Ridge Elementary School will join thousands of schools and communities around the world for World Read Aloud Day. Developed by the organization, LitWorld, World Read Aloud Day is a day when people all over the world read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right for all people.

From their website,

"LitWorld was founded in 2007 after Pam Allyn, literacy educator and author, visited Kibera, an area of extreme poverty in Nairobi, Kenya. There, she experienced the urgent desire children had to read, write and share their stories, and the barriers that stood in their way. Literacy is not a gift given just to some lucky ones, it is a foundational human right that brings joy, economic independence, gender equity and a pathway out of poverty."

On February 1st, we will celebrate World Read Aloud Day in these ways:

  • All students and staff are invited to wear a readable shirt! Please make sure the text is school appropriate.
  • Community readers, including District administrators, will visit PRES to read aloud a book in each classroom.
  • Students will participate in other reading and writing activities during the school day.

PRES Celebrates Diversity

During the month of January, the PRES school community has been celebrating the theme of diversity as part of our CARE program. Our CARE assembly last Friday was a wonderful celebration of culture, as the third grade students performed their African drumming and dancing routines. Thanks to the PTA, the students enjoyed working with artist-in-residence, Mrs. Marion Archer, who taught the students about African culture through drumming and dancing. See photos from our third grade African Drumming & Dancing Program:

We also celebrated diversity with our Snowflake Project. All students were invited to make their own individual snowflakes and decorate them with a statement that describes what makes them each unique. Students wrote things like, my parents are from a different country, or I do Irish step dancing. All of our unique snowflakes are hung together on our CARE bulletin board creating a beautiful wintry scene. We are like snowflakes, all different and unique in our own beautiful way.

Parent-Principal Coffees

Please join us for coffee and conversation with principal Amy Fishkin in the coming weeks. Each coffee event will focus on a specific topic for a range of grade levels. You will hear updates on things happening at school and have an opportunity to ask questions. We look forward to spending time together and sharing updates at PRES! All Parent-Principal Coffees will take place in the Library at 9:30 AM.

  • February 4th (Grades 3-5): NYS Testing - Learn about what to expect on the Grades 3-5 NYS ELA and Math tests and the changes that have taken place in recent years.

  • February 11th (Grades K-5): Universal Design for Learning (UDL) - If you attended the last PRES PTA meeting, you heard Dr. Joel Adelberg and Ms. Deb Dormady speak about the District's focus on inclusive practices. Learn how Universal Design for Learning gives all students access to learning. District-wide UDL facilitator, Erica Rogan, and assistive technology specialist, Margaret Browning-Barnickel, will be here to describe how UDL strategies are being used in the classroom.

  • March 4th (Grades K-2): New Science Curriculum - In grades K-2, students are learning science through engineering and problem-based learning, due to the newly adopted NYS Science standards. Bill Hunter, ECT at MKES and district-wide elementary science coordinator, will be here to help you understand the exciting changes that are happening in elementary science!

Preparing for Valentine's Day

As we prepare for our Valentine’s Day celebrations in February, both at home and at school, please be mindful that many of our students at PRES have life-threatening food allergies. Sending in non-food items for Valentine's Day, such as cards, pencils, stickers, or crafts, are nice alternatives to chocolates or candy that may contain nuts or other food allergens. Here is a nice article with ideas for alternative activities to celebrate the holiday:

On February 14, 2019, we will hold our annual Valentine's Day Book Swap! Students will be invited to find a new or almost new book from home to share with a friend at school. In exchange for a donated book, each student who participates will receive a new book to enjoy! Stay tuned for more information.

Reminders From the Main Office

Thank you so much for your ongoing partnership and support throughout the school year. Here are a few reminders to help our school day continue to run smoothly and effectively:

  • School Dismissal Manager: When making a change to your child's dismissal plan in SDM, please remember to click Update Schedule Changes in order to save the change. Also, if you anticipate your child will be late to school, there is a feature in SDM to indicate your child will be a Late Arrival, rather than calling the main office. When you are in the calendar view of SDM, click on the date, then click the button on the left side that says, "Add Late Arrival."

  • Exiting the Building - Thank you for always signing in at the front office when you arrive at school. Please make sure to exit the building through the main entrance ONLY. We ask that all visitors return their visitor badge and follow our sign-out procedures, just like when you sign-in, in order for us to keep track of all visitors in the building at all times.

When Teachers Learn, Students Grow

Ever wonder what teachers are doing in the hours before and after your children arrive at school? Many hours throughout the school year, and during the summer, are spent engaging teachers in professional development. Through book clubs, professional readings, studying research of effective instructional practices, and examining student work together, your child's teacher is continually working to improve his/her instructional practices. This year, our PRES teachers are involved in a variety of professional learning opportunities linked to our BCSD Success Plan including:

  • Reading Workshop - Teachers are engaged in ongoing professional development around the implementation of the reading workshop model. As we adopt the Teachers College reading units of study, TC staff developers are providing structured modeling and coaching in classrooms with our teachers.

  • Fundations Phonics Program (K-3) - Teachers in grades K-3 are being trained in the Wilson Fundations phonics program. This program provides students with the critical foundational skills of a successful reader, including: phonemic awareness, phonics, high frequency words, fluency, vocabulary development, handwriting, and spelling.

  • Conferring with Readers - Teachers are reading the book, Conferring with Readers, by Jennifer Serravallo and Gravity Goldberg, to learn techniques for getting the most out of one-on-one reading conferences with students.

  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) - UDL-aligned strategies are instructional methods and tools used by teachers to ensure that ALL students have an equal opportunity to learn.

  • Making Inclusion Inclusive - Teachers will explore how active and collaborative strategies can benefit all students in a classroom.

  • Social Thinking - Social Thinking concepts, created by speech therapist Michelle Garcia Winner, help all children to learn in a group, attend to lessons, be considerate toward others, and self-regulate their own behavior.

  • Growth Mindset - Based on the research by Carol Dweck, teachers are learning techniques to help guide learners to monitor their own self-talk to help them deal with struggles, in order to develop a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.

  • Purposeful Play - Teachers are learning how everyday play can help students reach standards and goals in ways that "in-their-seat" instruction can’t do alone. Engage, challenge and motivate students by allowing them to do what they do best…PLAY!!

  • Book Choice and Reading Levels - Teachers will learn more about matching students to "just right books." These are books students can read with 95% accuracy and strong comprehension. The leveling system is used as an instructional tool to help teachers differentiate their instruction for different levels of readers.

  • Photography Basics in the Classroom - Teachers will learn how to take more dynamic pictures of students in action, in order to capture learning, share with families, and help students reflect and grow.

Coming up in February...

February 1 = World Read Aloud Day (Read a Shirt Day!)

February 4 = Parent-Principal Coffee (Gr. 3-5 NYS Testing) @ 9:30 AM in Library

February 4 = Cabaret Rehearsal-Pick-ups at music room @ 3:05-3:20

February 7 = Cabaret Performance (K-5) at 6:00-8:00 PM

February 8 = Superintendent's Conference Day
(11:30 Early Dismissal; No Lunch)

February 11 = Parent-Principal Coffee (Gr. K-5 UDL) @ 9:30 AM in Library

February 12-15 = PRES Kindergarten Registration (scheduled appointments at Central Office)

February 14 = Valentine's Book Swap

February 18-22 = Winter Break (No School)

February 27 = Grade 4 Colonial Day

February 28 = PRES CARE Assembly (Theme: Friendship) - Wear green!

March 1 = PRES School Spirit Day (Birthday Match Day!)

March 4 = Parent-Principal Coffee (Gr. K-2 Science) @ 9:30 AM in Library

Stay Connected!

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