Conn-West Elementary

Welcome Back to School Letter

Dear Conn-West Team,

July 19, 2013

I hope you are enjoying your break and this letter finds you well-rested and recharged. This will be a year of “Transformation”. We will transform the way we think, learn and educate our students. We will capitalize on the great work that has been started and propel our practice to fully embrace 21st century teaching and learning. I hope you share my passion and understand that it is our obligation to accommodate our digital natives, to ensure that rigor, relevance and relationships are evident throughout our school and to always BELIEVE in the possibilities.

I am excited to share that we have new members joining the Conn-West team for the 2013-2014 school year; Kara Cole (5th grade teacher), Ashley Wright (5th grade teacher), Dr. Bianca Love (reading specialist), Venus Webster (special education teacher), Cedric Lyles (paraprofessional, special education) and Maureen Sylvestri (paraprofessional, ELA/MA). Please join me in welcoming them to our school community.

We also have new members joining our GC-4 Leadership Team: Dr. John Herrera (Meadowmere principal), Adrain Howard (GHS assistant principal), Ryan Beatty (GHS assistant principal), Scott Sisemore (Director of Instructional Technology) and John Baccala (Coordinator of Communications and Community Relations).

The "official" start date for teachers is Monday, August 12th. For those of you who wish to work in your rooms prior to this date, the building will be open for your use beginning Friday, August 2nd from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Mon-Fri). Please let me know if you need to make alternative arrangements and I will do my best to accommodate your needs.

Our school-wide Sneak-A-Peek will be held on Tuesday, August 13th from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Students and parents will have an opportunity to peek into classrooms, meet the staff and enjoy an ice-cream social sponsored by our PTA. Since your participation in this event will require you to stay additional time beyond the contracted day, please feel free to alter your arrival time on August 13th & 14th and/or depart immediately after students are dismissed on August 15th and 16th.

CSD4 ISTE Team 2013

As you may know, several CSD4 staff members from across the district were afforded the opportunity to attend the International Society for Technology in Education conference in San Antonio this past month. Ashley, Heather, Stephanie and I joined nearly 20,000 educators and education leaders from across the globe in various professional learning and collaborative networking opportunities. The purpose of the of the conference is to help improve teaching and learning by advancing the effective use of technology in PK-12 and teacher education. In short, we were challenged to get "fired up" about technology and remain committed to "advancing the use of technology in education" at all levels. The Digital Natives are Restless: Web Tools that Captivate Students, Technology Transforms Pedagogy: Combining Tools and the Vision and Beyond the Apps: A Pedagogical Approach to the iPad were just a few of the sessions that we enjoyed. If I had my wish, the entire Conn-West team would have shared in this experience, so it is our goal to bring some of that "fire" back to our school. Our goal is to not just integrate technology, we want to integrate technology to enhance the effectiveness of instruction!
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Building Updates!

Kudos to our awesome custodial staff! They have been working hard all summer to ensure that our building will be ready for staff and students in August. Please be sure to let Mark, Rosetta, Vicki and Terry know how much we appreciate their efforts. Summer Bond Projects are also in full swing. These upgrades will include: a wheel chair accessible ramp in the front of the school, security vestibule with new tile and walk-off carpet installed at the front entrance, electrical upgrades throughout the building and a wheel chair lift installed on the stairs leading to the cafeteria. See pictures below:

We're on Twitter!

Staff, students and parents can now receive updates on school related news and events via Twitter by following us @CWES_Cougars. Did you know that Twitter is a fantastic Professional Learning Network (PLN) that exposes you to a variety of learning opportunities, educational resources and thought-provoking discussions and blogs? You can also follow me @CWES_Principal and be sure to look for some of your CSD4 colleagues as well as some of the “heavy-hitters” in the field of education; ASCD, Todd Whitaker, Marzano, Edutopia, ReadWriteThink, Teaching Channel etc. Let the tweeting begin!

This year, all of our Opening of School documents will be posted on our staff Moodle page. Check back regularly to view Opening of School meeting agendas, our 2013-2014 Instructional Schedule and the 2013-2014 District Calendar. Please let me know if you have difficulty accessing this information or if you have questions.

As shared at our end of the year meeting, our School Improvement Goals will continue to be centered around increasing student achievement in the areas of ELA, Math and Science, technology integration that enhances instruction and maintaining a safe, positive and student-centered school climate. To get there, our professional learning will be focused on those initiatives designed to transform and further enhance the effectiveness of our Tier I instruction; using Rigor, Relevance and Relationships and the Four C’s (Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity).

Until I see you next month, I leave you with this quote from author and educational technologist Adam Bellow who delivered the closing keynote speech at ISTE 2013, Future generations need to know we believe in them. They have to be told that they can change the world. Enjoy the remainder of your summer break!


What is 21st century education?