Thurmont Primary School News

May 2021

Principal's Message

Dear Families,

As you know, last Tuesday, May 4th a revised Joint Memorandum of Understanding between all three FCPS employee associations was approved and accepted by our Board of Education. These revisions allow for additional in-person learning opportunities for elementary school students, to the extent possible, while still following all CDC guidelines.

At TPS we have remain committed to safely returning as many students as possible to school as quickly as possible. Since last Tuesday we have been working tirelessly to reconfigure our building and maximize every bit of available space to accommodate as many in person learning requests as possible. In a phone conversation with a parent this week it was suggested that the "behind the scenes" work be shared with the school community so you have a glimpse into how we are working to make in person learning opportunities possible for our students and families.

Here's just a few of the ways our TPS staff is working to serve you and your children...

  • all excess furniture is being stored in our gym (see photo below) to maximize space in the classrooms for student desks
  • our sensory room is being converted into a gym classroom for indoor PE days
  • our cafeteria has been reconfigured (see photo below) to provide for a safely socially distanced breakfast and lunch area for all students
  • desktop computers are being removed from classrooms to dedicate all available space for students
  • teachers have given up their desks (and had them put into storage) to provide space for even more student desks
  • we ordered materials to create safely socially distanced individual spaces for students in art
  • we are ordering floor markers for classrooms to assist in identifying and ensuring social distancing is maintained

As a result of these efforts, and so many more, TPS will be able to honor all requests for students to report for in person learning 4 days weekly beginning Monday, May 17th. Students for whom a request was not received will continue in their current model (2 days weekly, 4 days weekly, fully virtual). Tomorrow, Monday, May 10th, families will receive communication regarding their child's schedule.

I hope you can see, and will continue to trust, that we are doing everything we can to support our students and families. We know this year has not been easy, and at times it has been extremely difficult, but despite the challenges we have faced we have never stopped prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of our school community. If there is one thing I hope you know you can count on its that our TPS staff will always put children, and their families, first.

Here's to our collective "Courage of a Cougar" which has gotten us this far and will continue to ensure our last 28 school days allow students every opportunity to grow their brain, heart and body power!

Yours in education,

Michele Baisey


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FCPS Calendar Updates

Wednesday, May 19th is now an Asynchronous Learning Day. This means students will be assigned work in Schoology and there will be no live Google Meets. This also means there is not a 2-hour early dismissal since it is a self-paced learning day.

Wednesday, June 16th will be a 2-Hour Early Dismissal Day. The student instructional day will end at 12pm. A school/classroom specific schedule for this day will be shared with families.

Thursday, June 17th is the last day for students. This will be a day of reflection and celebration for ALL we have accomplished this school year!

Math Proficiency through the Math Practices

You have probably heard your child’s teacher encouraging your child to work like a “mathematician.” So how does a mathematician work? What steps should your child be taking to become a “mathematician”? We want children to be aware of their own math thinking. We do this by discussing the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice to assist in a deeper understanding of math content. The 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice are interwoven and must work together.

Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them

The focus is on the development of the necessary skills to become an effective problem solver. (We shared this in last month’s TPS newsletter.) Students need to: Understand the problem solving process by asking themselves these questions:

  • What am I being asked to solve?
  • What information do I need to solve it?
  • What is my plan to solve?
  • Is my answer reasonable and answers the question in the story?
  • Do I need to try another strategy?
  • Have many strategies to “attack” a problem and the willingness to try and stick with the problem even if they’re struggling.

Reason Abstractly and Quantitatively

This practice focuses on children’s ability to take real life problems and put them into math terms. Students need to apply math skills to solve real problems and interpret data—beyond just the ability to compute. The focus is on a strong understanding of numbers and when faced with a math problem, having the ability to represent it with numbers, symbols, diagrams, etc.

Construct Viable Arguments and Critique the Reasoning of Others

Children must construct their own reasons, using math skills and knowledge. As children listen to other’s reasoning and arguments, they consider and analyze their own math understanding. Developing and critiquing other’s math thinking is a necessary part of being proficient in math. There is an emphasis on effective communication in math both orally and in writing. Students need to give a correct answer and explain how they got the answer, not just memorizing steps. When students dig deep into math understanding, they build upon their own understanding.

Model With Mathematics

Models are representations of abstract math ideas. When we ask students to model, we’re asking them to show their math thinking from their heads! Modeling math can involve acting out the problem with the use of math manipulatives, drawing math pictures with circles, sticks or squares to represent blocks, writing equations, drawing number lines, tables, charts or graphs. In addition to modeling with math, we also ask children to analyze the models and draw conclusions to solve problems.

Use Appropriate Tools Strategically

Tools are defined as what helps students to perform a task, find solutions or solve problems.

Math is active. Students need to be able to identify appropriate tools to support various math tasks. Tools can be used in a variety of ways and can be concrete like connecting cubes, two-sided counters, base 10 blocks, number charts, number lines, rulers or math mats. Figuring out which tools are needed, goes back to understanding what the student is being asked to solve.

Attend to Precision

Estimation is important and has a place in math, but math also emphasizes the need to calculate and communicate math thinking with precision. Precision is not just in computation, but in other areas as well such as using math vocabulary and symbols correctly.

Look for and Make Use of Structure

Math is predictable! Patterns and functions are everywhere! There is structure in math. When students see structure, math makes sense. Our number system is a system of patterns. Ten ones makes a 10, ten tens makes 100. There is a connection between addition and subtraction, the way numbers can be put together and broken apart. Students who are proficient see the flexibility of numbers, understand math properties and recognize patterns and functions.

Look for and Express Regularity in Repeated Reasoning

Math involves observation. Once students recognize and analyze what they see over and over again, they begin to see shortcuts to make math tasks simplified and efficient. As students discover ways to make math tasks easier, they also need to continually evaluate the reasonableness of results along the way.

We encourage you to talk about all aspects of math with your children. Help your children see the connections between the real world and the math being taught in school. Keep asking your children questions about BOTH math content and about problem solving strategies using these math practices.

PTA for 2021-22 School Year

Are you interested in becoming more involved in your school community? Do you want to help enhance your child’s learning experiences? If so, we need YOU!

We are looking for committed, caring and collaborative individuals to help serve on a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Board. We believe a PTA plays an important role in the lives of the students, families and staff in our schools. We know that building a strong PTA will benefit our entire school community.

Please contact Heather Putnam ( if you are interested in supporting our Thurmont Elementary & Primary Schools (TEPS) PTA.

May School Spirit

We continue to show our sense of belonging by celebrating school spirit on special days throughout each month. Click the link below for the April School Spirit Calendar.

May Spirit Month Calendar

Remember we have weekly blue/white cougar pride opportunities. TPS Tuesdays and Thurmont Thursdays are the perfect time to show your school spirit!

Roar Like a Lion Day

The Thurmont Lions Club is sponsoring a day of service for our community on June 6th from 1-4pm at the Thurmont Community Park. Activities for the whole family to get involved and support the community will be available. Click the link below for details.

Roar Like a Lion Day Flyer

Important Dates

May 12th - Asynchronous Learning Day - No Live Google Meets

May 14th - Mid-Term

May 19th - Asynchronous Learning Day - No Live Google Meets

May 24th - Interims Issued

May 31st - No School for Memorial Day