WRS Paw Pride Newsletter

February 2019 - Volume 6 - Issue 6

Points of Interest

March 12, 2019: Referendum Vote- Please remember to vote and visit our district website for more information at www.htps.us

Letter from Ms. Jodi L. Howe, Principal

Dear Woods Road School Families:

Woods Road is extremely proud of our teacher of the year, Connie Zeng. Ms. Zeng is our teacher of Mandarin and is also shared with Hillsborough Elementary School. Ms.Zeng has taught in Hillsborough for 7 years, having come to us after completing an undergraduate degree in Chinese and a Master’s degree in Foreign Language Education at Rutgers University

Her most memorable moment as a teacher involved a student having difficulty identifying a Chinese character. The student sitting next to him provided hints in Mandarin, taking charge as the “Mandarin teacher.” The “teacher” led the student to the correct answer, following steps Ms.Zeng would have followed herself. A close second memorable moment involved a kindergartner who identified Ms. Howe as “Ms. Ni hao” as she had just learned the greeting the day before. When not teaching our students Mandarin, Ms. Zeng likes to read, watch Chinese shows and travel. Ms. Zeng identifies a favorite quote as “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” We are lucky to have her heart here at Woods Road. Congratulations Ms. Zeng!

District ESP of the Year

Woods Road School is proud to present Mrs. Meghan Salotti as the District Elementary Educational Service Professional of the Year. Mrs. Salotti is an Occupational Therapist who regularly works with our pre-school and elementary school students helping them to master tasks that assist them with daily living skills. Her favorite quote, which she illustrates in her daily work, is “I am not telling you it is going to be easy -- I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” Mrs. Salotti attended Sacred Heart University for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. She has taught for 15 years, 14 of them in Hillsborough. Her most memorable teaching moment involved a student with fine motor delays. His goal was to tie his shoes independently. After working on the skill for quite some time, he finally, independently tied his shoe. Mrsl Salotti said the look on his face was priceless! He was so proud of himself. These moments motivate this dedicated staff member. When not working at Woods Road, Mrs. Salotti enjoys running, baking, and spending time with her family, especially at the beach. Thank you, Mrs. Salotti, for begin the supportive staff member you are -- Woods Road congratulates you!


According to multiple studies, missing several days of school over the course of a year significantly reduces the likelihood that students will graduate from high school. With attendance, a crucial factor in keeping kids on the right path to graduation, Attendance Works (http://www.attendanceworks.org/research/mapping-the-gap/) has substantial information on attendance and the impact on student achievement. Below is some of the research below on why attendance matters.

Start Strong: Absenteeism in the first month of school can predict frequent absences later in the school year. Nearly half of all students that missed more than two days of school in September went on to miss almost a month of school.

Chronic Absences: An estimated 5 to 7.5 million students in the United States miss almost a month of school every year. This adds up to over a year missed by the time of graduation.

Early Absences Lead to Attendance Issues in Later Grades: Absenteeism starts early. One in 10 kindergarteners and first graders are considered to be “chronically absent.” Chronic Absence = Missing two or more days per month. Research shows students who miss 10 percent of school, or two days per month, show negative academic progress. In some schools, that adds up to 18 days a school year and is considered to be chronic absence.

Third Grade Reading Level: Poor attendance can keep children from reading proficiently by the end of third grade, which is shown to negatively affect their chances of graduating on time.

Dropout Indicator: By sixth grade, a chronically absent student is shown to have a significantly higher chance of dropping out of high school.

Excused Absences Hurt Too: Excused absences are just as negative as unexcused ones. Suspensions add additional missed time in the classroom, which in turn increases the dropout risk.

Every Minute Matters If a student is 10 minutes late to school each day, this adds up to missing more than 33 hours of class time. A student with a 90 percent attendance average for Kindergarten through 12th grade will miss over a year of accumulated time in the classroom.

25 Questions to Ask Your Child About Their School Day: If you are having trouble getting your child to talk about their day at school, check out the article below from Positive Parenting Connections. https://www.positiveparentingconnection.net/positive_parenting_25questions_school/

We look forward to seeing you at our events!


Jodi L. Howe


Important Reminders

As a reminder, if you are dropping your child off in the morning, please do not stop or park by the yellow curb or traffic cones to let your child out of your vehicle. For the safety of all students, please stop or park in the designated areas only. The side parking lot is for staff vehicles only. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Bus Business

The safety of the students at Woods Road School is of the utmost importance to the school staff. Every day we ensure that each child gets to their bus safely. The staff also makes sure all students being dismissed to the aftercare program or the library arrive and attendance is taken. If parents/guardians have any concerns regarding transportation issues, please contact the transportation department directly at (908) 431-6600 at ext. 2690 or 2550.

Mrs. Guastella's Counselor Connection

It's hard to believe that we've already entered the third month of 2019 and are over halfway into our school year. Your children are doing such an amazing job working on their social-emotional skills in and out of the classroom! With our younger friends, we are working on ways to identify when we are experiencing "strong feelings" i.e. anger, frustration, embarrassment, etc. and how we can calm down before taking any action. We are working on the calm down steps including 1. Telling ourselves to STOP. This puts the brakes on our brain continuing to filter all of these negative thoughts that are running through our head and gives us pause before acting. 2. Naming our feeling. Putting a label on why our bodies are experiencing what is going on takes away some of that power from the feeling and gives us back some of that control so we are controlling our emotions and our emotions are not controlling us! 3. Lastly, finding ways that help you calm down. We have been discussing how everyone can utilize strategies that work for us including counting, taking a walk, thinking positive thoughts, taking deep belly breaths, etc. It's important that we all try to continue to discover what works for us so we can add them to our coping skills during these moments!

Our older friends are working on problem-solving skills. The acronym we are working on is STEP: Say the problem without blame - Think of solutions - Explore consequences - Pick the best solution. Giving our friends basic steps to follow when solving a problem with another friend is a skill they will continue to nurture and grow as they get older. It will continue to make them feel empowered that they are able to use their own resources and tools to help themselves when they need it.

As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns to my e-mail at gguastella@htps.us or my extension 3287. Have a very happy February!

Nurse's Corner

by Kimberly Paulhus and Traci Kinst

A Healthy Smile Means a Happy Heart

Dental health awareness

February was Children’s Dental Health Month. It is recommended to visit the dentist when the first baby tooth erupts and schedule visits every six months. The CDC states that children with poor oral health are more prone to being absent from school and subsequently receive lower grades than those children that have healthy gums and teeth. Some other interesting statistics to think about are also provided by the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html)

  • About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.

  • 1 of 7 (13%) adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.

  • Children aged 5 to 19 years from low-income families are twice as likely (25%) to have cavities, compared with children from higher-income households (11%).

Dental disease is preventable but as with most diseases, genetics can be a risk factor. Taking steps to help your children develop healthy dental habits, which also means practicing your own, offers a lifetime of protection and reduces risks for developing other diseases later in life.

Heart Health Awareness

A major disease area that has been shown to correlate to oral health is cardiovascular disease. Is it any coincidence that February was also American Heart Month? For excellent heart information, visit: https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/FebruaryToolkit.aspx

Studies show that in addition to inflammation of blood vessels which restricts blood flow due to the body’s response to infection such as gingivitis, the same bacteria found in periodontal disease is also found as part of plaque build-up in aging blood vessels. So, along with a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle, taking care of your teeth with regular dental check-ups is another step in taking care of your heart.

Here’s to healthy smiles and happy hearts!

Shelf Talk

by Dina Stoff

During February, students in Preschool heard stories about Valentine’s Day, Friends, Community Helpers, Transportation, and Construction. We also played some fun games to go along with the themes. Students in grades K-2 were exposed to folktales and fairy tales from around the world. Ask them about the differences in the same stories from around the world. Third-grade students were working on a research project about one of the fifty states. They conducted research, found pictures, and cited sources with a state poster as their final product. The fourth-grade students went on some virtual field trips with the Expedition Tablets and finishing up their National Park Research projects by creating a postcard. Follow the library on Instagram @wrslibrary


by Cassandra Shannon

Hola, नमस्ते, 你好, مرحبا, cześć! That is hello, in some of the languages spoken by our ESL students. Which include: Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin, Arabic, and Polish just to name a few! The ESL students have been learning all about winter! We have been discussing winter activities such as: sledding, ice skating, and building a snowman. Some ESL students who just moved to our country this year saw snow for the very first time! They can’t wait for it to snow again.

新年快乐 or Happy New Year in Mandarin! February 5 was Chinese New Year! This year is the year of the pig. ESL students were given the opportunity to share how they celebrated this holiday with their classmates. Check out the Chinese Zodiac to find out the animal the year you were born https://chinesenewyear.net/zodiac/.

February 14 marked Valentine’s Day. Some ESL students have never celebrated Valentine’s Day before. We discussed how we celebrate and even made Valentine’s Day cards for each other.


Welcome Winter!

During February, Preschoolers were hard at work exploring the Winter season and all that it brings. In the winter, cold weather is upon us. It is time to build snowmen when we have enough snow. We spent time discussing what we wear when it’s cold outside. A warm coat, a hat, and gloves/mittens protect us from the cold weather. We learned about Hibernation, Winter Animals and the Polar Lands!

Some Winter books we explored and read are: The Snowy Day, The Mitten, Bear Snores On, Snoozing Snowman, Snowman All Year, Snowman at Night. We will be exploring “Going On a Bear Hunt,” Within these books we were able to visualize and verbalize what we saw on the pages and in our own imagination, learn: What came first, next, last, as well as "WH" questions about what we have read.

Because the weather is still so cold, outdoor activities can be limited. Play is still essential to your child's’ learning. While it is sometimes easier to allow screen time to fill up the hours of the day, research tells us it is important to limit this time.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against any screen time for children younger than 18-months, and only one hour per day for children ages two to five...The report did find that screen time could have a negative impact on sleep patterns and mental health and encouraged parents to set limits for their children, including not letting kids use tablets or other devices an hour before bedtime.


What’s a parent to do?

Keep an area of the house with choices of toys in one place. Don’t worry so much about the mess. Clean-up is a skill you can use at home. Use a song for clean up, to trigger the action for cleaning up.


Alternate Activities: baking cookies or preparing a special snack together, paint over letters or numbers with watercolor or easel painting, reading books together, playing playdough, kinetic sand, or slime together. You can even have an imaginary snowball fight! Enjoy!

Sensory Kinetic Snow:

Here is an easy recipe you can use to make pretend snow for some sensory fun!

The best part about making fake snow is that it uses common supplies and materials already found in your home!

1lb box of baking soda
1 can of shaving cream
1 measuring cup
White or silver glitter
Large mixing bowl

Use the cup measurer to measure out the entire 1lb box of baking soda

There is no set amount of shaving cream you need to add in–this is a "per taste" addition. At a minimum, add in 1/3 to 1/2 can of shaving cream to the mixing bowl. If you find that your snow isn't holding shape, you can always add more later during play time.

Eyeball a few tablespoons of glitter into the mixing bowl. If you want more sparkle, keep adding in the glitter!

There is a reason why a mixing spoon was not included in the list of materials–the best part about this project is that you get to get your hands dirty! For this part, roll up your sleeves or your kids' and prepare to get messy! Squeeze the mixture together between your fingers or fold it together like you would a cake batter. There is no wrong way to do this step.

Empty the fake snow from the mixing bowl onto a play surface or into a sensory bin. Allow your kids to get creative with how they play with it. Some fun ideas include: using measuring cups to make snow castles, turning snowballs into mini snowmen or using it as a dusting for fake plants in your home. For an added festive touch, turn up the holiday tunes and make a mug of hot chocolate!

Why is Play Important?

  1. Play lays the foundation for literacy. Through play, children learn to make and practice new sounds. They learn new vocabulary.

  2. Play is learning. Play nurtures the development and fulfills a baby’s inborn need to learn. Play takes many forms, from shaking a rattle to IMITATING peek-a-boo. Play can be done by a child alone, with another child, in a group or with an adult.

  3. Play encourages adults to communicate with the children in their lives. Adults support play by giving children opportunities to play, and by knowing when to help and when to WAIT for the child to ask for items or help.

  4. Play gives children the chance to be spontaneous. You may think your child should be rolling the truck on the ground but that doesn’t mean that truck is not equally useful as a stacking toy. NO LINING UP TOYS.

  5. Play gives children choice. Having enough toys or activities to choose from will allow children to express themselves.

  6. Play gives children space. To practice physical movement, balance and to test their own limits.

  7. Play allows adults to learn their child’s body language. Knowing when you should incorporate yourself in your child’s play is key.

  8. Play teaches adults patience and understanding. If you do choose to join in your child’s play make sure that you do not try to take it over and force incorporation of your ultimate learning objectives into their play. Structured adult-led activities have their time and place but remember to allow for time for children to control and decide their own play.

  9. Play is fun. Learning to play well, both by themselves and with others, sets children up to be contented and sociable.

  10. PLAY GAMES: Taking turns, winning and losing…it is ok to lose...

With snow days and delayed openings/early dismissals, it is important to continue potty training at home. Pick a reward for your child and only give it to them if they have success. An immediate reward is the best practice: a favorite cracker or snack(only one and only used for potty).

Positive reinforcement goes beyond a reward and is not the same thing as a bribe. Positive reinforcement involves acknowledging and rewarding your child for a positive behavior, thereby increasing the likeliness that the behavior will be repeated. The benefits of positive reinforcement for behavior change are well documented. Confidence and independence are the result of positive reinforcement. It’s important to note that “rewards” don’t have to be tangible. Affection and praise are the best rewards! http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Positive+parenting+and+challenging+children.-a0172829887

With snow days and delayed openings/early dismissals, there may be increased separation issues and anxieties. It is important that we model appropriate coping skills for our children,(Easier said than done). To help, here are some other tips for you to model and teach your child when they have a nervous behavior or a meltdown due to change. We hope that you have found these tips useful.

If you have any specific questions, please get in touch with one of your Preschool Teachers. We can help!

See you in Spring!

Miss Laurie, Miss Marybeth, Miss Val, Miss Cynthia, Miss Tara, Miss Jeanine