The Cougar Call

John B. Cary Newsletter: January 2021

Chalk Talk with Principal Powell

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” –Frederick Douglass

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that everyone is refreshed and ready for the hope that 2021 brings. Just a moment of transparency… As I write to you this evening, rioters not protesters have decided to storm the Capitol building of the United States of America. As a child, growing up in Washington DC, I visited the steps of the capitol building almost every day as my mother worked blocks away at the Department of Labor. In addition, the capitol building is literally blocks away from my grandparents’ home. As one who grew up in the nation’s capital, I remember Mrs. Brown, my favorite teacher, giving a spelling test and we had to know the difference between capital and capitol. To see the images from this act of treason had a profound impact on me as Washington DC is my home. What a sad moment in our history, but where did this action come from?

The words of W.E.B. DuBois may shed some light on this question. In November of 1910, DuBois said, “Separate school children by wealth and the result is class misunderstanding and hatred. Separate by race and the result is war. Separate them by color and they grow up without learning the tremendous truth that it is impossible to judge the mind of a man by the color of his face. Is there any truth that America needs to learn more?” Please know that we have our work to do.

Through this treasonous attack on democracy, I believe America is in a unique position. American, in this hour, can create a better future. But, make no mistake, this must be the moment. One way we can create a better future together is to teach our children about stereotypes that are depicted on television.

As a principal, I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard parents say, “I don’t know where he/she gets that from?” Let me just say that every time you turn on your television you are inviting whoever and whatever as a guest in your home. Developmentally speaking, children from ages 0-12 absorb information like sponges. And once they see the image it is hard to undo. This is why knowing the impact of advertising is so important. Advertising departments know that it is hard to unsee what you just saw and heard. So think about that in reference to stereotypes. Television tells us what is considered beautiful, intelligent, patriotic and so on. According to Dana Williams of Teaching Tolerance, “The average American child spends more time in front of the television set than in the classroom-racking up more than 18,000 hours of TV by high school graduation and 13,000 hours in a classroom.” She goes on further to state, “That’s 5,000 more hours spent soaking up stereotypes and misinformation than hours reading, discussing and learning about real people and cultures.” There must be a change in 2021.

The one thing that we can do according to Williams is to Look closely at the characters your child sees. Williams asks us to examine these characters, “What messages do they send concerning race, gender, culture and roles?” Parents, this moment in our history allows us to discuss with our child the why behind your approval or disapproval of various stereotypes. Ask your child to compare the images they see on TV to the real life people that they know. Ask them if they see a pattern in the images that they see? What image do the makers of the commercial want you to have about the characters in the advertisement?

As a principal and a parent, this year I will continue to join the millions of families in turning off the television and connect even more with the real characters in my real world. Next month, I will discuss the exciting future of teaching and learning at Cary Elementary School. Let’s make 2021 great together!

Stay healthy and safe,

Principal Powell

Scholarly Success with Dean Singleton

Happy New Year to all scholars and families! I’m extremely excited about the work we will be continuing at Cary in 2021. Kudos to all our scholars, families, teachers, staff, and community partners for ensuring our success. Please be aware the RPS Help Desk is decreasing its services and transferring many technology supports to the school-based level at this time. If you need technology support, you may call JBC at 804.780.6252 or reach out via email at

As we enter into this new year, please keep in mind that our school-wide goal is for all scholars to be present and on time EVERY DAY. Attendance is imperative as we begin mid-year testing. Below is a list of upcoming testing dates. Please encourage all scholars to do their best work.

Important Testing Dates:

  • January 4 - 22: ELA Foundational Skills/EL and PALS testing (Grades K-2)

  • January 21: Begin Winter iReady Testing

  • January 26: WIDA Access 2.0 (English Language Learners K-5)

On behalf of the attendance team, we would like to give a huge shout to Ms. Barnes, Mrs. Ellerbe, and Ms. Terry’s classes for having the top attendance for the month of December. Kudos to your scholars for being present and on time every day. Who’s class will be our attendance champions this month?

The week of January 11th has also been reserved for curbside distribution days. See the schedule below for additional details for receiving your child's supplies for the second semester.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or feedback. I’m happy to help!

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Mr. Bennett’s Exceptional Education Connection

Happy new year to all! Mid-year testing for our Cary scholars is on the horizon for the month of January. A couple of quick tips and reminders for parents of best practices leading up to these important diagnostic assessments:

  • Please allow your scholar to complete their testing fully on their own

  • Provide a quiet space free from distractions for full attention

  • Ensure that your scholar’s headphones are functioning properly and that your scholar is utilizing them

  • Keep your chromebook updated to allow them to access the testing software

  • Prompt your scholar to take breaks often!. These tests can take hours to complete and we want them to show what they know!

If you are having any issues with your scholar's technology, I am more than happy to come to you to help ameliorate any situation. You can contact me via phone at 540-220-9393 or

Culture and Climate Team

The Culture and Climate Team has began our Staff Recognition program STAR (Shining Together to Achieve Results). If your family would like to recognize a staff member please stop by the nomination page on the Culture and Climate Website. We have begun redeeming Cougar Cash through the online Cougar Cash school store the last Friday of each month. Reach out to your child’s teacher for more information. Happy New Year!


We continue to try to provide engaging asynchronous activities for our students. Please check the Virtual Encore website if you ever need to find this work.

Virtual ENCORE

Counselor Connection with Mrs. Cauthorne

Hello Amazing Cary Cougar Families,

I hope you all have enjoyed a restful, relaxing, and healthy winter break. As we continue to navigate and adjust to new challenges know that I am here to support and answer any questions you might have. I am committed to providing school counseling services to all students and their families during these unprecedented times.

As we begin 2021, it is important that we encourage our children to start the New Year in a positive way. The New Year historically is a time where we look to set goals for the things we want to change. Our children may be looking at the New Year as an opportunity for renewal, a time to assess their life and consider how they might want to improve it. Goal setting is beneficial for children in many ways.

It is a life skill necessary for success and happiness. It teaches children to be responsible for their own successes and failures; to prioritize and manage their time; improves their self-esteem and confidence; and helps children identify their strengths and abilities. One way that never fails is by engaging them in play and fun activities that promote learning. Here are some activities to help your child learn to set and reach their goal(s):

1. Draw out goals. This is a great way to visualize goals and dreams. Ask questions like, Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What do you think you will be doing in 5 years? Have your child draw out the vision for their future. Write the items in the drawing on a list, and put the drawing somewhere visible and prominent.

2. Saving money. Ask your child what they want to buy or experience. Encourage your child to save up for what they would like to purchase. Discuss how much money needs to be saved, by when, and how to save.

3. Keep a journal. Have your child write their thoughts, feelings, ideas, achievements, dreams, and anything else that comes to mind.

4. Create a vision board. Ask your child to find photos that represent each of their goals. When they reach a goal, they can glue it to the board. When they attained all their goals, display the collage with their successes.

All of these activities can be displayed in a prominent area of the house for everyone to see every day. This will boost self-confidence and help make your child’s dreams turn into realities.

You will also empower them to achieve wonderful things in different areas of their life.

Please click on the following Winter Well-Being Guide for more helpful, healthy tips. It's an 8-week series to encourage parents to prioritize their mental health as a pandemic winter approaches, offering evidence-based advice and a weekly self-care prescription.

Feel free to contact me through email: Thank you for your continued support at home and school. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2021 year.

Warmest regards,

Mrs. Cauthorne

School Counselor

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

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Dr. Holland's Learning Studio

We are looking forward to figure drawing and sculpture this month. To help your child with these lessons it is helpful to have some aluminum foil, paper, and pencil. We also hope to use the small packs of modeling clay that were delivered to the school before the winter break. We will also begin a variety of lessons on perspective drawing.

Mrs. Harris’ Bookshelf

Happy New Year! This month in Media Class we are working on many interesting topics. First, scholars will write their Goals and/or Resolutions for 2021. This week students will need a piece of paper, pencil and envelope. Your scholar will be asking you to keep the envelope in a safe place until New Year’s Eve 2021. Scholars will watch a short clip on Resolutions then read the story Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller followed by writing their own goals and/or resolutions. Also this month, scholars will be researching and learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At the end of the month our library scholars will be doing a STEM activity building a virtual masterpiece using virtual building blocks! It will be a fun, eventful, and informational month!

Here are some great places for your scholars to read and find educational activities.

JBC Virtual Winter Library:

JBC Media Center Site:

Library epic code: ahz5390

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Here are some January “Bookish Holidays” to celebrate with your Scholars!

1: Charlotte Mason Birthday (1842-English educator and reformer.She proposed to base the education of children upon a wide and liberal curriculum), 2: Isaac Asimov Birthday (1920- science fiction and popular science), 3: J. R. R. Tolkien Birthday (1892-The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), 9: Severus Snape Birthday (Harry Potter), 18: Alan Alexander Milne Birthday (1882-Winnie the Pooh). 19: Edgar Allan Poe Birthday (1809 American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic.), 26: Gilderoy Lockhart Birthday (Harry Potter), 30: Lily Potter Birthday (Harry Potter)

Mrs. Henderson’s Music Moment

Hello parents and families!

I would like to thank all of the parents and guardians who have picked up their children’s instruments. I am proud of the students’ progress as we intentionally navigate this new way of teaching and learning. Students are excited about learning and playing their instruments. Reading music also helps students read literature more fluently, as well. We will continue to learn together, and reach musical heights...together!

Fitness Fun with Ms. Ward

I hope everyone had a safe and restful break! Students in grades K-2 will continue to learn about our body systems and structures this month and how physical activity makes each of these systems stronger. Students in grades 3-5 will finish up their Components of Fitness Review and learn how to set their own Health & Fitness goals and how to maintain a fitness plan. Please remind your student to get up and move every day!

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The Cougar Corner with Ms. Hill and Ms. McKinney

Happy New Year! This month in Reading students are starting off on a second module in our EL curriculum and learning how to do a close read. We are providing instructions for you to practice a close read with your scholar at home this month, too! We will also be doing PALS, MAP, i-Ready, and EL assessments to measure achievement, mastery and growth from the beginning of the school year until now.

In addition, for some students, they will be receiving additional reading support from our new tutors. Please be on the lookout for more information about the tutors and the time slots for those students from your child’s teacher. This might require for some students to log back in for the support.

We will also be sending out additional information about an upcoming statewide reading initiative, “Virginia Reads One Book.”

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Mr. Harvey’s Math Minds

"Without mathematics, there's nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers" - Shakuntala Devi

Happy New Year Cougars! This is Mr. Harvey, your proud Math Coach at John B. Cary elementary. We are excited to get back into the virtual classroom! I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday break. Here is some information for this month.

January is the month that puts us half way through the school year. To mark that milestone, students will be taking an iReady assessment (K-5) and MAP(Measure of Academic Progress)(2-5) tests. This will show us what students know, and their measures of growth at this point in the school year. How can you help? Families you can help by having your child(ren) get a good night’s sleep and eat breakfast prior to testing.

Tips to Engage Your Children at Home:

  • Play various card and dice games
  • Follow recipes to cook and bake
  • Use flashcards
  • Count money & tell time
  • Play math related games online
  • Help with homework
  • Math puzzles

The Importance of Math in Everyday Life

1. Helps build problem-solving skills

2. Better understand finances, time, and measurements

3. Math helps develop analytic and reasoning skills

4. It is used in all areas of life from sports to music to building

5. Math explains how the world works

6. It sharpens your mind

Great Resources/Websites:

How to Reach Help Desk

Technology Services staff can assist you on-site with hardware or technical issues related to RPS issued Chromebooks at several Mobile Help Desk locations. Click here to view the schedule.

Most issues can be handled by your child's teacher (password reset, Clever access, etc.). If you unable to get a solution to your issue, please reach to the Help Desk ( Provide the scholar's name, school, student ID number and a brief description of the issue in your email. The Family Support Line is also available at 780-6195.

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Technology Quick Fixes

Sometimes your technology just needs a quick fix to be up and functioning. Check out these frequently asked questions to resolve your device issues.

John B. Cary Elementary School

Home of the Cougar scholars. You just can't hide that Cougar pride!