Ponce de Leon Panther Post

Volume 1, Issue 2 November/December 2018

Message from the Principal

October came to a close quickly for us at Ponce de Leon as it sure was a busy month and now November is about to wrap up as well! First, I’d like to thank our PTA for a fantastic Fall Festival. It was a family friendly evening, and from the bounce houses, to the haunted library to the game booths, fun was had by all. We also celebrated Red Ribbon Week. Thank you to Mrs. Cortez for organizing the events and to all students for their participation in the dress up days. Students were reminded to stand strong and stay drug free! Finally, we also honored Veterans with our first annual Veteran's Day Assembly and Walk of Fame. American Legion Post 7 in Clearwater explained the importance of the folding of the flag, the chorus sang patriotic songs, the PMAC group read a poem and our Veterans were honored by our scholars waving their flags with pride.

Connecting school and home is very important. One way you can help build a home school connection is by talking to your child every day about school. Instead of asking your child “What did you do at school today?” and getting the proverbial “Nothing,” as a response, try asking your child, “What choices did you make today at school?” Talk to your children about their decisions and the consequences that followed. Encourage them to take responsibility for these choices, regardless if the effect was positive or not. This conversation can help encourage students to continue to make positive choices in the future at the same time displaying positive examples of citizenship, which is the Character Trait for November!

Cycle 1 of MAP Testing has been completed. If you have a Connect 4 Success computer from our school, or a personal computer, there is now a Personalized Learning Pathway for your child on Clever! In Clever, click on Personalized Learning Pathway, and enter the student email address when prompted. Student email address is the student username plus @pcsb.org. Example r2.d2@pcsb.org. Your child will have lessons that are personalized to their learning level based on their MAP assessment scores. Students can earn ribbons in the program for completing lessons and raising their grades in school. This is a great way to challenge your children on their own level, while making the learning fun and engaging! Just a reminder that our last day of school prior to Winter Break is Friday, December 21st . Schools will be closed on December 22nd and will reopen for students on Tuesday, January 8th. While this is a time for fun and family, please encourage your child to keep learning by using this great learning tool, as well as Iready and Myon!

I wish all of you a Happy Holiday season, and hope you all enjoy time with your families.

Parent Online Survey

Please take a minute to take the district's online survey. Provide Ponce de Leon staff with your input and help us make decisions. We need 106 surveys to be completed by December 14th. We appreciate your support!

Click here for the link to the survey:


Who are our Safety Patrols?

Safety Patrols are 5th grade students who have been chosen to help maintain campus safety. A Safety Patrol is a role model to all students at Ponce de Leon. A patrol must maintain an average grade of C or higher in every subject and have behavior grades of E or V. Safety patrols can be recognized by their uniform, which they wear all day. A patrol’s uniform consists of a patrol belt, the badge pinned to the shoulder strap of the belt at chest level, ID card and a bright yellow T-shirt. Safety patrols participate in monthly meetings where Awards of Merit are given and successes celebrated. Patrols help by volunteering at school during events such as the Fall Festival, chorus concert, back to school nights and other special daytime events.

Golden Shield of Merit Award Winners

The Golden Shield of Merit is awarded to patrols who have shown a devotion to duty, consistent progress in academics and initiative.

September Award Winners:

Alan E.

Katelyn I.

Julian C.

Marvin H.


Damien T.

Zaciah M.

Daniele T.

Michael M.

Cortez' Counseling Corner

Helping Children Cope with “Big Feelings”

Children can have the same “big feelings” that adults do. The difference for adults, though, is that we have more life experiences to know how to deal with difficult emotions. The simplest problems or fears that seem easily conquered for adults, may be difficult for children to understand and act on appropriately. Therefore, when our children feel anger, fear, anxiety, or other strong emotions, they need our help to learn how to cope. Our school counselor is available to help address these needs at school, however caregivers can have a huge influence by teaching and modeling these skills at home. The following information can help you do just that!

Start by naming the feeling(s) Help your child figure out which feeling they are having or were having. Just like learning to read or solving a math problem, children need to practice putting words to their feelings. Putting a name to it can help validate their experience. Having a feelings visual (easily found online) or reading children’s books about feelings can be helpful to identify their own feeling.

Normalize the feeling(s) It can be confusing for a child whose feelings take over and lead to behaviors they may not usually have. It is not helpful to tell a child to, “stop, being angry” or “don’t worry about it”. Explain that all people have these feelings sometimes, and we all must learn how to manage them.

Talk about the brain Our brains and our bodies are connected, and our brains send out signals when we experience certain “big feelings.” Explain that we have a part of our brain (thinking brain) that’s in charge of making decisions, thinking things through, and managing our emotions. Explain that another part of our brain (emotional brain) oversees important functions like breathing, digesting food, and manages big feelings like anger or anxiety; this part of our brain also reacts to any threats, and can make us feel like we need to run (flight), fight back, or freeze. Sometimes this part of our brain overreacts, and we need to try strategies to calm it down. If you would like resources on helpful strategies please contact Mrs. Cortez- School Counselor.

Practice self-regulation skills When children are calm, their thinking brain is on, and this is the best time to come up with a plan for when their emotional brain tries to take over. Encourage taking a break (not a timeout), deep breathing, releasing angry energy by exercising, and relaxation strategies such as progressive muscle relaxation, coloring, calm down jars, music, etc. Practice these repeatedly when they are calm. Helping your child begin to recognize their body’s early signs of a big feeling (heart racing, clenched jaw, etc.) can help them learn when to employ their self-regulation skills.

Information adapted from: TheSchoolCounselorKind.wordpress.com

Attend School Every Day, On Time!

As you know, starting in Kindergarten, attendance is extremely important. Not only does good attendance help keep your child on a regular routine, minimizing behavioral issues, it is the number one thing you can do to help them succeed in their academic career!

Research shows that good attendance directly affects a child’s likelihood of graduating high school, so it’s incredibly important to start building that foundation today.

This includes being to school on time! At Ponce de Leon, we regularly have 20-30 scholars coming in late each day. If your child is late, she or he is missing out on important reading or math instruction. Our incredibly hard working teachers begin their teaching right at 8:45am, which means that all students should be in their classroom when the bell rings at 8:45am.

Late students also have a harder time transitioning into the learning environment, as they are having to “catch-up” and this disrupts the learning of the entire class.

You may be thinking, “But they’re only a few minutes late!” Those minutes add up; being 10 minutes late a few times a month can result in over 300 minutes of lost instructional time per school year.

Our scholars who are dining with us for breakfast can be dropped off as early as 8:15am. This gives them plenty of time to eat breakfast and get to class, ready to start their day. If scholars are not eating breakfast at school, they should be dropped off by 8:30am to have enough time to get to their classrooms without rushing.

Please help us achieve our goal to make all scholars a success at Ponce by ensuring your child is at school every day, on-time. Scholars should only be kept home if they have a contagious illness, a fever, or are vomiting. If your child is experiencing an illness severe enough for them to stay home, please call our office to report their absence, or you can report their absence through our school website https://www.pcsb.org/ponce-es, by clicking on the “Report Student Absence” icon in the upper right hand corner of the main page.

If your family is experiencing an event or situation that affects your child’s attendance, please give us a call so that we can provide support.

Thank you!

Courtney Klingman, MSW

School Social Worker

Ponce de Leon Elementary

Fifth Grade Information

Fifth grade students have been working on division strategies and have already come a long way! In science, students have been having fun building electrical circuits during science lab time. Ponce’s fifth graders have been reading and writing about some old classics as well as social studies topics. Remember to keep reading at home. And if your child has a county laptop, they should be accessing programs like IReady and MyON for reading at home every day!

Ponce Family Math Night at Publix


This fun filled night includes a scavenger hunt, samples, goodie bag and more!

Mark your calendars now for Thursday, January 17, 2019 from 5:00-7:00 pm at the Highland/Belleair Publix!

More information coming….

STEM club

Ponce is proud to offer two STEM clubs this year...a 3rd grade club and 4th and 5th grade club.

These activities were implemented during the first two weeks of 3rd grade STEM with a focus on teamwork and learning about the purpose/mission of STEM with a strong focus on engineering. We are now beginning to explore hydraulic systems and will be constructing some models over the next few weeks.