JW Killam Principal's Corner

Ms. Leveque's Weekly Newsletter

From the Desk of Ms. Leveque

Winter Play Ideas to Build Skills

Below are some great ideas to keep little hands busy during the cold winter months. These are a few suggestions from our district's occupational therapists:

1. Visual motor skills: Draw snowman faces on clean white ping pong balls. Use a straw to blow the snowman from one end of the table to another. Looking down the length of the straw to the ping pong ball and tracking it to blow it again is a great way to strengthen eye-hand coordination skills. It also builds ocular-motor strength (eye muscles need work too!!). Try the same task with a turkey baster instead of a straw. Aim the baster at the ping pong ball and squeeze hard. This builds hand strength and you still get eye tracking practice by keeping your eye on the snowman!!

2. MORE Visual motor fun: Gather 10-20 plastic drinking cups (i.e., the red Solo ® cup). Stack them up like a pyramid then use a soft ball to knock them down. You can “bowl” them down or practice tossing at a target by throwing your ball at the pyramid. Stacking the cups is a great way to practice spatial concepts by leaving the right amount of space between each cup at each level of the pyramid. It is also great practice for using just the right amount of pressure to add a cup without knocking down what you already built (sensory regulation).

3. Fine motor winter fun: Peel the label off an empty bottle. Stuff white cotton balls into the bottle until it’s filled. Glue on black circles (eyes), an orange triangle (nose) and more black circles (mouth) to make a snowman. If you fill several bottles, you can use them as bowling pins – roll a soft ball along the floor to see how many you can knock down. This makes for a great indoor activity on a snowy day.

4. Postural control, mid-line crossing and bilateral motor coordination skills: Make a “snowball” out of a sheet of white scrap paper by using both hands to crinkle and squish it into a ball shape. Use these to have some indoor snowball fun – toss them in a basket or even at each other!! When you’re done, use a kid sized shovel to scoop them up and dump them into a basket or box. This is great practice for when it’s time to shovel the real thing!


Ms. Leveque

Important Killam Dates

Monday, January 13th: Killam TRRFCC Time-- wear your class colors!

Friday, January 17th: 11 AM Dismissal for all students

Monday, January 20th: No School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Upcoming Changes in Lunch Protocol

January 2020

Dear Parents,

Happy New Year! Beginning Tuesday, January 21st, we will be updating our lunchtime protocol. The new arrangement is being introduced to protect students who are vulnerable to reactions from allergens contained in food products. Killam students have a variety of food allergies, not only to nuts, but to other ingredients as well. This arrangement will provide a greater measure of safety to all our students. Additionally, it will make us more in line with other schools in our district.

The new plan will not change the current table assignments; each class has three tables and will continue to use those tables. However, one of the three assigned tables will have a red dot on it. The red dot will indicate that the table is an allergen free table. Therefore, any student who has a known allergen will have a designated table at which they can sit without encountering foods that might contain their allergen. Other students may also sit at this table, provided their lunch is also allergen-free. The other two tables for each classroom will be considered ‘open tables’ where any student may sit.

Our cafeteria monitors will carry handwipes and will remind students who eat allergen containing foods to use a handwipe before returning to class. All other lunchtime procedures will stay the same. As always, our no food sharing rule will be observed.

Our school staff will be working as a community to support these changes. I will be speaking with the students about this change during their lunchtimes the week of January 13th. Please contact me if you have any concerns or any questions at Sharon.grottkau@reading.k12.ma.us.

Thank you,

Sharon Grottkau, BSN, RN

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Did you know school-aged children need 9-12 hours of sleep each night, but many children get only 7-8 hours of sleep, or even less. Studies have linked sleep deprivation with mood swings, inattention, reduced cognitive function, lower test scores, poor eating habits, obesity, and a drop in overall school performance (Cleveland Clinic, September 2019). Inadequate sleep leads to tired kids and tired parents. Many sleep deprived parents think these symptoms are normal, but they are quite unhealthy. To improve your child's sleep and overall health, encourage them to follow these tips:

The night before...

  • Aim for a bedtime that allows for 10-11 hours of sleep
  • Don't nap
  • Pick out clothes for school
  • Make breakfast/lunch so it's ready to go
  • Pack your school bag
  • Put your alarm across the room
  • Create a consistent and calming bedtime routine
  • Turn off screens 1 hour before bed - computers, phones, TV, etc.
  • Read, write in a journal, or listen to music for 15 minutes before trying to sleep

In the morning...

  • Don't snooze more than 5 minutes
  • Get lots of bright light every morning - open the shades
  • Eat breakfast
  • Don't sleep more than 45 minutes later on weekends/vacations. This resets your body clock and makes it harder to fall asleep at your usual bedtime.
  • Aim for at least 1 full hour of physical activity/exercise each day

Parents can set a good example by making sleep a priority for themselves. Sleep well!

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PTO Corner

New in 2019-20 - Pay PTO dues with Venmo at @KillamPTO!

Please be sure to include your child/family’s name in the notes when you submit your Venmo payment so we can credit the dues to the appropriate family.

Birch Meadow PTO Presents a Workshop

How to Look at Children's Books with an Eye Toward Equity and Anti-Bias

Presented by Paula Falvey, Librarian

Jan Rhein, Literacy Specialist

Julia Hendrix Principal

Are you wondering how to talk with your child about bias and stereotypes in children's books? Do you want to know more about how to select books that challenge bias and stereotypes and are still enjoyable to read? In this workshop, we will teach ways to examine bias in children's literature (both chapter books and picture books) and give you the chance to review books from our own library for bias and stereotyping. You'll leave with some tools to help you talk about bias and stereotyping with children.

Location: Birch Meadow School Library

Day and Time: Wednesday, January 15th at 6:30 p.m.

The graphic below gives you an idea of what diverse representations look like in children's literature in 2018.

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Reading Public Schools Budget Process Information

To learn information about the FY21 Superintendent's Recommended Budget, please click here.

The School Committee budget presentation schedule is as follows:

Monday, January 6th

  • Budget Overview
  • Financial Overview of FY21 Budget
  • Administration Cost Center
  • Districtwide (Health Services, Athletics, Extra-curricular, Technology Infrastructure) Cost Center
  • Overview of Facilities Department
  • School Facilities Cost Center
  • Town Core Facilities Budget
  • Capital Plan

Thursday, January 16th

  • Regular Day Cost Center
  • Special Education Cost Center

Thursday, January 23rd

  • Public Hearing on FY21 Budget
  • Special Revenue Funds
  • FY21 School Committee Budget Questions

Monday, January 27th

  • School Committee Vote on FY21 Budget

All meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Schettini Library at Reading Memorial High School. We encourage all members of the community to participate in this budget process and to attend the budget meetings. This year, we have made a conscious decision not to have specific budget liaisons assigned to the budget process. This decision is not based on the participation level of the dedicated budget liaisons that we have had over the years; rather the number of budget liaisons over the years has decreased. We will continue to update the community on a regular basis through our newsletters and blogs what transpires during each School Committee budget meeting and subsequent meetings throughout the winter/spring.

If you have any questions about the budget, please do not hesitate to contact Superintendent of Schools John Doherty at john.doherty@reading.k12.ma.us .

From the Office of Student Services

As a district our goal is to create program descriptions for our substantially separate special education programs and Learning Center support. These descriptions will serve as an ongoing reference aide for families and staff. The descriptions will be a transparent and welcoming look into programming options with the understanding that any program can adjust and revise its elements to respond to the ever changing needs of our students.

We welcome feedback from our Reading families, staff and the residents on our draft Program Descriptions. Our goal is to use your feedback, along with the work that has been completed with staff, to publish updated descriptions within the next few months. The surveys will be available through February 1, 2020.

There is a section of survey links available on the Reading Office of Student Services website at https://www.reading.k12.ma.us/departments/student-services/

Town-Wide Coming Together, 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration

The Human Relations Advisory Committee invites you to attend the Town Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The theme is “Coming Together.” There is no charge for this event. The breakfast donated by Freedom includes Gluten-free Doughnuts, Honey Dew Doughnuts, and waters donated by Reading Cooperative Bank. A performance focusing on the theme will begin at 10.

When: Monday, January 20th, 9:30 am (Breakfast), 10-11am (Performance)

Where: RMHS Performing Arts Center



Reading Coalition has a New Name

In January of 2020, the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse (RCASA) will be known as the Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support. The coalition, now funded under the Town of Reading within the Reading Police Department, offers programs and services, more suited to the new name. According to Bob LeLacheur, Town Manager, “Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support captures who we are today and what we are working towards not just with respect to substance abuse prevention but also mental health promotion”.

As the coalition rebrands, all initiatives will continue uninterrupted. “Rebranding to Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support enables us to connect with a wider audience, continue expanding our programs and services, and ultimately better position us to serve the community,” said Erica McNamara, Director of the Reading Coalition.

Need Help Putting Food on the Table

If you or someone you know is struggling to provide nutritious meals for the family, Project Bread can help. This is the only comprehensive statewide information and referral service in Massachusetts for people facing hunger. They can connect you to SNAP benefits and food resources in your local community, and help you navigate the application process. They also provide referrals to other programs such as WIC, school meals, housing, and utility assistance. For more information, call 1-800-645-8333 Monday through Friday, 8AM-7PM, and Saturday, 10AM-2PM.

Killam MCAS Dates

Below are the MCAS Testing Dates for 2020. Please consider these dates when making appointments or other plans that involve absence from school. These dates are also posted under the Students tab on the Killam website.
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Accessing Report Cards

This is a friendly reminder that as guardians, you can access your child's released report cards at any time! Login to your PlusPortal account and choose the eLocker tab on the top of the page. This will bring you to all official report cards that can be downloaded as a PDF and printed or saved from the luxury of your home.

2020-2021 Incoming Kindergarten Information

It was a great turnout for the Parent Information session. If you were unable to attend, the presentation can be found on the Killam website at https://www.reading.k12.ma.us/killam/. The presentation is under the "Parent" tab on the bottom of the homepage.


The SEPAC meets throughout the school year in the RMHS Library Media Center at 7:00 p.m. Please plan to attend on the following dates, or click here for additional information:

  • Tuesday, January 14th--

    The next business meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 14th, at 7:00 p.m., in the RMHS library media center. A representative from the FCSN (Federation for Children with Special Needs) is scheduled to present on the "Role of the SEPAC."

  • Tuesday, February 11th-- The next monthly meeting for SEPAC will be held on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, at 7:00 p.m., in the RMHS library media center. A representative from the FCSN (Federation for Children with Special Needs) is scheduled to put on a Basic Rights Presentation on "Understanding the IEP." The presentation offers valuable information for the parents of children receiving special education, and/or parents who think their child(ren) might be in need of receiving special education.

  • Tuesday, March 10th
  • Tuesday, April 14th
  • Tuesday, May 12th
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About These Services

The Town of Reading contracts with William James College to offer a special service for our residents. The William James INTERFACE Referral Service maintains a mental health and wellness referral help line Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm, at 888-244-6843 (toll free). This is a free, confidential referral service for individuals across the lifespan living in Reading. Callers are matched with licensed mental health providers from our extensive database. Each referral meets the location, insurance, and specialty needs of the caller. Click here to learn more!