WORDS TO THE WISE

September 2016

Greetings

Welcome back! It was a great summer as we watched the completion of the new WES! We are now in the new building and six hundred twenty-six smiling faces are enjoying their new classrooms. The building is much larger and the appropriate offices, classrooms, and open space prove to be an absolute plus. We enjoyed a most successful opening thanks to the cooperation of all students, parents, and staff. The students did a fine job transitioning to their new grade levels and teachers worked diligently to unpack, set up classrooms, organize supplies, and get to know new classmates. What a great start…with air conditioning!


In addition to extending a “Welcome!” to our new families, please be sure to welcome eight new faculty members to WES. Staff new to WES includes Ms. Jessica Jacques, CLS kindergarten, Ms. Amy Beauchamp, CLS kindergarten, Ms. Brandy Schappell, grade five, Mr. Eric Malecki, physical education, Ms. Katie Kessinger, reading specialist, Ms. Rachelle Horn, ESOL, Ms. Elianna King, speech & language pathologist, and Ms. Azra Tasneem, pre-k assistant. These faculty members are great additions to WES staff and community! We continue the hiring process to identify and hire a special education teacher for two and one half days a week.


Westowne Elementary has enjoyed much success over the years due to the talented teaching staff, motivated students, and supportive families. I encourage all members of the school community to support the PTA by becoming a member, participating in the many school and evening events planned for the 2016-2017 school year, and supporting the PTA fundraisers scheduled throughout the year. We currently have 195 members registered, surpassing the 187 memberships during the 2015-2016 school year. Let’s shoot for 230 memberships this school year? We certainly appreciate the many hours our PTA volunteers give for the benefit of the WES students.


In closing, Ms. McBride and I look forward to working with all students, parents, and families to ensure that your child has a very successful school year. We encourage you to become involved as we strive to provide the best educational experience possible in a safe and nurturing environment.

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Grading

In 2014, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) established a grading and reporting committee to review and update Policy 5210 – Factors Involved in Student Evaluation. The grading and reporting committee began their work by collecting and reading the most recent and relevant research which included books, articles, and current available research. The committee, comprised of parents, teachers, and administrators reviewed grading and reporting practices from across the state and the nation. Based on the information gathered, the committee determined the policy needed to be rewritten to reflect more current research-based practices to better align your child’s grades with his/her achievement of grade-level standards.

To that end, the new Board of Education Policy 5210 Grading and Reporting was approved in June of 2015 for full implementation beginning August, 2016. A copy of the new Policy and Rule 5210 are available on the BCPS Web site accessing the following links: http://www.bcps.org/system/policies_rules/policies/5000Series/POL5210a.pdf and http://www.bcps.org/system/policies_rules/rules/5000Series/RULE5210a.pdf.

As outlined in the new policy, starting this school year all student grades will align to identified course or grade-level standards and be based on a “body of evidence.” A body of evidence is simply the information a teacher collects to determine a student’s level of performance. In addition to making sure all grades are based on evidence aligned to standards, (BCPS) wants to ensure that the purpose for assigning grades is clear and consistent across all schools. To do this, BCPS established that the primary purpose for determining marking period grades is to accurately communicate a student’s level of achievement in relation to the course expectations at a given point in time.

The school system commits to providing equitable, accurate, specific, and timely information regarding student progress towards course expectations which includes feedback to you and your child in order to guide next steps and indicate areas growth areas.


To promote alignment to research-based practices and stakeholder input, the committee oversaw the creation of a procedures manual, which is broken down into six guiding practices:

  1. Grading practices must be supportive of student learning.

  2. Marking-period grades will be based solely on achievement of course of grade-level standards.

  3. Students will have multiple opportunities to demonstrate proficiency.

  4. Grades will be based on a body of evidence aligned to standards.

  5. A consistent grading scale will be used to score assignments and assessments.

  6. Accommodations and modifications will be provided for exceptional learners.


    At the end of each section, a chart summarizes the “recommended” and “not recommended” grading practices.

    In the second half of the manual, you will see a section called Reporting, Grade Calculation, and Codes. This section of the manual brings together important information about grading codes, calculations, and procedures into one location.

    The 2016–2017 Grading and Reporting Procedures Manual can be downloaded from the BCPS Grading and Reporting Web site. The Web site also includes sections on Research, Rational, and Frequently Asked Questions.

    As we begin the school year, you and your child will be receiving additional information about the new grading procedures. We encourage you to visit the Grading and Reporting Web site, ask questions, and provide feedback. We also strongly encourage you to attend Back-to-School Night where you will have the opportunity to attend an overview session on grading and reporting as well as receive more specific information from your child’s teachers.


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Arrival/Dismissal Reminders

The school building will open to students at 9:00 a.m. and the late bell rings at 9:15 a.m. At that time, all students are to be seated in their classroom and ready for morning announcements. If your student is late, he/she MUST be escorted by a parent to the school office (please bring your I.D.). The parent will be asked to sign in the student and complete a late pass. Dismissal will be at 3:40 p.m. for walkers and car riders and 3:45 p.m. for bus riders. All walkers will enter the building and be dismissed from the main school entrance. All students who are car riders will exit their classrooms when called and report to the Library Courtyard Door to line up for dismissal. These students will then be escorted outside to Car Riders Drop Off/Pick-Up by staff members. Students will be released to his/her car after the car pulls forward and comes to a complete stop. Drivers in the carpool line may not park or leave their cars in the line. Please do not meet your child at a different location. In the spirit of safety, car riders will not be dismissed from any other door of the building. Car riders who are not picked up from school by 4:00 p.m. will go directly to the office, and we will begin calling emergency pick-up numbers. For additional information about car rider procedures, please see the Westowne Elementary Parent/Student Handbook, student planners, and/or website. Please be considerate of staff members supervising car riders and understand that the enforcement of this policy is to ensure the safety of our children. For those who must carpool, please see the enclosed memo regarding Car Rider Arrival and Dismissal Procedures and the Car Rider Identification documents.


To alleviate lengthy carpool lines, students being late for school, and to support our Maryland Green School initiative, we urge parents to utilize the provided bus transportation for students. It is helpful if all eligible students ride the bus, especially during the first few weeks of school, in order to help the drivers become familiar with bus stops and students, and develop a consistent, timely route more quickly.


PLEASE, for the safety of the children, NO CARS MAY ENTER THE BUS LOOP DURING STUDENT ARRIVAL AND DISMISSAL. Please be considerate of staff members supervising bus duty and understand that the enforcement of this policy is to ensure the safety of our children. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter. These procedures have been developed to alleviate congestion and promote a safe and organized arrival and dismissal. We appreciate your understanding.

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Sidewalks/Crosswalks

We are in the process of moving the crosswalk on Harlem lane from the current location (Bus Loop Intersection) to a new location further down Harlem lane and closer to the main entrance/exit of the school. The new curb cuts and crosswalk should be completed by September 14th. We will begin using the crosswalk as soon as it is painted. Once this crosswalk is in use, we ask all walkers to cross legally at the crosswalk. Do not cross the Harlem Lane at the Bus Loop entrance and/or cross the bus loop. Please utilize the sidewalks on the perimeter of the bus loop to the main entrance of the building. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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DRILLS

Emergency Drill Procedures

During the school year, students and staff members practice a series of emergency drills to ensure the safety of our WES students. These drills include monthly fire drills, two five-hundred foot evacuation drills, two lock down drills, and two severe weather drills. These drills are explained and practiced by the classroom teacher at the beginning of each school year in hopes that students understand how to perform during the drills in a safe and appropriate manner. Please see the drill explanations below so you are able to work with and explain each process to your student(s). Several of the ten fire drills are announced during the year, but many are not, allowing for evaluation of the building evacuation in a manner more consistent with a real emergency. The drill procedures provided below are in general terms and may have additional steps due to location of a classroom, student needs, etc. These drills/situations may be frightening for students, but are necessary to ensure student safety. Drills will not be announced to the public, but procedures will be practiced and explained by the classroom teachers prior to drills being completed.


Fire Drills and 500 Foot Evacuation Drills (for use when conditions are safer outside than inside):

  1. Alarm will sound indicating the need to evacuate the building.

  2. Students will line up to be escorted out of the building.

  3. Windows and doors will be closed.

  4. Students will exit the building following the classroom evacuation route. If this route is blocked, the teacher will indicate a secondary route for students to follow.

  5. Students will exit the building and form a line in a pre-determined location away from the building. During a 500 foot drill, student will move at least 500 feet away from the building.

  6. Students’ will stand silently, facing the building so they may hear or see others who may need assistance evacuating the building.

  7. Teachers will check for injuries and complete attendance and turn in the “Emergency Attendance Sheet” to an administrator.

  8. When all students are accounted for, the principal will call “all clear” and direct students and teachers to re-enter the building


Lock Down Drills:

  1. An announcement will be made over the intercom system stating, “Teachers, we are now in lockdown status.” If not a drill, 911 will be notified immediately.

  2. Students will be cleared from hallways and immediately report to the nearest available classroom.

  3. Students at recess will be directed to move immediately to an interior classroom unless deemed safer to remain outside.

  4. Students at lunch will be directed to move immediately to the nearest classroom unless deemed safer to lock down in the cafeteria.

  5. Teacher will close and lock all windows and doors.

  6. Teacher will turn off lights, close window blinds, and cover interior door windows.

  7. Students will be moved to an interior wall to position them away from the threat and to minimize visibility from windows and doors.

  8. Student will be directed to sit on the floor and remain silent until indicated otherwise.

  9. Teachers and faculty members will check for injuries, complete attendance, and utilize cell phones and/or two-way radios to communicate this information to the office. If possible, Teachers complete attendance and turn in the “Emergency Attendance Sheet” to an administrator. It is the principal’s responsibility to provide additional information to teachers.

  10. Teachers and student will ignore all bells and will not allow students to leave the classroom.

  11. Parents attempting to enter or exit the building during the Lockdown will be notified to remain in classrooms/office until lockdown is over.

  12. When all students are accounted for and the situation deemed safe, the principal will call “all clear” and direct students and teachers to return to instruction.


Severe Weather (Safe Area) Drills (For use in severe weather emergencies such as high winds and/or severe thunderstorms):

  1. An announcement will be made over the intercom system stating, “Teachers, we are now in severe weather status.”

  2. The office will monitor emergency alert broadcasts.

  3. Classroom teachers will close windows, doors, and blinds.

  4. Occupants of portable classrooms shall move to the main building to designated safe areas. (Special areas will move to the individual classroom they are working with and fifth grade classrooms will move to cafeteria or library.)

  5. Teachers will check for injuries, complete attendance and turn in the “Emergency Attendance Sheet” to an administrator. It is the principal’s responsibility to provide additional information to teachers.


If weather conditions worsen with extremely high winds, hail, and/or reports of tornado warnings are in the area of the school, the following will occur:

  1. An announcement will be made over the intercom system stating, “Teachers, we are now in severe weather status and will move to interior spaces.”

  2. Teachers will escort students into the hallways and have students take a seat against the wall.

  3. Students will sit silently with knees up and heads down, wrapping their arms around legs.

  4. If there is not enough time to leave the classroom, students will be directed to DROP, COVER, and HOLD. (This process is also for use in an earthquake or other imminent danger to the building or immediate surroundings)

    1. DROP to the floor, take cover under desk or nearby table, and face away from the windows.

    2. COVER your eyes by leaning your face against your arms.

    3. HOLD on to the desk or table legs and maintain present location/position.

  5. When the situation is deemed safe, the principal will call “all clear” and direct all teachers to account for and students.

    All Westowne Elementary staff members have received a Westowne Elementary School Emergency Plan and have been trained on all procedures related to this plan during the 2016-2017 teacher week.

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BOX TOPS

The winner of the summer Box Tops collection sheet raffle is Nick L. in Mrs. Rees's class. Congrats to Nick for being randomly chosen from 26 entries!

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Codes

If you are still in need of a codes for your student please contact the office
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Badges

Just a reminder that if your student has lost their ID there is a $5.00 charge to replace it. Please send the money into your students homeroom teacher.