The Tiger Times

The Thomas Jefferson Elementary Parent Newsletter

September 13, 2019

Another Opening, Another Show!

We hope that the opening two weeks of the school year have left your child excited about his/her year and have left you feeling proud that your child attends TJ. For us, we feel extremely proud and gratified about the start we have had to the school year. Kids have been tremendous, already settling into their daily work with attention and effort. The staff has worked incredibly hard to ensure that each classroom is not merely a "class," but rather, a growing community. And you, our parent partners, have already been valued collaborators in the hopes we share: to provide your students a world-caliber education and to make them feel like coming to school is a bright part of their day.

Chalk Dust: Notes From the Principal's Desk

One of my favorite stories of my time at TJ happened a year or so ago. An incredibly good parent with an incredibly awesome child happened to be running a little behind one morning. Thus, the child was slightly late to school. As some of you know, we have a sign-in sheet for kids who are running a little late, asking them to jot down the time they arrived (or left early) and the reason for their late arrival or early departure. After an incredibly hectic morning, the parent wrote down a reason that is infinitely understandable:

"Life be crazy."

We have all been there...:)

All jokes aside, the reality is that life can get crazy for most of us, including our kids. This is one of many reasons why it is critically important that our classrooms be places of calm and assurance for our students. While we have curriculum and instruction and achievement to work on, we are, first and foremost, a people business. If we don't get the people right, the rest probably isn't going to matter all that much.

To that end, this year, TJ has worked on creating "Morning Meetings" in many of our classrooms. A "morning meeting" is a part of a larger practice known as Responsive Classrooms, but in this case, the morning meeting is a very specific time, usually near the beginning of the day, in which kids will gather as a class and have some type of sharing time. Perhaps they simply tell one another about their weekends, or perhaps they play a game together organized by the teacher, or perhaps they share something about themselves. Generally done with kids sitting on the floor or in a circle, it is a time of togetherness and community.

"Morning Meetings" are one of our attempts to create an atmosphere of family and community. the early results have been incredibly promising, with our kids reporting that they genuinely enjoy the meeting time. Staff members Meagan Flajser, Jillian Johnston, and Sarah Mihm led a training for our staff on September 4 on morning meetings, and in the following days, more teachers reported giving "Morning Meetings" a try.

Indeed, life be crazy sometimes...:) Our hope is that for your children, morning meetings make the day a little more calming and recognizable irrespective of how life is treating them at the moment.

TJ Back To School Night September 19

TJ invites parents to our annual "Back To School Night" on Thursday, September 19, 2019. This event offers parents a chance to hear a presentation from your student's teacher about the upcoming year, class procedures, expectations, and the like. The evening's schedule is as follows:

6:00-6:40, 3rd grade

6:15-7:30, Encore (in gym)

6:40-7:20, 4th grade

7:20-8:00, 5th grade

We hope to see you there!

Sign Up For Extracurricular Music Programs!

One of the highlights of TJ is our strong commitment to a robust music program. Check out for information about band, chorus, and other music-related information.

Strings Club Sign Up September 18

Students interested in participating in the TJ Strings Club are encouraged to attend the String Club registration on Wednesday, September 18 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Critical Decision Points For Families of Children With Disabilities

FCCPS is very pleased to present this program in collaboration with the Virginia Departmentof Education. The "Critical Decision Points for Families of Children with Disabilities" curriculum is designed to assist participants in understanding four things as they prepare to make decisions for their student who receives special education services. The key questions covered in the session are written below.

· What are some of the keys to a child’s academic success?

· What decisions will need to be made regarding a child’s educational path?

· At what point should we be making these decisions?

· What information is needed so that we can make the most well informed decisions possible for a child?

Friday, September 20 @ Falls Church City Community Center, or Saturday, September 21 @ Mt. Daniel Elementary School. This program is limited to 35 "face-to-face" sessions each day.

Those who are not able to join us at one of the "face to face" sessions, can also access the content via online training modules at the following link: I'm Determined - Parents - Critical Decision Points for Families of Children with Disabilities. There are a total of five modules that range in length from three minutes to five minutes, which can be completed in a single viewing or broken up over time to meet individual time constraints. They are self-paced learning modules and available to all. The curriculum for these modules are available in print and online. A fully accessible online version can be found at the web link: Virginia Department of Education’s Special Education - Parents Section.

Questions regarding FCCPS programs, contact Rebecca Sharp, Director of Special Education & Student Services (703)248-5630.

Questions regarding online module training, contact Mrs. Tracy Lee, Family Engagement Specialist or (804) 225-3492.

Register here

Keep Calm And Check Parent University

Did you know that FCCPS has a resource for parents that pulls together all of the parent education opportunities across the schools? Anything that helps parents get smarter about school and parenting is included in Parent University. It is accessible from each school's homepage.

It is in both English and Spanish, and includes:

1. A Parent University Calendar of all programs, accessible for PK-12 parents.

2. A Course Catalog with event descriptions

3. Parent resources on Talking with Your Children about Race

4. Links to all the school newsletters

5. A video archive of programs that you may have missed.

You can add the Parent University Calendar to your own google calendar. Add Parent University Calendar

Every Course Catalog listing has a Google Calendar link so that you can easily add specific events to your own calendar.

Helpful Parent Forms And Links

Wanting to get an upcoming absence excused? Wanting to make a transportation change for your student? Parents may be interested in taking a look at the TJ web site and specifically the parent link. At that site, you will find any number of helpful forms and information. Visit As a reminder, transportation changes can only be made for day care or child care purposes.
The Falls Church Elementary PTA is potent supporter of our schools, funding teacher grants, hosting community events like the Fall Carnival coming up on October 5, and countless others. We are deeply proud and grateful for their work. Learn more at

About TJ

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is a grade 3-5 school in Falls Church. Like all Falls Church City Public Schools, TJ is an IB school. Our students are the beneficiaries of the Primary Years Program, which focuses on thematic instruction, international mindedness, and the development of the whole child.