Riverside Reporter

Riverside Elementary School News - 1/12/18

Principal's Message

Communication with our families is a high priority to me, and I am thrilled to inform you of exciting new updates to our electronic media. The district has launched a new website and within that is the new Riverside page. Some key features include a scrolling “news” section highlighting upcoming events and a calendar feature that connects our families to individual events as well as a monthly view of all things going on at Riverside! Another new feature is our “Virtual Backpack” (more below on that) which will store all the paper flyers that we send home. We are maintaining the newsletter both as a weekly message to our families as well as a feature of our webpage, but the format has been updated to a much more interactive and dynamic platform. We are also committed to having the newsletter, paper flyers and webpage work together so that families can put their finger on needed information in a variety of forms. A special thanks to our Technology Specialist and to our secretary, Renatta Derkacs, for keeping these forms of communication current, accurate, and in sync with one another. Your feedback is always welcome, and we continue to work towards the best communication possible! To view our Calendar of Events, please click on the button below.

Virtual Backpack on Riverside's Webpage

A new and important feature of the Riverside Elementary School webpage is the Virtual Backpack section. The Virtual Backpack will contain important information including forms/letters, flyers and notices that every parent/guardian can access at anytime. The button below will link you to our Virtual Backpack on our website! January's Lunch Menu is posted in our Virtual Backpack!

School Closed - Monday, January 15th!

In observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Riverside Elementary School will be closed on Monday, January 15th.

1000 Acts of Kindness

Two fourth graders are doing a 1000 Acts of Kindness project with the school in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and inspired by Kristina Buskirk@kirstinatoddlerapproved. Each classroom will receive cut out hearts. If someone is kind to another student, he or she will ask their teacher for a heart or get one from the folder by the kindness tree in the main lobby and write down what the person did that was kind. Then, they will place it in a collection bucket located in the front lobby, kindergarten hall or outside the child study team office.

This project will begin on Tuesday, January 16th and end on Wednesday, February 14th. That means we have about a month to complete this challenge!

Kindergarten/PreKindergarten Registration

Registration information and access to Registration Gateway is posted on the district webpage. You must register your child online. If you do not have access to a computer, computers will be provided at Riverside Elementary School on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, February 6th, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, February 7th, 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, February 8th, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Please note that children registering for Kindergarten must be 5 years old by October 1, 2018, and children registering for PreKindergarten must be 4 years old by October 1, 2018.

Guidance Counselor's Corner

The ability to problem solve with peers is one of the most import skills children can learn at a young age. Over the next few weeks, I will be visiting classrooms to do lessons on conflict resolution and problem solving. In Grades K-2, I will do several "building block" lessons on important skills such as self-control, listening and cooperation. In Grade 3, we will begin a five week unit on conflict resolution skills such as cooling off, using I-messages and brainstorming solutions. In Grades 4 and 5, we will build off of the skills we've learned in previous years, with an eight week program designed to spend multiple weeks on each conflict resolution skill.

Over the course of our lessons in the upper grades, we will discuss solving problems, conflicts with friends and how to solve these issues in a productive and safe way. For example, we will discuss the difference between bullying and normal conflict and will review valuable skills for cooling off when angry (deep breathing, getting a drink, taking a break, talking to an adult, etc.).

We will spend varying amounts of time in each grade talking about I-Messages. As you may know, when we use an I-Message, we try to let the person know how we feel without blaming or antagonizing them. For example, normally, in the heat of the moment, we might say something like “You’re so mean! You always leave me out of the game!” This immediately puts the person we’re trying to talk to on the defensive. Rather than approaching an issue in that way, we want to try to let the person know our feelings. “I’ve felt really left out these past few days, and I would like to play in the game.” While I try to help the students understand that this strategy is still not 100% guaranteed to work, this route is more likely to trigger empathy and understanding from the other side, leading to an increased chance that the conflict will be resolved. In the lower grades, we will only briefly touch on I-Messages. In those grades, students will simply be encouraged to share their own feelings in a respectful way. As we move to the upper grades, we will begin to stress "I-Messages" more specifically. This is a very difficult skill that takes a lot of practice, even for adults.

In the upper grades, we'll also discuss a six step model for solving conflicts. We review this every winter, beginning in third grade:

  1. Cool off (Don’t try to solve a problem while angry.)
  2. I-Message (Let the person know your feelings rather than yelling at or blaming them.)
  3. Say Back (After receiving an I-Message, let the person know you understand what they’re saying by acknowledging their I-Message and repeating or paraphrasing what they’ve told you.)
  4. Take Responsibility (Both sides take responsibility for their role in the issue.)
  5. Brainstorm Solutions (If necessary.)
  6. Affirm, Forgive or Thank (End the conflict on a positive note.)

These are important life skills that need constant practice. Even as an adult, I find myself referring back to this model when I feel like I’m not doing my part to solve a problem in a positive way. By teaching these skills at an early age, and with your help, we’ll set our children up for success as teenagers and adults. If you have any questions about these lessons, or if you want more information, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Raising a Resilient Child

Parents/Guardians are invited to join us on Friday, February 23rd at 9am in the cafeteria for a discussion on "Raising a Resilient Child." Leading the discussion will be Ben Samara, Guidance Counselor at Riverside and Kristina Donovan, Princeton Public Schools Guidance Supervisor. Parents of kindergarten through fifth grade students are welcome to attend! We look forward to seeing you there!

Nurse's Bulletin

Happy 2018! As we return to school, our students are busy discussing and making health goals. Please have a conversation with your child about ways they can take care of their physical, social, or emotional health. Teaching a child to take ownership of one’s health is best supported by the family during the developmental years. I encourage you to have them ask questions when interacting with health care professionals, to try a new food, and learn how to prepare their meals. The list of activities that support a health goal are endless. Here’s to a Healthy and Happy 2018, enjoy!


Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!


Thank you to Kathleen Kraft, Amanda Slater and Fabi Pineda for agreeing to lead the Pancake Breakfast event on Saturday, February 10th. Thank you to Shana Elga, Danielle Bahr, and Joy McPartland for agreeing to lead the Author’s Night on Wednesday, February 28th.

After School Clubs Team

A huge thank you to Anna Cianciara, Lara Winn and Mana Winters who have worked extremely hard to get the Winter 2018 After School Clubs session up and running. We have a great selection of clubs and many eager students ready to start clubs on January 22nd. Thank you to this team for running a smooth process and a job well done.

After School Clubs

After School Clubs start the week of Monday, January 22nd. Thank you to those who have already paid. If you are on a waitlist for a club, please keep an eye out next week for an email(s) indicating whether your child has moved from the waitlist into the club. All club dates are posted on the Riverside School Calendar!

Save the Date!

You are cordially invited to the following PTO events:

  • Pancake Breakfast - Saturday, February 10th
  • Raising a Resilient Child, Friday, February 23rd, 9am
  • Author's Night - Wednesday, February 28th


Princeton Education Foundation

Did you know that the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF) provides funding to our schools beyond the normal operating budget and solely for student-centered programs and improvements?

PEF channels funds back into our schools through its grant program. The PEF Grant program serves as a catalyst to support and enhance school and curriculum improvements, and professional development that heighten learning opportunities for students in the Princeton Public Schools.

With your support, the Princeton Education Foundation has been able to give students access to innovative programs, new technology, and facilities upgrades that are not funded within the school district’s limited budget. Specifically in the elementary schools, PEF has supported enhancements to the science curriculum and STEM instruction, improvements to school libraries, sponsored various author and expert visits to the schools, funded professional development, and has upgraded and added essential technology.

PEF greatly depends on the support of our Annual Appeal donors. The need for grant funding remains strong and is growing as the District continues to grow and budgets grow tighter every year.

Give today. Invest in tomorrow. Visit our website at www.pefnj.org.