March 17, 2011 December 18, 2009
Some of us have wondered if tomorrow would ever get here! All of the staff are ready for a break. I'm sure families are ready, as well. I know when my own children were in school, I enjoyed the time away from homework and the routine of school.
The weeks leading up to tomorrow have been jammed with one activity after another. I'm sure many of you attended the Science Fair this week. Students presented the results of their work, after having spent many weeks preparing their investigations and the presentation of their study.
Yesterday was the end of the second trimester, which meant that to celebrate our 6th, 7th and 8th graders had a dance. After the dance at the end of the first trimester, the students suggested we make some slight adjustments, which we honored. Judging from their comments and their participation, the students had a great time. In addition to the dance in the cafeteria, students also had basketball available in the gym and board games in one of our classrooms.
Mr. Streckert's eighth graders walked to the Hollywood Theater last week to watch documentaries they wrote and produced. All of the documentaries were submitted to CNN in a contest for students. I watched all of them and was impressed with the students' research, photography, editing and presentation skills. Each video contained one or more interviews with an individual, who was an authority on the subject of the documentary. This is the second year Mr. Streckert's students have produced these documentaries.
Speaking of our eighth graders, have you seen the magnificent mosaic they created with artist Mark Brody? As many of you know, it is my desire that each eighth grade class leaves the school a legacy gift of art before they leave us, and this one is a wonderful addition to our main hall on the Fernwood Campus. Please remember to view it the next time you are in the building.
If you are the parent of a middle schooler you know your student has an enrichment class every day. Our middle school students are publishing some memorable books in Mrs. O'Brien's Creative Design class and each of Mrs. Edler's journalism students is contributing to a school newspaper and a weekly news show, which can be viewed by going to our school's website and clicking on Mrs. Edler's staff page. We have some budding attorneys examining legal cases involving youth and "litigating" them in Mr. Streckert's Mock Trials enrichment class. Our band students are sounding better each day, under Mr. Anderson's direction, and Mrs. Hewig is helping her students understand the many influences that shape different styles of music in Music of the Heart and Soul. Mr. Gibson's students are developing an understanding and appreciation of the Asian culture through movement and art in his class, Art of the Human Form. Students in Mr. Short's Screenplay Writing class are learning how to write screen plays. Our students have reported that they are enjoying the offerings we have been able to give them this year.
I'd like to bring several students to your attention, who have been recognized for their knowledge of literature, poetry writing and geography. Ethan Ackerman, a seventh grader, has advanced to the State Geography Bee. Several of Tricia Barry's students were award winners in the State Poetry contest. Visit the second grade wing and read their award-winning poems.
I would be remiss if I didn't thank Christine Putnam and her auction co-chairs of Christine Ognall, Amy Hekker and Kate Dernbach one more time for their tireless efforts on the Beverly Benefit earlier this month. It was another expression of the generosity of our families, who raised funds that we will be able to apply to our staffing later in the spring.
Enjoy your spring break. We all need the time off to rest and rejuvenate because when we return it's one fast "race to the finish!"
December 18, 2009
Well, it has been a hectic week, not only because teachers and students have been working hard to finish last-minute projects, but because children (and teachers) are anxious for time they will be spending with family away from the pace that comes with school.
I hope you all had a chance to read the letter on our two Family Arts Nights that went home last week. We will welcome Rainbow Dance Company and Trashcan Joe to Beverly Cleary in January and February, respectively. I hope you will be able to enjoy one of these evenings with your family. There is no fee for the tickets, as we are using funds families and friends donated to our Run-for-the-Arts last spring. You can pick up your tickets in either of our two school offices.
This past Wednesday during our late opening, the staff was involved in professional development in writing, which is the focus of our School Improvement Plan this year. On Wednesday, we developed a plan for a morning of writing when we return from break. For a thirty minute period, our students will be writing, K-8, on the same topic. We will focus on the trait of "Ideas and Content" as we examine their work. We will look at expectations at each grade level for meeting benchmark criteria in that trait area using either the State Scoring Guide (3-8) or the Developmental Writing Scale (K-2). We will all be using the same writing process and developmentally appropriate prompt. We are anxious to see the students' work and to discuss our observations of their
Last Saturday a team of students, under the leadership of Martin Jetton won first place in the "Teamwork" category at a Lego Robotics competition held at Catlin Gabel School. We are proud of their efforts and thank Martin for his leadership.
I'd like to ask your assistance if you pick up children in the back of the school on the Fernwood campus. Please remember there is no stopping or parking once you enter the driveway. Cars have been stopping and/or parking in the drop off/pick up area, which has resulted in other drivers being unable to enter the driveway so they have been backed up on to Hancock. That, as well as cars parked illegally on the north side of Hancock have meant the school bus has, at times, been unable to get by. Please heed our pleas for safety and avoid stopping or parking in the back unless there is an empty designated parking space.
I also need your help on another matter. As you know, families and students are to wait outside until the bell rings unless it is raining. Last week, however, because of the "arctic blast" students were able to wait inside the foyers and the cafeteria on the Fernwood campus. We will continue to allow parents and students to wait inside in the foyers and cafeteria (BCF) on both campuses if it is raining or we get another blast of frigid temperatures. On days when it isn't freezing or raining, however, we ask everyone to wait outside on both campuses. The reason we have instituted this policy is because we do not have adequate supervision on either campus. When we need to let people wait in the foyers and cafeteria, we have to pull staff from other duties to supervise. Additionally on the Hollyrood campus it is difficult, if not impossible, for Kelly to hear on the phone when we have a group of people waiting inside on the Hollyrood campus.
At this time of year when we stop to reflect on the passing of one year and the beginning of a new one, may you and your family experience good health and happiness in 2010.
With unending thankfulness for all that you do for us,
October 31, 2009
By the time you read this, October will be pretty much over, which means in one more short month, the school year will be one-third complete. It is such a pleasure for me to be able to note the academic growth in our students even in the two months we've been in session. Our dedicated and hard working teaching and support staff have high expectations for our students' academic, behavioral and social emotional growth and students rise to those expectations in a variety of ways that make it easy for the observer to see.
One of the ways our staff facilitates the growth in our students is by improving their own practice through professional development at the building level and by taking classes on their own. As you may already know, the District has asked all schools to focus on the teaching of writing this year. Not unlike the majority of other schools in the District, Beverly Cleary's writing scores lag behind those in reading and math. To date, teachers have spent time individually and as grade level and content area teams developing curriculum maps, which lay out the teaching of writing for the year. At our Monday staff meetings and at the Wednesday late openings, we will be looking at the maps within and across grade levels to facilitate a K-8 plan for how we teach writing at Beverly Cleary. Teachers will be looking at commonalities in their maps across grade levels and aligning them with each other. Using the data from last winter's fourth and seventh grade Direct Writing Assessments, they have been analyzing data to determine a teaching focus for this year. Similarly, they will be scoring papers and discussing student work using writing generated, to date and in the second and third trimesters.
I always look forward to visiting with parents and hope you will join me at our first trimester "Coffee Chat" on November 10th on the Hollyrood campus and November 18th on the Fernwood campus. I will be talking about conferences and what you can expect from them.
As we approach what seems like the shortest month of the year, we find families taking vacations since there are so many days without school because of Veteran's Day, conferences and Thanksgiving. In the last Family Newsletter, we talked about our policy regarding homework requests during or after illness. Although we see an increase in the number of absences due to vacations in November with a corresponding increase in requests for homework, irrespective of the time of the year our homework policy states that teachers do not prepare homework for absences due to vacations.
Last week, we had an unfortunate incident of a student getting hurt on the playground after school. As you have undoubtedly noted in our Parent and Student Handbook, students K-5 must be released to an adult and 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are expected to go directly home after dismissal. The older students often think they can play first and then go home, but we expect them to go straight home since we have no supervision on the playground after school hours. Please remind your 6th-8th grade students of this safety rule.
Many of you have heard me say I am an advocate for the arts and that I desire to support their integration into their curriculum. Our third and fourth graders are currently learning songs for their musical productions that will be held in February and March. Both of these programs reinforce third graders' study of the history or Portland, and fourth graders' study of Oregon history. I can hardly wait to see them perform. Our 6th, 7th and 8th graders will have the opportunity to try out for parts in "Ramona Quimby" in December. Rehearsals will be held beginning later in December and will continue through January and February with a performance in late February. All three of these productions will require parent help, so I feel fortunate to have a parent community that will help bring the productions to fruition. If you have a student in these grades, I hope you will encourage him/her to try out for the play. I would also like to make you aware that we are able to offer these opportunities as well as a number of others, which we will point out as the year goes along, because of the success of our Run-For-The-Arts last spring.
Thank you for your ongoing support of the partnership we have with each other as we continue to relish in the wonderful experience your children are having at Beverly Cleary.