The first full week of school is almost over. Earlier this week, the two elementary principals met with the parents that came out for the first Elementary PTA meeting. They discussed meeting new students, busing, making themselves more available to working parents, classes and changes to acceptable food served at school.
Meeting the New Students
“I want to welcome everybody back. I absolutely love working here. We had a very exciting week,” said Betsy Smith, Miller principal. “I’ve been in the classrooms and they’re happy. They’re doing very well.”
“I love the little ones. I’m really excited to work with them,” said Barbara Auriemma, Highview principal.
“At Miller, Dr. Smith and I tried to spend some time to get around to all the kindergartens and introduce ourselves to the kids,” said Assistant Principal Anne Chen. “We let them know what our job is in the building and let them know that we’re a familiar face. We want them to know that we’re not a stranger, but that we’re a helper at school.”
“Next week, we’ll have a little breakfast for our new students that are going into first or second grade,” added Chen. “It’s nice because they’re sitting with us, but are also sitting with other students who, like them, are new to the building. They can make new friends who are not necessarily in their class, but have something in common.”
“We had a good beginning. I know some of you and your kids had to withstand some of the snags of the bus routes the first couple of days. We were right there with you,” said Smith. “We were in the office trying to help out and straighten things out. I think things are running a lot better this week. I still hear a couple of things we know about and are working on. We take it very seriously and so does the district. We kind of uprooted everything after many years, but the children are great.”
Both principals announced that they will be available after school on the days of the Elementary PTA meetings.
“I’m going to try to make myself available as much as I can right before the PTA meetings,” said Smith. “I realize some of the parents are not around during the day and sometimes you have questions or concerns or you just want to talk. We can just have a chat or you can drop by and just say hi. We have a lot of working families, moms and dads working, and it’s tough during the day to get in and talk and get to know the principals.
I hope this will be a gradual transition. We will be reacting to government guidelines. It is coming.
This is not what your child brings in their lunch box or snack bag. The jurisdiction is when they’re sharing food for a celebration and of course the food service the school will be doing.”
Recent government nutritional guidelines have set limits to serving home-prepared foods in schools. These requirements are being reviewed by the district and will impact birthday parties and other classroom celebrations.
“The District and the Board of Education are going to set up meetings to discuss the changes by the government of guidelines toward food that is offered in school,” said Smith. “That’s not just the cafeteria. There will be limits on what we will be allowed to serve in the classroom to a group of children. Food cannot be home prepared. It has to be food in a box with a label with the nutrients on it and it has to have a certain amount of sugar on it.
“We have many families struggling with children that have food allergies, some of us just want to encourage our children to eat more healthy. There are weeks where we have a group of birthdays where the brownies, cupcakes and donuts come (frequently).”
“The teachers are very anxious to try to move away from a child’s birthday to be all about food,” added Smith. “We would love to have the celebration of their birthday to have some alternatives. I have been talking with my teachers since last spring. If you gave them a ring and said, ‘it’s my son or daughters birthday coming up, can you give me an alternative to food.’ They’d be happy to offer a suggestion they can help you with, such as making a book for a child.”
“Grade 3 has chorus now, what we call as a rotation, so your kids are getting an extra period a week called chorus with Elaine Royal and you’ll have a concert in January … during the school day,” said Auriemma. “Grade 4 has chorus in the spring.”
“Grade 4, what they have right now is what we call an EC rotation, or Enrichment Connection rotation and the Grade 3 students will have that in the spring,” said Auriemma. “An EC rotation is one period toward the end of the day once a week where your children are cycled into an additional music time, a character-ed time, a technology time or library time. There are four cycles to EC and they last 4-6 weeks.”
“Grade 4 starts EC this week and they have additional time to do exploring, reading, researching the internet, a lot of interesting things that they don’t have time for in the regular curriculum or to amplify what’s being done in the curriculum.”
“We’ve increased the time your children have Reading, or ELA (English Language Arts). In addition to the 90-minute block that they’ve always have, they have an additional 30-minute block that we call writer’s workshop,” said Auriemma. “During that time, they’ll be learning writing skills, grammar skills, learning how to research projects, which will be held by the technology teacher and librarian. They’ll also be learning keyboarding skills during that time.
“During the next eight weeks, you child will have one week of keyboarding and you’re going to see some homework come home. Really all our goals are for them is that they sit straight up in the chair and they use all their fingers. That’s what our expectations are at this grade level. You’ll get more information from your technology teacher.”