by Lucia Sullivan on 12/08/2016
It is hard to believe that 2016 is coming to an end already. As we prepare for the new calendar year, I’d like to reflect on the fall and look forward to the remainder of the year. These last days are very busy.
This fall I shared with the community that our goals this year were focused on the math program and social climate. I gave a brief survey and many of you responded. I have pasted pictures of the responses below. I asked on a scale of 1-5, how well do you think we are meeting the needs of your child as a math learner? And, on a scale of 1-5, how well are we doing at establishing a friendly and respectful school climate? The average scores were 4.06 and 4.4 respectively. On the math scale three respondents gave scores indicating they are not satisfied with the math instruction their children are receiving and because the survey was anonymous, I can only encourage you to contact me so that we can discuss your concerns.
As a school, we are working hard to assess students accurately so that we understand what they know and are able to do and then are able to place them in a math course that will best challenge or support them. In the older grades we are currently offering accelerated math instruction. In the younger grades we aim to differentiate instruction so that they are challenged with their peers. We also use an approach called RtI (Response to Intervention) to address knowledge gaps. Often students who have switched schools may have missed instruction in a key area that can hamper their later achievement. RtI is a regular education intervention, where we identify a need and provide extra instruction in key skills with the goal being that students are able to successfully resume grade level work with their peers. Typically an intervention lasts 6-8 weeks.
The January 12th CATSS meeting will be a parent discussion of a book or article related to Bullying. I am reading Bully Nation by Susan Eva Porter.
A few reminders:
1. Please do your best not to schedule routine appointments or high school visits/tours in the two weeks prior to a production. The teachers work incredibly hard to get robust productions completed in a very short window of time so as not to disrupt the regular academic program. Absences during performance rehearsals can cause significant stress for the whole group. If 8th graders are visiting potential future high schools, please let us know in advance.
2. We REALLY need your help with keeping your child paid up for lunch. Last year our Auditor was concerned about the number of unpaid lunches we had on the books. Currently more than 15% of the community owes money to the lunch program. I would strongly encourage you to purchase lunch cards in sets of two or three. When the lunch program runs a deficit this causes financial problems universally. One pattern I have observed is that a child will owe 5-10 lunches and then purchase a new lunch card. What is challenging is that the new lunch card winds up only being good for 10-15 lunches (since part of it absorbed a debt) and fills quickly… Lunch cards do carry over from year to year, so please, do everyone a favor and buy lunch cards in bulk.
3. Canyon is a small school community and relies on parents to volunteer. We are in the process of creating a more comprehensive sign up of all the many needs we have around the school. If you work full time and are unable to to volunteer during the school day, there are still lots of ways to help out. There will be a winter work day Saturday, January 28th. If you can’t do that, we can always find something for you (take the blankets in the office home and launder them, take a run to the dump or the goodwill, we could go on and on…). We will also need a group of parents Friday, February 17th who can help move furniture from classrooms to the multipurpose room so that the floors can be stripped and waxed.
4. Whenever possible, please do not send snacks that are individually wrapped. Children do their best to handle waste responsibly, but wrappers inevitably wind up in the grove and creek and this is not okay. The best way to reduce litter is to prevent so many wrappers from entering the campus.
5. Forts are ephemeral. They just don’t last. Of course we want to treat each other’s creations with respect. But please do frequently remind your child that forts are like sandcastles: fun to build and amazing when they last a while.
All classes are doing some sort of gift exchange before the holiday. As a parent, I never feel like I have enough reminders– so you are all reminded.
2016 has not been my favorite year and I welcome the change of the calendar. At the same time, I am truly shocked by the rate at which it has been moving along. I hope things slow down a bit over the next few months. Today at assembly the children talked about what they were looking forward to over break. You will be heartened to know that far and away the most common thing that kids were excited about was time with family. Whatever your winter break includes, time with friends and family; flurried activities; religious observance; travel; crafts, art and music… I wish you and your family a restful, peaceful time that refreshes you all.
And as always, I welcome your feedback. Please make a time to speak to me by phone or in person if you have thoughts to share.