Friday, April 13, 2018

In Like a Lion!!!

The first few days after our winter vacation were very lamb-like as our K-1 class reported that March 1 was day 110 of our school year, but the next day showed us there is likely to be plenty of winter yet to come.  The result of all that March “in like a lion” activity created 3 more snow days and the postponement of the March Board meeting.  That being said, Mrs. Moran’s updated report for April 2 puts us at day 129, so we still got 19 days in despite the weather!

This report brings some very sad news. In January, our beloved Reading Specialist, Carol Dugan, became seriously ill and took some time off to recover.  On Wednesday, March 14 her son and daughter-in-law informed us that Carol’s condition had taken a turn for the worse and that she had passed away.  Through the help of Mrs. Knapp, Barnard’s former principal, and many others, we were able to connect with AEFI (Amesbury Education Foundation Inc.), which has set up a fund in Carol’s honor. A lovely tribute to Carol’s life was celebrated on Sunday, March 25.  She will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege to know, work with, or be taught by her.

Even before March, winter weather has had its effect on our Second Trimester scheduling with 3 of our 7 snow days, 2 unprecedented weather-related early release days, and 2 delayed openings, interrupting instruction in our classrooms.  In order to accommodate these distractions, the faculty decided to move the dates for closing grades to Wednesday, March 14 and send report cards home the following Wednesday, March 21.  This allowed for additional instruction and assessments in order to allow students to have the best opportunity to show what they have learned and provide more accurate feedback to parents.  Parent Conferences were held, as is the current model, during mid-terms at the end of January to provide early information to parents regarding progress, recognition for exemplary work, and areas for improvement.

As we approach spring, the Statewide Assessment System (SAS), the NH replacement for Smarter Balanced and Science NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) window runs March 13- June 8.  Grades 3-8 will be assessed in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics, and Grades 5 and 8 will also have Science testing.  This system promises to have a shorter turnaround with results and provide more accurate information regarding student learning, and eventually over the years, progress.  The program also allows for Benchmark and Interim testing so teachers can better predict student outcomes and use results to drive instruction.  We will begin testing during the second week of April and plan to have testing completed by our trip to the Red Sox on Wednesday, May 2!

We have had some staff changes during the mid-year. Sherry Jepson has joined our teaching staff as .6 Special Education teacher. Dawn Tobin also joined us in February as a long-term substitute filing in as reading specialist for Carol Dugan during her illness and passing. Dan Collins, one of our part-time custodians, continues to be experiencing extended illness and we have been fortunate to hire Bill Flynn as a temporary replacement. Welcome to our amazing staff, and thank you for helping out with these difficult additional needs and vacancies !!

Spring is also time for Field Trips and this year is no exception.  As long as I have been at Barnard School the staff and students have always raved about the incredible trip to see the Red Sox in 2010 (I found out the year from students in grade 8, who were in Kindergarten at the time!).  This year we have been able to arrange a repeat performance attending a 1:05 p.m. game on May 2 vs. the KC Royals! This is a special STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) day with exhibits, demonstrations and a special opportunity to get inside Fenway Park at 10 a.m. so we can participate in STEM activities and bring in lunches and drinks.  Regardless of the length of the game we will be leaving at 4 to beat the traffic and get the students home at a reasonable hour. There will be no cost to the students for admission and transportation due to the availability of funds in our Student Activity account.  Students in Grade K and 1 are able to be accompanied by a parent due to their age and the length of the day.  Additionally Grades K-3 are planning a trip to Strawbery Banke on April 26, and Grades 4-8 will be traveling to the Lowell National Historic Park on May 22. We are so looking forward to learning about our rich New England seacoast and manufacturing heritage. 

PTA continues to support us and Neal Nichols “The Geography Guy” was schedule to be joining us on March 14, but was rescheduled to April 11 due to inclement weather. For the day there will be several grade level specific performances, and we look forward to souvenirs of his visit to display in the school.  For more information visit: http://www.geographygameshow.com/.  PTA also plans to resume their after school activities like LEGO, games, 4-square and others as soon as weather and scheduling permits.  I again want to thank them for the opportunity to participate in the Ski and Snowboard program.


This is another short summary of what has been happening at Barnard School, and what our students and staff do in and out of the classrooms. There’s always more to see and hear about.  Please continue to visit our website, Twitter, Facebook, teacher, and principal pages.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

100th Day Celebration and Many Student Honors and Activities!

As dutifully reported by the K-1 class, Friday, January 26, was day 91, making it the (hard to believe) midpoint of our 182-day school year! This means that the all-important 100th DAY was shared with February’s Board Meeting and Deliberative Session on Thursday, February 8, weather permitting! As we complete these 2017-2018 milestones we have much to share.
Since we are midway through the year I have decided to devote this month’s blog to the students.  With clubs, athletics, and other school sponsored activities we have much to recognize.  You can find a partial listing on the left along with my Principal's Reports.  It names a number of students, some multiple times and by no means represents all we have going on.
I began the list with Honor Roll for the First Trimester.  Students in Grades 6-8 attain this distinction according to the following criteria:
      Highest Honors: All A’s in academics
        All outstanding in behaviors
   High Honors: A minimum of three A’s plus one B in academics
       All outstanding with the exception of one satisfactory in behaviors
      Honors: All A’s and B’s in academics
All outstanding or satisfactory in behaviors
Student Council is very active with spirit points activities and competitions, special food events like hotdogs, donuts, and soup, and fundraisers and collections of materials for the needy.  They meet weekly under the direction of Mrs. Orlando and Mrs. Moran.  
Weekly gatherings at “The Compass” have become an honored tradition here.  I have included an additional posting with a listing of all the recipients of Students of the Week and Month as reported on our Twitter Page.  Congratulations to all for their hard work!
Band and Chorus requires a major commitment and they practice weekly under the direction of Ms. Dozet.  They prepare for performances at our Holiday Concert and Celebration of Learning.
Additional recognition in the list is given to sports teams with Cross Country under Coach Casassa and Basketball under Coach Silver.  We look forward to sharing the roster of our Spring Track Team in the spring. These also require a major commitment with daily practices, games, and competitions.
Clubs are also major activities here at Barnard.  Mrs. Wright has started a Craft Club, which is very popular.  I have listed their participants.  Mrs. Pruett started a Basketball activity for lower grades this year. Other clubs are Art, by Ms. Lindsay, Chess, by Mrs. Leary and newly formed Debate by Mr. Szeliga.
PTA is a major contributor so student activity with my much appreciated Ski and Snowboard Club.  They also offer after school programs such as Yoga, karate, LEGO, 4-square, Backyard games, Baking, and they are planning a soccer after school program for the spring. 
Although it’s midwinter, the Bees are very busy, namely the Scripps National Spelling Bee January 11  and National Geographic Bee January 31. Spelling winners were Brielle Molin, Grade 6, 3rd Place, Lachlain Caulfield, Grade 8,  2nd Place, and Keira Andruskevich, Grade 5, Champion,  Geography winners were Keira Andruskevich, Grade 5, 3rd Place, Jake Powers, Grade 6, 2nd place, and Brendan Ballon, Champion.  Congratulations to all the finalists and winners for their hard work.
Early Release Friday, January 12, SHPD met with the staff to present ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) in order for us to be better informed of the latest techniques to address potential school intruders. Now that we have completed the initial training the staff is formulating a plan for how to move forward with what we have learned.  I will have more information as we proceed.
That’s a short summary of what’s been going on, what our students and staff do when not in the classrooms, and there’s always more to see and hear about.  Please continue to visit our website, Twitter, Facebook, teacher, and principal pages.  


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Welcome to 2018!

It’s a new year at Barnard School and Mrs. Moran’s Kindergarten and First Graders report that Tuesday, January 2, when we returned, was day 77 of our school year!  Despite the deep freeze, classes are underway and we are settling in to the midpoint of our second trimester.

December was an active month as always highlighted with a wonderfully attended and performed Holiday Concert.  There were performances by every grade level, band, and chorus followed by a whole school grand finale performance of Shalom Chaverim. Many thanks Ms. Dozet who put on another amazing presentation and to the entire staff for their support with preparations and helping supervise students in the stands on the night of the performance.  The evening included our annual very successful PTA Book Fair, PTA refreshments and an exciting drawing to support the Grade 8 trip to DC.  Many thanks to all who attended to support the students, band, chorus, and Grade 8!

In addition to the concert there were other annual community events with Santa’s Breakfast on December 9 and Santa’s Big Ride, which was postponed to December 23 due to the weather. Student Council sponsored Pajama Day in all grades with a K-5 showing of “Prancer.”  We celebrated the last day before vacation with our “Students of the Week and Month” recognitions followed by a staff Ugly Sweater competition featuring Mr. Szeliga as the overwhelming student favorite.

NHDOE Commissioner Frank Edelblut visited SAU 21 on December 18, and he made his last stop here in South Hampton.  There was much going on in each of the classrooms and the Commissioner was very impressed by our individualization and commitment to rigorous learning and instruction.  We all know that our school is very special place and it was great to have that recognized by such a distinguished visitor.  We look forward to continuing to share our successes with the DOE and the Commissioner. 

Looking forward to January and beyond, our Basketball team is well into their season and will continue with games throughout January and perhaps beyond, depending on the weather. In the spring we look forward to a second successful Spring Track season.  The PTA Ski and Snowboard Program began another season on January 2 and we have the largest group of participants I have had the pleasure of skiing with in several years! 

Early Release Friday, January 12, SHPD will be meeting with the staff to present ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) in order for us to be better informed of the latest techniques to address potential school intruders.  At this point there is very little to share since we are just getting this information for the first time.  Once we have this initial communication session we anticipate that we will have more to present and look for guidance as we proceed.  There will be significant opportunities to seek administrative, board, and parent input as we move forward to provide for school safety in the current environment.  More info can be obtained at https://www.alicetraining.com/ and we will see what will be needed to adapt this program to our unique (as I said before) school and community.

During the remainder of the early release day we are sharing our impressions of shared readings of Breaking with Tradition (The Shift to Competency Based Learning in PLCS that Work) and Grading Exceptional and Struggling Learners.  The faculty has made a commitment to continue our study of Competency Based Learning and how it applies to our classrooms.


That’s a quick snapshot of what is happening here, MLK day is January 15, Progress Reports go home January 17, and second trimester Parent Conferences will be on Tuesday, January 30.  As always, please continue to visit our website, Twitter, Facebook, teacher, and principal pages, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

First Trimester, Holidays, and a New Year!

December 1 is day 61 (including our first weather cancellation on October 30) of our school year, meaning we have completed the first trimester here at Barnard School. Grades closed on November 21 and report cards were sent home November 29.  The Holiday Season brings performances and activities, while families recover from Thanksgiving feasts and prepare for our Holiday Break December 23-January 2.

November reminds us of our colonial heritage with the Thanksgiving Holiday, and Grades K-3 make it an annual tradition to visit that history in a live community presentation and a feast! After much practice and preparation with research to review the origins of the holiday, Grades K-3 entertained the school and several parents, younger siblings and other visitors with recitations, songs and displays of artwork on the morning of Tuesday, November 21. Following the presentation the students celebrated with a feast of turkey roll-ups, cranberry sauce, gluten free and regular corn bread, homemade applesauce, homemade butter (hand shaken), and individual pumpkin pies for dessert! Thank you parents for helping with preparations and a special thank you to Mrs. Pruett and Mrs. Moran for carrying on this important annual tradition!

I do speak frequently about the assessments we administer and how analysis of the results drives instruction, and as we approach midyear, there is real evidence of how it all comes together, particularly this year.  AIMSweb is a Pearson product we have used for years to assess Reading and Math skills and monitor progress in grades K-8. This year we have upgraded to aimswebPlus, a fully digital version of the assessment.  Pearson, the provider, defines their product as follows:  “aimswebPlus is a powerful and proven tool that informs instruction and improves student performance. Use its standards-aligned reading and math measures to screen and monitor progress for grades K-8.”  Courtney Peterson is participating in a yearlong online tutorial to fully understand how to best use this valuable tool and has committed to administer the product and share what she learns with the staff.  We have also added MAP Skills to our NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) assessment and they define their program as:  “a skills mastery and progress monitoring assessment that helps teachers drill down to the specific skills each student needs to learn. Use it between MAP Growth administrations to see exactly what struggling students are missing and advanced students are ready to take on—then adjust instruction in the moment and monitor student progress.”  Drew Szeliga has taken the lead with this new addition and has made the same commitment to work with Grades 3-8. Using these augmented assessments and the accompanying instructional enhancements will greatly help with our transition to a Competency Based model. Thank you Ms. Peterson, Mr. Szeliga and the entire staff for your commitment to these programs on behalf of our students!

Speaking of assessments, in late September, Spring 2017 Smarter Balanced Testing results were sent home for review.  This information allows us to access grades 3-8 student proficiency in Mathematics and English Language Arts, individually, and with the ability to compare scores within our population and statewide performance.  Not long after, we sent home NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) science results for last year’s students in grades 4 and 8 with similar proficiency and comparison data.  Smarter Balanced Testing and NECAP will be replaced in the spring of 2018 with a new program entitled “NH Statewide Assessment System.” On November 8 I attended a daylong workshop presentation to unveil these assessments, which will be administered for Grades 3-8 in English Language Arts and Math and Grades 5 and 8 in Science. One major improvement from previous tests is the availability of baseline and interim online assessments to allow students to practice and provide feedback to teachers in order to prepare students to perform at their best once the actual assessment is administered.  The tests are all online and adaptive, meaning the questions adjust to be more or less difficult as the students proceed, providing very accurate and valid results.  I will provide more information in future reports as it becomes available.

As reported previously, all grades are attending live performances at Epping’s Leddy Theatre.  On November 8, Grades K-3 attended Roald Dahl’s (I didn’t realize he was the author!) “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” In addition to attending the performance, classrooms spent time reviewing other versions of the play and other Dahl works.  On December 8, Grades 4-8 will see Dickens’ (I did know he was the author!) “ A Christmas Carol,” and classrooms will likewise see other versions and other works by this famous author.  In the spring we still have plans to go to Strawbery Banke and Lowell Mills with a whole school trip still in its planning stage with perhaps a trip to a major sporting event. 

December is our month for the annual Holiday Concert scheduled for December 12, weather permitting (yes it’s that time of year that we need to keep an eye on the weather!). PTA is planning their Book Fair for the same night and a couple days before. The annual Holiday Sale, also PTA sponsored, will be on December 7 and 8. Not soon after, we will be ready for Christmas and the break, which will bring us into a New Year!


That’s a short summary of what’s been going on and there’s always more to see and hear about.  Please continue to visit our website, Twitter, Facebook, teacher, and principal pages.  Best wishes on a joyous Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Parent Conferences, Volunteer Recognition, Field Trips, Staff Training, and a lot more!!!

As we enter the third month of the school year and the Holiday Season, Mrs. Moran’s Kindergarten and First Graders report that the month of November begins on day 41 of our very busy school year. Here a few highlights of what has been going on and what we have to look forward to.
Staff meetings are scheduled for the first 2 Wednesdays every month and the agendas include preparing for and reflecting on events like Open House and Parent Conferences, trainings, field trips, and addressing staff concerns.  Every meeting also has standing reports on District-wide Professional Development and Seacoast Education Association news. For the October 4 meeting we traveled to Seabrook Middle School for MLP (My Learning Plan, the software used to track professional development and staff evaluations) and again on November 1 for Title IX, Bullying, and Harassment training.  The purpose of joining other schools in these mandatory trainings is to ensure that the staff receives a consistent message throughout the SAU.  October was also a month for Inservice Trainings with our first session in house on October 6, and we invited Dr. Cadarette to present “Competency 101” with discussion and Q&A followed by additional work on MLP carried over from the previous training and development of individual goal setting around our commitment to learning all we can with regards to the competencies.  On October 27, our second Inservice is SAU-wide for a presentation by nationally recognized Lynn Lyons and “Managing Anxiety at School and Home.” The entire teaching staff and our educational associates are joining together to learn about this important issue.
Field trips are an important part of our learning program and we have been reviewing our plan for the year at staff meetings.  All classes will be attending live musical performances at the Leddy Center for the Performing Arts in Epping.  Grades K-5 will see Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka” on November 8 and Grades 6-8 will see Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” on December 8.  We are delighted to be able to offer these performances and look forward to extending out learning about the stories and authors in our classrooms.  Experiencing local history will also be included in late winter or early spring with trips to Strawbery Banke (yes that’s the correct spelling) for Grades K-3 and Lowell Mills for Grades 4-8.  Both locations have presentations, tours, and interactive exhibits that fit well into our Social Studies curriculum. We are still in the process of reviewing a whole school trip like recent excursions to the Museum of Science, Currier Museum, Fischer Cats Game, Isles of Shoals, and the Aquarium.  We are always open to suggestions from the community and will keep you posted as we consider our options and the best experience for our students. 
October 24 and 25 were our first round of Parent Conferences for all grades.  Depending on the grade level, 15 or 20-minute appointments were arranged and I’m please to report that 68 such meetings took place thanks largely to the efforts of Mrs. Jones, who not only took calls, but also reached out to parents.  This is a continuation of our mid-trimester plan in order to provide feedback before grades close.  Parents are reminded that teachers are available any time to discuss student concerns and additional time is available at a different date if the blocks seem to short.
Budget season has begun and classroom teachers have submitted their individual requests.  This is a thorough, detailed process of reviewing inventories and student population projections in order to predict needed instructional materials and supplies for the 2018-2019 school year.  The budgets are reviewed and combined with technology, maintenance, office, and other miscellaneous needs.  That information is combined with administrative requests for materials and personnel for review by the SAU in preparation for presentation to the School Board.  We are on track to be on schedule for proceeding with this important responsibility. 
Volunteerism is alive and well here at Barnard school and throughout the state as demonstrated at the NH Partners in Education Celebration of Volunteers Breakfast in Concord on October 25.  Drs. Sullivan and Cadarette, along with all of the SAU 21 administrators and a number of volunteers joined over 250 attendees at this gala event.  Commissioner Edelblut was the keynote along with performances by PSU’s Dr. Trish Lindberg and the University’s internationally renowned, Emmy-winning, TIGER (Theatre Integrating Guidance Education & Responsibility) troupe. South Hampton’s PTA was awarded The Gold Circle Partnership Award, and Barnard School was again recognized with the Blue Ribbon Achievement Award on behalf of our army of selfless, dedicated, volunteers.  Continuing on the subject of volunteers, PTA, in partnership with South Hampton Recreation had another successful Fall Festival on Saturday, October 14.  This incredible community event included chili and soup, raffles of student artwork, music, and a bouncy obstacle course as a wonderfully entertaining and community building fundraiser to benefit student enrichment programming.  Thank you PTA also for providing cider and donuts during Parent Conferences.
Cross Country season came to an end with the Seacoast League Championship Meet on October 11 and Grade 5 Championship on October 18.  As I said earlier, this is the largest team we have ever fielded and we are so grateful to the athletes who represent us so well, the parents, grandparents, and siblings who cheer them on and especially Coach Casassa for her continued devotion to our kids.  Soon we will be looking forward to Basketball, stay tuned for more details.

That’s a short summary of what’s been going on and there’s always more to see and hear about.  Please continue to visit our website, Twitter, Facebook, teacher, and principal pages.  Best wishes on a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous Holiday Season!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fall Arrives and School is in Full Swing!!

With a month of school behind us, the staff and students are very much into their daily routines and the serious work of student learning here at school.  Although, as of the October Board Meeting, we will have completed only 25 days of school, there is always much to share.

During the final days of vacation and first days of classes, the teachers, teaching assistants, service providers, Mrs. Jones, Ms. Donabedian and I fine-tune the daily student and duty schedules.   These adjustments provide for the best delivery of academics, Related Arts, (Music, Art, PE, World Language, Health, and Technology), and services, along with providing coverage for our 4 recess periods and lunch. Even with these adjustments in place we are always aware that the schedules are a work in progress and adjustments are made for special events and assemblies, and early release and delayed opening days.

We continue to develop our knowledge of Competency Based Learning in NH. Jon Vander Els, Director of Innovation Projects at The NH Learning Initiative and keynote speaker spoke at our September 6 staff meeting.  Mrs. Pruett and Mrs. Wright attended “Transforming Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in New Hampshire: Preparing to Lead Your District in the next Stages of Your Competency Journey” on September 25 and 26 along with several others from SAU 21.  We will continue to keep you posted as we progress with our learning and planning in this important statewide initiative.

Smarter Balanced results from Spring 2017 testing in ELA (English Language Arts)/Literacy and Math were released to families by all schools in the District during the week of September 18-22. Included in the mailing was a letter of explanation and several pages with explanations to help interpret the results along with links to web sources.  The reports include a scaled score and level report from 1-4, with levels 3 and 4 representing students whose scores meet or exceed state standards. I’m please to announce that Barnard students in grades 3-8 scored 80% proficient or better (Level 3 or 4) in ELA/Literacy and 73% in Math. This compares to statewide score for 2015-2016 (latest statewide results not yet released) of 61% in ELA and 49% in Math.  Although this is only one measure and we use several to measure student progress, it’s reassuring to see how well our students do compared to a large sample.  Congrats to students and teachers for all your work to “show what you know!”  We will be using this information and many more other sources to drive instruction and provide valuable feedback to students and parents.

Continuing on the subject of testing, September is the month we develop baseline and growth data for students in Grades 2-8 with NWEA MAP (Northwest Educational Association Measures of Academic Progress) testing in Reading, Language Usage, Math, and Science (Grades 4-8).  These important tools help provide data for individualization of instruction and feedback to teachers and students on strengths and needs for improvement.  This is particularly helpful providing large group norms for our small school size.

Open House September 19 was another very successful evening despite the challenging weather, thanks to the remains of Hurricane Hugo.  We moved our PTA sponsored hotdog picnic indoors and served over 100 dogs and dozens of Cider Hill donuts! After dinner the teachers delivered presentation in packed classrooms and parents and students were able to see how well we are prepared for another school year.  Thank you PTA for refreshments and to our amazing classroom, special education, art, and music teachers and support staff for their efforts to welcome new and returning families and make this annual event such an overwhelming success!!!

Cross Country season has started and Coach Casassa has a record roster of 12 boys and 10 girls representing athletes from grades 5-8.  We have been competing in meets and the team can boast some impressive boy and girl finishes!  The highlight of the season so far is our second year of sponsoring a home meet hosted by Stateline Field and Stream Club.  Many thanks to Angela Racine, who coordinates for the Club, and Coach Casassa and Athletic Director Szeliga, and, of course, the Club and parent volunteers who make this important community building event a success!  We look forward to reporting more on the team as they progress through the season and on to the Championship Meet.

As we head for October, we will be having Early Release Days on Oct 6 and 27.  On Oct 6 several schools in the District will be working to improve our use of “My Learning Plan,” the program we use for goal setting, improvement of instruction, evaluation, and professional development. On Oct 27, there will be a District-wide presentation by Lynn Lyons with the following description:  “Lynn presents internationally to parents, therapists, teachers, and other helping professionals. Her programs and workshops offer solid information and strategies, including: Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: How to Interrupt the Worry Cycle Preventing Anxiety and Depression: Skills We Can (and Should!) Be Teaching Our Children Managing Anxiety in the Classroom: An Approach for Schools and Parents Effective 504 Plans: Action over Avoidance Trainings range from 2 hours to full or multi-day. Lynn frequently provides consultation and professional development to school districts, including guidance counselors, nurses, teachers, and support staff.  This should be very beneficial to our staff and administrators!

Lastly, we will be looking forward to the annual Fall Festival on Saturday October 14 and Parent-Teacher Conferences on Tuesday, October 24.  Welcome to Fall!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

On Your Mark, Here We Go!!!!

The school year began on Tuesday, August 29, with all students and staff ready for another great year of learning, growing, and fun!  We gathered at the “Compass” at mid-morning to join in the “Pledge,” introduce staff and welcome all present to the 2017-2018 Barnard School year.
I am pleased to report that the year began with 79 students enrolled as follows:

K
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
6
9
11
5
8
13
9
9

I have included information regarding new staff in this and other reports.  Thanks again to those who have helped with the important selection of our new staff members. 
The final days before students arrive are very busy ones for us.  New teachers throughout SAU 21 have 3 days of orientation, which began Monday, August 21. We spent Monday and Tuesday mornings in a presentation for over 25 new classroom teachers and a number of student teachers to familiarize them with District policies and initiatives, communication, professional development, and teacher evaluation. The morning of Thursday, August 24 was the District-wide kickoff presentation at WHS followed by a welcome luncheon here for our staff and meetings in the afternoon to discuss schedules, duties, and all the details that need to be addressed before the students arrive.  We met again on the following Monday morning to present information to the staff regarding the Competency Design Studio Conference attended by Mrs. Moran, Ms. Peterson, and myself, along with hundreds of educators from across NH and the US.  At the meeting the staff decided that they needed to be better informed about Competency Design before deciding how to proceed and inform the Board and Community. Jon Vander Els, Executive Director of the NH Learning Initiative and keynote speaker and co-organizer of the conference, will be attending our September 6 staff meeting and I will have more information for the October Board Meeting.
Now that school has begun, there are already plans for September activities.  Mrs. Dugan, Mrs. Laverty and other staff have planned our Summer Reading Celebration for the afternoon of Wednesday, September 13. Ms. Casassa will continue to coach our Cross Country Team and I will be resuming my responsibilities coordinating the DC Trip. Mr. Szeliga has elected to resume his responsibilities as Athletic Coordinator. Our annual Community Cookout and Open House will be held on Tuesday, September 19.
NWEA (Northwest Education Association) testing is scheduled to begin on the week of September 6.  We will test students in Grades 1-8 in Reading, Language Usage, and Math.  Students in upper grades will also be administered the Science test.  We will be reviewing these results and those from the spring Smarter Balanced Testing to drive instruction and address the individual strengths and need of our students.
There have been some minor improvements in our course offering to improve students learning and provide for the diverse needs of our students. WIN (What I Need) has replaced Skills, Study Periods and Project Based Learning in the upper grades.  These periods will allow for time to work with students who need services, those needing help with organization and deadlines, instrumental instruction, and enrichment for those who are up to date in their studies.  All grades 1-8 will have Tech class with Ms. Casassa.  Spanish will be offered twice weekly to Grades 7 and 8. We have introduced a Fitness Class in addition to Physical Education in Grades 6-8 to promote current and lifelong health and fitness and Mrs. Cestrone and Mrs. Hayes (formerly Ms. Duford, congratulations) will be co-teaching Health separately to Grades 6 and 7-8. Lower grades will be self-contained, as before, with times in Grades 4-5 for Math and Science co-teaching by Mr. Szeliga and Mrs. Cestrone, respectively, and other times are scheduled for Mrs. Dugan, our Reading Specialist, in Grades K-5. Lastly a schedule for Science Lab use has been developed for K-3 classes.
Here’s to a successful 2017-2018.  I continue to thank the South Hampton Community and specifically the Barnard students, parents, and staff for their kind friendship and support.  As always I am always available for any questions or concerns.