Friday, January 17, 2014

Barnard School Welcomes the New Year!!!

It’s a new year at Barnard School and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint with an unexpected extension to our much-appreciated (and deserved) 12-day Christmas Break.  December was a very busy month here and there is much to report as always.

We began the month with an incredible Winter Concert to a packed house of parents, grandparents, siblings, (many of whom were Barnard Alumni), and community members, on Monday December 9.  Mrs. Wooten outdid herself with performances by all grade levels and our Middle School Band, along with multimedia presentations by her Technology Classes assisted by Mr. Asbell on the laptop and projector.  Congratulations to the students on their presentation and a big thank you to our amazing staff for their flexibility in scheduling rehearsals and giving up the evening to supervise students between performances.  The evening was capped off with our PTA providing refreshments so families could mingle and celebrate the Holiday Season.

Trashcanlid Productions’ Jeff Erwin and “Skip” Brunette (Mr. “B” on sabbatical) brought their “Sticks and Stones” anti-bullying artist-in-residence program to Barnard during the week preceding our Christmas Break.   Students in all grade levels spent hour-long sessions all week to discuss ways to transform our school into a bully-free zone reinforced by music, percussion, movement and multi-media performances of their own composition.  The week was culminated by an evening performance on Thursday December 19 to another full house and reflection activities on Friday before students were dismissed for break.  Many thanks to our PTA for sponsorship supplemented by community fundraising and contributions from staff in memory of our beloved Steve Murad.  The performance was dedicated to Steve’s memory and was attended by Heidi, Steve’s widow.  Thanks again for the PTA for another refreshment service complete with a cake congratulating the performers.  It was great to have Mr. Brunette share his yearlong quest with the students, staff, and Community.

Our own Mrs. Casassa presented at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in December.  The presentation was entitled “Integrating Technology to Differentiate and Engage.”  This is the second year that Sara has participated in the conference, and she also presented at the NHSTE (NH Society for Technology in Education) Conference last spring on the ways that she is integrating technology into the classroom.  She will be sharing a portion of the presentation with the School Board at this month’s meeting.

From Ms. Donabedian:
Mindplay Virtual Reading Coach Pilot:
The program is going strong but with just a few weeks left (end date of January 26) we are encouraging students and parents to take advantage of the ability to log on at home.  Participating in this pilot has been a way for teachers to pinpoint areas of strength and weakness in students' reading skills.  It has also helped teachers glean what areas of curriculum need more focus and what areas are targeted well. Mindplay has also been a vehicle in helping teachers and families collaborate to help children learn and progress. Once again, the time teachers and assistants are taking to make this work, the willingness of students to practice at home, and the support from parents with this endeavor is much appreciated.
Homework Club:
Homework Club started up in early December and is alive and well.  This federally funded program is led by Barnard School staff member, Joan Orlando and runs three afternoons a week.  Students are using the time effectively to complete homework assignments and receive help.  Some teachers who drop in to lend a hand in assisting students have supported Ms. Orlando.  This supportive environment is wonderful to experience for students and teachers.
***Parents, please keep in mind that teachers of all students are available after school for extra help with prior notice.
Parents of children from 3-5:
In the coming months, we will begin an annual process of screening pre-kindergarten students.   This will help make the transition to kindergarten smoother and identify any needs that may need to be addressed prior to kindergarten.  If you have any concerns about your prekindergarten child age 0 and up, please contact Aline Donabedian, Director of Special Education, who can guide you in the right direction. 

I am pleased to announce that we were able to secure REAP (Rural Education Action Program) grant funding for the 2013-2014 implementation of our new K-6 Envisions Math Program and some materials have already arrived and training will soon follow.  By taking advantage of end-of–year pricing we were able to save thousands and get going in implementation of this essential Common Core based Math Curriculum.  Kudos again to the staff for researching and piloting this program!

 That’s another snapshot of goings-on at our amazing school.  January begins with the PTA sponsored Ski Program on Tuesday afternoons and I’m looking forward to getting on the snow with the students.  It is also the time for midyear AIMSweb and NWEA testing for selected students.  Based on the data collected from these assessments staff will be able to better differentiate instruction based on student growth, strengths, and needs. As we approach the 100th day of school we are looking forward to spring with field trips and our annual Grade 8 trip to DC.  Happy New Year on behalf of the staff and myself.

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