Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer is a Busy Time at Barnard!

           The students and staff may have left for the summer but there continues to be much to report here at Barnard School.  The entire school is being scrubbed from stem to stern, Mr. Szeliga’s class is getting a new floor, and additional repairs, improvements, and installations are in the process in preparation for another school year.  The teachers are here periodically working in their classrooms and Mrs. Jones is busy ordering supplies and equipment, writing purchase orders, and sorting out deliveries of supplies and equipment. 
          As reported last month, testing is an important part of our year-end activities and grade 4 and 8 participated in the NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) science testing in May.  Students K-8 also completed the NWEA MAP (Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress) in Math, Reading, Language Usage, and Science.  The most significant part of this process is that it has been a few years since these tests were administered twice in one school year enabling teachers to compare student growth to “typical” growth in these nationally norm-referenced tests.  Since the results have been received the staff and I have been analyzing the significance of these measures.  I am pleased to announce that a number of students exceeded typical growth as evidenced by a margin of 17.6% in Math, 18.3% in Reading, 30.4% in Language Usage and an amazing 47.2% in Science!
            As promised, thanks to the efforts of Scheduling Team members Mr. Szeliga, Mrs. Casassa, and Mrs. Donabedian, a complete schedule was drafted and presented to Staff before they went home for summer vacation.  The schedule allows for instructional time at all grade levels, time for specials, daily planning time for teachers, and weekly team planning time. 
            June was a great month for fun events for students and staff.  Mrs. “D” and I enjoyed another wonderful week on our annual DC Trip with our 7 eighth graders.  This year we had a special treat seeing the Red Sox play at Camden Yards and enjoying a tour of the Capitol Building and Library of Congress.  In addition we visited all the Monuments, the White House, Newseum, Holocaust Museum, The Smithsonian, Kings Dominion and much more (WHEW!).  While we were away, the school participated in Field Day, thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Meehan and the staff and snacks and refreshments provided be the PTA.
            Speaking of the PTA, our staff enjoyed a Recognition Dinner Celebration on the last day of school.  As usual, the PTA outdid themselves with a Christmas in the Summer theme including a gourmet dinner, Yankee Swap, and “Reindeer Games.”  I cannot express how much the staff appreciates this incredible annual tribute.  Thank you again on their (and my) behalf!
            The school year came to a final end with the Grade 8 Graduation and student recognition assemblies.  This years graduating class are all slated to attend Amesbury High School and, although we will miss them all, we look forward to hearing about the success of their academic and other pursuits.
            Summer has been a time of new staffing and Mrs. Donabedian and I have been working with several staff to screen applicants, conduct interviews and check references.  We spent the first two weeks in this process and were fortunate enough to have filled our openings with very qualified and highly recommended candidates.  The process has been complete and Sara Casassa will be our .5 Technology Integration/LA teacher, Erin Preston will be .5 Special Education Case Manager/Teacher, Lydia Macdonald will teach Grade 4-5 and Carmelina Cestrone will fill out the field in Middle School Science and Social Studies with responsibilities in K-5 Science Enrichment.  We look forward to introducing new staff to their colleagues and the community and we thank Drew Szeliga, Sara Casassa, and Carol Dugan for taking time out of their summer to help Aline and myself with the interviews.
            Summer is a time for enrichment and Tara Moran and Carmelina Cestrone have recently attended a weeklong “KEEPERS” training at UNH.  KEEPERS stands for Kids Eager for Engineering Program with Elementary Research-based Science.  We are so proud that these teachers have taken there own time to attend and look forward to their sharing what they have learned with out staff and students and others in the SAU.  Lastly, as I write this I am participating it the 3-day NH Statewide Summer Summit at Keene Sate College entitled Transformation at the Instructional Core.  This is the beginning of a yearlong process funded by a federal grant and supported with the NH Dept. of Education.  Lydia Macdonald has joined me for the central part of the conference consisting of breakout sessions and keynote presentations geared at understanding the change process and the latest in instructional practice.  I have also had the privilege of participating in facilitator training.  Lydia and I are looking forward to sharing with the staff and community what we have learned and how we can join together in this transformational process.

            That is a quick summary of year-end and our summer here at Barnard.  We look forward to welcoming our new and returning students and staff for the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year in a few short weeks.  We are especially excited about our classroom reconfiguration and the implications of the new process and look forward to sharing the success of our endeavors.  Thanks to the School Board, SAU administration and especially the staff for all their support and hard work in preparation for the new school year.

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