Thursday, February 5, 2015

It's a New Year at Barnard School!

As our Barnard Families and staff enjoy their much-deserved Holiday Break, there is much to report from a very busy December of performances, conferences, and celebrations. 
First Trimester Parent Conferences were held from 3-6:00 on Thursday December 4. This year we continued to modify our schedule to better accommodate parents and to reflect the numbers in each grade.  K-1 conferences were increased to 15-minute intervals while parents in grades 2-5 were still be scheduled in 10-minute intervals to allow enough time blocks for each family. Grades 6-8 met with groups of up to 3 parents in 20-minute intervals. The evening was very well attended thanks to Mrs. Jones’ organization and some last minute phone calls on her behalf to call parents to fill spots. We continue to look at this process and seek input from staff and parents for ways to improve.  There are those on both sides that feel that the evening can be hectic, especially for parents of multiple siblings and grade levels.  Teachers sometimes are still providing feedback and support to some parents when the next appointment arrives.  Before the Spring Conferences we are committed to develop a plan to address these issues.  Parents do continue to appreciate that they have ready access at any time to teachers via phone, email, or face-to-face contact.  PTA refreshments, the Book Fair, the Giving Tree, and much more helped cap off the evening.
      Not long after, on Monday, December 8, we had another incredible Winter Concert to a packed house of parents, grandparents, siblings, (many of whom were Barnard Alumni), and community members.  Mrs. Wooten directed performances by grades 1-6 and our Middle School Band, preceded by always adorable presentations by Mrs. Moran’s kindergarteners assisted by 4th and 5th grade “big brothers and sisters.”  Grades 7 and 8 are learning guitar this year and have committed to perform at out spring Celebration of Learning.  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 concluded with our PTA again providing refreshments so families could mingle and celebrate the Holiday Season.
      In the afternoon of Friday, December 19, just before we all headed off to our holiday celebrations students in Grades 1-8 presented their Holidays Around the World Fair.  Teams of 3 or more students representing multiple grade levels, as part of a month-long research project in World Cultures class created displays illustrating their chosen holiday and presented to attendees along with assortments of foods that are part of the holiday’s cultural tradition.  The fair was well attended and students at all levels made excellent presentations about what they had learned.  Be sure to visit Barnard School’s Principal’s Page: for great pictures of the event
      One of my administrative goals this year is to review our school’s Vision and Mission.  As the first part of the process, before looking art the actual current documents, I feel we should at least review what it is we do as Barnard School as a part of the South Hampton Community.  A major first part of that introspection was the Reconfiguration, which was implemented this year and is an ongoing community process of dialogue among staff, parents, and administration.  The next step in that process is the committee of parents, teachers and administrators studying Full Day Kindergarten.  Last year Ms. Donabedian and her staff began prescreening students age 3-5 and earlier and continued that process with a daylong event on Monday, December 15.  Ms. Donabedian’s team constantly looks to improve their services to our students here and Barnard and to those who attend Amesbury, Whittier, other specialized placements, and those we will be servicing in the future. On Monday, December 22 I met with Mr. Hammond, Amesbury High School Principal, to discuss such topics as how to better prepare our students for transition, technology connections, and placement in upper-level Math and Language classes.   There are future plans in the works for our Middle School teachers to visit and other ways to reinforce our good relationship with South Hampton’s High School, and ongoing conversations to make improvements as needed.  As the months progress I will be recruiting individuals to participate in this review of our Mission and Vision and will be reporting regularly on the progress of this initiative.

From Mrs. Cestrone:
“In science grade 8 will be learning about reproduction and we will try to implement the Baby Think it Over Projects.  In grades 6-7 we will continue to learn about cells, osmosis, diffusion, equilibrium and work on labs that help us understand these topics.  Grades 2-3 and K-1 will be finishing up landforms.”

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 and praying for more of the natural stuff!  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 to Mounts Major and Monadnock, and our annual Grade 8 trip to DC.  Happy New Year on behalf of the staff and myself.

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