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!

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