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June 16, 2017

posted Jun 16, 2017, 10:47 AM by Owen Harrington

Dear Parents,

 
To begin, I wanted to remind all of you of the DES Field Day and Spring Fling that will be taking place on Wednesday, June 21st. If you have any gently used plush animals, DVDs, books, games, video games and age-appropriate toys that you are willing to part with, Mrs. Spill is looking for them for the Spring Fling White Elephant table. Please send your offerings in with your child before next Wednesday, or drop them off in the school office.
 
I also wanted to say thank you to all of the parents of promoting 6th graders who are the youngest in their family. These parents will be attending their last DES event (6th Grade Promotion) on June 20th at 6:30 pm and I wanted to thank them for their dedication to their children and DES as a whole. Your kind and supportive natures will be missed, and we wish nothing but the best for you and your children as they continue on their journey through life. 
 
In order for you to start planning for the next school year, I have included the 2017-2018 school calendar
 
In an effort to capture the year as a whole, I would like to recap the year. We had some great initiatives this year that I wanted to review.
 

enVisionmath 2.0
We instituted a new math program this year - enVisionmath 2.0. It has been very clear to us this year that this program is a program of merit. Students have worked hard on their problem-solving skills and it is abundantly clear that this program is full of grit. Students need to stick with problems in order to solve them. They have worked hard in solving problems and need to ensure for multiple methods of thinking in order to approach each problem. From kindergarten all the way through 6th grade, the students are experiencing this phenomenon. More importantly, the students are meeting with success. In my opinion, this is due to a three-pronged approach: students are up to the challenge, the teachers are preparing them well and parents have been supportive of the endeavor. Thank you. Just as important, when instituting a new program, very often standardized test scores will go down. Early indications for the math portion of the SBAC are strong. This is a key indicator to the success of the program and may hint at increasing success with time. We will continue to provide teachers with professional development at the start of the 2017-2018 school year to further hone our understanding of the program.
 

Summer Professional Development
A strong improvement to our approach this year was the use of summer professional development. During the summer of 2016 we had teachers in the building working on a mentoring plan, the implementation of Wilson Language, establishing our partnership with Constellations, providing time for new teams to work together to develop curriculum, ensure for consistent delivery of the Fundations program and to set a solid foundation for the implementation of all-day kindergarten. We used Title Two funds to pay for this work and will continue to do so during the summer of 2017 as it was hugely successful.
 
Continued Increase in Technology Access
This year all 4th graders had access to Chromebooks. In doing so we were able to push the remaining Chromebooks into the lower elementary (1-3)  classrooms. This allowed for "pods" of Chromebooks for the lower elementary classrooms. In doing so, all students had increased access to research, writing, better access to accommodations in all subjects and all around improved educational opportunities. We were also able to put all o four iPads in the kindergarten classrooms. As is always the case, technology in a school setting is simply an educational tool and used ineffectively is simply not helpful. I can say without reservation we have put tremendous thought into how we are using Chromebooks and other technologies.  Furthermore, we will be fully transitioned to SAU 67 with Bow taking over the technology supervision aspect of DES. This will create a seamless transition for students, but also improve our access to technology and create a scenario in which we will have increased opportunities for improvement in our technology program. It is an exciting development.
 
New Phone System
As the year progressed last year, it became increasingly clear that we needed to address our aging phone system. We were able to do so and have seen a marked improvement in parents' ability to contact us and, therefore, further improve our communication.
 
Continued Classroom Renovations
We have continued with our systematic classroom renovations from year to year and this year was no different. We were able to install new carpeting and improve the overall aesthetic qualities of both a kindergarten and first-grade classroom this school year. We are continuing in this manner this summer and are hoping to finish up the kindergarten, first, and second-grade classrooms. 
 
Improved 504 Oversight
We were able to increase our guidance time slightly this year to improve our 504 management/oversight. In doing so we were better able to meet the needs of our students with 504s as well as better meeting the needs of their families. This was a great opportunity for us as it only improved the educational opportunities of those students.
 
All Day Kindergarten
Although this is a bittersweet item for me, I cannot discuss the improvements this school year without mentioning All Day Kindergarten. I feel this program was a huge win for kindergarten students as well as the school as a whole. The kindergarten students were given a greatly improved and much more thorough curriculum. Not to mention, these students are now much better equipped to enter first grade from both a systematic and academic point of view. Furthermore, their presence alone enriched our school. I will miss seeing them all day, every day. wise.
 
Architectural Designs
I am greatly looking forward to the work that will be developing from now until next March. The Dunbarton School District Capital Improvements Committee took the step of recommending the Dunbarton School Board to hire Warren Street Architects as the architectural firm that will be developing plans for two proposed additions to DES. By taking this step, the Dunbarton School Board has committed to creating a vision for the future of DES. This is exciting work in that should it come to fruition, it will most certainly open more doors to learning for all of our students. I commend the board and the Dunbarton community for taking this leap forward.  
 
In closing, happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s reading this email. 
 
Fondly,
 
Owen Harrington

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