I wanted to start off by saying thank you to all of the parents of promoting 6th graders who are the youngest in their family. These parents just attended their last DES event (6th grade Promotion) 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, but we wish nothing but the best for you and your children as they continue on their journey through life.
I also wanted to recap the year as a whole. We had some great initiatives this year that I wanted to review with you.
Although we said goodbye to quite a few educators at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, we had a very successful hiring season in 2015. Our new hires have assimilated beautifully into DES and had an immediate positive impact. This impact has been felt in and out of the classroom and these new hires brought with them new and innovative methods of teaching and learning. It was a great experience for all of us.
I know I spoke so much about the new bathrooms at the start of the year, but I would be remiss to not write about them one more time. The construction of the new bathrooms was the perfect exemplar of the true community we have in Dunbarton. Seeing the sheer number of volunteers who gave of their own personal time and expertise to provide a new and updated bathroom for DES students was simply remarkable.
Lucy Calkins Writing
Lucy Calkins Writing has been a great program for us. The consistency and shared vocabulary about writing from one grade to the next has been great for the students. I cannot wait to see the continued growth in student writing when they move up to the next grade level and continue with the experience. We have already seen growth in student writing as students are able to write lengthy, coherent pieces that are true quality pieces. As we have learned from the program, our students who are writing are not simply students, they are writers.
Fundations (Grades K & 1)
We also determined we had a need for more intense phonics instruction and, therefore, through the guidance of our reading specialist (Mrs. Turmelle) purchased Fundations. The kindergarteners and first graders are already more proficient in phonics and are able to diagram words and explain the sounds consonants and vowels make. It is pretty impressive to see this in action. We will be continuing the implementation of Fundations in second and third grade next year.
Successful Budgeting Season
We also had a highly successful budgeting session. In order to clarify, in my mind, highly successful means the school board, administration and staff in general are able to all work together and prioritize the most important needs of DES and work together to find a way to make them a reality. We did so again this past budget season and were able to secure funds for a new phone system, more classroom renovations, maintenance upgrades, reinvigorated guided reading texts and a further improved technology structure for students. Exciting!
Increased Technology Access
Speaking of technology, we were able to provide a one-to-one Chromebook environment for both 5th and 6th graders. It is important to note that Chromebooks are simply a tool, but certainly a powerful tool that opens doors of learning for students. We are hoping to expand the one-to-one environment, but this will take more time and planning.
All Day Kindergarten
I can’t overstate how excited I am for the All Day Kindergarten program that we are instituting next year. The teachers (Ms. Walleston and Mrs. Belanger) are hard at work planning this out and will be meeting for an extended time over the summer to plan and develop curriculum. All Day Kindergarten will provide a wonderful springboard and/or foundation for DES students as they begin their education careers.
Marshall Method of Evaluation
From an oversight perspective, we instituted a new observation method this year. In short, instead of a one time, planned extended observation, the goal is to observe a teacher up to ten times a year, unplanned for 10 minutes each time. This provides both the teacher and the administrator a more accurate and thorough observation process. The most important facet of this process is the conversation following each observation. The teachers have embraced this method and appreciate the professional conversations that occur with each observation.
New Office Staff
I have to give a much deserved kudos to our new office staff. Michelle and Shelley have revamped the office and have really made it their own. I hope you have found them to be as helpful, organized and positive as the DES staff has. I know they really love their jobs and working with your children.
Successful SBAC Testing
With all the new initiatives we put in place, we also challenged ourselves this year with providing better opportunities for students to find success in the SBAC testing. I can say without reservation that students were better prepared for the test as the teachers and other staff members made it their mission to provide a better testing experience. Early results indicate that we did much better this year. I look forward to you receiving the results.
Given this is such a large list of a new initiatives, it is important to recognize how excited this staff was for implementation of each and every initiative. DES is truly blessed to have such an energetic and motivated staff that never shies away from a challenge. I am always impressed with their level of dedication to education and each and every student. This became more apparent to me this year as we instituted two new programs, new technology and a new supervisory system. Not to mention, they were clambering for more and we have since chosen a new math program to institute next year. This group of professionals will handle the transition from Everyday Math to enVisionsmath 2.0 with the grace and ease they use with all of their efforts.
We are also saying some fond farewells to some staff members who are moving on this year. Meredith Neal (Reading Interventionist) is leaving DES at the end of the year to pursue other ventures. Mike Dailey (part time evening custodian) is also leaving at the end of this year. Vilijah Pauliukonis (Behavior Interventionist) is also leaving to pursue other ventures. Somayeh Kashi was given the opportunity to further pursue her teaching career as she will be a full time art teacher at Rundlett Middle School in Concord. We are excited and happy for these four people as they are all moving on in ways that further enrich their lives!
In closing, I have sincerely enjoyed working with all of you and your children this year. I look forward to our continued efforts in late August as we move forward in the 2016-2017 school year. We at DES love our jobs and look forward to the continued good work of educating the youth of Dunbarton.
Just a reminder today there is an early dismissal at 12:15. I also wanted to remind you that the After School program is not running this afternoon as yesterday was their last day. I wish each and every one of you a great summer. Should you need anything over the summer, please do not hesitate to contact us in the office. We will be happy to answer any of your questions.