September 4, 2015

Post date: Sep 4, 2015 7:35:15 PM

Dear Parents,

Wow! What a week it has been. The students have taken the first week of school in stride and really hit the ground running. Traditionally, the start of school is not a full week, so I am sure the students have been pretty tired towards the end of the day. I know my own children have fallen to sleep quite quickly compared to those long lazy days of summer.

I have to give the DES staff well-deserved kudos. The start of this school year has been chock-full of new initiatives and practices. The staff has handled it like the true professionals they are. Perhaps the greatest new initiative is Lucy Calkins Writing. I cannot tell you how many conversations and meetings I have already been a part of or been privy to where Lucy Calkins Writing has come up. The staff is so positive about this initiative and it is creating wonderful conversations about teaching and learning. In order to bring better structure to these conversations and take full advantage of their usefulness, we will be holding monthly meetings with the lower elementary and upper elementary teams to ensure for consistent instruction and understanding of the program. It is sure to be very exciting. Please feel free to contact your child’s teacher or contact me if you have any questions about Lucy Calkins Writing.

Another initiative we will be instituting this year is the creation of competencies. Part of ED 306, which are the NH minimum standards for education is the creation of competencies for students to complete before moving on to the next level of learning/instruction. Although this is a very lofty goal for educators to complete, it has been a well organized approach. SAU 67 has been organizing this for some time and our roll out is equally organized and thoughtful. The Lucy Calkins Writing Program and our Everyday Math Program both follow the Common Core and will align well to the creation of competencies. We also worked on our “Know, Understand, and Do” Methods of Implementation documents in reading last year,which will lead directly into the creation of competencies. As time goes on, I will share more information on this process and we will also be soliciting information from you as parents. Pulling back the curtain that so often blocks the view of the educational process is always a good thing and we are looking forward to doing so with the creation of the competencies.

I wanted to also address some administrative topics today as well. When you call the office and punch in an extension, please know you will not hear a tone, but rest assured the extension is dialling here at DES. Mrs. Westenberg and Mrs. Johnson have proven themselves to be complete whizzes in the office and they have been working on correcting the extensions as well as the opening message within the phone system. Mrs. Westenberg will be investigating whether or not she can apply a tone to the system so there won’t be that unsettling silence when an extension is dialled. Stay tuned. Please remember to call the office if your child is absent. When calling, please let us know if your child has a fever,cough or sore throat as those are symptoms that we need to keep track of for state reporting purposes.

Also, we are in dire need of substitutes. Every year this is a challenge for DES, but it seems to be more so this year. If you are interested in becoming a substitute teacher, please call Mrs. Westenberg and she would be happy to get you started in the process.


News from Mrs. Hast (School Nurse)

Update from the Nurse: This first week of school, I have seen or had report of students presenting with fevers, sometimes with no other symptoms. Fever is defined as an oral temperature over 1000F.

The current recommendation is that students remain out of school until he/she is fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications (ex. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen). This will reduce the spread of disease at school. It is also a long day for a student who doesn’t feel well!

Please remember to call the main office to report student absences. I would appreciate any reports of fever along with other symptoms or conditions (ex. Sore throat, cough, strep throat). It helps me keep track of what is “going around” so I can take good care of our students here at DES. You can always leave a confidential message on my private line (774-3181 ext 205) as well, and I will be sure to adjust attendance so your child’s absence is excused. As always, please feel free to call with any questions!


In closing, I wanted to thank you for a great first week of school. The students were wonderful and I am hoping you felt it was a great first week as well. I cannot stress enough that should anything come up and you have any questions or concerns, please contact your child’s teacher or any of us in the office. Your child’s education is a partnership between the school and you. As my mentor teacher always told me when I first started teaching, there is no greater investment a parent makes than his or her child. That mantra has always resonated with me. I also know no one is as knowledgeable about your child than you. With that said, in order for your child’s education to rise to the highest level possible, we need your support and expertise. Should you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Enjoy this unofficial last weekend of summer!


Owen Harrington