September 9, 2016

Post date: Sep 9, 2016 6:21:42 PM

September 9, 2016

Dear Parents,

The first two weeks of school have been a great exercise in patience and understanding as we have jettisoned into new adventures in many areas. Thank you to all of you who made it out for the Open House as well as the opening day of school celebration. Parent support is key to any child's success in school. I cannot stress enough that as a parent/guardian you are an integral member of your child's education team. Please feel free to contact us anytime about any concerns or questions you may have about your child's education experience.

Our kindergarten friends have ventured out into new and exciting worlds. This is our first year with all day kindergarten and to call this an adventure is an understatement. The kindergartners have been stalwarts in their education in that they are really pulling through and making the most of their full days. Many individuals were concerned with the length of the school day. Although for a select few students, this may be of concern, the vast majority of students are more than up for the challenge and are excited to greet the day. In my personal experience as a father (my oldest son transitioning from a half day kindergarten to all day first grade) this passes and they will soon greet each day with the fervor of their peers. I can also say with the experience of my youngest son, he could not wait to get to school and loved to be the "big guy" just like his older brother. Every child is different and we accommodate the needs of all.

I can say with all honesty, the all day kindergarten program has made us take a second look at the way we are scheduling lunch and recess. The lower elementary (K-3) lunch is definitely a process and we will be making some changes there. In order to make this lunch as stress free as possible, we will be making a separate lunch and recess for our kindergarten students. They have been doing a great job in the lunch and recess, but it feels like this has been sensory overload for them. Not to mention, I underestimated the potential for a very bogged down lunch with that many students. I guess it is the middle school administrator in me that remembers running lunches with upwards of 250 middle school students. Kindergartners are definitely a different group of people and could use the wiggle room of their own lunch and recess. We will start this process next Wednesday.

Our new math program, enVisionMath 2.0, is up and running. The classroom teachers are really enjoying using the new program and have found the use of technology refreshing. Perhaps most notable is the emphasis of the mastery of content before moving on to another topic. In doing so, this is a more natural process than our previous program. Students seem to enjoy this process as well and are certainly appreciating the increased use of technology. There is a home technology component involved with this program, so please try to make sure your child has access to a home computer when available as this is a great practice opportunity for them.

We are also moving ahead with our use of Fundations in grades K-2. Fundations is a phonics based program and allows for better word attack and/or decoding skills for readers. As readers become more adept at decoding words, they can begin to refine the more complex skill of comprehending what they are reading. In using Fundations as a vehicle to teach word decoding, we are creating a streamlined process that is less confusing for students. In short, as student in grades K-3 progress through the grades, Fundations will build upon the previous year’s growth. Next year we will continue with our third and final round of implementation by bringing Fundations into the third grade.

We are also continuing with our implementation of Lucy Calkins Writing program we started last year. As I am making my way into classrooms, teachers are already commenting about the difference they see in the students' abilities to write compared to the start of previous years. This is a great testament to the success of the program. Teachers will continue to make it more their own this year while staying true to the heart and soul of the program as well as ensuring for consistency of instruction from room to room and grade level to grade level.

As you can clearly see the staff at DES is a dedicated bunch. These three programs are a challenge to implement on their own. The staff here has never balked at taking on a new challenge and has implemented these programs with fidelity and a perceived ease. I can guarantee you a tremendous amount of work and dedication has gone into these implementations and the staff is to be commended for their hard work on behalf of your children.

As promised, I also wanted to share with you the remaining new hires we have in place for the 2016-2017 school year:

Behavior Interventionist - Heidi Wright: Mrs. Wright comes to us with extensive experience in special education as a paraprofessional and is now taking the next step to interventionist. Mrs. Wright’s experiences in special education allow for her to be of great benefit to DES in this position as she will be working with students to help them in their decision making skills as well as improving their social skills.

Special Education Assistant - Madeline Russo: Ms. Russo arrived at DES with a B.S. in psychology and was highly recommended for the position. She will be working with special education students to ensure for an integrative model of education.

Special Education Assistant - Nancy Geiger: Mrs. Geiger comes to DES with a degree in Sociology. Mrs. Geiger will be working in the classrooms ensuring for an inclusive environment for all special education students.

Reading Interventionist - Sylvia Lennox: Mrs. Lennox has come to DES with a tremendous amount of experience in teaching reading. She held the position of reading teacher for many years and has made the decision to join DES as Reading Interventionist. We are excited to have her on board.

Please remember to be on the lookout for a confirmation email from PickUp Patrol when you make a change to your child's dismissal. If you do not receive a confirmation email, that means it did not go through and we are not aware of the change. At that point you would need to make the change again or contact the office.

Our Scholastic Book Fair is already running online. Please share the following link with family and friends: . If you are unable to access the Fair through this link, you can visit and look for Dunbarton Elementary School.

Our in-school Book Fair runs September 19 through the 27th, with a Family Book Fair Shopping Night on Thursday the 22nd. Flyers are coming home soon in your child's backpack with more information about the Fair. This is a great opportunity to purchase books at a fair cost as well as benefiting your child's school in multiple ways.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your child's teacher(s) or any of us in the office. We are always happy to help in any way we can. It has been great to see all the students back in their classrooms and the staff hard at work. Everything is back as it should be.


Owen Harrington