2008 09 August

Newsletter #1
August 2008

Principal Notes

A very warm welcome to new and returning MLS community members.  We have an exciting year coming up for a number of reasons not least of which are some renovations and innovations to our playground and outdoor space.  Please set aside Saturday, Sep 20 as a campus work day (9:00-3:00).  We’re looking to install a patio and plant some greenery under the supervision of Marilyn Wyzga.  Marilyn accomplished wonderful results with our students last year in creating a landscaping plan to enhance our playground, making it more conducive to outdoor instruction, reflection and habitat for wildlife.  We also have an artist in residency scheduled in October with Susan Bothran who will be teaching our students how to bind the journals and books they write.  A visit from local author D.B. Johnson in December takes us through the end of the first half of the year!  Last year all of our students read, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg as part of our book club selection, Mr. Johnson’s first children’s book.

Who’s Who:  Again this year we experienced some attrition at Mt. Lebanon so we’ve reduced our teaching staff by one teacher.  As a result we have also realized some additional space.  We are most pleased to welcome into our school the regional Headstart Program.  An independently funded, administered and supervised program, it will be housed in the room closest to the entrance by the multi-purpose room, room #32.  Headstart hours have been staggered against school hours so as to minimize traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up. The new guidance office will be located in the room adjacent to the library facing the playground, room#19.  Mr. Wynkoop, who coordinates our Behavior Program, will relocate to the former guidance office, room #22.  The district pre-school office is now located in room #15  , (Mrs. Skiffington’s old classroom.)  For your convenience all rooms are numbered and map is attached.   As for new faces, we extend a warm welcome to Jody Stone, our new Media / Technology Specialist, Emily Matteson-Weld, our new guidance counselor, and Christina Joanis, grade two classroom teacher.   

Responsive Classroom:  The Mount Lebanon School has been a “responsive school” for over a decade. Responsive Classroom is a structured, socially oriented curriculum based on the premise that children can only be academically successful in the classroom and school when social behavioral expectations are clearly articulated, understood, modeled and practiced.  Our classroom and school rules are based on kindness, courtesy and respect toward ourselves and one another.   One specific RC method is using a positive approach to discipline “that draws on children’s ability and desire to behave in constructive, friendly ways—and teachers’ ability to empower children to do so.”  At Mt. Lebanon teachers and children create classroom rules together.  Teachers help children practice the rules, and they respond to inappropriate behavior with consequences that help children learn self control and responsibility.  Another RC strategy is daily Morning Meeting.  Morning Meeting is designed to promote social skill building.  Morning Meeting has a formal structure and includes four components: a) Greetings: each student greets and is greeted by name, b) Shaing, this is usually of some personal interest that includes feelings and the responses of classmates, c) Group Activity intended to build class cohesion and, d) News and Announcements built around a written teacher message intended to reinforce academic skills.  It is of utmost importance to have your child to school on time every day so that he/she does not miss Morning meeting.  The first six weeks of school focus on laying the groundwork for a productive year of learning.  Please talk to your child specifically about Morning Meeting and other class activities.  

Playground Rules:  On the first day of school all children will participate in a playground orientation.  We divided our playground into five areas and teachers described behavioral expectations for the children based on safety and respect for others.  Again, this is part of the Responsive Classroom protocol that urges us to make sure that what we expect of the students is clearly explained, properly and consistently modeled and continuously reinforced.  For safety reasons we ask you send your child to school in sturdy shoes or sneakers.  Flip-flops, crocs, and “dress” shoes are not allowed on the playground, as they do not provide adequate support or traction for active play.  Please see attached “Playground Rules”.

Lunch and Snacks:  For students to perform and learn optimally they need plenty of sleep (8.5 -10 hours / night), outdoor exercise and play, and nutritious food.  We are continuing our theme of healthy snacks this year and recommend locally available seasonal fruits vegetables.  Cheese and nuts provide energy and protein.  And we encourage the children to drink lots of water.  District guidelines do not permit microwave ovens in the classroom and so we ask that you do not send snacks or lunches that require heating.  
Outdoor Health: The parking lot is a busy place especially before and after school.  We are encouraging parents who live close by to have the students walk or ride bycicles.  (Helmets and permission slips for bike riders required.)  You’ll see “No Idling” signs as a reminder turn off your car engine while you wait pick up your child.  Thanks for your cooperation.

Calendar, Conference and Teacher In-Service Days:  This year you will notice that Sep. 24 and May 13 are “Delayed Openings”.  This will enable teachers two hours of professional in-service time prior to school opening for students.  At Mt. Lebanon, morning classes will begin at 10:07AM.  Please plan accordingly.

Kindergarten Attendance: For the first half of the school year, September-January, AM kindergarten students will attend school on all delayed-opening and early-release school days.  On delayed-opening days AM kindergarten will be from 12 noon to 3pm.  On early-release days AM kindergarten will be at the regular time.  PM kindergarten will be canceled on those days.
For the second half of the school year, February-June, PM kindergarten students will attend school on all delayed-opening and early-release school days.  On delayed-opening days PM kindergarten will be at the regular time.  On early-release days PM kindergarten will be from 8am to 11am.  AM kindergarten will be canceled on those days.
Our first several days of school have been very smooth and it is so great to see the children back and ready.  Please make sure that we have your latest emergency contact information so that we can reach you.  Also, we encourage you to use our website to find information about the school and district.  Your feedback on how we can improve our site is welcome.  http://lebanonmles.learningnetworks.com   Our door is always open and I am happy to meet with you should you have any questions, concerns or suggestions.  

Michael Foxall

  Mount Lebanon Elementary School  5 White Avenue, West Lebanon NH 03784  Phone: 603-298-8202  Fax: 603-298-6433