2009 04 April

April 2009 Parent Newsletter

Dear Parents:

No matter what current social, political and economic conditions we work under, we owe it to the children to turn new and unexpected changes to our very best advantage.  In this spirit we welcome all new challenges coming our way as opportunities for learning, growth and improvement, as we reconfigure the Mt. Lebanon School, and our entire district, to appropriately respond to tighter economic restrictions, less instructional space, and fewer human resources.

March’s vote is in and we now have our direction.  While the question of status of the Lebanon Jr. High School remains uncertain, we are moving ahead with the district plans for consolidation.  The ramifications for Mt. Lebanon School are as follows:

*  We are going to add the West Lebanon grade four students to Mt. Lebanon.  This means we are adding three classes of grade four students (our current grade three students will remain with us) to our school.  This addition may be permanent for the foreseeable future.  The three grade four teachers presently teaching at the Seminary Hill School will be joining us August.  
*  The Mt. Lebanon preschool programs, Foundations and Beginnings, are going to be located in the new Hanover Street School.  (New because HSS will be reconfigured to house all Lebanon students grades kindergarten through grade 4.  It remains to be seen whether or not the Head Start program, housed in the Mt. Lebanon School for the first time this year, will be able to continue to be housed in a district school, or whether it will have to resort to an alternative venue, given the space issues due to consolidation.  
*  With two Mt. Lebanon teachers retiring and one moving on for personal reasons, we have three additional classroom positions to fill (one in grade two and two positions in grade three).  With three colleagues currently teaching in the Hanover Street School joining us next year, plus our three colleagues from Seminary Hill School, make a total of six district colleagues currently teaching other elementary schools coming to join our talented faculty next year.  We are very much looking forward to welcoming them.

The Mt. Lebanon School projected grade level profile based on current numbers and predications for school year 2009-2010 is as follows:

Kindergarten:           3 classes (two in the AM, one in the PM)

Grade 1:                3 classes

Grade 2:                3 classes

Grade 3:                3 classes
Grade 4:                3 classes

Teacher changes with regards to looping reassignment:
Mrs. Davidson from grade three to gade two.
Mrs. Joanis from grade two to grade three.
Mrs. Skiffington from grade one to grade to grade two.
Mrs. Hall from grade two to grade one.

I will be encouraging our new colleagues to consider entering into a looping partnership with a colleague to extend this beneficial practice to include grade four in the future.

Mr. Bouranis is expected to take the helm of the newly configured Hanover Street School, which will mirror the Mt. Lebanon School’s grade level configuration.  As such, we are now in a position to establish a much higher degree of parity between program offerings and scheduling between our district primary schools.  All elementary students will continue to receive specialized instruction in Physical Education, Art, music, and guidance to varying degrees depending on grade level.  For example, in grades one and two, our counselors provide formal classroom instruction in the early grades, but respond more flexibly with teachers in grades three and four depending on identified social needs.
We begin our first of a series of scheduling meetings this week.

Math Night:  Our sincere thanks to all of you able to come out and support math Night a few weeks back.  While we did not reach our goal of 100% parent turnout, your numbers were significantly high.  The reports back from our teachers and students was very positive.  We received about a dozen written feedback forms from parents as well, and again, the comments and observations were overwhelmingly positive.  Still, we have room for improvement.  I urge you to use our parent / teacher conferences to make specific observations and pointed questions to your child’s teacher about how to keep positive, motivated and effective math instruction and learning moving ahead through the fourth quarter of this year.

Class Selection:  You will receive our annual letter this week outlining the process by which we determine student class profiles for next school year.  In this letter, I solicit your input which we find so helpful in during our process.  Please take advantage of this opportunity by sharing your thoughts on the form on the back of the letter and returning ASAP to the office.  Mrs. Vicky Moran has additional forms in the office if you need one.  We ask that you do not request individual teachers.  For those two classes presently scheduled to “loop” up to the next grade with the teacher, a separate letter with your options is also forthcoming.  

Increase READING, Decrease SCREENING.  Reading is the single most important skill your child will learn in school.  Reading separates the literate from the illiterate.  Being literate means using intelligence to create meaning from the written word.  While anyone at all can turn on a TV and sit, the act of reading requires parental commitment, modeling, encouragement, and discipline.  In the simplest terms, students who acquire a positive predisposition for reading and writing early, are going to be more successful in school and life.  For every minute your child watches TV or plays a video game, insist on matching those minutes with reading and discussing books and stories he or she may write.  You can insure their future success today.