May 2013 Newsletter
Thank you PTO Volunteers: We love our children and are wont to indulge them at times with a treat, movie, special dessert, or toy. But buying a book for our child is not an indulgence. It is a powerful way to assert the value of reading, of literacy, and of education. In a time when our values seem so out of perspective, the simple act of buying a book for a young learner puts our priorities back where they belong.
Last Friday, April 26, was a busy day at Mt. Lebanon. Mrs. Greenough graciously gave up her instructional space so that Mrs. Lori Hibner, PTO volunteer and staunch supporter, could organize the Scholastic Book Fair. We also wish to thank Audra Smith and her assistants for organizing a highly enjoyable Spaghetti Supper. Bread was donated by Panera and the sauce and meatballs by Cantores . Café Services also lent us Mr. Dennis Samuel who provided his oversight, time and pasta preparation skills. We are most fortunate to have local business representatives take such an active and generous role in supporting our school. Thanks to all who attended to support these annual events.
NECAP, the New England Common Assessment Program:
Beginning May 7, our fourth grade students will be taking the state-wide three day science assessment. Two parts of this test will be standard questions and on the third day students will work with friends to conduct an experiment and write about it. For the past three years our students have done well on this assessment.
As the standard for numbers of students and rate of growth for students goes up each year, so do we see more and more schools not making AYP, and as such are designated schools in need of improvement (SINI). The state requires a corrective action plan. In the most general of terms, the premise of corrective action is based on the assumption that if your students, individually, in cohorts, or en masse, are not meeting growth targets then what you are currently doing must change. We are going to continue to revise those areas where we may have more control: scheduling, grouping of students, refining our understanding of learning diagnostics, and materials. These strategies will be incorporated into an ongoing Mt. Lebanon School Corrective Action Plan.
Class Lists: Thank you to all who provided feedback for consideration as we put together class lists for next year. We are making every attempt to ensure that we have considered all variables, but wish to remind you that there is no guarantee that your first choice for your student can be realized in all cases.
Building Usage Committee: In the last four years, Mt. Lebanon School has seen an increase in our student numbers. We’ve identified the need for more teachers, more SPED support, and more administration, all of which have been supported and will be provided for next year. The most challenging issue we currently face at Mt. Lebanon is space. An ad-hoc committee spent many hours exploring alternatives and we will be submitting our proposal for consideration so that plans for these accommodations can be made this summer. While these building adjustments may serve in the short run, a more serious building refitting will be in the hands of the district Long Range Planning Committee of the Board.
Responsive Classroom: We are constantly striving to become more effective in helping children learn, understand and practice appropriate social interactions and responses to direction. We use clear, direct language that is free of innuendo or sarcasm. With words, tone of voice, facial expression, and body posture, we can communicate calmness and respect. In this way we avoid shaming and/or judging the students. We address behavior, not character. And, we keep the focus on the positive behavior we want to see, and reduce the likelihood of power struggles. For more information you may visit the Responsive Classroom website. There is a section there for parents.
What do we Hold Dear?: I’ve always been against waste, inefficiency and ignorance. Education is an expensive social proposition. Democracy, in order to work well, requires an educated and informed citizenry. In our district we’re willing and able to dedicate twelve to thirteen thousand dollars a year per child for that charge. That includes direct instruction, materials, counseling services, specialized instruction, technology infrastructure and software, professional development, secretarial services, transportation, specialized language instruction, physical education and its myriad of options, paraeductors, books, custodial services, insurance, nurses and medical services, attractive outdoor playgrounds, administrative oversight, parking and maintenance facilities, utilities, special reading instruction, testing services, special educator contract services, before school supervision; the list goes on, and at second glance, this is very good value, indeed. Our children deserve nothing less.
While I should be accustomed to how and where other money is spent, I’m still aghast when I read about the professional athlete on whom is lavished, and sanctioned by our mute approval, a per annum expenditure of $63,000,000.00. Of course, that’s salary (21 mil)., and endorsements (42 mil). For that, that individual dribbles the ball, shoots the ball, passes the ball, blocks the ball, kicks the ball, and says good things about the brand written on or about the ball. (These variables have the added benefit of employing savvy statisticians who inform us of the great value to be added-- by knowing the stats.) Let’s see, $12,800.00 for comprehensive services for an elementary student for a year v. services from one individual in 66, two hour public appearances at $955,000.00 per appearance, for one season. Why, it would appear that we could educate every child in SAU 88 for five years for the same cost as one professional athlete’s annual haul.
I’m looking forward to the day when we as a society value education, our nation’s future, well-being and economic stability as highly as we do our spectacle of sport. Please let me know if you have any ideas as to how to level the playing field.
We are bidding farewell to two outstanding educators who will be retiring at the end of the year: Mrs. Jane Earl, third grade teacher, and Mrs. Jan Casano, grade one teacher. Our sincere appreciation for their many years of selfless service and dedication go with them, as do our well wishes for a long, happy, healthy and well-deserved retirement.
Teacher Assignments SY 2013-2014
Judy Klunder, Suzanne Martin, MaryEllen Reinsel
Mary Skiffington, Alice Gundersen, Nancy Hall
Christina Joanis, Mary Davidson, NEW hire
Linda Ehrlich, Emily Wright, NEW hire
Melissa Allen, Shelley Renehan, NEW hire
May 7 – May 10 Grade 4 Science NECAP
May 17, Mr. A.Heinemann, Ex.Dir. Boy Scouts, Lunchtime Visit w/Boys
May 24, Volunteer Appreciation Morning Sing
June 7, PM Sing 1:15 to honor retirees, Reception Following
June 17 Grade 4 Promotion Ceremony 8:30 AM
June 18 Last Day of School for Students
Farewell Cookout 11:30 – 1:00
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.” Anonymous