September 28, 2012
It has been a busy September for Bowman students and staff, and an exciting time all around. First, I want to thank our amazing staff for the hard work that they did setting up classrooms and getting school ready for students over the September 17 weekend. Teachers all pitched in and helped each other to get our classrooms open. Our new rooms are inviting and bright. It seems like we have been in them for weeks, not 7 days.
Congratulations Bowman! It was quite a thrill to read in the Boston Globe that Bowman students again this year scored so highly on MCAS. This past year Bowman School was named the school that had the highest percentage of students who scored Advanced and Proficient in Grade 4 Math, the second highest percentage in English Language Arts and third in Mathematics in grade 5. As MCAS is a test that comes once a year, and is not like most of the other work we do in school, I sometimes get asked, “How do you raise MCAS scores?”. My typical answer is “You Don’t”. What is most exciting to me about our MCAS scores is that these scores are a reflection of the deep learning that is going on in classrooms from Kindergarten through Grade 5. Our Bowman classrooms are exciting places in which best practices are constantly refined, where teachers have a deep understanding of where each child in the classroom is in their learning, and where we can provide flexible and responsive intervention for children when they struggle, so that their struggles do not hinder their learning. Bowman is a school where ALL staff work together to teach each child. You don’t raise MCAS scores, you raise children who read well, think creatively and are problem solvers. These children in turn can approach novel requests such as they may see in MCAS and be able to think through the unexpected. Yes, these children need to learn to decode, read and decipher, AND they need to learn to think, make connections and synthesize. When students have the opportunity to practice all these skills in real life situations, the rest is easy. So, THANK YOU TEACHERS! Your belief in each child that you work with, your commitment to continuous improvement, your efforts to support and challenge all students make Bowman a school where our students excel!
It is with great excitement that I announce that the Superintendent, Dr. Ash, has arranged for the Bowman, Bridge and Estabrook Schools to receive extra staffing this year due to the heavy demand that construction has on the Principal and AP schedules. As a result, I am pleased to announce that Mrs. Beth Glick has been appointed 0.4 Assistant Principal, and will join Mrs. Quirk and me as the administrative leaders of the Bowman School. In her role as Guidance Counselor and Assistant Principal, Mrs. Glick will continue with many of the duties that she has been performing for the school over the last 17 years, and will add some additional responsibilities in supervision and teacher mentoring. We are fortunate to be in the process of hiring an additional 0.4 Guidance counselor to support Mrs. Glick in her work with students and families. We love teaming – and are thrilled to be able to work together in many kinds of teams.
Recently there have been local events that have had parents asking questions about school safety and how we help students understand how to stay safe in the neighborhoods, on the way to school and at school. At Bowman School we take student safety very seriously. We monitor our doors, have added additional staff to our recess and lunchtime playgrounds, monitor outside contractors and deliveries, and insist that only adults associated with our school be allowed to supervise students on the playground and in classrooms. To help remind students of the lessons they have most often hear before, this week we have started Open Circle lessons on “Stranger Danger”, using developmentally appropriate terminology to help students identify who is a safe adult, and what it means when they hear “Don’t talk to strangers”. We will continue to be vigilant without being specific with students about any particular person or event. Our goal is to teach students how to respond, should they find themselves in an uncomfortable place, and to teach students how to recognize the members of our community. If you or your children have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Mrs. Glick (our guidance counselor and AP), Mrs. Quirk (our AP and classroom teacher) or me for support.
While we are sad that inclement weather will rain out our Fall Fair this weekend, I do want to take a moment to thank all the talented volunteers who have worked so hard to make this happen, and a special thank you to Flo Donaghy and Jennifer Velis our PTA Co-Chairs. Our school is a richer and more exciting environment because of their hard work. And if you see her – please extend the thanks to Betsy Wilkinson who, as treasurer, knows everything about everything – and can make anything happen.
Bowman School is a great place because there are so many people who go the extra mile to help things happen! Thank you one and all.
June 19th, 2012
Dear Parents and Families,
It is hard to believe that the end of the year is here already.
Our fifth graders had a wonderful experience at Nature’s Classroom – it was an amazing trip. Mrs. Glick says that this Nature’s Classroom program, set of counselors and site was the very best she’s seen in the 17 years she has been attending. I would agree that the two nights I was able to stay were a highlight of my year. As our fifth graders move on to Clarke, Diamond and new schools – we want to wish them the very best. This is a terrific group of students who have great things to share with each other and the world. We know they will do well.
Transitions from year to year can be both exciting and hard. As we look back we think of the great experiences that we have shared, and as we look forward it is hard not to be excited about the adventures to come. At the same time, leaving what we know for the new can be a challenge. Each class has had their own individual and wonderful adventures this year. This year there will be a major transition for one of our most respected teachers. Mrs. Margie Pell will be retiring after 32 years in education, 23 of them at Bowman. I know that you will all join me in wishing Mrs. Pell well as she explores new adventures, and share with me the hope that she will return again to direct our staff musical! The one constant in schools is change. We will miss Mrs. Pell who has enlivened Bowman in so many ways. Thank you, Mrs. Pell.
As your child prepares to leave a known classroom, I want to share with you about our staff for next year.
- Kindergarten – Mrs. Day, Ms. Keenan, Mrs. Lee, Mr. McMullen
- Grade 1 – Ms. Jones, Mrs. Leach, Ms. Leveque, Miss Thompson
- Grade 2 – Mrs. Barbacano, Mr. Curhan, Ms. Pyskaty, Ms. Thiel
- Grade 3 – Mr. Avery, Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. Kuschel, Ms. Ong
- Grade 4 – Ms. Archibald, Mrs. Hamlin, Ms. Selhub, Mrs. Udell
- Grade 5 – Mr. Pell, Mr. Studley, Mrs. Quirk/Mrs. Mark, Mr. Taylor
We have only a couple of changes in classroom teachers. We are thrilled to welcome Mr. Joshua Curhan to our second grade team. Mr. Curhan was trained at Teachers College, Columbia University and Brown University. He brings with him great expertise in the literacy programs that we are adopting in Lexington and has worked for the district as a substitute teacher and in Wayland at the Claypit School.
In addition, we are happy to welcome Ms. Francine Chi as a special education teacher to our building. Ms. Chi comes to us from Hopkinton where she was a resource room teacher. Ms. Chi will be at Bowman 0.75 and at Fiske 0.25, as part of additional support we have been allocated through the budget process.
This summer the Bowman School will be under construction completely. Most areas of the building will be closed. If you are looking for support, our main office will be open with our amazing Mrs. Jean Bitton handling the phones and registration questions. Mrs. Bitton will have a new office in Room 1, which is located at the far end of the building near the gym. She can be reached through the door nearest the construction trailers. My office will also change to Room 3 for the summer. Teachers will not be able to access their classrooms until August 20. We ask that you understand that setting up will be a rush for them. Please give the teachers time to set up the week of August 20-25. If your child is anxious to meet his or her teacher, we ask that you wait until the late afternoon of Monday August 27.
Class lists will be sent out by US Mail on August 10 from our central office. You will receive a placement letter, an emergency dismissal form and other information about the start of the school year. We are really sorry that we cannot provide class lists for student privacy reasons. We hope you will fill out the emergency forms ASAP so that we may provide this information to your child’s teacher and classmates. Thanks for your understanding.
We will be continuing to update the renovations BLOG over the summer. Please check often to see how construction is going. The renovations website is:
We hope you will enjoy following our progress. We are fortunate to live in a community that holds education in high esteem and is renovating our school!
If you should need anything over the summer, please feel free to get in touch with Jean Bitton through the main number (781) 861-2500 or with me, through email firstname.lastname@example.org
May your summer be one in which you try new things, experience the joy of time with family and friends, and have a chance to enjoy a good book.
May 23rd, 2012
The flowers are blooming and MCAS is over, SPRING is here! Children and adults alike are enjoying longer hours of daylight, and thoughts of summer.
At Bowman, we have had a busy spring already. Our renovation project is well underway, with ground broken for our new boiler room late last week, and new ductwork appearing in our ceilings nightly. Our extended day students are safely set up at the Central Office on Maple Street, and our remaining events have been moved off site in the afternoons. The building is now officially closed to ALL non-school personnel after 4PM. In order to help families follow the progress of our renovations, we have established the following BLOG for the Bowman-Bridge Renovations that will be updated on a regular basis. You can find up to date pictures of the project at the following site:
This website will be updated throughout the summer as a place to see what is happening at both sites. We hope that this Blog will help you keep connected with what is going on, while making sure that our construction sites remain spectator free during the summer.
We are very excited to announce some upcoming improvements in technology for our school. This spring we have been able to use end of the year funding to move towards embracing new technology for learning. Through a combination of grants and end of the year funds and allocations, Bowman School will start off the year with 20 iPads, two docking stations and two new ELMOs. This new iPad technology will allow us to explore ways to support our primary students learning through a range of educational APPs. Check out a short video on the Bowman School website of iPads in use. In addition, we will be adding three new SmartBoards, so every fifth grade will now be equipped with a SmartBoard, as will one fourth grade classroom.
Just a few updates on the playground… Students continue to play a range of games on the playground that are age appropriate. Our students have worked hard to play cooperatively with each other. On any given day out my window we see students engaged in soccer, four square, basketball, tag football and other games. We only rarely need to ask students to “take a break” from a game, and most recess issues are easily resolved with a little help from recess staff, teachers and guidance. Our recess staff and our instructional assistants have has some additional opportunities for training in the same programs that classroom teachers use to promote pro-social behaviors. A special thanks to Mrs. Glick for providing on-going professional development for our support staff. As always, we continue to encourage students who have had difficulty on the playground to touch base with Mrs. Quirk, Mrs. Glick or me so that we can work to resolve and remediate issues – rather than letting them grow.
As we move toward June, parents and students often become focused on the upcoming school year. We solicited parent feedback on placement in April, and appreciate all of you who provided this feedback. We have a very elaborate placement process and appreciate that so many of you know that our staff knows your child well. Placement is always a tricky process as there are so many factors involved. Inevitably there are families who come to me now to make requests about placement or to raise issues. Please understand that at this point we are heavily into our placement process, and that changes may not be possible. Our goal is to create balanced classrooms in which children will have good learning partners and a classroom community that is supports all students learning. We appreciate your understanding that requests for teachers cannot be honored.
At this time of year, we are in the process of setting numbers of classroom sections and assigning teachers to grade levels. In June we will send out a list of classroom teachers who will be teaching at each grade level. After August 10, 2012 all elementary schools will mail out class placements (your child’s classroom teacher assignment). Our school will still be under major construction at that point, so access to the school will continue to be limited to a temporary office space. More detailed information will come at the end of the year on how and where to contact us if you have questions. During the summer, email will be an excellent vehicle for getting your questions answered – as our office space may undergo multiple relocations.
As you plan for next year, I want to remind parents that the School Committee has voted to lower bus fees to encourage bus ridership. We encourage you to consider a bus pass for your child this coming year.
I want to say a special thank you to those parents and staff who have served on our Bowman Site Council this year. Thank you to Carol Dlugy, Jennifer Lawrence, Mark Manasas, Mitra Bahary, Melinda Loof, Katina Lawdis, Cheryl Tikonoff, and Ellen Quirk. On June 5, 2012 we will be presenting our school improvement plan for the 2012-2013 to the School Committee. It has been a year of great strides for Bowman School. We have had a very successful year with our new intervention programs that have been able to provide a range of extra supports to students in literacy, mathematics and pro-social behavior. Our dedicated community of teachers, support staff and administrators appreciate our ability to collaborate with a parent community that wants the best for every child in our charge. We look forward to partnering with our new parent members of the Site Council as they are elected.
As always, if you have questions, please ask.
April 27th, 2012
Bowman has been a busy place over the last two weeks! Here is an updated on what has occurred:
- Office trailers, temp fencing, and temp restrooms have been mobilized on site.
- Abatement work in all tunnels is complete
- Air clearance testing throughout the week has all been successful, there are copies of these reports in our on-site project notebook that will be housed in the main office
- A final air clearance test report is completed
- The Town Health Director has been notified and is in the loop and he is being copied on reports
Ceiling Tile Removal in Corridors
- Sample area for ceiling tile removal went very well and now all corridor ceiling tiles have been removed
- The Towns Electrical Inspector was brought in and collaborated on a list of activities that needed to take place to have all existing wiring and appurtenances above the ceiling plane, in the corridors, to be considered safe. This work has been completed.
- A letter of inspection coming from our Environmental Consultant, EBI, Inc. states that any pipe insulation on existing piping above the ceiling plane in the corridors is in a safe condition. This letter will be placed in your on-site project notebook.
- The ceiling grid is in the process of being removed.
- Air quality monitoring (dust) is taking place and there have been successful test reports all week. The tests show that the building has been consistently well below the allowable limits. Printed copies of these reports are in the on-site project notebooks.
Permanent Building Committee Updates (PBC)
- Due to a change in the type of roof specified and the type of roofs desired by the town facilities, we are starting the project being under budget by approximately $200,000!
For the Coming weeks:
- Monday through Friday the Contractor expects to work from 4 pm to 11 pm.
- The boiler room work is scheduled to start in the next two weeks, which would be 7am to 4PM. There will be no boiler room work during MCAS or Fifth Grade Moving-On Activities
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I hope you had a wonderful vacation!
April 13th, 2012
April vacation is here and Bowman and Bridge School head into construction!
We want everyone to know that Bowman and Bridge School Offices will be closed during April vacation. During this time construction will begin with the removal of old heating pipes in the tunnels below the school. It is likely that our school play yard and grounds will be less accessible during this time. We ask that if you are here over vacation, that you please watch construction from afar. We want to be sure that the needed construction work can be completed over the vacation.
When you return to school, you will most likely notice some changes. There will be fencing in the back to denote the construction area for the new boiler room, we will have two construction trailers off the area near Mr. Taylor’s room and the gym, and there will be a construction dumpster in the fenced area. In addition, inside the building, you will see that ceiling tiles in the hallways have been removed. This is necessary for the construction workers to run the heating pipes during the evening construction hours. Eventually classrooms will have a section of ceiling removed temporarily (about four feet in) so that additional pipe can be run. Hallway ceilings will be open so that students can actually see what it looks like (a great teaching tool), and classroom ceilings will be sealed off with plastic during the day. If you want to see what this will look like, you can take a look in the principal’s office. We are using my office as a test over the vacation to make sure that we have the design details for the plastic closures completely worked out. I will keep you updated as we get more information.
Our extended day program will be moving to its new location at the Central Office, next to Harrington School on Maple Street. The Extended Day Directors and I have worked closely together to ensure that there is a smooth transition for our students who go to extended day – as they will be taking the bus to their new location each day. For parents who have students in Extended Day, it will be VERY IMPORTANT for you to let both extended day and Bowman School know well in advance of 3PM if there is a change to your child’s schedule. Several of our elementary schools have children taking the bus to other sites, so I know this will work smoothly. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.
After vacation we begin the placement process. Thank you to all of you who provided us information by the deadline established. Your timely input is of great help to us in the process. For those of you who are new to Bowman, we take placement of students in classes for the next year very seriously. Classroom teachers, specialists, and administration work together first to create academically and socially balanced classrooms and then match teachers to classrooms. The process involves many reviews, and the input of many many people. The information you provided is just one set of information to help us. Class placement decisions will be mailed to you in August. All elementary schools follow the same procedures and schedule.
Elections for parent and teacher representatives to our School Site Council will occur again this year in June. Membership on our Site Council is a good way to find out more about our school, to share your thoughts and views and to support Bowman’s academic and pro-social goals. We meet monthly, usually before school from 7:45-8:45AM. This year we have been meeting on Fridays, but this day can vary with the group needs. The PTA will put out invitations to run for this elected office soon. I hope you will consider serving Bowman in this capacity.
On Saturday April 28, the PTA will host our Bowman in Bloom evening event for parents. I hope you will consider coming to this event. It is always a great opportunity to socialize and meet new friends in our community. You can find out more information from the Bowman PTA website.
As we return to school after April vacation, we head into the home stretch of the year. The weather gets even better, and the days stay light longer. We consider April, May and June to be important learning months. We appreciate your help in keeping your children’s routines and bedtime consistent so that they have the energy they need for learning during the school day. As we get to the warmer weather, please remember that children need to be dressed for school each day. We ask that you keep flip flops for the beach – they are dangerous on the climbing structures, and remember that spaghetti straps, muscle shirts and very short shorts are beachwear as well.
Starting April 23, all children and families must be out of the building by 4PM due to the construction contracts. Please understand that this will limit meetings and events held after school. We will be looking for creative solutions to our holding our PTA events next year and ways to make sure that we are able to continue to meet with parents as needed.
We are headed into a very exciting time for Bowman School. Construction will undoubtedly result in our need for flexibility and patience, and will definitely give us some wonderful opportunities for creative curriculum. I look forward to these next few months as we watch our building transform.
March 13th, 2012
Dear Parents and Guardians,
March came in like a lion and appears in the middle like a lamb! What wonderful weather we are having. How beautiful it is to be outside.
We are excitedly anticipating our construction process that will begin in the next couple of weeks. This week our project has really begun to seem real. Teachers had the opportunity to choose some colors for their spaces and we are beginning to get answers to some of questions. Soon it will be even more real. Information about the project is posted on our website from our Site Council Meeting 2/17/12 in which Pat Goddard, Director of Facilities, presented updates. Today we hosted about 35 construction workers who came in to get their CORI form checks. All workers for our project will be CORIed, whether they work during the day or at night.. Our format is not yet finalized, so we will keep you posted. We thought by giving you this date FAR in advance, you would be able to schedule it in your calendars. We know that many of you have work obligations during the day, but we felt it was important that teachers be able to talk about their routines and curricula in the actual classroom. We hope you can make arrangements to attend. This event will be for Bowman students and their families only. If you have a younger child, please make arrangements for your child for this event.
Save the Date – Curriculum Night 2012 is one of the events that has to be moved due to construction. We will be hosting a CURRICULUM MORNING on September 20, 2012 from 8:45-10:00.
We will need to be flexible next year as some of our favorite activities may need to change to different times or locations so that we can allow our workers to get our building done. How about a Sunday afternoon matinee, instead of Movie Night? Our building is free on Sundays. Some classes may need to be held Thursday afternoons instead of after school. We will do our best to keep as many activities going as we can.
Kindergarten Orientation for incoming students is 6:30-9:00 on Thursday March 15, 2012 at the Harrington School. If you know families in your neighborhood with incoming Kindergarten students for 2012-2013, please encourage them to join us. Bowman will host an individual Kindergarten Orientation for children on May 31, 2012 at our school.
Requests for placement information for next year from parents are being sent home in backpacks on Friday. You do not need to fill out a form in order to have us carefully consider your child’s needs. However, if you do plan to fill one out, please be sure to return it by April 5, 2012. Our placement process is a slow process that requires that lots of different staff members have input. Placements for 2012-2013 are mailed home in August.
Report Cards are coming home Friday March 23, 2012. Over the last three years, a committee of teachers, administrators and parent representatives has been working on revising our current report card. Teachers have had the opportunity to reflect on the new report card, to ask questions and to begin to have training in it’s implementation. Next year will be a pilot year for the use of this Standards-Based Report Card. I am looking forward to sharing more about the report card and its roll-out at the beginning of the new year.
MCAS is coming next week. If you are visiting our building, we ask that you remain very quiet in the hallways. If you are a parent of a child taking MCAS, we encourage you to make sure that your child has a good night’s sleep before, and a good breakfast the morning of the assessment. Our children do well. Our job is to help each child feel relaxed and able to show his or her personal best.
As the weather gets nicer, we are able to expand the number of games that we play. March is muddy. If your child is one who is likely to slide through the mud with a game, please consider sending an extra pair of pants. We live in wetlands. Sometimes at this time of year we need to stop games in certain parts of the fields – because they become ponds! Please help your child understand that this is temporary, and due to environmental conditions.
This week, ask your child about the Irish Step Assembly on Thursday! What a talented community we have.
February 28th, 2012
Welcome Back from February Break! This period of time between February and April is a crucial time for student learning. We are excited to see how settled and focused our students are - and we are looking forward to great learning opportunities over the next couple of months.
On the Friday before vacation, the Bowman and Bridge Site Councils had the opportunity to meet with Pat Goddard (Director of Facilities for the town) and Mark Barrett (Project Manager for the Bowman/Bridge project). The purpose of this meeting was to start the process of asking questions, outlining timelines and discussing next steps for our project. We are so excited that our building project is going forward! Over the vacation, the town of Lexington's Permanent Building Committee voted to award the contract for the Bowman/Bridge project, INCLUDING THE WINDOWS, to TLT Construction. The architect will be meeting with this corporation soon so that we can finalize some of our plans for phasing.
Our construction process will begin as of the first of April, with some site work starting outside of the building. The first part of construction will be the erection of a fence around the outside back boiler room area. This construction will change some of our parking in the back lot. We will continue to have buses drop off and pick up in this area. For parents, it will be important to realize that there will be LESS parking in the back lot. If you are coming to school, we encourage you to use one of the front lots.
As of April vacation, the contractor will have access to the building to start renovations for 4PM on each day. The first thing that the contractor will be doing involves removing the ceilings in the hallways to begin the process of running the wiring and heating pipes down to each room. For the time between April and the summer, the ceilings will be down in many parts of the building so that this work can take place. In order to minimize any disruption, clean up will occur each evening and will be inspected by town employees before students enter in the morning. As of April vacation the Extended Day will be moving to rooms at the Central Office. If your child goes to extended day, additional information will be provided separate from this letter.
The town has made arrangements for air quality testing both by the contractor and by an independent agency. We will continuously monitor the quality of our air to ensure that all students have a safe and clean environment in which to learn. We know that construction can be dusty, and will be working with the contractor and custodial staff to keep our school clean.
Over the summer, the classrooms in the K-2 wing will be fully renovated. This includes new heating and ductwork, new lights and ceilings, new windows, new bathrooms, and new paint. In order for this work to be done over the summer, all classrooms will be emptied, and teachers will be able to move back into spaces as of August 17. Some construction will continue in the new school year in the central core of the building, so stay tuned for updates. For the 2012-2013 school year, some offices and classrooms will be moved to temporary space in the gym or in other parts of the building. We will keep you updated as we go through each stage.
Construction can be a wonderful opportunity for our students to think about how things work, to see some of the parts of buildings that are usually covered and to think about mapping and diagramming spaces. We look forward to our construction process to be a learning opportunity for our students - as well as a wonderful opportunity to upgrade our spaces. As always, if you have any questions or concerns - please do not hesitate to ask me, a member of the Bowman Site Council, or the PTA. Together we want to be sure that everyone's questions have been answered. As our construction gets into full swing, it is my hope to start a "construction blog" so that our community can be updated - even if you are not around to see the work for yourself.
March is a busy month. It is known as a month of assessment! First we start next week with MEPA, which is Massachusetts' test for proficiency for English Language Learners. MCAS come right before conference time this year.
March 20 - Grade 4, Long Composition
March 21 & 22 - Grade 3, English Language Arts (ELA)
March 23 & 26 - Grade 4, ELA
March 27 & 28 - Grade 5, ELA
March 29 & 30 - Make Ups
Our students are well prepared to take on MCAS. We know that children often feel stress before MCAS time. It is important to help your child remember that MCAS is a snapshot, sometimes our snapshots are great ones that we really like, sometimes we wish that our smile was less crooked, or that our hair was brushed. Our goal for students is that they smile, approach any challenge with an "I know I can" attitude, and that they do their best. From past experience we know that some things you can do as a family can help. Please take a low-key attitude towards these tests, but help your child by making sure that they get plenty of sleep the night before, and that they have a healthy breakfast on testing days. It is very important that your child come to school for the MCAS testing. These are not good days to take family vacations. However, if your child is truly sick, we are happy and able to help them make-up the test at another time.
Other Important Dates in March/April
March 2 - Movie Night (RIO)
March 15 - Kindergarten Orientation (for incoming K) at Harrington
March 23 - Elementary Report Cards go home
April 4 & 5 - Elementary Conferences
April 6 - NO SCHOOL
April 11 & 12 - Elementary Conferences
April 16 - 20 - April Vacation
This year Bowman teachers continue to take on many wonderful challenges for the district. We have a number of classroom teachers at various grade levels piloting alternative math units that provide students with increased problem-solving and conceptual math challenges. These new units are being explored as one of the ways to supplement our math curriculum as we move to the new Common Core Standards adopted by the state. For more information about the Common Core Standards, please see the following website.
We are looking forward to MOVIE NIGHT on Friday night, with two venues, one for older students and one for younger. Our Spaghetti Dinner was an outstanding success the week before vacation. We hope that you and your families can join us at some of our wonderful Bowman Community events.
Happy Almost March!!!!
January 5th, 2012
Dear Parents and Families,
I hope that you have had a wonderful December break that has brought you in to January refreshed and renewed. It was a busy fall, full of ups and downs for me personally. I have appreciated all your kind wishes and compassion as I cared for and then grieved for my father. The kindness of the Bowman community was a blessing for my entire family. Thank you!
January is an exciting and busy month for us at Bowman. On January 24th the town will vote on whether or not to fund the Bowman/Bridge Renovation project and the Estabrook new school building. These projects are essential to our town to provide the needed space and healthy buildings for our children for many years to come. If the vote passes, we will be starting construction right after April vacation in the evenings and weekends. This is a quick paced project and our K-2 half of the building will have upgraded systems and bathrooms by the time we return to school in September of 2012! The design team and the Bowman/Bridge Renovation committee have worked hard to establish a cost effective project that will allow our buildings to function well for the next 20 years. We are excited about the possibility for these needed upgrades. We encourage you to ask your questions and get involved. Our January 12 Parent Coffee from 8:45AM to 9:45AM will be devoted to this topic, so feel free to invite friends or neighbors who might have questions as well.
On another note, as of December we have now trained over 25 of our teachers in the Responsive Classroom method of pro-social thinking. This comprehensive and integrated program allows for the teaching of pro-social, self-regulatory, and positive academic choice behaviors throughout the school day. A critical component of a Responsive Classroom is helping students engage in problem solving conferences and supporting children in making strong positive academic and social choices. We are excited to have this additional training and find that this approach actively supports our weekly Open Circle meetings.
I want to take this time to update parents on what we are doing to promote safe, healthy and fun play on our playground and to provide a great lunchroom environment. I greatly appreciated hearing parents questions about the playground and am committed to providing clear communication around what students are doing, the games that are available for students and the language we use with students to help them understand what to do when a game appears to get out of hand.
Our playgrounds are active busy places. At any given time, there will be 15 to 17 different kinds of games, activities and types of play going on in the playground. While safety is our first responsibility, we know that children who have an opportunity to run and release energy happily, will return to class much more attentive to learning. Many children have one or two preferred games. Given the number of children on the playground and limited space for some types of games, there are times when some preferred activities are not available. If your child comes home from school and says there is nothing to do at recess, consider asking your child if they have played any of the following types of games: four-square, basketball, soccer, theater games on the performance stage, flag football (upper grades), kickball with supervision on the town field diamond, using the climbing structure, relay races, swings, hula hoop, jump rope, running games or imagination games with friends. Our recess times are short, but there are many ways for students to release steam safely. We are in the process of collecting students’ ideas about what they like to do at recess, so stay tuned for what the children see as their favorite choices.
At times students can become very intensely involved in a game in a way that results in unsafe or unkind behavior. While most times most students play in inclusive ways, when a game becomes overly heated or unsafe, our recess support staff may ask a child, a grade, or a group of children to “Take a Break” from a particular game. This language “take a break” is language used in Responsive Classroom to help students build in time to regroup, think about their actions and engage in problem solving behaviors. We have noticed that some students have translated this language home saying that a game has been “banned”. Banned has an entirely different meaning, and implies that a game may never be played again. We are working with students in grade level meetings to help them reaffirm their understandings of ways to play safely on the playground and how to gracefully “take a break” and re-enter games.
We have only three games that have proved over time to result in excessive injuries and therefore are not part of our recess play. (Tackle football, Tag and Dodge ball).
We are in the process through our grade level meetings of making sure that all students know the kinds of games that they can play and how they can go about resolving issues or asking questions when they have them. It is our goal to continue to improve the ways we support our students as they have fun on the playground. If you have a question or concern about the playground, we generally suggest that you first bring the question to the classroom teacher, and then if not resolved to Mrs. Quirk, Mrs. Glick or myself. Of course we welcome your questions at any time.
We go outside every day that the weather is above 20 degrees without precipitation (or wind chill). Some children have difficulty transitioning from warm weather clothing to the jackets, hats, and mittens required of this season. Please be sure to label your child’s outerwear so that we can get it back to you if it gets lost, and be sure to send your child with warm clothing. Some children tell me that they get too warm when they play games in their heaviest winter jackets. Typically we expect students to wear their coats (not just sweatshirts) when the weather gets below 40-45 degrees depending on wind chill. If you have a child who gets overheated, you might want to leave a lighter weight jacket in his or her locker for those slightly warmer days.
Along with our work to support pro-social behavior on the playground, we are excited to let you know that we are sprucing up our cafeteria, and are looking forward to benefits in the lunchroom as well. Next week we will have new round cafeteria tables delivered. Currently our long cafeteria tables are tight and make it difficult for students to converse as a group. Round tables in schools help encourage conversation and allow students to engage with a wider circle of friends. Since each table seats eight, the tables will also spread out our students around the cafeteria, which will reduce the noise somewhat as well. We are excited about introducing the students to our new cafeteria, and look forward to a more of a family style (rather than institutional) of dining.
January is also budget time. Dr. Ash, our superintendent, has presented the proposed budget for FY13 to the School Committee this week. We are fortunate in our community to have avoided many of the budget cuts that other communities face. None-the-less, our budget aims to be more of a maintenance budget rather than providing increases in most programs. We are very fortunate to be recommended for a second year of our Intervention Specialist Pilot. Next month, we will provide an update for parents on the kinds of interventions this 0.5 position has allowed us to offer to students. We will also be keeping the additional support staff hired to help supervise our larger school enrollment. Some changes are proposed through the budget process as well. For example, the district will change service delivery in Occupational Therapy, moving from Assistants to OT-R’s providing direct service. Currently we are projected to keep a stable enrollment of around 520 students, and do not anticipate adding or reducing any sections of a grade level.
January is one of our most important learning months. With the colder weather outside and the holidays behind us, students and teachers settle down to important work. Please help your child make the most of this time by getting to school on time. Classrooms are open and students begin morning activities starting at 8:30. Students arriving after 8:45 are late and often miss important beginning instruction and announcements. Please remember that students should only be dismissed early from school for medical appointments. As always, we thank you for sending in notes in writing, rather than calling in at the end of the day.
We continue to anticipate our new lighting out in the front of the school. One result of the construction to add lights was to take out some trees and signage in the median strip. We need your help. Please do not park on either side of the street near the parking lot. Parking in this area creates hazards for families walking to or from the parking lot, and can create a difficult situation for passing. NO VEHICLE MAY PARK on the right hand side of the road for the entire length of the school driveway. We know parking is difficult, and we need your help to keep our emergency access open and our entry safe. Thanks so much for your help.