It’s all about partnerships
.Erin Maguire Director of Support Services, CCSU
.Jessica Little Director of Support Services, ETSD
Partnerships between parents and schools are an essential part of education. Parental involvement benefits students, informs teachers and strengthens family and school relationships. As Directors of Student Support Services, we strive to facilitate meaningful connections and communication with parents and guardians in Essex and Westford in an effort to keep them involved in their child’s educational experience.
Partnerships with families is especially important within the context of special education when it’s often the case that children require specialized instruction and educational supports outside of the regular classroom. Both Chittenden Central Supervisory Union and Essex Town School District value parent involvement in the special education process. For parents to feel empowered and engaged, they need to be informed and provided access to information that is understandable and relevant to their child’s education. Special education is laden with unfamiliar language, laws, regulations and procedures. Moreover, many professionals are involved and play multiple roles, which at times can be overwhelming and difficult for a parent to understand.
Both of us know better than most just how many acronyms are used in education and how education can sometimes seem like another language if you don’t work in the field. We want to help parents understand the process, know what to ask for and who to talk to when they have concerns. We also want to help support parents who are already familiar with special education gain a deeper understanding.
Since all Essex Town students eventually transition to CCSU in ninth grade by attending Essex Community High School, we decided to co-facilitate several training sessions this year. The series are designed to support parents in understanding the ins and outs of the special education process. We will also share resources across Chittenden County that may be beneficial to parents and families. This collaborative between Essex Town and CCSU is representative of our commitment to a smooth transition for students between the two systems. Based on participant feedback, we hope to strengthen these training sessions and offer them on an annual basis.
The parent trainings take place over three sessions. In November we covered the basics of special education and parent friendly definitions. Each scheduled date has a focused topic, but parents can also ask questions to help meet their needs and reason for coming. In January we will talk about parents as active participants in the eligibility and IEP development process. In March we will share resources throughout Chittenden County for parents to consider and use based on their needs. The sessions are open to anyone who might be interested in the topic of special education in our schools. The locations of the trainings are in schools across Essex Town and CCSU. To locate a flyer for the sessions, visit the Essex Town or CCSU websites.
From Principal Laurie Singer
Hopefully, all ADL families received students’ progress reports for the end of trimester one as well as a screenshot showing how to access information from the PowerSchool Portal. The PowerSchool Portal will remain open until Friday, Dec. 19, which serves to provide additional information about each student’s performance in every class. If you did not receive a progress report, call 878-1388 so we can mail another copy home. We at ADL wish all of our families and the Essex Junction community a safe and happy holiday season. We look forward to seeing everyone back at school on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. Also, note on calendars that upon our return to school we have an early release day (12 p.m.) on Friday, Jan. 16 and in-service on Monday, Jan. 19 so there will be no school for students.
ADL Holiday Concert
The ADL Music Department is proud to present the Annual Holiday Concert tonight at 7 p.m. in the school gymnasium. This year’s program will again feature the ADL String Orchestra directed by Asiat Ali and the Chorus, Select Chorus, and Handbells directed by Gray Moreau. A reception will follow in the ADL cafeteria.
ADL Blood Drive
ADL is hosting its second annual blood drive. We all see the commercials and hear the talk that our regions blood reserves are extremely low. Here is a great way for you to help out. We have set a lofty goal of 50 donors. Needless to say we need your help. If you are able and are willing to give blood, please consider giving at our drive. The date of the drive is Jan. 8. We will be making appointments to make it easier for our donors. Appointments begin at 2 p.m. with our last appointment at 6:45 p.m. If you would like to make an appointment, you can contact Kevin Barber by email at email@example.com.
Thanks to the help of parent and grandparent volunteers, Four Winds is “whipping” through each classroom every month. In November, students were given a puppet show and presentation with hands-on activities to teach them about beavers and how they adapt to their environment. In Mrs. Funtow’s second grade class, students built beaver lodges with clay and pretended to be beavers gnawing on trees. The overarching theme this year in Four Winds is Structure and Function also known as Adaptations, and this December’s theme is Predators and Prey. Kids will head outside to play predator/prey tag and Hot on the Trail. A huge thanks to all of our Hiawatha Four Winds volunteers, and to the teachers for their flexibility in allowing this very important enrichment time for all students.
Hand To Hand Sale
The very popular Hand To Hand Sale hosted by the first grade is coming up on Dec. 17. The first-grade teachers are accepting small items for the sale until tomorrow, Dec. 12. Make sure the items you send are clean and school appropriate. The first graders will be working to sort and organize the items and advertise for the sale. They will be in charge of selling the items and will later use the money raised to buy food for our local food shelf, The Heavenly Pantry.
The Emergent Reader’s Program still needs volunteers. Contact Amanda Stevens if you are interested.
The Hot Lunch Holiday Dinner will be held today, Dec. 11. Parents are welcome to attend.
Betsy Synnott’s kindergarteners are learning to identify living and non-living objects. This unit is based on the Next Generation Science Standards. The unit started with a lively discussion about the question: Is a tree a living thing? The student’s responses were good reminders about where young children are in their understanding of the world: It’s not alive because it doesn’t have a face, and it can’t walk or talk so it can’t be alive. Students gained new understanding through experiences with living things and through reading informational books. The question was then asked again. The responses the second time sounded more like this: It is alive because the sun gives it food, and it’s alive because it grows, and but if you cut it down it can’t stay alive because it doesn’t have any more roots so it can’t drink. What growth.
An important part of being a scientist is sharing observations through writing. The students are doing just that. They are looking closely at natural objects, both living (pine tree, spider plants) and non-living (birch log, pine cones, rocks) and writing mini books about their observations. The writers are learning to choose one object to write about and to stay on topic (pine trees, for example). These books use patterned sentences. (I see pine pitch. I see dirt. I see pine needles. I see branches, etc.) This patterned structure allows even the most reluctant writers to find success.
These little scientists are so excited to learn more about the world every day and to write about it.
Building community with third and fifth graders
Every Friday morning at Founders Memorial School you can find Susan Miyamoto’s fifth graders interact with Darlene Ford’s third graders.
Every week Miyamoto and Ford take turns planning a greeting and an activity for both of their classes. Fifth graders are paired up with a third grader and then begin activities ranging from playing math games to doing a lesson on bullying.
After the holiday break, students will spend longer periods of time together. This extra time will allow for students to be involved with more in depth projects and activities.
The fifth graders are wonderful role models for the third graders. It is a nice way to interact with children that are in a different grade and section of the school. Cross-grade classroom buddies can support academic achievement and social skill development.Submitted by Darlene Ford. .