Balance is needed in the electronic age
A colleague of mine sent me a bulletin recently that extolled the opportunities that exist living in a digital world as well as the pitfalls when we fail to heed the advice of experts.
The benefits of living and working in the Information Era, where we all travel together on the wireless highway, are countless — entertainment, education, business, scientific research as well as performing basic daily tasks, have all benefited and will continue to do so, with the advent of newer technology. But as the author of this bulletin points out, like any good thing, moderation of our electronic and internet activity is essential if we want to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
There are literally hundreds of studies that show how our physical and mental health can be affected with too much “screen time” and within these studies, researchers identify ways in which people can find e-balance at home and work by practicing simple and effective strategies.
For me personally, I learned several years ago to turn off email alerts and phone sounds when I needed to be super focused and attentive. And it worked! I was finding that email messages in particular were arriving with some regularity when I became a Superintendent, not because Superintendents are popular mind you, causing me to be distracted from the work at hand. My compulsivity to instantly review and reply to the messages was beginning to affect my job performance. This is a norm that I expect all employees in Essex Town School District to adhere to when they are working with students and with each other during the work day.
The most significant piece of advice from this bulletin is for all consumers to remember that we need to focus on people not devices. At work, home and at school, adults and young people need to make sure that they are creating multiple opportunities during the day to connect with co-workers, friends, families and with themselves. Place or self-impose limits on device use, keep meal times free of electronics, listen to music, read a book, chat with a sibling or grandparent or simply reflect on your day without having your iPad open. Each of us has to be conscientious of our use of electronics with a key goal in mind of not losing sight of the power of human relationships.
The use of technology tools in schools today is absolutely crucial to a student’s mastery of important content knowledge and his or her connection to the global community. There are so many pathways to success and technology provides students with opportunities that were unthinkable only a few years ago. But as educators we have to be mindful when designing learning opportunities. In Essex Town School District classrooms, technology devices play second fiddle to the human connections that exist between the student and his or her teachers and other adults in the school-house. Caring and trusting relationships build strong and capable students- technology will never serve as a viable substitute.
From Principal Laurie Singer
While we’re used to having teachers PreK-8 working together, it’s less common to see our students connecting during the school day. Our ADL eighth-grade Alchemy Team and second-graders from Hiawatha did just that. The students have been pen pals over the school year and recently met together at ADL for an afternoon to create a poster board depicting their visions of their ideal community. It was the perfect blend of social studies curriculums focusing on the aspects that make up a community. Students used research, map, writing and artistic skills to design and showcase their learning. We look forward to more experiences such as these that break down the barriers of age to build connections across our PreK-8 district.
Before school on Friday, April 5, ADL welcomed Martha Penzer and her mother, Stella, a World War II survivor. Together, they shared stories from Stella’s youth in Poland through her traumatic experiences of war. Stella, nearly 93 years old, is a beacon of joy despite her past, telling students “humor and love are the most important things of all.” The audience consisted of students from sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grades, as well as students from the high school. Faculty and staff were also well represented, and the entire audience sat at rapt attention as Stella and Martha took turns reading Stella’s incredible poetry. The event prompted discussion and contemplation for all attending. Our guests were hosted by teacher Peter Gustafson and the ADL Library as part of a series of book discussions in honor of Holocaust Awareness Month.
Blood Drive Today
The eighth-Grade Citizenship Project Blood Drive is today, Thursday, April 17 from 2-7 p.m. in the ADL cafeteria. Walk-ins are welcome.
Empty Bowls Thanks
Students on the seventh grade ALPHA Team would like to thank those who came out to our annual Empty Bowls Night for their support. Over $1,000 was raised and will be distributed to The Heavenly Food Shelf to assist with their mission to feed the hungry.
Kindergarten Registration for the 2014-15 school has commenced. Incoming Kindergarten students must be five years old before Sept. 1, 2014. Kindergarten registration for the 2014-15 school year will be held during the afternoons of Wednesday, May 28 at Summit Street and Wednesday, June 4 at Hiawatha. You will need to provide a completed registration packet, a copy of your child’s birth certificate, immunization records, recent physical as well as residency verification.
To schedule at appointment, contact Mindy Deibler at 878-6419 or email@example.com
An incredibly fun night was had by all the families who attended the “Bingo, and a Bowl for a Buck” on the evening of Friday, March 28. A huge thanks to the many families who generously donated savory crockpot meals, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Then it was time to sweat it out with Kid’s Zumba, which was great fun. A huge thanks to Diana Halverson, a Hiawatha parent, for donating her time and talent for Zumba. After Zumba, celebrity bingo callers arrived in fabulous costumes. Children quickly recognized these celebrities as our own Hiawatha teachers Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Frankenhoff, who not only did a “groovy” job calling bingo, but also entertained us with their humor. Excitement was abound as children reached Bingo and happily picked from the many fun prizes as Bingo winners. The night ended with anyone who didn’t get a prize picking out a free book. Everyone left with full bellies and something to take home. Many thanks to the PTO officers and volunteers who organized and cooked for this fun event, for the celebrity bingo callers (Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Frankenhoff) and to the families who attended, all of whom made this event so special. For more information about upcoming PTO meetings and events, contact PTO President Rosalind Hutton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reminders and Other Information
For students’ safety, drop off at the curb and not in the drive-through lane.
Continue sending students to school with appropriate winter/mud season apparel.
School closed for Spring Break April 21 through April 25. Have a wonderful break.
Mrs. Virginia Yandell’s second-grade scientists have been working hard learning about and understanding various landforms found on earth. Second grade now has three science units to cover each year as part of the Next Generation Science Standards. Unit 1 is Structures and Properties in Matter, Unit 2 Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems, and Unit 3 Earth’s Systems: Processes that Shape the Earth. Yandell’s class has spent the beginning of this third trimester at Essex Elementary School working on Unit 3. They have focused on developing models to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area. Students have learned lots of new vocabulary words, such as plateau, peninsula, and delta as well as solidified understanding of more familiar landforms like lakes, plains and volcanoes. The students talked about important landforms local to us such as Lake Champlain, the Champlain Valley, and both the Adirondack and Green Mountain ranges. The class had a blast learning lots of new information from brainpopjr.com. And also enjoyed solving crossword puzzles, color coding maps and creating a model for landforms using salt dough. A simple mixture of water, salt, and flower allowed for students to design and shape landforms onto a sturdy piece of cardboard.
Nova Team News
Nova Team eighth-grade students in Science have been learning about inside our planet Earth and created a visual wallpaper display. The students have conducted a series of Earth Science labs about the forces that helped to shape the present day Earth, and its past history. Students researched specific Earth topics of interest culminating in a series of building models, and sharing their research with oral presentations.
EMS Academic State Champions Crowned
Essex is no stranger to State Championships; this month, EMS has produced two State Champions in the Math Counts and National Geo Bee competitions.
Andy Shen competed with his Math Counts team in the Vermont Principal’s State Competition and took home the honor of top middle school math student in the state. The EMS Math Counts team finished in second place overall. According to Coach Biederbeck, Shen ran away with the individual Championship.
Nick Norton took home the State Champion honors in the National Geographic Geography Bee. Norton, along with 100 other Vermont students, qualified to represent his school in the State Bee. He was one of only two competitors to score 100 percent in the qualifying round and moved on to the finals in which the top 10 students squared off. In the end it came down to Norton versus last year’s state champion from Manchester. There would be no repeat. Norton prevailed in the finals and in May will go to Washington, D.C. to represent Vermont in the National Bee Finals.
John Brickels, an internationally collected ceramic sculptor, who lives in Essex, has been working as an artist-in-residence with the students of Founders Memorial School for the past week. Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade artists have been learning about the History of Art Car Creation in the United States, and sculpting clay cars of their own design. They have been deeply inspired by John, and his series of sculptures that incorporate clay and antique pedal cars.
Student-artists have been encouraged to create an automobile that represents how they might see themselves moving forward into their own exciting futures. They were asked, “What kind of car might represent you, as you see yourself when you grow up?” They have learned about 3-dimensional design, clay techniques and metaphor; and, of course, extra credit for imagination and creativity. Gratitude goes out to the FMS PTO for making this wonderful experience possible for all of the children.
School Climate Survey
Thank you to parents/guardians for completing the school climate survey. Survey results will be available within the next month. After reviewing, we will form a committee consisting of parents, administrator, teacher, staff and students to inform decisions for continuous school improvement. If you are interested in serving on this committee, contact Principal Ryan at 878-1381.
News From The Learning Center
Author Sarah Stewart Taylor from Hartland, Vermont spoke to Fleming students in the Learning Center on April 1. S.S. Taylor is the author of “The Expeditioners,” a book nominated for Vermont’s DCF Award this year. Sarah did a slide show and talk about the whole book-making process of where ideas might come from, how one works on putting a story together, and how books get published. Her exciting, cliffhanger chapter book also has illustrations which enhance the set in the future tale and she talked about how the illustrator, Katherine Roy, worked with her. Students and teachers alike loved having Sarah and students asked insightful questions of the author afterwards.
On April 11, authors Tami and Bruce Zeman will be presenting their picture book. “Hobbes Goes Home” is the true story of their adoption and rescue of Hobbes, a Dachshund. Harper and Ritter, Fleming’s very own therapy dogs who visit weekly, donated a copy of the book to the library-learning center and a local bank will also be donating extra copies of this delightful story to our school library. Come join us at 9:45 a.m. or at 10:45 a.m. to hear the authors.
NECAP Science Assessment – Fourth-Grade Only
NECAP Science assessment will be administered to fourth graders from May 9 to May 16. There will be three science assessments administered during this testing window at Fleming School. It would be most helpful to have all fourth-grade students present and ready to demonstrate their science knowledge on the test days during this time frame. Thank you for your assistance in not scheduling out of school appointments during assessment days, if possible.
Parent’s Night Out
Parent’s Night Out is an evening of live entertainment and a silent auction to be held on April 12 from 7-9 p.m. at the Darkroom Gallery, 12 Main Street, Essex Junction. This is a “Natural Playground Renovation Project” fundraiser. There will be many items up for auction including: a framed watercolor painting by Carolyn Subin; a framed print by Vermont artist Daryl V. Storrs; a Regal Gymnastics Academy gift certificate and gym punch card; an overnight stay at The Essex; a 50 minute Swedish massage at The Essex; Orvis clothes; Orvis watch; Shelburne Farms family membership; Shelburne Museum family day pass; $100 Healthy Living gift card; Dr. Laura Ramirez Chiropractic Care Services; hand painted “Little Free Library” by Burlington artist Lydia Littwin; Roz Richard/Healing Hands Will Travel massage; O’Briens Salon gift certificate; Aubuchon Hardware portable gas grill; maple box and pen set; The Beach Fire portable fire ring; Look at Me Stories gift certificate; Kevin Reese mobiles; seasonal themed baskets; and 13 chairs designed and painted by students at Summit.
Kindergarten registration is now open for Essex Junction residents. Students eligible for kindergarten must be 5 years old before Sept. 1, 2014. To schedule an appointment, contact Mindy Deibler at: 878-6419 or email@example.com.
At your child’s scheduled appointment, you are asked to bring a completed registration packet, a copy of your child’s birth certificate, immunization records, and recent physical and residency verification.
Third graders have worked hard these past few weeks researching a famous individual who has made a difference in our world. They worked with Mrs. Duggan, our librarian extraordinaire, and our technology coordinator, Mr. Davidson, to choose a great person, research and take notes from books and databases, and learn about internet safety. After taking organized notes in sections, including how their person made a difference, facts and quotes, and time line information, they synthesized the information into two paragraphs including topic and concluding sentences and transition words. They also created bulleted lists of facts, quotes and timeline information.
After typing all of this information into a Publisher template, the third graders together revised their work for clarity and drew using markers beautiful portraits of their individual. The research pages and portraits will be shipped off on Friday to be transformed into a gorgeous hardcover class book.
Early Release Day for Summit’s current kindergarten students will be on May 28 at 11:30 a.m. so that we may conduct our annual kindergarten registration. Parents should plan in advance after school childcare. An option that is available to you is offered by the Essex Junction Recreation department; for those interested parents. Information to enroll your child in this “Kindergarten Vacation Camp” will be sent home to kindergarten parents in the near future to allow parents ample time to plan for this day. Participating children will walk to Maple Street Park with recreation staff beginning at 11:30 a.m. Look for more information coming home soon if you are the parent of a kindergarten student.
Upcoming Events:April 15 Playground Meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Learning Center April 17 Ms. Peterson’s Class Shares at Assembly at 8:15 a.m. April 18 Book Swap April 21-25 Spring Break – No School April 29 Playground Meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Learning Center May 2 Arbor Day Celebration at 1:30 p.m. May 6 Playground Meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Learning Center
Cooking For A Cause
On April 9, Essex High School with the support of the Essex Rotary Club held the annual Community Service Dinner “Cooking For a Cause.” The event is held yearly to recognize outstanding achievement in service to our community through various channels by members of the senior class. School Superintendent Judy Denova hosted the event, which was organized by Math Teacher Lea Ann Smith, and Karen Gonillo from the high school’s main office.
This year 96 EHS seniors were honored. The students and their guests were treated to a lasagna dinner from Boves and an array of desserts provided by EHS faculty and staff. Congratulations to all the recipients and a big thank you to Rotarians and faculty on hand to serve.
Counseling Office Feedback
Do you have opinions or feedback about the Essex High School Counseling Office? Whether positive or constructive, students, parents, teachers, and administrators are asked to complete a survey before April 28. Don’t want to take the survey? Contact counselors or the School Counseling Director with feedback directly. Watch for a survey link on the EHS webpage. Students, teachers and administrators, keep an eye on your school e-mail for information about how to participate.