ForWard - December 4th, 2015

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The John Ward Elementary School PTO Newsletter

December 4, 2015 

Dear Ward Parents,

Welcome to the latest edition of the Ward Elementary School Newsletter ForWARD for the 2015-2016 school year. 

* To stop receiving this newsletter, or update your email information please use the links at the end of the newsletter.

Ward School Banner
  • December 4 - 8:30 a.m., PTO Meeting and Discussion of Testing with Mrs. Peller
  • December 10 - 7:45 am, Teacher Appreciation Breakfast hosted by 4th Grade
  • December 24- January 3 - No School - Winter Break
  • January 18 - No School for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • January 19th - 8:30am - Superintendent David Fleishman discussion with Ward School Parents
  • January 29 - 7:30 pm, Ward School Night at the Celtics game

From the Principal's Desk
If your child took the PARCC tests last spring, you should be receiving results shortly.  We have been told that the state is moving toward a revised MCAS test, but next spring students will continue to take a version of the PARCC test. The test window for students in grades 3, 4, and 5 will be April 25 through May 27, 2016.  Our preference is to continue using the paper version, but that has not been verified by the state. At our PTO meeting on Friday, December 4, at 8:30, I will be discussing our results from PARCC testing.  Please bring your questions.

Our next school-wide community meeting will take place on December 14.  All students have been assigned a family which consists of about 12 students representing all grades.  Each family meets with a staff member prior to each monthly whole school meeting.  Our goals are based on the Responsive Classroom approach and include building connections with students from other grades and a trusted adult in the school.  At times we preview the topic for our Community Meeting.  If your child arrives between 8:30 and 8:45 on a community meeting day, your child should meet with his/her family. At 8:45, families sit together in assigned spots during our meeting in the gym  The topic this month is celebrating Inclusion.

If you wish to know more about the Responsive Classroom approach, the City is offering Responsive Home Workshops for families at the Newton Education Center on Walnut St., free of charge.  See the article below for dates and more information.

As we approach the holiday season, I realize that many families wish to express their gratitude to staff members. At this time, I want to remind you of the Newton School Committee's policy regarding gifts. The policy states, "No teacher in performance of regular duties shall receive presents from pupils under his/her direction."  In addition, the Massachusetts Ethics Reform law states that a, "municipal employees may not accept gifts and gratuities valued at $50 or more" (per year). A group gift for a teacher/classroom where individuals contribute smaller amounts cannot exceed $150. Classroom supplies/contributions do not fall under this policy.

I ask for your cooperation in adhering to this policy. Teachers feel awkward accepting gifts prohibited by the system, yet they also feel uncomfortable refusing a gift offered by a child or parent. This also creates a confusing situation for students that follow the policy and see teachers receiving gifts from other students.  If you wish to express your gratitude to a staff member, cards or notes are greatly appreciated.  We realize how much time and effort go into writing a sincere note of thanks and appreciation, drawing a lovely picture, or writing a poem. Teachers truly treasure the pictures and notes they receive from families. Other alternatives include purchasing a book for the library or at the Book Fair or a donation to the Newton Schools Foundation. Each of these can be dedicated to a staff member.
Audrey Parad Peller

Check the Lost and Found - Soon it Will be Gone!
Please check the lost and found for any of your children's missing coats or clothes. The lost and found rack has been moved to near the library to make it easier for you.  Next week all items left in the lost and found will be donated to a local charity.

Teacher Appreciation Breakfast - 4th Grade
The next teacher appreciation breakfast will be on December 10, hosted by fourth grade families.  Please be on the lookout for an email from Beth Hicks and her team about the items that you can contribute.  Any questions - please contact Beth at

Cradles to Crayons Hat and Glove Drive
Help Cradles to Crayons collect 6,000 hats and gloves for local children in need.  For thousands of children in need, staying warm in winter is a struggle.  Help protect kids in your community by collecting new hats and gloves to keep them warm.

Bring new children's hats and gloves to the bin in the Ward School Lobby from November 2 to December 23.  You can also ship directly to Cradles to Crayons, Attention Mo Reilly, 155 North Beacon St., Brighton, MA  02135.  

Cradles to Crayons provides children living in low-income and homeless situations with the essentials they need to thrive - at home, at school, and at play.  For more information, see

Buy Your Tickets for Ward School Celtics Night
The Ward School night at the Celtics is Friday January 29th, 2016 at 7:30 pm.
We are in the final two weeks of Celtics ticket sales for the game.  We will stop selling tickets on December 18th.  Please drop off your application (there are extra ones in the lobby) by the deadline.  

These make a great holiday present and tickets are open to friends and family.
For more information please contact Diana Cohen at or Erin Lewis

Understanding Our Differences:
Allergic Conditions and Diabetes Unit
On November 19, the Chronic Medical Conditions unit of the UOD program was presented to the 4th grade. Students were given introductory presentations about Allergies and Diabetes, and they also took part in hands-on activities focused on both of these chronic medical conditions. We were very lucky to have Jon Hammer, a sophomore at NNHS and former Ward student, as our guest speaker. Jon shared his experiences with Type 1 Diabetes, and fielded the 4th graders' many questions with a great sense of humor. The students learned a great deal from Jon's thoughtful, engaging, and substantive talk.
Many thanks to our parent volunteer team of Beth Hicks, Michelle Robinson, and Yael Waldman! I would also like to thank our 4th grade teachers, Katherine Goldman, Lauren Ludman, and Amy Magna, the classroom aides, and our principal Audrey Peller for their support, as well as Shelia Packard, Sis Belcher, and Amy Broder for their invaluable assistance.
The next (and last) UOD unit for the 4th graders will be about Learning Disabilities, and will take place on Thursday, March 24. If you are able to parent volunteer, I would love your help with this valuable program!
Alexandra Novina
For more information:

Annual Fund Drive
We are kicking off our Annual Fund Drive which funds the majority of our budget each year including:
  • Creative Arts and Sciences programs and speakers
  • Community events
  • Classroom supplies 
  • Library support 
  • The Ward garden
  • Classroom technology including laptops and ipads.
Historically, the PTO has funded nearly all of the laptops and iPads used in Ward classrooms. Each year we continue to update and replace older hardware and fund any new technology requested by Principal Peller.  
Without the financial support and time contributed by Ward families, none of these activities would be possible.

Please contribute either online at the PTO website  (via credit card).  Or by dropping a check in the box in the Ward lobby--made out to Ward PTO.  
Contributions are tax-deductible.  

Questions? Please contact:
Diana Cohen ( or Linda Gillespie (

Grade-Wide Potluck Dinners 
Thank you so much to Sukanya and Supreo Ghosh for hosting a wonderful dinner for kindergarten parents!  A good time was had by all!
Save the date for these other dinners:
5th Grade - January 9, 2016
4th Grade - February 6, 2016
3rd Grade - January 23, 2016
2nd Grade - date TBD in February 2016
1st grade -  January 30, 2016  

Responsive Home Workshop
Practical strategies to promote positive behavior at home.

The tools of Responsive Classroom can be used to help create a calm, supporting and encouraging environment at home too!  Open to the Public - No Registration Required!  Workshops will be held on:
  • Thursday, January 21, 6:30-8:30 pm
  • Tuesday, February 9, 9-11 am
All sessions take place in Room 210, The Education Center, 100 Walnut St., Newtonville.

Join us to learn useful steps for creating a Responsive Home, including: 
  • Family Meeting
  • House Rules
  • Interactive Modeling
  • Positive Language
  • Logical Consequences
  • Choice
  • Quiet Time
The workshop will be taught by Amy Kelly, District Leader of Social and Emotional Learning, Newton Public Schools.

For more information, please contact Kathy Marchi, SEL Department, or 617-559-6139.

Ward Art Committee Needs New Members!
The Art Committee needs your help.  Each May, we honor the arts at Ward with the annual Ward Art Show.  This event showcases the amazing art your children have worked hard to create.  
The time commitment is minimal.  We prepare all year long for this special celebration by stapling and framing artwork, but we can't do it without the help of parent volunteers like you. 
No Art Experience is necessary!

Particularly for parents of children in grades K-3 - the Ward Art Committee needs some fresh faces! Many of our volunteers' children will be graduating this year and we need to pass the baton to the younger grades in order to keep the Art Show alive.

Please contact Deb Gilpin at to find out how you can get involved.

Mrs. Packard Needs Your Help in the Library 
Parents, your help in Ward Library classes would make a big difference! Volunteers are needed to help with checking in books, shelving, finding requested books, research projects and making sure our new self-checkout system works smoothly. Library classes are only 30 minutes long and volunteers can really do a lot to help students be successful library users. 
Signup is easy: click on VolunteerSpot on the library website. 
Here's how it works in 3 easy steps: 
1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot: 
2. Enter your email address. You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot. 
3. Sign up! Choose your spots.  VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy! 

Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact your room parent and they can sign you up manually.  If you have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Bosco

Newton Schools Foundation Annual Appeal 
Please consider a donation to the Newton Schools Foundation (NSF) to support all Newton schools.  Global study.  Computer coding.  Vibrant writing. Social/emotional learning.  These are among the exciting initiatives NSF supports in the Newton public schools.  And we do it thanks to the generosity of Newton community members like you.

For five decades, NSF has provided funding for educational efforts that are hard to address in the school department's operating budget.  As the holidays approach,please consider a donation to NSF so our schools can continue to best serve our kids.

Your donation allows NSF to fund:
dynamic new curricula for all students
teacher training on effective, up-to-date teaching practices
achievement gap programs and scholarships for low-income and minority students.

The programs we support span Newton's diverse student population and impact all of Newton's 12,000 students.  As you make your year-end donations, please includeNewton Schools Foundation in your giving. for more information.

Earn money for Ward when you shop at Amazon  
Shop at Amazon and up to 10% of your purchase goes to Ward.  Please bookmark this page and click here every time you shop on Amazon.  A percentage of your purchase (which varies by category) will automatically go to Ward. This link explains how much of your purchases go to Ward!

Community News and Advertisements  
If you're looking for news about local educational and non-profit events, or services offered by local tutors, merchants, and other service providers, check out theCommunity Notes page maintained by the Newton PTO Council.  Click here to link to their website, which you can search by category.