ForWard - April 15th, 2016

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ForWard

The John Ward Elementary School PTO Newsletter

April 15, 2016 

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
  • April 15 - Red Sox Ticket Orders Due Today
  • April 18-22 - NO SCHOOL - Spring Recess
  • May 1 - Ward Serves Day, 9 am to 2 pm
  • May 4 - Garden Day.  Need volunteers - see below
  • May 5 - Walk/Bike to School and Crossing Guard Appreciation Day
  • May 5 - Early Release Day
  • May 12 - Ward Spring Party! 6 pm on the playground, details below

From the Principal's Desk
 
It's time to begin plans for the 2016-17 school year. The placement team, which includes your child's current teacher, meets many times to create classes.  It is an extremely thoughtful process taking many hours.  Your child's current teacher has a wealth of information about your child in school.  Each child is given careful consideration whether you complete the optional placement form or not.  I want to emphasize that the team reads and considers information from all forms; however, it is impossible to fulfill all the requests that are put forth.  Please realize that we receive numerous and often competing requests from parents. At best, we may be able to fulfill one of your requests.  If you complete this form, please carefully prioritize your requests.

All information must be in writing.  Do not share information with your child's current teacher verbally.  Sometimes changes are made at the last minute when your child's teacher is not available and we must rely on written information to inform the process.

Please remember:  
  • Parents cannot choose their child's teacher by making suggestions to the teacher/principal.
  • We look carefully at all children when making decisions.  Parents do not have to make an appointment with the principal or their child's teacher to be given consideration.
  • The team does not refer to information from placement letters written in past years.

Our goal is to create balanced classes composed of children who can work together educationally and socially.  We believe that children learn from each other as well as from their teachers, and that heterogeneous classes balanced with regard to cognitive, social, and emotional development, skill acquisition, and gender promote the best learning environment for all children.  To achieve this, we solicit information from staff. They know students in a variety of school settings.

Here is what you can do:

We all need to understand that class placement decisions are the responsibility of the child's teachers and the principal.  Your child's present teacher has a year's worth of current, rich information and insight concerning how each child works best in school.  This information, combined with data from specialists, provides the basis for class placement.  This is not a departure from our usual process; it is our attempt for you to let us do our job as fairly as possible.

If you believe you have additional input that will be helpful to the team, please complete the optional form that will be sent home with your child.  As in the past, we will try to honor requests for friendships; however, we also believe that children should have the opportunity to develop new relationships with other classmates.  If you feel there are important friendships you would like us to consider, you may share this information by indicating at least three friends.  Again, we will do our best to honor at least one friendship.

In fairness to everyone, please observe these guidelines:
Because of the demands of time and equity issues, I will not be meeting with parents individually about the placement of students.  If there are some circumstances that you think I need to know, please write a separate letter marked "Confidential".

Parents should not talk to teachers about the placement of students.  Teachers have been instructed not to have conversations with parents about placement for the coming year.  These conversations place inappropriate and undue expectations on teachers and impact negatively on the fairness of the placement procedure.

Do not request a particular teacher by name or description.

In an effort to ensure a smooth transition, at the end of the school year we will conduct a step-up day when all students from each grade level visit with all teachers for the next grade level.  This practice encourages children to separate from their current teacher appropriately.

All forms and letters must be received by Friday, May 6, to be considered as part of the placement process. Late letters cannot be considered.

I ask that you trust us to use our knowledge of your child to provide a strong educational experience for all students.  Placement is a very intricate and thoughtful process that elicits input from many people who have in-depth knowledge of all of our students.  An enormous amount of energy goes into this important task.  Therefore, once assignments have been made, they are final.  Placement letters, including class lists, will go out district-wide in late August.  I believe that by our working closely together and communicating in an honest and direct way, we will gain the information needed to make the best decisions for all students.

Sincerely,
Audrey Peller, Principal

Ward School Family Night at Fenway Park! - 
Ticket Orders Due Today!
 
Join your classmates, teachers, family and friends for a night of fun at Fenway Park on June 17 as you watch the Red Sox take on the Seattle Mariners.  The game starts at 7:10 pm.  Bleacher tickets cost $36.
The deadline to buy tickets as part of our group is April 15, 2016.  To order tickets, please fill out this form, and leave it, with your check made payable to the Ward PTO, in the box in the Ward School lobby.
 
If you have any questions, please contact Diana Cohen.

Clothing Drive to Benefit Catie's Closet!
 
Clothing drive to benefit kids in need ages 4-18
April 25th thru April 29th
 

Catie's Closet builds "walk in closets" inside high need schools, for students in grades Pre-K through 12, so that kids have immediate access to what they need, free of charge. With this need met, students stop worrying about fitting in, and start focusing on school.  With your help, Catie's Closet can continue to grow and help kids across Massachusetts.

 
Please donate new and gently used clothing in:
Youth Girls and Boys Sizes 4-20
Teen Girls and Boys Sizes XS to XXL
T-Shirts, Hoodies, Pants, Gym Shorts, Shorts, Sweatpants, Jeans, Sweaters
New Socks and Underwear are also appreciated
 
Donation Boxes located in the lobby
MassChallenge's prestigious Diamond Award Winner for 2014

Walk/Bike to School and 
Crossing Guard Appreciation Day
Celebrate Spring with Ward's Walk/Bike to School & Crossing Guard Appreciation Day on Thursday, May 5th!  We'll have great giveaways for walkers & bikers and encourage you to personally thank the Ward Crossing Guards who work to keep your children safe each day! Our Ward Crossing Guards are: 
 
Christine Gentile- Waverly Ave @ Lorna Road
Anne Siegal- Ward Street @ Waverly Ave
Cheryl Amendola- Ward Street @ Hammond

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Becca Schulman Havemeyer at beccaschulman@gmail.com

Ward Garden News
Despite Winter's best effort to derail us, we shall be preparing our garden for spring planting over the next week.  Garden Day is planned for May 4, and we're looking forward to having all the classes participating in planting our delicious summer crops. The schedule of classes will be decided shortly and parental help is always welcome on Garden Day. 
 
If you are planning on participating in Newton Serves at Ward on May 1, don't forget to bring your garden gloves and tools to help out. Don't forget to label your tools! 
 
Looking forward to a happy, productive Spring,
The Garden Team

Ward Spring Party for the Whole Family!

It's spring time at Ward School!  Bring the family and join the Ward School Community on Thursday, May 12th at 6:00 pm, outdoors at the playground and tennis courts. Complete with organized games, food and interactive DJ entertainment, this event is not to be missed.  Show off your basketball skills at the long shot challenge and compete with other families on a life size Jenga game, just to name a few.  What a great way to kick off the season! Dinner will be provided and RSVP's will be required so we can plan accordingly.

You can help!  Volunteers are needed to assist with setup, food stations, overseeing games and clean up.  

Please contact Laurie Ufland at lteifeld@hotmail.com.

Additional information to follow in the coming weeks.

Save the Date for Ward Serves Day!
Sunday, May 1 from 9 am - 2 pm
 
Please bring your family and friends to help improve Ward during our annual Ward Serves Day!  We had a terrific turn out last year and would like to keep the momentum going -- all are welcome even if you can only serve for an hour!

This is a great and fun opportunity to do some community service together with your children and get to know other Ward families.

We need volunteers to help with:
  • painting the teacher's lounge and several offices
  • the Ward Garden
  • school landscaping, mulching and planting
  • spreading new woodchips around the playground
  • leaf raking
  • trash pick up around the school
  • and collecting and donating food for the Newton Food Pantries
We'll need volunteers to bring rakes, gardening gloves, shovels and a few wheel barrows for spreading woodchips around the playground.

If your family would like to help paint, please wear old clothes.  Please let us know if you are willing to be a Paint Project Captain!

Please email Cheryl Abramson or Lisa Gilinksky with any questions!

Library Volunteers Needed
 
PARENT  VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!!!   Ms. Packard, the Ward librarian, needs more parent volunteers in the library to help during library times for grades K, 1 and 2. Parents can sign up online through VolunteerSpot by clicking here.  

High School Start Times - Working Group Survey
 
The Newton Public School District has formed a working group to explore pushing back the high school start times in future school years. A critical piece of this exploration is gathering feedback from families on the impact of potential changes, both positive and negative. 
 
You should have received an email with a link to the survey on Tuesday, April 12th, via SurveyMonkey with email address: 

. Please complete this survey to provide the district with information about your family related to high school start times. If you did not receive the survey, please send a message to the email address above and request a link.  For additional information, please visit: www.newton.k12.ma.us/laterstarttime.

 
 
New items have been posted on the High School Start Time web page including:
 
1) April 2016 School Committee presentation about the revised timeline
2) Additional data from the student survey
3) Timeline for the rest of the year, including a Community Status Update on May 23, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.
4) Some additional links to health and wellness information
 
Please visit the web page for more information.  (You can also click through right from the district's main web page!)

Upcoming School Committee Meetings 

The School Committee will meet on April 27, and May 9 and 23, at 7 pm.  All meetings take place at the Education Center, 100 Walnut St., Newtonville.  An agenda for the upcoming meetings is available here.

Please Donate to the Annual Fund
  
Dear Ward Families,

If you haven't yet donated to the Annual Fund, we still need your contribution.
  
In addition to funding classroom technology, such as ipads and computers not paid for by the Newton School Department, your donation funds wonderful Creative Arts and Science programs and much more.  Click here to view the full PTO budget if you'd like to see exactly what your contribution pays for. 
  
Contributions are tax-deductible.
 
Warm Regards,
Linda Gillespie (Linda_Bentley@yahoo.com
Diana Cohen (dianacohen1971@gmail.com)

Pick Newton Schools Foundation for 
Boston Globe GRANT Program
 
It's free and easy! If you're a Boston Globe digital or print subscriber, please designate Newton Schools Foundation as your non-profit of choice to receive free advertising through the Globe's GRANT program.   All Globe subscribers receive a voucher worth up to $100 dollars that you can designate to a non-profit of your choice.  The organizations that receive the most GRANT "dollars" get a free ad in the Globe.  The NSF would use this ad space to promote our mission of supporting the Newton Public Schools. 
 
Go to http://manage.bostonglobe.com/grant/Default.aspx  and follow the simple instructions before the April 30 deadline. Thank you!

Make 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. 

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 the Community Notes page maintained by the Newton PTO Council.  Click here to link to their website, which you can search by category.