From the Principal's Desk - May 27th, 2016

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From the Principal's Desk
Dear Ward Families,
 
The spring is flying by!! As I visit classrooms, it is evident that students are actively engaged in learning throughout their day across all curricular areas. I have seen a variety of whole group, small group and partner work for math, social studies, reading groups and more. In writing, it is particularly clear how much growth students have made. The end of the year brings many opportunities to celebrate learning....watch for information from teachers about any experiences planned for sharing and celebrating learning.
 
Mrs. Peller - An Update
We welcome back Mrs. Peller, who plans to return part-time starting next week. I will continue to be present during the mornings and Mrs. Peller in the afternoons. I look forward to continuing my time at Ward!
 
Placement for next year: The teachers, Mrs. Peller, and I are in the process of organizing class placements for next year. This is a very thoughtful, time-consuming process that takes several sessions. As you know, we include any information you, as parents, provide to us as well as all the information we have as educators about your child's academic, social, and emotional needs so that we create balanced classes for next year. As in past years across all Newton schools, parents will receive class lists in later August - we may have the date later in the year.
 
Teacher Assignments, Classroom Organizations:
In a June ForWard, Mrs. Peller or I will be able to share the number of classrooms and teacher assignments for next year as well as any other staffing updates. Enrollment numbers continue to change at some grade levels here and across the district, so we are all in a "wait-and-see" mode regarding enrollment numbers and their impact on the numbers of classrooms at grade levels.
 
Recess and Playground Update:
At Ward and all elementary schools across the district, we are committed to providing students as much time for physical activity as possible. As we all know, students need the time for fresh air, unstructured play, and social interactions. This "downtime" and opportunity to play has been shown to have positive effects on attention and readiness for academic focus and work. Teachers can readily attest to the positive effects of physical activity which is also well-supported by the research.
 
To that end, a morning snack and recess time is provided, typically 25-30 minutes; kindergarten is often longer at 40 minutes. Lunch and midday recess is approximately 35 minutes: 20 minutes for lunch, 15 minutes for recess. While transitioning time back and forth to play areas may vary for a variety of reasons, teachers try to maximize time outside. Newton has guidelines for time devoted to recess, snack, and lunch which our teachers keep in mind as they make decisions for their classes. They also take advantage of the good weather days and may extend recess a bit.
 
In the classroom setting, one can often see teachers lead students in movement breaks as they transition from one lesson to another or after sitting for chunks of time. This can look like running in place, stretching, loosening up, or shaking out one's limbs, as examples. Even these brief movement breaks often help students refocus. If you have any questions on this topic, please let me know.
 
As an aside, I am aware that Mrs. Peller and the School Council have begun in the process of revising the school handbook to reflect current practices such as this.
 
Upcoming Events:
 
Art Show - Wednesday, May 25
Many thanks go to Mrs. Broder for orchestrating this showcasing of student art. Talent abounds among our students; they take such pride in displaying their artwork for all to see. Thanks also to the many parents who helped prepare for this wonderful display.
 
Grade 5 Musical - Monday, June 6, 9:00 AM and 7:00PM
This exciting annual event led by Ms. Rapa, Music Teacher, is a fun-filled musical revue showcasing the musical talents of our fifth graders. The morning concert is for students only with the evening event for parents. Our space is constrained so we ask that parents enjoy this revue in the evening.
 
Color Day - Tuesday, June 7
This is a highlight of the year for many students. Under the direction of Sis Belcher, PEHW Teacher, students have fun in a day-long experience of playing cooperative games out on the field. Many parent volunteers make this day come to life by leading stations and helping out in other ways.
 
Progress Reports Go Live on the parent portal - Skyward-family access - June 21
This year there is a new online parent portal where you will go to read your child's progress report. The Technology Department for the Newton Public Schools will be sending you information about this site. They will provide you with parent access information, a video for using the online site, and more. They will make this information available by June 13 so you have time to play with the site including your password to get into your account to revise any contact information, and more. Progress reports will be made available to elementary families on June 21 through this parent portal. Paper copies will not be sent home unless you request one from our Office if you do not have access to your online account. So, watch for more information.
 
Last Day of Afterschool - Wednesday, June 22
 
Last Day of School - Students - Thursday, June 23, Early Release at NOON.
 
Last Day of School - Teachers - Friday, June 24, at noon.
 
Warm wishes,
Eva Thompson