ForWard - June 23rd, 2017

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The John Ward Elementary School PTO Newsletter

June 23, 2017 

Dear Ward Parents,

Welcome to the last edition of the Ward Elementary School Newsletter ForWARD for the 2016-2017 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
  • TODAY -- Last Day of School - June 23, Early Release at NOON
  • Save the date for the fall - Mystery Dinners are on October 14

 From the Principal's Desk
This year really flew quickly.  Our graduation ceremony on Wednesday was a wonderful celebration for our fifth graders and their families.  Students sang songs from the musical, Schoolhouse Rock, and each child shared a special memory from their days at Ward.  It's seems like yesterday that they came in the doors as kindergartners.  We wish them well as they move on to middle school.
Some changes for next year include adding a first grade classroom due to our large kindergarten.  The learning center will be moving to the music room downstairs and the music teachers will be using the cafe, library and gym for classes.  Our fourth grade will be upstairs in the Learning Center space.
We have a few staffing changes.  Meghan O'Brien, our current psychologist and Team Specialist, will be moving to Countryside.  Our Psychologist will be Paola Rengifo, who is currently a psychologist at Cabot and does district bilingual evaluations as well.  Our Team Specialist will be Kristine Barker who is currently working in Brookline and has previously served as the assistant principal and principal at a special education school.  Missy Costello will be working on a high school technology project next year.  Our Instructional Technology support person will be Katie Collins, who is a former classroom teacher.  One of our math coaches, Doug Miller, will be a Math Department Head and Family Engagement Coordinator at Charlestown High School.
If your child is not returning to Ward next year, please let us know .  This impacts our class placement for next year.  All Newton elementary schools will be sending out class placement on Friday, August 25.  Ward will have an Open House to meet your teacher on Thursday, August 31,  from 1:00-2:00 ONLY. I hope you can join us then
Our school office will be closing on June 26.  A voicemail will direct your questions to central office personnel.  I hope your summer is restful and relaxing!

From the Nurse's Office


Think about taking time this summer to share stories. Do your kids know how their parents met? The story of when they were born? Where their grandparents grew up?  Summertime often means less scheduled days, visits with extended family members and perhaps a family vacation. This time of longer days opens the door to opportunities to tell stories. And telling these stories just may make a difference in your child's health and well-being.
The Newton school nurses strive to develop skills, programs and ways to better meet the health needs of students. During a program this year, the importance and protective benefit of effective relationships between children and their families emerged as a focus.
The group decided to share the "Do You Know?" (DYK) scale that's a part of an Emory University study by Marshall Duke, Amber Lazarus and Robyn Fivush that indicates "children who score high on the DYK scale are associated with higher levels of self-esteem, an internal locus of control (belief that an individual can influence events and their outcomes), better family functioning, lower levels of anxiety, fewer behavioral problems, and better chances for good outcomes if faced with educational or emotional/behavioral difficulties."  The study doesn't mean that sitting down with your child and rattling off the answers to all these questions is the solution. "It is not knowledge of these specific facts that is important; it is the process of families sharing stories about their lives that is important," the authors wrote.
In their research, the authors found that often these stories are shared by mothers and grandmothers during family dinners, family vacations and holidays. "Other data indicated that these very same regular family dinners, yearly vacations, and holiday celebrations occur more frequently in families that have high levels of cohesiveness and that they contribute to the development of a strong sense of what we have called the intergenerational self. It is this intergenerational self and the personal strength and moral guidance that seem to derive from it that are associated with increased resilience, better adjustment, and improved chances of good clinical and educational outcomes." 
So the school nurses challenge all families to share a story this summer whether you're in the car on the way to camp, sitting around a campfire, or gathering for a meal after work. Below are a few more questions to get you started. The full list, and links to articles, is on our website, and perhaps you can think of more stories on your own.

Do you know how your parents met? Do you know which person in your family you look most like? Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young? Do you know the source of your name?
Article reference: Duke, M.P., Lazarus, A., & Fivush, R. (2008). Knowledge of family history as a clinically useful index of psychological well-being and prognosis: A brief report. Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 45, 268-272

Visit the Ward School Garden this Summer!
School may be winding down for the summer, but the plantings in the Ward School Garden are in full swing!  Please stop by the garden throughout the summer and sample some of the vegetables planted by Ward students.  The garden committee will also be hosting an open garden evening later this summer.  Stay tuned for details!
We are also recruiting volunteers to help maintain the garden over summer break.  Volunteers can sign up for a week during which they will check in on the garden 2-3 times to make sure the sprinklers are running, water dry areas within the raised beds, water the new perennial plantings from Ward Serves, pull weeds, and enjoy some of the harvest!  You do not need to be a green thumb to volunteer!  We are happy to meet to show volunteers the sprinkler system and go over any questions.  If interested, please contact Elizabeth Apgar at

 Thank you to all of this year's volunteers
Thank you for sharing your time and talents with our PTO and school!
Your assistance goes a long way toward bringing so many great activities and programs to our school's teachers, students, and families, and we sincerely appreciate your important contributions. Our school becomes a better place every day when people like you are there to lend a hand! 
From Mystery Night to Color Day to the Book Fair to CASC and everything in between, your contributions to the Ward School are greatly appreciated, and we thank you for all that you have done.

 Families In Need of After School Care
If you are in need of after school care for your children and are not or cannot participate in the Ward After School Program, can you please email your name and number of children to Lisa Schwarzberg at  We are hoping to work with other community organizations to assist with after school care and need to understand how many people this will impact.  Please email Lisa as soon as possible, and thanks!

 Save the Date For Mystery Dinners
Ward's Mystery Dinners will take place this fall on October 14, 2017.  If you are willing to host a dinner, or the appetizer or dessert parties, please contact Beth Hicks at  

 Advertise in the 2017-18 Ward School Directory!
Advertise your business to the Ward Community by purchasing an ad in the 2017-2018 Ward Directory which will be printed and distributed at the end of September.
This is a cost effective way for your business to reach our families and support the PTO. 
In addition to offsetting the cost of printing the Directory, proceeds will go toward PTO funding including Creative Arts & Sciences programming and technology updates.  
A: Full  Page  $500 - 8.5" x 11"  
B: Half page landscape  $250 -  8.5" x 5.5"
C: Quarter page portrait  $150 - 4.25" x 5.5"
D: Eighth page landscape  $100 -  4.25 x 2.5
Email Linda Gillespie at with any questions about directory ads.

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.