Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ready for Round Two

With year one successfully under my belt I am pleased to say that I am just as excited about this year as I was last year. Last year went by, it seems, in the blink of an eye and this year is no exception! Here it is already nearing the middle of October and although the weather has been more summer like these past few days, the scenery suggests otherwise!
All of us here at OQS are off and running with exciting things happening everyday! Recently our wonderful new librarian Becky Whitney, our esteemed instructional coach Madeline Carlock, and our fabulous Title I Reading Teacher Lynn Porter planned and organized a collaborative event called "Milk and Cookies" Literacy Night. While parents spent time in the library participating in a presentation and discussion about literacy, their children were snuggled up in other rooms around the school listening to stories read to them by guest readers. To my joy, I had the pleasure of being a guest reader which allowed me to indulge in some theatrics! Our Assistant Superintendent, Noel Bryant made a reappearance this year as a guest reader. Last year she was a guest reader during our "I love to read" week. After being read to, everyone gathered in the cafeteria for milk and cookies, graciously donated by Jake's Market here in Quechee. One of our parents, who works there, baked all of the cookies that day at work!

Paul Sadouski, our garden club guru has been hard at work over the summer and into the fall planning and providing our students with hours of garden fun. We are 80 students strong and for that reason we are grateful to the Quechee Garden Club ladies and parents for volunteering their time to help our students in the garden. This Friday the PTO is putting on our second annual crockpot cook off. This is a community event that requires anyone entering a crockpot dish to use at least one ingredient from our garden. This year we even have an entry from our kindergarten class! 

We have a few new clubs this year at OQS thanks to some dedicated parents who want to share their passions with our students! Our first ever baking club started up this fall and the smells that have been wafting through the hallways after school are tantalizing!

This year we are continuing our partnership with VINS as many teachers are working closely with Hannah Putnam to bring more science content into their classrooms and perfect their teaching of science. We recently had the opportunity to witness the release of a Bard Owl back into the wild. Imagine my surprise when I got a call from Hannah telling me she had a Bard Owl ready to be released and would we have the perfect place to release him. She wondered if any of our teachers would be interested in having their students witness this! Needless to say several classes joined Hannah in our outdoor amphitheater to witness this event!

So many exciting things are happening here at OQS! I wonder what the next few months will bring!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sprinting Though Spring!

It seems as if spring has finally arrived even though it is only the beginning of April. Can it be true? Will we really have an entire school year with no snow days?
As I near the home stretch of my first year as the principal of OQS I can confidently say we are not slowing down! We are excited to host our first ever spelling bee on the evening of April 28th from 5:00-7:00pm. This event will be the culminating activity of a month full of reading activities that will be shared with the audience in a special slide show. Tremendous thanks goes to our ELA teacher leader, Madeline Carlock and parent, Becky Whitney for organizing “I love to read” month and to our wonderful staff for participating and making this such a fun filled, educational month! Such fun we all had dressing up as our favorite book characters, wearing our words, making bookmarks, choosing our favorite words, wearing something fancy to “fancy a good book”, participating in the book fair, and listening to mystery readers. Many parents, staff members, and even our assistant superintendent, Noel Bryant, came to read as a mystery reader during this month.

Ms. Wetzel’s class wowed everyone with a puppet show, retelling a story about an elephant who learned to be happy just being himself during a community meeting. Students made the puppets themselves and acted out the story as it was read by expert reader, Mrs. Spaulding. It is amazing to me to see our kindergarteners display such confidence!
Once again, our forest kindergarten program will be featured in an article to be written in the Quechee Times in an effort to raise awareness in our upcoming quest to find continued funding to help sustain this program and expand it. We also have a team of grant writers working on securing more funding for next year. Our amazing kindergarten teachers; Erika Wetzel and Hannah Thomas recently presented a workshop on our forest kindergarten at the Vermont Kindergarten Conference. Their workshop was attended by many eager educators looking to replicate this in their own schools across the state! We have become an exemplary model for this program and are proud of the efforts put forth by these two fine educators and the supportive founders of this program; Megan Teachout and Eliza Minnuchi.

The “Paws Squad” has been busy performing skits at our all school assemblies in an attempt to spread the word about positive behavior. Each skit teaches a specific lesson in a fun and interactive way. These students are also busy working with Sarah Kniffin on painting a mural for a wall in our school to help make it a more inviting, cheerful place. We are excited to see the finished product!
Mr. Clough will be working with “Girls on the run” to create a musical instrument space on the playground. We can’t wait to be able to use this and hear the joyous sounds resonating around our playground.
We are busy partnering with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and our PTO to bring our first ever Science Celebration Day to OQS on Saturday, June 4th. Mark your calendars for this fun filled day of science as families are invited to explore animal habitats, interact with animals from VINS and win prizes! More details to follow in May.
We are in great need of more volunteers to help with our garden club. It is so popular that more and more students want to participate! While this is great, it does pose a problem in terms of supervision. If you know of someone who loves to garden or simply loves to be with kids please have them contact the school to volunteer one or two days a week for a couple of hours after school!

Snapshot of upcoming events:
4/27 Secretary Day: Let Cheryl know how much we appreciate her!
4/28 Planned evacuation drill to the Waldorf School
4/28 5:00-7:00 Grand Spelling Bee
5/4 1:30-2:30 Vermont Symphony Orchestra percussion performance
5/4 Walk to school day
5/19 6:00-7:00 Chorus/Band concert (doors open at 5:30)
5/20 Author visit

5/23-5/27 Dental program

Sunday, March 6, 2016

So Much to Celebrate!

With winter nearing its end I can confidently say that all of us at OQS have been far from dormant! The past couple of months have been full of activity and productivity. We have all experienced the joys of collaboration as we revel in the afterglow of our first math night.
Math night at OQS was a spectacular co-sponsored event. The PTO worked closely with the district math teacher leader- Ross McGee to organize a night where family members, staff and community members came together to play math games. These games were the same games that students use in their classrooms to help gain fluency with numbers. Many parents are not familiar with the “new math” and how it's being taught. They are often mystified when trying to help their children with homework. Most will agree that the way math is taught today is vastly different than the way we learned it when we were in elementary school. By bringing families together to enjoy and learn math through games we are able to help parents become better equipped to assist their children at home with homework. All of the games and materials used to play them went home with parents so that they could replicate them at home. It was truly amazing to see so many families laughing, smiling, and engaged in positive interactions with numbers! Because of its overwhelming success there is a second math night in the planning! So, stay tuned as to the date and time sometime this spring! You will not want to miss out on it!
Another very successful PTO collaborative event was our ski program. Even though Mother Nature was not very cooperative we managed to get in three ski days! We are very lucky to have such a large number of committed parent, staff, and community volunteers to help with this program. Students who stayed at school were able to choose between an indoor activity (board game day, movie day, arts and craft day) or outdoor activity (sledding day, forest exploration days).
The excitement doesn’t stop there! Children are constantly presented with engaging learning opportunities here at OQS. Ben, the therapy dog is back this year and spending time in every grade level. He spends his time listening to students read to him and snuggling up close to get lots of positive strokes! Ms. Thomas' kindergarteners are rehearsing a play written by Ms. Thomas herself! They are creating the costumes and rehearsing for their upcoming performance at a PreK-2 community meeting on March 23rd. Mrs. Bishop’s class will be making their own maple syrup this spring using trees tapped on our OQS property. This coming week we will be visited by a dogsled team. Several classes are learning about the famous sled dog race held in Alaska called the Iditarod. Classes will be able to see the dogs and ask questions of the musher. New furniture has arrived! If you enter of a 4th or 5th grade classroom you will notice all of the desks have been replaced with beautiful, new, round tables. No doubt this new arrangement with be conducive to greater collaboration and teamwork. The students took great pride in rearranging their classrooms! We are planning on adding more tables next year for other classrooms.
With the arrival of spring just around the corner the pace of activity is sure to continue with bursting exuberance! April is "I Love to Read month!" Our librarian, Mrs. Peterson, and our ELA teacher leader, Madeline Carlock along with a PTO member are hard at work planning a month filled with exciting reading opportunities from “wear your words day” to our first spelling bee. Stay tuned for more information about these events!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

“PAWS” for Thought

Winter has finally arrived and while things outside are cold, inside OQS student's brains are heating up! As I wander through the classrooms I see students in deep discussion about the industrial revolution, students creating presentations on diversity, students researching countries of their choice, students making claims and supporting them with evidence and reasoning, students practicing letter sounds using our new phonics program, and students persevering outside in the outdoor classroom building structures, problem solving and facing the challenges of snow and ice.
January is assessment month at all three elementary schools. Teachers meet with each student individually to conduct interview style reading (Fountas and Pinnell Reading-F&P) and math (Primary Number and Operations- PNOA) assessments gaining great insight into each child’s progress in these areas to help inform teaching strategies and individualize instruction.
Put on your bowling shoes because Kaleigh Rhoades, our PE teacher wrote and received a bowling grant in which we will soon receive everything needed to set up lanes and pins in the gym so that students can learn the game of bowling! We also received a grant from Dartmouth’s Healthiest Youth and Community Mini-Grant Program which will allow us to purchase updated curriculum designed to help students in grades K-5 continue developing their social-emotional skills to set them on the path for social success and academic readiness.
Recently teachers participated in a thought provoking in-service that focussed on closing the achievement gap by growing student’s vocabulary and knowledge. David Liben is working with our literacy teacher leader, Madeline Carlock, to assist teachers in using text sets and read alouds specifically designed to improve vocabulary and grow knowledge. You can watch the presentation we watched by going to the following link: https://vimeo.com/132681353
Ross McGee, our math interventionist and math teacher leader is working with the PTO to host our first community math night on February 25th. Students, parents, administrators, teachers, and community members including members of the police station, fire department, select board and superintendent's office will gather in the gym to learn math through the power of play. Please put the date on your calendar and invite family and friends to join us!

Upcoming events include a Science presentation at the March PTO meeting and classroom visits by Ben the therapy dog!