June 2, 2011

Published by the Thoreau School Parent Teacher Group

FROM THE PRINCIPAL

Dear Families,
Greetings. As you know, the last several weeks of school are very busy, filled with many activities, events, and some changes. I am looking forward, as I hope you are too, to finishing the school year as productively as the year has gone thus far, and to transitioning smoothly into the next year.

Among the most important responsibilities of my job are effectively evaluating staff members, making decisions on teacher assignments, and hiring the very best teachers to instruct our students. Over the past few months, I have communicated with the entire staff about the class placement process as well as the process for teacher assignments for next year. The process included: clearly letting the staff know they would have an opportunity to discuss with me any assignment changes they might like to have considered. I also let everyone know I would be making some assignment changes that I felt would be best for students. Finally, I met individually with staff members whose assignment would be changed. This is not an uncommon practice in many schools and districts, though I realize it has not been done much at Thoreau in recent history. However, changing teaching assignments provides professional and personal growth opportunities for staff members, but most importantly, the changes are intended to benefit the students.

I realize that change can be difficult for many of us, myself included, but I also view constructive change as an important component of student learning.

At times my position requires me to make very difficult decisions. These decisions are not made lightly or in haste. I take these responsibilities very seriously and I do so with much reflection and consultation. Any decisions I make will always be based on what is determined to be in the best interest of students and their learning. While I understand these decisions may sometimes be unpopular, I respectfully ask that you trust that my intentions are student based. Please know that I care deeply about Thoreau School and all the students and staff. My goal has always been, and will continue to be, to provide our students with the very best education. I will be hosting a parent coffee on Friday, June 10 from 9:30 AM – 10 :00 AM in our school cafeteria. Please join Diana Rigby and me at the coffee if you have any questions or concerns.

Last, there is still much to do before the end of the school year. The staff and I will be continuing to work together on class placement and several other important end-of-the-year responsibilities. Our goal is to effectively balance all classrooms in grades K through 5. We will be considering all relevant information to make the best matches possible for optimal student learning. Thank you for the information that you either sent via a letter or shared with your child’s teacher. (As you may recall, you did not have to send this information, but you could do so if there was additional information that you felt was important for us to consider that your child’s teacher might not already have).

As we head into the last few weeks of school, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the entire Thoreau community for a wonderful school year. Much has been accomplished due to the extraordinary work and efforts of our staff, students, and Thoreau families. Some of these accomplishments include the goals from our School Improvement Plan. They are as follows:

  • Goal One To Implement New Electronic Assessment Record Keeping
    Thoreau administers numerous assessments throughout the year. Currently these records are kept in a myriad of places and not always easily accessible. We would like to enter all assessment data into a single electronic source for each student. We have been working closely throughout the year with the IT staff to design such a database and have it prepared for teacher use in the fall of 2011.
  • Goal Two: To preserve the traditions and activities that make Thoreau unique. To Maintain a Vibrant METCO Program. To Strengthen Our New Family Orientation Program
    Thoreau conducted numerous activities throughout the year that help define our culture. These activities included the Turkey Trot, Spelling Bee, Cake Walk, Road Race, Math Night, Bingo Night, and many others. In the fall we held a New Family Orientation night welcoming new Kindergarten families as well as families new to Thoreau. Other efforts have also been made by parent volunteers on the PTG and SAC, as well as staff members, to provide outreach to new families and develop networking opportunities. Several Principal Coffees were offered to welcome families as well as keep parents informed about Thoreau School news and events.
  • Goal Three: To Continue the Work with Thoreau Generated Math Assessments
    At the K-2 level, three unit assessments were developed and administered throughout the year. At the 3-5 level, three district-wide assessments were also administered. In-house grade level math meetings were held to discuss findings, analyze results, and were used to inform instruction.
  • Goal Four: Continue to Utilize Existing RTI Strategies and Explore Expanding Services
    RTI takes many forms at Thoreau, but a large component is the use of our Language Arts Specialist, Reading Specialist, and Math Specialist as service providers for students targeted for RTI. Five reading tutors support teachers and students in grade one, two, and three by providing small group reading instruction. This intense, small group early intervention model helps to target explicit reading and math instruction for specific students and serves as a proactive and effective response to intervention.
  • Goal Five: To Continue Work with Global Education and to Complete the Work with CCHS Students as Outlined in our Concord Ed. Fund Grant
    Although the CEF funding for this project had expired, we were able to utilize in-house resources to bring Global Education to our classrooms. This effort was spearheaded by our Global Education Committee and individual classroom teachers and their commitment to this project. We were also able to review and purchase the video series “Families of the World” that will be accessible via the library to all K-5 classrooms.
  • Goal Six: To Raise the Awareness of the Need for a School-wide Plan of Action for Talking to Students About How to be Positive, Productive Digital Citizens, How to Treat Others While Online, and How to Be Safe Online
    This goal developed into a district-wide goal as the new anti-bullying law was approved in Massachusetts late last school year. Two of our teachers participated in district-wide committees charged with looking at the new state expectations for anti-bullying, and with looking at ways to expand our Digital Citizenship curriculum currently being taught by the Library Media Specialist, into every classroom. Professional development opportunities have been planned for teachers in grades 3-5 next year during district-wide meetings.

The School Leadership Team and The School Advisory Committee have been working on our School Improvement Plans for next year. These plans will be presented to the school committee the first week of June.

Sincerely,
Kelly Clough

FROM THE PTG CO-PRESIDENTS

We hope everyone enjoyed the long Memorial Day weekend! Much thanks go to Amy Hoey for organizing last week’s COA Luncheon. We also owe Amy a belated thank you for organizing the Spring Open Table Food Drive which wrapped up on the eve of spring break.

It seems like such a long time ago that we were pining for spring and now summer is almost here! Next week brings some fun for the kiddos with Field Day on Tuesday, June 7, and then some fun for the parents with the PTG Volunteer Appreciation Party which will be held on Thursday, June 9, 7:00-9:30pm at the home of Karen Brown. So many of you have dedicated your efforts and most valuable time to volunteering for the PTG this school year, and we are so grateful to all of you. No matter what capacity you were able to help out in — board member, committee chair, room parent, volunteered at an event or brought muffins for a teacher breakfast — please stop by and let us toast your efforts.

Speaking of appreciation, the Staff Appreciation Lunch is coming up soon – it’s on Tuesday June 14. Please sign up to contribute something if you haven’t already, and help us make it a special day for our wonderful teachers and staff. The last PTG meeting of the year will be held the next day, Wednesday, June 15 at 9am (please note the new, earlier start time) in the Thoreau Caf. We will be voting in the new PTG Board for 2011-12 (and yes, still looking for a few volunteers to step up for open positions). Please join us, literally!

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge some parents who provided important services to the Thoreau community at various times throughout the school year. Many thanks to Nancy Schulman, our Book Room Manager; Betsy Dorr, our Bottle Drive Coordinator; Joanne Gervais Ainsworth, our CCPI Rep; Erin Duggan, our Community Liaison; Laurie Garrison, our Gift Books Coordinator; Hilary Boynton, our Healthy Food/Nutrition Liaison; Carol Wipper, our Vacation/Travel Book Program Coordinator; Cheryl Kirkpatrick & Ling Lu, our School Committee Observers; Ayesha Khalid, our Superintendent’s Advisory Council on Student Health Rep; Teri Serafini & Gretchen Hollworth, our Press Liaisons/Photographers; Margaret Cho, our Playground Committee Chair; Tracy Belden, our Box Tops Coordinator; and Meg Alexander, Gretchen Nelson, & Laurine Verrilli, our METCO Family Friends Chairs. Have a great weekend!
–Karen and Melanie

FROM THE OFFICE

Please return to the office the Student Verification form that was sent to every family in March.  There are still some families that have not returned them.  This is the form we use to verify and update student emergency data.  Thank you.

HELP WANTED

There are currently a number of PTG board positions open for the 2011-2012 school year. These positions must be filled in order for the PTG to continue supporting enrichment opportunities for the 2011-2012 school year. Please consider volunteering for one of the open PTG Board positions. You benefit from being on the board by being actively involved in decisions regarding PTG events, sponsorship and budget spending. All board members are required to participate both in PTG meetings and PTG Board meetings (approximately one meeting each month). In addition to attending meetings, each position has specific job responsibilities. We hope you will consider taking on one of these essential positions:

  • Open Board Positions: Vice President, Treasurer

There are also open event and committee chair positions open for the 2011-2012 school year. Please review the positions below and visit the PTG Volunteer Booklet at www.thoreauptg.org for more information. Please note that the volunteer booklet is in the process of being updated, so there are some changes to the job descriptions as well as some additions.

  • Open Committee and Event Chair Positions: Turkey Trot, Bus Driver/Crossing Guard Breakfast, Thoreauly Green, Thoreauly Green Kids, Kindergarten Registration, Gift Wrap, Adult Social, Grounds for Learning Garden Maintenance

If you are interested in any of the positions above or have questions, please contact Melanie Bettencourt, PTG Co-President at thebettencourts@comcast.net or 978-369-7124.

5TH GRADE ORCHESTRA AND CHORUS

Tomorrow, Friday, June 3, the band, orchestra and chorus will perform a concert for some of the classes at Thoreau. The concert will start at 9:15 and end by 10:00. Students in these performing groups are asked to come to school in their concert attire; dark on bottom, white on top.
–“Sing”cerly, Roseanne Swain

TUESDAY IS FIELD DAY!

Field Day is coming! Cheer on Thoreau students as they participate in games and activities at this fun-filled event, Tuesday, June 7, 9:30 to noon. (Rain date: Tuesday, June 14.) Please apply sunscreen to your children before school, since most of the activities will take place outdoors. In addition, please send them with both a hat and a refillable water bottle marked with their names. Parents and siblings are invited to watch the action.

Interested in helping? Volunteers are needed to fill water balloons in advance of the event. (We’ll supply the balloons.) We also need a small group of volunteers to help with the water refill station, popsicle distribution (11:30-12:30pm) and clean up. If you can help, please contact Julie Sinclair (jsinclair@partners.org) or Anne Mullaney (anne.mullaney@gmail.com). Thanks!
–Julie Sinclair and Anne Mullaney, Field Day Committee

PLEASE RETURN THOSE LIBRARY BOOKS!

The last checkout for library materials will be next Monday, June 6, so now is the time to hunt for any missing library items. Bills for overdue books will be sent out during the week of June 13. We would much rather have the book than its replacement cost, so check those closets, bookcases and car seats please!
–Karen Pettyjohn and Cathy Collins

CALL FOR ROOM PARENTS

If you would like to assist your child’s teacher and class as a room parent for the coming 2011-2012 school year, please complete the form available at the Thoreau PTG website. Assignments will be made in the order in which they are received, with 2 people assigned per class (3 for grade 5). You will hear more details after class lists are distributed, before the start of school.

The room parents are expected to help the teacher with anything that she/he deems necessary. This may include scheduling parent helpers, making plans to help with parties, field trips, etc. Also, each room parent is responsible for assisting the PTG with certain events or fundraisers. In addition, you may be called upon by the PTG to assist the PTG by informing your assigned class of pertinent events.

Additional questions? Please contact Jennifer Johnson at 978-371-0770 or larison@verizon.net or Margaret Ferren at 978-369-5513 or mf_1010@yahoo.com.

THOREAU ANNOUNCEMENTS

If you ever want to change your email address for the Thoreau Announcements, just click the unsubscribe link in the footer of any message you receive via this email list. Then go to the Thoreau PTG website and resubscribe with your new email address. (There’s a subscription box in the upper right corner of every page.) If you have any friends who haven’t been receiving the Thoreau Announcements lately, direct them to subscribe at https://www.thoreauptg.org today.

LUNCH MENU Week of June 6–10
Monday: Grilled Cheese and Cup of Soup
Tuesday: Early Release
Wednesday: Mozzarella and Crispy Veggie Sticks
Thursday: Tacos
Friday: French Bread Pizza

AROUND TOWN

Register Now for The Thoreau Society Annual Gathering!

On July 7-10, the Thoreau Society will hold its 70th Annual Gathering in Concord, “Henry D. Thoreau’s Environmental Ethos: Then and Now”. The program represents a community-wide celebration of the world-renowned author Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). Workshops and presentations address all manner of topics relating to Concord, Thoreau, and the environment. Highlights include a panel of scholars sponsored by the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society; a concert with Dillon Bustin and Jacqueline Schwab, who has worked with Ken Burns on PBS productions; the keynote address by Laura Dassow Walls, who will speak about Alexander von Humboldt and her upcoming biography on Thoreau; a reception and dinner at the Thoreau Institute; and tours of the Thoreau Birth House, followed by a panel discussion at the School of Philosophy at Orchard House. On Sunday, July 10, a special event and dinner at the Concord Art Association will feature the work of Nick Miller and a talk by renowned art critic Barbara Novak.

A wide variety of events take place at sites throughout Concord and in Lincoln. Advance registration is suggested; those received by 7/1 will receive a discount. For a full program and registration materials, visit www.thoreausociety.org or call 978-369-5310. All are invited to attend.

Carousel Preschool Celebrates 25 Years

The Concord Carousel Preschool is pleased to announce its 25th Anniversary. Beginning as a playgroup operated by the Concord Recreation Department, Concord Carousel was formally established and licensed in 1986. Twenty-five years later, Concord Carousel continues to thrive, offering a high quality preschool experience for children from Concord and the surrounding towns.

Carousel is inviting all students and families of Carousel, past and present, to attend our Anniversary Celebration and Open House on June 4 from 10am to noon at the school at 1276 Main Street. Singer Hugh Hanley will provide entertainment for all. Those of you who haven’t been here in some time will enjoy visiting our renovated classrooms and seeing our yearbooks from years ago. It will be fun for all! Please spread the word! We’d love to see alumni of all ages! If you can, let us know that you’re coming by responding on our Facebook page (Concord Carousel Preschool) or sending an email to Anita at ahill@concordma.govor calling the school at978-318-3045. Please feel free to forward along any photos you have from “back in the day” that we can include in our displays on that day. Also, forward this message on to any alumni that you know – we’re looking forward to seeing lots of friends!

The next issue of Thoreau Announcements will be published on June 9, 2011. It will be edited by Anne Mullaney.
Submission guidelines: Submissions must be school or community related and not commercial in nature. Submit your item in the body of an email (no attachments); it should be brief and have minimal formatting – no bullet points or underlining, please! Email your submission to announcements@thoreauptg.org. Deadline: 9 pm Monday, June 6, 2011. You will receive an e-mail acknowledgment that your submission has been received.