Welcome back, or if you are new this year, welcome! Bienvenidos!
One of my favorite t-shirts has ‘Emma Strong’ printed on the front. The t-shirt is in celebration of a four year old that I know who, together with her family, courageously navigates Osteogenesis Imperfecta (commonly called ‘brittle bone disease.’) This summer, Emma broke her back and one of her legs; she is currently ‘on the mend’ and well enough to spend today at the beach, albeit, without romping in the waves. Each time I wear my ‘Emma Strong’ t-shirt or even take it out of the dryer to fold it, I am reminded of how formidable the human spirit is within Emma’s smile and her joyful determination to celebrate every second of life, in spite of her fragile bones. Her courage often inspires me to reflect on priorities. That seems especially meaningful as we jump into September at Captain Hunt and Robertson Elementary Schools.
How can we, as families, faculty and staff within our early learning community, work diligently to provide an environment that celebrates all children as unique, valued individuals and group members? How can we, together, take advantage of every minute this year to help our young learners thrive? The teachers and I believe that we can do that within positive relationships; relationships between family and school, improved attendance, teacher and parent education, and a more determined focus on our literacy goals.
This year the teachers, staff and I are eager to work together with you to help our children fall in love with school and learning by providing a warm and welcoming environment. We are hoping to cement the bond between our school and families through shared-learning opportunities. With funding from our i3 Incredible Years Grant, we hope to foster parent and teacher learning, focused on family engagement/peaceful classroom communities. Last year, most of our faculty and many families participated in training within our Incredible Years program. Teachers received classroom management training and many parents received Parent Leadership/Child Development training. We were blessed with many parents participating as parent volunteers in our classrooms and schools. This year, teachers will move into the second year of training with Miss Stephanie from Bradley Hospital. We hope that those parents who were part of our community last year will further their training within the Parent Leadership program, while new parents will jump into an array of possible learning opportunities within our Parent University and then, volunteer, volunteer, volunteer in our schools! J (Please contact Miss Esperanza/i3 Parent Collaborator at Robertson School or Mr. Edgar/i3 Parent Collaborator at Captain Hunt School in order to sign up for the initial mini training, in order to volunteer in our schools or enroll in the Incredible Years Parent Leadership training.) “Dr. Paul” Bueno de Mesquita, from the University of Rhode Island, added to our programs by offering Second Step Parenting classes at both Robertson and Captain Hunt Schools and will be back this year to begin bi-weekly classes beginning in October.
Our second goal is to improve attendance at our schools. We know that in order for children to be as successful as possible, we need children and families to participate in our early learning program. And so, please send your child to school each and every day, unless your child is ill. If your child is absent from school due to illness, please call the school to let us know. (Captain Hunt 727-7720/Robertson 727-7733) If your child is ill or tardy on a particular day without calling, please know that our automated system will call your home and leave a message the next day encouraging you to send your child to school.
Our third goal is to help all of our four year olds (PreK students) at Captain Hunt to know and feel comfortable within the rituals and routines of school, but also to reach Level 5 within our system of formative assessment, Teaching Strategies Gold (TSG.) TSG Level 5 is characterized by children knowing almost all 26 letters and sounds. The goal for the Kindergarten students at Robertson is to know and feel comfortable with the rituals and routines of school, but also to know 50-100 sight words and be reading at Diagnostic Reading Assessment (DRA) Instructional Level 4 by the end of the year. Therefore, the Robertson Kindergartners will need our help, their parents, and teachers to quickly learn all 26 letters and sounds in order to begin learning to read as soon as possible. Working together, I am certain that we can achieve these goals and far surpass them.
The back of my Emma t-shirt says ‘Her bones might break but her spirit is unbreakable!’ I think that is so very true for many of us; we all face challenges day in and day out, but we have to face each day with determination and keep our spirit strong. Thank you in advance for committing to work with teachers, staff and I to be ‘EMMA STRONG’ and accept ALL children within our early learning community, while focusing together on our goals to help all our children to feel welcome, love learning, have great attendance at school, and be successful early readers. Please feel free to stop by my office, if you have any concerns about how you can be most helpful to your child and our schools this year.
With September Enthusiasm,
Beth Tanner, MS Ed