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Feature

Eight Suggestions for Improving Parent-Teacher Relations

Note: The following article summary is shared with permission from Kim Marshall, a former Boston principal, author, and nationally recognized educator. This is from his weekly educator e-newsletter, The Marshall Memo.

In this New York Times article, sixth-grade teacher Sara Mosle says some parents are overly intrusive, which robs children of the opportunity to solve problems themselves and puts teachers on the defensive. At the other extreme is parents holding back for fear of irritating teachers and sparking retaliation against their children. Here are Mosle’s ideas for a productive middle ground: Parents should encourage their children to take the lead in sorting out difficulties with teachers. College admissions officers tell school people that they look for students who have developed confidence and “voice.” (more…)



Year of the Book: Guys Read with Guys

By Suzanne Loring – Children’s Literacy Foundation

Before we had kids my husband had never read aloud to a child. Even after our boys were born, reading stories to them was not his favorite go-to activity. It trailed far behind the preferred games of tackle daddy, blocks, and matchbox car crash -up.

After some gentle arm twisting-or nagging, depending on your perspective-, I got him to start reading bedtime stories to our boys. I can tell you that while reading aloud may have been a challenge for him at first, it has been a mutually beneficial experience for him and the boys.

And, I’ve seen the benefits: It has shown my kids that daddy likes to read too, which reinforces that reading isn’t just for girls, but fun for everyone. (more…)



WMUR Special Report on School Security featuring PES!



Safety First: Front Door Precautions

The staff at Pittsfield Elementary School, like many school personnel across the country, is reviewing and strengthening safety procedures in the aftermath of the events in Newtown, Connecticut last month.

At PES, parents and staff members have expressed concerns about security at our front entryway. While our electronic buzzer camera- intercom system works well to limit access during the day, during high traffic times, like the half hour before school begins, students and adults often politely hold open doors for visitors. Of course, we want to show good manners, but we need to ensure that all visitors have a legitimate purpose for their visits and know where to go.

To address this problem, we now have a staff member serve as front-door greeter every day between 7:30 and 8:00. The greeter will monitor the main doors, welcoming all, helping familiar parents get to their destinations, and checking in with strangers about their purpose.

We will also work with staff and students to train them to be both welcoming and safe. Currently kids and some adults do the polite thing by holding the door open and letting visitors in. We will provide guidance to students and staff on how to encourage each visitor to use the intercom- camera for gaining entry.

Parents, we need your help. We urge you to avoid “piggybacking” other adults into the building. Please say, “Sorry, to ensure safety, all visitors are supposed to use the intercom to communicate directly with the office.”

We continue to review all our safety protocols. Last week we conducted a safety alert drill with PES children and staff, and we plan to do another later this month. In early February Pittsfield school administrators and staff involved with safety are scheduled to meet with a representative from the NH Department of Safety to review our safety plans district wide.

The principals in both buildings are working together to coordinate safety efforts. PES parents, please contact Doug Kilmister with your concerns and ideas for improving safety at PES. He can be reached at 435- 8432 or dkilmister@pittsfieldnhschools.org.



District Community Forum on School Safety

Last Monday evening, December 17, the Pittsfield School District, in cooperation with the Pittsfield Parent Connection and the Pittsfield Elementary School PTO, hosted a community forum to answer questions and provide any opportunity to voice concerns about safety at the Pittsfield Elementary School and PMHS.

SAU #51 Superintendent Dr. John Freeman opened the meeting setting the agenda of the topics to be discussed. Dr. Freeman spoke of the unconscionable event at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and the response of the NHDOE via a conference call with the state’s superintendents, and administrators Saturday afternoon. NH educational leaders were supported by Homeland Security and psychologists to answer questions about how best to respond to the tragedy.

After providing the group with information as to how the district would be supported with future trainings around safety and security, Dr. Freeman gave an update on district administrators’ immediate actions/decisions from Friday afternoon through Monday evening. Pittsfield principals reported on safety and security precautions at each school.

Then Dr. Freeman opened the floor to questions and concerns from those in attendance.

Some of the concerns mentioned addressed access to the schools and the protocols in place to respond to such an event. Tobi Chassie, the chairperson of the district’s Crisis Team, spoke of the process team members use to regularly review safety protocols and how the protocols are implemented. Pittsfield Police Chief Robert Wharem commented on the safety drills and the importance of students following directions pertinent to any type of event. Principals Bob Bickford and Doug Kilmister, as well as guidance counselors Jeff Martel and Mike Curtin, were also on hand to respond to questions.

After community members had an opportunity to voice questions and concerns, it was agreed that future actions to be taken in the months ahead would include an audit of current program, staff training, and follow-up meeting in the spring sponsored by PPC and PES PTO.

If you were unable to attend the forum or would like more information, contact your child’s principal, Mr. Doug Kilmister at 435-8432 or via email at dkilmister@pittsfieldnhschools.org.

Ross Morse District Community Liaison rmorse@pittsfieldnhschools.org



PES Winter Clothing Guidelines

Last year the PES Universal Team, which supports positive school culture and climate, developed the following winter weather guidelines for duty staff.

Snow Pants & Boots
• K-3 students must have boots and snow pants to play in snow.
• 4th grade must have boots to play in the snow.
• 5th and 6th graders make their own decisions about boots.
The consequence for not wearing boots is wet feet and/or clothes. Students may not call home for changes of clothing.

Coats
• When it is below 40 degrees K-4 students must wear the coats they came with
• 5th & 6th graders must bring coats outside if it is below 40 degrees outside.
If a child is sent to school without appropriate winter clothing he or she may sit on the couch in the lobby, or if possible, borrow an item from lost and found.

A teacher or a member of the office staff will contact the parent of the child to express concern and offer support.



Kindergarten Attendance Improves!

Two years ago the Pittsfield Elementary kindergarten had the dubious distinction of having the second worst daily-average attendance rate in the state of New Hampshire. Mr. Kilmister is sending home a letter to kindergarten parents today congratulating them and the kindergarten teachers for improved attendance. Here are the data:

 

Fall, 2010

Fall, 2011

Fall, 2012

Number of Students Chronically Absent*

6 children

7 children

 3 children!

Percentage of Students with 1 or 0 Days Absent

 54%

 58%

61%

Average Number of Absences per Student

1.8

2.1

 1.5

  *Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of school days (or 4.5 days

 



Morning Meeting: A Key Time for Social and Academic Learning at Pittsfield Elementary

Social learning is just as important as academic learning: this is one of our fundamental beliefs here at PES. That is why we use the Responsive Classroom approach to build community, create challenging academics, and model positive discipline in our school. Holding a daily “Morning Meeting” is one way in which we implement Responsive Classroom to achieve these goals.

Morning meetings are held daily for a halfhour in every PES classroom. A complete morning meeting has four components: greeting, sharing, activity, and the morning message. They are followed in this order to best help the flow and momentum of the meeting.

Morning meeting begins with the greeting, in which each person is warmly welcomed to the class and to the new day. Skills focused on include: making eye contact, using a friendly voice, and saying the person’s name. (more…)



PES Parents Invited to Early-College Planning Session as Part of Wednesday’s “I am Going to College” Celebration

On Wednesday, October 17, PES students in grade 4-6, will participate in an hour-and-a-half program to explore college and career options.  “Pittsfield Celebrates I am Going to College Month.” The event is run in partnership with the Center for College Planning at the New Hampshire Higher Education and Assistance Foundation, or NHHEAF, and this year we have something special for parents .

Following the rally in the gym, parents at are invited to join NHHEAF staff and college students in the Library for a 30-minute session on early college planning.  A letter about the session is being sent to parents in grades 4-6, but any parent may attend—no reservations are necessary.

I am Going to College Schedule

8:00 – 9:00 — Rally in the Gym with College Students and the College Bear

10:00-10:30 — Career presentations in Classrooms for 4th, 5th and 6th Graders

10:00-10:30 — Early College Planning Session for PES Parents with NHHEAF



Community Survey- Your Participation is Needed!

Please click on the link below to complete an important community survey relative to student learning here at the Pittsfield School District.  All community members are urged to participate.  The survey must be completed by September 15, 2012.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/G6HVKCS