Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Welcome Letter

August 21, 2009

Dear Members of the Pine Glen School Community,

I would like to welcome staff, parents, students, and all members of Pine Glen Elementary School Community to the start of our school year. It has been such a pleasure this summer to meet so many of you. Thank you for making my first summer at Pine Glen so enjoyable.

The staff at Pine Glen has been working hard all summer to prepare the building for the upcoming school year. Teachers have been in frequently during the summer putting up bulletin boards, preparing their classrooms, and collaborating. I would especially like to thank custodians Kenny Ramsdell, Barbara Nunes, Brian Hayes, and school secretary Julie Gosselin for their countless hours of hard work in both the never-ending rain and 90 degree heat. We are all looking forward to an exciting school year at Pine Glen filled with learning, community, and fun.

This summer I have had the opportunity to meet several parents, staff, public safety officials, town officials, and students. I have greatly valued and enjoyed the wonderful conversations and suggestions. In all my discussions it was very apparent that Pine Glen is an exemplary learning community.

Our community is fortunate to have amazing teachers with high levels of expertise. We as a community this year will see adjustments made to Pine Glen to capitalize upon teachers’ high level of aptitude and knowledge. These adjustments will allow teachers the flexibility to maximize instructional time, ensure student safety, increase student exposure to technology, institute data driven instruction, provide scientifically based interventions and continue to maintain caring inviting classroom communities that encourage students to take intellectual risks.

To maximize time on learning we as a community must value and understand the importance of uninterrupted instructional time. With regard to requests for changes in student departures, the Pine Glen office will only honor these requests until 10:30 A.M. unless it is an emergency. It can be disconcerting to a student to be uncertain where he or she is going after school while simultaneously learning new concepts. Likewise, classroom interruptions to inform the teacher and student of these changes result in the need to redirect the class and the loss of quality instructional time. In addition, it is of great benefit to all learners that students arrive at school with a definitive departure plan for their day.

Student safety is priority number one at the Pine Glen School. Burlington Police Safety Officer Bernie Schipelliti and I examined the student drop-off and pick-up procedure and realized the urgent need for modifications. This school year parents will take part in an improved and safer drop-off and pick-up process. Vehicles will enter the first entryway into the parking lot and drive in a clockwise path through the parking lot to the horse shoe path in front of the side academic wing of the building. I encourage parents to visit my Principal’s Blog which contains pictures and video to assist in navigating the new process. (To access the Blog go to the Burlington Home Page, http://www.burlington.mec.edu, click on the Pine Glen link under the School Sites heading and on the Pine Glen Home Page the chalk board will have as one of the choices Principal’s Blog.) Parents leaving their vehicles and walking into the building to take students at pick-up time will kindly be asked to return to their vehicles and proceed to the pick-up line. This new procedure will help provide a more extensive and secure monitoring of individuals entering and exiting the building at the end of the school day.

Our Pine Glen community must embrace and promote technology to prepare and provide students with technological skills necessitated by our society. We are very fortunate this year to welcome the purchase of five new Smart Boards. This technology offers many unique and engaging opportunities for students to learn and grasp new skills and concepts. We as a community can also serve as models for students in the use of available technology. As mentioned earlier, I am excited to inform community members of information this year via the Blog. (The Superintendent’s Blog is also a great source of information.) The blog, in lieu of a weekly newsletter, provides the ability to share video/pictures, an archive, and information in a timely manner. An email chain was considered this summer however, as I am sure people have experienced with their own email when doing mass emails, several are often “bounced back” and a potential computer virus to an address bank of 300 or more potential emails could be catastrophic. If there is an urgent need to communicate information to parents immediately, a Connect-Ed phone call will be issued and follow up information with be posted on the Principal’s Blog. If members of our community do not have access to a computer, a form will accompany your child home with the first day materials where a request can be made for printed information. An additional added benefit of the blog is, hopefully, a large reduction in paper consumption. A reduction in paper is not only of benefit to our environment but, also allows more flexibility for financial and human resources to be directed to students.

A further way we can strive to promote a caring and inviting learning community for students is to examine all portions of the school day. This year students will have recess before lunch. There has been much research recently showing the benefits of students having recess before lunch. Students who have lunch prior to recess typically eat their lunch too quickly or skip portions of the meal all together in a desire to seek play time. Also, those students who do eat lunch and then run immediately after often complain of an upset belly (indigestion). On the other hand, students having lunch after recess grants them the ability to eat a meal and give them the needed energy and down time to refocus and learn at optimal levels.

I am pleased to welcome new staff members to the Pine Glen Community this year. We have two new special education teachers joining us this year; Noreen Groom and Maureen Skehan. We will also have Jessica May joining us as our new guidance counselor. Jennifer Rzasa will be joining our music staff. In addition to the new teachers, I would like to welcome Michelle Gilbert who will be joining us in the role of instructional assistant and Melissa Hanafin who will be our permanent substitute teacher. Please make sure you give our new staff a warm Pine Glen welcome when you meet them.

One of the best ways to support and promote our Pine Glen Community is to join and participate in the Parent Teacher Organization (P.T.O.). I wish to thank P.T.O. president Maria Woods and all the members of the P.T.O. for their on going support and assistance! We are so fortunate to have such a caring and committed organization supporting our students, school, and community.

I am eager and excited to start our first day of school with students in grades 1-5 on September 2nd and kindergartners on September 8th. The Pine Glen staff is eagerly looking forward to the joy and creativity which the students bring us. We cannot wait to instruct and inspire student expression.

If you have any comments, concerns or questions throughout the year, please call me at (781) 270-1712 or email jlyons@burlington.mec.edu. On behalf of the entire staff, I would like to wish all of you a wonderful school year.


John Lyons
Pine Glen School