Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Principal Notes: Memorial Day and Growth

     This Memorial Day weekend I could not help thinking and reflecting on my grandfather and the topic of growth.   My grandfather was a career military man who served in the Navy and Coast Guard.  He loved serving his country and the time spent on the ocean defending our county.   Every Memorial Day, he would organize and march in the Memorial Day Parade in town up to his late 80’s.   He would proudly sport the same uniform he wore as young man as he marched in the parade with pride.  This had an impact upon on several relatives and close friends who likewise made careers in the military.    In fact, my first cousin is currently attending a military academy in order to train to become a Navy officer.  

     As I was at the beach this weekend with my family my mind wondered from remembering my grandfather to the topic of growth.  I was recently reading a book how the military academies (West Point, Annapolis, The Coast Guard Academy, the Air Force Academy) even with an intensive screening and acceptance process will have several men and women drop-out after the first month and even more before the third year.   The men and women who complete and graduate from these academies did not necessarily have the highest measured growth scores in their class and/or are the most athletic.   These cadets had an internal or intrinsic motivation to succeed no matter how difficult or challenging the circumstances.   The book went on to say there is no assessment or diagnostic tool now or likely ever that will show this characteristic.   I like to think of this as grit.

     I went on to reflect as I was doing walk-throughs this weekend of classrooms at Pine Glen and how much students have grown not only in height but socially and academically too.   As I walked into a third grade I reflected on seeing these students over a year ago at the beginning of second grade.  It is simply remarkable to see how much taller they are and the level of sophistication of work they are doing in less than two years.   There are students doing things now at Pine Glen they simply didn’t do a year ago.  These students have benefited from fantastic instruction from the amazing teachers at Pine Glen School.    Some students particularly have had to overcome emotional, medical or academic difficulties and have shown tremendous grit.  Although, they might not score a desired performance on a state assessment I along with their teachers are tremendously proud of them.   No assessment will show the level of grit they now have and can apply to other challenges they may face in life. 

     I came back on my reflection from my walk-throughs to my daughter playing in the waves at the beach.   She will turn 7 on Thursday.  Every year of her life I have a memory of being in the ocean water with her.  I have always tossed her several feet up in the air and caught her as her feet have impact with the salty water.  She has produced giggling sounds along with big smile the entire time.   My daughter has grown a lot this year and standing next to me I might have at best a foot’s distance in height.   I realized this weekend that this is the first summer I won’t be to do this any more for she has grown.  As parents we want our children to grow but sometimes when they get there it is even more difficult.   What our children and grandchildren will take with them, as memories of us will be our love, commitment and dedication.  These characteristics will give them the foundation and modeling to have grit and tremendous growth.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Principal Notes: Are we a product of our biology or our environment?

     Children are very interesting.   Throughout the decades researchers have been asking,  “Are we the result of our environment or our biology?”  Children often model their parents (environment) and also have interests that are specific to them (biological).

     With all the rain lately I have found it to be a great time to bring my children to the public library.   Both have their own recycling bags for the library and love coming home from with books, music, and DVD’s.  Recently I noticed that my first grade daughter has been choosing mostly nonfiction books.  (It is great to select nonfiction along with fiction books.)  In the past two weeks nonfiction books have dominated her selection. 

     I came to the realization that night that over the course of the past year the large majority of what I have been reading has been nonfiction related to education, brain research, technology, and leadership.  Children use parents as their models and it is incredibly important to not just make time for children to read everyday but to model for our children how to read.  Talking about what we’re reading is also great modeling to do at the dinner table.

     This weekend we visited my aunt’s barn.  I never knew it but came to the realization my daughter loves farming.   She is very interested in the growing of produce and the livestock.   As a result, our family is participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.  This will involve our family helping with the harvest and our children seeing where produce comes from.   We will also be scheduling times this summer when my daughter can have sleepovers with my aunt to help with the chickens, goats, lamas, etc.  My wife and I love to go apple picking and visit animals at a local farm. However, that has been the extent of our experience with farming.  This makes it particularly exciting to watch our oldest daughter grow and develop her own interests.

     After this weekend and my experiences, I would argue children are both the product of their environment and their biology.  Providing positive role models (parents, teachers, aunts, uncles), promoting and encouraging   interests, and our love and care will not only help build our children’s confidence  - it will result in happy kids.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MEMORIAL SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE - May 26th 2:30 to 3:30pm

  • MEMORIAL SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE - May 26th 2:30 to 3:30pm CALLING ALL FAMILIES NEW TO MEMORIAL SCHOOL!  Although our new home isn't ready for occupancy or guests quite yet, Memorial School teachers and staff are eager to welcome new students and families to the MEMORIAL family.  We hope you'll come by the school (Old Building) on Thursday, May 26th, between 2:30 and 3:30 to meet some of the people who 'make the place.' This is also the last walk-through for former students, families, and interested community members, so Memorabilia from the Many Days of Memorial will be on dispen!   We look forward to seeing you next Thursday!  (Additional parking available in the St. Margaret's Church lot.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spring Concert

If you missed the Spring Concert at Arts and Technology Night, here's the video!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Last Day of School

The last day of the school year for 2010-2011 will be on June 22.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

MCAS Schedule

MCAS Schedule

Tuesday, May 10th – Grade 4 Math – Session 1
Wednesday, May 11th – Grade 4 Math – Session 2
Thursday, May 12th – Grade 5 Math – Session 1
Friday May 13, Grade  4 Make - up
Monday, May 16th – Grade 5 Math– Session 2
Tuesday, May 17th – Grade 5 Science – Session 1
Wednesday, May 18th – Grade 3 – Math, Session 1
Thursday, May 19th – Grade 3 Math – Session 2
Friday, May 20th- - Grade 5 Science Session 2
Monday May 23, 3 & 5th grade Make – up
Tuesday May 24,  Will be used only if  students have 2 SESSIONS to make-up

Please Note -  Revised MCAS Schedule for
Grade 5 Students Only

The MCAS scheduled for Friday, May 13th has been rescheduled to Friday, May 20th.  Please note the following:

Thursday, May 12th            Math MCAS Grade 5
Monday, May 16th            Math MCAS Grade 5

Tuesday, May 17th            Science MCAS Grade 5
Friday, May 20th            Science MCAS Grade 5

Principal Notes: Race to Nowhere and Harry Potter

      Recently the Burlington Public Schools along with the Wilmington Public Schools had a showing of the movie Race to Nowhere (http://www.racetonowhere.com).    The film presents interviews with parents, students, educators and doctors from the medical as well academic community.    It depicts students burning out and suffering from depression.   The movie casts blame on an accountability system utilized from elementary through high school that assess the memorization of large amounts of curriculum via high stakes tests that which assess limited criteria from that curriculum.  A highly completive process of acceptance to college is another suspected culprit in the film.  The film shows a culture where students are terrified of failure and as a result cheat and don’t take risks.

     I recently had the opportunity to hear Richard Rothstein speak at a lecture titled “Challenging Current Assumptions” on Wednesday May 4. The topics he addressed were similar to those addressed in the film.    Rothstein(http://www.epi.org/authors/bio/rothstein_richard) is a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute.   He asserted the ineffectiveness of simplistic accountability systems that measure limited criteria.   Rothstein showed various examples how when specific-criteria are just being assessed it dominates the accountability system and other criteria is excluded.   Rothstein pointed out if police officer’s entire pay or large portion of salary was based on giving out speeding tickets there would not be a problem with speeding but, crime in general would go up.  Likewise, if doctor’s pay was based was on diagnosing just cardiac disease, the diagnosis and treatment of cardiac disease would be tremendous but other health concerns would go be the wayside.   Another example could be the media ranking colleges largely by the limited criteria of admission competiveness.   In other words, the more students that apply and are not accepted the higher the ranking.   It is possible several colleges and universities could provide free applications to students increasing the number of applicants and in doing so improve their ranking.  

     Race to Nowhere and Rothstein’s comments made me think back to an interview I watched on the Oprah Winfrey Show.   I typically don’t watch the Oprah Winfrey Show but felt I had to on December 31, 2010, because Oprah was interviewing JK Rowling (http://www.jkrowling.com), author of the Harry Potter series.   During the interview Oprah stated, “The greatest gift the Harry Potter series has given the world is the freedom to use our imaginations.”  JK Rowling responded to this stating,  “I really hope so.  I am very, very frustrated by fear of imagination.  I don’t think that is healthy.”  Rowling went on to say that “The ability to use failure often leads to the greatest success.” 

    Race to Nowhere and Richard Rothstein along with others have paved the way for an exciting and ongoing discussion about education policy.  Part of that discussion will likely be,  “Who is doing it right?”   Several scholars and researchers point to Finland.  Finland is largely regarded as having the best school system in the world.  Another upcoming film, The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System, will likely show some of the characters that make Finland’s educational system so respected. The trailer (http://www.2mminutes.com/films/finland-phenomenon.asp) is quite intriguing.

    As a viewer what will stick with me the most is not Race to Nowhere or the Finland Phenomenon but the Oprah interview with JK Rowling.  JK Rowling stated on Oprah “Love is the most beautiful powerful thing of all.”   At Pine Glen school we strive to develop life long learners by encouraging risk taking by students and staff.  We encourage and allow students and staff to be creative.  In addition, we care deeply about the whole child.  We don’t view childhood as a race but a voyage into future.    

Friday, May 6, 2011

Car Wash and Bakre Sale for Relay for Life

CAR WASH/BAKE SALE: The Rainbow Connection along with The Butterflies (3rdGraders from Fox Hill) – are having their 3rd Annual Car Wash/Bake Sale to raise money for their Relay for Life Teams. FRIDAY, MAY 13th from 3:00 – 7:00 pm at5 Mallard Way. Come get your car/van/SUV cleaned and enjoy some tasty treats and fun while helping the fight against cancer. Feel free to bring any bottles or cans to help The Butterflies in their bottle/can return fundraiser. Any questions, contact Julie Quinn at quinns@rcn.com.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pre-Kindergarten Play Date

On Saturday, May 14 at 2:00pm, Mother to Mother will host an afternoon social for all children who will be entering kindergarten at Pine Glen School in the Fall.  The event will take place at the Pine Glen School Playground.  It is a great opportunity for Pre-Kindergarten children to meet their future classmates.  For more information or to RSVP, please contact Mary Emerson at shemerson@verizon.net.

BHS Graduation Party - Chaperones Needed

PLEASE HELP: Will you be a chaperone at the BHS Post Graduation (all-night) Party?  We still need 10 chaperones (both men and women) for each shift on Monday June 6.  The second shift is 12 am - 3 am and 3rd shift 3am -5am.   Any adult that does not have a senior at the party is welcome.  This is a great way to "pay it forward."  Help us this year and when your child graduates, the parents of underclassmen will be there for you!  To volunteer, or if you have any questions, please contact Michele Shields at Michele_Shields@verizon.net or 781-270-5142.   

Message from the PTO

Hi Members,
We would like to thank everyone who helped to host  yesterday's Staff Appreciation Day at Pine Glen School.  We've heard nothing but wonderful comments about the menu and service.  The teachers and staff were provided  with breakfast and lunch yesterday in their lounge with the help of volunteers and generous donations of food and drink.  Gift card donations were raffled off to the staff.  Many thanks to Joanna DeFrancesco for organizing this special day.  It was a fine way to say thank-you to all members of the Pine Glen staff who dedicate their work to educating and caring for our children.  

Again, thank you so much for your support and generosity.
Maria Woods and the Pine Glen Board

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Note from Butterflies Team

Relay for Life’s Youth team, the Butterflies is having a fundraiser for their team. The Butterflies team is made up of 3rd grade girls who want to make a difference in the fight against cancer. There are two ways to help: 1.) Drop off your bags of bottles/cans to 5  Mallard Way or 7 Town Line Rd. 2.) Send us an email and let us know when and where you will leave your bag of bottles/cans and we will come pick them up from you. Clean out your garage/basement and help fight cancer at the same time! The recycle drive will continue through the end of May. If you have any questions, please email the Butterflies team captains, Sophie (quinns@rcn.com) or Ella (scolwell66@hotmail.com).

Note from the BEF

Show your community spirit!
Join us at Burlington Ed Foundation’s Annual Showcase of Grants on Monday, May 9 from 3-5:00PM at the BHS lower library.  Come see exactly where your donations go.  Mingle with grant recipients, view presentations of grants awarded and enjoy light snacks. 

Join the 7th annual Exercise for Education Road Race and Family Fun Run, Sunday, May 22, 2011 at the Burlington High School.   Register and receive a specially designed T-shirt and race bag while you and your family and friends enjoy the festivities, including samples and munchies from vendors, chair massages, live music, a moon bounce, and more. If you are part of an organization in the community, and would like to have a table on race day, please contact Paula Boermeester at paulaboermeester@comcast.net.  

Take a chance on The Grand Raffle.  Prizes include a $1,000 Food and Wine Pairing for six at the Capital Grille, a weekend membership at the Burlington Swim and Tennis Club, 2 Red Sox tickets, and a Keurig Coffee Machine with K-Cups.  Chances are three for $10.00.  Check our website to enter! www.burlingtonedfoundation.org

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cranes for Japan at Arts and Technology Night

In December, our fifth grade students learned about a Japanese girl named Sadako who died of leukemia caused by radiation from the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. They learned about her courage and the Japanese tradition of folding paper cranes.

The crane is a sacred bird in Japan. It is said that if someone folds one thousand paper cranes they will be granted one wish. Sadako, a Japanese girl about our fifth graders age, tried to fold a thousand paper cranes to make herself well. Unfortunately, she passed away before they were completed. Her classmates folded the rest of the cranes for her. Her story of quiet strength and courage has made origami cranes representative of peace.

Out fifth graders folded their own paper cranes and reflected on their own ideas of peace. These artworks will be displayed on Arts Night, May 4th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. . When our students heard about the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, they sought out ways to help. Inspired by Sadako’s story, we began folding cranes. The students want to raise money for the Red Cross organization currently providing help and support to Japan. The paper cranes folded by our fifth grade students will be available on arts night. Upon any voluntary monetary donation, each donator can select their own crane to take with them. Suggested donation is a dollar a crane. Let us show how art can make a difference!