Saturday, August 23, 2014

Welcome Back 2014

August 23, 2014

Dear Pine Glen Community,

We are about to commence the 2014-2015 school year at Pine Glen Elementary School.  Teachers and staff will begin the school year with Professional Development beginning on August 25th. Students in grades first through fifth will begin the school year on September 2nd and kindergarten students will begin on September 8th.   This year our school hours will be changing.  Students can be dropped off starting at 8:20 am.   Instruction starts at 8:35 am.  Students who arrive at 8:35 or later will be recorded as tardy.  Kindergarten hours are 8:35am-1:00 pm.  Students will dismissed at 2:40 pm this school year. The cost of school lunch this year will be $3.00.   

I hope everyone has had a spectacular summer and enjoyed time with family and friends.  I had the opportunity to relax for one week this summer at Cape Cod with my family.  My wife and I greatly enjoyed this time with our daughters.  This year my two daughters will be in first and fifth grade.  It is amazing to me how quickly time passes and the short amount of time in which children grow up.  I feel especially privileged to have the opportunity parents extend to us at Pine Glen to see their children grow up and develop a life-long love of learning during this special time in their lives. 

As in the case of past summers this summer I have continued to receive communication from other administrators about Pine Glen Elementary School. There is tremendous interest from other districts in incorporating Pine Glen’s pedagogical practices - in particular in the areas of the utilization of technology to increase student engagement, Response to Intervention (RtI), and our great instruction focused on higher order thinking skills. Commissioner Mitchell Chester witnessed and made these same observations during his visit to Pine Glen this past spring.  I feel so fortunate to work with such an amazing faculty and great students.  

I must thank our custodial staff for their stellar work in making the school a clean and safe environment for students to learn.   Also, teachers have spent many hours this summer preparing their classrooms to be clean, warm, safe, and inviting places to learn.

We were fortunate this summer to have undergone a major renovation of the main office.  This change that will make our school an even safer safe place to learn as well as enhance our building.  I would like to thank everyone in Burlington for their support.  This renovation will help us continue to make safety the number one priority at Pine Glen Elementary School.  

This Fall we are also very excited to introduce more iPads to our current supply at Pine Glen Elementary School.  The 1:1 iPad Initiative is expanding this year to include second and third grade. This will allow Pine Glen to be a 1:1 iPad school from first to fifth grade.  Likewise, Burlington Public Schools this fall will be a 1:1 iPad district from grades first through twelfth.  These instructional tools provide for opportunities to enhance student engagement, higher order learning, and employ critical thinking skills.

We continue to utilize a best practice and highly researched Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) often referred to as Response to Intervention (RtI) with staffing.  A MTSS/RtI approach has allowed us the capacity to best draw upon our staff to address individual student needs and the Common Core Standards.   Please continue to be mindful of the fact that in utilizing this approach a student’s classroom teacher might be different than their reading or math teacher.  This affords teachers the opportunity to work with a narrower teachable range, provide interventions, and maximize efficiency. This is not leveled instruction.  We are providing flexibly grouped reading instruction that changes based on data.  We continue to use an online universal screening to become aware of where to focus our instruction and provide interventions for students.   Likewise, the curriculum we adopted last year in math ( enVisionMath), and writing (Explorations in Nonfiction Writing) and our blended literacy approach have also specifically allowed us to address the Common Core Standards.   What has helped most to address the Common Core Standards is the incredibly talented and kind teachers at Pine Glen Elementary School.  It is my greatest joy when I am doing my daily walk-throughs of classrooms or when in the hallway a student describes to me the excitement and jubilation they experienced learning that day.  

I am incredibly grateful to the Burlington community for the investment they make in their children. Resources such as Response to Intervention tutors, a school psychologist that is building based, reading specialist, and interventions, as well as the technology on which to run them, have provided us with the means to challenge and see students excel at their individual levels.

We are pleased to welcome new staff members to our Pine Glen Community. We enthusiastically welcome many staff to new roles and positions at the school too.  Although not new to Pine Glen, Nicole Sunderland, who was our permanent substitute, will now be a special education instructional assistant. Likewise, Elizabeth Merlino, who was a substitute for Pine Glen last Spring, will now be a Response to Intervention Tutor (RtI Tutor).  In addition, Cassandra Apruzzese, Kristen O’Meara, and Alysse Janes are also joining our staff as special needs instructional assistants.  Elizabeth Normandin, Kristen Popma, Sean Wittbold, and Jessica McCarthy are also joining our staff as RtI Tutors.   Amanda Lane will be continue teach fifth grade but in a full time position this year.   In addition, Michele Mills, who was a special education instructional assistant, will be our new first grade teacher.  Diana Marcus will be taking on a new role with technology at the district level and Erin Guanci will be moving to the preschool.  Michelle Ardizzoni will be joining us as our Technology Integration Teacher along with Martha Ogren as our Library Media Specialist in the Library and Technology Center (LTC).  Denise Calvino will be a new secretary joining Mrs. Gosselin in the main office.   Ms. Lormand, our school psychologist,  was married this summer and will be Mrs. Perry this Fall.  We all wish her a big congratulations.   Complementing our new hires will be Sarah Brothers as our permanent substitute.
I wish to thank the PTO for all their assistance.   They have done tremendous work in providing student enrichment, organizing school social events, community outreach, and assistance to the teachers.  PTO membership dues have helped to reduce the cost of bus transportation for field trips which can cost upwards of $500 to travel a few towns away, provide for an amazing Field Day, enrich our Library Technology Center with a collection of more than 30,000 electronic books as well as graphic novels, and provide community events like the Halloween Dance and the Winter Carnival, to name just a few. The PTO continues to serve as the best vehicles in which to volunteer and be active in our school community.   If you are not already involved, please consider joining this organization which has as it’s main purpose student enrichment at Pine Glen School.

I am incredibly thankful to the all the residents of Burlington for continuing to provide us with the financial means to attract and retain the highest caliber of teachers, technology, and resources to differentiate instruction for all learners. It is because of this support we can continue to create a lifelong love of learning for everyone in our Pine Glen Community.  Thank you very much for the opportunity you entrust us with everyday in providing instruction to your children. 

If you have any questions or have great stories to share of your children’s learning journey, please do not hesitate to contact me at


John Lyons, M.S. Ed.
Pine Glen Elementary School

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Main Office Renovation

Work is continuing to be completed on the renovations to the main office.