Friday, September 1, 2017

Welcome Back 2017

September 1, 2017
Dear Pine Glen Community:
It has been a wonderful summer and I am sure everyone has enjoyed this time with family and friends.  This summer my family made its annual trip to Cape Cod for a week.  We took the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard for a day trip where my daughters enjoyed jumping off the “Jaws Bridge” as one of their summer highlights.   I also had fun watching both of them swim in their various swim meets. My youngest daughter will be in fourth grade and older daughter in eighth grade this fall.  I also had a blast playing tennis with my wife and enjoying some golf.  Throughout the summer I greatly missed seeing all the students.  I have to thank our Pine Glen community for the incredible privilege you provide me with to educate your children and see them grow.  
We will commence the 2017-2018 school year at Pine Glen Elementary School on September 5th for students in grades 1-5.  Kindergarten student’s first day is September 11th.  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.  Students will dismissed at 2:40 pm.    Kindergarten hours are 8:35am-1:00 pm.

We currently have 312 students enrolled for the start of the school year. We have a very diverse school population that makes our school community even stronger.  This fall 17.63% of our students first language is not English and 6.41% of our students were born outside the United States. We look forward to the knowledge and experiences all of our students bring to Pine Glen!

This summer new floors were  installed on the second floor and hallway.  We also had a new floor placed in the music room.  This involved packing up the entire second floor and music room.  After the tile portion of the project was complete, teachers unpacked and then put classrooms together.    This was a big undertaking.  I must commend Barbara and the rest of our custodial staff for their stellar work in making the school a clean and safe environment for students to learn.   Also, I must commend the teachers who have spent many hours this summer preparing their classrooms to be clean, warm, safe, and inviting places to learn.  The new floors look fantastic!

This summer I had the privilege to work with staff on our Positive Behavior Incentive System (PBIS) called Hoot.  We have decided to use a different acronym moving from Appropriate, Safe and Kind (ASK) to WISE and OWL.  


“Make WISE Choices”
  • Work to be APPROPRIATE
  • Important to be SAFE
  • Strive to be KIND
  • Everyone Matters!

Teachers are like OWLS:

  • Observant
  • Wise
  • Listening

Hoot cards are given out by any staff members in common areas (i.e., hallway, cafeteria ect.) to any student making WISE Choices.  The Hoot cards will be collected at the end of each day.  On Thursday afternoon, a student will be randomly chosen from each grade.  The students chosen will be announced on Friday morning over the loudspeaker, they will be called down to the office, to receive a pencil and have their picture taken.  

We have also chosen Monthly Themes for the school year.  

Monthly Themes:

September- Appropriate
October- Safety
November & December- Kindness
January & February- Determination
March & April- Acceptance/Empathy
May & June- Community

This summer several staff also participated in a course called Responsive Classroom.  A large number of the staff have taken this training in the past.  There is a strong connection between social-emotional learning (SEL) and academic success.  Research has shown that cognitive growth occurs largely through social interactions. A program like Responsive Classroom is a key ingredient in helping students with peer interactions in order to grow not only socially but, academically too.  We have also made changes to the master schedule and allocated a designated time in the morning for a Morning Meeting to provide for social-emotional learning (SEL).   

We were fortunate to receive a grant from the Burlington Educational Foundation I had written for friendship bench and friendship table.  A friendship bench and friendship table are both special places on a school playground where a child can go when they want someone to talk to.  These tools will further help us promote social-emotional learning (SEL) for students.
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.   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.

As you may be aware there are many students in the Burlington School System with allergies and some of these students may be in your child’s classroom this year.  Please remember that SNACK TIME IN THE CLASSROOMS IS PEANUT AND TREE NUT FREE.  Please read ALL labels on any food items that you send in for your child’s snacks.

For further information, the allergy policy is posted on the Burlington Public Schools website.  Please take the time to review our allergy policy at under the school link.

If there are any questions regarding appropriate snack items to send into school or if you have any other food concerns, do not hesitate to email our school nurse, Mrs. Ferrick (
We are pleased to welcome new staff members to our Pine Glen Community.  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.  Although not new to Pine Glen, Lindsey Bourgault, is returning to Pine Glen as a speech language pathologist.   Lindsey Tigges, who started her career at Pine Glen Elementary School, will also be returning to Pine Glen in the role of a special education teacher.  We also enthusiastically welcome Jessica Hilton and Melissa Murphy who are joining our staff as special needs instructional assistants.   

I am also thrilled to announce some name changes for this Fall.  Two of our staff had beautiful weddings this summer. Ms.Zanotti has changed her name and will now be Mrs. Tilton.  Ms.Lane has also changed her name and will now be Mrs. Hanafin.  Congratulations to both Mrs Tilton and Mrs. Hanafin!

I am incredibly grateful to the Burlington community for the investment they make in students Resources such as Response to Intervention tutors, a school psychologist, class size, reading specialist, librarian, technology intervention specialist, social-emotional (SEL) coach, and interventions, as well as technology on which to run them, have provided us with the means to see our students make great growth.
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.  The Halloween Dance and the Winter Carnival, and Turkey Trot/Walk-a-Thon are just a few examples of some of the great the PTO sponsors.  The PTO continues to serve as the best vehicle in which to volunteer and be active in our school community.  
Thank you very much for the opportunity you entrust us with everyday in providing instruction to your children!  It is an absolute joy to see students grow and mature throughout the years at Pine Glen.  It is because of this support and partnership we can continue to create a lifelong love of learning for everyone in our Pine Glen community.  In the Pine Glen community everyone matters.
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

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