Lewisboro Elementary School
|79 Bouton Rd., South Salem, NY 10590
|Ms. Cristy Harris
LES PTA Member Feedback Re: Closing and Transition
Dear LES Families,
During the past few months, I have been reminded of how special the LES learning community is and am confident that together we will successfully transition our students to new school communities for the fall. I want to assure you that I am listening closely and carefully to your hopes, fears, suggestions and questions and your voices are being heard. I have attached a document that I hope accurately captures and is reflective of the parent feedback from the PTA General Meeting held on January 31st. Please review and feel free to let me know if you would like to highlight an item and/or add to the list.
The four elementary principals work closely together and we recognize the difference of circumstances that students and staff members from across the district will experience throughout the transition as they exit, enter or remain in particular schools. As members of the District’s Transition Steering Committee we are significantly and intricately involved in the process of class placement and articulation, assignment/reassignment of staff, development of new grade level teams and departments, alignment of curriculum and instruction as well as the logistics of packing, moving, and construction of instructional space. This is a huge undertaking, but we have a collective interest in ensuring a smooth transition.
The Administration is keenly aware of the importance of timely staffing decisions for next year and we want to assure you that decisions will be made in a thoughtful manner. In addition, we know that you are concerned with having the opportunity to provide input about class placement. The Transition Steering Committee will be developing plans and timelines with sensitivity to these matters. You will be provided with more detailed information as it becomes available.
Already in motion is the development of a comprehensive student transition plan. The Student Transition Committee, comprised of the elementary principals along with staff and parent representatives from each of the four elementary schools and district administration, have set out to accomplish the following goals:
1. orienting students with their assigned school of attendance for September 2014
2. initiating relationships with others who will be part of their school community in the 2014-2015 school year
3. promoting the idea of creating three new elementary school communities where existing customs are respected while new traditions are created (short/long term goal).
To date, the committee has met twice with future meetings scheduled for the next several months. Transition activities for students have been identified and prioritized. In motion are the plans for students to visit their respective new school with their grade level peers before school breaks for summer vacation. Visitations are being designed with fun in mind as our children meet significant people, locate key places, and discover the things that make their new school special. There will be age appropriate and engaging friendship building and getting-to-know-you activities. Also in the works are the establishment of pen pals and the selection of a common read across each grade level as a literacy connection based on themes such as, “new beginnings” or “changes.”
LES staff and families are in the process of forming sub-committees and individuals are taking on projects. As of now, there is a group dedicated to taking inventory of LES’ gardens, memorials, gifts, donations, and other special items and will be making recommendations as to where these artifacts should be kept. The Field Day Committee members are considering how to include a special activity as part of the day. Teachers are selecting dates for their end-of-year grade level celebrations and arrangements are being made for a school-wide photo. The LES PTA Transition Committee is actively planning an LES after school party for families, a staff social, and some other surprises.
As critical as it is to implement a positive transition over the next several months, I want to emphasize the importance of providing our children with as much normalcy as possible throughout the spring semester. Let’s focus on the day to day experiences that are such a critical part of those special elementary years. With that being said, student transition activities such as the school visitation, grade level celebrations, and special projects will begin at the appropriate time, late in the school year. To that end, the packing of classrooms will be an ongoing, but subtle process over the next several months; however, the heavy load will take place near the end of June when we typically get ready for the summer transition.
If your child raises questions and concerns about LES closing and/or moving to a new school, the professionals recommend remaining positive and reassuring. Limiting sharing your concerns may be important to the way your child may adjust to the upcoming changes. If your child is experiencing anxiety, please contact School Psychologist, Dr. Rebecca Hirschl or Social Worker, Mrs. Wendy Bucaj.
I will have more to share with you as the transition process continues to unfold. Please know that there are many people collaborating district-wide to create positive new experiences for all of the elementary students and that I will continue to be your voice in those conversations.
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What’s Happening at LES?
We have had a great start to the school year! Students are actively learning in their classrooms and participating in some wonderful school wide and PTA sponsored events. I would like to once again thank the PTA for their collaborative spirit and generosity in funding special programs and the purchase of new recess equipment for our students.
As part of our Character Education program, 4th and 5th grade students participated in a BOCES event, “Cooperative Kindness”. Through games and activities students learned the value of working together and how that can sometimes be easy and also sometimes challenging. Stop by the cafeteria hallway to see photos of the students in action! Mix it up at Lunch Day took place on October 29th. Students moved out of their comfort zones and connected with someone new over lunch. We look forward to the Compact Team initiative, “Parents as Reading Partners” this month with guest readers and a planned activity to support the monthly Character Education theme “Acceptance.”
We continue to practice Safety Drills both as a whole school and on smaller, more focused scales at recess and lunch. To date we have practiced fire drills from the cafeteria and at recess. Next we will practice lockdown drills during recess and lunch. We maintain our emphasis on cooperation and orderly conduct during drills for the safety of all students and staff. The Katonah-Lewisboro Transportation Department presented their bus safety program, “Classroom on Wheels” to all classes this month. Students watched a short video and then proceeded outside for a practical lesson on safe crossing and emergency evacuation procedures.
Trail Day theme, “Earthkeepers” on October 25th began with a kick off assembly and performance by the LES chorus. A video reading of the book, Giving Thanks by Jake Swamp, supported our theme of gratitude and respect to the Earth. Based on the Thanksgiving Address of the Iroquois people, the book reflects the Native American tradition of greeting the world each morning by giving thanks to all living things. Students enjoyed outdoor nature games, a trail walk, and stories about dignity by a visiting magician and storyteller.
Salad Day was a huge success with students sampling fresh greens from our garden and enjoying a healthy addition to their lunches. Special thanks to the Garden Club members and all who supported the 2013 LES Harvest. Students are also enhancing and extending their learning through field trips to such places as The Trailside Nature Museum, Sharpe Reservation and the forthcoming Nutcracker Ballet for 2nd grade.
Upcoming Happenings at LES:
Storyteller, Jonathan Kruk will weave the message of “Acceptance” into fairy tales and stories at a series of age appropriate assemblies in December for grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. We look forward to our annual Fifth Grade vs. Faculty Volleyball Game. Students will perfect their volleyball skills in Physical Education classes and hope, once again, to dominate the faculty!
Our yearly Sing-a-Long led by music teachers, Linda Kirshenbaum and Lois Kurisko, returns as a holiday favorite at LES with amazing performances by the LES chorus and whole school holiday singing. Happy Holidays to all!
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Summer Reading Lists
Letter to Parents Regarding the Newtown Tragedy
December 17, 2012
Dear Lewisboro Elementary Families,
The tragic news of Friday, December 14, 2012 has left us all deeply distressed. Our hearts go out to all the families in the Newtown community, and to everyone involved and affected by this devastating loss of precious life.
To prepare for the students today, the LES staff met this morning prior to student arrival. Staff members were asked not to introduce or facilitate discussion regarding the tragedy. However, staff were told to respond to students, at all grade levels, if students made comments or asked questions. Prepared responses were scripted and shared with the staff in the event that the topic was brought up in the classroom. The staff understood that their primary role was to provide students with reassurance that school is a good, safe place to be, and that the adults in their lives work very hard to make sure that they have a happy and safe place to learn in school.
The school social worker and psychologist were both available throughout the day to meet with students requiring additional support in dealing with specific or detailed questions and concerns. The District has posted resources on our website if you need assistance speaking to your children, but please know that we are also here to assist you, and your family. You are welcome to contact the school and speak to either me, our TOSA, Marie Calo, School Social Worker, Wendy Bucaj and School Psychologist, Rebecca Hirschl.
During this time, we know the importance of maintaining a sense of normalcy. When we were notified by the District Office this morning to go into lockout mode (a single point of entry) as a precautionary measure to a potential risk in a neighboring district, we did so with great subtlety. With the exception of having indoor recess, the students were unaware of the lockout situation. The staff was asked to continue with established routines and instruction so that the children felt secure and safe in their school environment.
In looking ahead, the LES Crisis Team in collaboration with the District Crisis Team will carefully review our current emergency plans and procedures. The Lewisboro Police Chief and Town Supervisors, who visited our school this morning, told me that they will continue to periodically monitor our campus to instill a sense of safety.
Please know that I am committed to the safety of the students and staff at LES. I greatly appreciate your support during this difficult time.
Wishing you all peace during this holiday season,
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