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Ames/ Weymouth Parent Letter

posted Sep 5, 2013, 6:11 AM by kwadsworth@rsu20.org

Dear Ames and Weymouth School Families,

September is here and we have opened our doors to 247 students and their familes. Please take a moment to read this letter as it contains important information. We have many, many new students and hope that you will make them and their families feel welcome in our tri-town schools. We made a number of classroom moves over the summer. Ms. Luchetti's 4th grade classroom is now in the addition at Ames. Both second grade classrooms moved from Weymouth to Ames. Ames is now a grades 2-5 school. Both Pre-K classrooms moved to Weymouth creating a grade Pre-K -1 school. These changes mean fewer transitions for our youngest learners and will allow them to learn and stay with the same school routine for 3 years.

We have successfully completed our fourth summer school experience during the month of July at the Ames School. It was a huge success with close to 50 students participating in the 4 week opportunity. A big thank you goes out to Patty Ryan, Claudia Luchetti, Jim Roberts, Jennifer Greene, Meghan Lavway, JoDell Warren, Sandy Flacke and Annie Bickford for staffing this great program.

There are a few staff changes at our schools this year. Teaching staff at Weymouth School includes Susan Olson and Marci Zaniboni as teachers in our all day kindergarten classrooms. Niki Hopkins and Ilona DuBois make up the first grade teaching team. The Pre K team includes Jennifer Turnbull, Julie Allen, Melony Fields and Roxanne Curtis. Jackie Curtis is our Title l teacher supporting K-1 students in literacy and math in the AM and then will travel to the Ames School to work with students in the PM. Special education teacher Karen Gorris-Hicock and ed tech Kathy Knight support identified students at the Weymouth School. Kay Dodd continues to serve as our awesome administrative assistant and we welcome Laurie Knight is our new cook as she prepares healthy meals for us all. Mr. Wessels is our custodian but he will be out the first part of the school year with a broken wrist. We hope he can return to us soon. He has worked diligently cleaning our school throughout the summer and it looks terrific!

Teaching staff at the Ames School includes Sarah Nelson and Kent Burnham collaborating as the second grade teaching team. Kent missed the first few days of school as his family welcomes baby Jack into their home. Karen Craig-Foley and Maggie Campbell make up our third grade teaching team. Maureen Ladd and Claudia Luchetti are our fourth grade teaching team. Kris Federle and Patty Ryan make up our fifth grade teaching team. Linda Trask is the Title l teacher serving students who need additional support in literacy and math. Special Education teacher Sharon Morse and ed techs Cheryl Mallard, Sue Black and Jim Roberts will be supporting identified students with special needs. Secretary Kathy Wadsworth cheerfully meets and greets everyone as she covers the front office/library at Ames School. Rhonda Kinney and Liz Ames provide yummy, healthy meals for us all. Judy Cookson continues to be our school nurse and Maureen Ferriter is our guidance counselor. She and Judy serve 4 elementary buildings. They will be in each building approximately one day a week. New physical education teacher Janel Fearon, music teacher Amy Gardner and 5th grade band teacher Patrick Munson will work with our students. Louise Bakely serves students with speech and language needs at Weymouth and Ames School. Alison Eckert serves students needing occupational therapy at both schools. Ray St. Onge will support all of us as our computer ‘tech guy’. Tracy Hayslip is our technology integrator supporting teachers and students with technology in the classroom at Ames and Geoff Cyr will be supporting teachers and students at Weymouth.. Jacquie Kahn is our ELP – Extended Learning Program teacher and will serve identified students in grades 3, 4 and 5. Carrie White is the custodian keeping our building clean and safe. She worked throughout the summer cleaning, painting and more so that the school is ready for the new year.

RSU #20 continues to work with Broadreach to provide our Pre-K program. The first day of school for pre-K students will be on September 9th. Regular classes will run Monday through Thursday, full day, serving breakfast and lunch as an option. We continue to be excited about the opportunities this program brings to our pre-school population. We are so happy to start the year with two classrooms that are filled to capacity.

We will continue to offer the After School Program at the Ames School. The goal of the program is to provide additional academic support for students in grades 1-5 that may be struggling in literacy or math. We are looking for a lead and assistant leaders to work in the program. If you are interested, please contact me. If you are a certified teacher interested in tutoring small groups of students, please contact me as well. The program provides homework help, tutoring and enrichment activities 4 days a week after school from 3:15 – 5:15. The program is slated to begin the third week in September. Selected families will be receiving letters of invitation soon. This program is made available through a 21stCentury Grant.

This year, the Ames and Weymouth Schools received another grant that allows students to participate in a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). This program allows classrooms of students (on a rotating basis) to help prepare a healthy snack for the whole school, using common and uncommon fruits and vegetables, on a weekly basis. Small snacks of fresh fruits or veggies will be available to students from a fruit stand in the hallway. Liz Ames coordinates this in both buildings. Last year Ames School received the Bronze Medal Award for their participation in this program.

A continued emphasis at both schools is to create caring and respectful environments where students work and learn. We have high expectations for all of our students and ourselves. Creating caring and responsible students continues to be our top priority along with a strong academic focus. We have found that establishing a few important expectations for school and bus safety has been imperative in creating positive school and bus environments. These rules help us all to be super citizens.

We ask all students to:

1. Follow directions

2. Use positive talk (kind words and appropriate tone)

3. Respect self, others and property

4. Use their best effort to complete quality work in a timely manner

  1. Stay in their assigned space

Students will be expected to follow the bus rules that are purposely similar to school rules.

1. Follow directions given by the bus driver and/or bus aide.

2. Stay in assigned seat sitting on bottom, facing forward. (bottom to bottom, back to back)

3. Use positive talk and appropriate tone and volume on the bus.

4. Respect myself, others and property by keeping my hands to myself.

5. Tell an adult when I see or hear something that is unsafe for others.

It is important for students to realize that their day begins when they step onto the bus and ends when they step off the bus. We want their whole day to be a success, including the ride to and from school. It is our expectation that all students follow these standards as well as our motto “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully” in order to ensure quality educational experiences for themselves and others. Our District’s Code of Conduct Handbook is a framework for establishing behavior and citizenship standards. We recognize the importance of supporting students in their efforts to meet these standards. We ask all parents to read and discuss the Code of Conduct with your child. (Code of Conduct Handbooks are passed out to the Kindergarten and new students.) Please pay careful attention to the sections on school dress (Rule 4) and personal property (Rule 5). We all play an important role as models in our schools. It is important to students that their parents and teachers model the rules in the Code of Conduct Handbook as well. You may also hear students using the term SLANT. It is an acronym used in all classrooms that stands for 1.) Sit up 2.) Look and listen 3.) Ask and Answer questions 4.) Nod your head when you understand and 5.) Track the speaker (which means follow them with your eyes). We thank you in advance for supporting our efforts to create quality schools with safe environments where much learning can take place.

We also use the Student Problem-Solving Sheet (pink slip) and the Bullying Rubric as ways to communicate problems with parents. These forms allow students to share with their parents what the problem was and how the student will go about solving it/making a plan so that it doesn’t occur again. It allows students to take responsibility for an action and then make a plan to fix it. Parents are asked to sign them and return them to school with their child on the following day. If you have questions, please call your child’s teacher or myself. Students understand that if they do not return the signed paper the following day, there will be a consequence.

School begins at 8:45 in both schools. Buses begin arriving at 8:30. Parents should not drop off their student before 8:30 as teachers are preparing for the day and are not always in their classrooms to supervise students. School is dismissed at 3:05. All students need to follow their regular after school routines unless a note is sent in telling of a change in schedule. Students will be put on the bus for home/follow their regular dismissal routine without a note telling us to do otherwise. There is a sign in/out book at the office door (Weymouth) and in the library (Ames). Parents need to come into the building to sign students in/out to let us know when children arrive and are dismissed. It is also for student safety as both drive-ways are busy, so we ask that all students are attended by an adult as they travel through these areas. Please call the absence hot line and let us know if your child will be absent for the day and the reason they will not be in school. District policy states there are 6 excusable absences:

1. illness

2. appointment with a health professional

3. observance of a religious holiday

4. family emergency

5. planned absence approved by the principal

6. homelessness.

Any unreported absence will be considered unexcused. Please note that 7 random days or 5 consecutive days of unexcused absences will result in a report to the superintendent (per district policy). I cannot express enough the importance of students regularly attending school. We will call you if we have not been notified of an absence so that we may confirm that your child is safe and accounted for. Please note on the sign in/out tardy/dismissal sheet there is a column where parents must document reason for tardiness or early dismissal.

Ames and Weymouth Schools are both Title l schools which mean that we receive federal funding for supportive services in literacy and math. Below is the district process for identifying students. Please contact me if you have questions or would like to make a parent referral.

What is the identification process for Title l?

The teachers in RSU #20 use various assessments routinely to document student progress. Assessment results are part of the identification process for Title l. Teacher observation and classroom performance are other considerations for identification for Title l. Based on a risk assessment score given to each student, Title I staff determine if a student will qualify for services. Generally, the lowest 20% of students not receiving special education services will be identified and prioritized to receive services. Occasionally, students are prioritized according to resources. Students exit the Title l program when they achieve established benchmarks. However, if the student regresses, he or she will be reconsidered for Title l services. A parent may also contact the school and ask about Title l services for their child. The school will use the above mentioned processes to determine whether the child meets the criteria to receive Title l services.

Parent Referrals

The principal will place an article in each school's first and mid-year newsletter informing parents that they may make a referral for their child to be assessed to see if they qualify for Title l supplemental literacy or math services (K-5). Parent referrals will be acted upon as they are received. The school team will determine eligibility. 

Our buildings are locked throughout the school day to ensure student and staff safety. Outside each door, there is a door bell. Please ring the buzzer, step in front of the window on the door and wait patiently for someone to let you in. There is a sign in sheet for visitors and visitor badges to wear when visiting/working In our buildings. Please check into the office or library to pick up a visitor’s badge before proceeding throughout the rest of the building. As a visitor or volunteer in our buildings, it is important that you understand the rights of all students in our buildings. All things that you see or hear pertaining to students, must stay at school. You cannot talk about incidents or students outside of school. These rules come from FERPA – Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. I will be scheduling a few meetings to review these rules. You must attend a meeting in order to volunteer in our schools.

Parent Information Night is on Monday, September 16th. Weymouth School will hold their informational meetings from 5:15 – 5:45. Ames meetings will be held from 6:00 – 6:30. This is an opportunity for parents to come to school and listen to a short presentation by their child’s teachers about the upcoming school year. Teachers will talk about schedules, routines and grade level standards/expectations. It is a time for parents to ask questions and get answers. This will be a ‘parents only’ night as it will be in presentation format. Open House is scheduled for October 2nd from 5:30 – 6:15 at Ames and 6:00- 6:45 at Weymouth. Students are invited and encouraged to attend. This is an opportunity to visit the school and see the schoolwork that your child has been involved in during the first month of school. It is not a time to conference with the teacher. Please make an appointment to meet with the teacher privately if you would like to discuss your child’s progress in depth.

Hot lunch is available daily for $2.25 (40¢ for reduced). Juice, white and chocolate milk are 50¢. Breakfast is also available for $1.00 (free for reduced). Money should always be sent in on Mondays/the first day of the week, in envelopes labeled with student’s name and the dates that students will need lunch/breakfast or drink for the week as well as the lunch/breakfast choice. You may also pay by the month. Every student will be receiving a free/reduced lunch application. If you feel you may qualify, please fill out and return to school by September 9th. If you have questions, please call Kay or Kathy.

Traffic can get very congested before and after school in both parking lots. Please be aware of bus traffic and their need to be close to the school in order to pick up and drop off students safely. Accommodating for bus traffic is the priority. At the Weymouth building, buses will loop at the lower end of the building. Cars may drive up and park on the right side of the building in the designated parking area. It is against fire code to park next to the building. Please park your car in the parking area away from the building. The playground side of the building is off limits to all vehicle traffic. It will be important not to clog the lower end of the school with cars as it will impede bus flow as they pick up and drop off students. The traffic flow guidelines at the Ames School require all vehicles to enter the driveway on the village end and exit through the driveway on the Route #3 end. This mirrors the flow of bus traffic and will be safer for our students. Buses at the Ames School pull up next to the building. Personal vehicles should park on the circle side of the parking lot or on either end of the parking lot away from the building. Parents should continue to escort their children in and out of the buildings to provide safe conditions for students as they are entering and exiting the school. Parent drivers, please be reminded to drive slowly when moving through the parking lots. There is much traffic through the driveway and other drivers may not see small children. Always walk your child into and out of the school.

We ask parents in both schools to wait near the designated area of the office/library after signing out your child(ren). Kay and Kathy will call to notify the teacher at dismissal time to release your child. Your student will be dismissed to you at the close of school day. We encourage you not to ask for your child to be dismissed early as the closing of the day is filled with lots of last minute teaching and organizing and early dismissal is disruptive to the rest of the class. We understand that many students are busy with after school lessons and sports. We hope that you will respect the importance of every minute needed for education. Please schedule lessons and practices well after dismissal, allowing you travel time to get there without having to pull students out of school early.

I am eager to work with each of you in order to support positive and safe educational experiences for all children. I also want the school environment to be a positive experience for families. I am always available to meet with you to help solve problems and share successes. It is my goal to create a strong educational family including students, parents and school staff in order to meet the needs of the whole child in the school setting. Please call me to set up an appointment or stop me in the hallway anytime. I continue to strive toward creating a quality learning community where everyone feels welcome.


Laura Miller, Principal