Calais Elementary School

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Principal's Report

Principal's Report November 2013

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – November 18, 2013

  1. Literacy

Our post-instruction narrative prompt and pre-instruction informational text prompts are right around the corner. At the staff meeting on November 13th, grade level clusters agreed to use an upcoming lunchtime unit meeting to set agendas for a PD half day. During that time they will share prompts across grade levels and use each other to plan informational text units. This PD half day will occur on December 6th. We will bring out last year’s Data Day schedule and send students to 3 specials in a row to free up classroom teachers and special educators.

At the meeting on the 13th, the staff also made a plan to celebrate narrative writing. This plan includes posting pictures of the celebrations, as well as finished pieces on the school website, as suggested at last month’s board meeting.

The reading specialists from across the SU will meet twice in November. At the first meeting, the team worked to de-bug our early literacy assessments. They also continued conversations about how to assess our advanced upper elementary students to obtain more accurate and meaningful data.

Jill Abair deserves many thanks for organizing our book fair this year. Sales were high enough to earn over $1000 in credit from Scholastic. We have already put some of this money to use.  We provided books to some students who could use additional reading material at home and added new titles to each classroom library. We will work as a team to make a plan for the rest of the money.

  1. Mathematics

The WCSU Mathematics Steering Committee has completed a first draft of student achievement “non-negotiables” (the set of knowledge and skills that we agree students must learn at each grade level) for preschool through high school geometry. This draft, along with a survey, went out to all mathematics teachers in WCSU for feedback in late October. The steering committee will meet with Mahesh Sharma on November 22nd to finalize “Version One” of this document.

In early December, Mahesh will again visit WCSU. During this visit, he will lead “clinical rounds” for math teachers at all grade levels. Teachers will have the opportunity to watch Mahesh teach a class and then debrief the lesson. We are especially excited to continue the 5th-8th grade work that began at the summer lab school led by Mahesh in late July.

  1. School Climate
  2. Discipline (Student Climate)

We held our first All School Celebration at the end of October. Students were treated to a skit featuring Pirates Middelton and Fish, as well as a PreK-6 game of Night at the Museum and 15-minute whole school recess.

In the coming weeks, the PBIS team will introduce gold bars as tokens of recognition during “booster” weeks. These are a strategy for reinforcing a target behavior and/or expected behavior in a target location. We are also looking forward to sharing both our first data reports and a slightly revised referral form with staff.

  1. Other Curricular Areas
  2. Music

String players in grade 4-6 and band instrumentalists in grades 5 and 6 had their first lesson on Friday, November 8th. We have about 18 students participating in our instrumental music program.

  1. Other
  2. Nurse’s Office Data

Following this report, you will see a re-print of last year’s nurse data, as well as new numbers for this year. We have not closely analyzed this information, but wanted to be sure to at least have the raw data for this month’s board meeting.


Principal's Report October 2013

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – October 23, 2013

You’ll note a change in section headings this month. This reflects the goals of our new Continuous Improvement Plan.

  1. Literacy

The CES Writing Committee has created a master spreadsheet showing scores from last year’s prompts and this year’s narrative pre-instruction prompt. The committee is planning to take a close look at rubrics and scores at their next meeting to identify trends and areas of concern before narrative instruction wraps up. The post-instruction narrative prompt will occur on November 19th.

As promised in the Continuous Improvement Plan, Marissa, Damien, Stacey, and Candace all worked together to design and deliver lessons to get our fifth graders ready to tackle the writing NECAP with confidence. These lessons were delivered during the week of October 7th and provided students with an opportunity to practice “on-demand” writing, self-assessment, and revision. This work has been noted on the Continuous Improvement Plan.

Fall Fountas & Pinnell reading level data are in! We have already restructured reading support for many students based on this information.  We will work as grade level teams to study the data for information about things like summer regression plus school- and class-wide trends.

The following is the purpose statement created this fall by the WCSU Literacy Steering Committee, on which Kelly MacMartin serves as the CES representative: The Literacy Steering Committee will articulate the non-negotiables in writing achievement, instruction, and assessment for each grade level based upon the Vermont Early Learning Standards, the Common Core State Standards, and current research.

  1. Mathematics

The CES Math Committee has been hard at work taking stock of current levels of Common Core implementation, sharing resources for Common Core instruction and problem solving, and creating plans to assess and support struggling students.

The WCSU Mathematics Steering Committee has adopted the following purpose statement to guide their work this year: The Math Steering Committee will draft a document that outlines the student achievement and instructional non-negotiables for the WCSU PK-12 math curriculum. This document will be aligned with the CCSS, and include methods of instruction, associated common models, language, and common assessments. It will also contain recommendations for PD throughout the SU.

This committee has really dug into the work already this year.  They spent two full days at the end of September and beginning of October creating a first version of the WCSU student non-negotiables in mathematics. This work will be shared with all mathematics teachers and any others who are interested at the upcoming grade level meetings. Feedback is being collected from across the SU via a survey created by the committee. It is exciting to have this great resource nearly ready for implementation!

  1. School Climate
  2. Discipline (Student Climate)

We are gearing up for our first school-wide celebration. Damien, a member of the PBIS leadership team, will hold a lunch meeting with all 5/6-ers interested in helping to plan this celebration in the next few days. The committee has also generated near-final versions of an informational handout for parents and a guide to both the procedures and philosophical underpinnings of the PBIS program for substitutes.

We have not been able to do much data analysis, as we are still dealing with a relatively small number of incidents. We are happy that the number has been low, but look forward to being able see patterns in things like the time and location of the incidents. Anecdotally, Marissa has processed far fewer recess incidents this year and found that the new office referral form allows us to keep better track of minor incidents that result in consequences like a trip to the buddy room or a phone call home from a teacher.

  1. Staff Climate

We had our first Wellness Lunch this school year on October 16th, complete with a “guess the staff member” bulletin board with baby pictures. The staff climate committee has also been talking about and brainstorming solutions for trends from surveys conducted last year.

  1. Other Curricular Areas
  2. Science

The WCSU Science Steering Committee has adopted purpose statements for immediate and more long-term work. They include:


Purpose Statement Years 1 and 2

We will familiarize ourselves with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and develop a plan to provide guidance and support to teachers in implementing the NGSS. We will, in collaboration with teachers, articulate student achievement non-negotiables in science education in grades PreK-12. We will communicate regularly with teachers to ensure that the work they have done is honored and that our plans are feasible.

Purpose Statement Years 3-5

By the end of Year 5 we will have led WCSU in getting fully aligned to the NGSS by working with all teachers to develop a framework that includes assessments, instructional practices, resources and professional development.

Mary Carpenter and Marissa are excited to delve into these helpful, though admittedly complicated, standards and work with colleagues from across the SU to support our teachers in reading and implementing the NGSS.

  1. Social Studies

The WSCU Social Studies Steering Committee, on which Damien Middelton serves as the CES representative, has adopted the following purpose statement: This committee will gather data on what is being taught PreK-12 across schools in the WCSU.  Using state and national documents to inform our work, we will identify supervisory union-wide core standards across the grades and use this information to ensure vertical and horizontal alignment.

  1. Other
  2. Early Retirement

There are two teachers eligible for early retirement at this time. An early retirement package for teachers costs the school $17,000 to $20,000 per year for three years. This number comes from the combination of a cost of a single health insurance plan the typical range of the dollar amount of 1/6 of eligible teachers’ salaries; the agreement states that teachers who take early retirement will receive half of their salary, spread out over three years, hence 1/6 per year.

Marissa was asked by the board at the September meeting to make a recommendation as to whether to offer early retirement. She recommends that the board NOT offer early retirement this year.

The ESP agreement does not specify a timeline for a board decision on whether to offer early retirement. Patty, Bill, and Marissa will work to get numbers of eligible staff members and budget implications in the coming months.


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