Calais Elementary School

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Principal's Report

Principal's Report February 2014

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – February 12, 2014

  1. Literacy

The post-instruction informational text prompt will happen on February 18th. We used a recent FFF afternoon to plan the prompt. There was a great conversation about the purpose of the prompt. The group debated questions like whether students should be able to choose any topic or respond to a specific piece of text and whether students should have the notes they took with support, not have notes, or only notes they took completely independently. We are looking forward to seeing the results of this prompt, especially since the final text type, opinion/argument pieces, has so many of the same features as informational text.

Midyear F&P scores are in. We have not had a chance to do an in-depth analysis, but currently 87% of students tested are at or above grade level. We are looking forward to analyzing trends in comprehension scores, fluency scores, student growth, impact of interventions, and many other areas.

Marissa will update the Continuous Improvement Plan site soon. We are mindful of the goals around summer regression prevention.  We are looking forward to crunching the NECAP numbers and getting those results up there.

  1. Mathematics

Our January in-service time provided two big chunks of time during which teachers were able to connect to talk about, exchange and create resources for teaching mathematics. On Monday the 20th, teachers met in SU-wide grade-alike groups. This time was fabulous! Each group was led by teachers who serve on the Math Steering Committee. The 5th through 8th grade teachers met together in a nice continuation of work that began with summer lab schools and our clinical rounds with Mahesh Sharma.

Our time as a building-based crew on Tuesday the 21st yielded some great products including student-friendly versions of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice and two ways of assessing math practices (Do students know the practices? And, do students engage in the practices?). The math committee has just collated the results of the pre-instruction version of our “Do students know the practices?” assessment. We look forward to working together to introduce the practices to students and vertically align our expectations and priorities.

You will find a whole packet about math in the board packet. Marissa, Kate, Mary, and Kelly look forward to discussing this packet and more at the meeting!

  1. School Climate

At our January All School Morning Meeting on the 25th, we introduced two new ways in which we will recognize positive behavior through our PBIS program. The first of these involves deputizing three or four students per day to be “First Mates.” These first mates will be given a bandana arm band and several “I caught you being good” coupons. Throughout the day they will pass out those coupons, which their schoolmates will then trade in to teachers for coins. All students in grades K-6 will have a turn as we cycle through the roster in the coming weeks. Students are showing an extra level of pride as they trade in their tickets for coins.

The second new recognition method is a “booster” system to help address a target area. We are targeting the hallways by distributing gold bars – that take up the same amount of space as about six of the regular coins – when we see students following the Keys to Success in the halls. Kids are particularly excited about these bars as a deal was struck: if they earn at least 100 of these before Beach Day (February 21st), one of the stations at the event will be pie throwing… into teachers’ faces (only of those who volunteer, of course!). We are planning to enhance the traditional Beach Day offerings to make it an All School Celebration-caliber event.

  1. Other
  2. Facilities

We’ve certainly had some crummy luck on the plumbing front lately! The burst pipe issue that resulted in school being closed on Monday, January 27th has been resolved for the remainder of the school year. A longer term fix will be necessary over the summer. Financially, we have been fortunate in that Jason and Rich have been able to provide the extra set of hands for the plumber, so the cost of labor is low. Michelle Ksepka has filed a claim and is working with our insurance company. At this time, we do not expect that the expense will be greater than our $5,000 deductible.

The issue on Thursday, February 6th was unrelated, but similar in its impact on the water supply. In this case, a fitting on a pipe leading off of our well holding tank broke, preventing water from being piped into the building. We were able to hold school as students had already begun arriving when the issue was discovered. Thanks to a truckload of water coolers from U-32, we were able to flush toilets with buckets and had plenty of safe drinking water on hand.

Before the end of the year, we will install new parking lot lights. These will be highly efficient LED lights that use less energy while casting a much wider and brighter glow.

  1. NECAP Scores

We are planning to have the annual NECAP presentation assembled by the end of the first week of March. We will get this out to board members as soon as it is completed. This will allow us to spend our meeting time discussing and analyzing the data as requested after last year’s presentation.


Principal's Report January 2014

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – January 13, 2014

  1. Literacy

The midyear Fountas and Pinnell reading assessment window is January 6th – January 24th. We are excited to measure student progress and use this data to provide high quality instruction for all students. We will also use the data to gauge the effectiveness of our interventions and likely exit a few students from extra supports.

As for writing, we continue to keep up with our schedule of writing prompts. In the coming months, we hope to work on one of the action steps under the literacy goal of the Continuous Improvement Plan: articulate intervention system for writing, including performance levels on All School Writing Prompts that trigger an intervention. The Upper Unit (4th-6th grade) will pilot a four day per week intervention system in which all students spend 20 minutes each morning working with a mixed grade group on a key area of need. One of the areas addressed in this first round will be mechanics of writing. This firsthand experience with a writing intervention will help us use Fun Fitness Friday release and/or in-service time to create a first version of our writing support system.

Speaking of FFF release and in-service time, Marissa has sent out a survey requesting staff input about how best to use this giant gift of time. To help ensure that our work is aligned to our goals, a reminder about the targets and action steps of the CIP was included with the survey. Many staff members have already responded to the survey with some very insightful comments and great suggestions. Given the CIP and early responses, in all likelihood, we will focus on math and writing during these nearly 12 hours of staff development time. Classroom teachers and special educators will meet for four of five FFF weeks. We will work very hard to get out and play at least once this year – the weather really did not cooperate last year, so please think snowy thoughts all month!

  1. Mathematics

In January, we will use a large portion of the WCSU in-service day on January 20th to continue conversations that began during December’s Clinical Rounds with Mahesh Sharma. We will bring grade-alike groups back together to discuss and plan the implementation of the student achievement non-negotiables that the mathematics steering committee has authored.

We are tentatively planning to use the half day of building-based in-service time on January 21st to execute next steps generated during these grade-alike meetings and/or work on the CIP action step of “A timetable and collection of resources for creating definitions of CCSS Mathematical Practices WITH students will be created; all classroom teachers will define and regularly discuss Standards for Mathematical Practice with students.”

  1. School Climate

The All School Celebration that students earned just before winter break was great! Students rotated in mixed-grade groups through stations where they: built human sculptures, made murals, created and flew paper airplanes, played hide and seek, and had sled dog races. Marissa can attest that five kids can definitely get “sleds” zipping along the gym floor!

The PBIS team is looking forward to assessing our progress and working with our colleagues at central office and other schools to explore attending a Targeted Level (essentially Tier 2) training in March or June. It looks like we are on track to meet our CIP goal of being eligible to attend this training by the end of the year!

  1. Other Curricular Areas
  2. Allied Arts

Allied arts teachers will meet in subject-alike K-12 groups during the afternoon portion of January 20th’s WCSU in-service day. Our allied arts teachers here at CES will also have the opportunity to work together during one FFF afternoon.

  1. Other
  2. Supervision and Evaluation Update

We are on track to meet all Blue Ribbon deadlines including formal observation requirements for those in a summative cycle and midyear written evaluations for those in their first or second year in the district.

There are currently no staff members on a focused assistance plan.

  1. Town Report

Below is the report Marissa has written as a principal’s message for the town report:

I am thrilled to report on our work for a second year! It is truly an honor to serve the students, staff, and community of Calais as principal. We are in the midst of another great year. We continue to enjoy and build on traditions like Bring a Neighbor to Lunch, Gifts for Giving, and Fun Fitness Friday. We owe many thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who make these events and many other things possible. We are also grateful to the entire Calais community for its steadfast support of our school. We have a school full of creative, healthy, and high-achieving students as a result of the financial support, volunteer hours, and general goodwill we receive from this wonderful town. On behalf of our students and staff, thank you.

In the spring of 2013, I worked with a committee of two teachers, two parents, and a board member to develop our Continuous Improvement Plan. This comprehensive plan brings together the many plans we already have in place – the Action Plan, Technology Plan, Title I Schoolwide Program Plan, etc. Here are some highlights for each of the three goal areas we chose: literacy, mathematics, and school climate. The full plan can be found at the following web address:


Some key targets in literacy are:

·        90% will score proficient or better on reading NECAP;

·        100% will make at least a year's worth of growth in reading;

·        75% will score proficient or better on writing NECAP; and

·        80% will write at grade level as measured by our Common Core rubrics on end-of-year prompts.

To measure progress toward our reading goals, we have continued to administer the Fountas and Pinnell benchmark assessment three times per year. Data from this assessment are used to plan classroom instruction as well as identify and plan for intervention groups. We are looking forward to assessing student growth after midyear testing is completed in late January. All students have at least 90 minutes of literacy each day; many receive extra instruction from our reading specialist.

To achieve our writing goals, we have aligned writing instruction K-6 so that each text type is taught at the same time. This alignment has allowed us to develop a year-long, school-wide assessment system. Teachers score student prompts and plan writing instruction together. All students showed growth throughout our first unit of the year: narrative writing.


Some key targets in mathematics are:

·        80% will score proficient or better on math NECAP; and

·        Reduce proficiency gap between low-income and non-low-income students on math NECAP to less than 12%.

Our CES math committee has been guiding our internal efforts as well as our implementation of work coming out of the WCSU Mathematics Steering Committee. The WCSU committee has produced a first version of “non-negotiables” for student achievement in mathematics. We will spend the rest of the year working to align instruction and assessment to this document.

School Climate

We described our desired climate as follows:

·        We will provide an environment that is safe, supportive, and empowering to all members of the school community – students, staff, families, and town residents.

·        We will do what is best for all students.

Our school climate work has been largely driven by our adoption of a new behavior management system called PBIS (positive behavior interventions and supports). This system provides a framework for creating a school-wide program that differentiates support to meet the social and emotional needs of each student. We are currently focusing on using school-wide or Tier 1 strategies like recognizing positive behaviors and ensuring consistent responses to problem behaviors.


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