Calais Elementary School

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Principal's Report

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.


Principal's Report September 2013

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Principal and Superintendent’s Report – September 23, 2013

  1. School Climate
  2. Discipline (Student Climate)

PBIS is off to a great start! Each class has earned at least one class celebration and we are about halfway there on our quest for a whole-school celebration.

A few families have shared questions and concerns about the new system, particularly the use of tangible rewards. Teachers and Marissa have been able to problem solve with parents to tweak our expectations for celebrations and share some of the theoretical underpinnings of the program. The leadership will also be working with a parent or two to create a pamphlet about the program, why we chose it, and how CES will make it great in the coming weeks.

  1. Staff Climate

The staff chose to continue having a Staff Climate Committee during our August in-service days. This committee met once to organize and will meet again on September 30th to dig into the work.

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  2. Math

The staff chose to form a CES Math Committee during our August in-service days. So far this committee has created problem solving steps and NECAP preparation activities, surveyed classroom teachers, and discussed and shared information about the importance of prioritizing number and operations (regarding topics like data, measurement, and geometry).

  1. Literacy

The staff chose to continue having a CES Writing Committee during our August in-service days. This committee has created a schedule for prompts and instruction addressing each of the three Common Core text types – narrative, informational, and opinion. As noted in the Continuous Improvement Plan, this schedule plans for nine prompts. There will be one prompt before and after instruction addressing each text type and three in May.  This will insure we have an accurate gauge of student skill level in each text type at the end of the school year. Included in this schedule are dates for the all school celebration and sharing of writing, after the administration of each post-instruction prompt. At their next meeting, they will create the first pre-test prompt, as well as writing a protocol that will ensure consistent and fair administration of the prompt.

  1. Other

All six WCSU Curriculum Committees met at U-32 on September 17th to hear from the Curriculum Council.  They worked as individual committees to establish norms and purpose statements. With this kickoff complete, committees will begin meeting in earnest next week. We are excited to continue to work with our colleagues from across the SU to create a rigorous, relevant PreK-12 curriculum in literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and social development.

  1. Technology

Our new technology integrationist, Jill Abair, is hard at work getting the new web-enabled Type to Learn program up and running. This new program stores student progress data online. Any student can pick up where they left off on any machine that has the program installed on its hard drive. We can also install the program on personal laptops that families bring in. The web data also ensures that students in grade 4-6 will be able to practice typing even if their machines are temporarily out of commission.

  1. Other
  2. Teacher Supervision and Evaluation

Nine teachers are in a summative evaluation year. The majority are teachers in their first or second year with WCSU. The first deadline in the Blue Ribbon process is September 30th. Teachers must submit a self-scored rubric to Marissa by this date. Then, Marissa and the teacher must conference to discuss the teacher’s self-evaluation and the year’s goals by October 15th.

Teachers in a goal setting and peer- or self-reflection year must submit their goals to Marissa by September 30th. Marissa and those teachers must conference by October 15th to discuss their goals and how they will be achieved and measured.

Teachers have been informed of these deadlines in “Monday Memos,” for the past three weeks. Additionally, each teacher has been emailed to verify their current Blue Ribbon cycle. In the emails, Marissa provided links to or copies of each of the documents folks will need throughout the year.

  1. Security and Emergency Procedures

Our new door system is working well. Jason checks interior and exterior doors weekly.  Sue and Marissa have been able to work together to be sure someone is able to monitor the front door throughout the day.

We have held our first fire drill and will hold our first “secure the building” drill during the week of September 23rd. We practiced this procedure once last year. Teachers will prepare students for the drill as is developmentally appropriate.

  1. Preschool Update

We are really enjoying hosting the EMES preschool. Several EMES families joined us at Open House. It was great to see the three-year-olds leading their families to library and music. We’ve also enjoyed getting to know a few new colleagues. After three and a half weeks, we’ve worked out most of the kinks that come with having 41 preschoolers in three classes. Beth Downing and Fran Weston should be commended for their endless supply of energy and constant reflection! Without their positive spirit and commitment, this would not be possible.

d.    Follow-up from August Board Meeting

The board requested that Bill gather information regarding the Australian ballot system. Following this report we included Title 17 § 2680 which provides the general information regarding the Australian ballot and a sample of the Middlesex Ballot.  Vermont statutes that govern Australian ballot can be found in Title 17 Chapter 55. 

The board also requested a timeline for the budget process which is enclosed.


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