Principal's Paw Print, September 2016

Welcome Back, Wildcats!

We are so excited to start the school year and have been busy planning for your child’s arrival. There is nothing like the first day of school! Here is just a snapshot of what’s new this year:]

New Staff: We have a number of new staff this year including Ms. Castillo and Ms. Petersen in First Grade, Ms. Richmond in 4th grade (to start in the next few days), and an open Head Secretary position. Sadly, Mary Pat Bowman resigned effective Sept 1st to support a number of family needs and Mary Hawkinson is graciously subbing for us while we go through the hiring process. Also, Ms. Green got married last year and is now goes by Ms. Severinghaus and Ms. Milligan, also newly-married, is now Ms. Corht.

Monthly Whole School Themes: As a step toward creating more enrichment activities and increasing home to school connections, we have decided to focus on a different virtue each month. September’s virtue is “Community.” This is the month we pay particular attention to establishing a sense of community in our homerooms by getting to know you and your students and cultivating new relationships. One way we do this is by creating our annual staff and class charters. This is our second year of implementing the social/emotional approach to learning called RULER and creating a class charter is the first of four pillars we teach throughout the year. Stu- dents and staff discuss how they want to feel at school, what we do to feel that way as a community and what we do when problems arise. Thursday, November 3rd, we plan to host our first RULER family night where we will walk you through creating a family charter to use at home.

Lunch/Recess: We now have 4 lunches: K, 1, 2/3, and 4/5 in order to accommodate for the large number of students in Kindergarten and First Grade. Lunch is a full 25 minutes to ensure that students have opportunity for 20 minutes of seated lunch time as per school board policy. Lunchroom tables have been rearranged to maximize supervision capabilities and we’ve assigned rows of tables for each classroom to sit together. It became apparent that many students take a large portion of the lunch period just to find a place to sit and the lunchroom can feel unsafe and overwhelming because of the social constructs that arise in just choosing a spot. Every Friday will be “Free Sit Friday” so students can still mingle in different ways. As always we will practice this new policy and observe to determine whether it give us the desired result.

New Homework Policy: As you know, we have a new perspective on homework this year. During our August Professional Development days, resource room teacher Elisa McCulloch made a proposal to staff based on what she’s experienced with homework over the years and asked staff to revisit this practice. We engaged in an in-depth conversation and unanimously agreed to instill a ‘no homework policy.’ You’ll find that policy in the Family Handbook, but we wanted to give you more context as to why we are doing this. Elisa wrote a letter on behalf of the Whittier Staff to give you more information.

Principal Schweitzer

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