Thursday, August 27, 2009

September 2009 Newsletter


Where did the summer go! One might think that a school has less going on in the summer but that is not true. All summer long teachers have been in working on professional development in the areas of math, science, and reading. In addition, most of the grade level teachers and special education teachers spent professional development time with Kelly Doubleday-Bush learning about participating in data teams. Time was also spent on assembling class binders in which data on every student will be monitored and if needed will allow for immediate intervention. Refer to additional information in Dr. Longo’s article.

No school can shine like ours without the dedicated and hard work of our custodians. Floors shine, desks and lockers are all washed down, and new white boards mounted. That is only the tip of the iceberg as to their list.

I do admit though that what I miss the most during the summer are the voices of the students. I am looking forward to welcoming our students back, seeing how they have grown, listening to their tales of summer and providing all of our kids with the best education.


Gina Burnham joins the Ashford School Staff replacing Mrs. Schaffer as a fifth grade teacher. Hillary Borges will be teaching 6th grade (science in the afternoons) for Mrs. Knotts who is on maternity leave. Renee Therrien will teach kindergarten for Mrs. Dingler also on maternity leave. We have a new Reading Teacher/Reading Coach, Dee Trumbull, to teach reading in the middle school and to work with students in grades 4 and 5. Dianna Belliveau is our new special education teacher and Rebecca Driscoll completes our staff as Speech Pathologist. We continue to replace and expand our staff with the most qualified and interesting professionals


Teaching is eclectic. That’s a three-word sentence with a long explanation. What other profession asks me to also serve as a secretary, bookkeeper, nurse, guide, cheerleader, motivator, photographer, tech guru, psychologist, mediator, guardian, and so much more. Yet at the Ashford School I don’t have a single colleague who would choose to do anything else other than teach. This is our chosen profession. This is my chosen career.

After more than 30 years of teaching, I’ve finally come to the realization that I’m a veteran teacher. Wow! Four years in sixth grade, five years in seventh and eighth grade, twenty-two years in fifth grade, and they keep renewing my contract for another year. So I keep coming back and doing what I love doing; helping my students through the uncertainty of new topics to the light of understanding, to the moment of “aha”. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t always work out so neatly. But I never stop working toward that goal. And, although I typically shy away from giving advice, I’m now inclined to give it as more colleagues, parents, and others ask for it.

So what would I tell parents whose elementary school-aged children are now on vacation and looking forward to, or anticipating, or dreading the new school year? I would say what I have said for many years. You are your child’s first teacher and your preparation work at home goes a long way toward the long-range success of that child.

Involvement with your child on a daily basis is extremely important. Spend “quality” time with him or her. Play games that include an educational component, let your child be physically active whenever possible, and read with and to your child on a regular basis. Spend time discussing what you read by asking more than just literal questions. Try higher order thinking skills. ‘Why do you think that character made the choice they did?’ ‘Do you know someone who is like that or who would do the same thing?’ ‘What would you have done?’ The most important aspect of your involvement with your child is the regularity. It’s expected and it’s part of your family ritual. So what’s part of your family ritual with your children?

Finally, let’s talk about the anxiety of the first day of school. Kids are people too. They need the reassurance that going into the unknown isn’t as bad as they might make it out to be. I’m about to start my thirty-second first day of school, and I still get anxious and excited about that day. Why would I expect kids to be calm and confident on day one? Why not talk to them about it? Find out what their biggest fears are and reassure them that they will survive and be successful if only they show up and give it their best efforts. The first thing I do on day one is learn about my students as they learn about me. After all, they will be my family for the next ten months and I want all my students to have a sense of community, belonging, and respect. Shouldn’t we know a little more about each other and be glad to be where we are before we embark on that educational journey


Math packets were mailed home this summer for grades five through eight. Students received three sheets of math problems to complete by the first Friday of the school year - August 28, 2009. The packet was made up of a variety of problems representing the different math strands covered during the school year. In addition, the problems in the packet were designed to help maintain and practice existing math skills.

Students were encouraged to complete a few problems each day in order to finish the sheets by the beginning of school. The skills practice will continue though out the school year. The completed problems will count as an assignment for each student.

The math packets were the result of work done by math committee members representing grades five through eight. Next summer, the hope is to extend the packets to all grades.


Projector Mounts: Thanks to a generous donation by the PTO we are finally able to mount the projectors in the ceilings of the 8 classrooms that have Smartboards. This new setup is a huge benefit for ease of technology use and safety in the classroom. When you come to Parent's Night this fall look up in Rooms 23, 25, 27, 29, 29A, 31, 33 and 36 to see the new apparatus. We are also getting 2 new smartboards to continue expanding this valuable technology tool.

K12Alerts: We have contracted with a company to provide a better emergency announcement system. You will be able to register email addresses, as well as telephone numbers to receive emergency notices via both email and phone call. Watch for additional information on this and be sure to sign up.

New Lunch System coming: Ashford is getting a lunchroom computer system that will include online payment options. This cannot be installed until October but be on the lookout for additional information.

EETT Science Grant: Our participation in this grant is coming to a close. As part of the final completion we are sharing the technology lessons with other school districts via the web. Check out the website still under construction at to see the remarkable work completed by the Ashford School Staff and funded by the "Enhancing Education Through Technology" grant.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009, 7 p.m.

Information on Flu Clinic will be presented.