Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Principal Johndrow's Message

On Friday October 9th I had the most wonderful day as two, quite professional gentlemen, took over as Principal of Ashford School. Josiah Caldwell and Cameron Albert were chosen out of 331 students to share this honor. Becoming principal for the day was the incentive for the Summer Reading Challenge. The “principals” checked on classes, asked if the nurse needed help, checked on Mr. Mellady to see if all was going well, reminded students not to lean on railings, and check how things were going at the primary recess. The three of us had lunch together and talked about discipline and school improvement. They felt things are going very well.

On one of the days I was working on this newsletter I looked out the window and it was snowing. Isn’t snow before Halloween a little early! This does bring up the reminder that at Ashford School we believe that children need to be outside as many day s as possible. Please check the weather and have your children dressed accordingly.

November is here and I want to remind you Conferences are on Thursday, November 12th and Friday, November 13th. This follows the Veteran’s Day holiday on Wednesday the 11th. You will have received the first report card of the year prior to the conferences, as well as, CMT scores and numerous assessments. This will allow for a meaningful dialogue with your child’s teacher (s).

I have visited every classroom and am so impressed with the learning occurring in all the classrooms. Many pieces of student work are on display on bulletin boards outside classrooms. During conferences I encourage you to walk the hallways and look at the marvelous work that are students produce.

Technology News

You should visit the Class Connections page ( at the Ashford School website and explore the links there. The teachers at Ashford School have put in a lot of hours first for training and then for creating class webpages and we are at almost 100%. Take a minute to explore what is happening at different grade levels or look at the informational pages put up by some of the resource and support service areas. . These resources can be a place for parents to get more information but also a place for you to explore things with your children. Check out Mrs. Moran's site for fascinating links to further enrich you students' experiences. Many teachers have added parent or family links.

New Software Connection:

Thanks to the efforts of Special Education Director Donna Hartigan, Ashford School has a yearlong complimentary license to two online skills development programs for students to access both at school and at home. We have implemented the Lexia Reading and Symphony Math software programs, teachers have received training and letters with download, login and password information have started going home. Lexia Reading helps students rapidly develop reading skills in an engaging and dynamic way. It has an initial auto-placement activity, which starts students at the appropriate level. The Symphony Math software helps students develop a solid foundation in number conceptualization and math operations. Symphony Math systematically helps students improve math concepts, fluency, procedures and applications. As an added benefit, these programs are available to students at home to extend their instructional time via its School-to-Home Connection. This extra time will help students achieve their reading and math goals at an even faster rate. We encourage you to help your children access these programs at home by following the specific download procedures for each program. This will allow them to work independently to improve their skills. Both programs suggest practice for twenty minutes a day."

Reading News

By Mrs. Trumbull, Reading Teacher Grades 5-8

Free-time reading is a relaxing way for your child to spend a few quiet minutes at home. This can be the time to especially enjoy one of the most treasured aspects about reading – choosing your own reading matter, author and/or book. Finding the right independent reading book means understanding at least 95 % of the words. A quick look at a few pages could confirm if it is a good match; or try the ‘five finger test’: if he/she hits five words that can’t be read in the first page, they should put down the book and find another one. Tip: When you are at the library, it’s also a good idea to check out an extra novel or non-fiction in case the first choice does not work out.

Older elementary kids today have other media available to gain information and to find enjoyment. These include the Internet, news and magazine articles, audio books, DVD’s, TV news stories, newspaper, song lyrics, and even movies. These other ways of gaining information are becoming more accepted in education today. They have value as a potential learning tool because they can sometimes more vividly and perhaps dramatically ‘get the point across.’

A tip for making media a learning tool is to have your teen practice summarizing. This is considered a fairly sophisticated strategy and therefore needs lots of different kinds of practice. If you approach this with a fun attitude, there can be lots of educational benefits such as better retention of information. For example, after you and your child view a movie or a news story, discuss the actions or contents and work toward your child summarizing it in his/her own words.

The following should be included in an oral summary:

• Important characters, events, themes, or ideas

• Some important or cool facts and detail

• A word or special language from the story or topic that can be discussed or looked up in a dictionary.

As an adult, you probably use this summarizing strategy without realizing it, in your daily conversations at work and home. Having conversations with your children, who are less experienced than you, will really reinforce this important strategy.

Have a wonderful Fall and ‘thank you’ for helping your kid(s) to enjoy reading, viewing, and writing as part of your family life!

Music Department News

Nineteen Ashford School students will be participating in a regional musical festival in Putnam, CT. The Quinebaug Valley Middle School Musical Festival (QVMSMF) began 4 years ago when area music teachers were looking for an opportunity for the students to develop and show off their skills in concert band and choir.

Mrs. Porri and Miss Dotson, Ashford School’s music teachers, selected student participants based on ability as well as character. These nineteen students represented the top musicians and leaders in the school. Band students included: Chris Pavliscsak, Caitlin Ecsedy, Jennie Rozenberg, Tessa Weidig, Caleigh Campion, Adam Cherepon, Cassie Hayward and Joseph Cherepon. Choir students included: Matthew Sibley-Jett, Erica Mahue, Kayla Bendell, Brooke Noel, Laina Fesenmeyer, Ben Lagasse, Martha Sherman, Sarah Caldwell, Jessica Bassett, and Shelby Colonese.

Ashford students will combine with students from nine other communities for rehearsals on November 9th and 12th with high quality conductors and educators from around Connecticut. The rehearsals will culminate with a concert to be held on Thursday, November 12th at 7:00pm in the Putnam Middle School Auditorium. This concert is open to the public. Guests are asked for a $2.00 donation ($5 max/family) and a canned good.

Congratulations to our Ashford students! We are very proud of your work and excited for your chance to participate in this festival.

This year, all Band and Chorus members will be required to wear black slacks/skirts and white button down shirts or polo’s for the concerts. Jazz Band already requires this and many other schools do, too. We think it looks very nice and gives the performers an added sense of unity. We want to give parents plenty of advance notice of this change.

We would like to start a "uniform bank" of slacks and shirts that families have outgrown to provide to students who need them. If you have such items, please drop off clean items in the music room, any time. If your child needs to borrow a uniform, please contact either Mrs. Porri or Miss Dotson to make arrangements, well in advance of the Dec. 10th Concert.

Cafeteria News

Beginning October 27, the tracking of lunches became “computerized”. A letter has gone home to all parents. The system will use children’s school identification number and will keep track of deposits, maintain a balance record and record money spent. In addition the system will keep track of food allergies and/or dietary requirements. Go to for more information.

PTO News

Wednesday, Nov. 4 is the next PTO meeting in the library. Childcare will be provided.

Thanks to Debbie Smith who organized our Fall Fundraiser which made over $6,000.00 for the PTO.

Thanks to Suzanne Schillinger and helpers Lisa Hassett and Kristi Halloran who made the Ice Cream social possible this year.

The Butter Braid order pick up will be on Thursday, Nov. 12 from 6-8pm in the cafeteria.

Please send your Box Tops for Education to school and have them sent to the PTO mailbox in the office.

The fall Book Fair will be 8 a.m.-8.p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12 and 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Friday, Nov.13 at the school.

Ashford School is participating in Stop & Shop A+ Bonus Bucks program October 9, 2009 through March 25, 2010. If you have registered in the past, you must re-register by linking your card either by logging on to to register online or dialing 1-877-366-2668 to register your card by phone. Cash will be awarded to the school based on participation.