Attention Incoming 7th Grade Parents

Did you know that a change in the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts last year brought new requirements for childhood immunizations?  All 7th graders are required to have updated information on file with the TMS nurses.

In order for your child to start 7th grade, here’s what is needed:

• 2 doses of MMR vaccine
• 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine (or 2 doses if adolescent has received the Recombivax HB 2-dose adolescent schedule option)
• 2 doses of varicella vaccine or physician-certified reliable history of chickenpox disease
• 1 booster dose of Tdap (if it has been > 5 years since the last dose of DTaP, DTP, DT, or Td was given)

A printable copy 7th grade immunizations is in PDF format.

Why Use Social Media?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working to create a social media presence for TMS. Yesterday I went live with both a Facebook page and Twitter account. I’ve used both in the past, and found each to be an excellent way to increase communications between school and home.

While nothing beats face-to-face interaction, in this face-paced world actual conversations are often few and far between. By reaching out to families on social media, it allows the school to communicate in a way that some parents access daily (or in some cases hourly), and for us to be able to share information that may or may not make the weekly email or website.

If you use social media, please consider following us on Twitter and/or “Liking” our Facebook page.  Either one can be accessed by clicking on the small icon in the top right hand corner of this page.

With Many Thanks

It has been quite an experience for me since I transitioned to Winthrop Elementary School last summer, and I still can’t believe the school year has come to an end.  There have been days and events that stand out as absolutely stellar and memory making for our students, but it’s the day-to-day dedication of the adults in our community that I think about most often.

Specifically …

  • The commitment and concern of the dozen or so staff members and parents who came in last summer to meet with me and talk about Winthrop, both in terms of strengths and challenges.
  • The involvement of the parents – from day one to day 180 there were family members in our school, volunteering in the classrooms, the lunchroom, with projects, with parties, with field trips, with performances and special events, etc.
  • There were also plenty of volunteers who worked from home and helped with project prep, phone calls, emails, and our weekly e-Notices!
  • The experience of our teaching staff – Winthrop has very few teachers with under five years of service and that is a rarity in education these days!  There is a wealth of “institutional knowledge” and best practices within the school walls, and a variety of styles and approaches to teaching and learning.

So, many will say, “Why go?” and others will talk about the “mass exodus” of administrators in Melrose, and that’s the reasoning behind this post.  There’s a cliché … timing is everything, and the timing in my situation has been less than ideal.  I understand that my sudden departure may cause people to speculate on why I’m leaving.  Throughout the year, I have striven to be transparent and truthful, and in continuation of that I assure you I was not out looking for a new job, and had dully intended to help work Melrose through this transitional phase.  I think it is exciting to see new district leadership in Central Office positions, and am impressed with both Cyndy Taymore, and what I’ve recently learned about Dr. Adams.  I have been working diligently with Lincoln principal, Brent Conway, on how best to transition in three new principals for Hoover, Horace Mann, and Roosevelt, and continue to do so.

This late breaking opportunity to return to Tyngsborough was truly a family decision, and heavily debated and agonized over in the Herrera household.  Time is the number one detractor in our lives, with my husband’s hectic police schedule, having a soon-to-be 18-year-old college commuting son, two rambunctious dogs, and my busy principal life!  The ability for me to be home between the school day and evening events is the biggest time-gaining factor for us and weighed heavily in this decision.  Returning to the district where I grew in my teaching methods, and in my administrative style and practice was also a strong motivating factor.

I think Winthrop Elementary School is a fabulous place for students to be, and believe that the dedication of the adults who are part of this community makes Winthrop truly stand out.  I am thankful for a wonderful year, and will miss being part of helping Winthrop and Melrose grow and move forward.

Step-Up Activities

All students in grades K-4 “stepped-up” today to meet the team of teachers that will be at their grade level next fall.   At Winthrop this involves some staff moving into new roles and positions, so it was important for students to be able to match names and faces before receiving welcome letters in August!

  • Rising 5th graders met Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Lewis, and Mr. Yeaton
  • Rising 4th graders met Ms. Bruce, Ms. O’Brien, and Mrs. Ogiba
  • Rising 3rd graders met Ms. Bates, Ms. Hatch, and Mrs. Herook
  • Rising 2nd graders met Ms. Gorevitz, Ms. McElligott, and Mrs. Orlofski

and

  • Rising 1st graders met Ms. Hurwitz, Mrs. Twist, and Ms. Wilcox

All students were given information* to bring home about grade level supplies, and our almost 2nd-5th graders also received packets of information* regarding summer practice for literacy and math.  Having sat through each session, the resounding plea was for students to become more automatic with basic facts (addition and subtraction in the lower grades, and multiplication in the older grades!)  One teacher reminded students of their younger days when learning the alphabet.  The teacher asked the students to think about how hard they worked to recognize their letters, and how easily the alphabet comes to them now.   She then related that to practicing and becoming automatic with math facts!

Yesterday, children’s librarian Marianne Stanton presented to students and sent home information regarding summer reading, summer programming, and a suggested book list for Dream Big – Read!   The Melrose Public Library will not charge children this summer to replace any lost library card, and all were encouraged to visit Monday-Thursday from 10-8, or on Fridays from 10-5.  Books from the library are a great way to keep busy this summer, and an inexpensive way to reinforce learning and academics from the school year.

*All supply lists and summer packets will be posted on the Winthrop website within the next week.

End-of-the-Year Blues!

For those students not leaping with joy about the end of the school year, some web resources to help families work around anxiousness, worrying, and/or sadness:

I found all these sites by “Googling” and I’m sure there are many more!  Allowing your child simply to voice his or her feelings often goes a mile towards improving things, and these websites contain specific suggestions on how to do so.

The Great Book Swap of 2012

This year Field Day will also serve as the kick off for our summer reading push!  During a break in the games, activities, and performances, all students K-5 will be able to attend The Great Book Swap.   This new event will take place on the grassy area outside the main office, and will be run by Mrs. Herrera and some literacy loving volunteers!

The rules are quite simple – for every book a student donates (up to ten) he or she will be able to swap for the same amount of new reading material.  Students can bring in books from Monday through Wednesday, and there will be donation bags set up in each classroom.

Families with overflowing bookshelves or personal libraries may donate excess books (that is – over the 10 book student maximum) at the main office!  If we have enough “extra” donations, we’re anticipating every student will be able to go home with at least one new book to read over summer break, regardless of participation.

Just a reminder that field day is Thursday, June 7th.  All students who chose to participate in The Great Book Swap should have books to their classroom teacher by Wednesday, 6/6/12.

Further Book Swap 2012 Information

A Closer Look at “Co-Teaching”

Over the past few years in Melrose there has been a push to adapt classroom instruction to better address student learning.  “Meeting the Needs of All Learners” has brought assessments for gifted and talented, along with cluster grouping of those identified as G&T.  Additionally, many schools have adopted a “co-teaching” model of special education support, although the models are quite different across the district.

Co-teaching is when two licensed teachers share responsibility for teaching some or all of the students assigned to a classroom.  One teacher is typically a general ed teacher, and the other a special ed teacher.  The responsibilities for planning, instruction, and assessment are divided between these adults, and students benefit from the opportunity to learn from teachers who may have different ways of thinking, teaching, or interacting.   The key to co-teaching is the division of labor:  general educators are responsible for the content of the instruction and special educators are responsible for facilitating the learning process.

Any student can be in a co-taught classroom, and indeed these classrooms should contain heterogeneously grouped children.  These teachers utilize a variety of groupings, and both teachers work with all students.  All students have strengths and these are put to good use throughout the day!

Over the past two years Winthrop has had the student population to support fully co-taught classrooms at 1st grade and 2nd grade, while having partially co-taught classes  in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  We  have had success with both models, as teachers spend more time planning and talking with each other about curriculum, learning strategies, and student growth.  As our students rise to the following grade each year, and that new group of kindergarten children get ready to join us, time is spent assessing the needs of our special education students, looking at staffing, and reconfiguring the make up of our classrooms.  Additionally, we look for ways to better utilize paraprofessionals, and increase support for struggling readers, writers, and/or mathematicians (who may or may not be on IEPs.)

The calendar is busy with school events and social functions, but please know that every day the Winthrop staff is actively planning and preparing for the fall of 2012!