Happy 236th Birthday!

There are many times of year when I stop and think how lucky we are to live in Massachusetts!  Being a bit of a history buff I consider it a privilege to be able to get in my car and be on the Old North Bridge in less than an hour, or to visit the shores of Plymouth and imagine what it must have been like almost 400 years ago.  Today is the best of those days – watching the USS Constitution conduct its annual turning maneuvers while celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is fascinating and educating at the same time.

While many say July 4, 1776 wasn’t truly the day the actual Declaration of Independence was signed, only the day the wording was complete, it is in the eyes of all Americans our independence day.  For those brave men and women of the original 13 colonies, we owe a debt of gratitude and respect.  So take some time today between parades, burgers, and fireworks and remember all those who made it possible.

Happy 236th Birthday to the United States of America

Thank you for the “Thank Yous”

It has been a wonderful week to be a member of the Winthrop Elementary Staff.  The teachers’ room has been bustling each day with helping hands delivering, setting up (and then cleaning up) plates, trays, and baskets of tasty treats!  In addition to this organized recognition from the PTO hospitality committee, many parents, families, and students have arrived at Winthrop bearing notes, hand-made cards, and other tokens of appreciation.  For all of this, we are thankful in return.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward


Superintendent Search

The School Committee is currently in the process of creating a Superintendent Search Committee.  Details about this process can be found on the district website, or directly here.

For our part, the Winthrop Site Council is actively seeking parents who are interested in being part of this exciting process.  If you are interested in serving on the Superintendent Search Committee, please email me a letter of interest before Wednesday, November 23rd.  Your email should include your name, your student(s) name(s), the reason you are interested, and what qualifications you would add to the committee.

Quick update on MCAS

Last week I presented our MCAS data to both the school committee and a small group of Winthrop parents. The school committee presentation was an overview, and the parent presentation was a bit more detailed with background on the test, terminology, and multiple ways of looking at data.

If you weren’t able to attend, the Powerpoint is now posted on our website. It can also be reached directly by clicking  WinthropMCAS.

Third grade parents – there will be another MCAS overview in late February – early March particularly geared to those new to MCAS.   That presentation will focus less on data, and more on the process of testing.   Look for that information after the new year!

Life in the Lunchroom!

During our first few, short, weeks of school the staff and I have been working on lunchroom expectations with the students. It can be very chaotic with over 100 kiddos in the all-purpose room for each lunch period, so we need to maintain some level of calmness and order.  However, we also need to provide a time for students to decompress, refuel, and prepare for an afternoon of learning!

I went class to class and spoke with the students about what should – and shouldn’t – happen in the lunchroom. Their ideas were right on, but not always easy to put into practice.

This week we’ll continue to work on what it looks like, and sounds like, in the Winthrop lunchroom, and I hope to start discussing manners – those little words that help us live in a civilized world – and lunchroom!

New Books!

Turns out I didn’t have to go to the library this week!  Some T.E.S. friends bought me a GINORMOUS bag of children’s books for my new office.  Some are old favorites, but some are new to me and I’m excited to get started reading them.  Stay tuned!

For now, some great themed book selections, along with more summer reading tips and facts can be found at this Scholastic site.

Summer Reading

At T.E.S. we do not send home required summer reading but of course we expect students to be reading! There is so much time in each day – no school or homework and clubs/sports are mostly over –  that fitting in a little reading will provide some nice down-time and intellectual stimulation. Research shows that students who do not read over the summer regress from where they left school in June and start off in September behind their peers. More on what parents can do to help prevent the summer slide can be found on the Scholastic website.

The library is an obvious place to start, and for my part I’m going to post all summer long about children’s books I’m reading – all from my public library.  I hope you’ll read along!


Dear TES families,

This is a copy of the email I sent out to parents today.

It is with mixed emotions that I write this email to tell you that I will be leaving T.E.S. at the end of this school year. About a month ago, an open principal’s position in another district came to my attention. While not actively looking for a job, there were many compelling reasons to investigate further. Monday night, I accepted an offer to become principal of the Winthrop Elementary School in Melrose, MA. Winthrop is a K-5 neighborhood school with approximately 370 students, and 33 staff members. It is located next to the city where I was born and raised, and I feel (a bit) like I’m going home!

Although I am extremely excited to embark upon this new professional challenge, I will miss working with the students, families, and staff in Tyngsborough. My time at T.E.S. has been such a wonderful professional growth experience. I began ten years ago as a substitute teacher at the Lakeview, was offered a 5th grade classroom position in 2002, and three years ago became an assistant principal. During this time we have transitioned to a standards based report card system, successfully incorporated the early childhood center into T.E.S., and have improved our use of technology as a communication tool with our

As I write this email, my heart gets heavy at the thought of leaving our school community. I’ve always been supported by the people here, and love each and every one of our children. One of my favorite parts of each day is buses and morning drop off! Getting to know our students, from 3 months of age through fifth grade, has been the best part of my job, and I will miss them all.

Thank you for your kindness and support of me over the past few years. I look forward to hearing about all the good that happens at T.E.S. in the future, and the paths our students take to success. I will always think of the people here, and my experiences, with fond memories.

Mary Alise

Memorial Day 2011

Today our entire student body celebrated Memorial Day in advance of Monday’s holiday. We met K-5 outside around the flagpoles and had a brief ceremony that provided students with background information and culminated with the singing of “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” After that was the community building assembly for students in preschool through grade 5, and then the preschoolers had a separate, shorter, ceremony around the flagpoles.

As I think about Memorial Day I wonder if children realize the importance of our national, non-religious holidays? As an elementary school we walk a fine line between teaching them the facts about history, war, death, and destruction, and not scaring and/or worrying them.  Memorial Day falls on that fine line.  We provide the basics, the background knowledge they accumulate little by little, year after year,  so they can grasp the larger concepts in middle and high school.

So, as you bar-be-que, celebrate, and watch parades this weekend, think about how you can talk to your child/children about our national holidays.  What do they know, and more importantly, what do they have questions about?  Enjoy the long weekend!