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Thursday, August 23, 2012

End of Summer Message

 
Dear Lowell Families,

I hope you are all enjoying summer. I want to thank many of you for your congratulatory messages earlier this summer.  I am thrilled to be back at the Lowell. In addition to some relaxing with my family, I have been busy hiring, planning, and organizing for the upcoming year.  I love the feeling August brings-even though summer is coming to a close-it is like a fresh start.  A new school year, new families, new students, new staff, and new opportunities to improve student learning!

Focus of the Year
I have been so fortunate to receive some meaningful professional development this summer.  I participated in an administrative retreat with other principals and coordinators early in the summer.  I attended a two day Caring School Community workshop with other teachers and principals from the district. I traveled to Saratoga Springs, New York to a national curriculum mapping institute.  All of this professional development had the theme of community weaved within it.  I would like the focus of OUR year to also be that of community.  There are different “communities” that we belong to at the Lowell. Our teachers and staff belong to a community of professionals.  Together with our students we belong to a classroom community, a school community, and the big community outside of the building walls-Watertown and the world.  There are many ways in which we can work to ensure that all of these communities are healthy and prosperous.  This year teachers and staff will work together as a professional learning community to improve our practice through professional development that will include curriculum mapping, capturing and using data in the classroom, and a first look into project based learning.   This year we will strengthen our school community by launching school wide Caring School Community Buddies.  We will continue to be active participants in the community outside of the Lowell to not only bring enriching experiences in to our students but to also serve out to the community.

New Community Members
I am so thrilled to welcome many new members to our community! I, with a team of teachers, spent most of July hiring new staff. I am so pleased to introduce these new members of the Lowell to you.

  • Julia Bean is our new Pre-K teacher.  Julia has been a preK/K teacher at the Cambridge Friends School.
  • Jacquelyn Porter will be our fourth kindergarten teacher.  Jacquelyn joins us from the Eliot-Pearson school in Medford
  • Steve MacLellan will be teaching second grade.  Steve has been a grade 1 and 2 teacher in Cambridge Public Schools
  • Tom Stezzi will be our sixth homeroom teacher in grades 4 and 5.  Tom has been a graduate intern, after school instructor, and summer school teacher in Somerville.
Please join me in welcoming our new teachers.  We will be bringing in some more new staff members as I am currently in the process of hiring Instructional Assistants.

To our new families: welcome! We are so happy to have you.  Please know that there is a large network of support as you transition into a new school.  I will be hosting a New Family Coffee after our family visit on Thursday, September 13th at 9 am in the school cafeteria.  I look forward to meeting you and your students.

Communication
As you know I am committed to communicating with families consistently and clearly.  I heard from many of you over the course of the year about how you most like to receive information.  Some changes will be made as a result of your feedback.  I have outlined these changes below.

Weekly Principal Messages
I will be sending weekly messages to all families via email and my new blog.  I will be blogging at least once a week and will send a Monday message email with the message and a link to the blog.  I will only be sending the recorded phone calls for the first month or so of school.  The automated calls seemed to be least useful to families.  The easiest way to receive this information is to subscribe to the blog.   These messages are important as they contain vital information about school events, early release days, conferences, and other information.

We will be making sure families email information is up to date in our data system, iPass.  We will also be hosting an evening for parents to gain access to iParent, so you may manage your own contact information.  More information and assistance with receiving communication from my office will be coming!

PTO
Please sign up for the PTO “newsflash” updates.  The PTO provides huge support for our building, teachers and students.  They also put on wonderful free events for families.  The PTO website can be found off of our district website under “Parent Portal”.  The site is http://teacherweb.com/MA/WatertownLowellElementary/ParentPortal/apt4.aspx

Paper notices
The Lowell has substantially cut down on the amount of paper notices that go home.  At times, paper notices will go home with your student.  You should look for these notices on Thursday afternoons.

See You Soon
Please enjoy the rest of summer!  Please let me know if I can answer any questions or assist you in preparing for the year. The first day of school for students is Thursday, September 6th.  Please remember the following for dropping your student off in the morning.
 

The Drop and Go Zone on Lowell Avenue is tremendously beneficial to the neighborhood and families.  It reduces the number of parked and stopped cars in the surrounding neighborhood and helps parents get on with their day.  However, for it to be truly effective, I respectfully ask you to adhere to the following:

1.  Pull as far down on Lowell Avenue before your student gets out of the car. 
2.  Students exit the car on the school side. Parents please do not get out of your car. 
3.  Do not wait for your child to enter the building.  You will hold up the line.
4.  Please do not pull around another automobile.  This potentially endangers our children.
5.  Watch the two crosswalks on Lowell Avenue.  They are very active.
6.  Go Very Slowly.

I look forward to seeing you and your students. To receive my new blog posts directly in to your email inbox, enter your email into the space at the top of the blog and hit submit! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Ms. Kaplan