Welcome to "Notes from the Principal," an online newsletter to the community from A. A. Gates Elementary School Principal, Julie Podolak. To receive these notes as they come out, please click here.
March 1, 2019
Math, reading, writing, science and social studies are the major components of any school’s academic program. These are often what people think of when describing the academic program of a school. However, when you consider the needs of students, especially elementary students, you can’t forget to include social-emotional learning in the daily curriculum.
Our teachers use a specific program called Second Step to teach social-emotional skills, which children need to be successful in both school and life. We teach students techniques that help them gain confidence, set goals, make better decisions, collaborate with others in work and play, and navigate the world more effectively.
This month, our school-wide theme for social-emotional learning is “friendship skills.” In our morning announcements and school assembly, we’ll be reminding students to invite others to play, play in fair ways, take responsibility for mistakes by making amends, and how to handle name-calling assertively. These skills help students make and keep friends.
This week, the UPK students went to the Play Space in Auburn for a field trip. The Play Space is designed specifically for children up to age six. There are multiple play areas for the students to explore, including: blocks, market, farm, arts and crafts, cafe, dress-up, and more. The spaces allow students to explore and enhance their own interests. The UPK students also naturally practiced their friendship skills by inviting others to play, taking turns, sharing toys, and communicating with others.
The Second Step lessons specifically teach these friendship skills, too. You will be receiving Home Links describing why friendship skills are important, and which will include fun activities to do with your child to help him or her learn and practice the skills.
February 15, 2019
On Monday, Feb. 25, the Gates building will join schools across the country in celebrating the 100th day of school! Celebrating the 100th day of learning has become a classroom tradition in many schools, especially in the primary grades. The 100th day of school is an opportunity for classrooms to incorporate learning standards in fun and creative ways, while simultaneously celebrating 100 days of learning and growing together.
From the very first day of school, many classes keep track of the number of days they have been in school in anticipation of the 100th day. Yes, the 100th day can be (and often is) conceptualized using learning standards, through activities such as counting 100 objects, locating cities within 100 miles of our school, or doing 100 sit ups. Each student and adult in our building also came up with one thing we love about our school that will be displayed, first in a group of 100, and then the rest scattered in a school-wide display. It is through these kinds of activities that students explore developmentally-appropriate ways to assign value to the number 100.
While all of this has its (obvious) place on the 100th day of school, the true value of the day cannot be so easily counted or measured. The true value of the 100th day of school can be seen in the academic, physical, and social/emotional growth of each student in our building. UPK students no longer feel brand new to the school; they make their way to their classrooms each morning with confidence and ease. Kindergarten and first graders are gaining more and more confidence in their reading, writing and math skills. Second and third graders are much taller and more independent in all areas of their school day than they were when they started here. Some fourth graders have earned Golden PAWS for going above and beyond in practicing respect, accepting responsibility, working honestly and showing that safety matters. Even more of them will achieve this goal before the year’s end. Lastly, our fifth and sixth graders are old pros at using their lockers, attending band lessons, and balancing the demands of extracurricular activities (and always-evolving social lives) with academics.
As we celebrate the 100th day of school, take the time to ask your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew how they celebrated the 100th day of school in their classroom. Ask them to tell you one thing that they love about our school. Then, take a good look at them; see them for the child that they have grown to become over the last 100 days. Tell them how proud you are of them. They deserve it!
Opening Minds, Nurturing Hearts…. Imagine the PAWSibilities.
February 8, 2019
Sometimes it can be difficult for a parent to decide whether to send children to school when they wake up with symptoms of an illness, or complain that they do not feel well. Kristen and Jen, our school nurses, have some tips to help you determine if your child needs to stay home and/or see a health care provider. Your child should stay home if they:
Have a persistent fever greater than 100.4 degrees orally, including a fever that requires control with medication such as Tylenol
Are too sleepy or sick from an illness, like vomiting and/or diarrhea
Have a cough that makes the child feel uncomfortable, or could disrupt the class
Have a sore throat that is severe, along with fever, and have been feeling ill for more than 48 hours, OR after known exposure to a confirmed case of Strep throat infection
Have honey-crusted sores around the nose or mouth, or rash on other body parts; OR a rash in various stages including boils, sores and bumps that may be chicken pox; OR a significant rash accompanied by other symptoms of illness such as fever
Have red, runny eyes that distract the child from learning
Have a large amount of discolored nasal discharge, especially if accompanied by facial pain or headache
Have severe ear pain, or drainage from the ear
Have a severe headache, especially if accompanied by fever
Have any condition that you think may be serious or contagious to others
Be sure to ask your healthcare provider when it is safe for your child to return to school, for both your child's health and for the health of the rest of the school.
Finally, if you know your child is still running a fever, it is not a good idea simply to give him or her Tylenol and send them in to school, because as soon as the medicine wears off, you are likely to get a call from the school nurse asking you to leave work and come to pick up your feverish child. It is better to let them stay home in bed with a fever, and take their medications at home until they are off all medicines and ready to engage in a full day of learning in the classroom.
Remember, whenever you keep your child home from school, please call the school nurse or attendance office in advance of the start of the school day and leave a message that your child will be absent.