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A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

December 3, 2012

It's hard to believe that December is here already. Pretty soon Christmas will arrive and the new year will begin. The holiday season is a good time for reflecting on the work we have done in 2012.

The beginning of the school year brought many changes to WSE—a new assistant principal, new teachers and new expectations. One aspect that we have been working hard to make even better, is the climate and culture of our school. We are doing many things that we believe help kids get more excited about being here at Westshire. Last week we rolled out our ROCKS core concept program and we have seen the benefits already. Students can't wait to earn classroom rocks and we are happy to give them out when they demonstrate one or more of the concepts.

Other programs we have started are our Spirit Days and Dance Party Fridays. Dance Party is not really about the dancing, it's about celebrating the hard work we do all week. It's about creating a community and making everyone feel good when they leave for the weekend. Most importantly, it's about showing the children, staff and parents of Westshire that this is the place to be—a place where learning can be fun. I see the enthusiasm of the kids every Friday and I love it!

All of these programs are important because they really do make school more engaging. Once again, thank you for all of your support! Together we make WSE an incredible place for learning.

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

November 26, 2012wse112712 2

Last Monday we "rocked out" at REP by playing games, singing songs and introducing this year's core concepts, ROCKS. These words/concepts were created by students and staff at the beginning of the year and we believe they are the behaviors that define our Westshire community. We believe that WSE ROCKS because our students are:

  • Responsible
  • Outstanding Scholars
  • Cooperative
  • Kind
  • Safe

wse112712 1When a student demonstrates one of the concepts, he/she will be rewarded with a colored rock to add to the class jar. Once the jar is filled, the class will have a special celebration and then add their rocks to our school jar. When the school jar is full, we will celebrate with an all-school activity.

All WSE personnel will have Rocks and/or Rocks tickets to give students. Teaching our children the importance of concepts like being responsible and kind is one of our goals because we know that these concepts can attribute to who our children become in the future. Please support ROCKS by asking your children to display acts of cooperation, kindness and responsibility at home. Together we can make a difference!

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

November 19, 2012wse111912 1

It was a joy to open our building on Tuesday to members of our community. I saw the excitement on our students' faces as their grandparents and mentors arrived in the lobby to celebrate an early Thanksgiving meal with us. In total, more than 180 staff members, students, grandparents and mentors joined us for our annual Harvest Dinner.

wse111912 3The delicious meal of turkey, potatoes, and stuffing smothered with gravy was prepared by our amazing cook, Lee Clark and his three assistants; Mary Clark, Jeanny Collins and Nancy Cushman. Our students spent much time getting ready for the day as they made all of the colorful decorations and set up the tables with drawing paper and beautiful turkey, pumpkin and pilgrim hat centerpieces. Our staff contributed as well, by serving all the meals to our guests. We even had entertainment as students in our K-2 classes sang cute songs and danced for us.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who participated in making this year's Harvest Dinner a success!

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

November 12, 2012wse111212 1

After a beautiful weekend it's hard for me to write about winter and cold weather! Although we were spared any snow from last week's nor'easter, we know it's coming soon. When the weather turns cold it always elicits questions about dressing for outdoor recess.

Recess is an important part of our school day and our students need daily, healthy playtime outdoors. To really enjoy recess they must be properly dressed for the weather. If we are experiencing unusually cold weather where the temperature is in the single digits or it is raining, we will usually not go out for morning or lunch recess. However, students do go out for recess when the temperature is above10 degrees.

wse111212 2Please make sure your child has a coat, gloves, hat, snow pants and boots for when the snow arrives. Shorts should not be worn for recess play. Dressing for outdoor weather allows children to enjoy this fun part of their day. If they don't have boots and there is snow on the ground, they will still go outside and have to stand on the blacktop. It is much more fun to run and play in the snow so PLEASE make sure your child is dressed appropriately for the cold weather season.

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

November 5, 2012
Last Tuesday we had an unexpected school delay as Hurricane Sandy blew through New Hampshire and Vermont. Thankfully we made it through the storm with only minor damage. If the weather is bad and school has not been cancelled, we may have up to a two-hour delay. In this case, bus arrival times will be delayed two hours. If the bus usually arrives at 7:00 a.m., it will come at 9:00. All schools that normally start at 8:00 will begin two hours later at 10:00. Students should not be dropped off at school before 9:30 for a 10:00 start. When we have a delay, please note that breakfast will NOT be served. On inclement weather days, listen to the radio, check our website, or wait for the Alert Now call for more information. Thank you for your patience as we review and revise our storm procedures.

On Thursday, families were invited to school for 3-way conferences. I hope you saw the value in the time you spent with your child and his/her teacher. This process of shared learning and academic goal setting is an integral part of effective 3-way conferences. We want students to act more like "scholars" and take ownership of their learning, and in order to do this, open communication between students, parents and teachers must occur often.

Tuesday, November 13th will be an important day for the staff and students of Westshire as we host our annual Harvest Dinner. Grandparents and Everybody Wins! mentors are invited to join us at lunchtime for a tasty meal of turkey, stuffing and all of the traditional Thanksgiving fixings. The second graders will also be raffling off Pumpkin Pies from their "Three Sister's Garden." I look forward to meeting and talking to the people who are so special to our students.

You are cordially invited to a very special event

.Join us for our annual Harvest Dinner at Westshire Elementary School to recognize our wonderful grandparents and our Everybody Wins! mentors.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Seating at 11:15—lunch served at 11:30 in the gymnasium.
Students will provide entertainment and all of the décor.
We hope you can come!

RSVP by Thursday, November 8, 2012 by returning the bottom half of this invitation

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

October 29, 2012

Westshire is a special little school and as I walk the halls, I realize just how good it is here. Last week we began the Everybody Wins program and as the mentors came in, I felt proud and grateful for our community. This year we have 17 students and 18 mentors reading together at lunch and recess. Just the fact that these students are giving up their free time to read with community members speaks volumes about who we are and what we believe is important.

wseAt the end of the week I was fortunate to attend a performance of Eric Carle's books with the Kindergarten class. Again I was impressed with our children—they were very well behaved and as I watched them laugh and have a good time, I felt that pride again.

Friday was a special day too as students wore pink to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to everyone who participated!

On Monday, our fifth grade travelled with SME students to the Montshire Museum where they began their weather unit. They showed the staff what scholars are like as they used a huge weather globe and an IPad weather App to observe weather patterns and then presented their findings. They asked many pertinent questions about the exhibits and impressed not only their peers, but the staff at the Montshire as well. Kudos to all of our wonderful students!

 

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen


wse102212 2The past two weeks have been extremely busy for us. We trekked the Cross Rivendell Trail for our all-
school hike, participated in a fire prevention assembly, and began the Everybody Wins mentor reading program. Most importantly, we finished our NECAP testing! Kudos to all our students—they worked extremely hard to do a good job and we are hoping for our best scores ever!

wse102212 1The school climate at WSE is very good. Students seem happy and engaged in their work and behaviors have significantly improved. Our students know the expectations for behavior and academics are extremely high—we want all students to be successful and that can only happen if we work together. Earlier in the year I told you about how our children chose words that represent the sort of learners we want to be: kind, caring, respectful, safe and responsible. It's not good enough to say these words, we must live by them as well.
wse102212 3

Soon I will be talking to our students about what it means to be a
"scholar." Scholars always do their best academically. Being a scholar and turning in quality work shows that we take pride in who we are and what we do. Instilling these ideas in our children is essential to help them feel like successful learners.

 

Greetings from Gail

November 1st is our three-way conferences. For those of you who are new to Westshire, I would like to give you an idea of what to expect at the three-way conferences.

Three-way conferences provide an opportunity for the student, teacher and parent to come together as a team to support the student's learning. Kindergarten parents—you will be impressed at how even our youngest students are able to talk about their learning and their goals.

In preparation for the three-way conferences, students and teachers have been writing personal learning plans or PLP's. The personal learning plan helps the student be responsible for his or her own learning. It is goal oriented and allows the student to think about what he or she is learning and to set goals around the learning.

Research shows that students learn better and more when they are involved in their own learning. It helps students develop the vocabulary to talk about their achievement and learning and encourages student ownership of schoolwork and improves motivation.

The parents are an important part of the conference because they bring knowledge of the student based on their observations. Your child's teacher will ask you to contribute to the learning goals for your child. Listen and allow your child to dominate the conversation. You will learn much about your child's learning if you let them talk.

 

 

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

October 15, 2012

Although the weather did not fully cooperate on Wednesday, the day turned out great! After a short delay, our group of more than 100 people left school with the weather outlook was cloudy with misting rain. We walked to Southworth Park where we gathered before making the trek into the woods. The walk on the trail was bustling with the voices of chattering kids and the excitement to
wse101512 4spend a day outdoors. At the fields at Middlebrook, we were greeted by staff members who brought our lunches and by that time, we were hungry! After eating bag lunches, Chuck Eaton, local wildlife expert, talked to us about animals and trapping. Mr. Kunecki and Mr. Boyce kept everyone busy as well, playing team activities and games. An hour later, arriving back at Southworth Park, a special surprise was waiting for us as Mr. Clark and his wife Mary had the fire well stoked and marshmallows and chocolate ready to eat! The hike wouldn't have been complete without singing in the rain, so as we made our final walk back to school, we made our own music!

wse101512 1The best part of our hike was spending the day together, supporting, encouraging, and getting to know one another better. I was proud of the interactions between our older students and their younger buddies, and the many moments of kindness and caring. Thanks to everyone for an amazing hike, especially the volunteers who made the day so successful.

 

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A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

October 8, 2012

Since its beginning in 1999, the Cross Rivendell Trail has become an outdoor classroom and a place of learning for all Rivendell students. This Wednesday our entire school will embark on our annual hike and spend the day on the trail. We'll learn from local experts and stop to play games and participate in team building activities. And the best part— being all together as a WSE school community! 

The hike measures about 4 miles, round-trip—we'll be stopping for snacks at Southworth Park and lunch at the Middlebrook Road trailhead.

Our older students will have important roles too, as they become mentors and "buddies" with the students from the younger grades. Parents are invited to join us on the hike. We'd love to have you attend!

Tentative schedule

  • 9:30 am - LEAVE WSE
  • 11:00 am - ARRIVE MIDDLEBROOK RD AND FIELDS
  • 11:00 am - GATHER, TALK WITH CHUCK EATON
  • 11:45 am - LUNCH
  • 12:00 pm - 5/6 HIKE, K-4 ACTIVITIES WITH MR. KUNECKI
  • 1:00 pm - LEAVE FIELDS TO WALK BACK TO SCHOOL
  • 2:30 pm - RETURN TO WESTSHIRE

Students must dress appropriately for the cold weather. They should wear comfortable shoes, broken in hiking boots or sneakers with heavy socks. The trail can be slippery when wet. Also, each student should bring a water bottle and a backpack that they can carry. Fruit will be provided for snack and bag lunches are available through the lunch program.

Permission slips went home Friday—please get them in no later than Tuesday.

 

Greetings from Gail

Last spring our fourth, eighth and eleventh grade students took the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) science tests. The tests are designed to measure student performance on standards in science. Specifically, the tests are designed to measure the science content and skills that students are expected to have as they complete the K-4, 5-8, and 9-11 grade spans.
Each test contains a mix of multiple choice and constructed-response questions. The science test also includes an inquiry session that requires students to answer questions based on results of an actual scientific investigation.

Our results are in from the spring 2012 science NECAPs. Both of our elementary schools performed much lower than we would have hoped and expected. The spring 2011 science NECAPS showed Westshire to have the highest science scores in the state for fourth graders. It is very hard to draw conclusions when the scores each year fluctuate so much. Part of this is because of the small number of students in our schools that take the test.

Rivendell, like other schools around the state will be having discussions about the meaning of the test results. We are in the process of examining the results of the assessments at all three grades and using this information to inform our science curriculum, science instruction and science assessment.

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen!

October 1, 2012


wse100112At our first community meeting, students brought their classroom rules to share. These "expectations" were written by them and outlined what they believed needed to be done to create a safe and respectful learning environment. Many of the words I heard from them were the same—respect, kindness, best effort, quality, safety and responsibility. These are the concepts that are most important to our students and staff.

Rules of the class and school need to be followed in order to maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning for all. When rules are disobeyed, the teacher generally handles the problem. However, at times, the teacher will refer the child to me.

wse100112 3The best way to handle when a classroom or school rule is broken is to respond with reasonable, logical consequences. Helping a child create a plan that requires him/her to fix the problem or issue may be required. Sometimes loss of recess or other school activity is appropriate. Other times, when the problem is a more serious behavior or a reoccurring issue that doesn't seem to be improving, I will call you directly.

Coming to my office shouldn't always be seen as "getting in trouble". I can act as a mediator to help students work out problems or to listen to their concerns. Please know that my door is always open to students and I encourage them to come see me with "Good News" or to share something special like quality work.

I love talking to students about books and would enjoy hearing about what they are currently reading. Knowing who I am and feeling safe visiting my office is important to building good, quality relationships. Students should always be comfortable coming to see me!

wse100112 2

Open house was a huge success!

Thank you to our families. Thanks to everyone who attended Thursday's Open House. More than 100 people enjoyed delicious pot luck dishes, visited classrooms, and even had time to talk to friends and neighbors. It was an amazing time and we were thrilled to see so many families.
Congratulations to our fall prize winners: Penny Jo Lavertue, Jack Nolin, Eadie Molesworth, and Rachel O'Hearn.

Greetings from Gail

Students in grades 3 through 8 will participate in the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). Students in all of those grades will be tested in reading and mathematics. In addition, students in grades 5 and 8 will be tested in writing. I am hoping you will help us encourage all our students to give the tests their very best effort. The window for students to take the NECAPs is October 1st through October 23rd. Your child's teachers will let you know the exact days.

The New England Common Assessment Program is one tool available to parents and educators to determine how well our school is helping students meet standards and grade level expectations. In every assessment, scores are only as meaningful as the effort students put into the tests. Encourage your child to take the tests seriously and to give his or her best effort. You can best help your child prepare for the assessment by making sure that she or he is rested on the days the tests will be given. And, as with every day, it is critical that students have a good breakfast before heading off to school. Thank you for supporting your child and our school during the testing period.