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Saturday, March 23, 2019


Greetings From Gail

March 13, 2015

I wanted to provide you with some more information about the new SBAC assessments that will be given soon to students in grades 3-6 at our school. Here are some of the ways the new SBAC differs from the NECAP that we previously used as the state assessment.

  • Students will use a computer to take the test.
  • The test is computer adaptive. (see the explanation below**)
  • The new Common Core standards are more rigorous and in depth, which has lead to more complex, and lengthier test questions. Many responses require multiple steps that include writing, problem solving and providing evidence from the text or problem.
  • Some of the questions require students to be able to organize, analyze, describe, defend, conclude, argue, evaluate information presented in charts, graphs, and informational text.
  • The SBAC is given in the spring. The NECAP was given in the fall.
  • Individual student results will be available for teachers shortly after students complete the test.

**Computer Adaptive Testing: The Smarter Balanced assessment system will capitalize on the precision and efficiency of computer adaptive testing (CAT) for both the summative assessment and the optional interim assessments.

Based on student responses, the computerized assessment delivery program adjusts the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment. For example, a student who answers a question correctly will receive a more challenging item, while an incorrect answer generates an easier question. By adapting to the student as the assessment is taking place, these assessments present an individually tailored set of questions to each student and can quickly identify which skills students have mastered. This approach represents a significant improvement over traditional paper-and-pencil assessments, providing more accurate scores for all students across the full range of the achievement continuum (This information was provided on the Vermont Agency of Education) 

We have been informed that we are likely to see a decline in student performance results in Vermont and across the country the first two to four years of implementation as students and educators adjust to the new test form and rigor.

March 13, 2015 Newsletter

Greetings From Gail

March 9, 2015

I am sending a letter home to the parents of students in grades three through six about the new Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) that is replacing the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). There is much controversy surrounding this new assessment, especially what will be done with the results. While I share some concerns about the use of the test, I share Secretary Holcombe’s position on the assessments. In a letter to superintendents and principals, dated February 17th, Secretary Holcombe stated, “However, I ask you to not let the inappropriate uses to which tests are put under NCLB undermine what value there is in tests, when used appropriately. Unlike previous tests, this is a computer adaptive test which adjusts the difficulty of questions in response to the answers students provide. This allows for more accurate information about what each child can and cannot yet do; this information will help teachers to better respond to their students’ needs.”

The inappropriate uses that she refers to is the “proficiency threshold on the new tests is set so high that twothirds of our high schools students will likely not score as ‘proficient,’ it is likely a virtual certainty that once again, all our public schools will be labeled ‘low performing,’ despite the fact that a study by the US Department of Education ranked us seventh in the world in math and science.”

Students in grades three through six have been working with their teachers and Gabi Martino, our technology integration coordinator, to familiarized our students with the new computer format and the format of the questions. It would not be fair to students to not give them some preparation on this new format.

In next week’s newsletter I will include more information on the SBAC and the types of assessment questions.

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 Important Dates

  • March 12th—EXPO Prek-12, 6:00-8:00
  • March 17th—Annual District Meeting
  • March 18th—5th/6th grade Talent Show**New Date**
  • March 27th—3-Way Conferences
  • April 29th—K-4 Spring Concert
  • May 8th—4th Grade trip to Hulbert
  • May 13th -15th—6th Grade Hulbert overnight Trip

Free Developmental Screening

On Friday, March 27, 2015, at the Samuel Morey Elementary School, the Rivendell Early Childhood Program will be offering a free developmental preschool screening for children living in Vershire, West Fairlee, Fairlee, Vermont and Orford, New Hampshire, who are between the ages of 2.6 and 4.6 years old . This screening is not for children who are eligible for kindergarten next year.

Screenings will be 45 minutes-1 hour. There will be two sessions one at 8:30 and one at 10:00 AM. For amscreening appointment please call Angel Parkin at 802-333-9755. A family unable to attend on the screening day can ask about arranging for an appointment at a later date. All parents are encouraged to make an appointment for their child to participate in the screening at least once during the preschool years.

This screening is a play-based approach assessment for children in which the parents share and receive information about their child’s development. Preschoolers who have delays in their development may be recommended for a referral to be eligible to receive educational services before they enter kindergarten.

Jane Finlay, EEE, Special Educator

March 9, 2015 Newsletter

Greetings From Gail

February 20, 2015

We all had an unexpected field trip Monday to Rivendell Academy. The town of Fairlee was working on a water main break and they had to shut the water off for the rest of the day. We did not learn about this until Monday morning.

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We had planned to take our kindergarten, first and second grade classes to Westshire for the rest of the day but just as we were about to leave we were informed that they had lost power and water due to an electrical pole on route 244. We then made the decision to take all the students to Rivendell Academy.

Keri Gelenian and the staff were very accommodating finding classrooms and spaces for our classes to work. Most of the students were very excited about being at the Academy and soon settled down to business as usual, with students engaged in their lessons. 

While this was an inconvenience and a disruption for our classrooms, it helped us assess how we did with evacuating the building if there was an emergency. Special thanks to all the staff for their flexibility and helping things run very smoothly.

Important Dates

  • Feb. 23rd-27th—Winter Recess
  • March 12th—EXPO Prek-12
  • March 17th—Annual District Meeting
  • March 18th—5th/6th Grade Talent Show**New Date**
  • March 27th—3-Way Conferences
  • April 29th—K-4 Spring Concert
  • May 8th—4th Grade trip to Hulbert
  • May 13th-15th—6th Grade Hulbert overnight Trip

February 20, 2015 Newsletter

Greetings From Gail

February 13, 2015sme news 02132015 1

Monday we finally celebrated the 100th day of school. I say finally because snow days and cancellations kept pushing the day further away. We kicked-off our 100th day celebration with an all school assembly where we released 100 balloons, a SME tradition.

Multi-grade groups of kindergarten through second grade students and third and fourth grade students participated in 100 day activities.

 Why do we celebrate the 100th day of school? It is a great way to celebrate the various mathematical concepts that can be taught using the number 100. From the very first day of school, primary classes begin keeping track of the number of days they've been in school in anticipation of the 100th day. The days are marked using popsicle sticks, ten of which become a "ten bundle" paving the way to counting by tens and ones.

Fifth and sixth grade teachers decided they would challenge their students by having "Pi Day" on March 14th instead of celebrating 100th day. They did however want to be part of the 100 balloon assembly that they have participated in since kindergarten!! 

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February 13, 2015 Newsletter

Greetings From Gail

January 26, 2015sme news 02062015 4

"Act 166 provides universal publicly funded prekindergarten education for a minimum of ten sme news 02062015hours per week for 35 weeks annually for all 3, 4 and 5 year old children who are not enrolled in kindergarten." The legislators passed and Governor Shumlin signed Act 166 in 2014 and becomes effective in 2015.

We are beginning the task of organizing our registration for next year. We would love your help in identifying new families that may be interested in sending their children to our program. If you know of someone please let us know and we will contact them or they are welcome to call or
email us.

Due to this new law our program will be free next year for 10 1/2 hours. We will be offering each student either two or three days a week or, if you prefer, three half days.

Parents of new and returning students will be asked to fill out a short application to indicate what days they are interested in. We will be collecting these applications until March 6th. After that date we will notify returning students of their schedule and new students of their placement and


February 12th is the last skating day for skaters. On February 19th, skiers and snowboarders will be using that day for a make-up day. We do not have the staff to absorb the skaters; therefore skaters must be picked up between 12:00-12:30 on February 19th. Winter program students will still attend winter program on the 19th and be dismissed regular tine at 1:45. I would like to thank the new Rec Council for continuing our winter wellness Thursdays of skiing, snowboarding and skating.

Important Dates

  • Feb. 18th—Family Fit Night
  • Feb. 23rd - 27th—Winter Recess
  • March 4th—5th/6th Grade Talent Show
  • March 12th—EXPO Prek-12
  • March 17th—Annual District Meeting
  • March 27th—3-Way Conferences
  • April 29th—K-4 Spring Concert
  • May 8th—4th Grade trip to Hulbert
  • May 13th -15th—6th Grade Hulbert overnight Trip

sme news 02062015 3

February 6, 2015 Newsletter

Greetings From Gail

January 23, 2015 Newslettersme012315 3

In last week's newsletter I shared with you all about the $2500 grant we received from Vermont Rural Partnership to create classroom gardens at our school. We will begin the planning process on February 19th, 2:00-4:00 at Samuel Morey. Joseph Kiefer will be here to facilitate that meeting. Joseph is a leader in school gardens in Vermont. He co-authored the book, Integrating Youth Gardens Into Schools and Communities.

The agenda for that day is to have community members who are "garden experts" work with a teacher to help design their garden. I would like to get one community member who is a "master gardener" to be a mentor for each class. If you have a strong interest in gardening and would like to be a mentor, please email me. If you know someone else in our communities that fit this description, please let them know about our project or send me their names so I can reach out to them.

We are also looking for community members to help build the raised gardens and community members or parents that have the tools to cut wood and help us construct the beds. More information will be sent when the weather is warmer and we are ready to start building. 

I am very excited about this project. I need your help with networking with community members.

Martin Luther King Presentationssme012315 6

Last Friday's All School Meeting was devoted to Martin Luther King Jr. Each class learned about Martin Luther King Jr. and what we all could learn from him. They then presented their learnings through video presentations, writings about peace and their dreams and a reader's theater about his life. I was so impressed with the students' work, ideas and commitment to his ideas. My hope is that students will remember this when it comes to accepting each other's difference and learning to solve conflicts peacefully. Here are some photos from our school meeting. Many of the videos and work will be displayed at EXP on March 12th.

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Important Dates

  • Feb. 6th—4th grade NAEP test
  • Feb. 18th—Family Fit Night
  • Feb. 23rd-27th—Winter Recess
  • March 4th—5th/6th grade Talent Show
  • March 12th—EXPO Prek-12
  • March 17th—Annual District Meeting
  • March 27th—3-Way Conferences
  • April 29th—K-4 Spring Concert
  •  May 8th—4th Grade trip to Hulbert
  • May 13th-15th—6th Grade Hulbert overnight Trip

More information about all these events will be sent home close to the date of the event!

Greetings From Gail

January 16, 2015

January 16, 2015 Newsletter

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Cicero

I am happy to report that we received a grant from VRP for $2500 for school gardens at Samuel Morey. Each class's garden will have a different theme. Here they are:

Preschool: Rainbow Garden - Preschool students will grow a garden of flowers and vegetables with many different colors of the rainbow. This will help them learn colors as they see the magic of growing, living things.

Kindergarten: Stories about Gardens - The Tale of Peter Rabbit and other stories about plants and gardens will be a vehicle to teach reading, writing and science concepts. This garden will help kindergarten students think about where their food comes from, distinguish between fact and fiction, observe roots and soil and draw and write about their garden. This will connect with their unit on living and nonliving.

First Grade: Butterfly and Insect Garden - The first grade garden will consist of plants that attract butterflies and other insects to connect with their science unit on insects.

Second Grade: Three Sister's Garden - This garden connects to their study of Native Americans and their science unit on plants. They will explore what other gardens the Native Americans planted.

Third Grade: Integrated Art Garden - The third grade garden will ask students to use their imagination in designing an aesthetically pleasing garden. They will create art projects for their garden such as signs, garden maps, adding artwork and sculptures to their garden. This garden will be an integrated art project with the art teacher where the art teacher will plan some art lessons using the plants too. 

Fourth Grade: A Harvest Moon Garden - This garden will have plants that are round and ripen in the fall such as squash, beets, potatoes, etc. Fourth graders study the solar system.

Fifth Grade: Experimental Garden - The garden for fifth graders will be a student experimental bed! This garden will encourage student involvement and innovation in the garden. They will conduct experiments. Some of the plants in this garden may not thrive or be successful.

Sixth Grade: Victory Garden - The Victory Garden will connect to a social studies unit which focuses on the role of the citizen in a community. Students will learn how millions of Americans grew Victory Gardens in backyards, rooftops and in window boxes during WWII to supplement their wartime rations and help spur victory. Students will also create recipes with the ingredients of their Victory Garden.

Library: Herb Garden - The librarian would like to plant an herb garden and use as an analogy for planting seeds for reading.

Background to Project

We propose to establish classroom gardens that support our existing curriculum. In Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods he describes how a closer connection with nature can be beneficial to children in many ways. In this age of technology where so many of our students are "plugged in" at home and the push towards more technology in the classrooms, including the new SBAC assessments,  we need to create a balance for our students by including more hands on experiences with nature.

Classroom gardens can encourage environmental stewardship and a greater connection with nature. When children learn the needs of the individual plants they are growing, they have a reason to care about all the things that impact its success.

Classroom gardens that grow fruits and vegetables can help improve students' attitudes about particular foods and may have an impact on lifestyles and nutrition. Students are more likely to try eating vegetables they have grown themselves. 

Students and teachers will plan, plant and maintain their classroom gardens with the help of community members and local gardening organizations such as Farm to School and Master Gardeners. Each class will be assigned a master gardener from our community.

So, here is where we need your help!! We are looking for master gardeners in our towns that could be a mentor for a class or grade. If you know someone or you are,willing to be a mentor, please e-mail me.

We are also looking for help getting the wood to build the gardens and volunteers to help build them. 

There will also be a meeting on February 19th from 2:00-4:00 to plan the gardens for each class. Joseph Kiefer willmbe here to facilitate that meeting. Joseph is a leader in school gardens in Vermont. He co-authored the book, Integrating Youth Gardens Into Schools & Communities. Please e-mail me if you can attend or know someone else that would be interested.

Greetings From Gail

January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015 Newsletter

"The New year: A time to bring from the past all that is right and good, to give to the future the best we have to offer."

Welcome back to school!! I am excited about starting our second half of the year. This is the time of year that I talk to each class about doing quality work. I remind them to keep giving their best. If your child is in kindergarten through second grade ask them about "Miss Quality." If your child is in the upper grades, ask them about winning attitudes and Olympic Training Centers and giving 100% and why 99% is not good enough. I hope to see my quality bulletin board filled with lots of quality work. Hopefully you will be seeing a "I do quality work at SME" magnet come home with your student soon.

Winter Recess Reminder

Please remember to send gloves, hats, boots, snow pants with your child. We will go outside every day the temperatures are above single digits and there is no rain.

Also please remember that if a child is well enough to be in school, he/she will be expected to participate in physical education class or recess. A doctor's note is required to be excused from physical education class or recess. This is stated on page 18 of the Handbook for Parents and Students. The only exceptions are after a concussion or broken limb.

School Compost Monitor Position Now Available

Samuel Morey started composting this year. With the help of Central Vermont Solid Waste Management we have done training for our students and have been working on a system to compost food scraps from breakfast and lunch.

Many schools that compost have a cafeteria and the composting is a little bit easier than when the students eat in their classrooms. The sixth graders have been great helping to collect the composting buckets.

To help us with our new composting procedures, Central Vermont Solid Waste Management will hire a School Compost Monitor. This position is part-time for two hours per day, five days a week during our lunch periods. The time is from 11:30-1:30.

In this position, the person will monitor how the school organics program works, assist students and staff by answering questions, supervising the diversion process, and serve as the on-site contact for Central Vermont Solid Waste Management.

If you know someone who would be interested in this position, please contact:
Chrissy Bellmyer @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 802-229-9383 ext 111. You can submit a letter of interest along with a resume to the above email address or via mail to:
ATTN: School Program Manager
137 Barre Street
Montpelier, VT 05602

Important Dates

  • Jan. 19th—MLK Jr. Day no school
  • Feb. 6th—4th grade NAEP test
  • Feb. 18th—Family Fit Night
  • Feb. 23rd-27th—Winter Recess
  • March 12th—EXPO Prek-12

Greetings From Gail

December 19, 2014

It is hard to believe that it is the end of December already and the first half of the school year is coming to an end. In these four months I can already see changes in the students; how much they have grown, and matured. I look forward to the second half of the year to see their continued growth.

As we head into this holiday break, it is always a time to reflect on the first half of the year and think about how to keep that "new school year" excitement going for the second half of the year. I will visit each class and talk about quality work. I will ask students to show me their "best." We also have the new assessment (SBAC). We will need to do some preparation with them so they understand this new computerized assessment.

Thank you for your support and I look forward to our continued partnership in your child's education the second half of the year. May you all have the gift of peace, the gift of happiness, the gift of good health, and the gift of love for the new year.



  • Skiers—Dismissed at 12:15—Return at 4:00. Parents must pick children up at 4:00.
  • Skaters—Dismissed at 12:15-12:30—Return at 3:00. Parents must pick children up at 3:00.
  • Winter Program—Dismissed at 12:30. Students are dismissed at 1:45 and the regular bus routes run or please pick up yourstudent if they are a rider.

Just a reminder that if skiing or skating is canceled, students must be picked up at 12:30. We do not have the staff to absorb those students into our winter program The ski and skate program runs for six weeks with a make-up day for skiing if needed on February 19th. If the ski make-up day is needed, there is no skating on the ski make-up day and skaters will need to be picked up.

December 19, 2014 Newsletter

Important Information About Winter Thursdays

The Rivendell Recreation Council Ski and Skate Program begins on January 8th. Students will be dismissed between 12:00 and 12:30. Those students not skiing or skating are expected to stay for our winter program. We have some exciting activities planned.

Just a reminder that if skiing or skating is canceled, students must be picked up at 12:30. We do not have the staff to absorb those students into our winter program.

The ski and skate program runs for six weeks with a make-up day for skiing if needed on February 19th. If the ski make-up day is needed, there is no skating on the ski make-up day and skaters will need to be picked up.

End of the Day Dismissal:

  • Skiers return at 4:30 and need to be picked up by parents.
  • Skaters return at 3:00 and need to be picked up by parents or register for Visions after school Program. Please note there is no 3:00 bus on Thursdays. Visions runs until 5:30 and parents will need to pick up their child by then.
  • Winter Program students are dismissed at 1:45. The regular bus routes will be run or you must pick up your child at 1:45 if they don't ride the bus.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me, Rivendell Recreation Council or Angel. Let's hope for some snow this year!!