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Saturday, December 14, 2019

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Message from the Principal, Steven Lindemann - December 6, 2019

Dear Samuel Morey parents and Guardians,
This has been a very busy week for SME students and staff! My first Grades K-4 winter concert was enjoyable to witness. I look forward to seeing the grade 5 & 6 winter concert next Wednesday at Samuel Morey. I appreciate all the work by the K-4 students and music teacher Elizabeth Duvall in making the concert a success.

Next Monday report cards will be going home in student backpacks. I want to remind you that we use a standards-based reporting of student progress. The standards we use are based on state and national standards. Please remember that this first trimester report card indicates the progress your child is making toward the end of the year grade level expectations. Make sure that the envelope in which the report card is sent home is returned promptly to SME and is also signed by you to indicate that you have read and received this important document. Thank you.

Also included with the report cards are the results from the Smarter Balanced assessments (also known as SBACs) taken in the Spring. Smarter Balanced assessments (SBACs) are administered to all students in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6, and include both English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. These assessments are taken on computers and have a computer adaptive feature that adjusts the difficulty up or down depending on a student’s responses. We strongly believe there is merit in these assessments, and the results help us determine the strength of our instruction and how well we are able to prepare our students for the world beyond graduation. Since this is my first year as the Principal of Samuel Morey, I will use these results as a baseline going forward to measure the progress of our students going forward as I work with our faculty and staff to strengthen our academic program for your child.

Some academic enrichment opportunities that are coming up are the National Geographic GeoBee, Hour of Code, and the New England Math League. We will be conducting the National Geographic GeoBee for grades 4-6 on December 19th and 20th. The National Geographic GeoBee is an annual competition designed to inspire and reward students' curiosity about the world. The National Geographic GeoBee includes three levels of competition; school, state, and national. Schools conduct a GeoBee and name a school champion. The school champion takes a proctored online qualifying test and the top-100-ranked students in each state qualify to represent their school at the State GeoBee competition. State champions are then invited to compete in the national championship. The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week. The 2019 Computer Science Education Week will be December 9-15, but you can host an Hour of Code all year-round. The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code", to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. This week I had the opportunity to work with students in Kindergarten, fifth and sixth grades on coding with Gabi Martino, our Technology Specialist, to prepare for Hour of Code. What I liked about the coding activities is that every student can participate at their current level without feeling frustrated. I want to build more coding activities into our school year other than just the Hour of Code. Our practice materials for New England Math League recently arrived, and our sixth grade team is beginning to practice for the January Math League test. The New England Math League tests for grades four and five will be in the spring and we’ll be forming those teams soon.

I also wanted to announce that on December 19th we’ll host our first Games with Grandparents hour from 12:30, right before the early release at 1:30. We are looking forward to welcoming and sharing our school with grandparents while playing board games throughout the school. Connecting and appreciating our families and the larger community is a joy for the faculty and staff at SME. We are thankful to the Friends of Rivendell for providing cookies and coffee/tea.

In conclusion, I wanted to let you know that we have had many students and staff out with illness this week (including our nurse)! If your child is ill please keep them home until they fully recover so that we can prevent the stomach bug and flulike symptoms that are going around from continuing. Thank you for your support.

Happy Holidays!

Steven Lindemann, SME Principal

 

Message from the Principal, Steven Lindemann - November 12, 2019

 Dear SME Parents and Guardians,

Thank you for your participation in last week’s parent conferences. I hope that you left your child’s conference with an appreciation of all the hard work your child is doing this year. I also hope you left with a sense of the positive environment we are working hard to create at SME this year. I greatly appreciate the efforts of all the SME faculty and staff to make SME a welcoming and caring learning environment.

This year’s Harvest Dinner on November 19th is for SME students only. We will be inviting grandparents into the classroom in the coming weeks. The food service office at the district level made the decision to not have grandparents at the Harvest Dinner due to logistics involved with the high numbers of people to serve. I will be discussing this event with Superintendent Williams and Westshire Elementary School Principal Melissa Zoerheide to see how this tradition can be sustained in the coming years. Thank you for your understanding.

The Gaga Ball Pit hardware has arrived, and I will be coordinating efforts to get this new playground item up and running as soon as possible. Gaga Ball is an activity the students can play year round, and the snow that is falling as I write this will not hinder the students having fun playing Gaga Ball.

In other news, I have entered SME into the Math League for Grades 4, 5, and 6. Math League is an enrichment opportunity for students interested in improving their understanding of mathematics. The test is taken on-line in the spring, and our team and individual scores are compared with other schools in the New England and New York region. Previous schools I have worked in participated in Math League, and I wanted to have interested SME students participate in this optional math activity. I have ordered the test practice guides, and when these guides arrive I will determine student interest at Grades 4, 5, and 6 to create practice sessions. More information to come!

I know November is the month where we reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives. I continue to be grateful for the efforts of the SME faculty and staff in supporting each of our students. I also appreciate the support that Superintendent Barrett Williams has provided me during my first year as the leader of Samuel Morey Elementary School. Thanks to the parents who have made me feel welcome and enthusiastic about joining the RISD community.

Steven Lindemann, SME Principal

 

Message from the Principal, Steven Lindemann - October 28, 2019

Dear Samuel Morey Parents and Guardians,
Many thanks to the Friends of Rivendell for hosting the Halloween Dance that occurred Friday night at SME. As I watched the children running around the gym, I was reminded of the electrons that are moving freely around the nucleus of an atom. There was a lot of energy on display in the gym!

Last Monday I attended a workshop sponsored by the Vermont Principals Association titled “Practical Strategies for Reducing Anxiety and Defiant Behavior in the Classroom”. The presenter, Jessica Minahan, was very engaging and knowledgeable about this topic. She told the group that the National Institute of Mental Health stated that 31% of 13 to 18 years old have anxiety, and that 22-25% of children 3 to 5 years of age have clinical anxiety. She also stated that our working memory is impaired when anxious, and that we lose 13 to 20 IQ points in a moment of anxiety.

Ms. Minahan stated that students with anxiety cause so much stress for teachers because they are so unpredictable in their behavior, so it leaves a teacher in a constant state of hypervigilance. She also gave us the analogy of thinking of students with anxiety as a shaken can of Pepsi, and that all students may look the same on the outside (like cans of Pepsi), yet the teacher does not know which student is ready to explode due to their anxiety. Her presentation was centered around the following six ideas: 1.) Misbehavior is a symptom of an underlying cause. 2.) Behavior is communication. 3.) Behavior has a function. 4.) Behavior occurs in patterns. 5.) The only behavior an adult can control is their own. 6.) Behavior can be changed. Needless to say, there is great deal of useful information that I need to share with the SME faculty and staff around this issue. I am grateful that Superintendent Barrett Williams was the “Principal for a day” so I could attend this important professional development opportunity.

In other news, the Grade 5 & 6 Spelling Team will be competing against Windsor School in the Regional Competition of the Vermont Principals Association Team Spelling Competition on Saturday, November 2nd. The SME team is comprised of two 5th grade students and four 6th grade students. If they are successful against Windsor School, they advance to the State Final on Saturday, November 16th to compete against the other four regional champions. Good luck to our team.

Parent Conferences are just around the corner, and as a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. Share the following information about your child with your child’s teacher: 1.) Favorite subjects. 2.) Outside interests and hobbies. 3.) Any medical or health needs. 4.) Things happening at home that may affect school-moving, divorce, the birth of a child, etc. At the conference, keep an open mind. Remember that both you and your child’s teacher want to help your child succeed. Even if the teacher says something you disagree with, listen to what the teacher has to say. Also:

  • Ask to see your child’s work. There is no better way to see how your child is progressing.
  • Ask your child’s teacher to explain terms that are new to you. Every profession has its own jargon which can be hard to understand.
  •  Sum up what you think has been said. Make sure both you and your child’s teacher agree on any decisions you have made about your child. If necessary, ask to meet again.
  •  Establish the best way to contact each other. Email? Phone?

Please contact me if you have any questions about parent conferences or any other school related matter. Have a safe Halloween this Thursday!

Steven Lindemann, SME Principal

Message from the Principal, Steven Lindemann - October 16, 2019

Dear Samuel Morey Parents and Guardians,

Can you believe the beautiful weather we are experiencing this autumn?! I thought that the weather we had for the All School Hike last week would be the end of the string of perfect fall days, but I was wrong. Being out at every recess sure has been a treat for me.

Many thanks to all the parents who participated in my first All School Hike. I enjoyed having the opportunity to chat with some of you as I trekked up and down Sunday Mountain. Also, I wanted to thank the parents and community members who attended the Community Forum at SME last Tuesday and the Friends of Rivendell meeting at Westshire Elementary last Thursday. I learned a great deal about the hopes, dreams and concerns the people in attendance have about the schools in the Rivendell Interstate School District. I have an “open door” policy at SME, and I am usually out in the bus loop every morning if you would like to chat. I can also be reached by phone or email. As I stated in my introductory letter to the community in August, I wanted to work in a smaller school where all students feel known by all the adults who work in the school. I believe Samuel Morey is a school where all students can feel that high level of care and support. I also believe that the Samuel Morey community believes in educating the “whole child”. As I continue to learn about the what makes Samuel Morey unique, I am also working on making tangible changes to improve the learning experience for the students as well as improvements to the learning environment and building.

One way to include the students’ input in improving SME is by forming a School Culture Committee (SCC). This SCC for the Fall trimester is a randomly selected group of two students each from grades 2 through 6. These eight students have met with Music Teacher Elizabeth Duvall and me for the last three weeks to brainstorm ways to improve the culture and/or building. This group has voted to have a Gaga Ball Pit on the playground (see the picture below of the Gaga Ball Pit at Sharon Elementary School). I will be ordering the materials for the Gaga Ball Pit in the coming week, and I will notify you if we need help constructing the Gaga Ball Pit or a source of woodchips to put into the Gaga Ball Pit.

gaga pit web

The SCC also will be having a Sports Team Jersey Day this Friday where all students and staff are encouraged to wear their favorite jersey to show the SME community the high school, college, or professional sports team they support the most. I already have my favorite Liverpool jersey picked out for Friday! The SCC has made other great suggestions (including getting the pot hole in front of the school filled) and getting tetherballs for the playground. There will be two more randomly selected SCCs, one for the Winter trimester and one for Spring trimester.

I will be attending an all day workshop this Saturday in Burlington on how to teach coding to students. Coding is the process of using a programming language to get a computer to behave how you want it to. Every line of code tells the computer to do something, and a document full of lines of code is called a script. Coding helps children with communication, creativity, math, writing, and confidence. I will also be attending an all day workshop on Monday sponsored by the Vermont Principals Association titled “Practical Strategies for Reducing Anxiety and Defiant Behavior in the Classroom”. Superintendent Barrett Williams will be the SME Principal while I am gone that day.

In closing, I again wanted to express my gratitude for all the support I have received from the SME faculty, staff and parents in the first months as the leader of Samuel Morey Elementary School. Have a restful weekend!

Steven Lindemann, SME Principal

 

It’s Time for the All School Hike!

On Tuesday, October 8th, Samuel Morey will be hiking the Sunday Mountain section of the Cross Rivendell Trail in Orford. This is an annual tradition that helps us build community and spend time outside connecting with nature as a school. Students will need:

  • Layered clothes for our typical cool fall mornings and warm afternoons
  • Closed toed shoes with socks suitable for a hike in the woods (we want to avoid blisters)
  • Full water bottle, a snack and lunch (students may get a bag lunch from school)

We will load the bus at 8:30 a.m. to go to the Sunday Mountain trailhead, and we will return about 2 p.m. There will be a chaperone meeting at 8:00 a.m. in the gym. We love when parents join us for the ASH, so please come along if you like! Parking at the trailhead is very limited, so we strongly recommend chaperones ride the bus with us if they can! On the back of this form is a map of where we will be with the trail outlined.

 Click here to download the permission slip and return it to school with your student. 

Message from the Principal, Steven Lindemann - Sept, 23, 2019

Dear Samuel Morey Parents and Guardians,

Happy Fall! I wanted to start off by expressing my thanks to all the parents, students and staff who helped at the “Garden Party” this past Saturday morning. We moved the mound of dirt in the bus circle, pruned trees, weeded gardens, and chopped down a crab apple tree. The pile of wood from this tree is free for anybody that wants it, just come and pick it up. I believe that taking pride in our school building and grounds helps translate into a positive learning environment.

Last week we determined the six members of the Samuel Morey Spelling Team who will participate in the Vermont Principals Association State Grades 5 & 6 Spelling Bee Team Competition in October. We have four sixth grade students and two fifth grade students on this year’s team. I previously coached the Grade 5 & 6 Spelling Team at my previous school, and I look forward to working with these six students as we represent Samuel Morey Elementary and the Rivendell Interstate School District.

Another new change I am implementing is having a Samuel Morey Elementary School Culture Team (SMESCT), and its purpose is to identify projects/ideas to improve our school/community. The SMESCT is composed of two second grade, two third grade, two fourth grade, two fifth grade and two sixth grade students who were randomly selected to join Music Teacher Elizabeth Duvall and me for a three-month tenure (there will be three different teams during each year-a fall team, a winter team, and a spring team). We will meet three times this fall. The first meeting will be to brainstorm the idea we want to pursue; the second meeting to flesh out the idea; and the third to plan the full execution of the project. More details to come!

Finally, I hope to see you at our Curriculum Night/Open House on October 3rd from 6-7 PM. Have a wonderful week!

Sincerely,
Steven Lindemann, SME Principal

 

Message from the Principal, Steven Lindemann - Sept, 13, 2019

Dear Samuel Morey Parents,

Please consider participating in our Samuel Morey School “Garden Party” on Saturday, September 21st 8:30-11:30 AM. We will be pruning trees, weeding, and getting the raised beds ready for next spring. Below is the list of tasks that the Samuel Morey Grounds Committee determined we should tackle on September 21st. We also listed the desired tools we will need. Please contact me if you have questions. I hope to see you next Saturday!

Steven Lindemann, Principal of SME

“To Do” List
Weed Whack Team

  • Need at least two gas-powered appliances
  • Weed whack school driveways and curbs
  • Weed whack building perimeter, and around the side flower gardens, tree wells and playground areas

Tree Trimming Team

  • Need small chain saw, tree saws, clippers, (wood chipper?)
  • Prune lower branches of 3 white pines near outdoor classroom
  • Prune lower branches of 3 maples around bus driveway
  • Prune lower branches of white pine behind backstop
  • Cut back verbena next to library/school building
  • Prune crab apples along school drive

Earth Moving Team

  • Need earth mover, rototiller, shovels, rakes
  • Move perennials in the center of Bus Loop to flag pole area
  • Level out dirt mounds in Bus Loop and plant grass seed
  • Level out the compost area behind the school dumpsters

Weeding and Mulching Team

  • Need weeding tools, baskets/bags to collect and move weeds, and bales of hay
  • Weed the grey rock area next to the front of the building
  • Weed all the gardens and areas identified below:

Reading Garden

  • Take down lattice work (need carpentry tools)
  • Remove broken barrels and clean up brush
  • Prune crab apple tree
  • Cut back perennials and weed entire area

Special Ed Garden

  • Weed garden and turn the soil
  • Cover with mulch for the winter

Crescent, Three Sisters, and Gordon’s Gardens

  • Cut back, mow, and mulch these areas for winter

Grades 5-6 Raised Beds

  • Weed, turn soil, and mulch with hay

Pre-school Garden

  • Weed

Picnic Table Shed

  • Rake out mulch
  • Trim and weed around poles and drums
  • Clean up hill slide area and weed

Back Side of Gym

  • Trim white pine behind backstop
  • Move black compost bin next to the one on side of cafeteria
  • Weed whack compost area
  • Set up hay pile to add to wet compost materials

 

Message from the Principal, Steven Lindemann - Sept, 5, 2019

SME

The second week of school went smoothly, and I greatly enjoy popping into classrooms to see what the students are learning. I hope to see you next Thursday at SME at 6 pm for the first Friends of Rivendell meeting for the year. At this meeting I will answer questions, share my ideas about SME and how Friends of Rivendell can support our school. Also, I will share the goals of the newly formed SME Grounds Committee. This group is planning a “Garden Party” to spruce up the SME grounds (weeding, pruning, etc.) on Saturday morning, September 21st. We hope to see you there on Sept. 21 because “many hands make light work”. Have a restful weekend!

 

 

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