Monthly Archives: August 2013

Weekly Staff Memo – August 31, 2013

Great Things I Noticed This Week:

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m going to try to do this in the form of images that are organized by categories.



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Routines and Procedures


Hands-On Experiential Learning

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Chase Martin, High School AP Physics and AP Calculus Teacher, conducted a fantastic training on how to create instructional videos using the Promethean Board.  Kudos to Dan Merithew, Mimi Siadak, and Shannon Davis for taking this on as a professional goal for the upcoming school year!

Upcoming Events

Monday, September 2nd – NO SCHOOL

Tuesday, September 3rd – NCEES (North Carolina Educator Evaluation System) Orientation and Training @ 3:30 in 7th Grade LASS.  This training will be online, so either bring your own device or grab a Chromebook from the cart.  You’ll also need your PowerSchool login info to complete this training.  Thanks!

Wednesday, September 4th – LASS Vertical Team Meeting @ 11:30 in Juli’s office – Click here to view agenda. Staff Meeting @ 3:30 in Shannon Davis’s Room

Friday, September 6th – Guest Speaker for 7th Grade in Black Box at 8:30

Monday, September 9th – Parent Advisory Meeting at High School at 7:30

Wednesday, September 11th Ed Leadership Seminar Meeting – 3:30 – in MS Media Center.  MS Curriculum Night  –  6:30-8:30 *We will go over this event in great detail at this week’s staff meeting.

Don’t Forget….

Juli’s Sacred Classroom Time is on Thursday of this week.  If you need an extra set of hands, I’m your girl!  Sign up by clicking here.

For the protection of students, staff, and families, CSD Board Policy prohibits staff members from transporting students in their personal cars to and from school-related events.  If a situation arises where this policy poses a problem (student injury, etc…), please involve an administrator in coming up with a solution.  Thanks for your help with this!

Professional Development Corner

This Week’s Staff Meeting Topic – Using Essential Questions to Drive Instruction – Please take a few moments to scan the following articles.

We will be discussing EQ’s and how they relate to our newly revised Student Led Conference process for grades 6-8.  We will review the expectations and logistics of Curriculum Night (coming up on September 11th).

Anyone interested in participating in a book study on Robyn Jackson’s Never Work Harder Than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching click here.  This is a terrific book loaded with lots of great ideas.  Please consider taking advantage of this opportunity to learn and grow with your colleagues!  10 hours of renewal credit will be awarded to those who participate.

Thought to Ponder This Week….

CSD Mission

The Parent-Teacher Partnership

As we start this new school year, now is the perfect time to be reminded of our mission.   When Dr. Boyer spoke of The School as Community, he referred to three essential elements:   1)  A Shared Vision  2) Teachers as Leaders  and 3) Parents as Partners.  Today, I would like to take some time reflecting upon the parent-teacher partnership.

In the Basic School, parents are viewed as the child’s first and most important teachers.  Dr. Boyer states, “The greatest milestones in learning occur not in the classroom, but in the home.  The home is, without question, the child’s first classroom.”  So what does this mean for us as educators?   In my mind, it means that we must capitalize on every opportunity possible to build relationships with the parents of our students.  The quality of this partnership truly dictates how successful we are in helping each student reach his/her fullest potential.

I’ve recently had the great pleasure of discovering a new educational gem by the name of Hal Urban.  Dr. Urban has had a very distinguished teaching career and is the author of several inspirational books.  I was very intrigued and inspired recently as I read about his view on the importance of parental involvement in the education of their children.  He states, “No one comes to the party unless they’re invited.”  How very true is this statement!  It got me to thinking about my own career and whether or not I had done a good job of inviting parents to participate.  While I think I’ve done “okay” with this, I’m sure there are ways I could have been more welcoming.  So I charge you with this:  Think of ways you are deliberately “inviting” parents to the party.  These do not have to be in-person events.  You can invite them to join the party by keeping them informed of what’s going on in the classroom.  This act can take a multitude of different forms.  Maybe it’s a simple email to parents each week from your team stating what is going on in class.  Maybe it’s hosting a parent education workshop on certain topics with which they are unfamiliar (Edmodo for example).  Maybe it’s reaching out to a parent with a special observation or story about their child.  So in closing, I ask you to think about the following questions:

What am I currently doing to make sure all parents feel invited to the “party?”

How am I ensuring that parents are kept abreast of what is going on in the classroom in a general sense?

What am I doing to make sure that parents have a sense of how their individual child is progressing?

Do I reach out when things are going well or do I only reach out once there is a problem?

As we all know, Dr. Boyer was a man who was way ahead of him time.  He once said in reference to failing schools that he felt it wasn’t the school that had failed, but rather the partnership that’s failed.  I think he nailed it.  So as we go into this school year, let us recommit to our partners, the parents, and let us continuously seek ways to keep the “invitation” alive.

And just in case you ever wondered if you are making a difference, you are.  Here are a few things parents wanted to share with you….

Each day I’m am overwhelmed by the amount of smiling teachers and/or assistants greeting the kids with giant hugs and GENUINE smiles. Fills my heart with joy. Love, love, love out teachers!!!
My son’s teacher noticed right away he had lost his tooth! 😉
A comment on the way out of car line: “mommy guess what really cool thing happened at school today. All the kids REALLY loved our homework today. The way my teacher did it even the kids who don’t like homework really had fun, isn’t that cool mommy?”
My 2nd grader stood in his baseball team huddle and answered his coaches question: Whose gonna do great in school tomorrow, because you know you should keep your grades up while you play baseball. Simultaneously all the kids groaned accept my son whose voice surpassed all others yelling YES I will, I LOVE MY SCHOOL. I LOVE LEARNING!
I appreciate the warm & loving morning carpool staff and their expertise in getting my reluctant MSer out of my car:-)
At the beginning of each year, I am reminded again of what a unique environment we have. There is an energy and awareness that we are all in this together that just rarely exists elsewhere. To have my fifth grade boy hop in the car at carpool and say, “Another great day” is something that I never take for granted. To see the admin leaders at both schools working carpool and knowing each kid’s name never gets old. We are all so fortunate to have each other.
Wow!…That teacher really has me figured out…that’s not EASY!!!!!
Even in high school, the teachers rally around a student who is feeling insecure, providing extra guidance and support. My daughter rallied through a stressful 1st week of school thanks to staff and teachers! We are grateful!
It’s beautiful to see a teacher truly get your child, and deeply love them for his good qualities. Even when he can be annoying and easily distracted he is treated as her own. That’s a special teacher who is doing the job that she should be doing. Thankful for you!!!!
A BIG thing I see everywhere at CSD that I’m amazed by is how the children are ALL seen as individuals and taught in this way. My daughter sees and feels it as well and said, “I thought that at my old school they cared, but here they really care and love me and I love this school so much better.” Thanks CSD for giving my children this, you have changed all our lives by giving us an opportunity to be apart of this wonderful family!

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Weekly Staff Memo – August 23, 2013

Great Things I Noticed This Week:

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-Students using higher order thinking skills (analysis and evaluation) to describe how scientists record information in their field journals.  Rather than teachers just telling the kids the steps of the process, students had to analyze sets of notes from actual scientists and determine the common criteria.  Obviously, this is much more intellectually rigorous than simply giving students the information.  Good work!

-Teachers setting clear guidelines and expectations and then practicing routines and procedures to ensure  students understand these expectations.

-Teachers holding students highly accountable for putting forth their best effort.  Always.  Even during the next-to-last last block of Friday afternoon.

-Students acquiring new vocabulary words in a hands-on, challenging, yet fun format!

-Artists coming to life by picking up markers, gliding across the floor, or picking up a new instrument for the first time.  Magic!

-Risk-taking, by both students and teachers, as they tried new things they’ve never tried before.

-Laughter.  Smiles.  Small gestures of kindness.  Everybody pitching in to help his or her neighbor.

-New friendships being made and new identities being discovered.  This week was “clean slate” mentality at its finest.

-A teacher connecting with a student who is particularly hard to reach, and then making him feel safe enough to express remorse and deliver a heart-felt apology – something that has been so very hard for him to do.

-Teachers greeting their students individually as they walked into the classroom, as well as stepping outside of their rooms during classes to help with hallway monitoring.

-Advisories that meet in the gym eating at tables – and not on the floor!  YAY!  I loved walking around at advisory and seeing all of the groups eating together “family-style.”  Keep up the great work!

Upcoming Events:

-CSD Sports Bonanza Event is this Sunday, August 25th from 5-8 at the High School.  We would love to you all come out and join the fun!  For more information, visit the crier:

– Explore Electives start on Monday.  A HUGE thank you to all staff members involved in the organization or implementation of this program!

-Juli and Dana will visit grade level teams during Monday and Wednesday lunch/planning time this week to conduct EpiPen training and go through some back-to-school nuts and bolts.

-“How to Make Videos Using the Promethean” training by Chase Martin at the High School on Wednesday at 3:30.  Sign up here!

-K-8 Ident-a-Kid on Wednesday

-6th Grade Teachers – Please be in touch with each of your advisees’ families about the TDap Immunization.  This is extremely important.  By State Law, we must receive the form by the 1st day of school.  Parents/Guardians must supply either the Immunization form or a Religious or Medical Exemption form (available on the CSD website under Forms and Documents).  If it is not turned in by September 15 (the end of the 30 calendar day grace period), we are required by law to suspend their child.  So I need you to reach out individually to your advisees’ parents to ensure this important paperwork has been taken care of.  When I last spoke with Pauline, we were missing MANY forms.  Please don’t reach out to Pauline to see who has turned in the form as this slows her down and takes her away from other time-sensitive tasks.  Maybe just create a quick survey for your advisory and then go from there.  Thank you for your help with this!

Nuts and Bolts Notes and Reminders:

-When you are outside on the blacktop with your classes, please make sure that one adult is in charge of helping students to remember to put away all equipment in the locked storage bin.  It is the kids’ responsibility to clean up after themselves, but it’s our responsibility to remind them and then hold them accountable for doing so.  Thanks for your help with this!

-If you’re looking for an extra set of hands in your classroom on Monday or Tuesday of this week, Juli would love to help!  Sign up by clicking here –

-From what I am hearing, taking attendance in PowerSchool is going well!  The 8:20 dismissal from the gym seems to be working far better than 8:15, so we will keep it up.

Professional Development Corner:

Anyone interested in participating in a book study on Robyn Jackson’s Never Work Harder Than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching click here –

I look forward to learning and growing with you!

Inspiration/Funny/Just Because…

~Thought for the week – Where are you?  What do you have?  What can you do?


Have a GREAT weekend.



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