August 28, 2018
Dear Parish School Families and Friends:
Welcome to the 2018-2019 academic year! Our Monarch instructional team is excited to begin and or resume our work with you in partnership. Our team has been diligent in modeling our school’s motto, Always Learning, this summer and we have some exciting new programs and projects to share as the result of our continued studies and professional growth. Our annual theme for 2018-2019 is Share the Key to the Kingdom which is based on the scripture passage 1 John 3:18, Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. Our stewardship plan for the year involves every student and provides many home to school connections. We can’t wait to live out our theme through action that marks us as followers of the Way and they will know we are Christian through our LOVE.
We LOVE to read and write…Our summer of learning included additional focus on our reading and writing programs, specifically in an effort to more fully meet the varied and unique needs of each learner. In education we call this “differentiation” but in our classrooms we simply say that we are honing in on the needs of each learner. This means that our teachers are not simply teaching to the middle, rather they are building plans that allow our learners to reach their fullest potential. This is accomplished through “just right reading material” and targeted writing exercises that enable them to build impact through small moments, use of blended learning platforms such as Moby Max and Study Island to develop individual skills based upon computer adaptive diagnostics and individualized presentation of curricular standards. We have augmented our classroom libraries to include more high interest literature and a greater span of genres to ensure that our learners are engaged and in love with what they read. We have lined up a few author visits including one in September from Barney Saltzberg http://www.barneysaltzberg.com/ and another in October from Gary D. Schmidt, two-time Newbery Honor-winning author and National Book Award Finalist http://www.hmhbooks.com/schmidt/.
We have skills and share them with others…Some of our teachers have been asked to help coach teachers at other schools because of the instructional skills they possess. Sharing with others makes us very happy! Thank you to Mrs. Melissa Kirby and Mrs. Rhobley Montelongo for serving as instructional coaches and mentors!
We are #AlwaysLearning…Beyond reading and writing, we had teachers participate in all kinds of professional development including the “Get Your Teach On” National Conference in San Diego, Penland School of Crafts in Ashville, North Carolina, and a local conference on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Teens. Several members of our administrative and instructional teams engaged in faith formation and catechetical development programs through the University of Dayton, Life Teen Youth Ministry Training Conference, and the Institute for Pastoral Ministry to refine our skills, grow in our own faith, and to feed our souls. Lastly, one of our 5th grade teachers became a member of the University of Notre Dame Remick Leadership Program and she is working in collaboration with our assistant principals to introduce a new positive behavior instruction program. We traveled, we read, we questioned, we saw, and we grew because we too are “Always Learning”.
We have planned with the end in mind….We look forward to sharing our plans for the year with you at our annual Back to School Nights and you can be sure to find our curricular goals for each content area contained in our grade level syllabus because as educators, we know what we need to cover, but more importantly, we know where we want our learners to be at the end of the year…so we start with that end in mind. We have planned, mapped, discussed, researched, and formed goals that are meaningful to the holistic formation of our learners.
We have added to our curriculum and want to partner with parents…We are happy to share some recent developments and innovations for the year with all of you. First, we have added a health course to the curriculum for 5th through 8th grades. This course will be taught by Mrs. Emily Beane and will focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet, the importance of sleep for a developing brain, how exercise can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, emotional virtue and well-being, managing stress, communication skills, and more. We are pleased to complement this curriculum for our students and parents this year with an October visit from Sarah Swafford, author of Emotional Virtue: A Guide to Drama-Free Relationships. You can find out more about Sarah at her website: http://www.emotionalvirtue.com/home/about-sarah/. We look forward to hosting her and learning more about how we can support the healthy habits of our learners.
In addition to the new health course, our Learning Support Teacher for 5th – 8th grade, Mrs. Tedda Duhey, has taken a 10-week course on Mindfulness and she has researched the most powerful study skills in an effort to craft a new 5th grade study skills class which we will roll out this fall. We have listened to our students and their parents and know that you would like for us to teach our learners how to study.
We have adjusted our course schedule to accommodate for more instructional assistant support in core subjects such as math and English Language Arts. We welcome Mrs. Barbara Franz to the instructional support team, she will be working exclusively in our 7th and 8th grade Math Lab to support individual students and small groups in Mr. Loungarikis’ math classes. She is based in his classroom and will serve as a dedicated math assistant. Likewise in Mrs. Ghahreman’s 5th and 6th grade Math Lab, Mrs. Lazinski will provide additional instructional support for individuals and small groups. All coursework in math will be augmented with use of our blended learning platforms. We will host after school office hours for math in 5th – 8th grade this year. We are here to help…all our learners need to do is ask!
We aim to develop leaders…This year we will focus on developing young leaders through programs like our Student Council, Monarch Ambassadors, and our new Campus Ministry Program called “The Lions and the Lambs”. Thank you to Mrs. Ashleigh Vachon for taking the lead and developing our Monarch Ambassador Program, you will see this group serving as ushers at school Masses, song leaders, and more. Our Campus Ministry Program is being coordinated by Mrs. Chelsea Tarin, Miss Mary Driscoll, and Ms. Teresa Sorenson and we look forward to post Mass potluck nights, sharing in praise and worship opportunities, and community service projects. Please be on the lookout for more information to follow about this 4th – 8th grade program.
We have adjusted our schedules to enable a well-rounded curriculum…We have added to our instructional team in an effort to provide project-based learning for every grade level through our Makerspace Lab which will be used all year, by every grade level from TYKE through 8th grade. We welcome a new Makerspace Coordinator, Miss Bri Schachtell, who brings with her experience in running a Catholic, multi-grade level camp. In addition, on Fridays, Mrs. Anne Hedges will work with our TYKE and Kindergarten teams to further explore the visual arts. The lab is looking great and we can’t wait to share it with everyone!
We have focused on campus safety and security….This summer we have invested even more in our campus security plan and equipment. New locked gates have been installed along the playground fence to allow for points of egress in emergencies. We have trained our team on how to conduct lock-down procedures and emergency evacuation. We have invested time in our safety and disaster plans and host a safety committee that includes members of law enforcement, emergency responders, and healthcare providers to ensure that we have considered every angle of preparation. We have augmented our supervision team for student arrival, recess, lunch, and dismissal to ensure more comprehensive coverage of our facility. We have again contracted with All City Management to have a crossing guard available at the intersection of Calle La Primavera and Old Bridge to support safe crossing of streets.
We have great news to share….We love to share our “Always Learning” stories with others to please be sure to follow our school officially on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stedschool or on Instagram at http://instagram.com/theparishschoolatstedward to get the latest instructional news and updates.
We stand ready to serve you….Please know that I am available to you as needed throughout the academic year and we also have an incredible team of Assistant Principals ready to serve you. I encourage you to email me or any member of our team directly with questions, suggestions, or concerns. My email address is CMuzzy@StEdSchool.org, please note that I set my own calendar and email is the preferred method of contact as I am often roaming the campus throughout the school day.
Always Learning (really),
Catherine C. Muzzy, Ed.D.