Thursday, December 20, 2018

Happy New Year....Almost

There is a chill and a great deal of excitement in the air. With one more day to go until break, everyone is excited and ready to enjoy time with family, friends and their pillows! I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a joyous holiday season and prosperous, happy and healthy New Year.

It seems like school just started and we are a third of the way through the year. Students have already shown so much growth and continue to impress us every. We have such a special learning community here at Conant. Everyone (teachers, parents, administrators) works together to ensure the best for our students and it shows. I find our children to be engaging, respectful and eager learners who challenges, friendships and fun. Thank you all for being such an important part of our community.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Thanksgiving is Near!

Personally I cannot believe that we have Thanksgiving break this week. It seems like yesterday we were opening up for the new school year. This has been a very busy month and a little family time will do us all some good. So far, it seems like the weather will be keeping us all on our toes. Make sure you update those powerschool emergency cards with your most current information so you can be notified of school closings and delays. Hopefully we won't have many of them this year. Updating that cards is just the first step in being prepared for winter.

 Just to remind you, we have outdoor recess unless it is raining or dangerously cold. Students need fresh air so please ensure your child is prepared for the weather. Coats, boots, hats, mittens or gloves and lots of layers help children stay warm outside and regulate their temperature inside. The temperature in the school can be variable at times so it is important for children to have a sweater or sweatshirt they can put on or take off to make themselves more comfortable throughout the day. As students get older they may argue that they don’t need a coat, don’t believe them...they get cold outside so go ahead and force the issue. Tell them they won’t look cool if they look freezing cold. 

This is also the time of year when the dredded cold virus starts to hit everyone. Parents are often confused about when they should or should not send their children to school. We all realize you know your children best but there are times when you should never send a sick child to school. If a child has a fever that has not been gone for more than 12 hours without medication and when a child has been vomiting and it has been less than 24 hours since he/she last was sick. When fevers are masked with medication and when a child has been vomiting and 24 hours has not passed, you endanger the entire school population when you send your child to school. Please help us all stay safe.

Of course, we here at the Conant School are all aware of how much we have to be thankful for. We have wonderful children, supportive families and amazing colleagues. We thank you all for your continued support and for allowing us to part of your lives every day! Happy Thanksgiving to all.
 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Chill in The Air

Hello Conant Families!

Mid October is already here even though it feels a bit more like December today. As you know we are holding our amazing annual craft fair on Sunday. Thank you in advance for all who have volunteered to help and if you haven't, we can still use you. Sign up, the day is a lot of fun. Our PTO has their own website. Book mark it and sign up for the weekly news flash to stay up to date on all of our fun activities.

As the weather changes, so does the temperature in the school. Heating an older building is sometimes difficult with some rooms being warmer than others. It is always a good idea for children to dress in layers so that they can add one if they are chilly or remove one if they are too warm. It is very important that you stay tuned into the weather as some students feel shorts and t shirts are appropriate year round. They do need your guidance and even when they fight you about what to wear, they are happy when they are not freezing at recess.

MCAS scores should have been emailed home by the district, if you have not received scores, let us know and we will help get them to you. Always remember that MCAS scores are a data point for a child's performance over a short period of time. If you are ever concerned over test results, consult with your child's teacher as she/he always has a better view of a child's overall development. MCAS is one data point, the teachers have many!

As always, we are thankful that you share your wonderful children with us every day. We see endless potential on our students and want them to enjoy learning, learn from mistakes and realize that their effort is the ket to success. Remind them of the power of yet; if you can;t do something, you can't do it yet. With effort, you'll achieve your goals. there is no stronger message children can receive that that. Reward hard work over perfect scores and they will develop strong work habits and a love of learning. Enjoy the fall, snow will be here before we know it! Go Sox, Go Pats, Go Celtics and Go Bruins!!


Thursday, February 1, 2018

What Makes Conant Special?

Conant is a very special place. Here is a piece of my K-Night presentation that, I think, shows our strengths as a learning community.

The motto here at Conant for many years has been “the whole child is the whole idea”. We truly believe that each person (student, parent, and staff member) should feel valued and respected as an individual. We believe that lifelong learning is essential and that a stimulating and nurturing environment should be provided so that students experience success and feel the challenges and joy associated with learning. Students must be emotionally ready to learn, if they are in crisis or attention is required to support a student’s mental health, we make that our focus and make academics secondary. Once the student is back on track, then we can shift the focus back to learning.

We all know that within a classroom, there are many types of students with many different strengths. Instruction here at Conant is designed to allow all students, no matter what their learning style, strengths or challenges may be, the opportunity to experience success. The teachers here at Conant are masters at matching instructional methods with the needs of the children in front of them. Students at Conant experience project based learning, cooperative learning, independent challenges, long term projects, varied assessments and differentiated opportunities to share their knowledge. Because of our rich curriculum and more importantly the ability of our teachers to vary instructional methodologies, all students here at Conant experience the joys of success through strong effort and become internally motivated to learn rather than motivated by external factors like grades.

So what does this look like? In any given week,one can enter a classroom several times and see students performing a scene to show an understanding of the book they are currently reading, a group project, students working independently with a Math app with iPads or chromebooks, students working in a small group with the teacher and a whole class discussion about a topic from history. I also see, no matter what the assignment or project may be, students being praised for effort, students supporting each other and comfortable, yet respectful conversations between students and adults.

Conant is a community. Parents are vital to our success and are welcomed. Our PTO and staff work together to bring us all together throughout the year for a variety of events like our upcoming ice cream social, our annual craft fair, movie nights, pumpkin fest, breakfast with families and many more. Parents can chair events, hold officer positions on the board or simply volunteer an hour or two at an event. Parents often volunteer in our classrooms and our Library as well.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Conant Winter Reminders

Dear Conant Families,

Its back! Winter has come once again. Along with the fun of the season, there are also some items to remember when it comes to school. Although it looks like tomorrow’s storm may be missing us, the timing is a good opportunity to refresh our collective memories about school cancellations and delays. The best way to stay informed about school cancellations or delays is to ensure you have the correct phone numbers listed on your online emergency card in PowerSchool. This document connects to our automated phone and messaging  system called Bright Arrow. When school is cancelled or delayed, a call will go to all numbers in that system informing families about what is happening. Cancellations and delays will also be listed on major news outlets for the area.

If school is cancelled then all activities are cancelled. Sometimes there is a delay called which allows some extra time for the DPW and school personnel to finish clearing snow but does not cancel an entire day. Usually this is a two hour delay but it could be 90 minutes or one hour. Often, on these days, many students arrive too early for school. On a normal day, students may start to arrive at school at 8:05.
  • If there is a one hour delay, students should not arrive before 9:05.
  • If there is a 90 minute delay, students should not arrive before 9:35.
  • If there is a two hour delay, students should not arrive before 10:05.
  • When there is a delay, school will end at the regular time the day is NOT extended.
Please adhere to these guidelines to ensure your child is safe.

Unless it is raining or dangerously cold, students will go out to recess. Please ensure your child has appropriate gear for cold and snow when she/he comes to school. Often, older students will choose to look tough and not wear their gear. Don’t hesitate to be the boss and make them wear it. We will do the same here at school. We want to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable while enjoying the winter wonderland around us.

I personally love this weather. It is one of the joys of living in New England. I want to make sure everyone remains safe and sound so they can enjoy it too. Thank you in advance for your attention to these details. If you ever have questions, please contact us! Enjoy the season!

Sincerely,

Damian J. Sugrue

Principal

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Welcome October!

The first month of school has certainly flown by quickly. We were very fortunate to start the year with a sparkling clean building, most of our supplies, wonderful students and families and outstanding teachers and staff members. I was very impressed with our strong turnout for our open houses and the support shown for our PTO at their recent events. Conant is truly a special community.

As you learned at open house, we are launching an exciting literacy initiative this month involving the trait of belonging. Look for examples of this work throughout the month and ask your children about what they are learning about belonging. When you read together, discuss examples of belonging to develop the concept and further build a love of reading.

We spoke about the new homework policy at open house and there is an informational evening on the 24th of this month as well (details are forthcoming). Here at Conant, we’ve been exploring this issue for a few years. Some may see a reduction in the amount of homework but the focus and purpose of homework will be stronger. I’ve been asked by parents how they can teach their children time management and responsibility if they do not have homework every night. My suggestion is to teach your children to help out at home. Assign chores, get them involved in cooking and assign time for them to “amuse” themselves without electronics. Make them go outside and play. They will eventually get tired of telling you they are bored and will begin to explore the yard, exercise or find friends to play with.

The world is a much more complex place for children now then when we was growing up. Don’t forget that you are the most important teacher your children will ever have. We also know we  have a strong influence and try our best everyday to instill the values of hard work, empathy and kindness while also teaching the curriculum but our time is limited. You have the time and power to provide your children with experiences and activities that enrich their learning and build skills, you also have the power to ensure they get unstructured time to build their own understanding of the world. Striking a balance in the key to strong development.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

PTO and Classroom Assistants

Hopefully by now you’ve seen the fact that the Conant PTO has reached their fundraising goal for the year. This doesn’t mean they can’t raise more but they have hit an important goal. I want to thank the PTO board for all of their hard work and the Conant community for their generous support. The PTO supports the school by bringing in amazing enrichment activities, helping teachers buy classroom materials, funding student scholarships for field trips, running community events to bring us all together and a large portion of their fundraising also goes towards paying for assistants in the classrooms.

Parents have been asking why there is a need for classroom assistants and what they do. We have many types of assistants at Conant. Some work with students with IEP’s helping students meet their academic goals and access the curriculum; some monitor our lunchroom and playgrounds and others (the assistants funded by the PTO) assist teachers in classrooms. While the work done by our Special Education assistants and Lunch/Recess monitors are widely understood, I’d like to inform the community about how our classroom assistants help in the learning process.

A very small portion of classroom assistant time is dedicated to helping teachers with class preparation like copying papers. A majority of their time is spent with students. Classroom assistants help with reading groups and class projects. They sometimes help struggling students develop conceptual ideas or work with a large portion of the class so teachers can reteach topics to students who need more direct instruction to understand a topic. Classroom assistants also cover classrooms so teachers may attend meetings about students. Their presence allows teachers to better differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the many types of learners present in the classroom. We all know that the one-size fits all approach to teaching is not effective and the presence of assistants helps classroom teachers offer the curriculum in a variety of ways to smaller groups within the classroom to ensure an opportunity for success for all children.

The school district does provide funding for assistants every year but without our PTO support, the number of assistant hours available would drop significantly. This is why support of the PTO both financially and with your time is so important. This cannot happen without people! Currently, there are many open positions on committees that run our most successful events. For example, the largest fundraiser, the annual Conant Craft Fair needs a chair or several co-chairs. Without someone stepping in, the event could be lost and other Acton PTO’s would love to take this event over. Is it a lot of work? Yes…but many hands make light work and much of it can be fun if you work with a group. In the simplest terms I can use; we need people to step up.

Below is a list of the PTO positions that are open. Please remember, no one job requires a person to work alone, chair positions can be held by a group to make it more fun and share the work.

1.-Craft Fair- Many openings. We are sending physical copies, using news flash and our web site as well.

2.-Grants committee

3.-Cultural Enrichment- 2 positions

4.-Games night- co team leader with Mrs. Wilcox

5.- Kidstuff Coupon Books

6.-Secretary


Please consider getting involved. If you have questions contact the PTO or better yet, come to a meeting and meet thee wonderful people involved and ask questions. You’ll be glad you did!