A Newsletter for Families of Morris Elementary School
Happy Back to School to all Morris Families;
We have had a very busy start to our year at Morris Elementary School!! I am happy to be returning to this school and community as your principal. As you may have already heard, I am planning to retire at the end of the school year. I have been in education for a total of 34 years and I was fortunate to be selected as the interim Principal at Morris and then offered a contract to stay on. It has been a wonderful experience and I am sincerely grateful to have my career come to a close in a great school and community.
This newsletter is one way to stay informed and up-to-date with your child’s education, please be sure to check their backpacks and folders EVERY DAY! Don’t forget our district web site that can be found at lenoxps.org. This is also a good source of information and there is a Morris School page there as well. You can also find our district calendar there for important dates and events. Even with these forms of communication, backpack checks are the best habit to establish so you don’t miss any daily information from the teacher or the school.
The start of school has been very busy as we get working on the many goals we have for this year. We have 316 students who have begun the learning process in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. The staff did a tremendous job in setting up the classrooms for the beginning of school and the whole building looks very friendly and inviting. Our custodial crew worked hard through the summer months to thoroughly clean the building as well as wax all of the floors. It is a challenge to keep a building that houses about 400 people in good shape, but it looks terrific! In order to properly maintain our school, we need to make some repairs and replacements each summer according to what can be budgeted. This year, there was an urgent need for significant repair and construction at the middle and high school, so Morris did not see any work other than the usual maintenance. We are fortunate to have a nice facility.
The annual challenge of the new year traffic problems didn’t disappoint once again. We have had some hectic days trying to get all of the drop-off and pick-ups done as well as do our best to avoid the back-up of traffic on West Street. Things always get better as everyone gets back into the routine and more students ride the bus. I strongly encourage riding the bus since it is free transportation that is almost door to door.
As happens every summer, there have been some changes in our Morris School Staff. Ms Shannon O’Brien is our new first grade teacher taking over that role for Ms Pamela Mason who will be retiring this fall. Meanwhile, Ms Mason is the Title I intervention teacher replacing Mrs. Lynn Schmitter following her retirement last June. When Ms Mason retires, Mrs. Jennifer Culver will assume the Title I teaching positon. Ms Kate Olender is joining us as the Technology Instructor replacing Ms Denise Jezak following her June retirement. We have also had some changes with our paraprofessional staffing. Amy Pires and Carrie Mead have joined us working with the special services department. I want to wish all of our staff a wonderful year as they work hard each day to provide the best we can for our students. For those staff members who left, we wish you the best in your new endeavors.
Open House was held on September 5th with many families visiting the school, seeing your child’s classroom and meeting the teachers. I enjoyed having the opportunity to meet new people and seeing familiar faces again. It was also nice to have the Morris Parent/Teacher Organization (P.T.O.) available in the lobby supplying some snacks and answering questions for interested parents. Becoming an active member in the P.T.O. is a great way to support your children and their education while helping with various activities that enrich our students’ elementary school lives.
September is quickly passing and we are already experiencing some colds and the flu season is just around the corner. Please remember, proper hand-washing is a great defense against those germs!! If your child is feeling sick and is staying home from school, please call the office to inform us. While we strongly encourage good attendance, it is best for all, if children who are sick stay home to recover especially if a fever is one of the symptoms. The general rule of thumb is that the patient needs to be symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school.
School safety is a vital part of our role as educators. We have had our successful first fire drills during the first week of school and the students did a great job of efficiently evacuating the building. We will conduct more safety drills throughout the year to ensure that everyone knows how to react to an emergency situation that we hope will never happen.
Benchmark reading and math assessments have been completed and we are starting the progress monitoring process to measure students’ growth. These assessments will help teachers modify instruction to meet the students’ needs based on the results of this data. You, at home, can help make your student’s educational journey more successful. READ, READ, and READ every day with them whether they are in pre-K or 5th grade and practice those basic math facts too!!
The MCAS test results will soon be released and students in grades 4 and 5 should receive their reports in late September or early October. We will be working very hard this year to meet our goals for this next round of testing, which are scheduled for April and May.
The MCAS test is only one measurement of a student’s success, but it is the only assessment that the state and federal agencies use to rate our performance as a school and district. While it is important to have testing and accountability, it is still our primary focus to provide a well-rounded educational experience for our students to best prepare them for the next phase in their education. Our educational staff of teachers and paraprofessionals work diligently to teach our students and we hope that this will be demonstrated in these standardized tests. Over the next several months, we will analyze the results and use the information to improve teaching practices to address weaknesses that were found. Education involves both home and school, so the more students at this level read and engage in conversation with family at home, the more they will grow in their knowledge base. Together, we can give these children the best opportunity in their lives through a strong education!
Below are some important reminders that I hope you take the time to read. Please know that you are welcome to contact me or your child’s teacher if you need clarification on any of these notes.
A few reminders…
- Remember to put your child’s name on their belongings (sweatshirts, hats, coats, lunchboxes, boots, etc.) so that we can return items that wind up in lost & found.
- Send a note to your child’s teacher any time there is a change in dismissal routine.
- Please do your very best to have your child(ren) to school on time each day. Tardy students miss key morning instructions and it is good to teach them this important trait early on. It has been a custom to have “Perfect Attendance awards annually at Morris. In recent years, this has been more of a negative thing than positive with kids coming in sick and conflicts over attendance records. Therefore, we are no longer continuing this practice. Students are supposed to be in school and we want them to be here when they are healthy.
- At Morris School, we always try our best to be a welcoming community, but sometimes we are just really busy. Many times parents stop in and want to talk with their child’s teacher or another staff member. While we try to accommodate the request, there may be times when you will have to schedule another time. So, the best thing to do if you need a meeting is to call or e-mail to set up a time that works for all parties. Thank you.
- Keep in mind that all volunteers (including field trip chaperones) need to be CORI checked. CORI checks require the person to fill out a form and have a copy of both the front and back of your valid driver’s license. We are happy to make that copy here at school. I sincerely thank everyone for the gift of your time and we love to have your participation with the school. Please plan ahead so that we have time to complete this before a scheduled event like Field Day in the spring.
There’s a chill in the air and the pumpkins and mums are popping up on doorsteps. The costume conversation has already begun, candy is on the store shelves and there are more and more leaves in my yard!! Fall is here for sure!
Have a wonderful September and October
with more treats than tricks!!
Coming in October…
- 10/02 – Picture Make-up Day
- 10/08– P.T.O. Meeting 6:00p.m. in the library
- 10/08 – Morris School Council – 5:00 – conference room
- 10/14 -Columbus Day – No School
- 10/23 – In-Service ½ day – Noon dismissal
- 11/05 – Teacher and Staff In-service (Full Day) – No school for students
- 11/11 – Veterans’ Day – No School
- 11/27 – 11/29 – Thanksgiving Break
(Check backpacks & folders daily for homework and notices.)