First Quarter Updates 2016
Greetings, Brandon Families and Community!
Now that we are finished with this first quarter of the school year and everyone is fully settled into their routines, it is time to update you on all things Brandon!
In my last letter, shared over the summer, I shared with you many of the new and exciting things we had in store for this school year. I want to remind you of those and draw them to your attention as I hope you have seen the implementation of each one.
- Specials: All students have 2 “Specials” blocks daily. This is unique to Morris Brandon, and we are thrilled with how this has been implemented so far this year. I hope you see the commitment to the whole child and our commitment to making sure all time is maximized. Each student has 10 blocks of time each week allocated to Art, Music, PE (2 times weekly), French (grades 2-5: 3 days weekly), Technology, Classroom Guidance, and Media Center. For our K-1 students who do not have French, they have one extra recess weekly, one rotation in the Science Lab weekly, and one time for parent volunteer activity weekly.
- Science Labs: As part of our effort to focus on Science teaching and learning and ensure all teachers have access to the space and resources they need to make Science engaging, fun, hands-on, and inquiry-based, we have built out our Science Labs at each campus and are seeing them used daily! Ask your child about the labs they have done this year. Huge thanks to our parent committee who has worked tirelessly to help us set up and inventory these spaces.
- Math: In line with all North Atlanta cluster elementary schools, we are using a new Math resource this year called Eureka Math. We are excited about the resources this program provides to our teachers and students and how well it aligns with the curriculum standards and the Standards of Mathematical Practice that we are charged with teaching to our students. We held our first Eureka Math Parent Night just last week, and I believe the over 50 attendees found this evening to be very helpful. We have shared a comprehensive Parent Resource list via the website to assist you with supporting at home. We are thrilled to see our children’s success as measured by the Module 1 assessments that have already been conducted in Grades 2-5. Through our observations, the students are truly growing their understanding of mathematical concepts and their reasoning abilities.
- Dual Language Immersion: Our inaugural, pilot group of 50 Kindergarten students who are spending half of their day learning in English and the other half in Spanish are doing great! If you are at the PC and go by Senora Santiago’s classroom, please remember, Spanish speaking only ☺ We are encouraged by the students’ rapid acquisition of the Spanish language all while keeping up with their Kindergarten peers in other content areas. We will begin advertising for next year’s DLI cohort during 2nd semester!
As you can see, we have a lot going on! In addition to these items that I shared with you in advance of this year, we have embarked on other work as well. I want to take a moment to highlight some of that below.
- Hives: As I am sure your child(ren) has shared, every staff member and student are part of either the Blue, Yellow, Green, or Orange Hive. This is an effort to make our large school feel a little smaller by connecting students and staff members across grade levels and campuses all while promoting our IB Learner Profile and Attitudes. Any staff member can award Hive Points when they notice a student or students living out the IB expectations. Our students have responded very well to this and are taking pride in representing their Hive! We have our first quarterly Hive Celebration on October 14. At this celebration we will share the Hive who earned the most points first quarter. We will also take this opportunity to recognize some students selected by each grade level of teachers as a way of promoting excellence in conduct, attitudes, work habits, and academics!
- Strategic Plan: This year, all schools in our school district have GO Teams. These teams were voted in last spring and are comprised of staff members and parent representatives. The GO Team meeting calendar, agendas and minutes are all posted on the website. You are always welcome to attend and listen in to GO Team Meetings. The primary work of the GO Team this school year is to create a Strategic Plan which we will implement in 2017-18. As we do this work, we are examining our IB Evaluation Report which we received last school year, our academic achievement data, our CCRPI scores, and our current programming to determine the best route forward in living out our school’s vision and mission. I encourage you to stay informed by following the work of our GO Team as we craft our Strategic Plan. At this month’s meeting, we will be hearing from the district’s IB Coordinator who will help advise as we craft the strategies for our Strategic Plan. After our October 13th meeting, we will communicate a plan to update the community on our progress to date on strategic planning. Stay tuned!
Thank you for your continued involvement, investment, and collaboration! It is through our partnership with our parents that we are able to continue to provide an excellent education “on purpose”! Thank you for partnering with us on this journey.