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Summer Update from Principal Stimpson!

Greetings, New and Returning Brandon Families and Community!

I hope this update finds you enjoying a relaxing and fun-filled summer. While I am squeezing in some time for that as well, I also remain hard at work preparing for an exciting 2016-2017 school year. Now that it has quieted down a bit at the school, I wanted to take a moment to recap some of our accomplishments from this school year and share some new things in store for the coming year.

The Year in Review

The 2015-2016 school year marked my 2nd year at Morris Brandon, and I am proud of the growth I have been able to see in our students and school. The challenge at a school with as rich a history of excellence as Brandon is to maintain all that is excellent while also continuing to grow and improve. Over the past two years, we have done just that. Most notable to me from this current year includes:

  • Student success on the first ever administration of the more rigorous Georgia Milestones assessments where 95% or more of all 3rd-5th grade students demonstrated success in each subject area;
  • An increase in our CCRPI score from 92 in 2013-2014 to a 93.5 for 2014-2015 (scores were just released this school year for last year);
  • A continued focus by all teachers on infusing writing instruction and opportunities into all subject areas;
  • Continued growth of faculty in utilizing student data to inform instructional decisions and provide a tailored learning experience for students;
  • A continued improvement in our Special Education program resulting in higher student achievement for students in this subgroup;
  • The successful year of construction of the Primary Campus which will finish on schedule this month;
  • The implementation of four school-wide community service projects;
  • The continuation of the countless events, activities, and traditions that make Brandon such a great place for a child and family to be!

The Year Ahead

As we look forward to the coming school year, we have worked hard to analyze our progress, assess our needs and any possible gaps in our programming, and innovate to offer the best experience we can for our students. To that end, here are some highlights and items to note for the 2016-2017 school year:

  • Specials: All students will have 2 “Specials” blocks daily. That means each student will have 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 will not have French, they will have one extra recess weekly, one rotation in the Science Lab weekly, and one time for parent volunteer activity weekly. We are very excited about finding a way to fit in everything that is important in elementary education into our schedule and particularly excited about the addition of weekly Technology class for all students and weekly Science Lab time for K-1.
  • Science Labs: Speaking of Science Labs, we are building out a classroom space at each campus this summer that will function as a Science Lab. This is 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. While K-1 will have Lab time weekly, 2nd-5th will also have lab time scheduled by their teachers during their Science blocks. We look forward to igniting our students’ love of Science!
  • Math: We will be using a new Math resource this year called Eureka Math. This will replace Everyday Math as our primary Math curriculum resource. Our teachers will be trained on the new materials this summer and continuing throughout the year. As we transition to this new program, we have also evaluated the impact of the Advanced Math program we have offered the past two years. With district guidance, we have opted to discontinue the practice of students being placed into Advanced Math and switching teachers for Math class in 4th grade. The current 4th graders in Advanced Math will be scheduled to finish out this model in 5th grade this year, however, we will not create 4th grade classes based on Math ability beginning this year. After data reviews, teacher feedback, district feedback, and IB feedback from our IB report, we have concluded that this model is not the best fit for Brandon. What will continue and be expected is that all teachers offer enrichment in Math to any student who is demonstrating the ability to master the content more quickly. We are working with enhancing the ability of all teachers to offer this expected level of differentiation within their classroom.
  • Opening of the PC Addition: We are on target and on schedule to start the new year with K-2 at the Primary Campus and 3-5 at the Main Campus. We are working hard this summer to ensure that everything is in place for this transition, and I cannot wait for you to see the new addition. It is beautiful! The addition of the new playground makes this space even more special, so thank you for the efforts to raise the money for this! The kids are going to truly enjoy it every day!
  • Dual Language Immersion: We have our first cohort of DLI students ready to go in Kindergarten. There has been a great deal of excitement about this program, and we are thrilled to launch our inaugural, pilot year with 50 Kindergarten students who will spend half of their day learning in English and the other half in Spanish every day! We expect to grow this program and offer a new cohort in Kindergarten every year. If you are at the PC and go by Senora Santiago’s classroom, please remember, Spanish speaking only 🙂

As you can see, there is a lot in store for 2016-2017. I wish each of you a fantastic summer, and I look forward to seeing you August 1st between 11:00 and 1:00 for our Celebration of Learning.

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.

Sincerely,
Kara Stimpson
Principal

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