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Letters from Principal Bland

Letters from Principal Bland

Here you will find periodic letters from Principal Bland.  Typically the letters are the introduction to each BeeMail. For the Past BeeMail Newsletter Editions, click here.

  • Bees Heading to South Africa!

    Greetings Parents and Community Members! I hope everyone enjoyed their first week back at work since Thanksgiving! You won’t believe the amount of cool things that took place at our amazing school since we last spoke. I never run out of things to talk about – the challenge is fitting it all in to one BeeMail!  In just one week: Read more

  • Welcome Back!

    Greetings Parents and Community Members! And we’re back! Just like that, Thanksgiving has come and gone. I had a great time with family and friends during my time off but we’re back in the full swing of things at Brandon Elementary and I cannot believe how fast the year has gone. While there is only one more month left in the semester, there is so much taking place before we leave on 12/21. We have International Travelers Week where we’ll be going to South Africa, our annual holiday performances and holiday parties, and, of course quality daily instruction happening in every classroom, and so much has happened since we last spoke! Read more

  • Bee Thankful and Bee Safe Over the Break!

    Greetings Parents and Community Members! Another week is upon us and we are that much closer to Thanksgiving! It’s been a tremendous week with lots of happenings. I was able to share all of the good news, school priorities and amazing things taking place at Brandon during last week’s annual Principal Meet and Greet hosted by NAPPS (North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools) at Sarah Smith Elementary School. I spoke about our implementation of our new Wit and Wisdom ELA program and our focus around guided reading, as well as the awesome professional development we’ve been able to bring to our teachers because of generous donations from you! Read more

  • A Few Buzz-y Weeks Ahead!

    Greetings Parents and Community Members! Once again, so much has happened since the last time we spoke and, of course, I am happy to share! First and foremost, while our students were home from school yesterday, our staff was busy at work engaging in a day full of trainings and professional developments. Our entire faculty and staff came together at the Primary Center to learn once again from Brenda Fitzgerald, a leading expert in early literacy, writing and multisensory learning. She engaged our teachers in three hours of Understanding Dyslexia as we eagerly took notes and asked questions on how to best serve our students. One out of every five students has dyslexia and we want to continue learning everything we can about how to best support our students’ reading and writing. Read more

  • Happy Halloween!

    Greetings Parents and Community Members! Another week is upon us and lots of news to share! Since last Tuesday, our school has been celebrating Red Ribbon Week with all sorts of fun activities and dress-up days. The month of October is National Bullying Prevention Month and has been packed with events that unite students against negative behaviors and promote positive choices. Theme days are a fun and exciting way to integrate Red Ribbon Week and National Bullying Prevention Month Activities with No Place for Hate. I saw students wearing red in support of “RED-Y” to live a drug-free lifestyle, Put a Cap on Drugs Day (hat day), Sock it to Drugs (crazy sock day), Read more

  • Buzz-tastic Reminders

    Greetings Parents and Community Members! What a week we’ve had since we last spoke! While we continue to see amazing work and student-centered learning in every class, I’m amazed by the awesome activities that we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time! Several of our teachers were out last week finishing up their Focus on Phonics workshop and have returned with a wealth of knowledge not only in teaching how to read, but also in filling in the gaps for students who may have missed key concepts in K-2 and are now in the upper grades. Our teachers are learning how to “break the code” when it comes to reading, with an emphasis on using a multisensory approach to learning and full implementation of guided reading. We are continuing to make strides in teaching our teachers how to teach phonemic awareness at all grades, and that starts with meaningful professional development paid for by your generous donations to our Foundation. This would not be possible without YOU!  Read more

  • Welcome Back From Fall Break!

    Greetings Parents and Community Members!! We’re Back!!!! It was so great to see all of our families arriving back to school on the 15th, refreshed and ready to learn! I hope everyone had a wonderful time off, relaxing with friends and family. It even seems like many of our students grew in height over the short break 🙂 We left for Fall Break with some of the best news I’ve heard all year – together we raised $258,000 during the annual BEE FUND CAMPAIGN! I am still in awe of the amount of support our community and families show for our school. Read more

  • Last Days to Donate to the Bee Fund!

    Greetings Parents and Community Members! So much has happened since the last time we spoke! Two of the highlights over the past week were special recognitions that Brandon received from APS. First, at last week’s expanded cabinet meeting where EVERY leader in APS attends, Brandon was recognized as having the highest student attendance for the month of August! While this may not seem like a big deal, when you compare us with EVERY other school in APS (not just elementary), it’s great to see us recognized not only in front of every APS leader but also ahead of a middle school (Young) and high school (Grady). There are tons of studies that show that attendance in elementary school sets the tone for middle and high school. Students who are at school each day and ready to learn are more likely to perform better in school – it’s not rocket science! I hope that, together with our attendance team, we can win this award every month and ultimately for the year. Remember, it is our expectation that every student is present at least 90% of the time he or she is enrolled at school and is here each day by 8:00am ready to learn and grow. Second, I have to give a special shout-out to our Special Education department and co-teachers who were at Brandon last year. Read more

  • Last Days to Donate to the Bee Fund, BEElieve in Brandon today!

    Greetings Parents and Community Members! Can you believe another week has passed since we last spoke?? Before you know it, it will be Fall Break (10/8-10/12) and we will be well on our way to the second quarter of the school year. I make it a habit every day to visit every single classroom at either the Primary or Main Campus (and so does my team). I love seeing the learning taking place everywhere I go and especially the morning circles that our teachers always begin each day with. A lot has happened since the last time we met! Read more

  • Bee Clean – For Everyone’s Cars!

    Greetings Parents and Community Members: Another week has passed since we last spoke and the amount of learning and engagement we’ve seen in the classroom has been tremendous! It has been a big week for not just our students, but also for our staff as well. We were able to come together for our PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) last week and learn from district resource Dr. Katelyn Plescoe as we took a deep dive into interpreting our data.  We learned that for grade 3-5 students, the best predictor of Georgia Milestone achievement is actually how they did the year before! We took that knowledge and are beginning to learn about the correlations of past performance on GMAS with past STAR assessments. Did you know that a student’s Fall STAR score is HIGHLY correlated with how they will do on their end-of-year assessment 8 months later? When teachers know this data, they can begin to really drill down on what students need while keeping the anticipated end result in mind. Read more

  • Falling into Line

    Greetings Parents and Community Members: We are back to another full week of school with lots of exciting happenings around the building! One of my favorite things that took place last week was our grade level check-ins that happened across the school in grades k-5. Our admin team took the time to meet with ALL of our students in order to reinforce our Essential Agreements and conduct a check-in with students to see how the first month of school has gone. I love this time because we are able to focus in on individual grade levels in a small, quiet environment as we continue to speak about what it means to be kind, accepting and well-behaved no matter where you are, what building you are in, or what school bus you ride. There are always times when children do not follow our behavior expectations, but understand that we are here to TEACH and MODEL what is expected of a Morris Brandon student as our children often learn lifetime behaviors during the early years of education. Read more

  • Happy Wednesday!

    FROM PRINCIPAL BLAND – Greetings Parents and Community Members: It’s been an exciting (and short) week since we last spoke. I hope everyone had an amazing and relaxing Labor Day weekend. Even though Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer, we’ve been back and rolling now for quite a while. Can you believe that we have been in school for one whole month? The time has flown by! We celebrated by rewarding our hard-working teachers with donuts and coffee hand-delivered by our admin team last Friday. Needless to say, they loved it!! In just the short amount of time since we last spoke, some amazing things have taken place outside of and within our building. Outside of the building, our school leadership team (made up of all of our grade-level chairs and specialty lead teachers, including Gifted, ESOL, Specials and Special Ed.) participated in a great day of learning and collaboration downtown at APS’s Instructional Services Center. Funded by our Foundation, we learned about how to effectively lead grade-level conversations and collaborate with our teammates in a way that will help us get results! Read more

  • Bees Buzz Stronger with Your Support!

    FROM PRINCIPAL BLAND – Dear Parents and Community Members: Another week has passed with so many exciting activities taking place! For this BeeMail post, I’d like to focus on some of the wonderful items our Foundation has been able to approve and fund in order to help us in our mission of providing the best, most well-equipped teachers in front of our students and your children!! Just last week, the amazing board approved so many exciting programs, ideas, innovative practices and curriculum supplies that only a very lucky school like Brandon, with an amazing supporting cast of parents and community members, would be able to accomplish. The board approved Ipads for Ms. Fellows’ class, LOTS of DLI materials for our 2nd grade cohort of students and teachers, ceramic supplies for our art teachers, instructional materials for our music program and even a new printer head for our high-tech poster-making machine! The funding didn’t stop there!  Read more

  • Buzz-y Hive!

    FROM PRINCIPAL BLAND – Greetings Parents and Community Members: We are rocking and rolling at Brandon Elementary School. As we are moving into week three, the amazing things that are happening in both buildings are evident across all grade levels and content areas. In our Specials classes, Mr. Carr, our PC art teacher, has been teaching Kindergartners the power of teamwork and collaboration (a common theme at Brandon this year) as students learn about the color spectrum. Coach Wyman, our MC Physical Education teacher, is on the same page as she engaged her students in cooperation and creativity, building teamwork through cooperative games seen during her new Super Specials block. Ms. McCarren had her students drumming to a beat set to some of their favorite music, and the always fantastic Ms. Ingram helped her students at the PC channel their book character of the week as they read “Rosie Revere, Engineer.” I loved seeing Ms. Halliday’s class (and the rest of Kindergarten) participating in “questions only” Socratic Seminars as students engaged in meaningful academic conversation throughout their Wit and Wisdom unit. Ms. Espinoza and the rest of our DLI k-2 teachers continue to AMAZE me, teaching phonics in English AND Spanish! Ms. Murphy’s class continues to “Notice” and “Wonder” what they read (and see) as they used their magnifying glasses to identify words that require capital letters. I loved seeing Mr. Freeman’s 3rd grade class learn about (and review) the scientific method as they asked questions about their discoveries (inquiry based learning at its finest!) and Ms. Windle’s 4th grade class learn about the King and his Parliament members as they taxed the rest of the class with M&M’s! Learning can be fun and our teachers work hard to make sure our students leave each day not only with “filled buckets” but also a thirst to learn more. Read more

  • Happy to Bee Welcoming Parents this Week!

    FROM PRINCIPAL BLAND – Greetings Parents, Faculty and Staff! A lot has happened since the last time we have chatted! My family and I had an INCREDIBLE time at the Backyard Bash last Friday. It was great to see all of our families on campus, having fun, meeting new people and of course playing! In fact, my son was so disappointed he had to leave that I had to promise I would take him back to the playground another time!

    As a leadership team, we continue to be incredibly impressed by the teaching and learning that is taking place each day and in every classroom. Our teachers are wrapping up Module 0 and starting Module 1 of our new Language Arts curriculum, Wit and Wisdom. I saw Socratic Seminars, silent “chalk talk” activities and even art analysis in Ms. Stansbury’s and Ms. Richards’s 5th grade classes. I love this curriculum because it really encompasses much more than just reading and writing. Our students are exploring parts of the world, delving deep into literary and information texts and engaging in an IB-infused curriculum that’s surely going to help them become global citizens. Ask your child’s teacher how Wit and Wisdom’s Content Stages utilize visual art as a learning tool! It’s amazing to watch students describe what they “Notice” and “Wonder” about famous artwork that many of us have seen before!  Read more

  • First Week in the Books!

    FROM PRINCIPAL BLAND – We’ve had a great start to week two! As we begin to move away from beginning of the year rules, routines and procedures, we are now making way for Eureka math, Social Studies Weekly, Stemscopes (science) and our new ELA curriculum Wit and Wisdom. I’ve loved getting into classrooms and seeing all the wonderful activities that are taking place at both campuses. Students are analyzing texts at the upper grades, recording “what they know” and “what they wonder” about stories they’ve read, and engaging in meaningful academic conversation while also writing out their thoughts and ideas on paper. I’m also seeing handwriting at the lower grades, some beginning cursive and always our Saxon Phonics piece. I was SO impressed walking into Ms. Fallon’s 2nd grade class today. Her students were able to identify whether vowel sounds were long or short and able to mark them with Breves and Macrons! We had a fantastic room parent meeting (and it was HIGHLY attended :), a great new teacher mentor meeting and we are all anxiously awaiting our back to school night when we can come back together and discuss whole class and grade level logistics! A couple of notes below: Read more

  • Week 1 Recap

    Greetings Brandon Families and Community members!!

    WOW!! We did it, we made it through our first week TOGETHER! It was amazing taking it all in, watching our children come off the buses, out of cars, walking to school and most importantly seeing their friends and teachers again! We are back in full swing and ready to learn and grow. We have been busy, setting expectations, establishing routines, building our learning communities and making new friends! I’ve seen teachers conducting all sorts of ice breakers with their classes, giving building tours, implementing Social Emotional Learning day 1, and using morning circles to prepare our students for the day. Here’s a quick snapshot: Read more

  • Welcome Back!

    FROM PRINCIPAL BLAND – Dear Parents, day one is here! It has been a long road to get here and I am so excited that we are gearing up for an amazing school year. I was so impressed with the turnout at our Celebration of Learning. It was great to meet new students (and returning), tons of families, and even grandparents! The love of Morris Brandon in this community is palpable and I’m so glad I’m here! I want to give a BIG shout out to our teachers. They have been absolutely phenomenal in dealing with an almost all new admin team. I loved seeing old students come back to see their teachers, many of whom are in high school and even college. That’s how you know our teachers are fantastic! We have worked tirelessly since they returned last week in planning and organizing the school year to be ready for your children. With that said, please continue to know that the first few days of school can be a little hectic when it comes to arrival and dismissal. We are asking that all parents continue to follow our parking and drop off rules. This allows all of our students to enter the building safely and be ready to learn at 8am. I look forward to continuing to meet our families but most importantly, our students. After all, they are the reason we are here!

    To a great day one-
    Jay

  • Prepping to Return to School

    FROM PRINCIPAL BLAND – Greetings Parents, Staff, and Community Members…WE ARE ALMOST THERE! It’s been an amazing last couple of weeks with all sorts of awesome activities taking place. I am excited to say that we are making great progress in being 100% ready to open our doors to our students in just one week! Can you believe how fast the summer has flown by? Our buildings are spotless, the classrooms are set, our teachers are ready, and my team is anxiously awaiting DAY 1! A lot has happened since the last BeeMail went out:

    • We had an awesome meet and greet with our community. The Primary Center hosted over 100 people all anxious to meet our new admin team and new school leadership. It was great to finally shake hands, meet some students, and share good conversations about what to expect this year. Thank you to those who came out!

    Read more

  • Summer Updates

    Greetings Brandon families, parents and community members!!

    It has been a BUSY summer up at school. As you may or may not know, there have been many new additions to the Morris Brandon family and I am extremely confident and excited in the faculty and staff that are joining our family. To give you an idea:

    • There are thirteen new teachers and support staff
    • One new Program Administrator
    • One new Assistant Principal
    • One new Literacy Coordinator
    • And one new Principal 🙂

    Totaling SEVENTEEN NEW BEES joining the hive!!!!

    While I understand this is quite a change all in one year, I want you to know that the absolute best staff have been chosen based solely on one overarching theme, WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR STUDENTS.   Read more

  • Summer Greetings

    Greetings Morris Brandon families and community! I am so happy to be here as the Interim Principal and can’t wait to get started on another amazing year. While the last month has been summer break for many of you, the leadership team has been hard at work, hiring for open positions, planning out the school year ahead, attending professional development sessions and helping me immensely as I transition into my new role. I have already met so many wonderful staff, parents and students and can’t wait to meet everyone else as we inch closer to the start of the school year.  Before I go further, I want to extend a special farewell to Ms. Tiffany Momon, Program Admin at the Morris Brandon Primary Campus.  Ms. Momon has been selected to be the new Principal of Cascade Elementary and we know she is well deserving and will do amazing things there.  We wish her all the best on her new journey and she has promised me she will come back and visit!!

    What’s Bee-n Happening?  Read more

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