December 2019 Updates
Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 12/13/2019
It is with great hope that this newsletter finds all families doing well especially as the holiday season is upon us. We have had an incredibly successful beginning of the 2019-2020 school year particularly with district-wide initiatives that we have put in place. As always, we hope that the information shared with you in this edition of our newsletter captures the tremendous amount of teaching and learning that goes on in our classrooms and schools each day.
This year, our District has made a commitment to learning and embracing an approach called Restorative Practices. We have partnered with the Erie County Justice Coalition to bring this approach to our schools. We are most fortunate to be able to work with Dina Thompson, the Board President and Trainer from the Coalition. Dina is pictured below on our opening day of school back in September where she provided professional development to all district staff on Restorative Practices.
Each month, she works with our District Restorative Practices Committee to celebrate success with this new approach, to discuss progress in each school, and to set future goals. Restorative Practices are methodologies that try to proactively build a sense of community in order to prevent problems from developing and use dialogue, not just your traditional punishment, when problems do take place. Restorative Practices are helpful for creating a respectful classroom, developing a connection with students, managing conflicts, and establishing routines and expectations for positive student behavior, improved relationships, and strategies to help reach peaceful resolution.
A part of our learning process this year includes the use of Restorative Questions when working with students. These questions include the following:
- What happened?
- What were you thinking at the time?
- How were people impacted?
- What do you need to do to make things right?
We have already found great success in just three short months of implementing Restorative Practices particularly with the use of Restorative Circles in classrooms PreK-12. We have found that student relationships with one another have improved and when conflict does arise, the use of Restorative Circles and/or Restorative language has helped create a much needed path to peaceful resolution. In JFK MS and HS, we have created Advisement Time this year where students are able to engage in Restorative Circles to spend time developing positive relationships with their teachers and peers. Please ask your child about Restorative Circles and what they have learned from those experiences. We look forward to continued work with this new approach and hope that you are able to learn more about this method through conversations with your children.
I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight our Reading Workshop in action. This has brought such progress and success to our students and teachers and true joy to me especially during my recent visit to these classrooms at Theodore Roosevelt. To observe children so interested, motivated and excited to read brings a feeling hard to describe as that is why we are here—to educate children by instilling a love of reading and an eagerness to learn. We have made significant progress in all classrooms PreK-5 with the implementation of the Lucy Calkins Model of Reading Workshop. Our students have never read so much, both in guided form with the teacher and independently on their own. Students are soaring to new degrees of success as a result of the leveled reading approach. Pictured below are Ms. Maloney, Grade 1 Teacher, and Mrs. Cosen, Kindergarten Teacher, both engaged with their students in mini-lessons on word endings and beginning and ending sounds of words. We could not be more proud of our teachers for their dedication to teaching Reading Workshop with consistency and fidelity and of our students for their proven success in reading!
There is one final event that I wanted to share with our community that took place on November 8th. We were able to honor a veteran in our community, Mr. Ehrhardt, who is also a grandfather of several of our students. As a Vietnam Veteran, he recently was selected to participate in Honor Flight. The students in our District wrote letters to Mr. Ehrhardt which he received as a planned surprise during his recent flight. The idea was to recreate an experience that he had back in Vietnam when family and friends would send mail. He was overwhelmed by this gesture of warmth and care from our students and recognized all of them when he spoke at our ceremony in the foyer of JFK HS. I would also like to thank our teachers and students for dedicating time out of their regular day to write such meaningful and impactful letters to Mr. Ehrhardt. His gratitude spoke volumes and made all of us appreciate how important it is to respect and thank all veterans for their service.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all students, their families and our community a holiday season filled with special memories, enjoyment and peace. Thank you for your continued partnership with us as we work to bring the best educational experience possible to all students in our District.
Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski, Superintendent of Schools