Tuesday, August 14, 2018

WES Welcome Letter 2018

August 13, 2018

Dear Woodstock Elementary School Families,

We want to officially welcome all of you to the 2018-2019 School Year! We hope you are enjoying a wonderful summer. As we countdown the days to the start of school, we want to say hello, wish you a fun few more days of summer, and update you on some news from WES and the newly formed Windsor Central Unified District.  

This is an exciting year for WES as our enrollment has grown from 160 to 197 students as of today. We welcome new families in kindergarten, new students via intradistrict school choice, our new public preK students, and those families who have moved to the area from other regions and states. We look forward to building a vibrant community with you all.

The above student numbers evolved over the summer and the open primary teacher search reopened, so as a result, teaching assignments shifted. Here are the current class configurations:   
  • PreK: Jacquelyn Porter* (Cindy Emery, assistant)
  • Kindergarten: Nancy Stockwell (Jennifer Gubbins, assistant)
  • First grade: Joann MacMaster and Holly Taylor* (two homerooms; these teachers will collaborate to share instruction for all first grade students)
  • Second grade: Betsy Frates and Christine Halik (two homerooms; these teachers will collaborate to share instruction for all second grade students)
  • Third grade and fourth grade: Kristen Hubbell, math; Jay Mumford, science and social studies; Kelley Willis, literacy. Students will start the day in mixed grade level homerooms but will travel as two seperate groups: third and fourth grade.
  • Fifth and sixth grade: Martha Giller, literacy; Kelley Grace, math; Jill Kurash, science and social studies. There will be one fifth grade homeroom with Ms. Grace and two sixth grade homerooms with Mrs. Giller and Mrs. Kurash. Students will travel throughout the day in these homeroom groups.
*Indicates new to WES. Please welcome our two new classroom teachers!

All students and families in grades K-6 will be welcomed at WES on Monday, August 27th from 5:30-6:30pm for Meet Your Teacher Night. Students will learn their homeroom assignments at Meet Your Teacher Night and have a chance to visit their new classrooms and teachers.

PreK families are invited to attend two opening events, On Friday, August 24th from 3-4pm we will have a PreK social on the WES playground. The WES PreK Open House classroom visit is on Tuesday, August 28th from 3-4pm. This will help students and families see the space and learn the preK drop-off routine for the start of school.

The first day of school is Wednesday, August 29th. The bell rings promptly at 7:55am and class begins at 8:00am. Please note that all schools in the district now adhere to the updated Windsor County truancy protocol which is included in our new district’s elementary handbook. Please see the attached school year calendar. Look for an upcoming email about the bus routes which will soon be finalized.

There are two initiatives to be aware of at WES this year. In October, we will launch a WIN block from 8:15-8:45 daily. WIN stands for “What I Need.” The goal is for this to be a time of individualized teaching such as targeted intervention for math and reading support, enrichment opportunities, and extra practice for students based on needs or interests. Look for more information about WIN as the school year launches. Our school is also entering year two of adopting Positive Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS) after a successful first year of this approach. We will make slight adjustments to our school-wide PAWS systems based on feedback from teachers, families, and students. Please look for information in our newsletters and from your grade level team about PBIS. Below are some details about instructional programming changes happening in schools across the district.

Last winter, Nancy Farwell, the WES librarian resigned. Support staff continued to maintain the library and provide opportunities for students to visit the library and check out books. This year, classes will have regular times to visit the library and borrow books. Cathy Knight, the Reading Elementary School principal, is also a school library media specialist and will be visiting WES regularly to help keep our collection updated and inform students about new and engaging titles. This year, there will be a review of library media needs across the district to create a longer term plan.

Elementary world language instruction is also under review in the merged district for the 2018-2019 school year. While district educators take time to study best practices in world language instruction, Elaine Leibly will create continuity by providing Spanish instruction in all WCUD elementary schools. In order to share Senora Leibly’s skill, Spanish will be adjusted across all schools. Due to the unique staffing and scheduling needs at individual schools, Spanish instruction will be similar, but not identical, on each campus. At WES, students in grades 1-2 will have 25 minutes of Spanish a week. Students in grades 3-6 will have 45 minutes of Spanish a week. We are still exploring ways for PreK and K students to be exposed to Spanish as schedules allow. Although your child may receive less Spanish instruction per week this year, Senora Leibly will continue to provide valuable instruction for our students.

The WCUD is initiating a laboratory classroom model to improve instruction throughout the new district. Woodstock Elementary School will implement this in grades 3 and 4 while The Prosper Valley School will do the same in a combined kindergarten and grade 1 class.  The lab classroom is designed to build upon and improve aspects of facilitating, coaching, and professional development models that teachers find most helpful and successful in advancing teaching and learning. Our lab teachers will work with coaches to develop best instructional practices and  are committed to demonstrate and model these practices, while also experimenting with new techniques and curriculum such as improving units to push students’ deeper thinking. Teachers from all district schools will have opportunities to observe and reflect on these practices with some being adopted by the observing teachers and others perhaps needing more refinement. The overall goal is to improve instruction in the environment where students are learning.
WCSU is pleased to offer public preK for all three and four year olds in our member towns at Barnard Academy, Killington Elementary, Reading Elementary, and Woodstock Elementary. PreK students attend five mornings a week with optional extended day and after school programming. The program will utilize the Vermont Early Learning Standards to provide students with an enriching, developmentally appropriate educational experience.

As always, if there are ways we can collaborate to best serve your child, we want to hear from you. Please be in touch if you have questions, concerns, or ideas for us.


Maggie Mills


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