January 13, 2017
Last week, I was under the weather and spent several days on my couch, resting. In between naps and drinking tea, I read and watched some television. This time provided me with an opportunity to rest, learn and reflect. I enjoyed listening to all different sports reporters and both coaches as they prepared for the College Football National Championship. I read some articles from ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) and different teaching blogs. I watched a few interviews and news programs that focused on the ending of President Obama’s presidency.
At our faculty and staff meetings this week, we discussed the following quotes:
“The big picture of curriculum is thinking about how all the individual units form a cohesive whole and keeping that at the forefront of your curriculum design, process, rather than taking a unit-by- unit approach.” -- Angela DiMichele Lalor
“When ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together in collective effort, things change for the better.” -- Barack Obama
“Hold each other accountable—you can’t do it by yourself.” -- Dabo Swinney
Dennis Miranda said, “As you reflect upon where you would like to be at the end of this school year, what one word would you consider to shape that journey?” Some of our words included: nurturing, consistent, mindful, perseverance, juggle, dedicated, happiness, joy, compassionate and thoughtful.
My reflection from reading some teaching blogs consisted of our need to continue to model even basic skills to our students. For example, it is always a challenge at the elementary level to have our students in a timely fashion get dressed and undressed for winter recess. One suggestion from a teacher was for families to purchase a reusable grocery bag and students will always put their snow boots and snow pants into the bag at school. It was recommended that we take the time to model with students what are the right and wrong ways to get dressed for recess and undressed after coming in from outside. We can make this fun by having the teachers try on their winter gear by putting their mittens on first and then trying to put on boots and snow pants. Lastly, we should teach our students a routine. In the younger grades, we can even make a checklist or picture poster for students. One teacher shared her routine that she teaches her students: 1)snow pants; 2)boots (sneakers/shoes) into recycled grocery bag; 3)scarf; 4)coat and zip; 5)hat; 6)mittens. The routine to get undressed was: 1)mittens; 2)hat and mittens go into hat; 3)scarf; 4)jacket; 5)hat with mittens and scarf go into sleeve of jacket; 6)jacket on hook in cubbie/locker; 7)snow pants into bag; 8)boots into bag; 9)sneakers on. For some of our students, the steps that need to be accomplished for going out to recess or coming in can be overwhelming or time-consuming. So the more, as adults, we can help them with organization and practice, the more successful our students will be.
Have a great, long weekend!
P.S. Please join us next Friday, January 20 th , as we celebrate the retirement of Mrs. Knott-Garon. We invite you and your children to come into the MPR from 2:15-3:30 p.m. to spend some time socializing, sharing a story, saying thanks and wishing her well. We will have a brief ceremony at 3:00 p.m. Snacks and beverages will be provided. Katie’s last day will be Tuesday, January 31 st .
December 16, 2016
Do you often wonder why your students, especially in grades K-2, come home with photocopied paper books? Does it seem like some children are “natural readers” while others struggle and reading needs to be explicitly taught? What is the difference between these decodable readers and picture books?
Decodable readers are books that have controlled text. Decodable books are books that contain only phonetic elements that the student has already learned and basic sight words. For example, a child at the beginning stages of reading who has learned the short vowel sounds could decode simple words like hat, bed, and pig, but might have difficulty decoding words like see and owl. A student at a higher reading level might be reading a decodable book with vowel teams like AI or OA and be able to decode more complex words like snail and goal.
Selecting books can be tricky as publishers will often call books a beginning book or decodable book but only half the words in the book are decodable. In reading, we want children to feel and be successful as they read. We do not want students to become frustrated and start to guess at words. We want students to use their knowledge of phonics and their word analysis skills to decode unfamiliar words. As they are able to figure out every word in a book, they feel successful, which in turn helps them to build fluency and develop good reading strategies.
Example text from a decodable reader: “Ted got his red cap back. The red cap had a rip in it. It was not a big rip. Ted can fix his red cap.” Example text from a picture book: “On Friday he ate through five oranges, but he was still hungry. On Saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami…” As you can see, there is a large difference in the word selection and phonics rules within these two texts.
What should I do as a parent?
Every night, have your child read to you and spend some time reading to your child. Incorporate both decodable readers and picture books into your nightly routine. Have your child read the decodable books and celebrate his/her success! Together, enjoy the picture books from authors like Mo Willems, Mary Lyn Ray and Marty Kelley. Even as your child gets older, spend time together, snuggled under a blanket, reading chapter books like Tuck Everlasting and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Reading at home not only can positively impact your child’s academic success, but also develop a special and lasting bond between a child and parent.
If you would like more information or assistance in selecting books for your child, please reach out to your child’s classroom teacher, our literacy specialist, Carolyn Mallahan, and our ICT teacher, Christine Roman. Also, we have a great relationship with the Gordon-Nash children’s librarian, Christine Hunewell. Our town’s library is open Tuesday-Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m; Friday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m; Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The library is closed Sunday and Monday.
December 9, 2016
My dad turned eighty this week! My earliest memories of my dad are playing catch in the front yard, having him and mom sit under the tree at Saco River being our lifeguards as we went swimming, and him correcting papers at the kitchen table as we also did our homework. However, over the years, he has become more than just dad; he has become my hero and inspiration. My dad was raised in a family with one older brother and a younger brother and sister. He lived in the suburbs of Boston. His father served in World War II, came home, worked various jobs, but passed away when my dad was in college. His mom and four special aunts raised him. In the very few stories that he shares about growing up, he speaks about walking to his father’s cab to give him dinner, spending time at his aunts’ house, and sneaking into Boston Brave baseball games.
My dad graduated from high school and went to Keene State College. He was the first member of his family to attend college. Dad shares many stories of his time at KSC. He talks about living off campus as a freshman in a community member’s house. He talks about hitchhiking home on holiday breaks. He shares funny stories about his time as president of his fraternity, Kappa Delta Pi, as well as his time as president of the class of 1958. He talks about the day he was summonsed into the college president’s office and was asked to transfer to Plymouth. My dad held his ground and talked the president into letting him stay at KSC. He talks about almost not graduating from college, because he owed $5 at graduation. Luckily, he had some extra cash that week to pay off that bill!
My dad got his first teaching job in Hopkinton, NH. The next year he got a job in Nashua, NH and taught in the Nashua School District for 37 years. As a rookie teacher, he taught English and then went back to school and received a master’s degree in guidance. For over 20 years, he was a guidance counselor at Nashua High. Then, he finished off his career by teaching 8 th grade US history.
I went into teaching because of him. I watched how every day he would come home, loving his job and loving his family. Over time, he became my role model. His work ethic, compassion, sense of humor, and love of teaching have guided me as an adult. He was a quiet leader by taking on different leadership roles at school and home. He was union president and chair of the guidance department. He would help my mother with the laundry and housecleaning. I saw how he and my mother would purchase an extra winter coat or pair of sneakers and just leave it in one of his 8 th grade student’s locker.
My father continues to be an inspiration to me as he copes with an aging body and mind. Unfortunately, his eyesight and Parkinson’s disease are taking a toll, but his love of family and sense of humor remain strong. His smile brightens and body becomes energized as he plays with his great grandsons and watches his grandchildren play high school sports. In our conversations, he still has those one-liners that just make you laugh and smile for the rest of the day.
I am the person I am today because of my father. As each year passes, I know how fortunate I am to still have the opportunity to call my dad for advice, or to share a funny school story. I cherish the time and have tried to both tell him and show him, through my actions, that he has earned an A+ in being a dad! Happy Birthday, Dad-- I love you!
December 2, 2016
As a student, did you ever get sent to the principal’s office? Do you remember any details of his/her room? Was the administrative assistant in the main office welcoming?
I do vaguely remember the offices of my elementary school and junior high. One was more welcoming than the other. I recall my elementary principal having this large wooden desk that seemed to take up a large part of his office. During my junior year of high school, instead of going to study hall first block, I worked in the “Yellow/White Office.” I helped the administrative assistant by checking in late students, sorting mail and putting it in teachers’ mailboxes, and just hanging behind the counter in this office.
As many of you know, I have a twin sister. Although we attended Nashua High, there were a few classes we had together. Biology class was one of them. One day in class, I became argumentative with the teacher. Our discussion turned to the point in which she said, “Ann, if you continue, you will be sent to Mr. Cote’s office (he was the assistant principal in charge of my part of the alphabet). With my father having taught/worked with Mr. Cote, and knowing my sister would share at the dinner table my fate, I chose to stop arguing.
I decided to share this story because I know when parents receive a phone call from me or the call from Katie saying that Ms. Holloran would like to set up a meeting, the majority of the time, the first reaction is not a pleasant one. This week, I had a parent meeting and the mom shared that her child was nervous that she was going to get yelled at by the principal. At the end of the meeting, I brought the student into my office to sit with us as I reassured him/her that I didn’t yell and I summarized what was talked about at the meeting. We all left the office with smiles. It is one of my goals to try to make all families feel welcomed into our school community and into my office. I try to remember that for some adults, school wasn’t always a great experience. I try to be an active listener. I focus on allowing people the opportunity to share. Lastly, we sit together around a round table instead of me being behind a large wooden desk. It is my ultimate hope that parents’ and students’ memories of my office are ones of getting books, a place of listening to all sides, walls of colorful art and inspiring quotes, an area of learning, and where we fix our mistakes.
I know that often the last sentence of my written correspondence ends with “please don’t hesitate to reach out or call.” I hope this article helps to reassure you that “we are in the journey of educating your child together” and I hope the principal’s office is a little less intimidating.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. To finish the story, of course at the dinner table that night Maryann shared our experience in biology class. Since my dad was a teacher in the Nashua School District, he had a telephone book with the names of teachers in the system. After discussing the events with my parents, shortly after dinner, I had to call my biology teacher’s home and apologize for my rude and disrespectful behavior in class. In addition, I was grounded for a week.
November 4, 2016
Next week, we will not follow a typical calendar. So, I thought I would provide families with the highlights!
Monday, November 7 th —Veterans Day Assembly at 10:15 a.m.
We invite all families and local veterans to join us for our annual Veterans Day Assembly
We ask that all students and staff wear red, white and blue to celebrate the colors of our flag. Also, students may wear their Boy Scout or Girl Scout uniforms
There will be special seats, coffee and a small snack for our guests of honor, our veterans
Wednesday, November 9 th —Late afternoon/evening opportunities for Student/Teacher/Parent Conferences
No Project Promise on Wednesday
Teachers will be available from 4:00-8:00 p.m., with some time off for dinner
If you haven’t signed up yet for conferences, please reach out to your child’s teacher or call the main office
During this time, teachers will review beginning-of- the-year data and set up a few academic and social goals
Thursday, November 10 th —Morning opportunities for Student/Teacher/Parent Conferences
No school for students
Teachers will be available from 7:00 a.m.-12:00 noon for conferences
If you haven’t signed up yet for conferences, please reach out to your child’s teacher or call the main office
During this time, teachers will review beginning-of- the-year data and set up a few academic and social goals
Friday, November 11 th —No School
Have a great weekend and remember to turn your clocks back Saturday night!
October 7, 2016
This is going to be an interesting weekend! Tomorrow, I will return to my high school to watch my niece play volleyball. Sunday’s objective will be to close up both my parents’ and my trailers for the season. Monday, I hope to play golf with my brother.
It has been over 15 years since I have walked into the Nashua High (South) gym. While a student at NHS, I played varsity volleyball, basketball and softball. Thousands of hours were spent growing as an athlete, leader and person within those four walls. Right out of college, I coached varsity volleyball at Alvirne High School. During our season, we played against Nashua. On those visits, I was focused on my team and trying to win the game. Returning tomorrow feels a little different! I am excited to sit in the stands with some of my family and reminisce about the “good old days.” I am interested to know if our championship banners still hang. I will walk the hallway near the cafeteria and look at the championship pictures and plaques. Hopefully, I might get into the locker room just to take a quick look and remember some of the pre-post game talks and celebrations. Can I still find my varsity locker after all of these years? Although I will be wearing a blue Gilford Volleyball Fan t-shirt, inside I am proud to be a Purple Panther!
Closing up the trailers at the end of the season, for me, is always a sad time. It signifies another summer gone and I often wonder how many more summers my parents will be able to camp. It is a time to say good-bye to our different camping friends. Some will be returning next spring, while other families will be moving on for different adventures.
Usually I enjoy playing golf! However, for various reasons, I haven’t played a lot of rounds this year. So instead of trying to beat my brother on Monday, I have selected to play at my favorite golf course, North Conway Country Club. I will be able to see some amazing scenery and fall foliage both from my car and on the course. I will be bringing my camera along in my golf bag to take a few pictures of Cathedral Ledge, Mount Washington and the Presidential Ranges.
I hope you have an amazing long weekend!
September 30, 2016
“There is a brilliant child locked inside every student.” Every time I read this quote located on my bulletin board it makes me stop and ponder. It challenges me to review my decisions, evaluate my focus, inspire my colleagues and communicate this belief with students.
First and foremost, it reminds me that as educators we must show patience and understanding. It takes special keys to unlock the door to knowledge for our students; there isn’t a “master key” that fits every child’s individual needs. Teachers and staff members must carry with them imaginary key rings filled with different keys, trying to find the right one for each student—a difficult and time-consuming task, and we must show persistence, perseverance, grit and determination to help each child blossom.
Brilliant! I seldom hear that word used to describe students. You’ll hear children called smart, happy, a good reader, athletic, and so on, but brilliant? Isn’t that word reserved for people like Mozart? What if we used the term more often...when we refer to our students? I know I feel proud and happy when my boss tells me I’ve had a “brilliant idea.” That’s better than good, or even great. Brilliant strikes me as better than “awesome!” Don’t we want each child’s brilliance set free?
“There is a brilliant child locked inside very student.” So true. The radiance of knowledge can shine from every student, not just a limited few. We must believe that every student can succeed at achieving scholarship. We must cherish each one as they are, teach, and mentor them by example along their journey to greatness. We must provide different avenues for them to show their wisdom. Who knows where they’ll be twenty or thirty year from now? It is our job as elementary educators to plant the seed in them—the desire for knowledge that will grow into scholarship and experience that brings opportunity.
I post quotes that I like within my office. Each time I glance at this one about the brilliance of our students, I renew my own pledge to our important charge—teachers and parents alike—of ensuring that every student’s potential is achieved.
Have a great weekend…a most brilliant one!
P.S. A special shout out to all the parents who have volunteered over the past month with Picture Day, the Book Fair, chaperoning field trips and attending our PTO meeting. Also, a special thanks to students and staff from the New Hampton School for spending their time at NHCS during their service learning day on Wednesday.
September 23, 2016
Wow, it has been a busy, but good week! We had a great turnout for Open House, energetic faculty discussion around creating our yearly school goals and working on our proposed NHCS budget for next school year.
The energy in our building was positive, heart-warming and inspiring. We had Pat Provencher and Judy Smith start out our evening speaking about and seeking help with the Ruth Joyce Scholarship. Therese Wetherington, district’s Curriculum Coordinator, shared information regarding our new math program, Eureka. Families had the opportunity to shop at the Book Fair. Parents met with classroom teachers to learn about classroom routines, expectations and curriculum.
During our early release time, our staff came together to discuss, debate and developed a draft of our school goals. Our draft will be sent to Superintendent Buckley for final approval. Once finalized, we will share our goals within our school community through this Writing Corner.
Can you believe, we are already thinking about next school year! Teachers had to submit their budget requests to building principals by today. School administration will be working with district personnel over the next few weeks to be ready to present our proposed budget to the School Board on October 24th.
Just think, all of this happened while teachers continued to plan and teach throughout the week! Sometimes when I stop and think about all of the expectations and responsibilities within education it can be mind boggling. However, with weeks like this, I try to take a few moments to slow down and reflect on why I am in education and it always comes back to THE KIDS!
Have a great weekend!
P.S. Our first PTO Meeting will be Monday, 9/26, at 7:45 a.m. in my office. Please join us! If you can’t attend and would like to be involved, please send me an email with a day of the week and time that works best in your schedule. We will be making our yearly meeting schedule at this meeting and hope to accommodate what works best for the group.
September 9, 2016
For our opening staff activity, I had all staff create their own vanity license plates and include items about themselves. Here is my license plate:
· Screem: My last name is Holloran—the majority of my family have vanity plates that center around hollering, such as SHOUT, YELL2, HOLLRN, and 5SHOUTS.
· My family is very important to me.
· Valentine’s Day is my birthday.
· Coach: I enjoy coaching. I have coached varsity volleyball, jv softball, JO volleyball, TTCC basketball and feel I coach students and teachers in my current role as a principal.
· No dogs: Everyone keeps telling me I need a dog. So, this summer, I had two different opportunities to dog-sit. Well, I have made my decision; I don’t need a dog!
· Big Bang Theory is my favorite TV show.
· Fishing, golf and jet-skiing are recreational activities that I enjoy doing in my free time.
· Group with the trophy: I am a pretty competitive person, which can be a good thing and a not-so-good thing at times.
· I enjoy reading quotes because they make me think and are inspirational.
· “Always strive to be a better you”: It is one of the ways I try to live my life.
I hope you might have learned a little bit more about me. Have a great weekend!
September 2, 2016
We have had an amazing start to the school year! The building is buzzing with positive energy. Our teachers and staff are reviewing with our students our revised list of expectations, discussing our new lunch schedule, talking about different leadership opportunities and doing some back-to-school assessments.
Around the building you will see various posters to help remind our students of the following expectations:
We respond respectfully to all
We keep our hands & bodies to ourselves
We use kind words and actions
We use a 6-inch voice indoors
We are always honest
We keep our community clean
We always do our BEST!
We walk carefully, safely & quietly to the right
We use our lockers appropriately
put our things in or on top – not on the floor
do not slam the doors
touch only your locker
We respect the privacy of others
We flush after we use the toilet
We wash our hands before we leave
We clean up after ourselves
We go directly outside
We play safely on the equipment
bottoms on slides
no climbing to the top of equipment
sit on the swings
We play fair & follow the rules
game rules outlined by Mrs. Frost and the duty teachers
We use a light touch when tagging
We stay out of the woods and leave sticks and rocks on the ground
We do the NHCS stomp before entering the building
We have FUN!
We use 6-inch voices
We walk to our seats after we get our lunch
We get permission to leave our table by raising our hands and waiting for an adult
We keep our legs and feet under the table and our bottoms on the seats
We eat only our food
We eat appropriately and will not play with our food
We always use our BEST MANNERS
We do not throw snow
We stay on the playground side of snow piles
We stay away from the building icicles
We don't use the equipment on little kids’ side
We will wear boots, snow pants, hats, mitten/gloves and winter jackets out to recess
We Take Pride in Our School Community
(character, achievement, responsibility, excellence, spirit)
Here are some other odds and ends:
Drop-off & Pick-up
Although some faculty and staff might be here earlier than 7:00 a.m., students should not be dropped off prior to 7:00. There is no supervision of students until 7:00 a.m. The end of the day can be extremely busy. One of our first priorities is the safety of our students, so we would hope that parents would call in any dismissal changes prior to 1:00 p.m. This would allow us time to get the information up into the classrooms.
Project Promise—our after school program
Did you know that your child could receive homework help, a healthy snack and participate in enrichment activities from 2:00-5:30 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays right here at NHCS? The cost to participate in this safe and exciting program is:
· $8.00 per day (full rate)
· $4.00 per day (reduced lunch rate)
· No Tuition (free lunch rate)
If you would like more information or receive a packet to register, please contact the office at 744-3221 or email Shelley Doucette, our site coordinator, at email@example.com.
As most of you know, I am also principal of Danbury Elementary School. My schedule this year (and I am successful at this about 85% of the time) will be Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday mornings at NHCS. If you need to reach me on the other days, please call 768-3434. In addition, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great long weekend!