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Ms. Holloran's Writer's Corner

February 15, 2019

posted Feb 17, 2019, 7:39 AM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Last month, Former Chief Justice John Broderick spoke to students at Newfound Regional High School. His message is to encourage people to talk about mental health. His speaking comes from his personal experience with his son. Since retiring from the bench, Mr. Broderick has joined up with Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Department of Education to spread the word. He has spoken to over 200 groups around New England and over 75 public schools.
(taken from the changedirection.org website)

He tells his audience to “Know the Five Signs” that may mean someone is in emotional pain and might need help.
  • Personality change—may notice sudden or gradual changes in how someone typically behaves. He or she may behave in ways that don’t seem to fit the person’s values or the person may just seem different.
  • Agitated—they seem uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated or moody. You may notice the person has more frequent problems controlling his or her temper and seems irritable or unable to calm down.
  • Withdrawn—they withdraw or isolate themselves from other people. Someone who was used to being socially engaged may pull away from family and friends. More severe cases, they do not make it to work or school.
  • Poor-Self Care—they stop taking care of themselves and may engage in more risky behaviors.
  • Hopelessness—they seem overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by their circumstances. Have you noticed someone who used to be optimistic and now can’t find anything to be hopeful about? People in this situation may feel the world is better off without them.
If you recognize that someone in your life is suffering….you connect, reach out, inspire hope and you offer help. There are different resources and hotlines on the website changedirection.org. You can make an appointment with your doctor or find a local counselor. One of John Broderick’s message is that we need to change the culture around mental illness. We need to know the warning signs just like we would a heart attack or stroke. Also, when we see the signs, we need to take action.

Have a great weekend!
-Ann

PS. Just a reminder we have school on Monday! We are aware at one point the Fresh Café menu had us with no school but that was an error. They have updated their calendar.

February 8, 2019

posted Feb 11, 2019, 5:06 AM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

To help reduce rumors and to provide some basic information, I wanted to write about an incident we had today. First of all, I want to commend the first grade class for immediately following my directions. One of our teachers was feeling ill and called me up to her classroom. After assessing the situation, I had those students join another classroom. Mrs. Morrison came up and we went into a “Shelter in Place.” That is when we ask students and adults to stay in their classroom for a time. We did call 911.

After the incident, I debriefed with the classroom where the event took place. I thanked them for following my directions, shared with them the basic information, and told them that I would be their substitute for the rest of the day.

Again, I would like to thank the whole school community for their work and collaboration during this medical situation.

Have a great weekend.
-Ann

February 1, 2019

posted Feb 4, 2019, 5:49 AM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I can’t believe how cold it has been this week! I am so looking forward to golf season! Our students have done a nice job of being flexible with some days of indoor recess and some days with an outside recess. It is nice when we can go outside each day for some fresh air. I know that there is a lot of winter gear (snow pants, hats, mittens and boots). Using a grocery tote bag is helpful to keep things organized and to carry all of those items. Wearing winter boots all day at school can be uncomfortable. We recommend if possible that students leave a pair of sneakers or shoes at school during the winter months.

Today, I had a student come to my office to practice his skills in starting and carrying on a conversation. He did a nice job. After he left, I reflected on all the different skills a person needs to have in order to freely converse with another person. He was practicing on making eye contact, using a proper voice (not a silly voice), listening to my answer, and working on making a comment after I shared my response. This incident got me thinking about myself, my nieces, nephews, and godchildren.

I am definitely an introvert. Although I have an easier time with children, it is a challenge for me to carry on a conversation with new or unfamiliar people. I believe some of this is part of one’s personality, and I know that with practice and guidance, talking with others can become easier. Last weekend, I watched as one of my nieces carried on a conversation with her grandparents and various swim teammates. At another time, I witnessed some of my other niece's struggle with carrying on a two-way discussion. As parents and teachers, I feel it is part of our responsibility to help children develop these communication skills. We need to provide our children with different opportunities to practice and feel comfortable having conversations with a variety of people. These skills will help them down the road with interviews, relationships, and friendships.

Have a great weekend!
-Ann

January 25, 2019

posted Jan 28, 2019, 8:30 AM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Our Attendance Committee meets monthly to review our overall school attendance and individual student attendance. In these meetings, we share information about illnesses, family vacations and to see if attendance has improved. We look at attendance with a 10% combination lens understanding that there are sicknesses, doctor appointments and other reasons for absences, tardiness, and dismissals.

Here is data from our most recent look at attendance.
83 days of school
 As a school—we have had students absent 399.5 days
 Our average daily attendance is at 94.5%
 Students have lost 2,596 hours of instruction because of being absent
 Only 4 out of 89 students have perfect attendance (no absences, tardies or dismissals)
 29% of our students have been absent 7 or more days from school
 24% of our school have 4 or more tardies

While balancing the understanding that the best practice is to stay home when sick, we encourage families to instill the importance of regular school attendance as a preparation for future work and other life endeavors. Keeping students home because they are tired and other reasons, sends a mixed message regarding the value of school. Having over a quarter of our student population with considerable absences and tardiness is a concern. Students need to be in the classroom learning the curriculum, mastering the standards, and socializing with peers. We will continue to send letters home regarding attendance. We will meet with individual families to address concerns. Our custodial staff will clean desktops, door handles and our water fountain on a more regular basis during cold & flu season. I am hoping these numbers will improve in the second half of our school year.

Have a fabulous weekend!
-Ann

January 18, 2019

posted Jan 22, 2019, 3:53 AM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Happy Friday! I don’t know about you but this has been a long week. Are you ready for the upcoming snowstorm? I can’t believe they are talking a possible foot and a half to two feet. Yikes!

In my professional reading this week I came across this statement: “Everyone should have a banner of innocence over them in their childhood.” This was said by Tashira Halyard, a senior associate at the Center for the Study of Social Policy led by the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare. Her statement got me thinking about all the images, social pressures, and technology information our students see on a daily basis. I pondered if these external influences are the reason for the increase in children's anxiety. I believe children should be free from:

 Knowing the specific financial situations of a family
o Growing up in my family of 6 on my dad’s teaching salary, we were not wealthy. We were in the lower middle-class category. As a kid, we never knew the specifics of my parents paying the dentist and eye doctor each month, so we could get our annual check-ups. We didn’t know that my mom had a shoe account at Alec’s which they contributed to with each paycheck so we would get our back to school sneakers. I remember seeing my mom sitting at the kitchen table planning our weeks’ worth of meals with the Demoulas circulars. I didn’t realize that we had hot dogs and beans every Saturday night and “breakfast for dinner” because those were cheaper meals. I knew I didn’t get the “cool” clothes or sneakers but I had what I needed. We didn’t go out to fancy restaurants or stop at McDonald’s like my friends, but having dinnertime with my family is one of my most treasured memories of growing up. As children we never worried about money or bills. At times we would ask our parents why we were not able to go out or get things. They would answer in general statements such as, “It was too expensive”, “We have food at home” and “If you really want it, there were extra jobs around the house that you could do.”
 Watching the news
o Have you noticed what our different newscasts cover for stories now? There are a lot about political nastiness, disastrous storms that are thousands of miles away, robbery, murder and violence at schools, shopping malls and places of work.
o Should our children ages 5-12 really need to know about these events? Could parents watch the 11:00 news before bed or use a feature on their phone to get the latest news?

I understand that we can’t shelter our children from the realities of the world. I understand that people and families will have a different viewpoint than mine. But I thought I would start the conversation. Mary Cholmondeley wrote, “A happy childhood is one of the best gifts that parents have in their power to bestow.”

Have a great long weekend and GO PATS!
-Ann

January 11, 2019

posted Jan 15, 2019, 4:55 AM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am having a difficult time coming up with a topic for today’s newsletter. So here are some random thoughts:

 Boy is it cold outside! How fortunate am I to be able to afford heat and a house during these winter days. I know we have families that struggle financially and I hope they can find resources to stay warm. Community Action Program Belknap-Merrimack Counties can help. Call them at 225-3295 or 1-800-856-5525 or visit their website at https://www.bm-cap.org/fuel-assistance-program-fap

 Math facts—automaticity and accuracy. I was in 5th grade this week observing two different lessons. Our students were adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators. Wow—I remember doing that math in 8th grade when I was growing up! As I watched, some students that had memorized their facts appeared to have more success. They were able to find the common denominator quickly, perform the multiplication in their heads, and solve the problems. Other students were using effective strategies (using fingers, skip counting, using a chart), but this took some time and focus away from the higher level academic skill of solving fraction problems. Having students practice their math facts for 5-10 minutes a day-can make a huge difference.

 In Mrs. Gagnon’s school counseling classes this week, she was helping students understand that people can have two emotions happening at the same. I love that she is sharing this information with our students. Lately, in my life I often have mixed emotions of sadness and happiness. My heart is so sad to be a part of my dad’s declining health and losing the “dad I know” and also for the sudden death of my uncle. But my heart is also happy for the joy of a new relationship and the time spent with him. There is this tug of power between these emotions and my coping skills are trying to help me find a balance and not stay in one place for too long. It is challenging! We need to help our children through these times in their lives with dialogue, love and compassion.

 Another snow day—4th one so far! Yikes! This brings our last day of school to Thursday, June 20.

 The beauty of living in NH! Snow on the trees; a deer walking in my front yard; listening to the noise of skier “flying” by me at the mountain on Thursday; and sunrises while driving into work.

 The fun I am having being a DJ in our Friday lunch jam sessions. All week students in grades 3-5 leave me notes with suggestions of songs to be played. Using our new sound system, I surprise them with 5-8 selections. It has been entertaining to see the variety and types of music offered as ideas.

Have a great weekend and stay warm!
-Ann

January 4, 2018

posted Jan 7, 2019, 5:52 AM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had some time over break to rest and recharge. I spent most of my time in Nashua with my parents. I did take a few days to visit friends in Vermont and Keene. One thing I enjoy about vacation is additional time to read more blogs, articles, and books. For pleasure I read Becoming by Michelle Obama. My professional reading included articles from Education Week, NAESP and ASCD.

Here are some interesting points from Daniel Willingham, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia:
 “Reading tests are knowledge tests in disguise.”
 (paraphrasing)—Reading is like a suitcase that needs two keys to open it. The first key is word-level decoding skills that become automatic and fluent. The second key includes language, vocabulary, domain-specific knowledge, and the micro comprehension skills to build a good mental model.
 (paraphrasing)—It is not just the number of words a child recognizes that drives reading comprehension. Making good connections and inferences depends on the richness of the word network he/she has built.

So what does this mean to parents and educators?

We need to provide students/children with a variety of things (i.e., books, games, and videos) and experiences (i.e., museums, libraries, conversations, skiing). We need to teach them specific skills. We need to increase their vocabulary and use of language. Invest time in exploring new places and have different experiences.

Over vacation, I watched one of my godchildren play a virtual reality PS4 game. It was fun and kept him entertained but there was very limited language and vocabulary in the game. Another day I watched a different godchild watch Sesame Street. During this 30-minute video, she was dancing, singing the songs and asking me questions about numbers and the characters in the show.

Can you guess which one of my godchildren is finding more academic success? Which one enjoys school? Which single parent doesn’t have to fight about their 20-minutes of required reading each night?

Just some pondering thoughts as we start 2019!
-Ann

December 14, 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 5:17 AM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

It is nice to be back at school! I appreciate all of the support I have received over the past several weeks. My family continues on this journey and we are trying to find positive moments in each challenging day!

As we look towards our holiday break, our students in school counseling/guidance classes have been working on different ways to express kindness and experience the “power of giving.” In groups, our fourth graders created their own version of “Kindness Elves.” These elves will be on display next week, for all students to view. Our third and fifth grade students worked on filling bags with socks, granola bars, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and a washcloth along with notes of hope (unsigned) to be donated to a local shelter. They added their own personal touches and made some special snowflakes to add to the bags. Steve Maraboli said, “A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” Hopefully, this will be the case with these bags and Kindness Elves.

Enjoy your weekend!
-Ann

November 30, 2018

posted Dec 2, 2018, 2:49 PM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving break and are ready for the next four weeks of school before the Christmas vacation. Although this time brings excitement and changes to normal routines, we, at school, will continue to focus on academic rigor and student growth. Students should read each night and every night for at least 20-minutes. Students in grades K-2 should bring home nightly reading canvas bags. In the bags, for most students are both paper decodable books and picture/chapter books. Students need to read to you the paper books and as a family, you can read the picture/chapter books. Educational research has found that students that read for at least 20 minutes a night score academically better on tests throughout their schooling experience. Our students in grades 3-5 have more flexibility in their reading choices. However, it is still essential they are also reading 20 minutes each night. If your child is struggling to find the right genre or isn’t reading, please let his/her teacher know and our staff will help with some selections.

I want to share with you that my family met over Thanksgiving break and I will be out on FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). My dad’s illness has progressed and needs 24/7 care. My mom has done an amazing job up to this point, however, he needs more care than she can provide. We are working on a long-term care plan.

Although I am not at school, I am confident in our faculty and staff. Things will continue on without a hitch! In addition, from the SAU office, Superintendent Buckley, Anne Holton (Student Services Coordinator) and Kim Sarfde (Curriculum Coordinator) are rotating time at our school.

Have a great weekend!

November 16, 2018

posted Nov 19, 2018, 5:28 AM by Christine Roman

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Wow! The weather this week has awakened my senses and honestly has made me a little grumpy! I cannot believe we are talking wind chill, accumulating snow and a snow day! I had to unpack my winter jacket, boots, woolen mittens, and a hat. “Jack Frost” has come too soon!

However, even if winter comes early, we are all hearty New Englanders after all and need to get prepared. If students arrive at school between 7:00 and 7:25 a.m., they head outside to get some fresh air and run around to wake up from a long bus ride. (Some of our students are on the bus for nearly a half hour.) Please have your child dress for playing outdoors (hats, mittens, winter coats, and boots). We go outside until the temperature, factoring in the wind chill, drops below ten degrees. Wearing layers is helpful because sometimes by lunch recess, it has warmed up enough for only a pullover or a jacket.

We are also entering cold and flu season. We are reminding students to wash their hands frequently with warm water. We talk about how coughing and sneezing into their elbows will keep “germs” from spraying out into the classroom. The children are being told not to share drinks or water bottles-another way “germs” are passed along. Moms and Dads - if your children are not feeling well and/or have a fever, keep them home and let them rest. (Remember our 24 hours expectation and district policies.) On a final note, it's important to exercise, eat healthy and drink plenty of water - good everyday habits that will help keep you from getting sick and make illness pass more quickly if you catch a bug.

I'm hoping we'll get one last warm spell before winter truly sets in. But, if we don't, please bundle up and let's stay healthy!

-Ann

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