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Welcome Back

Welcome Back
Posted on 09/02/2015
Dear Families,

Welcome back to an exciting school year filled with learning. As a reminder, the first day of school is Tuesday September 8th, with Kindergartners starting on Thursday, September 10th. A Welcome Back Coffee for Families is scheduled for Friday, September 11th from 8 – 9:30AM. The event will be held in the school library. If you have any questions regarding student assignments, please go directly to the main office for assistance. Otherwise, students are to report to the cafeteria where adults will supervise them.

While the Massachusetts State Standards inform our work, at KO we believe that learning experiences extend beyond the classroom. We work together with families to explore in-depth themes and projects that integrate subject areas. Projects conclude with community events. Thank you for selecting King Open as the place to extend your child’s learning.

We have been extremely busy this summer preparing for the 2015/2016 school year. Response to Intervention (RtI), Accountable Talk and Math in Focus will continue to be the three overarching school wide initiatives. Another important initiative is the KO transition to electronic progress reports for families. Also, acknowledging the complex nature of our work, we will deepen our collective understanding of cultural competency and problem-solve the social emotional aspects of student development. These topics, along with others, will be discussed at Principal Chats and School Council meetings. School Council meetings are held the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 6:30 – 8PM. and are open to all families. The dates of these meeting are on the school website. Parent participation is a very important part of our school community and we need your input and contributions.

Shortly after the start of school, we will be sending home information about joining parent committees and becoming a classroom parent. For the immediate, I encourage all parents to join the Announcement Listserv. Important school notifications will be posted on this Listserv.
 
Now, I want to briefly introduce some new staff members as well as make you aware of some internal staff changes. Katherine Clark (grade 2 teacher who co-taught with Aisha Vasquez Jackson) will not be returning. Aisha has been reassigned to grade 5. Priya Zerai (a former KO teacher) and Allison DiDomenico-Lane (new to the KO community) are the new grade 2 co-teaching team. Katherine Cross Sussman (formally the KO Building Sub/Data Specialist) has also been reassigned to grade 5. Christy Pica (ASD Teacher) will not be returning. Jill Self (new to the KO community) will join the ASD team as Christy’s replacement. Dorothy Ferranti (Early Literacy Interventionist) will not be returning. Christine Reycroft (formally the Literacy Coach) has been reassigned to this position. Jaenine Cortazar (new to the KO community) will assume the Literacy Coach role. Nicole Dillon (School Psychologist) will not be returning. Michele Arroyo (new to the KO community) will assume the role of School Psychologist. Benjamin Pickard (formally our Playworks coach) will be the new Building Substitute/Playworks support person. Finally, Noah Down (PE teacher) will not be returning.  Lauren Bean (new to King Open) will replace him. Please join me in welcoming (and re-welcoming) everyone to the King Open Community!

In order to promote a healthy school climate, please review the School Based Expectations with your child. The acronym R.O.A.R. is the pillar of these building-based expectations. Your child’s teacher will revisit these expectations in class during the first week of school and model to students what these expectations look like in practice. Modeling appropriate behaviors will occur routinely – particularly during the first six weeks of school. We will also reinforce what is expected of students during class meetings in the school auditorium. King Open Students ROAR! In addition, we are also attaching the About Discipline Page from our staff handbook. This page provides you with a brief snapshot of KO’s response to unexpected behavior. The end result to all unexpected behavior is to provide students with the skills needed to make better behavior choices and restore them to our community. It is important that we all send the message that staying true to these expectations will help us bond as an entire school community and keep our learning environment productive and safe. Please speak to your child’s teacher if you have questions about these expectations. You are always welcome to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher (or me) if you have any additional questions, or to provide us with additional information about your child’s learning. We view all parents as an invaluable resource. If you wish to schedule a meeting with me, please contact Brenda Christie (school clerk) at 617.349.6540.

I want to remind all families that students are officially late for school at 8:55AM. Students, who arrive before 8:40AM, are to report to the cafeteria. Please do not bring your child to his/her classroom prior to 8:40AM. Teachers are using this time to prepare for the school day. It is absolutely imperative that your child arrives to school on time. If your child will not be taking the school bus, please have your child at school by 8:50AM so that he/she can benefit from the additional 5 minutes to settle in class prior to the morning announcements (made at 8:55AM), and Morning Meeting that starts at 9AM. Classrooms that have a specialist classes (PE, Music/Instrumentals, Art, Technology, Library Media) that start at 9AM will have their morning meeting following the class. The Morning Meeting – a component Responsive Classroom – is a crucial part of the school day. In addition to providing students with an overview of the learning that will occur during the day, teachers use the Morning Meeting to provide students with opportunities to connect with each other in fun and creative ways. Students also have opportunities to role-play social misunderstandings and participate in social discussions grounded in topics that any student can initiate and feel comfortable about participating in – discussions that don’t always require prior exposure to academic content. The Morning Meeting also provides an additional opportunity for students enrolled in the King Open Olá program to practice speaking Portuguese in a relaxing environment. During the Morning Meeting, teachers will often model important social and academic behaviors that can then be practiced throughout the day while providing students with individual and whole class feedback as appropriate. Over time, students build the mental and moral muscle needed to manage their individual behavior.

As a friendly reminder, please be sure to fill out and return all emergency forms and paperwork as soon as possible. Include in this paper work all current information as well as your preferred means of contact in the event of an emergency. Maintaining building security is a major priority and we want to ensure that we can contact you in the event of an emergency. Also, please enter and exit the school using the main entrance on Cambridge Street. Please do not use side entrances to enter and exit the building.

Regarding CORI Checks, Cambridge Public Schools requires that all parents and guardians who volunteer in classrooms in the school, or who chaperone field trips pass a background check before they engage in these activities. We strongly recommend that all King Open parents, guardians, and caregivers submit a CORI form at the start of the year. A CORI check is good for one year. If you submitted a CORI form during the 2014/2015 school year, it is expired and you must submit a new one for this academic year. To complete the process you must fill in the form attached and then bring it along with a government issued photo ID to the King Open office, we will sign off on your form, take a photocopy of your ID and submit it for you. CORI checks can take up to 2 weeks to process, which is why we recommend that you complete it as soon as possible. The district will not make any exceptions for last-minute CORI requests and field trips that lack approved chaperones will be canceled. Again, we strongly encourage that all parents, guardians, and caregivers who think there is even a small chance they may chaperone or volunteer complete a CORI request now. A CORI form has been included in this mailing.

On behalf of the King Open Staff and myself, I want to again express my sincere appreciation for selecting King Open as the extended learning environment for your child(ren). We value your trust and take the social and academic development of your child seriously. As always, the successful start of the school year is only the beginning. Grounding our actions in King Open’s social justice mission, that encompasses a belief that our perspectives about social justice vary, it is our collective responsibility to communicate with each other so that our decisions and practices are grounded in equity and fairness.

In closing, our role as educators is to provide our students with the skills, intellectual and social capacity to meet the ever-changing demands of today’s society. We will continue to work tirelessly to maintain a warm, orderly and safe building climate while vigorously taking the necessary steps to close the achievement gap, and help students develop a life long love of learning.

I have included the documents listed below in the mailing sent home. Please review and share any relevant information with your child:

School Mission Statement, R.O.A.R., School Based Expectations, About KO Discipline, Lunch Schedule, Building Safety, Announcement Listserv, CORI

Looking forward to our work together,

Darrell Williams