Welcome Back!

August 31, 2018

Dear Pine Glen Community,

It has been a wonderful summer and I am sure everyone has enjoyed this time with family and friends.  This summer my family made its annual trip to Cape Cod for a week.   My younger daughter participated in swim team and played water polo. My older daughter volunteered over 300 hours at a horse barn where she mucked stalls, groomed horses, and instructed campers in equine skills. My youngest daughter will be in fifth grade and older daughter a freshman in high school this fall.  I also had a blast playing tennis with my wife and friends this summer. Throughout the summer I greatly missed seeing all the students. I have to thank our Pine Glen community for the incredible privilege you provide me with to educate your children and see them grow.

We will commence the 2018-2010 school year at Pine Glen Elementary School on September 4th for students in grades 1-5.   Students can be dropped off starting at 7:55 am. Instruction starts at 8:10 am. Students will be dismissed at 2:15 pm. Kindergarten students’ first day is September 6th.  Kindergarten hours are 7:55 am-12:45 pm.

We have 323 students enrolled and 56 staff for the start of school.   Students and staff will be in a safe and secure learning environment learning from incredible teachers using the most cutting-edge technology, researched based curriculum, and instructional practices.

I would like to thank Barbara and her custodial staff for all their hard work this summer in preparing the building for the start of school.  The floors look fantastic! This summer we had a new filter water bubbler/water bottle filler installed in the hallway outside the gym. We also had the parking lots repaved and new parking lines painted.   In addition, over the summer we installed new high definition projectors in the classrooms. The projectors will display a much clearer picture of information on the board for students. This was a big undertaking as it involved electrical, carpentry, and technical expertise in the installation in the classrooms.

We are continuing to use our Positive Behavior Incentive System (PBIS) called Hoot.  We continue to make WISE (Work to be APPROPRIATE, Important to be SAFE, Strive to be KIND, Everyone Matters!) choices and remember that teachers are like OWL’s  (Observant, Wise, and Listening).   Staff members will continue to hand out Hoot Cards in common areas (i.e., hallway, cafeteria, etc.) to any student making WISE Choices.  The Hoot cards will be collected at the end of each day. On Thursday afternoon, a student will be randomly chosen from each grade. The students chosen will be announced on Friday morning over the loudspeaker, and they will be called down to the office to receive a pencil and have their picture taken.   There is a large research base showing that a PBIS approach like Hoot improves social, emotional, and academic outcomes for all students. Hoot, along with other sound educational practices, are utilized at Pine Glen to make learning a joyful experience.

We are continuing to use Responsive Classroom.   Research has shown a strong connection between social-emotional learning (SEL) and academic success.  Likewise, research also tells us that cognitive growth occurs largely through social interactions. A program like Responsive Classroom is a key ingredient in helping students with peer interactions in order to grow not only socially, but academically too.  

We continue to utilize a best practice and highly researched Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) often referred to as Response to Intervention (RtI) with staffing.  A MTSS/RtI approach has allowed us the capacity to best draw upon our staff to address individual student needs. Please continue to be mindful of the fact that in utilizing this approach a student’s classroom teacher might be different than their reading or math teacher.  This affords teachers the opportunity to work with a narrower teachable range, provide interventions, and maximize efficiency. This is not leveled instruction. We are providing flexibly grouped reading instruction that changes based on data. We continue to use an online universal screening to become aware of where to focus our instruction and provide interventions for students.

We will continue to use ST Math (ST Math) for math instruction this year.  ST Math is a game-based learning program that guides students of all levels in visualizing math concepts through tricky puzzle challenges.  As students play, they gain a strong conceptual understanding and develop a love for math and the rigors of problem-solving. We have been using ST Math for a couple of years and were very excited to be awarded a grant.  Burlington was 4 out of 30 schools in Massachusetts to receive this grant. This grant will let students use ST Math for 60-90 minutes a week and teachers will receive embedded professional development to integrate our core math program, enVision Math (enVision Math).

State standards require all grades and all subjects to address literacy and comprehension strategies.   To address this standard we are using Keys to Literacy (KTL).  Last year teachers in fourth and fifth grade received professional development in teaching students KTL strategies resulting in all teachers in grades fourth through twelfth grade in Burlington using KTL.  This year second and third-grade teachers will receive professional development in KTL strategies.

We are embracing KTL because it addresses the state standards and more importantly is a research-based best practice.  KTL strategies help teachers address teaching literacy in content areas through instructing students in two-column note taking, creating top-down webs, main idea identifying skills, and categorizing, which provides for rigor in the instruction.

We are pleased to welcome new staff members to our Pine Glen Community.  I am incredibly thankful to all the residents of Burlington for continuing to provide us with the financial means to attract and retain the highest caliber of teachers.  Alyssa Kendall will be joining us as our new guidance counselor. Also, Khrystyna Leslie and Karen Kim will be our English Language Learners teachers. Emilie Manna is joining us as a kindergarten instructional assistant in Mrs. Petelle’s classroom.  Kimberly Kerr is also joining us as a kindergarten instructional assistant and will be working in Mrs. Hoyt’s classroom. Casey Slejzer, Samantha Cacciola, and Jacinda Pedersen are joining our staff as special needs, instructional assistants. Daryn Starkey and Ojeny Kavlakian are our new Response to Intervention (RtI Tutors).  Also, Britney Torres, Christine Spinale, and Allison Serafin are joining our staff as permanent substitutes.

I would like to thank Mrs. Gosselin and Mrs. Papadonis for all their hard work in the main office preparing us for this school year.  In addition, I would like to thank the residents of Burlington for continuing to support students’ growth. I also wish to thank the PTO for all their assistance in providing great student enrichment like our River of Kindness.  The PTO continues to serve as the best vehicle in which to volunteer and be active in our school community.

Thank you very much for the opportunity you entrust us with everyday in providing instruction to your children!   This will be my tenth year as principal at Pine Glen Elementary School, and I love what I do. I take great satisfaction everyday seeing learning being a joyful experience for students.  Thank you for your past and future support and partnership. Together we can continue to create a lifelong love of learning for everyone in our Pine Glen community.

If you have any questions or have great stories to share of your children’s learning journey, please do not hesitate to contact me at jlyons@bpsk12.org.

 

Sincerely,

John Lyons, M.S. Ed.