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YES Opening Newsletter 2019-20
Ryan Gleason
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

August 14, 2019 

Dear YES Families,

On behalf of our entire staff, we would like to welcome all of our new and returning students to Yarmouth Elementary School.  It is with great honor and enthusiasm that I send out this opening of school letter for the 2019-2020 school year.

WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL

I look forward to meeting new faces, revisiting with familiar ones, as well as hearing all about everyone’s summer adventures! For those of you who have not met me, I have been a teacher and school administrator in Maine for the past twenty-six years. This will be my third year as the principal of YES. It has been, and continues to be, an honor to lead such a wonderful school.  I am excited for our work together as we make this another fabulous school year.

I hope that your summer has been filled with fun family activities. It has been a beautiful Maine summer. I finally checked off one of my own “bucket list” items and visited Cabbage Island off of Boothbay Harbor in July. I highly recommend this experience if you love lobster!

Of course, how quickly summer concludes and our thoughts turn to preparing for the start of school. This is always one of my favorite times of the year. I love the excitement of beginning each new school year and eagerly await welcoming our students and hearing their great summer stories.  I’m thrilled to be part of a team comprised of teachers, staff, parents and students who want to achieve great things! Our faculty, staff and I are looking forward to a new school year and are working hard to see that your child’s learning experience at YES is a successful one.

YES STAFF SUMMER UPDATE

I believe that having quality, inspirational and passionate teachers is essential to a school's success. To borrow John Hattie's words; "teachers should build classroom climates where errors are welcome, student engagement is the norm, questioning is high and students gain reputations as effective learners." Our talented faculty brings a diverse set of approaches to instruction in order to address a variety of student learning styles.  

The YES staff has been busy this summer! Not only are they enjoying some well-deserved downtime to rest and re-energize, but they also continue to grow as learners. This summer our teachers have been engaged in extended school year teaching, graduate work, curriculum development, classroom innovation, and social-emotional learning. In fact, we have a team of teachers attending the Columbia University Teachers College in New York City this week for the second year in a row. All of this summer learning has continued to help our staff remain current in progressive, researched-based, best practice models of instruction.

CORE VALUES AND INCLUSION PRACTICES 2019-20

Throughout the community, there is an incredible level of excitement as everyone makes final preparations for the arrival of our children.  It is with the same care, enthusiasm, and commitment that we approach the craft of teaching. As the people you have entrusted with the education of your children, we have developed a strong educational program that addresses each child’s social, emotional and academic needs. We promote an educational environment that engages the students in meaningful work so that they develop the critical skills necessary to become independent, responsible, and productive citizens.

The Yarmouth district vision of “Empowering All Students to Create Fulfilling Lives in a Changing World”, continues to drive our work on continual school improvement. Our Core Values of “Respect, Caring, Citizenship and Fairness” live and breathe at YES every day. Kindness and inclusion are embedded in our core values and are essential to our work with students. Our staff is committed to creating a learning community that welcomes and values diversity, differing perspectives, and a myriad of life experiences. Our students, parents, and families continue to partner with us in support of this vision. We value your input and communication, and we rely on the conversations about kindness and inclusion that you have with your children at home, which further strengthen our vision. 

This year our entire Yarmouth School District community- staff, students and parents- will have an opportunity to learn and grow in the area. We look forward to sharing information about the steps we will take as a district, and as an elementary school community, to ensure welcoming, inclusive environments for our students, parents, families, and staff members.

NEW STAFF

We are fortunate to welcome some talented new faculty and staff to the YES team this year!  A warm welcome to:

Mary Moreno, our new librarian.

Meghan Moynihan, who is joining our third-grade teaching team.

Jennifer Bessey, a K-4 ESL teacher who will be working between Rowe and YES.

Ashley Marden, who will be an educational technician.

We also have some guest teachers who will be filling in for staff this school year. Three of our staff members are expecting children in the coming months!. We are happy for them, and also pleased that we have found three highly capable and quality professional educators to fill in while they are on maternity leave: 

Anne Kurlanski will be filling in as an Ed. Tech. for Daphne Demers during her maternity leave from September to December. 

Monica Parker will be taking over Laura Frost’s fourth-grade classroom while she is on maternity leave from November to February. 

John Curry will be taking over for Breanna Bullard in grade four when she is on maternity leave from January to early-April. 

We know Mrs. Kurlanski, Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Curry very well as they have all worked or currently work at YES in different capacities. We are confident that they will keep the learning experience running smoothly for students until their teachers return. 

In other staff changes, we welcome Mr. Todd Abbott to his new role as our K-4 Technology Integrator. Many of you know Mr. Abbott as a long time grade three teacher. He has been working hard this summer to prepare for the transition. I know your children will enjoy working with him this year on some innovative 21st-century learning.

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING

We also have a new programming title change to share. Our guidance classes will now be referred to as Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).  Ms. Laura Spellman, our school counselor, and the Rowe School counselors have been searching for a name that more accurately reflects the learning that goes on with school counselor classroom instruction at the elementary level. Both Rowe and YES will be calling this SHARE/Unified Arts offering Social-Emotional Learning. So when your students come home saying that they had “SEL” today you will know what they are talking about! 

RENOVATION UPDATE

As you learned earlier this summer from Dr. Dolloff, renovation planning continues to move forward. As part of this renovation you will notice some changes in the hallways when you return. Over the summer there was preparation work done in the hallways along with the music and art rooms to remove asbestos tiles. Currently, we have exposed concrete in the hallways that will be covered with large carpet mats by the beginning of the school year. Groundbreaking for the new addition is scheduled to begin in January 2020. 

COMMUNICATION & OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Communication between home and school is an important priority at YES.  Please review the YES 2019-20 Handbook that is posted on our website.  This will provide you with detailed information on our policies and procedures. On the first day of school, we will send home many forms in an effort to make sure that everyone receives some important information.  After that, most of our correspondence will be through email. Throughout the year, Dani Carter and Lisa Bianchini, our administrative assistants, will send informational emails from the office. I will also send out a monthly newsletter and encourage you to follow me on our school website news feed and the YES Twitter page as I share all the learning, information and fun that occurs throughout the school year.  Please make sure that you check your child’s teacher page, website or blog as this is the best way to stay informed.

If your child plans to ride a bike to school, please remind him/her that the bike racks are near the front entrance of the building.  A student is permitted to ride a bicycle or walk to school with written permission from his/her parent or guardian. Please send a note in with your child to give their teacher.  Students are responsible for securing their bicycle to the bicycle rack. Please remember that helmets are required in Maine for all children under age 15. Bicycle riders and walkers are dismissed with all students at 3:30 PM.

Children should not be on the playground before 8:15 PM as there is no supervision before then. School begins promptly at 8:40 PM.  In the afternoon, please come into the office and sign your children out even if you arrive after dismissal at 3:30 PM. Safety is another top priority at YES and it is very important that we know where everyone is.  We appreciate your patience, help, and cooperation. 

When parking your car in the drop/off pick up line, it is also appreciated if you can turn the engine off and not keep your car idling if you are sitting for several minutes or getting out of the car. The drop off/pick up line is designated a "clean air zone".Our goal is to keep the air quality around our school as healthy as possible. 

Please make every effort to confirm plans for after school before your children leave in the morning.  If plans should change during the day, please call us and we will notify your child of new plans at the end of the day.  Teachers do not always have time to check email during the day; therefore, calling the office is the safest way to notify us of a change.

Following our policies, please remember that birthdays are celebrated without food items and gift bags for students.  Students are honored by teachers in other creative and fun ways on their special day. 

ATTENDANCE PLANNING

I know that the school year has not yet begun but we are going to ask for your help. The state of Maine defines “chronically absent” as a student that misses 10% or more of the school year, excused or unexcused. Over the past school year, we observed a large increase in student absences during the year, particularly in the area of planned family absences. 

We recognize that there are days when students cannot be in school due to sickness, medical appointments, etc. However, if possible, we urge you to schedule extended family trips during school vacations. Please keep in mind that when a student misses school, they miss instruction and that learning experience cannot be replicated through makeup work. Additionally, it is not a reasonable expectation for teachers to provide all missed work before a student leaves on a family vacation. It is also important that parents and students understand that it is the student’s responsibility to make up missed work.

This also relates to our student early dismissals, which we also found to grow in number last year. Important learning goes on for the entire school day. Our dismissal for students who are being picked up in the office at the end of the day is 3:30 PM. Please do not ask for your child to be dismissed between the time of 3:20 to 3:30 PM. to try and “beat the line”. It is a very busy time in the office and we appreciate your help honoring this. 

NEW PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT

I am pleased to share with you that we have some new playground equipment this year! Thanks to the support of the school department, Yarmouth Community Services and our K-8 PTO we will be adding two new playground items. Replacing the bouncer will be the “Tarantula” our top vote-getter in the student survey given last spring by our Student Playground Committee. Additionally, PTO has generously supported the purchase of two soccer goals to use on the playground. A huge thank you for all this support!

Also, a shout out to Meg Pachuta, our P.E. teacher, for her leadership with the playground committee in facilitating this process with our students. We will be looking to make some other playground upgrades in addition to planning for another playground space when fifth grade joins us. 

PARENT TEACHER ORGANIZATION (PTO) NEWS

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The Yarmouth K-8 PTO is excited for another school year of providing our students with field trips, visiting specialists, and community events! We are so thankful to those who are able to give funding for these enrichments. If you’d like more information on what the PTO funds, please review what we provided last year. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AZTRYP74NcWljLysS7WbC0iwsqcmEbmrc0MK-btlUVc/edit

Let's get together to kick off another amazing school year! Join us for a Welcome Back Picnic on Sept 8, 12-2 PM in Royal River Park! Rowe, YES, and HMS families are all welcome and invited to bring a picnic lunch, blanket, and lawn games/toys to share. All children, regardless of age, should be accompanied by a parent as this is not a drop-off event. Please contact Becca Maltais, rebeccamaltais@yahoo.com, with questions. Rain date is Sunday, Sept 15, same time and place. Hope to see you there!

The park is located at 111 E. Elm St. We have permission to park at Royal River Park, Yarmouth History Center, Rowe School, Merrill Memorial Library, Intermed Insight Eye Care, Yarmouth Community Services, Town Hall (please do not park in police station spots).

The Hannaford Gift Card program is one of our most successful fundraisers and is completely free to you. You buy a gift card, receive the entire amount, and 5% of the amount purchased goes to the PTO. A flyer will come home the second week of school.

We would love to work with you based on your time constraints and schedule. If you’re interested in becoming more involved, you can contact us directly or fill out a 2-minute volunteer survey, which allows you to select what interests you.https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfPYU_owgZA14RxaBUTujJzYwB1szW5MdQB8BOgaME1Mhfupw/viewform

Do you want to just simply give to the PTO to help support this year’s events and activities? You can either write a check to Yarmouth K-8 PTO and send it to PO Box 262 in Yarmouth, or visit https://yarmouthpto.org/ and click on the blue “Donate Now” button. 

Thank you again for all your support! Please contact PTO Co-Presidents Jessica Raimy and Christy Hayashida with any questions (info@yarmouthpto.org). We are happy to hear from you!

SCHOOL NURSE NOTES

Welcome back for another exciting year at school! I am hoping for a healthy balanced and fun school year.  I have an open-door policy, feel free to drop in or give me a call to discuss anything at any time.  

Here are a few housekeeping items I would like all families to be aware of:

My contact information and a few thoughts on health topics can be found on my school-based webpage HERE, I update it periodically, so check back often for updates

The district-based school nurse webpage can be found HERE, and includes information for all four Yarmouth schools 

From time to time children need to miss school due to illness, please keep students home with the following conditions and be sure to contact the school to let us know your student will be out for the day.  This list is a guideline and is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for schools. It is by no means complete.  

Fever: A fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher. Students must stay home from school for 24 hours after they no longer have a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

Vomiting and/or Diarrhea: Students should stay home and return to school after being symptom-free for 24 hours.

Rash: Students with an unexplained rash with fever or behavior change. Students may return to school if a physician has determined the illness is not contagious and the fever is gone.

Strep Throat/Impetigo: Students must stay home from school until after antibiotic treatment has been started and clearance from doctor has been obtained.

Please contact your school nurse with any questions, or if your child has been diagnosed with a contagious illness.

If your student needs to take medication at school, all medicines are administered in accordance with the Yarmouth School Department’s Medication Policy, and it can be read: HERE 

Any prescription medication given on school grounds must have a permission form signed and that form can be accessed: HERE

For specific medical plans, please reach out to me at any time.

For any other question send me an email or give me a call.  I am happy to discuss any concerns you may have.

Again, welcome to YES! It is going to be a wonderful school year!

Nurse Thomson

MEET & GREET DROP-IN

Our opening day is just around the corner. We look forward to seeing you at our informal drop-in “Meet and Greet” on Thursday, August 29th from 9:45 AM to 10:30 AM. This is an opportunity for you and your children to meet new teachers, visit classrooms and see old and new friends. 

IMPORTANT DATES IN SEPTEMBER

Please keep the following early fall dates and events in mind as you plan:

September 3rd, Tuesday           First Day of School!

September 12th, Thursday        Grade 2 Open House 6:00 PM

September 18th, Wednesday    Grade 3 & 4 Open House 6:00 PM

At the second grade Open House we will begin in the cafeteria/gym at 6:00 p.m. for a brief meeting. I will provide an introduction and you will also have an opportunity to meet with our unified arts team before spending the rest of the evening with your child’s classroom teacher. 

At the Gr. 3 & 4 Open House event please proceed directly to your child’s classroom where presentations will begin promptly at 6:00 PM. At both events, you will have the opportunity to visit your child’s classroom, begin to form a relationship with the classroom teacher, as well as learn about that grade level experience and how you can support your children and the school.

September 19th, Thursday        K-4 PTO Meeting (YES Library) 7:00 PM

September 26th,  Thursday School Picture Day

In closing, as pleased as I am to offer a monthly newsletter it is the face-to-face interaction that I value most. Please feel free to contact me and discuss any questions or concerns you might have throughout the school year.  I look forward to our continued collaboration in providing a safe and nurturing environment as well as a challenging and diverse curriculum for all our learners.
 
We are very much looking forward to watching the students stream off of the buses, cars, and bicycles to fill the hallways with the hustle and bustle that has been absent all summer. This will be another FANTASTIC year!
 
Warm Regards, 

Ryan Gleason, Principal