Dear Parents and Students,
It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. I hope that you all had time to relax, unwind, and spend some quality time together. I am excited to hear all about your experiences and adventures while you were on vacation. Please stop by and let me know the highlights, or drop me a note or email. As I was thinking about and preparing for the 2018-2019 school year, it occurred to me that the sudden change from home to school is one that can be nerve-racking both for students and their families. In an effort to make the transition as seamless as possible, we will be spending the month of September focusing on the positive aspects of school and learning. Formal assessments will be postponed until approximately mid-month. Teachers will be getting to know you and your families and assessing your children’s strengths. We will all be starting the year with a “clean slate.” Teachers have been made aware of this and will be spending much of the first two weeks of school “kid watching.” They will be focusing on what their students do really well. They will be encouraging the children to find their learning style preferences and hone their natural skills. They will be allowing your children time to be kids and show/tell them what they feel is important and how they want to share their “gifts.” Your children may be fabulous leaders or talented musicians or playwrights in the making. Their strengths may be in the realm of academics or may be social-emotional. They might be wonderful friends to their peers, monitors for their teachers, or intriguing conversationalists. They might be quiet and reserved, obedient, gregarious, studious, athletic, dramatic, or a million other things—all of which can help them reach their fullest potential as Castlewood citizens. Your children’s teachers will be sharing their “findings” with the children and you as well as with each other. September will be all about accentuating the positive. Even as the staff assigns work and engages your children in new and rigorous lessons, the main emphasis will be on those characteristics that each of your children possess that will help them achieve in school. The staff (teachers, paraprofessionals, clinicians, the office staff, and the administration) will highlight these unique qualities and allow the children to bask in what they do well rather than plan ways to change, “fix” or remediate the areas with which they struggle. The teachers will be creating a culture and community of learners within their classrooms and conveying to your children that we are all rooting for them and believe that each and every one of them has the capacity to excel this year. Only after this has been accomplished will more formal evaluations and assessments begin. And at that time, the teachers will construct academic goals and next steps WITH you and your kids. In this way, the teachers will have had the opportunity to see your children as the individual learners that they are. It is my sincerest belief that this approach will set every student up for success.
Additionally, you will have the opportunity to meet the teachers on Back to School Night from 5-8pm on September 17. On September 18 at 8:30am, dads (and/or any other significant male adult in your children’s lives) will be invited to our annual Take your Dad to School Day. I know that the PTA is also planning a “Fall into the PTA” event so that you can meet and get to know the PTA Executive Board and build relationships with them and with each other. Furthermore, Ms. Rowe has been working on developing several series of parent workshops that focus on our core beliefs (Student Independence and Strength-based learning); stay tuned for the dates and times.
We will be beginning our Enrichment programs by October. Your children (in grades 2-5) will have the opportunity to join Chorus. Children in grades 3-5 will have the chance to join our in-school Theater group. Upper classmen (4thand 5thgraders) can choose to participate in Technology and/or Art Enrichment programs. Our younger students will be working on developing their innate strengths, and their teachers will help them to use them to create engaging and rigorous projects. There will also be time in all students’ schedules for them to receive remediation in those subjects that they find most challenging.
I am so pleased to announce that we have secured grants (thanks to Ms. Rowe and Mr. Bogart) that will allow us to engage you AND your students in Dance and Art (more to come on both of those programs).
There are so many fabulous things that will be happening this year that I can barely contain myself. I could write pages and pages more, but I will save the rest for my Principal’s Report at the first PTA meeting which will take place on September 18thfrom 6pm to 7pm in between the two Meet the Teacher sessions. For now, I wish you a wonderful remainder of the summer. I look forward to seeing you and your children on September 5.
Dr. Melissa Haidary