Welcome to the 2017-2018 School Year!
August 15, 2017
Wendy Cobb - Principal
Dear FMS Families,
The first day of school is Wednesday, August 30th! As our summer is winding down, we enthusiastically welcome everyone back for the 2017-2018 school year! We would also like to welcome our new students and families to the Founders community. Please let us know how we might support you and your children in making a smooth transition. We are looking forward to the opportunities ahead of us as we enter our first year as a unified school district with our neighbors and colleagues in Essex Junction and Westford. I encourage you to explore the new EWSD (Essex Westford School District) website at https://www.ewsd.org/ Keep in mind there are sections of the website that are still under construction, however, you will find lots of information that will be helpful before the first day of school (e.g. lunch menu, contact information, calendar, PTO information, volunteer information) as well as links to school and district social media.
Everyone is busy preparing classrooms, putting up new bulletin boards, meeting with team mates, and making plans for the first day of school and beyond. Staff members have been attending workshops and conferences, completing college coursework, tutoring students, and working in summer programs. Founders was an active place again this summer. It was great to see so many students attending summer programming. Thank you to parents, for making the commitment to provide learning opportunities for your children during the summer months. Our custodians have been working tirelessly to keep the school environment clean and in working order during our summer programs, while at the same time completing many summer building projects. You’ll notice a beautiful, brand new gym floor has been installed! We will start the school year with a new phone system, new locks on all of our doors, and fresh paint throughout the building. Thanks goes out to everyone who kept things going all summer.
Families play a critical role in the education of our FMS learners. I look forward to building a strong partnership with each of you. You can be assured that I will always keep the best interests of your children in mind. I look forward to building positive connections with your children and with each of you, as we grow together as a community. I will be hosting an informal, meet the principal coffee “hour” (8:45-9:30 am) on the first day of school. We will meet in the FMS learning center. Coffee and light snacks will be provided. I hope you will be able to take time out of your busy day to stop in and say hello.
We will have our annual, welcome back to school, ice cream social on Friday, August 25, from 3:15 – 4:15 on the Founders playground. If you are able to, we ask that you please bring along non-perishable food items to donate to Aunt Dot’s Place. It’s so exciting to announce there will be a permanent food shelf opening in Essex in the coming weeks to support our neighbors. More details to follow soon. We hope to see you all for a little ice cream. You’ll catch up with friends and neighbors and help us welcome in the new school year.
Enclosed you will find general information about our school for your review and easy access. More information will be forthcoming. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact the office. We are happy to help. It’s going to be a great year! We can’t wait to see you all.
Enjoy the remaining days of summer! See you soon!
Important Upcoming Dates to Remember:
- Thursday and Friday, August 24-25: Teacher In-Service
- Friday, August 25 -- Ice Cream Social -- On the Playground 3:15-4:15
- Monday and Tuesday, August 28-29: Teacher In-Service
- Wednesday, August 30, First student day! Meet the principal in the Learning Center from 8:45-9:30, serving coffee and light snacks.
- Thursday, September 7: Picture Day
- Thursday, September 28, Open House 5:00 - 7:30
Pasta Dinner 5:00-7:00
Grade 3 5:30-6:30
4-5 Multi-Age 6:15-7:15
Grade 4 6:00-7:00
Grade 5 6:30-7:30
More information to follow.
Beginning of the Year - Quick Things to Know about FMS:
Welcome to New Teaching Staff This Year
- Angela Lettre - 5th grade teacher
- Sera Hyjek - 5th grade teacher
- Erica DiVece - 5th grade teacher
- Chelsea Henderson - 4th grade teacher
- Kristi Goyette - Special Educator
- Andrew DeHond - Special Educator
Mrs. Guerino will be our long term guest teacher for Mrs. Kelsey Mead who is home with her new baby. Congratulations Mrs. Mead.
- School Day/Schedule/Calendar: Students may arrive as early as 8:00 am (supervised in the gym until 8:20). There is no adult supervision prior to 8:00 so please do not drop students off before this time. Students are dismissed from the gym, to their classrooms at 8:20. The day officially begins at 8:35. This 8:20-8:35 time is an opportunity for students to connect with their peers and their teacher, complete classroom jobs, read the morning message, hear the school-wide morning announcements, and settle into their day. School-wide morning announcements occur at 8:35. Dismissal is announced at 3:10 pm. The school year calendar is posted on the EWSD website https://www.ewsd.org/
- Extended Day Programs:
- The YMCA program is available for after school care. Call the Y program at 862-9622 for more information.
- After school opportunities are plentiful at Founders. Look for information to begin coming home at the start of the school year.
- Responsive Classroom: We continue our work using a school-wide program called Responsive Classroom, which guides us in developing a sense of community and caring within each classroom and throughout the school. You will see morning message boards in each classroom. You will hear about interesting greetings and activities that your child is doing to build community in their classroom, team, and school. You will hear about hopes and dreams children and staff have for themselves and for our school this year. If you have any questions about what this overall school approach means, please contact your child’s teacher. You can also visit the Responsive Classroom website for more information https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/
- Communication: We will send out newsletters every two weeks, highlighting important news and events in the school. Teachers will send home letters discussing the specifics of their class and team. In addition, they post information about their class on their class/team websites. We encourage ongoing, two-way communication. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. The easiest way to do this is through email. You can reach a staff member through email by using their first initial, followed by their last name, @ewsd.org
- Communication of Concerns: If you have a concern, you are encouraged to first address it directly with your child’s teacher (unless the concern relates to bullying, sexual harassment, or abuse - go directly to the Principal or Joe Arigo, our student management specialist). If the concern relates specifically to special education, the parent should address the concern to both the student’s teacher and the case manager/special educator. If the concern is not resolved, bring the concern to the principal. If the concern remains unresolved at this point, you should bring the concern to the attention of the superintendent, or if it is a special education concern, to the attention of Dylan McNamara, the Director of Student Support Services. All teachers and administrative staff have email addresses and voice mail, so communication is easily accessible. Teachers are more than happy to return communications in a timely manner. Unless it is an emergency or a safety situation, we respectfully ask that you allow teachers 24 hours to respond.
- Parking: Please use the parking lot on the east side of FMS for parking. For safety reasons, parents cannot park (even for a moment) in the fire lanes in front of the school at any time, even after school for pickups from the YMCA or enrichment. Parking along the fence line in the East parking lot, near the cafeteria door, or in any non-designated parking spot are also not allowed. Please park in the main parking lot located between the two schools if there are no spots in the East lot. In addition, please do not park in the special needs/handicapped parking spots, unless you have the appropriate permit to do so. Thank you for helping us to keep everyone safe and maintaining accessibility for all.
- Attendance: We strongly encourage parents to get their children to school for the 8:35 start time and have them remain until dismissal at 3:10. If parents need to have their children regularly excused for reasons not related to “health, family emergency, bereavement,” as listed in school policy, they will need to petition the principal for these absences to be excused. Once absences reach five full days, we begin to communicate with parents about these absences and monitor further absences very closely. If you are taking a trip, please write to the principal, in advance, to request these days be considered excused. If your child is absent more than 20 days during the school year for any reason, then he/she may be processed in accordance with the Chittenden County Truancy Policy. Students who arrive to school late will need to sign in at the main office. The school will document the total late arrivals. The amount of instructional time missed will be added up and count towards full days of absences.
- End of Day Pick Up: Students will be escorted by their teachers to the gym at the end of the day, and then into the cafeteria. If you need to pick up your child at the end of the day, you will go to the cafeteria (side door - there are signs), where the registrar is, sign the clipboard that indicates that you have taken your child, and wait for the teacher to deliver them to you in the cafeteria. Please do not congregate in the lobby, in the hallways, or in alcoves, in the hopes of picking up your child as he/she comes through. This creates a significant bottle-neck and a safety hazard for the entire school. Parents are not allowed to pick up students from the bus line without first signing them out in the cafeteria with the school registrar. We must always be diligent and know where students are at all times. We greatly appreciate your cooperation and understanding with this, as we safely and efficiently dismiss our roughly 425 students.
- Early Dismissal If your child has a doctor’s appointment or you need to collect your child early for some reason, please send in a note, or email the registrar, Arthea Leggett email@example.com in the morning, indicating the time that you will pick up your child. Letting us know in advance prevents us from needing to interrupt classroom instruction. The teacher will have your child ready to go and will send them to the office at the time you indicated. If you are picking up your child, you will simply go to the office, check in with the registrar, sign the clipboard that indicates that you have taken your child. Please note, if you are picking your child up between 2:45 and 3:10, without advance notice, we will not be calling classrooms for students. Instruction is occurring up to dismissal and end of day routines can be disrupted when multiple early pick-ups occur. A reminder that early dismissals, like morning tardiness, are added up and counted toward full day absences. Please do your best to have students remain in school for the full school day until dismissal at 3:10. The end of day routines are as important for students as the beginning of the day routines. Thank you, in advance, for honoring each important moment we have with your children to help them learn and grow, academically and socially. Every minute is important and purposeful.
- Leaving and entering the building: With the exception of evacuation drills, all parents/visitors must enter and leave the building through the front door, during the school day, where our registrar can view you. You must also check in with the registrar. This is per our school safety protocol. The reason for this is that we need to know that the other exterior doors are secured and locked at all times. This also allows us to know who is in the building at all times. Should there be an emergency, this is critical information for school and emergency personnel.
- In-School Visitation: We value all of our volunteers here at Founders! Please be sure to pick up a Visitor’s Badge at the front desk, drop off your keys, and sign in, before you enter the rest of the school. This ensures that we know who is in the school in case of fire or other emergencies. It also helps us keep our students safe, by knowing who is approved to be in the school. This is VERY important, and is non-negotiable. You should make prior arrangements with a teacher if you wish to visit the classroom. The teacher will let the front office know that he/she is expecting you. Dropping off keys ensures that we get our badges back and that you sign out when you leave. Go to https://www.ewsd.org/domain/175, call our front office, or ask your child’s teacher, to find out more about how you can volunteer.
- School Safety: In September, we will convene the FMS safety committee and conduct an updated in-house safety audit and review our safety protocols. We have monthly drills with students throughout the year, related to the different drill topics (fire, evacuation, secure the building, clear the halls). Our goal is to be as prepared as possible, in order for us to handle a crisis should one arise, while at the same time not raising unnecessary alarm for students. If you have any concerns about safety, contact Wendy Cobb, School Principal.
- Student Management: Our school uses the principles of Responsive Classroom as the guiding philosophy around student management. Essentially, we ask that students show RESPONSIBILITY, RESPECT, AND SAFETY in their interactions with each other and all adults here at school.
- Take care of yourself.
- Take care of others.
- Take care of our school.
- Take care of our world.
Teams will work with students at the start of the year to determine what these expectations look like and sound like. They will set classroom and team expectations that directly connect to the above-mentioned school-wide expectations. Adults will model, practice with students, and review these expectations at the start of the year and in an ongoing manner throughout the school year.
- Discipline: As part of Responsive Classroom, all classes will be using the same series of consequences for students. If a classroom expectation is not met by a student, the teacher will give the student a reminder. If the behavior continues, then the student will be directed to move into a “take a break” area of the room. If the behavior continues, the student will have a time out in another, pre-designated classroom. The next step would be administrative intervention. Some behaviors (physical aggression, harassment, bullying) will be “fast-tracked” to administration and are subject to in-school or out-of-school suspensions. Your classroom teacher will be communicating with you if behavior is an ongoing concern, and we will be working together to develop a plan to help the student be more successful.
- Physical Aggression and Unsafe Behavior on the School Bus The number one priority for students is safety. Kindness and respect towards others is the expectation at FMS. All students have the right to feel safe on the school bus. Aggressive behavior on the bus is taken very seriously, just as it would be at school. When aggressive and unsafe behaviors are reported, the principal and the student management specialist will review video footage of the day and time in question. Bus suspensions will be implemented if the video reveals students are being physically aggressive or unsafe. The number of days students are suspended will depend on the severity of the behavior. Only the administration and designated school personnel are allowed to view the video footage, for confidentiality reasons.
- Founders T-Shirts: We will be taking orders for Founders T-shirts until Friday, September 22. Order forms are included with this mailing. You may leave your order at the front office or with your child’s teacher. There are scholarships if you need support in getting a shirt for your child. Confidentiality is assured.
- Electronic devices are encouraged to be left at home. The only exception is when the teacher gives students specific permission to use the electronic device for specific reasons directly related to learning. If devices are used inappropriately and violates our acceptable use guidelines, the office will be contacted and the student may lose the privilege. All students are instructed early on in the year, and throughout the year, on the acceptable use of technology and they are subject to a loss of technology privileges if they violate expectations. If students must bring a cell phone to school, they are expected to leave it in their backpack with it turned off. They are not allowed to use devices during lunch or on the playground, and they should not be taken out on the bus.
- Walking and Biking to School: Bus transportation is provided to students at Founders. Bus route information will be posted to the EWSD website soon. If your children bike to school, we strongly encourage them to wear helmets. In addition, please take time with your children to carefully review safety protocols for crossing streets. We suggest walking or biking with your child, in advance of the first day of school, to review these important safety rules.
- Summer Library Books: Please remember to return all summer checkouts from either the FMS or EES libraries the first week of school. Incoming 3rd graders should return their summer checkouts to FMS.
- Bottle Drive: This student-led bottle drive is raising money to invite humanitarian and artist Bren Bataclan to our school for a week long residency in the Fall of 2017. Bren’s mission is to promote kindness through the positive power of art. He explains how a smile is universally understood. See more at Bren’s website http://www.bataclan.com/ Bren will interact with ALL students and, as part of his residency, he will work with a grade level to paint a large mural using student art. Please donate your returnable bottles and cans toward the FMS (Founders Memorial School) fundraiser at Essex Discount Beverage or bring bottles to the ice cream social on August 25th. The bottle drive is organized by incoming 5th grade students, Ava Lovely, Becca Hirschman, and David Garrant, along with Mrs. Cole. Thank you, in advance for contributing!