News from “Principal” Pam 2017

ed-news-colorNews from Principal Pam

January 2017

• The semester ended on a high note. The holiday show, Once Upon a Christmas, was beautiful. Many friends and family members commented saying,”It was one of the nicest shows that we have had in years.” For me, the best part was seeing all of the kids so happy to be on stage performing. The journal did a nice write-up and we have several photos posted on the Gardner School web site’s home page.

• Students celebrated the season by crafting gifts for parents, making cards for hospitalized children, sending Santa letters that focused on more than what they wanted for themselves, learning to play the dreidel game and making Hanukkah latkes, baking and decorating gingerbread, collecting hundreds of non-perishables to share around the community and showing appreciation for those who taught harp, music, and Zumba with notes and hugs.

• We are trying to figure out how we can continue with harp lessons for the several students who began in the fall. We have collected some guitars and Ricky Gonzales is planning a curriculum to instruct beginning guitar. Sheila Cataford, a certified Zumba volunteer, will continue working with the 5/6 graders once a week during PE. She enjoyed working with the students so much for the Christmas performance and all involved are excited to continue. Cathy Cordova, paid by the G.S. Foundation, will resume teaching art classes once each week. Johnnye Mullen taught music last quarter and we hope to continue alternating art with music in the future.

•Funding for the once a week salad bar has been awarded. Prep, serving, and clean-up will be done by Jackie Williams. The pilot project will commence on the 18th of January. Funding will supply the food, the worker, and the supplies needed including a super fancy chopper-slicer-dicer. Our hope is that by incorporating a salad bar into lunches it will increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. We hope that when offered healthy food choices, children will respond by trying new items. Another goal is for the students to grow veggies that will be used in the salad bar. Through these early, positive experiences, students will be better prepared for a lifetime of healthy eating. We hope that this project will be a model for the other schools in the district.

• Both boys and girls basketball teams are enjoying the season and are showing a lot of growth and great sportsmanship. They have games each week in January.

• The leadership student advisory group, which I work with weekly, have planned an assembly prior to the M.O.Y. NWEA testing. They will be revving up the testers about the importance of demonstrating best effort, hosting a knowledge bowl and describing incentives for performance.

• The end of the semester grades and individual student narratives will be sent home this week. Part of our work day will be used for teachers to complete grades and the letters which are time-consuming, but they are much appreciated by parents.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or advice.


February Updates

We are looking forward to a great spring (officially one month from today, although it sure seems like it is already here). I’d like to thank the Gardner School staff:

• All teachers at the Gardner School have their certificates in hand.

• Winter NWEA scores are improved (see the attachment).

•The state reviewers see great improvement on our submitted teamwork Unified Improvement Plan (UIP) from years past, although we will still hear back to make revisions.

•The school has been sanitized and we hope that we have seen the last of the ongoing and lingering viruses and infections.

• After many visits from Harry, our heat is working correctly. Harry was our hero!

Our students are thriving. I thank the staff for their dedication.

February was designated as The Love for Books Month. Much of the money from the state library grant has been spent, and children are enjoying a great variety of new titles. People Actively Listening to children Read (PALS) happens weekly, which encourages the love of reading. Casey Huff’s 5th and 6th graders presented a book fair for their families. Each student made a diorama and added a ti-fold board on the elements of their favorite book read this year. The children did excellent jobs giving speeches about the books. Many other classes dedicated their hall bulletin board to books. They were clever and catchy. Staff members all made a list of their favorite picture book, classic, and their all-time favorite author. The kids have enjoyed seeing what the teachers read.

A recess gardening club is active. The kids are thrilled to see their starts growing strong.

The after school knitting club continues. More than a dozen children are enrolled and six adult knitters assist.

I host a tea time brainstorming session for parents once monthly. They are an eager group and want the best for the children. It will be held at 3:00 on the 24th. Everyone is welcome.

The new honor council/leadership team of students is a great group and they are working on areas to make the culture of the school more positive. The leaders include Charlie Montoya, Jason Jardine, Bella Rivera, Ciera Padila, Rebecca Younger and Kelsie Aguirre.

Upcoming events include:

Track is scheduled to begin on February 29th.

The annual Voices of the Past presentations will be on Wednesday, February 24th at 6:00 PM.

The annual dinner and carnival will be March 11th beginning at 5:00 PM.


It was nice to see new faces at the Gardner School last week. Shirley Tobin stopped in to discuss her grant to work with at-risk middle school students beginning next week. Joe Hibpshman also came to make introductions.

The CDE Turnaround Leadership grant was submitted last week and we are currently working on another CDE grant for Early Literacy. Both will be announced in early spring.

The NWEA reading, language, and math mid-year tests were conducted last week. Middle-school science and make-up exams will be given this week. Teachers will use the data to decide if they met their mid-year goals, and to plan areas needing improvement (UIP Action Step).

The first learning walk was conducted during the early release in January, and teachers shared many great ideas as they went from room to room. They focused on learning targets, anchor charts, classroom set-up and organization methods. All teachers will sign up for a learning walk in February and the focus will be on management tips (UIP Action Step).

As January progressed, teachers began feeling more comfortable and effective using Engage NY. “The comprehensive lessons are especially helping the students that seem to struggle with concepts,” says Katie Robison.

Our recycling program has grown. We are now getting cardboard to El Depot, paper to the transfer station in Walsenburg, and mixed recycling of plastic, glass and aluminum to the Target recycling center. The students are in charge of the collection. We are hoping to have one less dumpster in the future.

The monthly parent idea group has increased in size at each meeting; 12 parents participated in January. They all have great suggestions to improve our school. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, February 24th at 3:00.

Brenda Duran told me about her Middle School leadership council and thanks to her great idea, we are in the beginning stages of organization at the Gardner School. Leadership team includes Charley Montoya, Jason Jardine, Ciera Padila, Bella Rivera, Rebecca Younger and Kelsie Aguirre

A weekly knitting club has been popular with more than a dozen students from 1st -8th grade. They are being assisted by four volunteers with long-time knitting experience. The gardening club is working on clean up of the greenhouse and will begin planting in mid February.

Welcome to 2016

Welcome to the new year! We hope that each and every family had some great family moments during the winter break. Children hopefully picked up a book or two and became consumed in that magical world where only a book can take them. Teachers are also hopeful that those students who had Ipads at home used them to review skills and to make educational connections.

The first semester of school ended on the 17th of December. Report cards will be sent home on Thursday the 7th of January. Please sign and return them within a week. Also included will be a personal narrative outlining some strengths and needs of your child. This does not need to be returned. If you would like to hold a conference with one or all of the teachers, an appointment can be made. Feel free to call the school to schedule.

For those students that took the standardized PARCC test last spring, the scores are finally in and will be sent home with report cards. Teachers will be happy to discuss the scores with each of you. The test will be given again in the Spring. The categories will be reading, writing, communicating and math.

These tests give a lot of information about growth and gaps, but they do not reflect the whole child. A lovely letter circulated the internet last year when scores were released, and I would like to repost it to remind you that a test is not everything.

“…these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you– the way your teachers do and certainly not the way your families do.

“They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day.

“They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that you have traveled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends.

“They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful and that you try, every day, to be your very best… the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.

“So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart.”

We at Gardner School welcome you to the new year. The early months of the year are typically the months when students are most engaged and motivated. We look forward to seeing your eager learners in the new year.


October 1,2015

Greetings families and Friends:

It is hard to believe that the first quarter of school is about over. With so many new teachers on board, exciting new ideas and ways of learning are on the horizon. Students are working on having a “growth mind set,” which if they practice they will become positive decision makers and stronger students. So much about being successful in school is attitude.  I am pleased to see students making attempts to be more engaged in their learning. Also, teachers are working very hard at building positive relationships.

Cathy Cordova has worked very hard to get the 5th and 6th graders off to a successful start while Casey Huff has had quality time at home with her son. She will return by the end of October. Valerie Mathason joined the staff as our 3rd and 4th grade teacher. Your patience was appreciated knowing that it is hard to not have had a permanent teacher for too long. Mrs. M. was worth the wait. The third and fourth graders are on the right track. There is a dreadful teacher shortage, especially in Colorado, so we are very lucky to have all of our positions filled with quality teachers.

We were represented well at the homecoming parade. Mr. Crosson did not disappoint. Walsenburg anticipates Kevin each year wondering what costume he will wear. This year he made us proud as the character Underdog. Our whole-school field trip to San Isabel State Park was a great day of environmental learning and a time to appreciate our resources. Our upper grades have been awarded to take a trip to the Space Program in CO Springs sometime second quarter. The fifth and sixth Grades had a great day at the State Fair at a Western Heritage Day pilot program. The volleyball girls have built their skills and they are demonstrating positive sportsmanship.

Several volunteers have spent many hours around the school tidying special rooms. The school has had a bit of a facelift and students are working on keeping their rooms tidier. American Furniture Warehouse made a generous donation to the school. There are new picnic benches, a sick bed, beanbags, colorful chairs and an adorable mushroom table and chairs brightening up the school. Having pride in our school grounds also builds pride in our learners.

We have been encountering some unfortunate events on the Walsenburg bus and regulations have been broken far too many times. As you are aware, our first job is safety. Bus safety is a high, high priority. Each child has been assigned a seat, but they often move to an unassigned area. Trash piles up daily. And the most worrisome is that several students do not buckle up. The students are aware that the seating assignments are temporary if they can prove to be more responsible. Please remind your child of the requirements to ride the bus and the bus contract that they signed. Thanks for your help.

We will be sending out conference appointment times in a short while. Please get them back to the teachers.

The Scholastic Book Fair will be in Gardner at the end of October. We are still looking for a few more volunteers to run the fair.

I-pads are currently being deployed. Within a few week all students will have one. Students will be able to take their I-pads home on the weekends if they read and return a reading log each Thursday!
First quarter conferences:
Throughout the afternoon and into the darkness of Thursday, October 15th Gardner School teachers held conferences. We had close to 100% participation. If you were not able to attend, teachers will phone you to reschedule. Thank you for supporting your school.

Tuesday, the 27th of October, the school board will meet in Gardner. Prior to the event there will be an Open House. Please stop by to view the students’ demonstrations of learning. We will have treats in each classroom to hold you over before heading home. Everyone is welcome to stay for the board meeting.

We are pleased to announce that by the end of the coming week all but two conferences will have been held. 95% attendance demonstrates the support in which we are so proud. Parents, remember there are other opportunities to get involved. The PALS and grandparent programs are in full swing, but we could always use substitutes. A parent interest group will meet each third Wednesday of most months. Watch for notification in the “Events of the Week” flyer. PTSA evenings will begin in January and one class will perform each month. And please, come to the Gardner School Tuesday October 27 for our Fall Open House.