• Teachers attended the Ruby Payne conference and came back full of brain-based research to teach students to:
• not feel “less than,” or “separate from”
• calm themselves
• help build strong inner selves
• instill well-being

• Christi Fogel, the identified school gifted-talented coordinator, has attended three BOCES meetings this year and she is working to find ways to identify gifted and talented students who have not been identified in traditional manners. The identified students work with her once weekly on chosen projects including coding and robotics.

• Each month, on the early release day, the STEM team plans a project for the 9 groups of mixed age groups to complete a project. Following the “Gardner Way” the older students work attentively with the younger students to solve a problem. November’s challenge was to build a rubber band roller, to change the circumference of the rolling piece, to twist the rubber band tighter, to roll it on different surfaces than to discuss scientific variables. It was great fun and very noisy.

• During our first year of the counselor corps grant we are focusing on learning what is expected and our specific needs. Pam Decker, the consultant hired through the grant, has done a complete review including interviews with students and teachers, and an online survey for the parents, students, and teachers. We are waiting to have her appraisal/needs-assessment soon and in January for a work session for reviewing the data results and determining needs, root causes and developing SMART Goals.

• We are rebuilding our PTSA and the first item on the agenda has been to hold a t-shirt and hoodie sale. We hope to get them delivered before Christmas.

• When our cook Juan took another job, so did his wife who was working at the school once a week through the Live Well grant at the salad bar in the morning and being paid as a library aide in the afternoon through the Gardner School Foundation. Machela Koonce, a parent of two students and Gardner alumni, will be taking the job and is very excited about both.

• We are glad that Camilla Romero has agreed to resume teaching since the third and fourth-grade position has become available. She is pleased to have the opportunity to teach older students and then will be able to make the choice whether she prefers the middle grades or kindergarteners. I have always felt that changing grade levels is a great opportunity to grow as a teacher. When I was in Australia, the teachers were required to change grade levels at least each decade.

• We are expecting a good turnout on Thursday evening as we are hosting a family night including a burrito dinner, a Shred Hate workshop for the parents sponsored through the ESPN No Bully grant and a movie for the students.

• Each class has been practicing songs and speaking parts for the upcoming winter show, “Show Biz. ” We even have a class practicing a snowboarding tango. The whole-school performance will be on December 19th at 6:00 PM with refreshments to follow. Come a bit early as we always have a full house. I hope that you can join us.

I wish you all a special holiday season… “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Please let me know if I can ever answer any questions that you may have.