Fall is a great time for outdoor events. In addition to the all-school mountain nature day, the primary students went to my house to pick apples, bake apple tarts, and make juice and applesauce. We had many parents and grandparents join us, which was great, as many hands make light work. The gathering was an example of project-based learning at its best. The younger kids have also continued to harvest from the outdoor gardens and they have been enjoying the results… beets, carrots and carrot juice, ingredients to add to the salad bar and I can almost smell a big pot of stone soup brewing. Now we have moved on to pumpkin time and I am sure you know about all the wonderful lessons that come from a pumpkin… from finding the circumference and weight of the pumpkin to counting and roasting the seeds.
The students had a great volleyball season. It ended yesterday with the exception of an end-of-season celebration. What I appreciated about these teams the most was how well they practiced teamwork and how congenial they were with one another. In addition, their skills improved greatly and they won more than half of their games.
We expect back-to-back parents in many classrooms for conferences. All parents have confirmed or rescheduled to meet with teachers within the next week. During conferences, we are requesting that the parents to complete a survey which has been requested by counselor corps consultant.
The social/emotional learning grant administered by Generation Schools is going well. We are beginning to notice a difference in the way students are listening to one another and showing kindness. The daily lessons are geared to grade levels. For example, the sixth graders are doing a sleep study, and as tweens, they have the most tired students.
The NO Bully grant through ESPN has already made an impact, but this time mostly how teachers are reacting to students. We are working to ensure that every student is accepted for who they are. All staff has been asked to interrupt student disrespect and aggression and refer to ongoing incidents. The 7th and 8th graders went through an entire process to write a social vision for the school. The vision they worked to perfection reads: The Gardner School community will be responsible, treat each other with respect, kindness, and honesty while having fun.
Teachers continue to improve their use of the iPads in class. The reading program in 6-8 is all online on the Amplify platform (although literature circles are used as a supplement). Some teachers use a program “Dictado” to improve writing skills. Others use math computation applications like “Monster Math” or “Moby Max” for a portion of class time in order for a teacher to hold small-group instruction. Kahn Academy is used to supplement in the middle school. Another teacher is using “Explain Everything.” She records lessons on the IPads for children to use since she is responsible for two math grade levels.
Another free 1-8 application that has been invaluable is “Prodigy.” It is a highly engaging math learning tool with a video game style interface, allowing students to design their wizard avatar, and it also allows students to access it from home. The app begins with a placement test and will adapt depending on how a student responds to questions. The teacher’s dashboard allows for overriding a grade placement, assigning practice based on what is being taught in class, assigning a particular skill to practice, and running reports to view how students are doing.
In closing, I would like to give everyone an advance invite to our One Room Schoolhouse which will take place on November 15th. The theme will be Forest Fires, Impact and Renewal
The Gardner School days are zipping by. I find it to be like the movies where the calendar pages are flying off and another month is over with the blink of an eye. Students are engaged in their classes and teachers are working hard to keep the students on task.
At the beginning of the year, there are so many duties teachers must fulfill and the trick is to have them complete all the necessary tasks without seeing them become stressed. They have completed their self-evaluations on the RANDA teacher effectiveness site and are each meeting with me before the end of the day on Thursday to set academic and data goals. These will be used for the Measures of Student Learning (MSL) which is 50% of the points earned on evaluations. We have streamlined the measures to 25% of the SPF, 25% of math improvement, 25% of reading improvement, and 25% of the teacher’s choice in a specific measurable area. Early childhood, science, ELL and the interventionist will have slightly different measures. It is a long and arduous process to evaluate, but holding our teachers to high standards pays off.
The local MAP scores have been uploaded into Alpine and teachers are digging into the specific reports such as the student profiles on the NWEA site which outlines the next standards students are ready for depending on their test scores. Another report is being used to group students into like groups so small group instruction will be effective. I completed an NWEA MAPS training this week through BOCES and had several aha moments to help understand the usefulness of the data and to share what I learned.
Teachers have stepped up to assist in worthy programs. Jody Medina is sponsoring yearbook. Mark Vialpando will again keep us informed with the Falcon Flash. Megan Hanlon will be a first-year coach for the Destination Imagination program. Heather Gonzales will be the student council leader.
Student Council is already active. Next week will be homecoming spirit week, with crazy hair day, dress to impress day, and peasant blouses, ponchos and bell bottoms will be donned for the 70’s day. We will have a float in the parade. A little fun goes a long way.
A great day was had by all last Friday. The students of Gardner School spent a day in the woods participating in environmental and ecology events. There was a scavenger hunt, plaster molding of tracks and imprints of leaves, camp-like games, and the completion of a nature journal. After a picnic, the students hiked up the Lonnie Brown Trail. The leaves on the aspens were in full show, the sky blue, and the fresh air encouraged some students and teachers to hike for close to two hours. So much real life learning occurred. I overheard one student say, “Hey, that is using ratios,” when they were told to mix one part water and two parts plaster. Other students were using recently taught vocabulary. Learning outside helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles. The outdoor activities were a great opportunity for all.
Our music program is growing. Small group electives in guitar, band, harp, and choir are offered. An afterschool harp group is getting in practice time. In addition, students are already practicing songs for “Snow Business” the title of our winter program.
Teachers are implementing the lessons from the GSN social-emotional grant daily and it sure seems to have a positive effect on the students. They are using a common vocabulary and following norms more consistently. The counselors will begin working with Gardner students in October. The first training for the “No Bully” grant will be next Thursday.
Peakview and Gardner held a textbook review meeting and we will be contacting publishers after reviewing studies on the effectiveness of the texts and having conversations with other schools to hear about their likes and dislikes. The team is really going to dig into what will fit our students best prior to making a selection.
We hope to have bus drivers certified very soon so that transportation will resume this fall.
Thank you and please contact me if you ever have any questions.
Pam Levie, principal Gardner School
This morning we were all amazed and entertained by The Bureau of Lectures Chinese Acrobats. We choose three shows each school year and they are paid for by the Gardner Foundation.
Basketball season has concluded and all students showed improvement during the season. Knitting and Destination Imagination continue to be held on Tuesdays after school. The Destination Imagination regional competition is coming up. It will be held on March 10th. Teams are working hard to represent themselves well.
On February 15th, children will be released at three o’clock for conferences. You will be contacted if a conference is requested by a teacher. If not, we would like to open conferences for everyone. Therefore, if you would like to have an optional conference, please contact the school and we will contact you to schedule a time.
There have been some incidents on the bus recently (all taken care of) but unfortunately, the ride can be an on-going problem. We are looking for volunteers to ride the bus. Although we have a camera on the bus, and it is reviewed as needed, we would like to take care of incidents quicker. If you would be willing to become a volunteer, please contact Pam Levie at the school. Please have your children to the bus by 6:55, but not earlier as students are sometimes waiting for the bus to depart for up to 20 minutes. Being on the bus this long often is part of the problem.
As always, the staff at the school enjoy working with each child every day.
Welcome to 2018. I trust that all of you had healthy days and made many happy memories with your children over the break.
We hoped that you were able to enjoy your children’s presentation of the Nutcracker and not too anxious about the drive home. Of course, we have not had a snowy day since that night! Thank you so much for participating.
We do expect cold weather and hopefully some moisture soon. Fingers crossed. Many children are not coming to school dressed for the weather, so please send your children with winter jackets. At the semester break, we had two large bins of unclaimed coats. It would be extremely helpful to label winterwear so we can get it back to rightful owners.
We only had mild illnesses prior to break and teachers are being contentious about wiping down desks. Please do your part to keep contagious children home. The attendance policy has been designed to eliminate unnecessary absences but does not condone legitimate time taken off when children are ill. Please call Joe Hibpshan (he is at the Gardner School on Tuesday afternoons) or me with additional questions.
Report cards and a personalized letter about each student are being sent home today. Please sign the report card and return by Thursday (The letter does not need to be returned). If you have questions or concerns we would be happy to schedule conferences with specific teachers.
Parents, it is very helpful if you check in each school evening to discuss homework that has been assigned. Look it over to make sure your child is completing it correctly. Remember though, homework is sent home as a review, and your child should have the skills to do it independently.
This second semester is upon us with many upcoming events. Please refer to the website and read the Events of the Week sent home most Mondays.
Thank you, and feel free to contact me. I do not teach in the afternoons, so please try to phone after 11:30.
May your New Year be hopeful.
Each day before Thanksgiving Break for 29 years the Gardner School has held a One-Room Schoolhouse reenactment with twists to enhance the day including contemporary activities. What remains traditional is that the students are mixed in classrooms from first through eighth grade and the once Gardner School seniors are invited to return to assist teachers (We love to reunite and hear the alumni’s accomplishments). Students are encouraged to dress in the style of the “olden days” and in past years some even rode horses to the event. Each of the seven simulated One-Room Schoolhouses is named after a schoolhouse that existed in the area more than 60 years ago.
Another traditional aspect of the celebration is that the entire community is invited to participate and share stories from long ago. Our hospitality room is hosted by retired teachers and parents of students. Some years we have people return to tell stories from when they were in school in one of the schoolhouses. Many people like looking through the old registers and finding names of families from generations past. This year Harold Vargas was one of our visitors who came by to donate two desks with inkwells from the Malachite One Room Schoolhouse.
It has been a great first quarter plus a few weeks of school in Gardner. Enrollment is up and classes are almost all bursting at the seams. All of the new teachers and their families have settled in and have finally caught their breath. What a great team. Teachers are collaborators and never miss a chance to assist one another. Everyone puts their heads together to reach decisions about what is best for each individual student.
It has been very busy since the onset of the semester. We hosted a Back to School Night, a Math and Literacy Evening, and our 29th One Room Schoolhouse celebration (See photos on our special events page). The entire school traveled to see The Nutcracker and will perform our own version under the direction of our terrific music teacher Jenna Inscho on Thursday, December 21st.
Volunteers are being kept busy. We have 11 People Actively Listening to Students (PALS) this year. The PALS read with students once a week and bonds grow among the generations.Up until the weather got too nippy, a group of middle schoolers participated in an equine program with Kim Seng. The students and horses have been building relationships through mutual trust and respect. The group will start up again in the spring. A knitting club will begin upon return from Thanksgiving Break also hosted by volunteers. Two full teams of Destination Imagination (DI) practices have begun. One team has chosen to compete in an engineering problem while the other team will plan for an impromptu exploration. Liz Schneider, a past DI coach has returned as a volunteer. Pam Levie and Christi Fogel are coaching.
This year we are feeling grateful that the 3A measure passed. For the first time in many years, we have counselors, an art teacher, and a music teacher shared within the district. Our students are benefiting greatly.
Volleyball girls and boys showed extreme improvement and won 50% of their games. It was a terrific season. Girls and boys basketball has begun with coaches Mark Vialpando and Heather Gonzales. Both teams look promising and they are burning a lot of calories from 4:00-5:00.
We continue to strive for improved attendance. We’ve begun a challenge and the first month the highest attendance percentage went to the 5th and 6th grade. They celebrated with root beer floats.
The bus rides to and from Walsenburg have settled down, but please continue to advise your children to follow the rules of the bus.
Many generous friends of the Gardner School have donated to our schools’ projects. The Ambroses, past residents, recently closed a kite store and sent many great prizes to be used to “purchase” PAWS prizes. The Community Church of Gardner’s donation was spent wisely on student planners, multi-charging stations, to help with materials and a cataloging online system, and snacks for the middle school for the year since they did not qualify for the state-funded snack grant The Celtic Festival participants rounded up three more beautiful harps to be added to the other instruments. The students are able to enjoy them while taking harp lessons through our music program. The Rotary Club of Castle Rock adopted Gardner School last year donating many student guitars. Last week they brought dictionaries for our third graders and new fourth graders. The Gardner Foundation continues to work hard and to offset expenses. This year they have helped with the Nutcracker, the One Room Schoolhouse library needs, and the attendance incentives. They are also paying for our newly hired library aide, Kelsie Sanchez. The foundation is a great asset to our school. If ever you would like to make a donation, please contact me, Pam Levie at the school.
The school is back in session and we are beginning the year with 25 new students and four new teachers. Christina Fogel and her family have moved from the Denver area so she can teach the ESS classes. Her twin son and daughter have started kindergarten at the Gardner School. Deborah Tanzy transferred from the Peakview School to teach in Gardner as the school’s interventionist. Debbie enjoys the school’s climate and has grandchildren at the Gardner School. Laura Colgan is in the 3/4th-grade classroom and has moved cross country to become a Coloradan with her family. Laura has two children attending Gardner’s Middle School. Mark Vialpando is a longtime teacher from Pueblo. He and his wife, Loretta are happy to be living in the country now. Mr. V. is teaching the 7/8th grade.
We are gearing up for an exceptional year. This Monday we will have an eclipse party. TSJC donated glasses for everyone at the school. If you are in the area and would like to join us, we have some extra safety glasses. On September 7th the students and staff will hike to the Sand Dunes National Park, picnic, climb the dunes and ride the bus back around. The Walsenburg students will return directly to Peakview and the Gardner Students will be returned to Gardner to meet their buses. There will be no volleyball practice that evening.
Laura Colgan and Stella Sanchez will coach the Falcon volleyball team. Sixteen players have signed up. Please make sure a physical is scheduled for your child in the next week.
We look forward to seeing everyone on August 23 for the Back to School night.
I hope your children have a super year. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Last week was a rough week in Gardner having so many sick students and staff. There were confirmed cases of strep, flu type B, high fevers, vomiting. . . We saw it all. I certainly hope that school closure ends the spreading of germs and that attendance will be high come Monday.
We are behind with a few sessions of the PARCC math test, but they should be complete by Tuesday. Teachers have been keeping up with make-up exams and will continue to test children that have still missed sessions. That leaves three sessions of the CMAS science testing for the fifth and eighth graders. They will be tested after lunch to build in a break between the math and make-up tests. Fingers crossed, all students will complete tests by Thursday. If not, make-up testing will occur for students on Friday.
Teachers and students are optimistic regarding the standardized testing. We went from 12 students opting out last year to four this year. Students are engaged and taking time on the sessions since we have gone to the paper-pencil testing. One student told me it was hard to finish a test because a story was so happy that it made him cry!
I am pleased to have recommended four eager teachers to become part of the Gardner School staff. Each of the new hires has great and varied qualities to strengthen the community. During the interviews, all were good communicators with a strong belief in collaboration. They have a passion for teaching, a love for kids, and knowledge of curriculum and standards.
Colorado Department of Transportation, Commissioner Gerald Cisneros and I are pleased that all school crossings, speed limits, and automated flashing school zones lights are installed, programmed, and working. A deputy sheriff has been patrolling frequently. The school zone is a safer place now.
This weekend our middle-level Destination Imagination team went to compete in the state competition. Their trip is a kick-off to the many class field trips to come in May, a volunteer breakfast, The Annual Artist Afternoon, Open House/School Board meeting in Gardner, Graduation, Ceremony, Award’s Ceremony, and cooperative games on the last morning of school.
Our Spring Family Night is rescheduled for this Thursday. It will include dinner, door prizes, math and literacy games in addition to demonstrations of STEM physics projects the kids made to be on display as an interactive museum. We are hoping for a grand turn-out.
We look forward to seeing all of you in Gardner for our Spring Open House and Board Meeting.
Please call or email with any questions,
October 10, 2016
September 17, 2016
It is important to the staff at the Gardner Staff that our stakeholders know what the Gardner Staff is working on to improve the achievement of our students. Here is a list of some of our priorities. Actions to target deficient areas in local and state testing:
The UIP actions are in place. Teachers are on board, positive, and forward thinking.
September 16, 2016
It is my pleasure to report that the Sand Dunes trip was wonderful. Students stopped along the trail to admire the views, and I only collected two pieces of trash that may not have even been left behind by our students. Quintin Medina, eighth grade, climbed the very farthest up the dunes with several others close behind. Those that did not choose to climb after their 3.5-mile hike dug holes and built sand castles. It was a super day.
Preschool -2nd grade spent Thursday morning “appling” (a word we invented long ago when the tradition began) at Pam’s house. An apple bumper crop was processed into juice, tarts, applesauce and dried apples. The event was a great example of a mini-project-based-learning event.
September 2, 2016
I would like to extend an apology to all of the parents interrupted from their busy schedules who had to come after their children on Thursday. We are pleased to say that the day proceeded smoothly. If you did not receive a “robocall,” please phone the school to update your information. I also encourage all of you to erase saved messages. When phones are full, it becomes difficult to contact you. Thank you again for being so understanding. Pam
August 21, 2016
Our school year is off to an excellent beginning. There are several new faces, teachers and students alike. We welcome everyone wholeheartedly to the Gardner School Family. I have noticed that students and staff all smile as they pass each other in the halls. The first motto that we are living by is “Be the reason someone smiles today.” That smile is contagious.
We begin each Monday with an all-school meeting celebrating accomplishments and working on positive social and emotional habits. Everyone participates and the event brings the students closer together. It is one of the magical things about having a school with less than 100 students from preschool-eighth grade.
We have had a great number of friends make donations of supplies to our students. Private families, as well as Volunteers For Community, The First National Bank of Trinidad, and the Sheriff’s Department, have been extremely generous. The Pizzo family, parent of Frank (2011) have donated a player piano! We are grateful to the Gardner School Foundation. This year they will be sponsoring art and music enrichment classes until other funding becomes available.
Volleyball is in full swing, or do I mean full spike? Charles Mandemaker has a chess club on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays after school. The knitting club will resume on Tuesdays beginning in October.
We have a field trip for the kindergarten-eighth grade on the 12th of September to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. First-Middle Schoolers (Kinders will take the bus rather than hike.) will hike over Mosca Pass, learn about the dunes’ formations at the Visitor’s Center, eat a school supplied picnic lunch and either play in the sand or hike the dunes. We will take the bus back around through the San Luis Valley in the afternoon. Parents are welcome to join us but must supply their own transportation.
This Saturday, September 3rd our kids are invited to walk in the miner’s parade. Kids are to meet the school staff at the Gardner School line-up at 10:00 AM.
Stop by or call anytime with questions.