2017-2018 News from Principal Pam

January 2018

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.

Pam Levie

November 2017

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.

The theme of the event was “Thanksgivings Around the World”. Ghana, Canada, the UK, Mexico, India, Malaysia, and China all celebrate a type of Thanksgiving. After the students researched their assigned celebration, they compared and contrasted their findings to the American holiday. To further encourage the festivities each class participated in a cooking project which was from the country each studied. The recipes ranged from African Jollof rice to a Canadian strawberry wrapped pastry with maple syrup.
Next year will be our 30th-year celebration and some of us are already discussing what the theme will be.
All of us at the Gardner School would like to wish you a well-celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends.
P. Levie

November 2017

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 toward 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.

August 2017

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.

Pam

 April 2017

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,

Pam Levie

March 2017

The Friday night carnival was a success. Families from all over the county came. San Isabel sold popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones. They donate the proceeds to the school. More than 15 businesses in town donated prizes for the bingo game. Booths were more novel than ever including eating a donut from a string and an obstacle course. The cake walk is always a hit, but for the first time ever we ran out of cakes early.
The dinner will help to fund the 7/8 grade field trip and the other proceeds will offset the cost of the whole-school roller skating day and the yearbook.
This coming Thursday close to 100% of the parents confirmed to attend student-led conferences. Students will share using data notebooks, demonstrate what they have learned, and share goals. It is a time when teachers do little talking. The conferences put the kids in the driver’s seat and are celebrated for their accomplishments. It can be very empowering for the students.  During the conferences, teachers will notify parents about the upcoming PARCC testing.
Two teams of students are heading to the regional Destination Imagination competition. During practices, the kids have learned a lot about teamwork, creative thinking, and problem-solving. This is the first time in many years that we have participated in the program. I am so pleased that it is revived since I believe it is one of the most outstanding educational experiences a child could have. I will let you know how the competitions go.
This coming week we will have the Scholastic Book Fair at the school. It will be available all week including during conference times.
This year in addition to the Girls in The Middle (GIM) conference Guys Reaching Incredible Potential  (GRIP) has been added. We have several students enrolled for the April 7th conference at TSJC. We anticipate students from Peakview will also br attending and the two groups will be able to share transportation. Participants can explore different career options. The conference focuses largely on careers in Science, Math, Engineering, Technology, and Healthcare. Volunteers from various professions will lead interactive, hands-on sessions for exploration.
The annual Voices of the Past celebration for the 7/8 grade classes will again be sponsored by the Huerfano Journal. Students interview a community member who has lived in the area for more than three decades. The oral history interviews are then turned into biographies/stories. During the March 22nd get-together, the children read their interviews and honor the interviewees. The Huerfano Journal publishes the top three winners. You are welcome to join us for the special evening beginning at 6:00 PM.
Work continues with Generation Schools consultant, Denille La Platt and she has helped to solidify school structures, to standardize data protocols and actions to put data to use, to improve formative instructional practices, and now we are working on Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.

October 10, 2016

* The October count has been going well although there has been some sickness. All absences have been excused during the counted week. On Monday we expect to enroll three new students from three different families, all moving to the area from out-of-state.
* Teachers are focusing on student performance and modifying instruction with small groups, as needed. The attempts to improve student achievement are being taken seriously by digging deeper into teaching practices and using results from data to identify and remediate. The students are all keeping data notebooks with the hope that they will take more responsibility for their learning. I am meeting with teachers once weekly for 30 minutes to collaborate, assist and monitor long and short-term goals. Monthly data meetings are held during our early release time  We were extremely disappointed to see the School’s initial rating drop and we are all invested in making improvements.
Gardner was again awarded the Colorado Library grant for $3,500. The high school also applied, so Gardner will share the funds with them.
Primary grades had a hand’s on experience processing and baking apple products in my apple orchard. Many volunteers assisted and everyone enjoyed the morning.
A bike rodeo was held for Kindergarten through 5th grade sponsored by Spanish Peaks Cycling Association. The county shop prepared the track by mowing.  A mechanic was on hand to repair bikes, the students learned safety, rode the track and wove between cones. The association secured grant money from Trinchera Ranch to purchase a helmet for each student. The event was wonderful with the exception of the goat heads. We sent home several bikes with flat tires.
The volleyball team has shown huge growth this season. Last week when playing Aguilar each game went into overtime. The kids were well matched. I gathered both teams to congratulate them on showing the best sportsmanship and kindness. They encouraged each other and smiled across the net. It was a match that any coach could have been proud of.
 The Celtic Festival committee hosted harp lessons for four teachers and four students.  The school was given four more harps “harpsicles” made of solid maple and painted brightly. They will be used during the music classes.
The Gardner School Foundation is paying for art and music classes.                 Cathy Cordova will teach in quarters 1,3 and 4. Johnnye Mullen will teach music this upcoming quarter. She will help prepare students for the annual holiday show. We hope that if 3A passes, the district will help with these once a week programs.
People Actively Listening to Students (PALS) has begun and we have more volunteers than ever. This year in addition to reading to PALS the older students will write using evidence-based responses.
Afterschool groups are in full swing. In addition to sports, there is a knitting group, a chess club and we are reviving Destination Imagination.
Please mark your calendar. One Room Schoolhouse will be on November 17 and the theme will be “Knights and Castles.”
The next board meeting will be in Gardner combined with our Open House and Math/Literacy night. We look forward to hosting the event and seeing you there.

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.

Engage NY is scheduled for a minimum of 90 minutes each day.
Core Knowledge Language Arts newly adopted program is aligned with standards. The lessons are highly scripted and research-based so that if used properly, all teachers will be successful. Since this is the first year it is being used, teachers are identifying areas not previously taught and filling gaps.
Supplemental reading, beyond CKLA, is scheduled to meet the daily required 112.5 minutes.
Interim testing will drive instruction. Teachers are actively using data results to modify/improve instruction. Early release professional development will be highly focused on actions through data collection.
The interventionist and Exceptional Student Services (SPED renamed) are collaborating to determine individual student’s gaps and working as a team to help them reach goals.
Students are keeping data/portfolios notebooks to become more engaged in their successes.
Time on task and transition times will be monitored.
Learning walks are scheduled monthly for teachers to observe other classrooms to gain insight. New teachers will spend time observing in Walsenburg.
Following weekly observations, the administrator will meet with each teacher separately to collaboratively determine next best practices to improve instruction.
Deneille La Platt, our consultant from Generation Schools Turn Around Leadership, will lead us in improvement strategies. Teachers will reflect and adjust their instruction.
Each class each semester will conduct a project to improve student engagement.
The joy of learning will not be overshadowed by excessive testing.

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.

Pam Levie