Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year filled with hope, anticipation, and much potential for new learning and growth to happen at Fox Hill School. As I settle to write my annual letter to you my thinking drifts to thoughts about education; its purpose, its successes, its changes and its outcomes. I spend time reevaluating and redefining my educational vision and the core of every thought, every educational goal is a strong will and a desire to ensure learning is joyful, meaningful and purposeful for kids so they want to learn. I want kids to be fully absorbed and interested in learning and I want kids to love coming to school because they know school is interesting, exciting and there is always something new and challenging to learn. I think most days we accomplish that for most children but at times we do not and each year I recommit to that core drive and to that core vision. I know our teachers feel the same way and they work tirelessly to make learning creative, innovative and interesting. As a young teacher, I aspired to create that in my classroom and as a principal, this continues to be central to my educational vision, however, through wisdom and my own learning, I have added several important concepts to that vision; mistakes, failure and perseverance. I have learned and believe that mistakes and failure are an essential part of learning without it there is no growth and no substantial learning. I want children, staff and parents not to fear mistakes and failure and understand that real learning comes from making mistakes. I also want children and parents to understand that what seems to be a failure on the surface is really a sign that we are on the edge of witnessing significant growth, all we have to do is keep at it and persevere through it in order to fully realize that new learning. I have observed time and time again in children, in myself and in my colleagues that when we have put in that extra effort or go that extra distance even when it seemed futile to do so, kids benefit, we benefit. The concept of “storm” in Louisa May Alcott’s quote is a “mistake” or a “failure” and the concept of “sailing the ship” is about sustaining effort and perseverance through the learning process so we can experience significant learning within ourself. A new school year is upon us and we cannot wait to welcome your child, to teach your child, to form a strong and positive relationship with your child. We want children to love learning, embrace learning challenges and recognize challenges are fun. We also want children to value learning for its own sake and recognize its importance to overall personal growth. This may seem like a tall order but the joy of teaching is to figure it out and do whatever it takes so our children may learn.
For this school year, we are focusing on the concept of community as we welcome many new families to Fox Hill School. The first 20 days of school will be devoted to forging strong relationships between educator and student, educator and parents, student to student and parents to parents. We will work to establish routines, expectations, and a sense of belonging in every Fox Hill community member. Our values of Respect, Responsibility, Kindness and Safety shape all that we do at Fox Hill School as we work to strengthen citizenship and leadership in every child. We will work to learn about the uniqueness of each child, acknowledge that differences bring value to a community and explore ways in which we are similar. Every educator at Fox Hill School will spend time teaching, modeling, practicing and reinforcing our school-wide expectations that strengthen our students to “Be the One” to be a leader. A copy of these expectations is shared with you. Please take time to review these expectations with your child now and throughout the school year.
Everyone at Fox Hill School is very appreciative and grateful for the strong community support that we benefit from and experience on a daily basis. Our PTO is a viable and strong example of community as so many Fox Hill parents participate in helping our school flourish for kids. Our PTO board members will meet at the end of August to set new goals for this upcoming school year. I encourage parents to reach out to PTO board members to share your vision for how to strengthen community at Fox Hill School. Our PTO has an active website www.foxhillpto.org that allows parents to communicate with board members, so take a minute to share your thoughts or lend your support to this community group. Town and school administration have also worked hard on making school improvements to Fox Hill that include a new roof, new curbing and a new paved parking lot! In addition, paving has occurred outside Room 27 so parents who utilize the services of the “Before School Program” will be please to know they do not have to endure the effects of New England weather when they drop off their children at “Before School” this year. If you have not been by Fox Hill this summer, you are in for a treat upon your return as the outside of our school looks incredible. Dr. Conti and Mr. Robinson are hoping to provide some lovely landscaping in between the parking lot and the front of the school to finish off this tremendous project.
Our garden has experienced another successful summer and again this project is representative of a community working together for kids. Fox Hill parents and Mrs. Thorpe have maintained and cared for our garden over the summer, community members supported our teachers in selecting and planting vegetables this spring and they will return to help teachers harvest produce and save the seeds for planting next spring. Thank you to all parents, teachers and community members who cared for the Fox Hill garden this summer! You did an outstanding job!
We welcome several new staff members to Fox Hill School and say good-bye to others who are off to pursue new interests and new opportunities. We wish Mrs. Mondello well in her pursuit to teach Kindergarten at Memorial School. We also wish Mrs. Keene well as she accepted a teaching job in Chelmsford. Mrs. Sheppard is off to teach fifth grade at Pine Glen and Ms. Garwood is off to Francis Wyman to pursue new challenges as a speech and language pathologist. Of course we will miss Mrs. Bernstein and Mrs. Dunn as they retired from a collective 45 years of teaching. Though it is very sad to lose such fine educators at Fox Hill School, I am proud of each teacher as they venture out to pursue their interests, to take a risk and to learn something new. They are growing personally and professionally and they serve as fine role models for our students.
We are very excited to welcome new and returning staff members to Fox Hill School. It is with great pleasure to welcome back to fourth grade, Mrs. Hevey, returning from her maternity leave, Mr. Daley who was offered a permanent teaching position in grade 4, Mrs. Petelle, Ms. Christie, and Mrs. Bennett each hold a permanent teaching position in Kindergarten. Mrs. Petelle comes to us from Memorial and Mrs. Bennett comes to us from Francis Wyman. Ms. Stone will teach grade 2 to join Mrs. Tigges and Mrs. Lewis.
Mr. Shannon and Mrs. Surabian join us as kindergarten assistants. Ms. Lauren Carpenter is our new speech and language pathologist and Ms. Taylor LoConto will join us as school psychologist while Mrs. Settelen is out on maternity leave. I am thrilled to have such talented new stars at Fox Hill School!
Our first day of school is Monday, August 31, 2015 for students in grades 1-5. School begins at 8:35 am and ends at 2:40pm. Please look for bus schedules in the local newspaper and you may find them on my blog. Parents are not required to purchase school supplies this year as we have purchased all necessary materials for all children. However, it is fine to purchase school supplies if it is important to you and to your child. Teachers will integrate any supplies purchased by parents into their classroom organizational systems. Parent Pick Up will continue in the same format for children in grades 1-5 as last year. At the end of the day, parents will drive along the access route and stop at the playground doors. Parent Pick Up students will be dismissed through the playground doors and placed into the first two cars by a teacher on duty. Mrs. Moules is our primary staff member on parent pick up duty and she is highly effective in this role. We look forward to seeing our kindergarteners on orientation day on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at your designated time. The first day of school for kindergarten is Tuesday, September 8, 2015. I look forward to seeing everyone on the first day of school and if there is anything you need, please do not hesitate to email me at EJohnson@bpsk12.org or call 781-270-1791. Please visit our website and the principal and teachers’ blogs for additional information about the opening of school.
I have missed our children and I cannot wait to welcome them to another spectacular year of learning and growth!
With Warmest Regards,
Fox Hill School