Welcome back to the 2014-2015 school year. In education, we truly get to celebrate another "New Year" milestone every August. Every teacher, parent, child, and member of our school community turns the calendar page from July to August and begins to prepare for the arrival of our New Year whether it be to buy school clothes and supplies, brush up on math, reading and writing foundational skills, or re-enter the classroom to ready the environment, instructional programming, and sense of welcome and belonging that accompanies every school "New Year". Excitement and nervous feelings were shared among children, families, teachers, and all staff as we began on August 25. After just a few hours nerves turned to a sense of calm and ease as I watched our children become re-connected and acquainted with classmates and teachers. By Friday, August 29 we had put in a very successful and full first week of the New Year. I took some time after student lunches were completed that Friday to reflect and marvel at the speed in which we all found our stride again. Relationships are the cornerstone of our work. There are not too many other places like Bancroft School where families, staff, and children find a deep and respectful way of working together where creativity and collaboration give way to sturdy and strong foundations for our children to anchor to, giving guidance as they become global citizens, contributing first to their community and our Bancroft Family.
We welcome many new and returning families and also extend this welcome to our returning and new staff members. New teachers and staff joining our Bancroft Family are:
Lorena Stiles - Two Way Dual Immersion Kindergarten (Spanish)
Ellen Velasquez - Two Way Dual Immersion Kindergarten (English)
Carolyn Nnaji - Third Grade
Esther Lee - Fourth Grade
Jessica LaBasco - Second Grade (Long term substitute for Mrs. Bradford as she continues to recover and do well from surgery this summer)
Peggy Payne - Learning Center Instructional Assistant
Not new to Bancroft, but continuing in a new role this year is:
Deanne Giffin - Fourth Grade
Erin Reynolds - Fifth Grade (job share with Mrs. Timmer)
About one week after we departed for summer break in June, Mr. Chris O'Connell was transferred to Strandwood Elementary School also in MDUSD. He made the voluntary choice to move to Strandwood as his wife teaches Kindergarten there and his two school-age sons attend as well. We miss Mr. O'Connell and are grateful for the years he devoted to students and to the growth of the Bancroft school community. Mr. O'Connell took on several leadership roles at Bancroft. He was quick to implement best instructional practices in his classroom and taught first, third, and fourth grades during his time at Bancroft. We wish him all the best and know that his fourth grade students this year are benefitting from his talents and the wisdoms gained while being at Bancroft for 7 years!
During our pre-opening days on Friday, August 22 our teachers and instructional assistants came together for a day of professional development around implementing Thinking Maps. Hopefully you either heard about the Thinking Maps at your Back to School Night presentation, or you will find out more about these visual, organizational thinking strategies throughout the coming weeks via your students and through teacher newsletters. Thinking Maps allow students to express their thoughts and ideas non-linguistically; instructors actually see the graphic representation of a student's thought process. Thinking Maps differ from graphic organizers because they are used to promote "more strategic thinking" and encourage students to focus on the processes used to produce the "correct" answer. By coaching students to correctly use the Thinking Maps in their daily lessons, students will have a greater sense of control over the way they handle classroom material and a strategy for organization that will allow them to form meaningful connections with the content.
We will be introducing one of the eight Thinking Maps each week beginning September 2. Some classes began this past week with an introduction of the Circle Map as a way of sharing about themselves as we began to get acquainted and connected. The Thinking Maps will be used school-wide in grades K-5.
As I wrap up my first Message of our "New Year" I do want to reflect back on the past year as California saw remarkable changes in education during the 2013-2014 school year, with significant legislative and policy developments in the key areas of finance, instruction, intervention, and assessment. Governor Brown's budget granted increased authority for education spending to local education agencies and schools, increasing local control and flexibility and raising the bar for accountability. Administrators and teachers faced the task of beginning to implement the Common Core State Standards, which fundamentally alter approaches to curriculum design, professional development, teaching, and learning. In alignment with these standards, the state began transitioning to a new, computer-adaptive assessment system. Education has never been more exciting as we turn to our own expertise, new learning, and designing more meaningful instruction and learning for our children.
As we celebrate our New Year, please join me in supporting our teachers, students, and one another for what I predict to be an unforgettable year of memories, friendships, learning, and achievements.
Bancroft School...Where Beliefs Turn into Accomplishments!
Linda Schuler, Principal