With 12 days of school under our belt, the Bates School is launching new curriculum, celebrating newly established routines and sharing our expectations with students for the year ahead.  A few highlights of our first 12 days worth “buzzing” about include:

Building community and reinforcing our values of KLB:  At the beginning of school the teachers and I talked of creating a new format for gathering the whole school together to sing, highlight learning and build community.  We wanted to differentiate these gatherings from traditional assemblies, which emphasize performing for an audience.  We tried out the new format last Friday, gathering students in the gym in a big circle so students could see one another.  Grade levels sat together with our new kindergarteners sitting around the inside of the circle.  We opened with Mrs. Perry, our music teacher, leading the school in a song “We’re excited to be here.”  Each grade took turns standing up with a jump (grade 1) or a wave (grade 4) or another symbol of celebration. We also recognized the students who are new to Bates this year and talked of our values of KLB (Kindness, Leadership and Learning and Best Effort).  Showing kindness toward a new student is an expectation of all Bates students.  We concluded by singing “America” by Katharine Lee Bates.  It was all really beautiful.  I invite parents to witness our next community meeting, but also want to let you know that our all school assemblies will take place 3-4 times this year as well.  I will share the dates of our planned assemblies well in advance, so you can mark your calendars if you wish to attend.

Reconnecting as readers and writers:  In all of our classrooms, students returned excited to share their favorite books from the summer.  This sharing launched the community building of readers workshop.  The statement “I liked this book because…” tells the class a little bit about the kind of reader you are.  Throughout the year readers form their identities and connect with other readers who have similar and different reading preferences from themselves.   In the younger grades students huddle together around a book, chorally reading or stopping to share an awesome fact about spiders.  In some of the older grades students reflect on their favorite books and sign up to deliver thoughtfully planned “book talks” to their classmates.  Readers engage one another in books, offer new reading opportunities and set goals for the year ahead.

Writers workshop begins the year with its own rituals, including the decorating of a writers notebook in many classrooms.  The notebook holds the “seed” ideas from which longer writing can grow.  Students start the year filling their notebooks with lists and “small moments” that will be topics for longer narrative, informational and persuasive writing pieces.

Bates teachers at every grade are launching a revised social studies curriculum this year, the culmination of years of research and hard work by several Bates and other Wellesley Public Schools teachers.  You will learn more about your grade level’s curriculum at Back to School Night on Wednesday, September 17.  Please note the schedule for the evening:  6:00 – 6:45:  K-2 classroom presentations; 6:45-7:15: principal’s greeting in the gymnasium; 7:15-8:00: grades 3-5 presentations.

I am pleased to share news of the opportunity to enroll your child in Spanish instruction at Bates.  As part of WPS Strategic Plan, all Wellesley elementary schools are offering world language instruction before school for families who are interested.  This initial offering is for an 11-week program that will take place before school on Mondays, beginning September 29.  I have attached the flyer and registration form to this email if you are interested in enrolling your child.

Finally, many of you may have noticed the yellow tape on the back playground and learned of the presence of poison ivy in a few spots.  The town will help us to get rid of the poison ivy by spraying the area with an herbicide called glyphosate on Monday, September 15.  The herbicide application will be done in the early morning.  Students won’t have contact with the area until it is safe.  Our supervision of students around the affected areas has been vigilant and will continue to be so until the poison ivy has been removed.  Please read the attached fact sheets for further information about the herbicide glyphosate.

I look forward to seeing you at Back to School Night on Wednesday.  Have a wonderful weekend.


Toni Jolley

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