Thursday Newsletter

May 17, 2018

May 17, 2018


Don’t blink or you will miss it – the speed with which May is flying by is record-breaking.  As this month speeds by we continue to fill it with learning activities and end of year – in some cases end of century – celebrations.

Friday, May 18!

The Festival of Nations begins, this is really intended as an in-house student to student learning event but parents are, as always, invited if they have time on their hands and want to travel the world in a matter of minutes.  Each grade level chose a country in August and over the course of the school year students have been immersing themselves in the beauty of their countries.  Tomorrow they will present what they have learned to the entire student body in the gym.  Each presentation will be no more than 10 minutes. 

9:45: grades presenting are 5th, preschool, 2nd, 4th and 7th.
12:45: grades presenting are 3rd, kindergarten, 6th, 1st and 8th.

Over the course of next week, homeroom classes are invited to tour different countries by visiting various grade levels to see their hall displays.  Feel free to take a private tour any time next week, or just walk through Faith Hall and see the Festival of Nations artwork.

Parish and School Picnic is a family event, that celebrates the end of the school year.  It will take place in Tower Grove Park at the Sons of Rest pavilion near the Stupp Memorial. Warn your children – no bouncy houses – but lots of planned-out fun activities.  This is one of those don’t miss events where your children’s and your friendships created over the course of the year are celebrated. Today’s your last chance to register on WeShare.

Sunday, May 20 – Pentecost

We have chosen the feast of Pentecost to close our centennial celebration.  Pentecost closes the Easter season in our Christian liturgical calendars; it is the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit in our Church and in our individual lives.  Our choir students will join the adult choir at the 10:00am Mass.  After Mass we will all exit the church to the sound of our children singing The Spirit Song (the last song on our centennial CD) and head out onto Flad for St. Margaret of Scotland’s final 100th Birthday party.  Please join us for the excitement of this close to our centennial.



The teachers have pulled together and planned a Field Day.  The “field” will be our campus; the day will begin after our 8:00am Mass and last through the morning. 

Things your child(ren) might have mentioned:

The children have already been re-divided into “families” with each group having at least one child from preschool through 8th grade. 
Each family has created a poster with a family name and a bit of art from each child in the family.  Some are already on display in Faith Hall.
The children posed for the Centennial Photo in their family groups.  See the photo at the bottom of today’s newsletter.
For Field Day the families will move from activity/game to activity/game.  We could really use your volunteer help:  anytime in the 8:00am to noon range – helping with set-up and directing the games.   Fast Direct Ms. Calza if you are able to help, knowing we can count on you will be great.



We continue to sell our Centennial CDs through the office or on WeShare.  The CD is $15.00; the Centennial Package (CD and ornament) is $30.00.  The reviews on the CD continue to be two thumbs up.
Ms. Tate, one of our mindfulness teachers and our 3rd grade teaching assistant, led the charge for creating our own book of mindfulness practices.  Most of the children are represented in the pages of this book through their illustrations and explanations of mindfulness practices.  The Book of Mindfulness Short Practices serves both as a guide for practicing mindfulness at home and as a memory-maker.  The cost of the book is $7.00 plus some shipping – it is not a fund-raiser, it is a mindfulness-raiser.  We can get so used to what we have that we forget sometimes just how uniquely blessed your children are to be practitioners of mindfulness.

Thank you so very much to our mindfulness teachers and every SMOS classroom teacher who supports and continues the use of mindfulness in his or her classroom. 
Tremendous thanks to Coke Hennessy who brought mindfulness to St. Margaret of Scotland. Although no longer teaching, she will always be a presence in our school.
Many thanks to Carole Lander (preschool – 2nd), Arsenia Tate (3rd and 4th), Beth Thenhaus (5th and 6th) and Melanie Donovan (7th and 8th) who carry on the work of teaching mindfulness throughout the school.  Mindful classes meet every other week.



School Board is preparing, as it does every spring, to say good-by and thank you to 3 of our 9 board members and to welcome in 3 new board members.  You can place your vote for your choice of new board members either on-line by following current School Board President, Christopher Heisig’s directions or stopping in at the office and placing your vote on a paper ballot.  Please, one vote, and one vote only, to each adult among our school parents. 

The School Board advises the pastor and principal in areas of policy and budget/tuition-setting.  Their role is crucial – your vote is important.



As announced in a previous newsletter, we will have our cake and eat it too next year.  Ms. Donovan will move from being our 3rd grade full-time teacher of religion, math, and science to part-time learning consultant.  This will allow Ms. Donovan to have time with her newborn, Zoe, and still be with us at SMOS – what a blessing for all of us.

Criteria for Learning Consultant depends on the school knowing what pedagogical model they are going for.  Our choice for a Learning Consultant is the Archdiocesan-recommended model in which the Consultant is just that – a consultant. 

Our LC will work directly with teachers to understand their students’ learning needs, especially those students with special needs/diagnosed learning disabilities and, then, to develop and use instructional practices that serve the students well.
Equally, the LC will work with parents to understand their children’s special needs and to communicate how teachers will serve and support their children.
Our LC will not work directly in a tutorial role with students with special needs – our LC is part-time there simply is not time to be learning consultant and in-house tutor.  Our teaching assistants often assist with students who need a little extra one-on-one.  Our Title I teacher works with as few as 4 students at a time directly addressing special needs, most often in reading.

Additionally, our Learning Consultant will work with teachers to increase math and science learning among all of our students – including our most advanced students.

We will keep Ms. Donovan very busy next year.  We look forward to taking advantage of her skills as a teacher.  We are confident that she will bring to our students at all grade levels and all learning levels a much needed collaboration with their classroom teachers.

Since January 2018, three different, yet related, teams of parents, parishioners and teachers have been steadily hard at work examining all things to do with 21st century communication/technology.

Communications – this team, coming directly from the parish, has been critiquing our parish and school communication methods from our two distinctly different websites to Facebook and everything in between.  The  result (there will be more to come):

As of July 2018, we will shut down our website as well as the parish website while a single, new website is built to serve school parents and parishioners. 
If there is something on our current website that you find especially helpful, please send me a quick note.  We are in the process of determining what information we keep and what we drop.

Technology – this team, coming directly from school, was charged with the job of creating a 5 year technology plan that was first and foremost visionary grounded on knowing our current strengths and looking to overcome current weaknesses.  The result:

A formal technology plan will be published with actionable goals, some already in place, by August 2018.

Students in 3rd – 8th asked for more access to technology, especially laptops, as well as more interactive use of SmartBoards.
Teachers in 3rd – 8th named as valuable for student learning stable access to wi-fi, renewed professional development in the efficient and creative use of Google Classroom, the internet and their SmartBoards.
Teachers of younger students named as a need iPads in their classrooms over computers.
The team named as a need the recognition of our aging technology: 7 year old laptops used by teachers, 3 – 6 year old laptops used by students in 2nd – 8th, and SmartBoards as old as 11 years.

Alternatives to Fast Direct – this team was charged with looking at a variety of communication platforms that would serve the needs of the St. Margaret of Scotland Community – parents, students, teachers, administrators.  With the help of a matrix created by one of our team members we compared a dozen different platforms including Fast Direct.  The result:

As of July 1 we will shut down Fast Direct.
As of August 1 we will introduce to our school families - Sycamore.

Sycamore comes highly recommended by others who use it.
Sycamore remains within our price range.
Sycamore is google-based and will work directly with your email.  No longer will you read the note on your email but have to go elsewhere to respond!
Sycamore fully supports Google Classroom for our students in 4th – 8th grade.
Sycamore supports Standards-Based Grading.
Beyond all of that Sycamore does everything that Fast Direct does: keeps attendance records, end of quarter academic reports and teacher’s grade-books, etc.

Fast Direct has served us well for a decade; at 101 it is time for St.

Margaret of Scotland School to move forward.  Not to worry, there will be plenty of opportunity for parents, students and teachers to learn how to navigate Sycamore.




As St. Margaret of Scotland School turns 101 years of age, changes abound.  Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

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