4401 N. Henderson Rd.
Arlington, VA 22203
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Friday, July 03, 2015

Principal's Message

  • What a Year!!!!!!

    Posted by Dan Redding at 6/15/2015
    Dear Families -
     
    What an amazing year!  I feel we ended on a high note with an incredible promotion ceremony that recognized our students.  Barrett traditionally has opted not to do a more formal ceremony in a large auditorium in favor of remaining at Barrett, where the students started elementary school, and having an informal, kid-focused promotion, that truly celebrates our children as they close one chapter and prepare to start the next.  My most sincere thanks go to our fifth grade team (Mr. Carmack, Ms. Davidson, Ms. Sanders, Ms. Watson, Mr. Stewart, Ms. Hines, Mr. Littman, Ms. Cassedy, Mr. Ramirez, Mr. Giles), and tremendous thanks to Ms. Schildge and Mr. Fitch for the musical support and Ms. Shaw for A/V support and the fifth grade films! Gratitude as always to the Friday Volunteers from the PTA, and to Ms. Janet Pence, who led the PTA volunteer efforts to make the entire promotion happen.  We could not celebrate these amazing students without everyone's support!
     
    Parents of rising sixth graders received a letter along with the report card, sharing the APS Math Office's recommended sixth grade math course for your child.  Information about the math course pathways is available here.   Recommendations were based on preliminary SOL scores as well as the score on the math placement test, given on June 9.  Staff at Barrett had minimal input into the recommendation, unlike previous years.  Please remember that families are encouraged to share their input with staff at the middle schools, using the contact information on the letter.  We are happy also to discuss the recommendations with you.
     
    We bid farewell to some of our amazing team-mates this summer, as they move on to other opportunities for the coming year:
     
    Dr. Rosa Briceno - Dr. Briceno has been promoted to be the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) specialist working with all Arlington schools - taking the excellent model developed at Barrett and applying it to school across APS.  We are currently working with a committee that includes teachers and parents to interview prospective replacements.  Dr. Briceno will not be far away and plans to visit Barrett often, probably with leaders from other schools as she teaches them about the essential elements of a family engagement program.
    Ms. Deborah Chu - Ms. Chu has taken a position teaching Middle School English at a school in China!  This was something she has wanted to pursue, and the perfect opportunity presented itself to her this Spring.  We hope to keep in touch via twitter and can hopefully make great use of her as an instructional resource for second and fifth grade social studies over the course of the next two years!!!  We wish her the very best! 
    Dr. Judy Concha - Judy was recently named the assistant principal at the new Discovery Elementary School in Arlington (if they are going to steal the name of Dr. Sullivan's project, then at least they should have someone from Barrett leading the school!!!).  Dr. Concha has demonstrated strong leadership in literacy instruction at Barrett, and we know she will do amazing things there, and hopefully we can foster some collaboration between the schools moving forward.
    Mr. Ryan Fitch - Mr. Fitch has accepted a middle school music teacher position in Beaverton, Oregon, and plans to relocate there over the summer.  Mr. Fitch has done so much to promote a love of music and performance at Barrett and we are grateful for his hard work with the Barrett Singing Tigers!  We wish him the best as he moves on to a new chapter! 
    Ms. Pamela Rodriguez - Ms. Rodriguez let me know last week that her husband was taking a promotion that would require less travel.  I told her that was amazing and great for her family, and she filled me in on the rest - the promotion required less travel because it requires them to relocate to Kansas City.  Awful for Barrett, but great for her family.  We wish her the best in this next chapter in her life. 
    Ms. Sarah Spicer- Ms. Spicer taught PE part-time with us this year, and has accepted a full-time position at Washington-Lee for next year.  When she told the students, almost all of whom will likely be at Washington-Lee in a few years, they were so excited to know that they will see a familiar face Freshman year!
    Ms. Molly Toussant -  Ms. Toussant has basically worked two jobs over the last two years as she teaches at Barrett during the day and attends graduate school at night to pursue certification as a school principal.  She has accepted a position as a principal for next year at a charter school in Ohio, and will relocate there to be close to her family.   We know she will do great and thank her for her years of service to Barrett students and families.
    Ms. Julie Westcott - When I interviewed Julie, she told me that she had a goal of teaching PE at the middle school level. We took the risk because we knew that Julie would raise the level of PE instruction in our school, and that she has.  She has accepted a position at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and we know she will do great there.
    Ms. Lauren Wisely - Ms. Wisely is relocating to Richmond, VA with her fiancee this summer.  Noting that commuting on 95 is not a particularly fun thing, she sought a position in the area, and will be teaching second grade next year in Henrico County.  I knew when she finished her math specialist program that we wouldn't have her in fourth grade for much longer, and I know she will soon be leading math instruction in Henrico! 
     
    There are several changes taking place at Barrett due to these departures!  Due to shrinking numbers in fifth grade, we will only have three homeroom classes - Ms. Bonnie Watson requested earlier in the year to go part-time, and I honored that request for the fall. 
    With the vacancies in fourth grade and shrinking numbers in second, Mr. Zach Porter has agreed to move from second to fourth grade for next year.  He has taught fifth grade previously, so has experience in the upper grades and will also know the children, as he taught many of them!  Ms. Elizabeth Rente Sullivan completed her masters in reading several years ago and will move to a reading team position for next year.  She demonstrates expert level understanding of reading development and will be a great addition to the team.  She plans to train in Reading Recovery, adding to our cadre of interventionists for first grade readers.  Ms. Natalie Rigert will move from third grade to second grade next year.  She taught kindergarten and first in Illinois, and after a year in third, she feels she will be landing right at home in second. 
     
    We have hired several new staff for our team next year at this point!  Ms. Erin Sensibaugh is joining us as a fourth grade teacher.  She taught fourth grade for several years in Fairfax County at Westgate Elementary.   
    Ms. Jessica Idol will return to Barrett, teaching third grade math/science/social studies, partnering with Ms. Nagle.
    Ms. Karen Sible will join us, teaching part-time PE in the mornings every day.
    Mr. Rob McLaughlin will return to Barrett after a one-year hiatus to obtain a Masters' Degree.
    Ms. Dawn Kyser, currently teaching music and art at Stratford, and previously teaching music at Taylor and Drew, will join us as our full-time music teacher.  During the interview, one of the things that impressed Ms. Schildge and I was that Ms. Kyser, like Mr. Fitch, has a strong background in teaching voice and vocal performance.  Ms. Kyser expressed excitement at carrying on Barrett traditions like the Spring musical and the Kindergarten musical performance.
     
    We continue to interview for a Family Engagement Project teacher, a third grade language arts teacher, and a Bilingual Family Resource Assistant.  We have also juggled some resources to advertise for a full-time HILT teacher to provide additional support to English Language Learners.  Our plan is to increase early support to ensure that all students are reading on grade level.  We expect to be able to have a full-time HILT teacher at K, 1, 2, and 3, and then have a full-time and part-time HILT teacher support 4th and 5th grade.  We will keep families posted via this blog as we recommend individuals for hire.
     
    We wish you a safe and amazing summer filled with great family time!  We hope you will visit us and share your amazing adventures!
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Dan Redding,
    Principal 
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  • May Updates - Grab N Go Breakfasts, SOL Testing, End of Year Plans!

    Posted by Dan Redding at 5/17/2015
    This week we begin the end-of-year SOL testing for grades 3-5 and benchmark testing for grades K-2.  The SOL testing schedule is in my previous blog post here, and that will be followed by end-of-year testing for K-2 students in reading and math.  
     
    Fifth graders will also take the Sixth grade math placement test.  This exam covers sixth grade math objectives to see whether students are eligible for advanced math work in sixth grade.  The results, along with SOL test results and teacher recommendation are used to place students in math courses for sixth grade.
     
     
    Barrett is now offering "Grab N Go" breakfasts in the morning, from 7:30-8:10 every day.  Students can use their SchoolBucks accounts to pay the $1.55 charge for a breakfast, usually consisting of Orange Juice, yogurt, and banana bread or a bagel.  These meals may be taken to the homeroom and eaten there, with all waste sealed in the bag and thrown away.  Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch will receive the breakfast free of charge.  Check these out - they make a great breakfast alternative!
     
    As we wind the year down, you may have already received a calendar of end of year activities.  The PTA has sent a list out over email, and we will continue to provide these updates so you can be aware of activities.
     
    Today is the 75th anniversary of Kate Waller Barrett Elementary  celebration.  I want to sincerely thank our PTA members who have worked so hard to put the festival today together, and especially Jennifer Sauter-Price, who set up a beautiful display in the hallway using artifacts we have in the library and old yearbooks that were donated by Barrett alumni.  We hope to see you there!
     
     

    Esta semana comenzarán los exámenes de fin de año.  Los alumnos en 3ro-5to grado tomarán los Exámenes SOL, y los alumnos de Kínder-2do grado tomarán los exámenes de fin de año.  El horario para los Exámenes SOL lo encontrarán en mi blog anterior aquí, y luego comenzarán los exámenes de lectura y matemáticas de fin de año para los alumnos en Kínder-2do grado. 

    Alumnos en quinto grado también tomarán el examen de matemáticas de sexto grado.  Este examen cubre los objetivos de matemáticas de sexto grado para determinar si los alumnos son elegibles para tomar la clase avanzada de matemáticas en sexto grado.  Los resultados de este examen, junto con los resultados del Examen SOL de matemáticas y la recomendación del maestro/a, se usarán para determinar qué curso de matemáticas los alumnos tomarán en sexto grado.

    La Escuela Barrett ahora está ofreciendo desayuno Grab-N-Go todas las mañanas, de 7:30-8:10am.  Los alumnos pueden usar sus cuentas de almuerzo para pagar su desayuno ($1.55).  Normalmente el desayuno incluye jugo de naranja, yogur, y pan de plátano o un bagel.  Los alumnos podrán llevar su desayuno a clase y, después de comer, podrán usar la misma bolsa para poner todo en la basura.  Aquellos alumnos que califican para el almuerzo gratis o a precio reducido recibirán el desayuno gratis.  ¡Este programa es una excelente alternativa para el desayuno!

    Al finalizar el año escolar, probablemente ya recibieron el calendario para las actividades de fin de año.  La PTA envió una lista de las fechas y actividades por correo electrónico, y continuaremos mandando actualizaciones para que ustedes estén informados sobre estas actividades.

    Hoy celebraremos el Aniversario de 75 Años de la Escuela Kate Waller Barrett.  Quiero agradecer a los miembros de la PTA quienes trabajaron durísimo para realizar este festival, y especialmente a Jennifer Sauter-Price, que armó una bella exhibición en el pasillo principal usando artefactos de la biblioteca y antiguos anuarios donados por ex-alumnos de Barrett.  ¡Espero verlos ahí!

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  • SOL Testing Schedule for Grades 3-5

    Posted by Dan Redding at 4/8/2015

    As Barrett enters the fourth quarter, we are looking ahead to the end of year SOL testing. Students in 3rd through 5th grades will participate in the state-mandated SOL tests to assess their knowledge of skills and information taught this year. We appreciate your attention to these dates when considering when to schedule appointments or go out of town. (Note that there will be no testing on the Friday and Tuesday on either side of Memorial Day weekend.)

     

    The window for SOL testing is May 18 – June 11. As we do every year, we are scheduling our testing towards the end of the window.  Each grade level will test on four different days, with the 3rd grade reading test and all math tests taking place over two days. Make-up sessions will be scheduled as needed during the testing window. The exact dates are:

     

    3rd Grade

    Wednesday, May 27 – Reading I

    Monday, June 1 – Reading II

    Wednesday, June 3 – Math I

    Monday, June 8 – Math II

     

    4th Grade

    Tuesday, May 19 – Reading

    Thursday, May 28 – Math I

    Tuesday, June 2 – Math II

    Tuesday, June 9 – Virginia Studies

     

    5th Grade

    Monday, May 18 – Science

    Friday, May 29 – Reading

    Thursday, June 4 – Math I

    Friday, June 5 – Math II

     

    In addition to the SOLs listed above, all 5th graders will take the math diagnostic test for middle school math placement in the afternoons of Monday, June 8 and Tuesday, June 9.

     

    All SOL tests will begin at 8:30 am, so please plan to have your children well-rested, well-fed, and at school on time on those days. We very much appreciate your help in ensuring that all of our students are present, ready, and focused on testing days.


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  • Cold Weather is Here! - January 2015 Message

    Posted by Dan Redding at 1/8/2015
    Dear Families -
     
    Cold weather has arrived!  I want to use this message as a time to remind families that students should come to school prepared for the weather with layers of clothing so they are ready for outdoor recess and activities.  Because we follow a philosophy of active learning, students were outside in the cold and snow on Tuesday (January 6th) during the snow, learning about measurement.
     
    On cold weather days, we use APS' Weather Guidelines and Operations During Air Quality Alerts to inform decisions regarding recess and outdoor activity.  A snapshot of the chart will help clarify procedures for recess decisions:
     
    Child Care Weather Watch  
     
    Temperature-Wind Chill Chart  
    In the green zone, children may play outside as long as they are appropriately dressed and adults and attending to their conditions and safety.  When the temperature plus wind speed puts us into the yellow zone, we shorten outdoor recess and are more vigilant to students' needs and whether they are appropriately dressed.  On days when the wind chill puts us into the red zone, we stay inside for the duration of recess and ask grade level staff to design appropriate activities for students so they have the brain break and movement opportunities they need to be ready for learning.
     
    I hope this information helps to clarify Barrett's procedures for determining the status of recess and outdoor learning opportunities.
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  • Announcement: New 2nd Grade Teacher!

    Posted by Dan Redding at 12/15/2014
    Dear Barrett Families,
     
    I am so pleased to announce that we are moving forward with a new hire at Barrett!  Ms. Maria-Cristina Santos-Torres will be joining our team as a second grade teacher, starting this week to overlap with Ms. Landgraf!  Ms. Torres is no stranger to the Barrett community, as she has had several long-term substitute positions with us over the years.  Her aunt is also one of our Kindergarten teachers!  Ms. Torres was originally slated to be Ms. Landgraf's long-term substitute during her leave.
     
    Ms. Torres has recently graduated from Marymount University with a Masters in Education and completed her student teaching in Fairfax County schools.  She has met the requirements to be fully licensed to teach elementary school in Virginia.  She is familiar with reading and writing workshop and with accelerated math curricula, and we have full confidence in her ability to hit the ground running with our second grade team.  
     
    Please join me in welcoming Ms. Torres to the Barrett team! 
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  • December 2014 Message

    Posted by Dan Redding at 12/9/2014 4:00:00 PM
    Dear Families -
     
    As I look back on my messages, I notice that I always start by noting how quickly time is passing.  
     
    I want to take a moment to express gratitude for our amazing Barrett Community.  The parent support here is unbelievable.  On behalf of the staff, I want to express appreciation for your support of our 5-year Literacy Initiative.  We see this as critical - the PTA funding to help us purchase large classroom libraries ensures that each child has a range of books at their independent level and that will motivate and excite them to read.  This allows the teachers to further individualize instruction.
     
    I am so grateful to work with such an amazing team here - this team strives to meet the needs of each child.   As we do every year, we seek staff input to nominate one teacher and one support staff member for the APS Employee of the Year recognition.  This year the Barrett staff has chosen to recognize Ms. Jennifer Flores as our nominee for Teacher of the Year, and Ms. Nancy Hensley as our nominee for Support Employee of the Year!  I am thrilled to send these two well-deserving colleagues' names forward for recognition at the County level.
     
    For families who wish to do so, we are accepting letters of support focusing on Ms Flores' and Ms. Hensley's qualifications for the county award.  Letters of support can focus on their contributions in the classroom to instruction, to the whole child, and to the Barrett community at large.  If you wish to provide a letter of support, I ask that you bring it to Ms. Stephanie Shoemaker no later than Tuesday, January 6, 2015.  We must turn the packets in at the end of that week and would like to have everything together.
     
    I also write with very sad news.  I sent a letter home with second grade students in Ms. Landgraf's class today regarding her upcoming leave.  Ms. Landgraf has made a difficult decision to spend the remainder of the school year at home with her child.  We certainly support her in this decision, and will miss her expert teaching and positive, can-do approach to everything.  We are working with the Human Resources office regarding a recommendation for a replacement and hope to have news to you soon.  We l keep the families in her class informed throughout this process.
     
    We also want to let families know that Ms. Betty Bravo, Clinic Aide at Barrett, will be retiring at the end of December.  We wish Betty well and thank her for her many years of service to School Health and Barrett families! 
     
    Arlington Public Schools is working through the budget process and the School Board has at this time discussed budget direction with the Superintendent (more information here).  There will be a number of community informational meetings and feedback opportunities.  More information is available here.  I encourage families to stay informed and involved in this process.
     
    As we head into wintery weather, please remember these important tips:
    1. Dress students in layers every day to ensure that they are warm at school during class and outside at recess.  We go outside every single day we can!
    2. Watch the APS website, the APS Twitter account, the Barrett PTA Twitter account, and my Twitter account for information about closings and delays.
     
    Thank you again for all you do to support the Barrett community.  We wish you a safe and warm holiday season with plenty of time with your loved ones! 
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  • October Notes

    Posted by Dan Redding at 10/30/2014
    Dear Families -
     
    Vamos a traducer in Espanol despues de Ingles.
     
    The year is moving by quickly! As we approach the end of the quarter, please take a moment to reflect with your child on new and interesting skills and content they have learned so far this year.  From where I stand, as I go between classes and visit with teachers and students about their learning, great routines are in place, students are hard at work focusing on grade-level material and appropriate extensions and practice of any needed skills, and everyone is excited and engaged!
     
     Halloween has come upon us!  Please remember your safety tips:
     
    Go in groups with friends and at least one adult
    Map a safe route out with your children
    Remind children about approaching people in cars  
    Wear reflective material on clothing and only cross at crosswalks (NOT between cars!)
    Only eat sealed candy from known sources - nothing opened!
     
    Many more safety tips can be found at that link.
     
    Daylight savings occurs on November 2nd!  Be sure to move your clocks back one hour so you will be at school on time on Monday the 3rd!
     
    There will be no school on November 4th for the teachers' grade preparation day.
     
    During October we practiced our earthquake drill.  Students learned to go under a desk or table and hold on to the legs - this is considered to be the safest response in a building like ours.  I tweeted a picture so families could see us practicing our response.  Over the course of the year, we practice other drills, including our monthly fire drills, two lockdown drills, a tornado drill, and a "secure the building" drill.  All of these drills help us know what to do in case of a real emergency.
     
     We look forward to a strong end to the quarter.  We hope to see you at a variety of events coming up soon:
     
    Tuesday, Nov. 4 - PTA Meeting
    Friday, Nov. 7 - PTA Pasta Dinner
    Saturday Nov. 8 - Barrett 5K! 
     
     
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  • October Reading Challenge Calendar

    Posted by Fred Delventhal at 10/3/2014
     
     
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  • A reminder about dismissal

    Posted by Dan Redding at 9/28/2014
    Dear Families -
     
    We recently had a frightening situation in which a student was supposed to go to extended day, but instead believed he was supposed to get on the bus to ride home.  Because this happened the previous day, the teacher allowed him to go with bus riders.  Unfortunately, this was not his parents' intent, and as a result, when extended day found that the child was not present, they called the parents, who were obviously very concerned.  It took a while to track the student down, and it turned out he was completely safe at a friend's house.
     
    As a result, Barrett staff have discussed the importance of sticking to the existing daily arrangements for dismissal unless we receive a note, e-mail, or direct contact (face-to-face or phone call) from the parent changing that plan.  For security and safety, we cannot take the word of another parent that changes the plan, we do need to hear from the child's parent or guardian if the plans change.
     
    I ask parents to please remember that an e-mail sent at lunchtime will most likely not be read by the teacher prior to dismissal, given that most of the staff has teaching responsibilities for that entire time.  It is best to send the e-mail and follow-up with a call to the school to inform the office.  Please understand that changes made after 2:00 p.m. are very difficult to relay from the office to the classroom, given all of the things happening as we approach dismissal. Unless it is an emergency change, we may not be able to get the message through in time. 
     
    Thank you for understanding.  
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  • Reading Challenge Calendar

    Posted by Fred Delventhal at 9/17/2014
    Principal's Reading Challenge Calendar
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Last Modified on June 20, 2015