Hopefully you read my 'Special Update' from last week. If not, I have attached it. Please see : Important Note from Head of School dated April 05,2013, regarding the renowned International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IBPYP).
This morning, the 1st and 2nd grade classes engaged in a readers' theatre performance of the African folktale, Abiyoyo, for their parents and fellow PJS students. This was the result of a study facilitated by their grade level teachers, in collaboration with their Music and Windows to the World classes. This is an example of how we integrate the specialist classes into the core subjects. Performance based assessments like this are excellent tools to measure learning, but also deepen student understanding of a concept they are studying. Adding an element of "fun" is the usual PJS perk. Thank you, PJS teachers for enriching our students' learning with experiences like this, and thank you parents for your continual support.
As you will notice in the calendar highlights, our Earth Day Tag sale is Saturday, April 20th. This community event is intended for PJS families to come together and participate in a "fun"draiser for our PJS. It will also showcase our schoolhouse to the outside community. Please spread the word!! Our Glitter Lemonade Club generated lawn signs this afternoon. Maybe you will spot one on your way to school next week.
Please stay tuned for further details about the Earth Day Tag Sale in the coming days.
Have a wonderful weekend.
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This morning was the perfect way to send our PJS students on their way to spring break. PJS was truly a 'School House of Rock!' Some of our students sat in awe, while others moved to the rhythm of the tune. All were engaged. The remaining decor from our auction complemented the spirit of happy tunes in the Commons. I would like to extend a special thank you to Mr. Morpurgo for coming in to share his love for music with all PJS students, whether through Little Wing or School of Rock. The testimony of his hard work was apparent, not only in our students, but in the performance by his older students from School of Rock. Mr. Morpurgo will continue his work with us during PJS "After School of Rock" This is an excellent opportunity for our students to explore their interest in music making in an after school club. Please see registration forms for further details and other program offerings.
I wish everyone a relaxing spring break. I can already see the crocuses in full bloom!
See you on April Fool's Day :)
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Happy February! Since the start of the New Year, we have been very, very busy at work. In fact, I have been so involved with the happenings at our school and future planning that I haven’t been keeping up with my communication updates. My apologies. As a result, this update will be much longer than usual.
In early January, Suzanne Gespass & Tamar Jacobson, from the education department at Rider University visited our preschool through grade II classrooms. Afterwards, our teachers met with them and engaged in the first of a series of regular lunch conversations that will be part of their own professional growth. This is another way in which our work with Rider will aim to close the gap between theory and practice, and teaching and learning. Our teachers are excited about this opportunity to grow professionally, as PJS students will certainly benefit as well.
Rick Ellis, a veteran early childhood expert, visited PJS in mid-January. Rick spent the day visiting classroom and observing PJS teachers in action. Later that afternoon, Rick presented to PJS faculty. He reviewed the essential elements of a Reggio Inspired learning environment. He touched upon a long list of traits that also describes what is considered best practice in preschool and primary education. For example, Rick emphasized the importance of closely observing our students, and how these observations inform effective curriculum and instruction. Discourse and self-reflection are also important for learning. Finally, Rick reminded us that a question to ask ourselves is "How is the child smart?" rather than "How smart is this child?" We expect Rick will return soon to further enrich our practice.
Also, PJS teachers are scheduling field visits to classrooms in the NJ/NY/PA area. The purpose of these visits will be to learn instructional strategies, techniques and curricular enhancements from other teachers in either a similar grade or subject. I have historically found this as an effective professional development opportunity, that also is free of charge J.
Newcomers to our community:
We have two new students to PJS. Oscar Morpurgo is with Courtney White and the 2’s class. Andrew Spies is with Courtney Shannon and the JK class. Both boys are transitioning into the preschool with a warm welcome from their classmates. Please join me in welcoming the boys and their families to our school community.
Also, as many of you already know, Lisa Zaccarelli has been absent due to illness. It is still not clear when Lisa will return to us this year. We all miss Lisa and hope for her speedy recovery. In considering the needs of the 2nd grade students, Anne Korsen is stepping in as Lisa’s substitute. Anne comes to us from highly respected school, where she worked in special services and as a long-term substitute teacher. Anne’s expertise is in literacy. She is also in a graduate level teaching program at Rider University, where I first learned about her fine reputation as an educator. We are so lucky to have Anne with us and I know you will agree when you meet her.
Moving forward together:
In mid-January we had a very successful open house. There were several visitors who also participated in an event sponsored by Little Wing, with Mike Morpurgo, our music teacher while Sharis is on maternity leave. A few families in our preschool also joined in the fun.
Our next open house will be in mid-February. Please notify Courtney Shannon, our Admissions Coordinator, if you would like to help with the event. We truly appreciate the help and support of our PJS families.
As a reminder, we have a tuition incentive program (Family-to-Family letter attached) It is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to those of you who spread the word about PJS.
Early last week, many parents joined us for ‘Parents’ Day’. I had the opportunity to share the PJS blueprints and timeline for future planning. I have attached a section of my presentation for those parents who were not able to attend. If this piques your curiosity, please feel free to schedule an appointment with me. I am more than happy to share with families the recent developments and our planning for PJS’s growth and development. This is an exciting time to be part of the PJS community.
Re-enrollment contracts will be sent out this week. They need to be returned by February 22nd, just in time for the PJS ‘Feelin’ Groovy Auction.’ Stay tuned for fun incentives for those who submit their re-enrollment contracts by the due date. This will be an effort in saying ‘thank you’ to those families who make a commitment to PJS, so that we can proceed with planning for next year accordingly.
Parent Education Series
So far this year, we’ve had a successful visit from middle school admissions directors, sharing with 5th grade students and their parents a bit about the admissions process and insight about their particular school. We also had Rick Ellis come in and speak to preschool families and others interested in learning about the importance of pre-academic learning and the philosophical underpinnings behind what is considered ‘best practice’. Rick shared the implications for a “push down” curriculum, the need for a balanced literacy approach, and respecting the continuum of child development. The participants in this thought-provoking discussion elicited conflicting views and related issues in early childhood education. They also affirmed the philosophical “child-sensitive” direction of our learning community.
This spring will have a small panel with food and nutrition experts. We will also have a child psychologist and a pediatrician come in. Please email me questions you may have or a particular focus you are interested in for either of these panel visits. Please write “panel visit” in the subject heading.
Since the beginning of the school year, I’m having so much fun celebrating the wonderful ideas that PJS students bring to our school. Observing children inspiring other children is an awesome experience. Paris Bradley raising awareness about voting and holding an all-school vote for president, Shea Bradley (Paris’ brother) holding a clothing donation drive for families who lost so much as a result of Hurricane Sandy, and Ben Robertson initiating PJS’s first geocaching expedition. These are examples of PJS students having a passion or an idea and then having the courage (and leadership ability) to act upon it.
This past week, a group of girls caught me at the end of recess. During recess they pulled together a dance performance, along with a song (in a capella). After performing it for me in the library, we decided to go ‘public.’ That is, they are going to practice and develop their piece a bit more and then perform it for the entire PJS student body. The idea didn’t stop there. The girls will launch the first ‘PJS’s Open Mic’ all-school gathering. Mr. Morpurgo and I will be accepting sign-ups from PJS students who also would like to perform (sing, dance, read aloud, play an instrument, tell a joke, etc.) for the ‘PJS’s Open Mic’ on Friday, February 22nd. The deadline will be Thursday, February 14th. If your child is working on a piece and is not ready to perform this month, don’t fret. We will schedule another ‘Open Mic’ this spring. These are a fun way to get ready for our big Talent Show on May 31st.
Please make plans to join us at the ‘Feelin’ Groovy’ Auction on Saturday, February 23rd. I am eager to see everyone in favorite hippie attire, in an evening when the adults can have fun, celebrate and show their PJS spirit and support.
We are more than halfway through our journey in the 2012-2013 school year. This is also six month into my tenure as the third PJS head of school. It has brought me great joy in getting to know “Who we are together." I anticipate we will experience continued joy and success as we are “Moving forward together.”
See you soon.
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Head of School Note:
PJS is in full swing once again. It feels great! Please join me in welcoming a few new staff members to our school community. Mike Morpurgo will be Sharis Swartley’s long-term substitute until the end of March for music classes. Mike will also lead the PJS choir. Mike is both the owner and an instructor for the Princeton School of Rock. He comes highly recommended and has extensive experience as a teacher and a musician, with rave reviews by both his students and their parents. In addition, Mike will also be piloting a music program called Little Wings in the preschool, to complement our Music Together program. Mike is also a parent of Oscar, who will join Mrs. White’s class in the preschool.
Our Music Together program will continue in Sharis' absence. Courtney White has been trained as a Music Together teacher and she will continue this program for the preschool.
In the Afternoon program, Kathleen Miller will be Sharis’ long-term substitute. Kathleen has been a support staff in the preschool and in the After School program for the past few years. She knows our students, PJS culture, and has extensive experience with young children. She is well received by PJS students and teachers, and is able to seamlessly continue with our little ones in Sharis’ absence.
As a reminder, because of our extensive school closure due to Hurricane Sandy, we have extended the school year to June 13th. In addition, there are several very important announcements related to the school calendar:
•Parents’ Day will be on Tuesday, January 29th at 8:30am. On this day, PJS students and their parents will acquaint themselves with the program and curriculum for the 2013-2014 school year. Should Grade V parents have specific questions about the transition from PJS to middle school, I am available for individual appointments throughout the admissions process. Please let me know if you would like to meet with me.
•The Parent Teacher Conferences on Friday, Feb. 15th will be postponed. School will be closed, but the Vacation Program will still be offered on that day.
•Friday Focus is cancelled on March 1st. There will be a regular school day
.•Parent teacher conferences will be on Friday, March 8th. On that day we will have a 12noon dismissal for all students. There will be no After School program. However, we will provide childcare while parents are in conferences with teachers.
Finally, we have a new furry friend at PJS. Please ask Kathryn Amon and her Grade III students all about it. This is a very exciting opportunity for our school.
Thank you for your continued support in making this a successful year at Princeton Junior School.
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November 16, 2012
Because of Hurricane Sandy, many of our scheduled events have coincided. McIntyre Commons was a busy place this past week. During our Halloween Celebration….On November 13th, our students marched around and around the Commons, while PJS parents showed their support with instruments in hand.
Last night our "town square" was bustling with activity once again. Not only did we have an active book fair and parent/teacher conferences, I also hosted a group of educators as part the Princeton Literacy Alliance. Our visitors were impressed with our vibrant community. It was a delightful scene.
I want to extend a special 'thank you' to Susan Weintraub for organizing our fall book fair. She offered her labor of love to make this a successful event for PJS. Special thank you to the parent volunteers who helped set-up, assisted the children with their wish lists, and boxed up the remaining books. It is encouraging to feel this partnership with our PJS parents.
As we get ready for our Thanksgiving Celebration this coming Tuesday, it has been heartwarming to observe the baskets overflowing outside our classrooms. Thank you for all of your contributions thus far. We are PJS – the school with a BIG heart. Mercer Street Friends will be here to pick-up on Tuesday at 12:30. There is still time, if you forgot and still wish to contribute. As our "Soup Dads" work to warm our bellies, and our students and Mrs. Zeppenfeld prepare the bread with the ingredients from our own garden, I look forward to celebrating one of my favorite holidays with you. See you in the Commons!
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Princeton Junior School weathered the storm beautifully
During our all-school gathering this morning, I asked students to take a moment of silence in memory of Hurricane Sandy casting a shadow on the lives of many. I reminded our students of all we have to be grateful for. Despite the fact that we were without power in the wake of the storm for what seemed like forever, fortunately we have a beautiful school and loving community to return to. Now is our opportunity to reach out and support those who are less fortunate. As soon as I made this remark, hands in the air filled the room. The students asked many questions about what we could do to help others. Their eagerness to help and curiosity about who, what, where, how, and when was a beautiful sight.
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READ ALL ABOUT IT! PJS Students Publish Their Own Newspaper
For the first time ever, PJS students have written and published their own newspaper! Created after school during sessions of the PJS Press Club, the new publication is called THE PJS TIMES and features work by more than a dozen enterprising reporters, writers, editors, and photographers. Check out by clicking on the above headline!
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