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About Us » Principal's Message

Principal's Message

August 2021

 

Dear Washington School Students and Families,

 

It is with great anticipation that I write to you as we prepare to begin the new school year!  We are all excited to get started and look forward to a wonderful year at Washington School.  

 

We will welcome our students on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.  Mrs. Todd and Mrs. Khalap have been working hard in our main office in preparation for our opening. Teachers have participated in a variety of professional development activities, in addition to setting up their classrooms and preparing materials for the new year.  

 

Washington School looks to foster the growth of all fifth-grade students through a comprehensive curriculum. Our academic objectives can be accomplished by successfully working together this school year. Fifth-grade teachers will continue to implement Balanced Literacy and provide reading and writing instruction through Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop.  Math In Focus, based on the Singapore approach, is our main resource for mathematics instruction, and professional development in this area is ongoing.  We will also be utilizing the latest technology with guidance from Mrs. Danielle Haggerty, our Media/Technology facilitator.  Each of our classrooms is equipped with Smart Software and an interactive panel.  Every fifth grader will have a Chromebook which allows for each student to use them throughout the day. 

 

As the Washington Wolves, our classes are organized in “Packs.” 

 

The Packs are as follows:

        Pack W           Cunningham Room 119/Irving Room 219/Schaefer Room 123 

 

        Pack O            Murphy Room 111/Turtletaub Room 113

 

        Pack L             Chibaro/Turrone Room 215/DelVecchio Room 213

 

        Pack V             Briber Room 211/Lepinsky (was Gottfried) Room 209/VanDzura Room 217

 

        Pack E              delaFuente Room 221/Jones Room 121/Policarpio Room 201

 

        Pack S              Cassels Room 205/Monaco Room 207/Roberts Room 203

 

 

 Within the Packs, language arts and math will be taught by your child’s respective homeroom teacher, while science, social studies, and BUILDER (Brainstorm, Understand  Imagine/Invent, Learn, Design, Engineer, Research) will be taught on a trimester rotation by the other teachers within their Pack.  All fifth-grade students will have Art, Music, and Spanish once a week and Physical Education twice a week.  Students will have an opportunity to visit the Media Den to check out books that have been “gentrified” to meet the needs of our adolescent readers.

 

I would like to thank The Washington School PTO for their generosity and hard work in helping us get our school equipped with a variety of programs to support our daily instruction. To start off the year, the Washington School PTO has donated our student planners (expected delivery by 9/21),  Leader in Me, and Author in Residence with author Elly Swartz. More information on Elly Swartz can be found at https://ellyswartz.com/.  We are extremely thankful to the Washington School PTO.

 

All students will have leadership opportunities through the Leader in Me philosophy. For more information, you may visit the website at (http://www.theleaderinme.org/).  Our goal is to equip our students with the skills needed to practice leadership and positive decision-making.  Students will create leadership portfolios, set goals, and participate in student-led conferences in April.  

 

There will be many wonderful things happening at Washington School.  Look for Band and Orchestra, Chorus, Literacy/Newspaper, Peer Leadership, Broadcast, Washington Forum, and the Environmental Club.  The Washington School PTO is also planning for After School Enrichment and Odyssey of the Mind.  

 

 

Meeting our Students’ Academic, Social, Emotional & Behavioral Needs

 

Washington School strives to meet the needs of all learners.  Washington School has a full Child Study Team that supports our students with special needs. They work as a collaborative team to meet each student’s individual needs.  If you have any questions regarding your child’s IEP, please contact your child’s case manager directly. 

 

Our school has a committee, the Intervention, and Referral Services (I&RS) Team, led by Mrs. Emmanouilidis, which serves as a brainstorming panel for which teachers and parents can refer children who they feel could use additional strategies, skills, and supports in school under the umbrella of regular education. The I&RS Team consists of building administrators, your child’s teacher, our learning consultant, a teacher representative, our Strategies Intervention teacher, and a Child Study Team member.  The purpose of this committee is to review the information provided by the K-4 schools, identify students with social, emotional, behavioral, or academic needs, and develop accommodations, based on teacher input, that would provide opportunities for students to reach their full potential. 

 

We also understand that our fifth graders have unique social and emotional needs.  Our Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Bonnie Loew,  will continue to be a wonderful resource for our students and their families during this transitional year and offer her expertise and guidance. 

 

From the School Nurse, Mrs. O’Gorman

 

Welcome to Washington school. There are several ways in which you can help us keep COVID-19 out of Washington school:

 

 1. Send your child to school with a mask that fits properly over their nose and mouth. This is so important. Cloth masks, surgical masks, N95s, are all acceptable. Gaiters and masks with vents are not sufficient and are not permitted.

 

2. If your child is sick please keep them home. 

 

3. If someone in the home is sick, please confirm they do not have COVID before sending your child to school.

 

4. If your child has allergies or some other chronic condition please discuss this with me so we can develop a health plan for your child.

 

5. All medications, including Epipens and the paperwork that accompanies them must be handed in on the first day of school.

 

6. Please check Powerschool and make sure your emergency contacts are people who live within 20 minutes of Washington school.

 

 I am available to help in any way that I can. Please reach out to me by email at patricia.ogorman@millburn.org or call the school.

 

 

Washington School Code of Conduct

 

We will provide students with proactive ways to socialize,  as well as appropriate ways to handle conflicts.  Students are taught to use “I Messages” and “TAG” (Tell someone what they are doing to bother you.  Ask them to stop.  Go tell someone if they do not.) 

 

We ask all students to follow our Code of Conduct as follows: 

 

1. Respect people and property. 

2. Keep hands, feet, & objects to yourself.  

3. Use appropriate language.  

4. Be courteous; speak kindly.  

 

Washington School belongs to all of us. All students have the right to learn and feel safe. We must take good care of each other and our building and grounds to maintain a pleasant and safe learning environment for all of us.

 

The expectation for behavior at Washington School:

 

Be kind, safe, and show respect to other people and property inside and outside the building at all times.  Kindness, Safety, and Respect will be discussed and reviewed within the classrooms and within the school all year long. Please continue these conversations at home.

The following steps will be taken when expectations are not met:

  1. The teacher or administrator confers with the student. 

  2. Parents will be informed through phone calls, conferences, or written notes when expectations are repeatedly not met or if the severity of a single incident requires immediate parental involvement/notification. 

  3. Different privileges may be revoked when appropriate. This may include loss of recess or other school activities. 

  4. An after-school detention period may be appropriate in some cases. The individual teacher or the principal will supervise this detention period. 

  5. In-school or out-of-school suspension may be assigned by the building principal in instances where behavior is severely inappropriate. Parents will be immediately notified by the principal of any suspension. 

We have a building safety team that will investigate and report on all incidents in regards to Harassment,  Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB).  Mrs. Emmanouilidis is our Building Specialist and can be contacted with any issues related to HIB. 

 

We are encouraging all students to stay off social media and want to teach them appropriate good digital citizenship skills.  We will be working closely this school year with our DARE team of Millburn Police Officers.  Our message is for our students to be internet and technology responsible, utilizing all forms of media in an appropriate manner.  Our fifth-grade peer leaders will learn to be proactive and develop habits to help them navigate situations involving social media.  Thank you for your support!  

 

  • Cell Phone Usage:  Washington School will not be responsible for the loss or damage of any student cell phone.  Students must turn them off and keep them away during the school day.  After school, students can use their devices to communicate with a parent or guardian.  Students may not use their cell phones while traveling on the school bus.  Please know that we discourage picture taking and videotaping on school grounds.

 

Arrival  

 

The school day begins at 8:55 a.m., with arrival beginning at 8:45.  Children should not arrive before 8:45 a.m. as they will be unsupervised. 

Doors that will be open during arrival: Main Office entrance, Willow Street entrance, and bus loop entrance. 

Walkers: Students walking to school may enter through any of the entrances. 

Crossing Guard Locations:  (may be subject to change) 

  1. 2 crossing guards at the intersection of Spring and Willow right in front of the school

  2. 1 crossing guard at Ridgewood and Main

  3. 1 crossing guard at Meeker and Willow

  4. 1 Crossing guard at Spring and Rector

Car drop-off: 

Beginning at 8:45 am.  Parents dropping off their children can do so on Spring Street.  We will have the drop-off zone marked and a staff member will be present.  All students that are dropped off will enter through the Spring Street side door.  The staff member will direct students when they arrive. Cars may NOT enter the loop or the staff parking lot during drop-off.  Students are to proceed into the building through this entrance and report to their classroom.

 

Bussers:  All students arriving by bus will enter through the loop entrance as this is where busses will park. Bus students will exit the bus and proceed into the building to line up by their classrooms.   

Before School Activities: Students participating in any activities before school, including orchestra, band, clubs, etc. may enter the building through the main entrance or the bus loop.

 

Safety: We need to keep a continuous flow of traffic during this busy time period.  Everyone’s help is greatly appreciated during this time.  For the safety of our children, please be certain that children use the designated crosswalk areas and do not cross the street directly from their parked car.  Please do not park in the “Drop Off Zone” along Spring Street.   

 

Late arrival: All doors will be locked at 9:05 am.  Any student arriving after this time must enter through the main office doors and be signed in by a parent or guardian.  Any student arriving after 9:15 will be marked “tardy.” 

 

 

Dismissal

 

Students will be dismissed following the procedures listed below:

Walkers will be dismissed at 3:20 by their teachers.  This includes any student who has been given permission by a parent to leave school unescorted by an adult, those walking to the car line, or to a designated nearby location for pick up.  Please note the proper permissions need to be in place in Powerschool.

 

Bus students will report to their designated place, either by the loop or in the building, to meet their bus leaders.  They will line up for attendance by their assigned bus number.  Please make sure your child is aware of their bus number.

 

Please take note of the following bus-related items:  

 

 Students can only ride the bus they are assigned to and students who are not bussers are not permitted on any bus.  Bus students may not be dropped off at a stop other than their designated stop.  All students riding the bus must remain seated and are required to wear seat belts.  Large instruments are NOT allowed to be transported on the bus.  Cell phones are to be used for emergencies only.  

Students who do not have permissions in place to leave unescorted and are getting picked up will be dismissed by their teacher as follows:

 

  • Teachers will bring students to their designated area for dismissal to occur.  Once a teacher identifies a person who has been authorized to pick up,  students can be dismissed.  If an authorized person is not present at dismissal, students will be brought to the main office where a contact person will be called. 

  • Packs W, O, L, & V  will be dismissed out of the field side doors (subject to change throughout the year).

  • Packs E & S will be dismissed out of the Willow/Spring Street doors (subject to change throughout the year). 

 

Many parents have chosen “yes” in the dismissal permissions in their Powerschool portal.  Please note that choosing “yes” indicates that your child does not have permission to leave school unescorted. This includes walking to the car line, to a designated spot for pick up, or leaving with a friend. If you wish for your child to be able to leave unescorted to walk to the car line or go home with a friend, please log in to your PowerSchool parent portal, go to dismissal permissions in the express gateway (arrow in the upper right) and change your response to “no.”  If you prefer, you may send an email to cynthia.todd@millburn.org giving permission for us to update this setting for you and we will make the change. 

 

The section in PowerSchool reads as follows:

 

"The standard procedure in grades 5-8 is to dismiss students without supervision at the end of the day. The school should hold my student every day in the main office for me to come in the school building and sign them out."

 

Carpool Line Pickup

 

Students may be picked up in the carpool line at dismissal.  Please note, however, that your child’s permissions in Powerschool must allow for him/her to leave school unescorted in order for them to walk to the carpool line. All cars should pull up to the yellow cones located outside of the Spring Street side doors.  Students that are getting picked up should wait in this area.  Please pick up your child and keep the line moving.  

The bus loop will be closed during dismissal to allow busses to safely board students.  Once all busses have left the loop, cars may use this area for pickup as needed.  

 

Parking:  

  • 2 - hour parking is available on Meeker, Rector, Willow, and Spring Street in some locations.  

  • Please do not enter the Staff parking lot during either AM or PM drop off or pick up.

  • Loop area  - No Parking!

 

Both parents and students must be aware of the student’s dismissal plan prior to the start of the school day. We are unable to interrupt instruction for dismissal changes.

After School Activities: Students will report to the appropriate individuals responsible for the activity and be dismissed either to their parents/guardians or on their own depending on the permissions submitted to the PTO. This is separate from their school dismissal permissions.  

 

  • Please know that a nurse may not always be present or available during after-school activities. 

Please be sure to mark your calendars for extended single session dates (dismissal at 1:10 pm) to ensure your child’s appropriate supervision on these early dismissal days.  A copy of our District calendar can be found on our website (millburn.org/About Us/District Calendars).

 

Snack Time - Fifth graders will have the opportunity to have a snack this school year.  Your child’s teacher will share the time and details with you.  All health and safety protocols will be followed during this time.   

 

Lunch -  Lunch is between 12:25 and 1:15 every day.  The plan is to have students eat in the gym with their class and have a Pack eat outside in the lunch area weather permitting.  We will be following all safety protocols while eating indoors that includes students wearing their masks when finished eating or during transitional times.  

 

We will also be using the Art Room for each class to have a special Leadership Lunch following a rotating schedule.  During inclement weather days, we may use the loop area for students in some classes to eat outdoors as well.   

 

The PTO has made the following arrangements for lunch:   

  1. NO Fuss lunch on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

  2. Sushi and Frozen Treats on Friday 

If you would like to purchase lunch, please sign up on the PTO website.  If you have allergy concerns please contact our school nurse, Mrs. Trish O’Gorman at patricia.ogorman@millburn.org  

 

  • Please send in a foam or yoga mat with your child.  This item will be kept at school and used to sit on the grass on days when their Pack is eating lunch outdoors.  Please do not send a blanket or a towel, but rather an item that can repel moisture if it gets damp.  

 

Communication and Parent-Teacher Conferences:  We encourage communication and will be available by phone, email, or for a personal meeting (during a mutually agreed upon day & time).  There are two dates for Parent-Teacher Conferences.  In November, (1, 2, & 3)  with the parent and teacher, and in April (19, 20, & 21), we will have our Student-Led Conferences with students present during those times. 

Safety and Security:  Safety is a top priority for all of our students. When visiting during the school day,  you must sign in and print a visitor label using School Check-In.  You will need a driver’s license in order to check-in.   Please make every effort to ensure that your child has what they need for their school day before they leave home in the morning.  If you are dropping off a lunch, instrument, etc., we ask that you mark it with your child’s name and drop it off in the vestibule area.  Mrs. Khalap and Mrs. Todd will make sure that all belongings get to your children.  

 

We will have an Open House for all 5th-grade students on Monday, August 30th, and Tuesday, August 31st between 3:00 and 4:00.  Students can find their classroom and walk the halls followed by Kona Ice outside provided by our PTO.  This is an opportunity for students to become familiar with the building. 

 

    * Monday, August 30, 2021, between 3:00 - 4:00 Packs WOL

    * Tuesday, August 31st, 2021, between 3:00 - 4:00 Packs VES 

 

 

We hope you will join us for Back to School Night on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, at 6:30.   Back to School Night will take place virtually.  Times, details, and links will be shared in a separate correspondence.   

The Washington School teachers and staff join me in wishing you a wonderful 2021 – 2022 school year.   We are very excited to welcome everyone on the first day of school on September 1st. 

 

 

Yours truly,

Peter Mercurio

Washington School Principal


Washington School Mission Statement 


Principal Mercurio photo