Dear St. John Families,
February generated renewed excitement about learning. The adults in the building are life-long learners, and this month offered several chances for us to be students as well as teachers.
At the faculty meeting on February 6, we all spent a couple of hours watching emergency preparedness training videos, learning updated safety procedures and discussing appropriate lesson plans to be developed and implemented by the teachers prior to any form of whole-school drills. This is essential, as we do not want to create anxiety as we practice how to follow instructions during emergencies. So for instance, for younger friends we will not put any emphasis on the why but rather make the how as fun and functional as possible. “It’s time to make a train” can be a signal for the practiced evacuation protocol. “Let’s put our heads together under the table” can be a signal for little ones to take the protective posture during an earthquake drill. It is important to note that we put time and energy toward the more likely emergencies, such as an earthquake, in addition to coming up to speed on expert advice surrounding the less likely occurrences.
Subsequent to training the lead teachers at all grade levels, I provided interactive instructional sessions for the Centered Care staff members, teaching aides, and guest teachers (subs) as well as St. John Church staff. We will continue to operate from a firm foundation of faith rather than fear, and I am committed to keeping all who care for children in the know about the role they play in keeping those kiddos safe. We may not always be able to prevent an emergency from having an impact on our community. We can, however, be ready to respond effectively.
As you are likely aware, the faculty also spent a couple of days involved in intensive professional development pursuits related to educational technology integration. This included attending various sessions at the Midwest Education Technology Conference. Teachers also spent time in teams to implement some of the tools and techniques from that conference. Some even spent time observing other schools’ strategies by visiting classrooms in action on other campuses. Providing teachers time to share and reflect is invaluable to their continued growth and enthusiasm. Thanks for being flexible about taking a couple days off as a family so we could take advantage of these opportunities.
The Learning Center is a significant component of our service to students. We will continue equipping our Learning Specialist, Brooke Otto, with resources so she can maintain consultation with our teachers on appropriate differentiation to maximize students’ potential. As the Administrative Team made the budgetary decision to discontinue Fast ForWord, which has been a separate offering from our Learning Center, Brooke has been gathering information and recommendations regarding quality reading fluency programs. Providing effective tools for strengthening students’ skills across age levels and subject areas is part of our commitment to educational excellence.
Students are excited about sharing their learning. After observing the middle school students as excellent role models and practicing in class, several third and fourth graders participated in a spelling bee with their middle school friends listening intently in the sanctuary. The whole school was involved in exhibiting student projects during our Science and Learning Fair. Anytime students have an authentic audience to show their conceptual and skill attainment, it elevates the learning experience. Thanks to all who came to campus to be part of that audience. Several of our middle school students will move on to the Science Fair competition held at Queeny. Many students in grades 1-8 will also have the opportunity to represent St. John at the Lutheran Schools Academic Fair hosted on the campus of Lutheran South High School.
Students are also happily anticipating a couple of celebrations related to our Annual Fund Campaign. As we surpassed the 25% mark, students will have a carnival-themed lunch on Monday, March 4. If you regularly participate in our hot lunch program or if you elect to pay for hot lunch that day, your child will choose a tray with a selection of fun foods such as corndogs, burgers, veggie sticks with dip and soft pretzels. Even if your child brings a sack lunch from home, we want them to feel included and will provide for all students a sweet treat such as an apple with caramel or snow cone. Two generous gifts recently propelled us very close to the 50% mark, so students are psyched about the teacher swap where a different St. John teacher will execute one lesson designed by that regular teacher. This will be a fun way for students to gain exposure to other educators on our campus and for teachers to know those students in a new setting. Remember, all annual fund gifts go directly to the school budget to finance teacher salaries and purchase educational materials. We are grateful for your generous support, and we look forward to celebrating with you as we reach 100% of our goal. Together we can do it!
As the third quarter of our school year comes to a close, encourage your child to finish strong. The remaining three months of school will go quickly. As we keep our hearts and minds on things above, we are able to make the most of each moment while bringing our best selves to each of those moments.
Peace and Joy!
Principal, St. John School