K-5 Board Report Feb

TO:                  RSU #74 Board of Directors


FROM:            Jean Butler


DATE:                        January 31, 2018







Our students returned from their Christmas break ready to launch into new lessons and learning activities. The very low temperatures of January kept students inside for recess on many days, and we hope that February will bring warmer temperatures so that we can get our students out for fresh air and exercise in the days ahead.


Last year library media assistant Shirley Mellows and I applied for a grant from the Cole Transportation Museum through which we could get 25 Kindle Fires for the three elementary schools. We didn't get the grant because other schools had applied before us, but apparently they put us on a waiting list and have now let us know that we will be getting these devices in February or March! They will also give us information about free apps through which we can load e-books on the Kindles for our students to read. Teachers may want to download a book onto the Kindles so the whole class or a reading group can read the book. Even though nothing can replace a book, some of our students will enjoy reading through this different media and we are excited to get these new devices.


For the third year the RSU #74 Literacy Committee is participating in the statewide Read to ME Challenge sponsored by the Maine Department of Education during the month of February. The event will be launched by Maine First Lady Ann LePage on February 1st. The steps are to read for fifteen minutes to or with a child and then challenge people and  organizations with whom we partner to do the same. We challenge all of you to find a few minutes to read to or with a child this month.


Physical education teachers Kirk Robinson and Mathew Brown have organized the annual fifth grade ski trip to Sugarloaf Mountain, which will take place on Friday, March 16th. This is always a great day of winter fun and exercise for our district fifth graders and their families. We thank our PTO's for covering the cost of the trip for students who want to go but whose families can't afford the fee.


Solon and Garret Schenck will be holding a “Secret Cupid” activity in conjunction with Valentine's Day in February. Each student and staff member will draw the name of another student or staff member in the school and design a valentine for that person, writing something nice about the person on the valentine. All of the valentines will be displayed on a wall or bulletin board. The students will also play a game similar to Yahtzee called “Hearts” in multiage groups and will have classroom Valentine card exchanges around February 14th.


Both schools will participate in the Portland Sea Dogs' Most Improved Student Program this spring. Teachers will nominate students in their classes who have made the most improvement since September, and they can consider grades, study skills, behavior, social skills, or a combination of these. Nominations are due by March 2nd. The Sea Dogs will give a certificate and a free ticket to a game to each nominated student, and they will be invited to an on-field recognition ceremony at that game.


Garret Schenck


The Garret Schenck staff are implementing our reading intervention program called “Power Reading” for all of the students in grades K-5 for our secondyear. The goal is to give students extra instruction and extra practice in the key skills they need to be successful readers. Students are placed into small groups based on their scores on reading assessments. Each small group is led by a staff member. These groups meet twice a week for thirty minutes to work on targeted reading skills that the students need. If students tested at or above grade level in reading, they receive enrichment instruction to further develop their reading skills. We will continue to do informal assessments to determine if students are making progress in their skills as a result of this extra help. If not, we will change the strategies or grouping. Students have a chance to earn “power points” for attendance and cooperation during each Power Reading session. When we reach our school goal of a specific number of points, the students earn a schoolwide reward.


We want to offer congratulations to fourth grade teacher Brittany Dunham for getting a Donors Choose grant for a project called “Diving Into Dictionaries” through which she received fifteen copies of a Scholastic Children's Thesaurus and fifteen copies of a Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary for her class. This amounted to $425.85. These are great new resources for our fourth graders!


Garret Schenck's fourth Family Class connected to our Positive Action Program will take place on February 15th from 5:30-7:00 PM. We will serve a dinner of Subway sandwiches, fruit, and beverages to start the evening. Then Mrs. Lisa Savage will work with the parents and Mrs. Angela Manzer will work with the students on concepts from Unit 4 of the Positive Action Program. Parents have received free materials to implement some of the concepts with their children at home. Funding for these classes comes from our School Improvement Grant.


Garret Schenck fourth grader Willow Page has been chosen to participate in the National Youth Leadership Forum: Pathways to STEM, an Envision program to be held at Babson College in Boston this summer. Willow was nominated by her third grade teacher Jasmyn Wagg last spring. During this six-day residential program, Willow will participate in hands-on workshops focused on communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and goal-setting while she explores future STEM careers in engineering, medicine, and detective work. To raise the money needed for Willow to participate in the program and travel to and from Boston, teachers Jasmyn Wagg and Brittany Dunham have started a GoFundMe page for her and have already raised $615. People are also donating money to a fund we have set up at school for Willow. Willow decided she wanted to earn some of the money herself so she is making colorful slime to sell to classmates at school and has raised almost $150 through that endeavor. Hopefully enough money will be raised so that Willow can embark on this exciting experience!




Solon Special Education teacher Maria James should be recognized for getting a Donors Choose grant for a project called “Our Writing Comes to Life.” She got a 3Doodler pen set for helping students create 3D designs and projects, which amounted to $349. Her students are already enjoying designing projects to go with the stories they are writing.


Fourth and fifth grade members of the Solon Kids Care Club have been invited to visit

the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan by director David Richards, who read in

the Town Line newspaper that the club had sponsored a Thanksgiving Food Drive to help needy families in their community in November. Mr. Richards said that one of the lessons Margaret Chase Smith wanted to pass on to young people was the importance of service. When they learn about young people who are helping others, they like to honor their work by inviting them to come to the Margaret Chase Smith Library to share their story. They also make a point of sending the group back to school with a check for $100 so they can continue their good deeds. Club adviser Michelle Stevens will be setting up a date for that visit.


Fifth grade teacher Terry Corson is running his annual Kitty Kats basketball program at the Solon School. Students of all grades K-5 participate in this program in which they learn basketball skills and drills while practicing sportsmanship and team work. On February 28th, students will demonstrate their ball handling skills to music for their families and friends at a Kitty Kats Basketball Fun Night from 6:00-7:30 PM. Kitty Kats has a long tradition at Solon Elementary School, having been started by Mr. Corson over thirty years ago. Many of our parents were once Kitty Kats themselves!




If you have any questions about the Garret Schenck or Solon Schools,

please contact me.