Welcome to Swigert International School
Letter from Principal Tencate
Greetings Swigert Families!
I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to the New Year. I have to say the first half of the year has been a whirlwind. The science fair was an incredible success! I cannot thank the committee enough for the tireless work that went into organizing this event for our students. The children were so excited to participate and the projects were truly outstanding. One of our own students went on to the district level competition and placed third in his age group!
On the IB front, our units continue to develop and deepen our students’ understanding of inquiry and concept based learning. I hope many of you have had a chance to see some of the examples of these units as our fifth graders hosted a Wax Museum of famous individuals who helped shape history. Ms. Bergan’s first grade class organized a “Whale Watch” in the hallways based on their inquiry into whales—resulting in a whole new understanding for students of survival, migration, research and advocacy. The third graders celebrated the culmination of their work on world regions at a World’s Fair, highlighting culture, geography, conflict, history and so much more.
Our school continues to exemplify the IB philosophy and grow in our own understanding of how to ensure that we can design the very best learning experiences for our students. Our Authorization Visit from the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) will happen on the 26th and 27th of February. The IBO sends a team of three representatives to our school to do a full evaluation on how well we are implementing and embracing their standards and practices. We should hear back in late March or early April if there are any things we need to tweak or add to our programming before becoming a fully accredited IB school. We are ready for the visit and excited to hear the feedback.
Thanks to the very generous support of our PTA, we continue to work to support our teachers with resources, training and coaching. We sent our staff to multiple conferences including ones on literacy practices and instruction and IB. Teachers in the third grade went to the Museum of Natural History in New York City for a three day intensive experience on teaching social studies and science using hands on experiences as well as cultural and community resources. Our Differentiated Roles Pilot Grant is also promoting further collaboration between teachers and allowing for more frequent feedback and coaching for our staff.
In terms of continuing to develop our school culture, Jen Woolf, our Assistant Principal, and I meet each month with every class for a “morning meeting.” During this time we recognize students, chosen by the teachers, who exemplify the Learner Profile Trait of the Month. We also ask students to share what they are learning in their classrooms as well as ask students to take a moment to celebrate one another. Students stand up and start with, “ I would like to celebrate______ because….” They give a concrete example of how the other student or students have helped, taught, supported etc. the speaker through friendship, in class, on the playground etc. These morning meetings are a wonderful way to build a positive culture in our school anchored in respect, acknowledgement and kindness. It is truly moving to see how many kids, even some of our shyest, stand up to recognize a classmate for contributing to building our community.
On the assessment front, we continue to prepare our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students for the upcoming PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessment. This is the national assessment for our new national standards, the Common Core. All students will test five units lasting between 75-90 minutes, depending on the content area. This includes built in extra time. There are two testing windows: one in March and one in May. I am attaching the link to a parent information page about the PARCC assessment. Please take some time to look over the information and resources provided by PARCC if you have a student in the 3rd-5th grade.
I am also attaching a link to technology resources by grade level. Our tech teacher, Patrick Thornham, has compiled links to resources for every grade level. For third, fourth and fifth you will find the link to dance mat typing, an engaging way for students to practice the keyboarding skills that will be necessary on the PARCC assessment.
As mentioned in my last communication, we will be hosting our annual reflective dialogue with our staff this month. During February 18th and 19th teachers will be meeting for 25 minutes with the personnel committee. We will be finalizing our staffing decisions for the 2015-2016 school year at this time. As you know, this is the unfortunate circumstance we find ourselves in due to the large bubble classes moving through the grades. This forces us to reduce and add staff each year at multiple grade levels. Our goal is to minimize the impact on the community as much as possible. Even if we have teachers who will not be returning, it is not necessarily a reflection of their teaching. It may be that they teach in a grade level that is shrinking and the teacher would not be a fit or has chosen not to move to a different grade level. Sometimes individuals will choose to pursue leadership or other open district positions that we may not offer.
In PE news, we are well into our Jump Rope for Heart campaign. Currently, Swigert is the top online school for donations in Colorado with over $16,000 just online so far!
Last but not least it is time to start thinking about the auction! Mark your calendars,March 21st is the date and we can’t wait to see you all there! This is not only a great fund raising event for the school, but a fun way to develop and grow our parent community. We hope to see you all there!
Thank you for so much for your support of our school!
Swigert International School
Be a part the SIS Walk of Pride!
A walkway of pavers has been installed in front of the main entrance to the school building and each year the blank pavers will be replaced with engraved personalized pavers. Students will appreciate seeing their names, or those of family and friends, as they arrive each day at school! The funds raised by this project will go toward providing many valuable resources to SIS students. Order now for installation of your paver before the school year this fall! Click this link to fill out your form with instructions for payment, or to ask a question:http://swigertpta.com/sis-pavers/
Check out the photos of Mayor Michael Hancock’s visit to Swigert!