12/6/2013 Principal’s Monthly Message

Dec 6, 2013 by

12/6/2013 Principal’s Monthly Message

Dear MES families,


Happy December!  We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break and we know everyone’s thinking ahead to our winter recess, but we wanted to make sure you had one last update to send you on your way. Here’s a look at what’s going on at Montclair Elementary School as we wind down 2013.



Our school-wide Otter Walk prize assembly will be held today (Friday) at 1:55. We’ll be celebrating the achievements of the entire school, as well as awarding special prizes to a few children who walked great distances or raised threshold levels of funds.


Every child who participated by walking and/or fundraising is valued and recognized.  However, not every child will walk away with a desired prize, and some will undoubtedly feel disappointed.  Ms. Bloom and Dr. Susan would like to remind everyone that moments like this are truly “teachable” moments, and that teaching our children our children to be gracious in disappointment is as important as being humble in victory. A growing body of research supports the idea that resilience is built by allowing our children to experience defeat, disappointment, and losses, and that the recent “trophies for everyone!” trend does more harm than good. If you’d like to learn more, here’s an excellent article on the topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/opinion/losing-is-good-for-you.html



’Tis the season for giving, and it’s understandable that you may want to recognize your child’s teacher with a little something. However, Ms. Bloom wants to remind everyone that gifts are completely optional, and money donations are never expected or required. In fact, it’s against district and state policy to give cash to school personnel – so please keep this in mind if you are considering a token for a teacher.


The gifts that resonate most deeply are those with a personal touch: a picture drawn by your child, a box of home-baked cookies, or a decorated pencil holder may mean more to your teacher than a gift card. Stumped? Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

And if you have any questions about gifting, please contact your room representative.



OK, sugarplums may not be on the menu, but we’re certainly looking forward to the ever-closer launch of our highly anticipated cooking kitchen! We’re happy to report that the kitchen has passed all its final inspections. Now the ball is in OUSD’s court for staffing and supplies.


We don’t have a firm date yet but we’re closer than we’ve ever been and are hoping for a January debut. Once that happens, we will give it a one- to two-week test run (serving students who are already signed up for the lunch program) and will then offer our promised two weeks of free lunches to all MES students. We will keep you posted on exact dates as we know them. Thank you all so much for your patience! We truly believe it’ll be worth the wait.



This is a great time of year to remind everyone of our expectations for our students’ behavior with one another. In short: be kind. We know that our children are navigating the sometimes turbulent waters of peer relationships and social etiquette, and as parents and educators, it falls to us to provide a guiding hand. Please remind your children to treat each other with respect; to never call names; to include, not exclude; and to work to build a community of friends. And it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: threats and physical violence will never be tolerated.


As always, if you or your child(ren) could use some help with any issues, please speak with your teacher and/or reach out to Dr. Susan through the office.



We are happy to welcome a new member of our MES staff: teacher Karin McCarthy. She will be helming the computer lab and helping our students master keyboarding and computer literacy skills on our iPads and, later this year, on Chromebooks. Ms. McCarthy comes to us with extensive elementary-school teaching experience in Utah, Maryland, and California, and holds a master’s degree in science from California State University East Bay.



A huge thank-you and loads of praise go out to both our valiant valet volunteers and to the Dads’ Club for their help in the parking lot. Their efforts in painting new spaces and directional signs, as well as spending hours opening doors and escorting students, have helped create an enormous improvement in traffic flow and safety during morning drop-off. We still have a few issues, especially at pick-up, with red-zone parking (remember, it’s illegal!)…but we are heading in the right direction. So thanks to our volunteers and to all of you in the MES community who are working to create a safer school environment.

Two more parking-related notes:

  • The no parking/fire lane adjacent to the upper building is also our drop-off and pick-up area for our disabled students who arrive at school by bus. Please do not block this area, as it creates safety hazards for our most compromised students.
  • As always, please consider others when you park. The extra moments you spend by parking a bit farther away (or not blocking other vehicles) may mean the world to someone else.



These colder months often spur families to recall warm memories. Why not build your legacy for future holiday seasons by purchasing a tile? The PTA is raising funds by selling tiles that will decorate the front of the Multipurpose Room for years to come. Your family can select the size and color, and engrave the tile with a phrase or a sentence that is meaningful to you. The cost is $145 for a 4” by 8” tile, and $295 for an 8” by 8” tile. Please see samples and pick up forms on the bulletin board outside of the office.



  • Report cards will go home on December 13. There should be few if any surprises with your child’s grades, as our parent-teacher conferences in October offered the opportunity to discuss academic expectations and performance.  However, if you have any concerns about your child’s evaluations, please do reach out to his or her teacher.
  • We will stage our annual Winter Sing on Wednesday, December 18 at 9:30 a.m. in the multipurpose room. Parents are welcome to attend, but be aware it’ll be standing room only for adults. Plus, a plea: If you must take video of your little darlings, please be respectful of the sightlines. An iPad may be a great recording device but it can also block other parents from enjoying the moment.
  • Also on December 18, the 5th graders will host their fundraising Family Dance at 6:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room (this will be in lieu of the monthly PTA meeting). All grades are encouraged to attend, boogie down, and purchase handmade crafts made by fellow students. All proceeds go to the fifth grade’s spring trip.
  • Just to keep you on your toes: Friday, December 20, will be a minimum day with release at 1:30.
  • Finally, winter break runs from Monday, December 23 to Friday, January 3. And yes, that means we’re not back to school until Monday, January 6.


If you have an incoming student new to Montclair, or a 5th grader who is heading to middle school, you must complete OUSD Options paperwork (available in the office) by January 16. No exceptions! Be timely and be complete…or you risk being disappointed.

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