Thursday, August 26, 2010

Start of a New School Year

August 20, 2010

Dear Parents,

It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome students to the 2010/2011 school year!  I hope everyone has had a healthy and safe summer.  There are so many memories made during the summer months as we perhaps saw our children jump off a diving board for the first time, ride without training-wheels, or grow in responsibility and independence.   The times we spend with our children doing such activities as tide pooling at the ocean are truly priceless.

A great memory I had from this summer was the time I spent studying at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.   I attended the Principal Institute with 140 other administrators from all corners of the world.  It was very common during my weeks there to be having a discussion with a principal for example from Texas, Maryland, Australia, the Middle East, New York, or Germany.  No matter where we came from one clear theme was apparent –our strong passion for student growth and our dedication to develop life long learners.   An additional thrill was participating in Project Adventure.  Project Adventure involved tasks such as being 45 feet up in the air and walking across a telephone pole positioned like balance beam with a repelling line as my safety.  This allowed for great intrapersonal thinking and team building ideas for the fall.

We have been very busy at Pine Glen this summer. As a result of the flooding, once students departed for the summer, teachers on the first floor had to pack-up entire classrooms and put all the items in storage.   An asbestos abatement was conducted as the entire first floor tile was removed and new tile was installed.  Teachers have been very busy unpacking their rooms these past two weeks.  This has presented a much shorter window of time for the custodial staff to prepare the building and teachers to prepare their classrooms. When students arrive this fall to a clean building and classrooms all set up, it is due to the hard work and dedication of the teachers and custodial staff.  Please be sure to express thanks to all the staff.  This summer was particularly hot and humid and the custodial staff did a remarkable job.

We are also extremely excited to have a new field in the playground area in back of the school (my blog has before and after pictures).   This was a big project and involved removal of large amounts of sand, the bringing in of topsoil, and landscaping with laser technology.  Rocks where also put around the perimeter of the field where it meets the building and hot top was put down in a new elevated path leading to the gym structure.  An additional benefit will be the redirection of water away from the building to hamper flooding.  Children will be able to play on the gym structure and other areas of the field until the new grass grown.   Once the grass is grown we will all delight in seeing students play on the new field.

We have purchased a large degree of new curriculum particularly in the areas of reading comprehension and written expression.   Throughout the academic year teachers will participate in curriculum councils and all teachers will continue at grade level meetings with myself to look at curriculum, instruction and assessment.  Curriculum pilots and new intervention pilots will also be implemented in various grades and subjects in areas such as math, vocabulary, and comprehension.  We saw tremendous growth this past academic year from our students.  In fact, we had to order a large amount of new fiction and non-fiction books.  Students are reading more books than they ever have in the past.   This fall all grade levels will be tiering instruction during language arts.   The most noticeable change for students will be that their classroom teacher might be different than their reading teacher.  This affords teachers the opportunity to work with a narrower teachable range, provide interventions and maximizing efficiency.  This is not leveled reading instruction.  We are providing flexibly grouped reading instruction that changes based on data.  We will also be implementing this in some grade levels in math.   This in a way can be thought of as football practice for a college or professional team.  A team like the Patriots has multiple coaches for say special teams, offense, defense, and receivers etc.   During practice, players work with these coaches in small groups on a specific skill or area.  This is much like a reading teacher working with a group on reading comprehension, fluency, phonics, or phonemic awareness.  We will continue to use D.O.R.A. (Developmental Online Reading Assessment) our online universal screen to become aware of where to focus our instruction and provide interventions.

We also welcoming new technology at Pine Glen this fall.  We have added 10 additional “Bob Carts.”   These are 4 terminal computer stations.  They are extremely helpful in providing interventions to students and many other educational opportunities that a computer can provide.   Likewise, we have also increased our wireless coverage in the building and expansion of providing laptops and some touch-screen tablets to staff.   We are also beginning the process at Pine Glen of switching our listening centers, which occur during balanced literacy time from tape player to I-Pod technology.   Also upcoming will be the expansion of interactive white board technology. 

This year I will be providing all communication through the blog or a recorded phone call.  Several teachers likewise will be communicating via their classroom blog.  I encourage all parents to pick a time to check my blog,, and the Superintendent’s Blog,  In addition to upcoming events both of these blogs will be providing information about such upcoming events as the redistricting of the four elementary schools.  Through the Burlington Web page,, one can access the school calendar, lunch menu, and Pine Glen web page, which provide links to Pine Glen staff blogs. 

We are pleased to welcome two new staff members to our Pine Glen Community.  Amanda Pierce will be our new special education teacher.   Dan Callahan will be our new technology integration specialist (computer teacher).   We are very fortunate to have attracted such high quality instructors to our professional learning community. 

We are also thrilled to have two formerly retired Pine Glen teachers return to Pine Glen.  Martha Ogren, was the librarian for several years at Pine Glen, will be returning to her role as the school librarian.  Jill Papadonis who taught for several years at Pine Glen will be teaching first grade covering Mrs. Hayes maternity leave.   We are so fortunate to have both of these individuals share their many years of incredible instructional experience and skills.

I wish to thank the PTO for all their assistance.   They have done tremendous work in providing student enrichment, organizing school social events, community outreach and assistance to the teachers.  The new laminator donated by the PTO was greatly appreciated by the teachers particularly with the packing up of classrooms this summer.   Likewise, we were very fortunate to have had incredible student enrichment this spring from Jerry Polatta, a children’s author, and Rob Surette, an expressionistic artist.   Five of Rob’s paintings now hang in the school cafeteria. These vibrant, ascetic paintings not only add cultural and historical value to the cafeteria but, remind students of Rob’s message to live out your dreams, take risks, and be respectful of each other.   We have also added greatly to our literacy collection particularly in the areas of non-fiction text for science and social studies with generous donations from the PTO.  The PTO continues to serve as the best way in which to volunteer and be active in our school community.   If not already, please consider joining this organization, which has, as its main purpose student enrichment at Pine Glen School.

We begin our new school year on September 1st for grades 1 to 5.  The Pine Glen staff and I are extremely grateful for the opportunity to instruct your children. It is through instruction and our interactions with your children that we daily see those similar magical summer moments you experienced during June, July and August.    


John Lyons
Pine Glen Elementary School

Message from the PTO: Summer Social

All incoming kindergarten students and their families are invited to attend a Summer Social on Sunday, August 29 from 4-5pm at the Pine Glen playground sponsored by the Ping Glen PTO.   The social is a time for kids and parents to get to know future friends.  We hope you all can make it!  Please be aware, the school building will be closed, so there will be no bathroom facilities available.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer Work

Attached are some pictures of the work that has taken place at Pine Glen.   This summer there was an asbestos abatement of the entire first floor and the carpeting was removed in the library.  We are looking forward to starting the year with our new floors and new carpeting in the library.    Also witnessed in August was removal of all the sand in the playground area.  We are thrilled to have new topsoil on the playground area along with a new paved path and beautiful landscaping.   An additional cause for celebration was the arrival of 10 new “Bob Carts” (computer stations for the classrooms) and exterior painting of the building.  I hope everyone is enjoying there summer and look forward to seeing everyone in the fall. 

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PTO Announcements

Hi Fellow PTO Members, 

Please join us in congratulating Principal John Lyons on his first year at Pine Glen. The children remain his main priority.  He has done a wonderful job in helping to make improvements.  He has successfully implemented a new reading assessment program as well as a new elementary school schedule that have yielded terrific results.  Mr. Lyons has also gracefully "weathered the storm" of spring flooding and plans to address the issue with renovations to the first floor over the summer.  These are just a few of his many accomplishments.  We wish him continued success.

Also, please welcome Monica Brown as the new Pine Glen PTO Secretary!  Monica assumed responsibilities a few months ago and is doing a super job taking notes and posting meeting minutes on the PTO link to the Pine Glen website.  Other board positions remain the same for the 2010-2011 school year, as there were no nominations this spring or any expected vacancies.

In other news, the PTO has had a busy end-of-school year.  The PTO membership approved the purchase of a new laminator through a first-time online vote.  Thanks again to Denise Lane for getting the best price and appropriate laminator for the school.  The teachers and staff have been very grateful.

Staff appreciation day held in early May was a great success.  Thank you to Joanna DeFrancesco, who chaired the event, and to everyone who donated food items or gifts or who volunteered that day.  The staff has had said nothing but wonderful things about it.   

The Pine Glen barbecue was a fun night for many families.  A sincere thank you to Erynn Mitchell, who chaired the big event again this year, and to all the parents who volunteered that night.  We also want to thank: DJ Jack Ferren, who volunteered his services and donated the rental of the equipment; former Principal Jane Dwyer for her famous face painting; the Lowell Spinners Cannaligator; and Roche Bros. for donating some of the food.

The barbecue's 50/50 raffle organized by Denise Porcello raised money for the family fund.  Orginated several years ago by Denise, this fund assists Pine Glen families in need.  Thank you to Katherine Swan for generously returning her winnings back to the fund. 

The PTO also sponsored a couple of enrichment days for the children.  Thank you to Michelle Gaffney who chaired this committee and took care of all the logistics.  Jerry Pallotta, children's book author, delivered several age-appropriate presentations in the school's gymnasium.  He was very entertaining and addressed the creative writing process through slides and props.  He also held a book signing during the barbecue.  Each classroom received a signed book by Pallotta that will be a permanent addition to their library. 

Rob Surette, an expressionistic painter, delivered an exciting performance in the cafetorium for the entire school.  Surette wowed the audience as he quickly painted five portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein,  Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa, and Beethoven with broad, quick brushstrokes.  His live painting performance was accompanied by music and a video that ran simultaneously.  He inspired the children with his positive message about living out your dreams and that anything is possible; you can be whatever you want to be and make a difference in this world like the heroes he painted. These paintings will grace our school and remind us of the major impact these individuals made in U.S. and world history.

Field day was sponsored by the PTO as well.  We funded the rental of the outdoor rides, the water for the children, and refreshments for parent volunteers.  The children had an absolutely wonderful, fun-filled day.  They look forward to this every year.  Thank you to the many parents who volunteered and to P.E. teacher Christie Govoni for organizing the event.

The PTO also sponsored the 5th-grade field trip busses to Cedardale, 2010 T-shirts, graduation, and yearbooks.  Many thanks to: Allison Theirrien for chairing the field trip and graduation; Pam Moreira and Kim Winn for chairing the yearbook committee; all parent volunteers for these special events.  These occasions mark the end of  Pine Glen experiences for the fifth graders.  Undoubtedly, the PTO helped to celebrate and highlight this special time in ways they will remember for the rest of their lives.  Congratulations to all!

Finally, a heartfelt thanks to all Pine Glen PTO members who have helped to make the aforementioned a reality.  Without your support and assistance none of this would be possible.  Your steadfast commitment is truly appreciated by the Board, teachers and staff.  Let's continue our success by increasing participation.  We challenge everyone to invite a friend next year to join and help the PTO's mission to provide educational enrichment for all our students.  We continue to be a role model for other PTOs.  

Have a wonderful and relaxing summer everyone!

Thank you,

Maria Woods and the Pine Glen PTO Board