To the families of Tamarac Elementary School,
I hope this email finds you well. We are trying to make the most of the fair weather that we have been experiencing. Please remember that, throughout this school year, it will be our goal to have students outside for recess and other activities as much as possible, so please dress your child appropriately. No child will be kept from recess or from going outside because we don't think they are dressed appropriately, but you might find that some children are not as comfortable as they'd like to be if they don't leave the house dressed for the weather. Also, now that we have ironed out some of our morning routines, we will be firming up our school start time, which is 8:55am; if you are dropping off your child after this time, please sign them in to school. If you are dropping off or picking up students, please do not park or drive in the lane closest to the building - this lane is for buses only and its use for others is prohibited out of caution for our student's safety.
Another reminder to families is a review of our practices for early dismissal, medical appointments and other changes to a student's routine. Please send in a paper note to your child's teacher, with your child, for any changes in routine. Notes are collected each morning and given to Mrs. Sargood in the main office. Despite being a small school, we have many schedule changes each day, and a hard copy helps us keep track of everyone.
With Halloween around the corner, I wanted to remind families of our Halloween Spirit Day, which will be held on Friday, October 29th, since this is probably the second most anticipated holiday for our students. Our health and safety protocols prevent us from having a parade or parents on school grounds this year. We are also asking that children not wear costumes or Halloween-style masks on this day (although we need to continue wearing face masks) and, instead, dress in Halloween colors of black, orange and purple. Activities for this day will be developed by classroom teachers, who will be in contact with households about their plans. The Brittonkill PTSA has several Halloween activities and announcements on their Facebook page; please see what is available within our community. Thank you again for your support of this very special day for our students.
Finally, I'd like to share an observation from the school year so far. When we returned to school in September, I was really focused on identifying gaps or skills loss in the students that would be due to COVID and quarantines and our students not having a "normal" school experience the past year and a half. To a large degree, this isn't really an issue. What we are observing are more issues related to behavior, conduct, socializing - the interpersonal skills development we have become calling social-emotional learning, that are just as much a part of school as our academics. We are beginning to see that, with a return to classes of 18 to 20 students, more students in the building, and more time in less intensely supervised spaces, like the cafeteria and playgrounds, behaviors and actions which require more self-control on the part of students are occurring more frequently.
This shouldn't have been surprising, in hindsight. With small classes last year, behavioral and discipline problems in classrooms were limited and many behaviors we are now seeing may never have come to the surface. With no cafeterias and students eating in their classrooms, with close supervision again, very few problems. Some of our students, especially our youngest, have never seen a school model like we are now in, and they are learning how to fit in. I'm sharing this now because we are starting to see this more clearly now, and your children may be seeing this also. I ask for patience as we address these issues; they seldom come with a quick fix. Please ask questions about how your child is doing behaviorally, as well as academically, when you meet with your child's teacher next month. Again, I see this as a product that comes with a return to school as most of us know it. We'll get our heads around this; it may take baby steps, and time, but baby steps are still steps.
Rich Pogue and Kelly Onorato
Tamarac Elementary School Administration