September 16, 2017

Dear Ray Community, 

What joy to be on the ground with our wonderful children for 12 days now.  Three things I'm noticing across all age levels:  1) Our kids are curious.  They want to know "why?" "how come?," "what if... ?"  Wonder drives engagement drives deeply-anchored learning.  2) Our kids are gutsy.  It takes guts to raise your hand in class in front of all of your peers and risk a wrong answer.  And it would be nearly impossible to learn anything new without this willingness to take public risks.  3) Our kids are kind.  They say good morning, hold open doors, and cheer each other on.  They look you in the eye to establish connection while they are speaking.  They're willing to say "I'm sorry.  Is there anything I can do to make it better?"  This year we are celebrating and studying character traits of the month, a teacher-led initiative.  Kindness leads the way in September and students are tracking examples of kindness in literature and in life.  Yesterday afternoon, our 2nd graders shared their thoughts in a lower-school assembly.  Kindness is keeping promises.  Kindness is saying "good game" whether or not you win.  Kindness is being nice to someone who is mean.  Kindness feels like a warm sweatshirt.  Research suggests there are ways we can cultivate greater empathy and kindness in our children and ourselves.  I encourage you to take five minutes to read five recommendations by Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist who runs the Making Caring Common project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  As well, carry on "kindness" conversations with your children at home throughout the remainder of the month.   You might lead with this question, suggested by Ms. Becca Sexton, one of our Grade 4 teachers:  How were you kind today?

Welcome Back 5th Graders!

Yesterday afternoon 5th grade students and teachers return from a three-day, two-night adventure at the Keewaydin Environmental Education Center (KEEC) on beautiful Lake Dunmore in Salisbury VT.  Students studied ecology out in the field and took to heart the importance of being stewards of the environment.  They also had a ton of fun (and solidified community) canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, learning outdoor survival skills and more.  Thanks to the teachers, educational assistants and counselors who chaperoned the trip and sacrificed some shut-eye in bunk cabins with 15+ children!  


A Good Start to the Day

Here are some reminders to help children (and caregivers!) get off to a great start each morning.  Aim to arrive by 7:50AM to give your children a chance to play with friends and get to class on time, free of the anxiety that accompanies running late.  School starts promptly at 8:00AM, with all students expected to be in classrooms ready to learn.  Any student arriving after 8:00AM should check in at the office.  (Students will not be counted as tardy if the buses are late.)  When dropping off in the traffic circle, adults should stay in cars to help traffic flow.  If you need to assist your child or give a big bear hug, please park in a designated spot in the parking lot or along the driveway. We realize there is a lot of congestion during drop off and appreciate your help in making this a smooth process.

K/1 Sing Along
We invite K/1 parents, guardians and families to attend our weekly Wednesday Sing-Along, starting September 27th at 8:20AM.  Please park in designated parking spots (not in the traffic circle) to ensure access for emergency vehicles if needed.  Coffee will be served from 8-8:15am in the Ray Cafe to give parents a chance to chat and build community beforehand. 

PTO Volunteers:  Many Hands Make Light Work

Our school wouldn't shine so brightly without the Ray PTO, a volunteer-based group of parents, guardians and staff members who join together to support countless programs and activities: school dances, educational grants for teachers, and the birthday book club, to name just a few.  We have 30 volunteers signed up so far--thank you!--and are aiming to match last year's number of 80.  We offer many options for working parents and even a minimal commitment can make a huge difference.  Guaranteed byproducts:  meet other parents, make new friends, become a fuller member of our wonderful Ray community.  Complete and submit the PTO Volunteer Form and a PTO member will get in touch with you soon. 

Lost & Found
Remember to check the Lost & Found before the end of the month.  We have rain boots, sneakers, jackets and other clothing items that need to be claimed.  At the close of each month, we donate unclaimed items to the Listen Center or other schools in need.  

Heartfelt Thank You...
Thank you for generously donating to the Houston Public Schools.  We collected more than 150 lbs of school supplies which have been shipped to Texas. 

Film Screening: Beyond Measure
Circle Up! is screening "Beyond Measure" on Tuesday, October 3rd at 7PM at Richmond Middle School.  From the team behind "Race to Nowhere," this film takes a critical look at alternatives to standardized testing and "cookie cutter" education.  Public welcome!  Seats are limited; click on this link to register and here to view the trailer
"In making Beyond Measure, I set out to tell a new narrative: one that uplifts and leads by example. A story that showcases the courageous, enterprising and innovative educators, students and parents who are forging a new path, and unleashing the true human potential of our students as they do so. Beyond Measure is unique among education films in its dedication to exposing what’s working, and celebrating the school communities that are daring to break the mold, rise above challenges, and reinvent the classrooms of the last century to make way for better learning and more inspired teaching. By going into the schools that are trying out the most cutting-edge research and promising teaching models, we find a picture of what’s possible in public education."  - Vicki Abeles, Director

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