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Weekly Update, December 2, 2016

Weekly Update, December 2, 2016
Happy December 2016!   There is a winter chill upon us and this is the time of year when we keep our eye on the sky for winter snowflakes and potential storms that may impact our regular school day schedule.  Here are several ways to stay informed about either a delayed start or school closing:
  • An emergency voice reach will be sent to parents and community outreach contacts.   
  • Information will be posted on our website at http://www.grinnell-k12.org
  • The following local media will also announce school closings or late starts:
    • KGRN 1410 am radio
    • KBOE 104.9 am, 740 am, and 99.5 fm radio
    • KCOB  95.9 am, 1280 am, and Energy 106.7 fm
    • Z102.9  1600 am, 102.9 fm,  106.3 fm, and  107.5 fm
    • KCCI-Channel 8
    • WHO-Channel 13
    • WOI-Channel 5
**Please note, Monday, December 5th is NOT a reserved Professional Development day, and therefore school WILL be in session.**  
Voice Reach Announcements:  
Last week I sent out a voice reach regarding the Assessment event to be held on November 30, 2016.  I want to apologize that this went out via our emergency contact voice reach.  I have since learned that Infinite Campus also affords us the opportunity to send a voice reach message as a general announcement.  Parents have the option to receive general announcements and/or emergency notifications through infinite campus.  Please know that in the future, I will only send voice reach messages using the emergency contact selection for the following:  School Closings or emergency weather related issues, other emergency situations that impact all schools, or emergency messages that impact the community.   The general announcement feature will be used for district wide events or other non-emergency related information.   I apologize for this confusion as we learn more each day about all of our features in our new student information system.   
Additionally, a postcard was sent out to all community members and parents within the Grinnell-Newburg Community School District.  We feel it is very important to ensure all receive proper communications from us.  If you are not currently receiving our communications and would like to, or if you need to update your contact information, please submit your information here.  
Poweshiek County Extension:
This past week I met with Emily Klein, Poweshiek County Conservation Naturalist, and Catherine Lents from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, to discuss program opportunities that could provide various services for our students.  As we examine the Next Generation Science Standards, we believe that these two organizations can help to support our programs with little or no cost to the district.  We will keep you posted on summer learning activities for students that are free for students.   
Admin Team Meeting:
Weekly, the administrative team meets to prepare for upcoming events, review practices, and problem solve any issue or concern as a team.  These meetings have been very valuable as we continue to create positive learning environments and excellent instructional programs for our students.  The administrative team is working on a presentation that will capture all components of the district in a “state of the district” presentation to the board of education this December 14, during the superintendent’s report.  This fact finding document includes demographic information, assessment scores, current updates on facility improvements, financial overview and much more.   The purpose of this presentation is to create awareness about current conditions of the district and efforts to make improvements.  
NWEA:  MAP assessment
Over the last week, Dr. Stutz has met with the teaching staff in grades K-8 to discuss the purpose of the MAP assessment and the interpretation of this assessment.   These discussions assist us to be on the same page when understanding how we use this assessment for the purpose of instruction and curriculum review.  
Assessment Meeting for Parents November 30, 2016:
I would like to thank our parents for coming to the assessment meeting this past Wednesday to discuss “understanding your student’s assessment data”.  Although our attendance was low, our discussions were valuable.  If you were unable to attend the session, please see the presentation link below.  We encourage parents to talk to their student’s teacher, and/or building administrator, regarding assessments.   Please feel free to contact Dr. Stutz if you have any further questions.  One way to improve attendance for parents in the future is to host similar sessions during parent teacher conference time.  This may increase our attendance and help parents to stay informed.   
"Understanding your child's assessment" Presentation
Sexual Assault Prevention Meeting:
On Dec. 1 a work group consisting of students, a teacher, a school counselor, and high school principal Kevin Seney met with Sam Keith of Crisis Intervention Services to discuss strategies for equipping GHS students with the knowledge and skills needed to prevent sexual assault. The work group's next steps include determining appropriate contexts and methods for helping students understand what constitutes sexual assault, why sexual assault occurs, and what role they can play in reducing the prevalence of sexual assault in our society.
Music Speaks:
Representatives from Music Speaks met with our administrative team this past week and visited each of our elementary schools.  Sessions will begin with students on December 8, 2016.  We look forward to having our identified students participate in this wonderful therapy program. 
Festival of Trees Event:
I hope that you will join me this evening for the  Festival of trees event at the Drake Library. Students from Grinnell will be performing between 5:30-7:00 PM.
The SIAC planning meeting:
The SIAC planning team meeting will be held on December 7 at 6:00 p.m. in the District Office.
Hour of Code:
Hour of Code + Technology Demonstrations will be hosted at the Drake Community Library on Thursday, Dec. 8th from 4-5:30.  Coding activities for all ages and tech demos will include a 3D printer, build a small electronics project, and a chance to check out the GHS robotics team robot in action.
School Wellness:
Food Service Director Carrie Nachazel, P.E. teacher Tony Farmer and Principal Sarah Seney recently attended a School Wellness Conference in Ames, Iowa.  Wellness team members from elementary schools across Iowa participated in a mix of lectures, team building activities, and learning about cutting edge techniques used in school wellness.  ISU also introduced an evidence-based, obesity prevention program called SWITCH .  
The SWITCH Program is a comprehensive school wellness program that aims to help students practice healthy physical activity, screen time, and nutrition behaviors by promoting healthy school environments that enhance learning, engage families, and empower children.  The program mission is captured in the program mantra - to help students switch what they “Do, View, and Chew!”  In SWITCH, teams of wellness leaders are guided through an implementation cycle of planning, acting, and evaluating on school wellness and SWITCH initiatives to improve the school environment.  As a result, by participating in SWITCH schools receive reports on the status of their school wellness environment and about their student’s health behaviors.  The reports can be used to share with administrators, staff, parents, and students.
Iowa State University has received funding through the USDA to research the effectiveness of the SWITCH program in elementary schools.  This particular project would track fourth graders. Please see informational flyer.
Featured Highlights this week from our Schools:
Bailey Park:
On Thursday, November 17th, Bailey Park 2nd Graders went to Grinnell High School to serve as food critics, taste testers and judges. As part of their final trimester grade, HS foods students invited our 2nd graders participate in helping them plan a final meal then evaluate the cooking. Thanks to Mrs. Skouson for inviting our students to be part of the experience!
Friday, November 18th saw the Bailey Park 2nd Graders at the Science Center of Des Moines. Students were able to experience a hands on approach to science through various interactive exhibits and live demonstrations. Thank you to Connected PTO for sponsoring the trip, our GNCSD transportation department for providing safe travels to and from Des Moines, our parent volunteers, and our Bailey Park teachers. This would not have been possible without everyone’s support!
The students at Fairview elementary enjoyed a day long focus day centered around kindness and being thankful.  The students rotated throughout the day and completed projects about thankfulness. 
Our thankful tree:
Our Fairview families collected food for MICA.
Also during November we held our fall parties, put on by parents. Parents were invited to come into the classroom to help provide games and crafts, as well as provided snacks.  Our second grade students visited the Science Center of Des Moines this month as well. 
We had the opportunity to host Karin Stein at Davis.  She presented her musical talents and gave our students a taste of music from Latin America.  At Davis this year, we have a theme of traveling around the world that works with our reading incentive sheets each month.  Our continent that we were visiting this past month was South America.  Karin Stein was able to show and play for us some instruments from some of these South American countries.  It was a unique experience for our students to hear sounds from around the world.  Below is a picture of a couple of students helpers playing some music!
All of our elementary schools (and other places around town) now have community lending libraries.  You have probably seen this out front at Davis over the last couple of weeks as it was recently installed.  This is an awesome idea that our students came up with last year to benefit our community.  It is designed for kids to be able to access a library anytime close to where they live.  They can come and borrow a book out of the lending library and return it when they are done or replace it with another book that they are willing to donate for others to read.  Below are some pictures of this lending library at Davis!
Middle School:
On Tuesday, November 22, sixth graders at Grinnell Middle School participated in Science Day.  Students began the day by constructing towers out of newspapers and masking tape for the Tallest Tower Challenge.    Maddie from the Science Center of Iowa brought learning to life through hands-on experiences and dynamic demonstrations with ZAP! and BOOM!  The students ended the day by watching the film Flubber.   A special thank you to all that donated newspapers for our towers.
High School:
GHS "Random Acts of Kindness Project"
During the month of December, the GHS Seminars will be participating in our annual Random Acts of Kindness project.  Students in various Seminars work together to think of some way to make someone's holiday a bit brighter.  The goal of the project is to help students think about giving back - not necessarily in a monetary way - but by simply giving their time and efforts to think of someone else.  Past "RAK" projects have included students going to elementary schools and Head Start to "buddy read" with younger kids, setting up a hot chocolate stand for Grinnell College students on the sidewalk, or pumping gas for people at a local gas station so customers wouldn't have to get out of their cars. Students have also donated food baskets to MICA and hygiene supplies to Public Health as well as cookies and baked goods to the Department of Public Safety.  If you have ideas for how our students could demonstrate a Random Act of Kindness to benefit someone or a group in our community, feel free to contact Kevin Seney at kevin.seney@grinnell-k12.org.  
Robotics Presentation @ AEA267
-  On Friday, December 2nd, GHS Seniors John Megel & JP Dugas presented the GHS Robotics Team model to educators and students at the AEA267 "Student-Centered Technology Conference."  Both young men were part of GHS's FRC (First Robotics Competition Team) in 2015-16 and are carrying on their leadership for this year's team as well.  The GHS FRC Team is coached by Mr. Bill Gruman, Grinnell's Technology Integrationist.  
I hope everyone enjoys the weekend!   Thank you for all you do each day to help our students learn and grow!


Janet M. Stutz
Grinnell-Newburg Schools
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