Friday, August 26, 2016

Updates from the Principal

Dear families and community members,

Spicewood had a wonderful first week of school last week. Thanks to all the teachers, staff and parents! For the families that are joining us this school year, I assure you your child(ren) is/are in great hands. Spicewood seeks nothing but excellence beyond academics for our students.  

This Week's News

School Start Time
Parents, I understand we need some time to adjust to our new schedule. I wanted to remind you that the tardy bell now rings at 7:40AM. It is important that students are in the classroom by 7:40AM as our instruction for the day starts promptly at 7:40AM.

Student Arrival
Parents are allowed to walk their child(ren) all the way to their classrooms this week. Starting on Tuesday, September 6, parents are asked to drop off their children at the front entrance of the school. 

Please Do Not Use Staff Parking Lot
Parents and/or students are not allowed to walk or drive through the staff parking lot at all times to ensure safety. It has been witnessed some golf carts driving through the parking lot. All golf carts must follow the same expectations as other vehicles. 

Dismissal- Safety Concern
Parents, during dismissal, sometimes students are grabbed by parents out of class line as the class is in the process of heading outside or while teachers are tending to other students. This prevents teachers from knowing by whom students are picked up and creates much anxiety. Please wait until students arrive at the portico area and make sure to acknowledge child's teacher, either by making an eye contact or speaking with them briefly, as you pick up your student. We want to ensure safety of each child by making sure students are dismissed properly to parents/guardians, not strangers. Once you pick up your child(ren), we ask that everyone clears out of the front entrance area. We'd like to keep the front portico area circulating at all times to alleviate congestion. 

Late Student Pick-Up

When students are not picked up by 3:05PM, all of them will be brought into the office as last year. Parents/guardians will now need to come into the front office and physically sign out their child(ren) on a newly created form in the front office. This form will allow school to keep track of repeated late pick-ups. 

No Pets Allowed during Drop-Off/Pick-Up
Many of us love our furry friends; however, some of our small children not used to pets get scared especially if barking occurs. Please keep your pets at home during drop-off/pick-up. 

Spicewood Annual Open House
Please mark your calendar and plan to attend our annual Open House next Thursday, September 8. This is an informational night for parents only. 

Our PTA will be joining the teachers in the Cafeteria from 5:00 - 8:00pm to share information about how otojoin PTA, purchase spirit wear, and learn more about the programs, clubs, and competitions that PTA will sponsor this year!

Home Access Center Opens on Monday, August 28
Home Access Center (HAC) is open for parents to check attendance (for all students) and grades (for 3rd-5th grade students). If you have not created an account, please follow this link and you must input the first parent's name you listed when you registered your child at Spicewood. 

Volunteers Needed for PTA
We are in need of a few more folks to fill some open positions for PTA.  The open positions are: VP Programs, Social Media Communications Chair; STEAM Day Chair; Healthy Lifestyles Chair; Clothes Closet Chair; Environmental Awareness Chair; Destination Imagination Chair; and Junior Achievement Chair.  If you are interested in filling any of these positions, please contact Carole Callaghan at spicewoodpresident@gmail.com.   We also need volunteers to assist in running the numerous programs, events, and competitions that PTA supports throughout the school year.  If you are willing to donate even an hour of your time at some point during the year, please complete the Volunteer Signup on our webpage.  We greatly appreciate your support!

Lunch Account- Message from Food Services
For returning students, parents can access the online payment system, MySchoolBucks   and use student ID# to make sure students have sufficient amount prior to the first day of school. 

For new students (including kindergarten students), parents will receive a packet on the first day of school which will include student registration form with their student ID#. Using the student ID#, parents can set up an account (very easy!) using the online payment system stated above.

Feedback Form on Spicewood Website

Parents and stakeholders are more than welcome to share any feedback by accessing "Share Feedback" form on our school website. You can choose to share feedback anonymously. 

Administrator Office Hours
Parents, as most of you already know, I pride myself in spending a lot of time in the classrooms with students and teachers to support instruction. For that very reason, if you happen to stop by or walk in, I would most likely be unavailable to meet with you. If a parent would like to schedule a meeting with the principal and/or assistant principal, I ask that an appointment is made with the principal’s secretary, Courtney Torres. Please share with her briefly the topic of discussion when scheduling an appointment so I can gather necessary information prior to our meeting. You can reach her at (512) 428-3602 or via email. Her email address is courtney_torres@roundrockisd.org. You're always always welcome to come see me so please do not hesitate to make an appointment! 

e-Newletter Subscription
Our system only allows one email per household to automatically receive school emails. 
For any additional recipients, they can to go RRISD e-News Community Subscription and sign up specifically for Spicewood ES. 

I do want to make a note that the additional recipients will be considered "Community members" in the system, which means, if the school chooses to send an email out just to Spicewood Parents, those community members will not receive the email. It will only be sent to the email address that we have in our system- one that you provided when you registered your child. Updates from the Principal will always be sent to ALL members- teachers, parents and community members. 


MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

Monday, September 5
Labor Day
NO SCHOOL

Thursday, September 8
Spicewood Open House
5:00-5:30PM   2nd & 3rd Grade
5:30-6:00PM   4th & 5th Grade
6:00-6:30PM   Kinder & 1st Grade
5:00-6:00PM   Specials, Spanish, ITS, IB Coordinator in the library

Wednesday, September 14
7:00-7:40AM   Breakfast with Dads
We call for all dads and father figures to come join us at the Breakfast with Dads in the cafeteria. Students will be able to eat yummy breakfast with dads in the library and be released to their classrooms at 7:40AM. 

Thursday, September 22
IB PYP Parent Information Night + PTA General Meeting #1
More information TBA



Wednesday, September 28
Early Release Day
All students are dismissed at 12PM

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Updates from the Principal: Back-to-School

Dear families and community members,

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer! I am including helpful information that will answer some of the questions you might have about the new school year. I can't wait to see everyone in a week! 



Back-to-School

School Hours Change
We have some changes in school hours due to a change in state law. The Texas Education Code no longer defines 180 days of instruction as an acceptable school year. Instead, the requirement has been changed to at least 75,600 minutes of instruction, with one day defined as 420 minutes. According to the Texas Education Agency, “The rationale was to give districts more flexibility for making up missed instructional days. This is a way for the district to not have to add additional days unless they want to.” To comply with the new law, the district has decided to add 5 minutes at each end of the school day. Elementary school start time is at 7:40AM with a dismissal time at 2:50PM. On Early Release Days, students will be dismissed at 12:00PM, instead of 12:45PM. 

Meet the Teacher Event
In preparation of Meet the Teacher event [see Mark Your Calendar section for specific times], I'm sharing the 2016-2017 Campus Map so it's easier for everyone to maneuver their way around the school to find classrooms. Campus Map is posted on our school website under Parent Resource.

Class Assignment
Students will receive a postcard from their teacher during the week of August 15. Our teachers report back on Monday, August 15, and will be mailing them the afternoon of August 15. Class lists will also be posted on the front glass door, sorted by student last names in an alphabetical order by grade level on Friday, August 19 by 3PM. 

e-Newletter Subscription
Our system only allows one email per household to automatically receive school emails. 
For any additional recipients, they can to go RRISD e-News Community Subscription and sign up specifically for Spicewood ES. 

I do want to make a note that the additional recipients will be considered "Community members" in the system, which means, if the school chooses to send an email out just to Spicewood Parents, those community members will not receive the email. It will only be sent to the email address that we have in our system- one that you provided when you registered your child. Updates from the Principal will always be sent to ALL members- teachers, parents and community members. 

Bus Permit- Message from Our Registrar
Transportation will continue on with the Bus Permit Request procedure this school year. Any student who will ride a bus that he/she does not normally ride or will get off their bus at a different stop will need to have a Bus Permit completed and submitted to the Spicewood office. You can find the Bus Permit as a link on our school website. The permit MUST be submitted in order to add/change bus transportation for your child. If you have any further questions, please contact our registrar at Cindy_Vechan@roundrockisd.org. 

After School Care Options
If you're wondering which day care programs are in partnership with Spicewood, please refer to the "After School Care Options" document posted on our school website under Parent Resource.

School Supplies
Please bring your child(ren)'s school supplies to our Meet the Teacher event on Monday, August 22 so you can drop them off in their homerooms. If you cannot attend the event, you may bring them on the first day of school on Tuesday, August 26. School supplies list is available on our school website as well. 

Student Arrival
School doors open at 7:20AM when staff members are on duty. If students are not in their classroom, students will be counted as tardy starting at 7:40AM

For the first 2 weeks of school (August 23-September 2), parents are allowed to walk their child(ren) all the way to their classrooms. Starting on Tuesday, September 6, parents are asked to drop off their children at the front entrance of the school. 

Student Dismissal
Students should know whether they will be riding a school bus, going to after-school daycare, staying at YMCA in the cafeteria, walking home, or a parent pick-up. Parents will have an opportunity to share this information with homeroom teacher at the Meet the Teacher event or share the information via parent note to teacher on the first day of school. Kindergarten students will be out in the portico at 2:45PM with their homeroom teachers. All other students will be exiting to the portico area starting at 2:50PM. It is very helpful when parents have student's name(s) written/printed on a piece of paper placed on the dashboard of their car during dismissal. 

Drop-Off & Pick-Up Traffic
No cars should be parked in the circle drive at all times during the drop-off & pick-up time. It is only for drive through drop-off. Part of Olson Drive is also available for Stop-and-Go Drop-off. Hope Church is always very gracious in allowing us to use their Northeast parking lot. Please avoid using their circle drive (as shown below) at all times as the church wishes to reserve the usage only for their church members. There's also some street parking available on Tin Cup Dr. and Swan Dr. I respectfully ask that all drivers please drive slow and alerted at all times during the drop-off & pick-up time. [See the attached picture]




Lunch Account- Message from Food Services
You can visit your school cafeteria or give the money to your student to pay with either cash or check.  The cafeteria staff will apply the funds provided directly into your students meal fund account.  If paying by check, please make it payable to RRISD Food Service, include your driver’s license number, phone number and add your student’s name and school ID number to the memo field of the check.

Or you can pay online with a credit card, debit card or draft from your checking account via   payment transaction service.  A transaction fee of $1.95 per transaction will be applied.  Visit MySchoolBucks.com online or download their app on your smart phone.

Accounts through MySchoolBucks are free.  There is only a fee to perform an online money transaction. Transactions made through the school cafeteria are free of charge and will be able to be managed at no cost through MySchoolBucks.  Other features such as low balance notifications, access to your student’s cafeteria meal history and managing accounts for multiple students are free. 

For returning students, parents can access the online payment system, MySchoolBucks   and use student ID# to make sure students have sufficient amount prior to the first day of school. 

For new students (including kindergarten students), parents will receive a packet on the first day of school which will include student registration form with their student ID#. Using the student ID#, parents can set up an account (very easy!) using the online payment system stated above. 

Free, Reduced Meal Application
Application forms are being distributed to all households with a letter informing households of the availability of free and reduced price meals for their children.  Applications also are available at the administrative office in each school and at the Food Service office located at 16255 Great Oaks Drive, Suite 100 in Round Rock.  To apply for free and reduced price meals, households must fill out an online application at https://roundrockisd.org/departments/food-services/freereduced-price-meals/ or a paper application and return it to the school or Food Services office.  Applications may be submitted anytime during the school year.  The information households provide on the application will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and verification of data.  Applications may be verified by the school officials at any time during the school year.

Breakfast Available in the Cafeteria
Breakfast will be available for purchase for $1.35 this school year. Breakfast line is open from 7:25-7:40AM in the cafeteria. Students who qualify to receive Free/Reduced Meals will be able to eat breakfast at no cost. 


Meal Prices:
Federal regulations require a minimum $.10 lunch meal price increase every year until our meal price matches the government reimbursement rate that we receive for free students. Therefore, meal prices for the coming year are as follows:
Elementary      Breakfast         $1.35   Lunch              $2.60

Secondary        Breakfast         $1.35  Lunch              $2.85

Adult               Breakfast         $2.25    Lunch              $3.50

Administrator Office Hours
Parents, as most of you already know, I pride myself in spending a lot of time in the classrooms with students and teachers to support instruction. For that very reason, if you happen to stop by or walk in, I would most likely be unavailable to meet with you. If a parent would like to schedule a meeting with the principal and/or assistant principal, I ask that an appointment is made with the principal’s secretary, Courtney Torres. Please share with her briefly the topic of discussion when scheduling an appointment so I can gather necessary information prior to our meeting. You can reach her at (512) 428-3602 or via email. Her email address is courtney_torres@roundrockisd.org. You're always always welcome to come see me so please do not hesitate to make an appointment! 




MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

Week of August 15
Students will receive a postcard from their teacher in mail. 

Friday, August 19
3:00PM Class List will be posted at the main entrance.

Monday, August 22
Meet the Teachers 
2:00-2:45PM   Kindergarten [Cafeteria]
2:30-3:15PM   1st-5th Grade [Classrooms]

Tuesday, August 23
First Day of School for Students
8:00-8:30AM    Kinder Kleenex
Kindergarten parents are encouraged to join the leadership in the library.  

Monday, September 5
Labor Day
NO SCHOOL

Thursday, September 8
Spicewood Open House
5:00-5:30PM   2nd & 3rd Grade
5:30-6:00PM   4th & 5th Grade
6:00-6:30PM   Kinder & 1st Grade
5:00-6:00PM   Specials, Spanish, ITS, IB Coordinator in the library

Wednesday, September 14
7:00-7:40AM   Breakfast with Dads
We call for all dads and father figures to come join us at the Breakfast with Dads in the cafeteria. Students will be able to eat yummy breakfast with dads in the library and be released to their classrooms at 7:40AM. 

Wednesday, September 21
Early Release Day
All students are dismissed at 12PM

Thursday, September 22
IB PYP Parent Information Night + PTA General Meeting #1
More information TBA

Welcome to the 2016-2017 School Year!

Dear Parents and Families of Spicewood,

Greetings!

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year! Spicewood is ready to embark on another school year full of fun, rigorous learning and community building! I would like to start the letter by thanking parents and community members for their continuous support as partners in education. We have some changes in school hours due to a change in state law. The Texas Education Code no longer defines 180 days of instruction as an acceptable school year. Instead, the requirement has been changed to at least 75,600 minutes of instruction, with one day defined as 420 minutes. According to the Texas Education Agency, “The rationale was to give districts more flexibility for making up missed instructional days. This is a way for the district to not have to add additional days unless they want to.” To comply with the new law, the district has decided to add 5 minutes at each end of the school day. Elementary school start time is at 7:40AM with a dismissal time at 2:50PM. On Early Release Days, students will be dismissed at 12:00PM, instead of 12:45PM. This will take some time for everyone to adjust to; however, it was the most efficient way to meet the new requirement for the district. Spicewood has already adjusted its instructional schedule to reflect the change. Spicewood will continue to be a team of dedicated educators and professionals committed to high achievement and success beyond academics for all students.

We are sad to say farewell to many teachers leaving us for various reasons such as retirement, new career advancement opportunities, and family transitions. We say farewell to our retiring teachers: Mrs. Pam Kadgihn (Kinder), Mrs. Sharon Lavery (Kinder), Mrs. Deby Steinburg (1st), Mrs. Janice Vanzura (1st), Mrs. Devlin Ready (2nd), Mrs. Kathy Skagen (Special Ed.), and Mr. Kerry Parks (Special Ed.). Miss Lora Vechan (3rd) has been accepted to transfer to the new STEAM Academy in our district. Mrs. Ashley Jarmusch (3rd) will teach 5th grade at Sommer ES. Mrs. Ashleigh Thies has relocated to Houston due to her husband’s job over the summer. Mrs. Megan McGowan will serve as an Assistant Principal at Canyon Vista MS. Mr. Jerry Ortiz will serve as an Assistant Principal at Pflugerville ES in PfISD. Mrs. Mindy Ravines (PE Aide) will teach a business course at Deerpark MS. We also say farewell to Mrs. Meredith Beich (5th) and Ms. Kathy Von Hatten (Special Ed. EA) as they take on personal transitions in life. They will truly be missed!

As we see our beloved teachers off, we welcome 18 new teachers and staff members to the Panther family. They surely have big shoes to fill; however, I have utmost confidence in each individual that we have welcomed and that Spicewood will continue to be a place where all stakeholders seek excellence beyond academics for all students. Please join me in welcoming these exceptional educators!

Kindergarten
Madison Bosher (May)- Ms. Bosher [She was Ms. May when we first met her at the job fair] comes with 3 and a half years of teaching experience in both second and third grade in Crowley ISD. Despite no kinder experience, the committee felt she was best suited for kindergarten as she comes with extensive knowledge in early literacy. In addition to being ESL certified, she is a certified Reading Specialist and has experiences in providing intervention to dyslexia students as well.

Wendy Robinson- Mrs. Robinson comes with several years of teaching experience in a Pre-Kindergarten setting. This school year she teaches a pre-kindergarten class at an elementary school in Austin ISD. Her previous work experiences include working at Institute for the International Education of Students in London, England. She had so much to share and offer in the interview regarding literacy in early ages.

First Grade
Amy Osborn- Mrs. Osborn comes to us with 9 years of teaching experience. 4 years as a 1st grade teacher & 5 years as a special education teacher. Last school year she was a Literacy Specialist to Kinder-2nd grade students at Brooke ES in Austin ISD. The committee was extremely excited that she has so much knowledge and expertise that she'll bring to the first grade team and our campus.

Colleen Ruplinger-  Mrs. Ruplinger has taught since 2007. Her experience includes teaching Kindergarten, 1st grade, 3rd and 5th grade. She also comes with a wealth of knowledge and expertise. She received the intense Reading Workshop training provided by the prestigious Univ. of Columbia-Teacher College. Her varying experiences truly prepared her to be a well-rounded educator with a strong background in curriculum and best practices.

Second Grade
Taylor Gutierrez- Mrs. Gutierrez also comes with extensive 8 years of teaching experience in various grade levels such as 1st, 3rd and 4th grade. She has taught at an IB PYP school in Colorado where she received IB PYP training. With her experiences in 1st and upper grade levels, the committee felt that she would be able to provide rigorous learning to our 2nd grade students. Super!

Jessica Jensen- Many of you might already know Ms. Jensen as she was Mrs. Vanzura’s student teacher for a full semester last school year. Yes, she has learned from the best! She has received a degree in Elementary Education from University of Montana with a concentration in Math Education. She is already familiar with IB PYP implementation in the classroom and with our upcoming second grade students. We are excited to welcome her to the 2nd grade team.

Third Grade
Shelly Craig- Mrs. Craig comes to us from Wellsbranch ES. She's been in public education as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher for 6 years. She is ESL certified as well as TAG trained. Her administration at Wells Branch ES could not stop talking about her knowledge level and teaching practices. When we interviewed Shelly, the committee knew instantly she was meant to join us next school year. We're excited that she's bringing in much knowledge and expertise.

Kathryn Mcleod- Mrs. Mcleod also comes to us from Wellsbranch ES with 3 years of teaching experiences in third grade. Her leadership at Wellsbranch ES also could not stop talking about her just like Mrs. Craig. Prior to becoming a public school educator, she taught English in Madrid, Spain for 3 years. Our committee felt that she'd be a great asset to the third grade team!

Askia Little- Mr. Little comes to us from an IB PYP school where he's taught the last 7 years in a third grade classroom and has a total of 14 years of teaching, including experience in 2nd grade. He was so calm and poised even with 10 people interviewing him. The committee felt that his wealth of knowledge and experiences will serve our students greatly. He moved to Austin from Alabama this summer.

Fourth Grade
Nicole Cimo- Due to Mrs. Framjee taking on the new role as a Dyslexia/Interventionist, 4th grade no longer stayed as the untouched team. J Ms. Cimo comes to us with two years of teaching experience in grades 2 and 3. She received a degree in Elementary Education with Psychology concentration from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She’s trained in Lucy Culkins Writing Workshop model; a perfect fit for 4th grade!

Fifth Grade
Anne Walker- Mrs. Walker is transferring from Chandler Oaks (another IB PYP school in our district) to us where she's taught 5th grade since the school opened 6 years ago. But she comes with many years of teaching prior to that. She's received a number of high quality training in reading and writing, including Reading Rocks, Reading/Writing Workshop training at Univ. of Columbia at Teacher College and the list goes on. When our committee interviewed her, all of our jaws dropped as she shared her knowledge and expertise. We're truly lucky to get her on board.

Jeannie Pelletier- Ms. Pelletier comes to us with 4 years of teaching experience. She's also taught various-3rd, 4th and 5th- grade levels. Her teaching experiences all come from Orlando, FL. She's also taught English in China for one year. [It was fascinating to hear about it briefly during her interview- what a risk-taker she is!] We're excited for her to join our 5th grade team with her varying experiences and knowledge! 

Crystal Coronado- As we say farewell to our beloved Mr. Ortiz who accepted an assistant principal position in PfISD, we welcome Ms. Coronado to our 5th grade team!  Ms. Coronado comes with two years of teaching experience in grade 5 and 6. She had a unique experience in that she had mixed grade level students, which will certainly help in meeting our 5th grade students’ needs at all levels.

Special Education
Marisa Ramos- Ms. Ramos comes to us with two years of teaching experience as a Special Education teacher in a SCORES unit with Austsin ISD which is a unit that serves children with Autism and challenging behaviors. She's had to not only provide academic support but also behavior support to her students. The committee felt that with her experiences that our children will be left in good hands. Ms. Ramos is currently going through a year-long training to be Wilson certified.

Kathleen Ferrufino- Mrs. Ferrufino also comes with two years of teaching experience as a Special Education teacher. She's taught one year in ES setting and this current school year in a high school setting at a Functional Academic Unit, which serves severely impaired and high-need students. Like Ms. Ramos, we felt that she definitely rose to the top during our interviews and we're glad she's accepted the offer! Like Ms. Ramos, Ms. Ferrufino is also receiving training to be Wilson certified.

Spanish Teacher
Haydee Money- Mrs. Money comes to us with 19 years of teaching experience in Spanish and 15 years of those at an IB school. She was born in Guatemala and is a native speaker. She also lived in various countries growing up. She has received various IB training and is Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) certified. TPRS is one of the most valued trainings for language teachers. [Our current Spanish teacher, Mrs. Teal, is also TPRS certified.] We’re so excited that she has accepted our offer! Fun fact- she introduces herself as SeƱora Dinero to her students.

Ed. Assistant II- Special Education
Mary “Yolanda” Whelan- Mrs. Whelan comes from Cactus Ranch ES in our district where she's served in the same role as an Educational Assistant in Special Education since 2013. She has extensive experience with serving students with special needs. Cactus Ranch lost their allocation for her position due to a decrease in enrollment number. We’re so glad she decided to join us!

Ed. Assistant II- Special Education
Amy Cifreo- Ms. Cifreo comes to us from Live Oak Elementary School in our district. She served as a lunch monitor where she maintained appropriate discipline and student safety in the cafeteria according to District policies and procedures, including students with food allergies and special needs.

That was a long introduction, but a very necessary one! Kudos to all who will be joining the Panther family for making it through the gruesome interview process!

We have a teaching assignment change and a last name change that occurred over the summer. Mrs. Ashli Framjee is now our Dyslexia/Interventionist. Miss Jaime Ormont is happily married and has changed her name to Mrs. Jaime Pierce.

My priorities this school year will continue to focus on 1) continuing to build relationships and partnership with all stakeholders; 2) providing a culturally responsive teaching and learning environment; 3) cultivating Growth Mindset for all students beyond academics. As our vision states, Spicewood will continue to "aspire to be a community of caring, global-minded thinkers." 

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Meet the Teacher Event on Monday, August 22. If not, I cannot wait to see you all on Tuesday, August 23, 2016!
Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year!


Respectfully,


Jiae Kim

Proud Principal