Monday, November 17, 2014

Dear LP Families,

During the week of November 17, Livingston Park School joins the nation in celebrating American Education Week.  This week is sponsored by the NEA (National Education Association) and serves to celebrate public education and educators who help ensure that ALL students receive a quality education.  On behalf of the LP administration, we recognized the hard work and passion our faculty and staff all put forward EVERY day for EVERY student at Livingston Park. 

Here is what’s happening as part of our celebration:

All week – Get Caught Reading@LP!  - We celebrate the importance of reading in helping every student become college and career ready.  As such, LP students are working hard to meet our Million Minute Reading Challenge.  Help us show off some of the funny places students may be reading or who they are reading with:  under the covers with a flashlight, on a swingset, in a playhouse, with your pets or stuffed animals, etc.  Be creative.  Take a digital picture and attach it to the “Caught Reading” form.  We will be creating a special display at the front of the school for all to enjoy.  We invite you to complete the “Caught Reading” display on the card attached WITH your child.  Send your completed picture to school any time during this week or next week.  We will display all completed cards in the lobby and hallways for everyone to enjoy throughout November and December. 

Tuesday, November 19
·          LP PTO Meeting – 7:00 PM – Library Media Center
The PTO is an essential part of our school’s success.  Please join us at this meeting to connect with other LP parents and staff members.  If you are a regular attendee, please bring a friend who usually doesn’t come to PTO Meetings! 

Wednesday, November 20 (1:30 closing – Parent teacher conferences)
·          Scholastic Book Fair!  - Media Center – 3:00-7:30 pm – Come shop for books before or after your conference!
·          Open House for Families who Speak Spanish – Room 10- Mrs. Pauley & Ms. Blicharz will share ways to get the most out of Parent/Teacher conferences.

Thursday, November 21 (1:30 closing – Parent teacher conferences)
·          Scholastic Book Fair- 3:00-7:30 pm
·          Cougar Chat with School Leadership Mrs. Ciarrocca, Mrs. Cave, & Mrs. Wright (3-4pm) and Mrs. Wright (4-5pm) will be available to speak with any parent in the media center.  Feel free to discuss any questions you might have about any topics you are interested in discussing.

Friday, November 22 (1:30 closing – Parent teacher conferences)
·          School Spirit Day:  LP Student Council Members on the Spirit committee voted for a Pajama Day!  If you don’t wish to wear PJ’s, then wear Blue and White or your LP logo t-shirts and sweats!

Thank you for supporting educational excellence at Livingston Park!

Mrs. Janet Ciarrocca

Monday, May 12, 2014

FAQ's about Class Placement Requests

LP Principal’s Desk
May 2014

FAQs About Class Placement Requests
By Mrs. Janet Ciarrocca
In the spring, as thoughts begin to turn toward the upcoming school year, parents often send in requests for specific placements for their children. These requests, though well meaning, often complicate an already difficult placement process.  Please read below for a full explanation of when and how to make teacher requests. Importantly, note the deadline for making requests.  Class assignments will be completed before the end of the school year.  This is very challenging to the effectiveness of the process for everyone. For this reason, I ask you to understand that requests received after May 30 cannot be considered.

Q - Is it possible to request a specific classroom teacher for the next school year?
A – No, requests for specific teachers will not be taken, but please read on.

Q – Why do you not accept requests for specific teachers?
A – Our teachers and administrators spend a great deal of time planning classroom assignments for the next year.  There are a multitude of factors that go into placing students, which include creating a balanced classroom, academically, socially, and demographically.  We also do our best to match teacher personalities in the next grade with students as well as friendships and students who should not be together.  With approximately 750 students, these are a lot of different factors to consider.

Some parents feel that they aren’t being good parents unless they request a specific teacher.  However, without having personal experience with an individual teacher, it means that you may be relying on hearsay to make your decision – which is not always accurate and certainly not always applicable to your child. For the most part, it is important to allow the staff’s expertise, knowledge of academic and social factors, and professional judgment to serve as the guides for the decision. 
It is equally important for us to help our youngsters grow to become resilient and flexible enough to deal with what might not be a first choice. Over their lifetimes, our children will live with a good deal of chance and uncertainty. We serve them well while they are young to allow them prudent opportunities to learn how to cope with change and make new experiences work.
Finally, requesting the same teacher for a second or third child is not always in your child’s best interest. Teachers, like all people, have to work hard to see that child as a unique and individual person rather than a replica of an older sibling’s style.

Q – What types of teacher requests WILL be honored?
A – Special requests must be made directly to me in writing (not email) on or before May 30th.  Requests received after this date will not be considered.

Please remember:
·         Requests for a specific teacher will not be considered.
·         Requests should describe
o    the kind of classroom situation a child might need
o    the type of personality your child might best work with
o    details about a special circumstance
o    reasonably necessary requests (such as when a parent who has had an older child who was placed with a specific teacher does not wish their younger child to have the same placement or if a child is being retained.)

Q - Are all requests honored?
A - No. Logistically, it is impossible to honor every request. Doing so could result in groupings that would not be suitable for the students or their teachers.  We will consider parent input in the above forms as part of our larger discussion and work to place students in the best classroom.
Q - When do we find out to which class our child has been assigned?

A - Lists have traditionally been posted on the school’s lobby doors at 3:30 P.M. on the Friday before Labor Day.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring has sprung at LP!

Spring really seems to have finally taken hold here at LP.  The blooms on the trees outside of the school and in the courtyard really show off the beauty of the season.  Inside the school, we are back from our spring vacation and re-focused on instruction.  It is our intention to make the most of every instructional minute available to us from now until the last day of school.

The next 8 weeks at LP will be very busy.  In grades 3-5, students are preparing to take the NJ ASK tests in early May.  Teachers will be working with students on specific test taking strategies to help them approach the test more strategically.   This also includes looking at the test as an additional measure of their learning this year and putting it in perspective as a "snapshot" of their learning, rather than a high pressure test.   Please take a look in your child's backpack today or tomorrow for an NJ ASK information booklet.  If you have additional questions, plan to attend our LP PAC (Parent Advisory Council) Meeting on Wednesday evening, April 30th, at 7:00 pm.  The presentation is  "Everything You Always wanted  to Know about the NJ ASK, but were Afraid to Ask." (ALL parents of students in grades 3-5 are welcome. If your child is NOT in 3rd grade yet, next year will bring a whole new assessment called the PARCC.  I suggest you WAIT to attend that next year so as not to get confused!)

Outside on the playground, there are many new games now painted on our blacktop.  Using money from our Rutgers ISCI (Rutgers Inclusive School Climate) grant, our ISCI committee worked on creating a more collaborative, peaceful playground.  There is now a walking path and many different game areas that include hopscotch, four-square, a calculator, around the world in basketball, a peace path and much more.  Students are being introduced to these new games by our 5th Grade Peer Mentors.  1st and 2nd grade students enjoyed a  "ribbon cutting" ceremony with the Peer Mentors, School Counselor, Mrs. Pauley, and Mrs. Cave this morning. 

With Spring in full bloom, our students' brains are also bursting with energy to learn, but also with pent up energy from the winter.  LP teachers make regular use of brain breaks, class trips outside, and active learning strategies, to fight off the "spring fever" that often hits this time of year.  Help us reinforce with your child the importance of continuing their focus on school these last two months!  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy New Year!

January, 2014
Educational "Resolutions"

Dear LP Families,

     Happy 2014!  The school year, as it so often does, seems to be flying by.    As we all know, so many of us make New Year’s resolutions that we have every intention of keeping, but in the end, lose our momentum and fail to follow through.  However, here at LP, we are looking at the beginning of 2014 as a time to take stock and take a fresh look at the resolutions ( ie: goals) our teachers and administrators set at the start of the year.

     This school year, each of our teachers has developed an SGO, or Student Growth Objective, in one or two areas, depending on the grade they teach.  (SGO’s are a part of the new teacher evaluation system in NJ called ACHIEVE NJ.   K-3 teachers and specialists must create two, while 4-5 teachers must create one.)  Unlike resolutions, which are easily forgotten a few weeks in to the year, our SGO’s or student goals are continually being re-assessed and adjusted.  Our teachers are looking at data and student learning on a regular basis to see how our students are progressing towards those goals.  We have set checkpoints during the year to see how we are doing on our goals.  This winter stretch into spring, aside from the occasional snow day and Monday holiday, allows us a nice long period of uninterrupted instruction. 

     One of my goals for LP is to increase communication and parent involvement.   This “Principal’s Office” blog will be a regular part of my communication strategy.  Please check back regularly for various blog topics on Livingston Park topics  and other important educational topics that you might be curious to know more about.   

I am scheduling the rest of our monthly Coffees and Conversation dates.  Check our website for a complete list of dates.   These are held at 8:15 am in the multi-purpose room and allow for parents to come in and chat with the Principal and Director on any pressing issues or concerns before they have to go in to work.   It is a time for open dialogue and a sharing of ideas – no agenda. 
In addition, I am putting together a Parent Advisory Council, or PAC.  The PAC will be open to any parents interested in participating.  We will meet during the day and work together to find ways to engage more parents and to strengthen our community ties.  

Here’s to a 2014 full of learning and goals achieved for ALL of Livingston Park students!