Sunday, October 29, 2017

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"

October 29, 2017

Some news, information, and FUN that will be helpful to know as the autumn weather finally comes!


No School (P/T Conferences): Thursday and Friday, November 2 and 3
UES Parents Group: Wednesday, November 8, 6:00-7:00
Scholastic Book Fair! November 8, 9, and 10
Veterans Day Parade! Friday, November 10, mid morning
Family Movie Night! Friday, November 10
Union Playground Project Community Night: NEW DATE: Monday, November 13
Community Thanksgiving Lunch! Wednesday, November 15
No School (Thanksgiving Break): Wednesday, November 22 to Friday November 24

University of Vermont Outstanding Teacher!  Dr. Ricca and I had the pleasure of joining Teacher of English Language Learners Hannah Barden earlier this month at the University of Vermont as teachers from around the state were honored for their teaching excellence! If you know Ms. Barden, you'll understand why so many of her peers nominated her for this honor. I was certainly honored to join her!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Halloween is coming this Tuesday, and it's time to be thinking about how we'll approach this special day as a school community.  As much fun as it would be to celebrate with costumes and parties, we believe that such revelry would be simply too disruptive to the learning environment for an entire day.  We ask that students keep the costumes and candy at home so they can be ready for the fun on Tuesday night.  Please help us maintain a healthy learning environment the following days as well; we ask that all candy remain at home when the children return to school on Wednesday.  If you have any questions or concerns, please call me or stop by.

On a more fun note, many children know that I have a very close friendship with Batman (it's true!), and I know for certain that he'll be spending Halloween night at my house in the meadow neighborhood!  As always, all superheroes who stop by will get two treats!  Have lots of fun and be safe -- we hope to see you all!

Parent/Teacher Conferences ...are scheduled for this Thursday and Friday, November 2 and 3. There will be no school on both days. If you haven't scheduled a conference with your child's teacher yet, now is the time to do so!

SUMMIT SCHOOL SESSION TWO! Summit School's second session begins next week, and goes to mid-December! Check out these terrific offerings for your musically inclined student:

WALKING SCHOOL BUS UPDATE Our apologies for the Walking School Bus being shut down this week! Generally speaking, the bus will go on rain or shine, hot or cold! We needed to have the full faculty here before school last Wednesday to have a group picture taken, thus the need to cancel. Just like Tuesday night, an email to the community will go out the night before to confirm the cancelation. Unless the windchill falls below 0 degrees, the Walking School Bus will go on!

Mrs. LaFleur wanted me to share this great shot of her Capitol Crew:

Clearly a perfect start to the day!

A Few Reminders From the Front Office: Pam and Diana greatly appreciate your cooperation here, and so do I!

* The Start to the Day:The school day begins at 8:15, and our Morning Meetings in classes begin at 8:25. Please do your best to ensure your child is in his or her classroom by 8:25 so they don't miss this essential start to the day! Additionally, children cannot be at school prior to 8:00 - there is no supervision on the playground prior to 8:00, and the doors to the building are locked until 8:00. Teachers will be meeting and preparing for the day every day before 8:15 when the bell rings. Thank you all in advance for helping us with this! We really appreciate it.

* Calling in Absences or Changes in After School Plans: In order to ensure that we know where all students are and where they are going at the end of the school day, we'd like you to be aware of our procedures concerning absences and after school plans:

PLEASE CALL your student in absent before 9:00am to the front office (225-8200)
PLEASE CALL After school changes in before 1:00 pm to the front office (225-8200)
PLEASE DON’T text or e-mail after school changes.

* Sharing Contact Information: In order to protect everyone's privacy, the office cannot share families' contact information (email, phone numbers, addresses, etc.) with other families (for birthday parties, weekend plans, playdates, etc.).

Hennessey's Gems "Gems" and not "Hoots"? See below!

A Hennessey Gem to UES First Graders for...

* ...welcoming Professor Mahesh Sharma when he visited us recently to work with our students in their math classes! Kinders, 2nd and 3rd graders got to visit with Professor Sharma too, and he'll be joining us again in early December. Please let us know if you'd like to come in and join us!

 Professor Sharma with Ms. Closter's 1st Graders

....entertaining all of UES last week with their Annual Bug Parade!

Mrs. Griggs' 1st Graders buzzing through the halls!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wise Owl, October 5, 2017

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"

October 9, 2017

Some news, information, and FUN that will be helpful to know as the leaves start to fall!


UES Parents Group Meeting: Wednesday, October 11
Picture Make Up Day: Thursday, October 19
Union Playground Project Community Night: Thursday, October 26
No School (P/T Conferences): Thursday and Friday, November 2 and 3
Scholastic Book Fair! November 8, 9, and 10
Family Movie Night! Friday, November 10
Community Thanksgiving Lunch! Wednesday, November 15

Wednesday's Parents Group Meeting: An Evening with Mahesh Sharma

Please join us this Wednesday evening, October 11, in the UES cafeteria at 6:00 for an evening with nationally known math educator Mahesh Sharma! For the last two years, Dr. Sharma has worked with teachers at both UES and Main Street Middle School to discuss how children learn mathematics, why mathematical learning problems occur, and what they can do to help children learn mathematics more effectively. This summer, over 20 UES students joined teachers from Montpelier and central Vermont in a one week Summer Math Lab to test out a wide variety of learning strategies and methods together. It was a wonderful week of learning, and Union Elementary has the pleasure of having Dr. Sharma join us this week to work with our students and teachers during math time. Join us Wednesday night to hear all about it!

The pictures below are from this summer's Math Lab. If you look closely at a number of them, you'll see students playing card and board games together and with teachers. Traditional games like "Go Fish", "Connect Four", "Othello", and so many more are a perfect way to build numeracy and a "sense of numbers" with your children while also having fun together. You will hear Dr. Sharma promote the idea of spending lots of time at home on games like this, and it won't take long for you to see how your kiddos will enjoy this so much more than traditional work sheets! You'll also see students using sets of colorful blocks called "Cuisenaire Rods", and I have to say that using these this summer had me looking at my own mathematical learning in a totally different way. Dr. Sharma will go into detail on how these manipulative blocks can really enhance mathematics instruction at our meeting, but I found a nice description on their history and how they work on Wikipedia of all places. Check it out here:

Cuisenaire Rods

Some action shots from the Summer Math Lab:

The next series of pictures below are of math classes here at UES this first month of school.  Note the regular use of the Cuisenaire Rods and card/board games...

Mrs. Reed's 2nd Graders hard at work
Ms. Hickey's 4th Graders getting messy with the Cuisenaire Rods
Connect Four.  High stakes.  Strategy.  Deep thoughts.
Mrs. Pierce's 4th graders enjoying math in a different way
Othello.  "Minutes to learn.  A lifetime to master."  So true!
So, there you have it!  We really hope to have you join us Wednesday night!

Fall Festival/Kids Cup! A day later, and I'm still amazed at what a great event yesterday's Kids Cup was! Hundreds of children and families from the whole MPS community joined together on a beautiful (and unexpectedly warm and sunny) day to help raise money for the UES Parents Group. So many "Thank Yous" are in order here, but the big one needs to go to UES mom Adrienne Gil! What organization skills! Adrienne had lots of help from many of you, but without her....

We got some nice coverage of the event on Channel 3 last night. Check it out here:

WCAX Kids Cup Coverage

And some Action Shots:

Surprise Prizes!

Monster Fun!

Pumpkin decorating!

Test Your Aim!

Families and kiddos getting ready for the Fun Run!

The first wave of runners came in at under 8 minutes.  Wow!

MHS Principal Mike McRaith was shocked at the accuracy of the UES arms!
The Kitchen Crew keeping us all well fed and happy!

The start of the 5K race -- note some of the young runners up front!

For the record, the Dunk Tank is a more refreshing experience on an 80 degree day than a 55 degree day.  Also, UES kids have remarkably accurate and strong arms!  Some of the action:

Personalization at Union Elementary School Have you ever wondered what teachers and principals do on those in-service days? OK, maybe you haven't, but in case you're wondering, Friday was a very productive and enlightening day for all of us! All three MPS schools are focusing on Personalization, Proficiency, and Equity for all of our students, and we had the pleasure of being joined by author and educator Kathleen McClaskey for the day. Kathleen is the author of Making Learning Personal, and teachers throughout the district will be reading this book together over the course of the year. As a parent of two MPS students myself, I can't tell you how happy I am to know that our teachers are making personalizing my daughter's learning experiences with us a priority. This is such important work, and your children will be the beneficiaries of all of it! The days of "one size fits all" learning are over folks, and Montpelier is at the forefront of this work. This should be welcome news to all of us.

Kathleen McClaskey working with UES teachers on Friday
No Walking School Bus This Week! We will be having a Faculty Meeting on Wednesday morning with Mahesh Sharma, so there will be no Walking Wednesday School Bus this week, Wednesday, October 11. The Walking School Bus will resume as normal next week!

Box Tops! Thanks to UES mom Missy McGibney for taking on the Box Top fundraising efforts this year! Every one of those little box top cutouts makes a difference! Missy shared a letter with you last month, and I share it with you below again:

Dear UES Families,
Fall Box Top submissions are upon us.  Box Tops are located on several common household products.  They are each worth .10 and when clipped and submitted our school earns money that can be used for just about anything, including field trips, classroom supplies and special projects.  A list of participating products is located on the back of this sheet.  We have set a new fundraising goal of $2000 for the 2017-2018 school year.  That means we need to collect 20,000 Box Tops!!!  This goal is a significant increase from last year’s earnings, so I’m asking for everyone’s help.  
In addition to the regular Box Tops, we find on packages, there are also additional ways to earn money.  Please look on packages for “Bonus” Box Tops.  These look a little different, but will have a code we can send in.   Occasionally your grocery store receipt will print out a coupon with eBox Tops.  Please send those in, as well, and I can enter them online for quick and easy money.
You can submit the Box Tops by using the included submission form or simply place the clipped tops, in a Ziploc bag, and I will get them counted and sorted.  If you chose to use the included form and don’t have enough to cover the entire sheet, that’s okay.  Send the sheet in and I will get it completed!!!  Please submit all of your Box Tops, to your child’s teacher or drop them in the Box Top collection box located outside the school office, by Thursday October 19th.  
Box Tops do have expiration dates and many of those dates are quickly approaching.  Please make sure you send everything you have so we don’t lose out on any free money, for the students.
Please ask others to save their Box Tops for UES.  They are an easy way for grandparents, extended family, neighbors, friends and co-workers to help support our kids and our school.  These collections will be ongoing, so even after October 19th please continue to clip and save.  
If you have any questions please contact me at:

Thank you,

Missy McGibney

Class Pictures Many of you are aware that our school photo company, Lifetouch, has decided with our input to not produce class photos this year. First, the good news: our plan is to take high quality digital class photos of each of the 24 classrooms this fall. We will make sure that the pictures are taken on a day with all students present, which has been a problem on Picture Day in the past. These photos will then be shared with you! Picture re-take day is scheduled for next week, October 19. Once we have photos of all of our students, a composite class group picture will also be shared with families. This decision was made following concerns that too many students were missing from our class photos, and we want to make sure everyone is in the shot! Please let us know if you have any questions -- we hope to have these pictures taken before Thanksgiving.

UPP Update There was a typo in the UPPDate we sent out last week! To clarify, the UPP Community Information Night is on Thursday night, October 26 in the UES cafeteria at 6:00. Please let me know if you have any questions -- we really hope to see you there!

Hennessey's Gems "Gems" and not "Hoots"? See below!

A Hennessey Gem to...

* ...UES PE Teachers MJ Jennings and Emmanuel Riby-Williams for getting our kiddos to set personal goals for wellness! It may be hard to see here, but try to zoom in to get an idea of what our students are thinking to become healthier, more fit people this year. Their "Hopes and Dreams" are inspiring! You can also see the poster below in the hallway outside the gym.

*  ... UES teachers Samantha LaFleur and Kellie Lynch for introducing GEMS as our way to work toward school wide goals.  Students earn gems for taking care of themselves, each other, and our school.  Here is Mrs. LaFleur introducing the gems at a recent assembly with our new mascot Swoop!

*  Mrs. Mello's Kinders Lia and Jiya for adding to the big Gem Jar in the hallway outside the main office.  Look how much it's filled up in just a few short weeks!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 12, 2017

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"


I'd like to welcome you all to the second edition of the 2017-18 Wise Owl, and I'd like your feedback! The Owl will be updated every two to three weeks, and our goal is to make it an important source of information for the whole MPS community. This second edition is primarily news and information based, but look for more celebrations and fun in future editions. Again, I'd love to hear from you!

Some news and information that will be helpful to know as we get closer to fall!


UES Parents Group Meeting: TOMORROW, September 13, UES Cafeteria, 6:00
UES Snack Program Begins! Monday, September 18
Union Elementary Open House: Thursday, September 28
No School (In-Service Day): Friday, October 6
Kids Cup! Sunday, October 8
No School (Columbus Day): Monday, October 9
Picture Make Up Day: Thursday, October 19

Before We Get to the Info, However,... We had a wonderful opening for our Kindergarteners last week! Here are a few shots of the action:

UES Parents Group Co-Chair Heidi Groff and her daughter Ella greet Kinder parents with donuts and coffee.  Thanks Heidi!

Assistant Principal Mrs. Beaupre staying dry with some of our new Kinders

Getting ready to line up just as the rains came!

Mrs. Whalen leading her first line into class

Walking School Bus!
Our first week of the Walking School Bus was a big success, and it's our hope that these can continue each Wednesday morning right through the winter!  For those new to Walking Wednesdays, here is how it works:

Children/families meet a UES staff person at one of three locations -- Shaw's with Mr. Hennessey or Ms. Parker (by the Red Box), the Capitol steps with Mrs. LaFleur or Mr. Williams, or the VCFA green with MJ or Nurse Sarah.  At 8:00 sharp, the groups enjoy a vigorous walk to school together, meeting on the UES playground.  The Walking School Bus Team hopes to have the Bus go right through the winter every Wednesday, and you are all welcome to join us -- these walks are a perfect way to start your day!

Nurse Sarah and MJ with the College Green bus!

Mr. Hennessey with the Red Box Crew!
Kids Cup!

Kids Cup and Fall Festival Fundraiser for the Union Elementary School Parent’s Group to be held October 8 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

This year, the Union Elementary School Parents Group has a fundraising goal of at least $15,000 to support a variety of school-related activities, supplies, and appreciation that directly impact the classrooms, teachers and students.

For 2016-2017, the UES Parents Group met our goal of raising over $10,000! We made around $5,000 at this event alone last year.  With the money raised we supported many classroom projects, programs and field trips that totaled over $10,000!

The Parents Group hosted key events at the school including two Scholastic Book Fairs, a Movie Night, Bingo & Ice Cream Social, a lighting set for the first annual Lip Synch Battle, a Teacher & Staff appreciation breakfast (including a monetary gift to every staff person in the building!  A First!), entrance fees for museums and field trips including several transports by bus, STEM learning equipment, books, stools, dyslexia glasses, racism training and other school needs not included in the school budget.  All proceeds raised by the USPG directly supported classroom programs, field trips, scholarships and teacher and staff appreciation gifts.

This year, we are holding the Second Annual Kids Cup and Fall Festival  focusing on community, health, and fun. We hope you can join us on October 8, 2017, at 11:00 AM at Montpelier High School for this fun and exciting event!

Registration and Check in begins at 11:00 AM and the one mile fun run begins at 12:00 PM.   This year the Main Street Middle School and Montpelier High School will be participating as well.  Help us make this event a continued success!
The Kids' Cup is a 1 mile fun run along the Montpelier Bike Path. The Kids Cup event will begin and end at the Montpelier High School and the Montpelier 5K for older kids and grownups will commence at the High School track at 1:00 PM

Then the fall festival begins!  The Fall Festival will provide an opportunity for the community to participate in fun, games, music, and food. Tickets to use at the Fall Festival will be for sale at the event.  We will be accepting credit cards and cash.

Please consider supporting this annual event. All the proceeds of this exciting event will directly impact the teachers, students and community of the Union Elementary School.

You will be receiving this week in your elementary child’s folder, a paper Fundraising Form, or, if you prefer, you can go online and submit your donation(s) and registration that way.  If you do use the paper form, please turn it into Diana or Pam at the UES office with your donations (cash and checks) no later than October 4, 2017.  Please visit the website to make donations and register at

Being Ready for the Rainy Weather Please do your best to ensure that your child is dressed appropriately for the weather.  We strongly believe that every child needs to have adequate time to move and play outdoors daily, so we’ll be going out even if it’s chilly or there are sprinkles.  Rain jackets and boots are a must! Generally speaking, we'll be going outside for recess unless there is thunder and lightning in the forecast or there is an absolute downpour. Everyone will have a better experience if they’re comfortable and prepared, so please bear this in mind as your child heads out to school each morning.

Paperwork Reminder The community has done an EXCELLENT job getting updated paperwork into the office. Thank you! We still have a few families who need to have clear and updated plans for after school turned in however. If we don't have a clear plan for your child each day, they will be staying with us in the office until we can get hold of you. No fun for anyone! Please have your updated after school plan in to your child's teacher no later than this Friday. Your teacher will be reaching out to you in the next few days. Thank you for your help with this!

Summit School of Traditional Music and Culture The Summit School is starting this week! If you want to register or have any questions about their offerings, please reach out to them directly using the contacts below. This fall's classes:

Summit After-School Music Classes - Fall 2017

Join the Summit School of Traditional Music and Culture for Session 1 of our after-school music classes at Union Elementary. We will be offering unique classes for different levels of World Music Chorus, African Drumming, 2 levels of Ukulele classes, Beginning Guitar, and Introduction to Fiddle!

​For more information and to register, visit:
After-School Programs Coordinator, Dana Robinson, E-mail:   / Phone: 802-793-3016

Session 1 - Begins Tuesday, September 12th
Ukulele with Teddy Pi  (K - 2nd Grades)
7 Tuesdays - Sept 12th - Oct. 24th
2:45-3:30pm | Cost - $105
Discover the magic of the marvelous ukulele! A class for beginners.

Ukulele with Heidi Wilson (2nd - 4th Grades)
7 Tuesdays - Sept. 12th - Oct. 24th
2:45-3:30pm | Cost - $105
For kids who have some ukulele experience. Learn Chords, Songs, Melodies and Heidi's magical stories.

World Music Chorus with John Harrison (All Grades)
7 Tuesdays, September 12th - October 24th
3:40-4:30pm | Cost $105
Sing traditional songs and play musical games from around the world, as well as a few from right here at home.

Wednesdays    (New Class!)
Introduction to the Violin with Emma Back (3rd & 4th Grades)
12 Wednesdays, Sept. 13th  - Dec. 13th
(no class Nov. 1st)   2:45-3:30pm - Cost $180
Take your first steps in learning the fiddle. Balance the bow, and play your first tunes! 
Inexpensive Violin rental available through Vermont Violins.

African Drumming with Jordan Mensah (All Grades)
7 Thursdays, September 14th - October 26th
2:45-3:30pm - Cost $105
Learn Traditional African Rhythms and Culture with master drummer Jordan Mensah

Intro to Guitar with Rich Colombo (3rd and 4th Grades)
7 Thursdays, September 15th - October 26th
3:40-4:30pm | Cost $105

We’ll have lots of fun learning our first chords, strums and singing folk, blues and traditional songs.

From the UES Parents Group:

Hello UES Parent Community:

We are holding the first meeting of the 2017-2018 school year this Wednesday evening in the UES cafeteria from 6:00-7:30 PM and YOU are invited! 

As always, childcare will be provided by the remarkable Kristina Kane (art teacher extraordinaire). Thanks, Kristina!

This school year we plan on meeting the second Wednesday of each month in the school cafeteria from 6:00-7:30 PM.  It is possible that not all future meetings will need the full one and one-half hours, but we felt it was prudent to schedule this time in case it is needed.  

The AGENDA for the first meeting is as follows:
1. Introduction of group and the USPG:  mission, projects and leadership (Heidi)
2. Treasury report (Heidi & Bianca)
3. 2017-2018 events and projected income,
Including sign ups (Heidi)
4. Discussion of budget and reserve issues (anticipated expenditures) (Heidi, Jill & Bianca)
5. UPP update 
6. Pending funding commitments and pending requests not yet decided (Heidi)
7. Theresa Giffin retirement gift (Heidi)
8. Incorporation of Pre-K parents (Heidi)
9. Directory update (Jill)
10. Box tops (Tracy)
11.  Lost and found (Heidi)
12. Future topics (Heidi)

Hope you can join us!  Again, childcare will be provided by Mrs. Kane (thank you, Kristina!), so bring the kids with you!  

Just a reminder that there is a Facebook page that has photos of our UES lost and found.  These items live in the cafeteria.  Check it out:

Parking Out Front Finally, a quick reminder about parking in front of the school at the beginning and end of the day...

If you need to be at UES for a meeting or to pick up/drop off your child, PLEASE do not park on the UES side of Park Avenue from 7:30 to 8:30 and from 2:00 to 3:00. (The sign below says 2:30 to 3:30 -- we will need a new sign!). This is the time our buses line up to drop off and pick up our students, so that side of Park Avenue needs to be totally clear for logistical and safety reasons. Thank you all for your cooperation!