Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November 25, 2015

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"

Happy Thanksgiving! All of us at Union Elementary wish you and your families a peaceful, restful, and well-deserved five days together!

We have had a very busy November at Union Elementary, and, incredibly, I have another teacher honor to share with you...

VTAHPERD RISING STAR! Congratulations to our own MJ Jennings for being selected as the 2016 Vermont Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Rising Star! The Rising Star Award recognizes an outstanding beginning Physical Education teacher who "demonstrates great commitment and promise towards the promotion of teaching wellness and physical activity." MJ was chosen by her peers from around the state, and all of us in the UES Community could not agree more with their choice!

MJ accepting her Rising Star Award
Here is another picture of MJ, but in action. Out of the blue, I heard some commotion in the cafeteria the other day (imagine that!). I head down the hall to check out what's going on, and what do I see but an epic Flash Mob with our third graders entertaining everyone with a surprise performance! Just another day in the UES PE program! Folks, we are so fortunate to have MJ and Mr. Williams!

VERMONT TEACHER OF THE YEAR CEREMONY! Last week's ceremony honoring the work of Susan Koch was a perfect example of how the UES community works together so beautifully! A special Hennessey Hoot to Samantha Funk for organizing the show and putting together the wonderful musical performances by our children, and to Todd Keller and his crew for making sure everything went smoothly (and it did!). Yes, the new gym floor was shiny, but our school and our children had the biggest opportunity to shine, and did they ever!

Former UES mom Jen Matthews was hoping to have an opportunity to give a brief speech, but time didn't allow it. Instead, I share her remarks here:


I would like to say thank you as a parent.  As a kindergarten teacher not only are you teaching our children many things beyond academics but you are also an ambassador for parents.  You are the face of the school and help set the tone for success.  I was nervous to relinquish control of my children to school but your calm demeanor, clear expectations and enthusiasm made it easier.

During my children’s tenure, I learned so many things from you: how to see strengths in every child, the fine art of redirection, and the concept of thinking versus knowing.  We share the same enthusiasm for ECO.  I am thrilled to see its continued success here at UES because of your support.  

You have been my children’s teacher, my teacher and mentor but I am so glad to call you my friend.

Congratulations on this wonderful honor!"

Another Hennessey Hoot has to go to local musician Susan Picking and teacher Emily Wrigley for coordinating the children's beautiful musical tribute to Susan, and I share the lyrics and a fine recording of the song with you all below:

Joy shows in the smile she wears
We feel how much she cares
Learning is a gift we share
Breathing in Nature’s air

Vermont’s Teacher of the Year
Mrs. Koch from Montpelier
She teaches 1st grade right here
Let’s give her a great big cheer

Mrs. Koch likes outdoor  fun
Go out on the  playground and run
Plant seeds and watch em grow in the sun
and bloom when winter is done

Vermont’s Teacher of the Year
Mrs. Koch from Montpelier
She teaches 1st grade right here
Let’s give her a great big cheer

Celebrate our diversity 
work together in community
As we build our history 

Vermont’s Teacher of the Year
Mrs. Koch from Montpelier
She teaches 1st grade right here

Let’s give her a great big cheer!

Mrs. Picking shared a great story with me the other day:  "I was sitting with the first graders and enjoyed some fo the first grade analysis of the assembly.  My favorite of the day came from Clover who is in Mrs. Bates' class.  Clover shared numerous times, 'This is really putting us on the map, and the floors have never looked so good!'"  Clover is so right!

Here are some pictures from the big day:
Attachments area
Ms. Funk getting us started!  What an amazing job she did!
Governor Shumlin and Susan in a lighter moment.
Mrs. Koch accepting the honor
Leading the students through the "Vermont Song."  They sounded terrific! 
Mrs. Koch and her daughters
UES alum Emma paying tribute to her favorite teacher. 
Mary Margaret doing the same!  These tributes were a highlight of the show!
Mrs. Koch's current 1st graders presenting her gift (thanks Mrs. Kane!)
THANKSGIVING LUNCHEON  Speaking of teamwork and community spirit, how many of you got to enjoy an early Thanksgiving feast at UES last week? What a great day that was! Thanks to the efforts of cafeteria supervisor Nancy Webb and her staff, Todd Keller and his crew, administrative assistants Zephyr Cerulli and Pam Foster, and so many more, we were able to serve over 750 students, parents, and staff on that busy Wednesday! I burned so many calories serving folks that day that I ate not one, not two, but three pieces of pie! (4th grader Chase Erlich was my witness!). Thanks to all of you for joining us -- it's one of our favorite days of the year!

WALKING SCHOOL BUS The UES Walking School Bus Wednesdays are continuing through the winter! Yes, even on the coldest of days! Come join us at Shaw's, the State House, or the college green at 8:00 sharp each Wednesday. We hope to see you! A Hennessey Hoot to MJ, Sarah Mele, Samantha Funk, Emmanuel Williams, and Sylvia Fagin for joining me in keeping the "bus rolling." It's a terrific way to start the day.

Check out the college green crew from a few weeks ago:

VETERANS DAY PARADE  In a month of many highlights, we have to mention the honor of participating in this year's Montpelier Veterans Day Parade. Another Hennessey Hoot to teachers Samantha Funk and Sharon Pine for their organizational efforts and enthusiasm in planning this event. It's safe to say that our veterans greatly appreciated our presence! I'd also like to thanks MHS principal Mike McGraith and MSMS principal Pam Arnold for encouraging their students to join the audience on a cold, rainy day. It was such a joy to march through town with all our students cheering us on! Here are some pictures from this special day:

UNION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DIRECTORY UES mom Ashley Roy is putting together the annual UES Student/Parent Directory, and we need your help! Please go to the link below if you'd like to have your family included. You can put as much or as little information as you feel comfortable including. The Directory was always a popular item in my house when our girls were at UES! Here is the link:

UES Directory

BOOK FAIR A SUCCESS! Thanks to UES moms Heidi Groff and Bianca Magiera for coordinating and organizing the 2015 Scholastic Book Fair at UES! This is not an easy task, and by all accounts, it was a smashing success! The crew:

OLYMPIAN ANDY NEWELL VISITS UES! 4th graders were treated to a visit from U.S. Olympic skier Andy Newell earlier in the month, and they weren't disappointed! WPTZ joined us to tell the story, and you can see their coverage on the link here:

Andy Newell at UES

Hard to read (!), but here is the Times-Argus story:

UPP UPDATES! The biggest November Hennessey Hoot of all is reserved for our own Theresa Giffin, whose tireless efforts on behalf of the Union Playground Project continue to amaze. Here is the latest update from Theresa:

"This has been a very busy and exciting fall for the UPP committee!

First off, we have signed the last form in order to receive our $150,000 matching grant (which makes it worth up to $300,00!!!!).  We plan to use many different forms of media to publicize this major step forward.

The timing couldn't be better in that our next step is to go out into the community to promote a major fundraiser that will be happening on February 13.  A notice about this went home a few weeks ago, and more information will be going home with students next week.  Please mark your calendars to join the GIve It UPP Gala which will be a concert, mixer, and live and silent auction.  We hope to have as many as 500 people attend!  More info to come, but make sure to pencil in the date on your calendar.  Please let me know if you would like to make a contribution to the silent auction (an item, a craft, your talent, etc.).

Secondly, many of you might have noticed our UVM Landscape Design students here a couple of times in the past two months.  On December 7 and 9, they will be presenting their designs at UVM to members of the UPP committee!  Then on December 10, Stephanie Hurley, who is the professor for this course (and a future UES mom), will be hosting a community Open House to view this work.  Our plan is to find a space whereby the display may remain up throughout the next day so that every class may view the designs and state their favorite designs.

We are also now in the process of hiring a Project Manager to oversee the extensive process of planning and construction.  Please let me know if you would like to be on the search committee.  This would involve a few meetings in January.  Our goal is to have someone selected by early February. 

It is amazing to see a dream close to being a reality!!!"

Thanks for reading, everyone!  The Batmen (look closely) and Estherline say, "Have a safe holiday!"