Sunday, September 2, 2012


Dear Baldwin Community,
We had a fantastic first week of classes for the 2012-2013 school year! All of the children were very excited about learning and being with their new classmates. As I visited classrooms this week, I observed all of our students engaged in learning and interacting with their teachers and peers. The students learned their class routines and procedures, which will help them everyday with their learning. 

In Kindergarten, the students were learning the routines of being in school and about the different components of their learning day.
The students were also given the opportunity and responsibility of creating these expectations with their teacher and peers. They reviewed each of the expectations for each of their learning centers, recess, walking in line and eating in the cafeteria. Please ask your kindergartener to tell you all about his/her first week and you will see how much they already learned. I can't wait to see the growth they will make in this foundational year of Kindergarten. Be sure to check in with your child's teacher to see how you can support your child's learning at home and how you can help in the classroom. 

In the first grade classes, I saw and heard children practicing and building their independent reading times and reading with partners. The teachers modeled for them and then the children were able to show that they understood how and why these are important parts to the reading process. Way to go First Grade Teachers and Students!

Our second graders seem to be happy to be in the portable classrooms. The teachers in those rooms have done an outstanding job of creating such inviting learning environments. When I visited their classrooms, the students were exploring mathematical tools and explaining to each other how they could use these during math learning. They were having very high level conversations and were not afraid to share their thoughts. I'm proud of our second graders for showing resiliency and pride. 

In the third grade classrooms, students were interviewing a partner to learn more about each other. The questions they asked prompted great conversations and the students seemed to enjoy learning about each other. I also observed third graders explaining their thinking in mathematics. They were at the board sharing their strategies and explaining how they got to the right answer. Keep up the great work third grade!

Our fourth graders were busy at work in reading, writing, math and science. I observed the students in this grade expressing their thoughts in written form about a book they are currently reading. This type of writing allows the students to show comprehension for their reading and gives them an avenue to express their thoughts. I also saw classes with students reading with partners and making connections to the reading or writing down "wonderings" about their reading. The fourth graders were also practicing place value and reading and writing whole numbers. In the next three weeks, in mathematics you will see that your child will be learning more about place value including estimation and points on a number line as they are related to place value. I also observed students making some great connections to their world. In a discussion with the teacher about taking data and creating a graph with that data, one student shared that his father uses data everyday to decide if it is the right time to purchase stock. He said, "my dad uses graphs everyday. It helps him decide if it is a good company." His teacher told him, "can you believe your father is still using what he learned in fourth grade and you will too." Wow, this is exactly how we want our students to see their learning; that it is learning beyond the classroom and that they will use it in their daily lives in some form or fashion. Looks like fourth grade is off to a great start!

In the fifth grade classrooms, the students had already completed a science lab and were making connections with that learning. They were also reading, comparing and ordering whole numbers through 999,999,999,999. All of the students seem to be very comfortable doing this work and were not afraid to share their thinking. I also observed fifth graders creating a self-portrait that they will have for parents to see on back to school night. I also noticed that we have so many leaders in fifth grade. All of the students were so poised and focused during the learning times and were being respectful with each other. We will expect our fifth graders to be role models for the rest of our student body everywhere in our school. Please keep encouraging them to do their best at all times!

In the Music, PE and Art classes the students were well on their way to creating beautiful art, songs and movement. The students were being challenged in the PE classes to show that they were ready for a year of healthy choices and getting fit. Our students at Baldwin are committed to do their best in the fine arts and it was evident in our first week of classes. They were having fun and giving it 100% in all classes.

I want to thank all of your for helping us with our morning routines and getting the children to their assigned areas by 7:35. I do want everyone to know that we are being vigilant with all of our children at all times including the drop off time. Your children are supervised at all times so please don't worry about the time they have to wait in the mornings prior to their teacher picking up their class. We have staff that is on duty during that time keeping a close watch on all of the children. We will continue to ask all of you to give us the space we need in the cafeteria and ask that you drop your child off at their designated area and move to the back of the gym if you choose to wait for the teacher to pick up the class. This procedure will continue to improve as we progress through the year. Thank you for your help this. 

Dismissal also improved as the week progressed. I promise it will get better every day. I do want to remind any parent that picks up children at the school that there are designated areas for pick up and procedures that we must all follow. Only car riders will be waiting in front of the school. If you are a car pick up, please stay in your vehicle and your child will be brought to you. 

If you are walking up to pick up your children on the Meridian side of the school, your child will be waiting in the gym or on the blacktop. Please do not walk behind the gym/cafeteria or in front of the portable buildings before or after school. It is not safe during this time due to staff coming to work in the mornings and the buses and day care vans in the afternoon. Let's do our part to keep everyone safe! 

If you meet your child on the Espina exit, your child will not be dismissed until all of the buses have left and we feel it is safe to let them walk out of the building. If you are waiting for your child on the Espina side of the school, parents are to wait in the landscaped area between Espina Drive and the Bus Drive. You will be given a signal to walk up to the back doors to meet your child once the buses have cleared away from the school and the street. Thanks for your help with dismissal! 

I want to cordially invite all of you to attend your child's back to school night. We will have two nights for parents to meet with their child's teacher to learn more about the curriculum and learning expectations for this new year. These two night events are for adults only. We will meet in the cafeteria for some brief introductions and announcements and then move to your child's classroom. On Wednesday, September 5, we invite PreK, Kinder, First and Second Grade parents to join us for their special night and On Thursday, September 6, we invite all parents of Third, Fourth and Fifth grade students to come learn about your child's grade level. I am looking forward to seeing all of you on those two nights. 

There will also be two Gifted and Talented informational meetings prior to the Back to School Night events. We will be sharing information regarding our district's Gifted and Talented program to our Kinder, First and Second Grade parents on Wednesday and for our Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade parents on Thursday. Both meetings will be at 5:30 in the library. Please join us for one of these meetings if you want to learn more about the Gifted and Talented program. 

I want to thank everyone for making our first week a successful one! We can only make this work if we all do our part. Thank you for being supportive with all that we want to accomplish this year at Baldwin. 

Enjoy the extra day off this week and we will see everyone back at school on Tuesday. 

Roaring with Pride, 
Dr. Peña