Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Music Time!

In the last few days of school for 2015, music was a major focus for the students at Horace Mann.

First, about 60 students attended a free Beck Center performance of The Nutcracker...Jazzed Up! on Friday, December 11th.  This version of the classic holiday ballet is "sensory friendly," so it was perfect for our students with disabilities who might be overwhelmed by a traditional performance.  Please click the link for more information:  Many thanks to our moderate-intensive intervention specialists (Maureen Crane, Caitlin Dukes, Rita Elsea, Ean Fakan, Cristina Smith, and Cheryl Smolen) for arranging this wonderful experience for our students.

Of course, we also had our Winter Program here at The Mann on Thursday, December 17th.  According to our count, we had over 400 audience members!  As always, the students were amazing, and we were all entertained with music ass well as visual art to stoke up our holiday spirit.  Big thank yous to our music teachers (Aaron Waryk, MaryJo Mallchok, John Blasko, and Julie Tabaj), our art teacher (Cesar Vargas), and our speech/language pathologist (Ellen McCafferty) for preparing and producing this ever-improving Horace Mann tradition.

We appreciate families' understanding about the timing of the concert and the space we have available for the performance.  Please be sure to complete the survey from your program to provide feedback about future concerts.  Soon, a Blackboard email will be coming your way with links to the concert video.

Happy holidays to all; we'll see you in 2016!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

December Star Students

Each month, all of the "cashed in" stars (earned for being safe, respectful and responsible) are placed in a drawing for Star Student of the Month.  It has been so fun seeing what special adults come in to have lunch with their student (moms, dads, older siblings, aunts, etc.) AND what tasty lunches they bring (one person had lunch from the local Mexican restaurant Cozumel)!

Please join me in congratulating our Star Students for November:

Kindergarten:  Olivia Dubecky & Erin Scott
1st Grade:  Carys Crone, Liam Craciun, Seamus Dutko, & Avery Vasquez
2nd Grade:  Justin Lewis & Andrew Ellison
3rd Grade:  Joanna Wright & James Baron
4th Grade:  Madison Civille & Owen Burens
5th Grade:  Grace Lamparyk & Cecelia Miller

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Hyland and High Notes

     As part of their amazing #LKWDFutureClub experience, many Horace Mann 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders took a field trip to Hyland Software in Westlake.  Not only did they tour the facility, learn about future career options, but they also did actual coding, ate pizza and used the world-famous slide (see below)!  Big thanks to club advisor Mrs. Jaime Chanter and other staff (including Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Olender and Mrs. Lynch) for providing our tech-oriented students with this very cool opportunity.  They even rode RTA to get there, making this a well-rounded real-world morning of learning!

The "high notes" in the blog post title refers to the Horace Mann Choir's sparkling performance at Lakewood Hospital as part of the Light Up Lakewood festivities.  Mr. Aaron Waryk directed the students in a selection of holiday songs.  If you missed the performance at the hospital, you will have another chance to hear our choir at the Winter Program on Thursday, December 17th (doors open at 1:00 pm/music begins at 1:30 pm) in the Horace Mann gymnasium.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

DARE and the Dentist

It was a short week at school, so I saved some highlights from past weeks to share...

DARE Graduation:  On Tuesday, November 17th, every Horace Mann 5th grader was recognized for completion of the DARE program.  DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education; however, the focus goes far beyond illegal drugs.  The curriculum, led by Lakewood Police Office Dave Acklin, emphasizes making positive choices in all areas of their lives.

 Horace Mann students earned their iconic black t-shirts with red lettering as well as certificates of completion.  They even received congratulatory handshakes from Lakewood Mayor Summers, the Honorable Judge Carroll and Lakewood Police Chief Malley!  While all students wrote essays as part of the program, four winners were chosen to receive a lapel pin and read their exemplary essays aloud:  Jeremiah Johnson, Alexandra Horton, Joice Salloum, and Megan Sulak. Near the end of the program, the students performed "I Will Dare," a catchy song to help them remember the lessons they learned.  The program had a fun conclusion when everyone enjoyed cupcakes and juice, courtesy of the Horace Mann PTA.

Visiting Dentist:  Earlier in November, a dental team "set up shop" for nearly 3 entire school days  in the same room used for the PTA Book Fair.  With parent consent, students were seen for no out-of-pocket charge, and the dentist provided over 100 referrals (along with x-rays) to outside professionals when follow up (such as a root canal) was needed.  He even called prescriptions in to pharmacies for kids with abscessed teeth!

Many thanks to School Nurse Katy Corrigan for setting up this program here at The Mann, as well as to our Health Aide, Sheila Sabol, for her assistance throughout the process.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Giving Thanks in Tough Times

Wow--Look at all that FOOD!  Horace Mann families are outdoing themselves with generosity this year.  It started with a record number of new socks and underwear for needy families as a joint effort between PTA and K-Kids.  This week, two big charitable projects took place at The Mann.  First, we collected food for the Lakewood Charitable Assistance Corporation (LCAC).  I don't know how much food we collected, but we know it was a LOT:-)

Then, the K-Kids were back in altruistic action with their latest work:  toiletries for local homeless people.  As you can see in these pictures snapped by Kiwanis' Anna Bacho, kids and adults worked together to create care packages of products our students thought would be welcomed by those on hard times this holiday season.

Turning to a more serious note, I want to share that the Tuesday Project Wisdom announcement this week will address the disturbing images and news students may have seen in the wake of the violence in Paris, France.  The announcement (which does not directly refer to Paris or other specific events) emphasizes that almost all people in our lives are good and kind, even though there are people out there doing terrible things.  It also urges students to talk to someone they trust if they have been upset by what they have seen or heard, and to look around and remember all the good in the world, as well as being good and kind themselves.  We respect that this situation will be handled in unique ways by every family, and it is our hope that addressing it will give children an invitation to talk to someone at home or at school if something is bothering them.

If you have any thoughts or questions about the announcement, you are welcome, as always, to contact me at 216-529-4257 or

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Honoring Our Veterans

     Students, families and staff members at Horace Mann recognized and thanked veterans for their service on Wednesday, November 11th.  This year's program included the whole crowd singing The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America, as well as 4th graders providing a color guard.

More 4th graders did readings, including information about Veteran's Day and some poetry about our feelings for our servicemen and women.  Students from 1st and 5th grade made decorations that were hung up here at school to create the right environment.  Now that our event is over, the visual art has been delivered to a veteran's hospital for their enjoyment.

     PTA was involved this year, too, with a coffee reception for our veterans before the assembly.

Many thanks to everyone who helped make this event a heartfelt occasion, most especially the 24 veterans who attended.  We are proud of and grateful for you!


Saturday, November 7, 2015

October Star Students of the Month

     Around Horace Mann, we LOVE to celebrate success!  As part of our Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) framework, students earn stars for demonstrating safe, respectful and responsible behavior in all areas of our school.  At least twice each month, students have the opportunity to "buy" a reward of their choice using their stars.  Some examples of rewards are Horace Mann pencils, extra iPad time, and helping in another classroom.

     Each month, we have a Star Student of the Month drawing from all the stars turned in over the course of the month.  Each month, there are 14 star students. Last month was the inaugural month for Star Students inviting a special person to have lunch with them in the cafeteria--SO FUN!

     And now...the Horace Mann Star Students for October 2015 are...

Kindergarten:  Aeron Jones, Jaylen McRae
First Grade:  Jeffrey Stewart, Annabelle McBride
Second Grade:  Nate Lardi, Laila Jacobs, Omar El Sabe, La'Nya Mills
Third Grade:  Jack Baron, Kailyn Arcuri
Fourth Grade:  Elise O'Donell, Nora Germaine
Fifth Grade:  Aiden Parch, Fiona Loudermilk

Congratulations, Star Students--keep up the great work!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Visit to Hale Farm & Village

In conjunction with their unit of study on the settling of Ohio's Western Reserve, the third graders of Horace Mann enjoyed a special field trip last week.  Looking at the picture, you may be able to tell that the children visited Hale Farm & Village, in Bath, Ohio.

They had many wonderful, hands-on learning opportunities during the field trip, and the memories created are sure to last a lifetime.  For my part, I distinctly remember visiting Hale Farm when I was a third grader at Hopkins Elementary in Mentor, Ohio.  I can still taste the maple sap!

If you can't make it out to this local treasure of our heritage, here is a link to a very nice virtual tour:

Thank you to our third grade teachers, Mrs. Finnegan and Mrs. Lynch, for planning this beneficial--and fun--field trip.  Thanks, too, to parents for providing the fee necessary to learn in the real world.  We hope everyone feels it is well worth it :-)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dancing Wheels - Amazing!

The Horace Mann community celebrated the end of the first quarter with a spectacularly good assembly:  A performance by The Dancing Wheels Company.  Four dancers (two stand up and two "sit down" [as they call the dancers in wheelchairs])--Kelly, Kristin, Kevin and DeMarco performed several numbers for the entire student body of Horace Mann, as well as the faculty and many family members, too.

The songs ranged from contemporary to classical, and students "oooh'd and aaaah'd" each time one of the dancers was lifted into the air.  Most kids' favorite part (based on the informal exit poll I took) was the silly song where the whole crowd learned animal-themed movements to go along with the song.  Our September Star Students of the Month did a terrific job helping the dancers teach the crowd the choregraphy!

Many thanks to the Lakewood Ranger Education Foundation for a generous grant that funded most of the cost of this assembly.  Special kudos to three Horace Mann staff members who wrote the grant: Mrs. Maureen Crane, Mrs. Jen Frank, and Mrs. Ellen McCafferty. We'd also like to thank the Horace Mann PTA for picking up the remaining cost to bring this program--perfect for our integrated student body here at Horace Mann--here to celebrate kids safe, respectful and responsible behavior all quarter.

If you'd like to learn more, here is a link to the Dancing Wheels website:

...and pictures from the performance, of course!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Horace Mann...ALL IN, ALL THE TIME!

If you've visited the main office at Horace Mann in the last week, you may have noticed some new artwork on the wall behind Mrs. Rochford's desk.  In case you haven't stopped by, I've included a smaller version just so you have an idea what we're talking about :-)

Through staff meetings and casual conversations, we've formed our vision for Horace Mann.  We've also talked about the things we need to do and the attitudes we need to hold in order to make our dreams a reality.  A shared vision is a big thing, and it helps to have a snappy saying--or theme--to help keep it in the forefront of our minds as we work.

In choosing Horace Mann...ALL IN, ALL THE TIME! as our theme, we identified that it applies not only to staff, but also to students and families.  We love the positive energy it portrays, and we thank Shawn at Erie DeSign for helping to bring it to life in Ranger purple and gold!

We hope you will partner with us in being "all in, all the time" for the wonderful students we share.  On a fun note, the PTA hopes to offer spirit wear with the logo on it in an upcoming sale.  Wouldn't this look great on a t-shirt?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Keeping Horace Mann Safe!

On Thursday, we focused on safety and had help from both  the Lakewood Fire and Police Departments.

First, as part of Fire Prevention Week, Fire Marshall Dunphy led a presentation about smoke detectors.  Hopefully kids came home talking about changing the batteries to be sure the detectors are functioning properly.  Horace Mann is honored to have two 5th grade students bring home honors in the citywide essay contest (which also includes a fire safety test):  Helen Hylton:  Jr. Captain and Madison Ryback:  Jr Assistant Chief.  The culmination of the event is a fireman climbing to the top of the fire truck ladder with kids watching and cheering him on.  I had another reason to be proud of our school when Fire Marshall Dunphy confided that he always enjoys doing this program at Horace Mann because we have a great school.  I agree!

Then, we had a very special swearing in ceremony for our 5th grade Safety Patrol members.  Our DARE Officer, Patrolman Acklin, led the students in the Safety Patrol Pledge.  We count on these responsible 5th grade students for helping to keep their peers safe.  Please reinforce with your own child(ren) that Safety Patrol members are good people to go to with a concern and that they are there to help students follow the rules.  This year's Horace Mann Safety Patrol roster includes:

Addy Andregg, Rinesa Beqiri, Isaiah Blackshear, Kasey Darnell, Jonas Evans, Samantha Facaros, Helen Hylton, Jeremiah Johnson, Rachel Johnson, Erin Lavelle, Danny Lavelle, Ceci Miller, Lily Monahan, Cameron Robertson (Captain), Maddy Ryback, Joice Salloum, Megan Sulak and Mya Stewart.

Thank you to Mrs. JoAnn Cali for being the advisor for these role model students helping uphold the high standards of Horace Mann!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Star Students for September 2015

It was a big week at Horace Mann, with a 3-day Book Fair, Friday night Family Dance and vision/hearing screenings for several grade levels.  I'd like to thank our PTA--especially Book Fair Chair Debbie Baker and Family Dance Chair Amy Lardi--for all the hours spent on making the events awesome for kids and their families!  Please check the Horace Mann PTA Facebook page for more about the dance.
September Star Students!
In this week's blog, I'd like to recognize the Horace Mann students selected as Student of the Month for September.  Students selected earn several rewards to celebrate their accomplishment:

* Bring a special person to school for lunch
* I'm a Star pencil topper
* Free junior pizza coupon for Hungry Howie's
                                                       * Certificate posted by the gym

September's Star Students are:
Kindergarten:   Julie Salloum, Emma O'Toole
1st Grade:  Jayla Birmingham, Jannah Jacobs
2nd Grade:  Ruby Fraunfelder, Greydon Rosser, Lily Halan
3rd Grade:  Layler Paw, Lucas Irwin, Jasmin Thompson
4th Grade:  Hutch Reed, Akram Ali
5th Grade:  Isaiah Blackshear, Corey Kidd

Keep up the great work, Star Students!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Safety First & Rocky the Puggle

Although most Horace Mann students do not ride a yellow bus to and from school each day, they sometimes take a bus when enjoying field trips.  Because riding a bus is a possibility, students in grades K-3 are required to to bus safety training.  Our kids' sessions took place last week.  In the picture, they are practicing emergency evacuation, showing that safety drills are not limited to the four walls of our school!

Bradon gets a smooch!
While we love having 1st grade teacher Mrs Cramer's therapy dog Stanley at school several days each week, we just can't get enough contact with our canine reading buddy.  So, this week (and hopefully in weeks to come), Rocky the Wonder Puggle visited with Mrs. Finnegan's 3rd graders. Reading to dogs is known to boost students' confidence and makes reading a enjoyable activity.  We appreciate the time and effort of everyone who makes these experiences possible for the students of Horace Mann :-)

Mrs. Finnegan and her class pose with Rocky and his owner, Charlotte.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Donuts, Dads, and "Dear Family,"

What a super week at Horace Mann!  On Thursday, we joined in the county-wide initiative for Fathers Walk: adult men walking their kids to school to show support for their education.  We had a great turnout for this event, as well as for the PTA's annual Donuts with Dad gathering.  The last two days of this week started with smiles and laughter as kids and parents enjoyed glazed, sprinkled and custard-filled donuts along with juice and coffee from The Root here in Lakewood.

Thank you to the parents who came to school with their kids and a big thank you to PTA event chair Mrs. Katie Stallbaum and her crew of helpers.

Mrs. Diemert knows how to note!

Another blog-worthy event occurred in Mrs. Rolfe's 4th grade classroom on Friday morning.  Mrs. Melissa Diemert, parent of three Horace Mann students, provided a lovely lesson on writing thank you notes.  Not only did she explain the reasons why a person might write a thank you,  the most important content of these notes, but she also guided students through the process.  In the end, the students had thank you notes for the special adults in their lives who provided them with school supplies for this year, written on stationary from Paper Trails in Rocky River.  Thank you, Mrs. Diemert, for sharing your expertise with us!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sweet Fun at The Mann

There were lots of sweet treats this week at Horace Mann.  The big event was the annual PTA Ice Cream Social on Thursday evening.  Everything worked out right for an excellent party!  Thank you to the Horace Mann PTA for the Mitchell's ice cream (yes, Mitchell's!) and raffle for t-shirts and a Mitchell's gift card.  Special thanks to Sandy Najarian for organizing the social, as well as to her crew of volunteers.   Here are a few pictures to give you the "flavor" of the event:

Mrs. Lynch's third grade class capped off the sweet week with making s'mores at Camp Learn-A-Lot (also known as Room 201).  To celebrate their completion of Patricia Reiley Giff's book entitled Ronald Morgan Goes To Camp, the children set up a tent, sang and had a realistic campfire right in the classroom.  Mrs. Lynch shared a great PowerPoint with the parents of her students and some of the kids brought an extra s'more down for me to enjoy.  Here is one picture that captures the scene:
Boom Chicka Boom!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cool Critters at The Mann!

We discovered some interesting critters in and around Horace Mann this week.  First, we had the return of a favorite furry friend: Stanley is back!  As you may know, Stan (named after book character Flat Stanley) is the therapy dog who comes to school with teacher Mrs. Cramer a few days each week.  Stan is pictured here with a new 1st grade friend, and he is ready to be read to and otherwise provide support for our students and staff.

The next guest was quite unexpected...but very interesting!  Right outside the office doors on Wednesday, a hungry praying mantis was discovered.  It was a great lesson in our local ecosystem, and a reminder about predator and prey.

Finally, Rupert the Frog joined Mr. Fakan's Frog-tastic class for the week.  After Rupert secretly stowed away in Mr. Fakan's kayak during a weekend paddle on the Cuyahoga, he also made a trip to Horace Mann.  Mr. Fakan and his students did a successful scavenger hunt right on our school's grounds to furnish Rupert's tank, making him feel right at home.  He looks relaxed and happy, doesn't he?

Critters are a wonderful and important part of the world we live in, and we are lucky to have opportunities to learn about them in school and in our community every day.  The more we know, the better caretakers we can be of nature and our world.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Gang's All Here!

After enrollments, orientations, tours, screenings, and meeting the teacher (whew!), all of our students in grades Preschool - 5 are attending daily here at Horace Mann.  The halls are alive with the sound of children!

Teachers and support staff have been working diligently to get to know their new students.  For their part, students have been doing their very best to learn the expectations in their new grade.  Even after just a week or so, it is plain to see that most are getting the hang of how things work around here pretty quickly.

That said, sometimes it takes children a little more time and/or a little more guidance to learn routines and procedures.  In those situations, please partner patiently with your child's teacher.  If you have any questions or would like additional assistance, please contact me or our Family Resource Coordinator, Mrs. Chris Bringman, at 216-529-4257.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Growing the Garden at Horace Mann

Dear Horace Mann Community,
     It has been simply wonderful welcoming staff, students, and families back to Horace Mann for the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.  Although our summer break was short according to the calendar, I've been happy to hear about all the fun so many of us were able to squeeze into those weeks.
     This year, I've been thinking about how our school is like a healthy garden.  We have many well-established healthy "anchor plants," such as the majority of our teaching staff, our well-maintained building, and strong parent support.  There are also some "perennials" that are putting down roots, including building leadership (can you believe it is my 3rd year?), Writer's Workshop (also in year 3), returning students, and our Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS or Star program) in year 2.
    We are also happy about our "seedlings" that will come into their own this year, including our new students, family and staff members, Eureka Math  and Reading Workshop.  For certain, there will be lots more information to come about all of our new "planting" as we get into the growth cycle of the year.
     In this gardening metaphor, I also want to emphasize the elements of effort and results.  We--staff, students, and families--will all do the best we know how how to do.  Sometimes, the fruits of our labor will come readily, while in other areas we may need to learn from what did not turn out as we hoped and try again.  Through it all, we will work together, valuing each and every person.

     I look forward to collaborating with you this year, and I welcome you to contact me anytime with suggestions, comments or questions at (216) 529-4257 or I hope you will follow this blog for weekly updates on what has been happening at our school! 
     Below, check out some of the early harvest in our Horace Mann "garden."  As you can see, the early focus is on acceptance and understanding the expectations at our school. 

We may all be different, but in this class we all swim together!