Saturday, September 24, 2016

Father Walk & Donuts with Dads

 Here in Lakewood, we are fortunate to have lots of fathers (and other "big guys" in kids' lives like grandpas, uncles, etc.) walk their children to school every day.  Many more drop them off on the drive line, helping with the family responsibility of getting children to school on time and ready to learn.  We appreciate every effort to support the education of our students!

As a way to encourage male mentors to be involved across Cuyahoga County, the Healthy Fathering Collaborative of Greater Cleveland ( organizes the Fathers Walk each year.  Below, see the pledge that describes the goals of the event:
The Fathers Walk Pledge
On September 22, 2016, fathers and male mentors will be encouraged to take the following pledge and keep it year around:

  • I am responsible for the education of my child.
  • I will encourage all children to do their best every day at school.
  • I will speak to my child about the value of learning and the importance of reaching your potential.
  • I will help with school work and review assignments for completion.
  • I will praise my child when he/she does well in school.
  • I will speak with my child’s teachers and support them in educating my child.
  • I will teach my child the value of education and the value of family.
  • I will work with my child’s mother or guardian to achieve the best academic and social outcomes for my child even if I do not live with my child.
Families enjoy doughnuts in the Horace Mann cafe
At Horace Mann, our PTA likes to connect their annual Doughnuts with Dads event with Fathers Walk, alternating parts of the alphabet each year (it was M-Z's turn to have doughnuts on Father Walk day this year).  Our new Family Resource Coordinator, Therese Schwind, started a new tradition of taking a photo of each male mentor with his kids, and she'll be sending that home to families, soon :-)

As always, these events are well-attended and the Doughnut Pantry doughnuts put early morning smiles on everyone's faces.  Many thanks to PTA event chair Kristy Gibbons (left, below), and her team:  Amy Lardi, Anne Babson, Danielle Catteau and PTA President Nora Katzenberger.  For more pictures, be sure to visit the Horace Mann PTA Facebook page!
Thanks, PTA moms, for the doughnuts!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Mitchell's at The Mann!

     I looked up to see a friend jogging past Horace Mann with her dog on Thursday night. She was smiling, seeing the happy commotion that was our front lawn during PTA's annual ice cream social.  I caught her eye, smiled and waved, feeling so happy in the moment.

     Thankfully, in spite of multiple road closures and delayed commutes, many, many families turned out to enjoy the perfect weather, community spirit, and delicious Mitchell's ice cream (hard to say if cookies 'n cream or chocolate was the most popular flavor).  

     Many thanks to PTA event chair Sandy Najarian and her crew of scoopers.  I've included a few pictures below, but please be sure to check out lots more on Horace Mann PTAs Facebook page!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Baking the Intervention Cake

I'll admit it...I used a picture of a minion cake as an attention grabber: this post has nothing to do with minions.  It is really about interventions during and after school for our striving readers (I love this way of referring to readers who are below expected levels--it  has quite a different feel than "struggling," doesn't it?).  I am thinking about the process as being similar to baking; hence the photo of a minion cake.

We already have our bakers in place.  They include your child's teacher, our library staff, and our intervention providers.  While you have likely already met your child's teacher, I want to mention the names Candy Olender, Heather Phillips and Katie Testen.  These teachers specialize in providing targeted reading services to our readers who need a little extra.

Of course, to bake our intervention cake, we need ingredients.  I suppose our children are the main ingredient!  To that, we add assessment data.  Last week, we gathered reading data on students in K-5 classrooms using the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and AIMSweb measures.  Teams met on Friday to create suitable groups to provide assistance to student in our daily 40 minute intervention block.

I'd characterize the interventions, themselves, as the heating process in the oven.  That is where the action is; where the cake begins to take it's delicious shape.  We use several different interventions--different temperatures, if you will--depending on the students' needs.  They may receive a "double dose" of the instruction they are getting during classroom reading instruction, or complementary materials and strategies may be used.

Of course, families have a role in the creation of the masterpiece.  You help us by frosting the cake during the hours children at at home and in the community by reading to/with kids and having conversations about the things in the world.

Setting aside the cake analogy, I want you to know that our interventions during the day begin on Monday.  Due to the State of Ohio AIR tests for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, striving readers in those grade levels will also be invited to participate in one after school session per week to further boost reading attitudes and skills.  If your child is invited, I hope you will make every effort to take advantage of the free program.

If you have any questions about our reading intervention at Horace Mann, please be in touch with your child's teacher or with me at 216.529.4257.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Sharp Focus on Literacy

     Several years ago, Lakewood City Schools developed a vision for curriculum adoption and implementation for the essential area of Language Arts.  The district was fortunate be selected from many applicants around the world to work with the Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project (Columbia University).  If you want to learn more, here is a link to their website:

     Since then, Writing and Reading Workshop have been phased into our elementary and middle schools.  There have been summer training institutes and "coaching" visits throughout the school year in order to help us become experts in this challenging, yet rewarding, way of teaching.  Last week, two sessions were held in the district to be sure everyone--general education teachers and intervention providers--has had training in the Workshop model.  With everyone "speaking the same language" when it comes to teaching reading and writing, we feel confident that Lakewood's children will become confident, enthusiastic readers.

     One note about the reading workshop model--which is just being introduced in grades 3-5 this year--is that phonics instruction plays an important role.  In Lakewood, we use the Fundations curriculum for this purpose, with lessons taking place daily in grades K-3.

     Your child should be bringing books home with him or her every single day, and I encourage you to listen to them read or read your own material beside them.  I see Workshop in process when I visit classrooms daily, and it is a thrill to see kids reading and talking with their teachers and with each other about what they've read.  The best way to become a better reader and writer is to practice!  If you have any questions or feedback about Reading or Writing Workshop, please be in touch with me or your child's teacher.