Sunday, June 11, 2017

Closing 2016-17 and Looking Ahead

I hope you've enjoyed reading the blog this year, perhaps on Twitter or Facebook.  Writing it is a fulfilling experience,  as it provides the perfect opportunity to showcase celebrations and many of the neat things at happen at Horace Mann.

One last thing to share for the 2016-17 school year is the photo below of Mrs. Cramer's 1st graders hosting Mrs. Sloan's kindergarteners for a Q & A about what to expect in 1st grade.  I was impressed by the questions and the answers, too, covering topics such as reading, math, and classroom routines. Of course, the rising 1st graders wanted to know about lunch & recess--but who doesn't want to know when they'll have time for a break with friends?!
Thank you for a wonderful school year, across the board.  I wish each member of the Horace Mann family a safe, fun summer break.  Take advantage of all Lakewood has to offer and tell me all about it in August!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Talent Show and Field Day - So Much Fun!

As we zoom ever-closer to the end of the 2016-17 school year, each day boasts something special.  I know parents are enjoying the posts some of the teachers are making to their social media apps--such as Seesaw--with lots of great pictures.  Watch for more teachers at Horace Mann to start using Seesaw next year...

I'd like to celebrate the students who performed in the talent show.  Big thanks to Mr. Waryk, Mrs. McCafferty, and Mrs. Morris (as well as several parent volunteers) for organizing the whole show! A huge highlight was the emcee services provided by 5th grader Jalen Brown (pictured)--he has a future in show business if he wants it :)  Here is the "playbill:"

Leom Gabriel:  Karate
Alden Therrien, Olivia Baker:  Dance
Eve Lewis:  Guitar
Helen Alcantar, Annabelle McBride, Ellie Onyak, Owen Daggs, David Baker:  Magic
Piper Crislip:  Piano
Yanna Bonner:  Dance
Evelyn Lardi:  Singing
Lily Tabor:  Gymnastics
Ayla French, Alaina Parker, Milena Osborn, Baylee Deetz:  Dance
Jeremy Frolo:  Piano
Joanna Wright:  Irish Reel Dance
Carys Crone:  Tap

We also had an amazing blue-sky day for Field Day 2017.  Thank you to Mr. Karabaic and Mr. Hyclak, as well as all Horace Mann staff who participated and the MANY parents who volunteered to help!  The day was made "ful-filling" by the generous picnic lunch donated by PTA and other parents to culminate students' safe, respectful, responsible behavior during the 4th quarter.

There are sure to be great snapshots of Field Day on the Horace Mann PTA Facebook page--be sure to check it out!

Friday, May 19, 2017

So Many Kinds of Fun at Horace Mann!

The special events at Horace Mann came in all shapes and sizes this week!  We had an opportunity to learn about keeping our eyes safe with Realeyes classroom presentations provided by the Ohio Optometric Society (this explains why your child may have come home with a new pair of sunglasses).  We thank Ms. Wise (pictured below) for coming to our school for the lessons.

Next up were fun activities for The Lemonade War.  Thanks to our PTA, we had a lemonade stand for Horace Mann students on Thursday at recess.  It was a perfect - HOT - day and the kids drank it up :-)  There was also a Drop Everything and Read as well as daily prize drawings...

The K-Kids had their final meeting for the 2017-18 school year and showed their community spirit with a neighborhood cleanup.  Parent volunteers made this possible, and the ice pops to cool down afterwards were appreciated by all.

Last but not least was our Spring Concert.  It was another amazing show, thanks to the students' talent and energy, the instruction and coaching of Mr. Waryk (K-5 Music Teacher) and Ms. Mallchok (Orchestra and Adapted Music Teacher), and the support and enthusiasm of kids' families.  Thank yous all around for a wonderful performance and community-building event!

Finally, good luck to our Girls on the Run as they participate in the 5K in Akron with over 1,000 girls from northeast Ohio on Saturday, May 20th. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bagels and Reading Go Great Together!

At Horace Mann, we know that family involvement in our school brings big benefits for everyone.  So, we are always looking for new reasons to invite adults to visit!  The latest event was the Family Reading Breakfast, held on May 11th before school.

Our art room was full to capacity with students, parents, siblings and even a neighbor or two who came to play reading games and find some resources to support reading at home.  The atmosphere was lively, yet definitely on task with reading activities and conversations.

Big thanks to our Horace Mann reading specialists Heather Phillips and Katie Testen, as well as our Family Resource Coordinator, Therese Schwind, for hosting the event.  Also, we appreciate the generosity of Einstein Bros Bagels (14615 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood) for their donation of bagels. Delish!

Here are a few pictures from the event:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Congratulations to Jalen and Jason!

     Each year, the Cuyahoga County Educational Service Center invites nominations for Excellence in Education.  Last Friday, two students from Horace Mann were honored at the Annual Excellence in Education Awards Recognizing Students with Disabilities, and Educators.  

     We are very proud of Jalen Brown and Jason Lowe who were honored at the breakfast, along with the staff members who referred them (Ellen McCafferty and Cristina Smith).  Lakewood City Schools were well-represented at the event with students, family, and staff members from many of our school buildings.

     Great work, Jalen and Jason, and kudos to the adults who took the time to nominate them!

Jalen Brown - 5th Grade
Jason Lowe - 2nd Grade

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Lemonade War is On!

After a week of clues to build anticipation, Horace Mann kicked off our 2nd annual One School, One Book challenge on Friday afternoon.  There was plenty of work behind the scenes in order to stage this fun "reading pep rally," so BIG thanks to the following:

Horace Mann PTA--Prizes and preparation
Lakewood Schools Technology Department
Mrs. Chanter, Mrs. Phillips, Miss Testen, Mrs. McCafferty, Mrs. Kehn, Mrs. Harkness, Mrs. Robinson, Mr. Atkins and Mrs. Johnson--Planning and skit

Each student received a packet with tickets to participate in daily prize drawings for reading one chapter each night, and each family received one copy of The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies. As the first book in a series, we hope your family will be hooked!

Here are a few pictures from the controlled chaos in our gym on Friday afternoon:

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Walking Field Trips for CHAMPS Classrooms

One of the wonderful things about Lakewood is the ability to walk places--we don't always need to get in the car!  This easy access also provides great learning and entertainment opportunities for Lakewood students.

Last Friday, all six of the homerooms for students with moderate-intensive special needs (sometimes known as CHAMPS classes) braved the snowy weather to walk to the Beck Center for a "sensory-friendly" (meaning lighting, noise, etc., were adjusted to make people with sensitivities to those things more comfortable) performance of The Ugly Duckling ballet.  The students--and adults--enjoyed the performance. Notably, two Horace Mann students (Carys Crone [2nd Grade] and Milena Osborne [4th Grade]) performed in the show (pictured) and HMES student teacher Mrs. Jessica Farmer stage managed the performance.  Love those Lakewood connections!

In other walking field trip news, several CHAMPS classrooms are strolling over to The Dollar Store on Sloan Ave. with a dollar in their pocket and an item from the classroom shopping list.  This is great practice with many, many skills.  While most students go to the store with their parents, this is a whole new level of responsibility!  Kudos to Horace Mann Speech Therapist Mrs. Ellen McCafferty and her student teacher, Ms. Chelsea Girash for planning and leading the trips :-)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Amazing Air and Opinions to Share

Two different kinds of celebrations occurred at Horace Mann on Friday.  First, we marked the end of another successful quarter of being safe, respectful and responsible with a fun, yet educational, assembly.  Thank you to our PTA for sponsoring the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's Amazing Air performance.  Our visiting scientist Courtney demonstrated lots of interesting experiments using good ol' air!  Star students for the month of March had a special treat as helpers.  Below are a few pics to give you the flavor:

There was also a 1st grade writing celebration on Friday.  Students have completed their persuasive writing pieces (isn't it cool that 1st graders have persuasive writing pieces?) about books they have read.  Mrs. Harkness and Mrs. Cramer brought their classes together in the library to share their writing with friends from the other class.  It was great to watch and hear the conversations as students listened with interest and had conversations about the books, too.  Again, we have PTA to thank for making our library such an inviting, kid-friendly space!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Congresswoman Visits Horace Mann to Celebrate Women's History Month

During March, we've been celebrating Women's History Month, learning about contributions made to all facets of our world by women from many different generations.  Posters in our library provide easy-to-access photos and important facts about these women, and have raised our awareness and appreciation.  We even have a special display provided by our Speech Therapist, Ellen McCafferty, with artifacts about her grandmother, a professional basketball player!

Mrs. Sloan's kindergarten class had a special treat on Friday afternoon when Ohio Representative Nicki Antonio read to them during their usual story time.  Our Congresswoman showed off her teaching background--and her love of children--as she gathered them around and read picture books about Nadia Comaneci and other ground-breaking women.  We think Representative Antonio is a pretty special woman in history, too :-)

Many thanks to all who helped organize our Women's History acknowledgements.  I've heard there may be a "local edition" in store for March 2018...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Author Brings Sooper Yooper to Horace Mann

Like other 5th graders across Lakewood and Ohio, Horace Mann students and their teachers have been working hard to learn about many science topics in preparation for the state AIR test at the end of April.  The environment is a major topic in the curriculum. For example, students will be asked questions about threats to our environment, such as invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Well, Sooper Yooper to the rescue!  Author Mark Newman was invited to our school and led an in-depth--and entertaining--discussion with our 5th grade students about many aspects of our Great Lakes.  But what is this Sooper Yooper, you ask?  Well, he is a superhero who protects the Great Lakes from his home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (sometimes knows as the UP...get it?!)

Mr. Newman emphasized that it is all of our responsibility to protect and enjoy our freshwater treasures, and he talked with students about what they can do.  I know their natural activist sensibilities were tapped by this session, and they have been hounding Mrs. Morris in the library for Sooper Yooper books since they were introduced.

We are grateful that Mr. Newman is funded through a grant from the Wege Foundation, making his visit free to schools in any of the Great Lake states.  If you want to learn more about Sooper Yooper and his adventures, check out the website:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Horace Mann Students Tell About Favorite Teacher

Teachers and kids love to integrate technology in their everyday learning.  Last week, a group of 1st and 2nd grade students here at The Mann culminated their week of opinion writing in a fun way.  Several students chose to write about who has been their favorite teacher (in their long educational career ;-).  Then they used iPads--and an app called Chatterpix--to narrate, customize and animate their opinion.

We are so grateful for the availability of iPads and Chromebooks for our students to use in the classrooms.  These devices are highly engaging for students--as we all know!  There is no question in my mind that the integration of technology not only helps students overcome barriers in their learning, but can open pathways for creativity and initiative-taking.
Here is a link to the students' videos about their favorite teachers:  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mrs. Kehn's 4th Grade Stages a Debate

Before I describe the debate, I must mention the incredible week we had.  It was filled to the brim by Reading Spirit Week, GRANDS breakfast for special adults in kids' lives, Book Fair and Spring Party.  Thank you to our fantastic kids, staff and families for making our school such a fun place to learn!  Be sure to check out lots of great photos on the Horace Mann Elementary PTA Facebook page to see lots of smiles :-)

In other Horace Mann news, Mrs. Kehn's 4th graders morphed convincingly into the Patriots and Loyalists in their rendition of a Second Continental Congress debate.  Each student had researched their role (George Washington, King George, etc.) and took a turn at the lectern to make his (some of the men were played by girls, of course) point.  After point and counterpoint about specifics like the Boston Massacre and taxation without representation, Mrs. Kehn drew students back together to conclude on the big picture.  Students were incredibly well-prepared and had made props to make it all seem more real.  Many of them had impressive stage presence, too!

Congratulations to Mrs. Kehn and her students for experimenting with a high-impact mode of learning and finding a way to enjoy themselves in the process.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Growing Reading Workshop

At Horace Mann, we (along with the educators in the other six Lakewood elementaries) are continuing to grow our practice with the Reading Workshop model from Teacher's College at Columbia University.  We are in our second year of implementation for grades K-2 and it is the inaugural year for the intermediate teachers in grades 3-5.

This is a rich--and therefore, complex--curriculum.  As we develop expertise, we are very fortunate to have embedded professional development provided several times during the year with staff from the Columbia Teacher's College Reading & Writing Project.  While we recognize it is a sacrifice for teachers to be out of the classroom, we believe the carefully-planned instruction, observations at lab classrooms (Horace Mann teachers go to Lincoln to observe) and debriefing the modeled lessons taught by the trainer are well worth it.

Last week, our teachers in grades 3-5 had sessions, and in the week to come, our K-2 teachers will be involved.  We also are pleased that there will be additional professional development for teachers in advanced week long workshops provided locally during the summer of 2017.

We thank you for learning about Reading Workshop with us, getting to know new things such as what your child is working on as a reader and the various genres the curriculum covers.  We always welcome feedback and questions, and appreciate you as partners on this important journey.

Of course, we have a focus on reading next week, too...Reading Spirit Week! We hope to see you at one of the events and look forward to the fun outfits we'll be sporting according to the daily themes :-)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Valentine's and 100th Day @ The Mann

Tuesday, February 14th was quite a day at The Mann!

Due to our two snow days, Valentine's Day and 100th Day ended up sharing space on the calendar.  In Kindergarten, this meant two very important--and fun!--things happening in one action-packed day.  The kindergarten teachers (Mrs. Rini and Mrs. Sloan pictured) dressed up, along with many of their students, predicting how they will look when they are 100 years old.  It was a day of canes, half-moon glasses and baby-powdered hair :-)  Next year, we might all dress up like we're 100...what do you think?

Of course, PTA volunteers were on hand to make Valentine's Day special for everyone.  Before school, there was Starbucks coffee and homemade baked goods brought to classrooms for staff members on a coffee cart.  Great way to start the day!  At the end of the day, classic Valentine's classroom parties were held, with valentines,  treat bags and age-appropriate activities for all classrooms.  Check out the pictures of Mrs. Cramer's and Mrs. Harkness' classes.

Special events like these make it fun for me to come to work...and I see lots of smiles on kids and grown ups' faces, too.  Thank you to everyone who helps make these activities possible, all the while helping us keep the energy level within reason for school.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Harriet Beecher Stowe Visits Horace Mann

Harriet Beecher Stowe, the abolitionist who most famously wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) visited Horace Mann last week.  She addressed our 4th and 5th grade students, vividly describing her life and how she came to be a vital voice for human rights in her time.  The students were absolutely captivated by her, listening intently and answering questions when she asked.  In fact, students showcased their learning about that period, including the Fugitive Slave Law (1850) and the Underground Railroad.

Of course, Mrs. Stowe was not able to be here herself, however, she was convincingly portrayed by Mrs. Ruth Pangrace, a Lakewood teacher who retired at the end of the 2015-16 school year.  Mrs. Pangrace is part of a performing group called Women in History, founded right here in Lakewood, Ohio, in 1991. For more information, please go to their website:

Many thanks to Mrs. Pangrace and to our 4th grade teachers, Mrs Rolfe and Mrs. Kehn, for  hosting this important American hero.

We hope to see future performances by Women in History, and encourage you to do so, too!

Saturday, January 28, 2017


To celebrate another successful quarter of our students being safe, respectful and responsible, PTA outdid themselves with an amazing carnival right here in the Horace Mann gym.  There were two sessions, one for students in grades PK-2 and another for kids in grades 3-5.  Each session was 75 minutes packed with fun!

Students were able to choose the activities they wanted to do, including face painting, tattoos, sack races, ping pong ball toss, guess the amount of candy in a jar (the closest guess from each class got to keep the jar of candy), bean bag toss, bead bracelet making, Legos (a quiet activity in the hall for kids who wanted a break from the noise and active play inside), drawing on a huge poster (another quiet activity in the hallway), balloon animal making, a popcorn machine, and more.  PTA Event Chair Kristy Gibbons and her amazing team of volunteers were able to put together an event that will be talked about for years to come.

There is still one bit of suspense from the carnival:  Which class will win the pizza party?  Each time a student participated in a station, s/he received a ticket.  Teachers collected the tickets, and the class with the most tickets will win a pizza party.  We plan to announce the winner on Monday :-)

Thank you to everyone who made this event a total blast.  It was a true instance of our school motto:  All In...ALL THE TIME!