I hope you and your lower schooler are enjoying the remaining days of the 2013-14 school year. The children have had a successful, happy year. You must be very proud of your sons and daughters. I certainly am!
I would like to take a moment to thank the LPA for all you have done for us this year. Most recently, you pampered the faculty and staff with a lovely breakfast during Teacher Appreciation Week. We enjoyed it immensely. I am also grateful to the LPA grade reps, led by Karen Andros. You have done an incredible job, and we are better because of you! Thank you to Betsy Givens for leading this group next year and for all who will be serving. We had our last meeting on May 8 and here are a few of the things we discussed:
- At Lovett, standardized testing begins in fourth grade. We use a low stakes test, designed by ETS in Princeton, N.J., for an independent school population, commonly referred to as the ERB. We always arrive at decisions by looking through a lens of, “What is best for children?” Developmentally, fourth graders are better able to manage the stress and time commitment that naturally occurs with standardized testing. ERB testing continues through eighth grade at Lovett. After several years of data, we are able to gain great insights on individual students. More importantly, we look at trends to see where we may need to revise our educational practices and/or curriculum.
- We have continued our professional development in the area of integrating grammar, usage and mechanics this year. We are holding children accountable for transferring what they are learning into their writing. Since they write everyday, they have many opportunities to sharpen their skills. They are invested in using all they have learned, because they see themselves as authors who strive to communicate effectively with an audience.
- Lower School teachers plan units of study together with the same end in mind. However, assessments may vary depending on individual student needs and classes. Teachers use a combination of traditional tests and performance-based assessments to measure student understandings. These may include creating a Comic Life presentation on an explorer that is shared with the class. Laptop technology has opened up many opportunities to develop assessments that are more engaging. Our goal is for students to learn how to access information, communicate effectively, and develop enduring understandings in the content areas.
- There is no consensus among private schools in Atlanta on having a week off at Thanksgiving. If we were to take a full week, we would lose a great deal of teaching time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Middle School and Upper School have exams before Christmas and have a great deal to cover before the end of the semester. If we were to take a full week at Thanksgiving, we would need to build days back into our calendar. This may mean shortening Winter Break, losing Presidents’ Day, or extending the school year.
- Lovett has uniforms because we want every child to feel comfortable coming to school each day. Uniforms alleviate the pressure to conform to standards of dress some people cannot afford or parents choose not to buy. We will be adding a few items to Lower School uniforms next year that include two crew neck sweatshirts and a pullover V-neck sweater. We will be removing the option to wear Elite socks, since they are an expensive sock choice. Please pay close attention to the handbook before buying new or used uniforms. Attached is some information regarding 2014-15 Lower School uniform regulations.
- Cynthia Coleman and Emily Haisten continue to strive to broaden our Afternoon Enrichment opportunities. A few parents have suggested we have a math club. We will continue to make every effort to find someone interested in leading a math enrichment club next year. Fortunately, during the regular school day, Everyday Math provides many ways teachers can stretch all math students, including children who need more of a challenge.
- The standard for coverage on the playground is one teacher per class. We will continue to be proactive in making sure there is excellent supervision during recess.
- When there is a disciplinary action in the Middle or Upper School about a serious matter that may involve suspension or expulsion, there is a letter sent to families. Because of the young age of Lower School children, we handle discipline case by case. We believe that the Lower School is a safe place to make mistakes and learn from them. Repeated inappropriate behaviors result in a trip to the principal’s office and/or a call to or conferences with the parents of the children involved.
- We anticipate that our kindergarten and first grade classes will reach targeted levels of approximately 80 children per grade level next year. There will be five classes of kindergarten, four of first through fourth grade, and five fifth grade classes. If ever there is an unusually large class, we take that into consideration when offering spots to new students. Likewise, when a class is small we extend more offers always considering our goal to have a balanced number of boys and girls.
Thanks to you, your children, and our dedicated faculty and staff for making this a wonderful year.
Lower School Principal