August 15, 2013

Dear Parents, Guardians and Students:

William Butler Yeats wrote, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”  At Bishop Dunn Memorial School we work to ignite the ideas, inspiration and intelligence of each child that, we hope, will fuel a burning passion for learning.

Welcome back to a new school year!  We are excited to greet our Bishop Dunn families in September.  When you walk through our front doors, you will notice a new “facelift”.   Fresh carpeting in the lobby and main hallway along with improved lighting await you.  Our teachers and staff are really looking forward to the new school year.

I’d like to highlight some important information for you to review before the first day of school:

  • The 2013-2014 School Calendaris posted on-line and also included in this mailing.  You will notice some key dates for the beginning of school:
  • Thursday, September 5 – Pre-K and Kindergarten Open House for Parents in the BDM Library at 6:30pm
  • Monday, September 9 – First day of school.  Full day for grades 1-8.  Student orientation and visitation with early dismissal for our Pre-K and Kindergarten students.
  • Wednesday, September 11 – Open House for Parents of students in grades 1-8 at 7:00pm in the gymnasium and 7:30pm in the classrooms.
  • Sunday, September 15 – Welcome Back Brunch in the BDM Gym at approximately 10:00am (following the 9:00AM Mass at St. Mary’s Church.)
  • The 2013-2014 Parent Guild Calendar and letter included in this mailing highlights some wonderful extra-curricular opportunities that are planned for the school year.  We are delighted to invite all of our Bishop Dunn families to join the Parent Guild this year.
  • The School Lunch Program with Mount Saint Mary College begins on Wednesday, September 11th – the third day of school.  September’s menu is enclosed for your reference.   School lunch is available to all of our students – Pre-K through Grade 8.  Please remember to send your child to school with lunch on Monday and Tuesday, September 9 and 11.
  • There are a number of forms included in this packet that need to be completed and returned to us as soon as possible.
  • The 2013-2014 Parent-Student Handbook is available on-line.  Please review this with your child(ren) and return the “rules acceptance form” signed and returned before school begins or sent in with your child(ren) on the first day of school or brought with you to our Open House events.
  • The Uniform Exchange will be available in the breezeway through the first week in September.  After that parents can access these used uniforms in the “uniform” closet in the gymnasium throughout the school year.
  • Physicals are required for students in grades 2, 4 and 7.  You may contact the Health Office at 569-3304 to obtain a physical form to be completed by your physician.
  • Visitor Parking Passes – two passes are included in this mailing.  Our Pre-K and Kindergarten parents are asked to park in the lot directly across from the main entrance to bring their children into school.  Those who are planning to spend time in the school should park in the lower lot across from the main entrance to Bishop Dunn and display the parking pass in the car window.
  • PM Extension begins on September 9– the first day of school.
  • BDM Pick-Up Procedures will be adjusted slightly.  All parents picking up their children are requested to use the Gidney Avenue Entrance and Exit.
  • Pre-K through Grade 1 student pick-ups begin at 2:15pm in the same location – front of school by the library entrance.  Parents should exit through the Gidney Avenue gate.
  • Grade 2-8 student pick-ups will be at the Middle School door once again by the basketball courts.  However, cars will not circle around.  Instead, cars will be directed to move straight through the new driveway behind the school to exit at the Gidney Avenue gate.  School personnel will be available to direct traffic as needed.

Please take some time to read through the information contained in this mailing and contact the office at 569-3494 if you have any questions.

Early this summer Mrs. Kleister came to see me and regretfully requested a one-year Leave of Absence to attend to family needs.  We will certainly miss Mrs. Kleister this year and ask that you keep her and her family in your prayers.  I am happy to announce that Mrs. Rebecca Foster-Faith will be replacing Mrs. Kleister as the Grade 6-8 Science Instructor for 2013-2014.  Rebecca is a certified Science teacher who comes to us with glowing recommendations.  She has more than four years of teaching experience in both the public and private sectors.  Mrs. Kleister and Mrs. Foster-Faith have been collaborating to ensure a smooth transition for this school year.  I know you join me in welcoming Rebecca Foster-Faith along with Mr. Marc Corrado, new P.E. Teacher/Athletic Director, and Ms. Jenna Newsome who is returning to us as Teaching Assistant/Co-Teacher in Kindergarten.  I am in the process of selecting two new Teaching Assistants – one for 5th grade and one to replace Mr. Morgan in the Middle School through the end of December while Mr. Morgan is fulfilling his Student Teaching requirements.  These appointments will be announced shortly before school begins.

Lastly, I’d like to speak to the results of the 2013 New York State Assessments.  Last week the State Education Department released the results of the ELA and Math assessments for students in grades 3-8.  Catholic schools participated in these exams in grades 4, 6 and 8.  As was predicted scores across the state were lower this year than in prior years. The results for BDM students are consistent with this state-wide downturn in scores. This is due to a change in the expectations for New York State students when the Common Core State Standards were adopted.   As the Commissioner stated in his parent letter (which will be posted on our website) “the change in test scores does not mean that students are learning less or that teachers and schools are performing worse than last year.  Proficiency rates – the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the standards – on the new Common Core assessments cannot be compared with last year’s proficiency results since the old scores are from an old test based on former standards.  This is a new beginning…”

This school year, all Catholic schools across the state will be participating in the ELA and Math assessments in every grade – grades 3 through 8.  Our teachers will continue to work diligently to align the curriculum to the Common Core and develop differentiated instructional practices to meet the challenge so that every single student in our school meets success.  Once again, we are pleased to have Dr. Janine Bixler from MSMC working with us two days a week to support teachers in providing best practices in ELA instruction.  I am also collaborating with other professors to ensure that meaningful fieldwork opportunities are in place to meet the learning needs of our own students as well as the college students in math and other content areas.

As I stated in my introduction letter one year ago, I continue to believe that genuine collaboration fosters ownership of our school culture.  Supporting our children to do well at school, and in their lives, is the center of our work together.  It continues to be an honor to serve this vital learning community we call Bishop Dunn Memorial School.  Let the school year begin!

Blessings,

Karen Kellogg

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