Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fifth summer newsletter

Our thanks go out to staff and teachers who got the class lists put together and sent out on Monday 8/22.  If you have not received an e-mail from your child's homeroom teacher this week, please contact Lynn Wilson at the MPA office immediately so we can make sure we have the proper e-mail address on file and get that information to you.  It was a great test of the accuracy of our email data and enabled us to clean up a small handful of bounced addresses before school starts.

If you haven't RSVP'd for the picnic yet, you can do so here.
 Over 300 MPA students and familes have already signed up!  We hope you will join us for a great kick-off to our school year.

With school starting in just one week, it’s time to start thinking about practical matters – like how the routines for pick-up and drop-off will run this year.  A few small changes to the system have been made this year to help insure the safety and security of our students.  Procedures are available on our website for more details.  Here’s an overview:
  • Buses will not be entering the parking lot this year – they will only drop off and pick up students at the door on Triskett Road.  This saves wear and tear on the parking lot, and it makes the parking lot safer for students who walk or are being dropped off by car.
  • Students who walk home will be released after the bus and car riders have left.  This will help minimize pedestrian traffic in the parking lot and keep these students safer during this busy time of day.
  • Car rider procedures are pretty much the same as last year, as is the flow of parking/traffic in the lot.  Car signs and maps of the traffic flow will be distributed at the picnic on August 28th, and at the Open House on August 29th, so be sure to pick yours up!  You can also find the procedures on the MPA website/MPA Documents page.
  • If you have transportation changes – your bus rider is going to be picked up by car one day, for example – YOU MAY NO LONGER E-MAIL THESE CHANGES TO YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER.  Teachers are very busy during the school day and are often away from their computers for long stretches of time.  If you need to notify the school of a last-minute transportation change, please e-mail Lynn Wilson at BEFORE NOON, and she will make sure the teacher gets the message.
  • And finally, please keep in mind that despite our best planning, the drop-off and pick-up lines at school are always a challenge for the first few days.  If everyone is patient and respectful of volunteers, staff, and other parents, it will be a much more pleasant experience for everyone.
If you can fasten a seatbelt, peel open string cheese, or retrieve balls from the streets surrounding the playground, we need your help!   We’re looking for folks to help out with drop-off, pick-up, lunch and recess duty, especially during the first week of school.  These daytime volunteers MUST complete the training being provided at several times on August 29th Please click here to sign up to RSVP for the training and also sign-up for lunch/recess help – and thanks in advance for your pudding-opening skills! 

Speaking of volunteers, the volunteer descriptions, FAQs, and sign-ups are now officially ready!  Check out the Volunteer Page on our website or download the documents here.

Once you've looked the opportunities over you can sign up on the new electronic form.
There are plenty of options for every interest and skill set, everything from running Pizza Day to collating Box Tops to helping with work days on the weekends. Please take some time to consider what type of volunteer work you’d like to perform this year – and then sign up to do it!  We need to have each family’s volunteer commitment in place by the first team meeting night, which will be at 6:30pm on September 8th

Also, we need to start thinking about the electives we’ll be offering our students this year.  These are traditionally led by volunteers, and can be about any topic you’d like – anything from public speaking to Lego building to messy science to crafts.  It’s a great way to get to know your child’s classmates, introduce students to topics that aren’t included in the standard curriculum, and have a lot of fun!  If you would to volunteer for a session (which is usually 6-7 weeks long and meets at least once a week), please contact Dr. Bouchard at with details on which topic and grade level you’d be interested in leading.

We have a few more staff introductions to share this week:
Annette Coreno (Classroom Teaching Assistant/Lunch & Recess Assistant) writes: I previously worked in the same capacity as a substitute for many years with a public school system. I have lived in the Westpark area of Cleveland with my husband and children for over 20 years and am now very fortunate to have this wonderful opportunity to be able to work in this neighborhood as well. I so look forward to working with each and every one of you once the new school year begins!

Diane Padrutt (art) writes: Although I am originally from the Detroit area, I received my bachelors degree in Art Education from Kent State University, then relocated to the west side of Cleveland after college.  I worked for the Parma City School District for years before staying home with my two young sons.  Returning to Parma part time provided me with both a chance to work with children and art, and to stay home with my sons, all the while working on my pottery (which I display and sell locally).  I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, cooking, traveling, gardening, and waterskiing.  I am very excited about the opportunity to be a part of the Menlo Park Academy family and I look forward to meeting you all!

Important dates:
Sunday, August 28th --            5-7 pm: School picnic at Lakewood Park Kiwanis Pavilion.  Sign up for volunteer teams, pick up your car rider signs, meet other MPA families, and have a good time!  Hot dogs, chips, and drinks will be provided by the school.

Monday, August 29th --          Milk order forms due, and:
12-3 pm or 6:30-7:45 pm: Open house to meet teachers and drop off school supplies.  This is optional – you can choose to drop supplies off at another time the school is open, as long as they are clearly marked with the child’s name and grade.  And if you ordered your school supplies online, rest assured that they have already been delivered to the classrooms and you don’t need to do anything further with them.
            1 pm, 2 pm, and 6 pm: Training sessions for daytime volunteers (choose one to attend)
            2:45 pm and 7 pm: Orientation sessions for Edison ClubALL new and returning families who will - or might - be needing before or after school care MUST attend an orientation meeting.

Wednesday, August 31st – First day of school for 1st-8th graders

Thursday, September 1st – Half day of school for kindergarteners, full day for other students.  Kindergarten students attend from 8:30 to 11:30 am, with one parent or other adult invited to stay from 8:30-9:15. Kindergarteners must be picked up at 11:30, which is just before lunchtime.  Several parents of past kindergarteners have volunteered to lead a coffee hour September 1st at the local Baskin Robbins/Dunkin Donuts (16204 Lorain Avenue, Cleveland - (216) 812-3865).  If you have questions about what to expect as the parent of an MPA student, want to make suggestions about how to make the process easier on future students, or just need a shoulder to cry on while your baby has his or her first day of school, this is the place to be.  Drop by the store between 9:30 am and 11 am – we hope to see you there!

Friday, September 2nd – Partial day of school for kindergarteners, full day for other students.  Kindergarten students attend from 8:30 am to 1 pm, which includes lunch and recess.  Kindergarteners must be picked up at 1 pm.

Monday, September 5th – Holiday – No School
Tuesday, September 6th – Full day for all students
Thursday, September 8th – Parent Volunteer Meeting @6:30pm

See you at the picnic and/or Open House!

Fourth summer newsletter

Help! We need somebody!
Mrs. Lindeman and the staff have identified a few jobs that need to be finished up at the school before our kicks off on the 31st. Please contact her at the school if you would be willing to help out with any of the following:
  • Sprucing up the teachers’ lounge. This may include buying some tableware to keep at the school (expense will be reimbursed), hanging up some pictures in the lounge, and organizing/cleaning the room and supplies. Cookies and bakery donations to help create a "Welcome Back" feel are accepted as well.
  • Assisting the new Art Teacher with organizing materials in the new art room (which is in the old music room). This will include unpacking and organizing all the art supplies we’ve moved out of the old art room.
  • "Goo-Gone" Patrol. Cleaning off the sticky tape residue left from artwork, signs, etc in the hallways, doors and windows. (Two-four volunteers needed for this task)
  • MPA Welcome Back Picnic. Help is needed with building a fire, cooking, serving, and set-up/clean-up. In addition, we need to know how many people will be in attending so we can be prepared. You can RSVP and/or Sign-up to help at the school website for MPA's Back to School Picnic on August 28 @5-7pm Lakewood Park.

Not able to help with these tasks, but wondering how you can help out this year? Have you tired of your past volunteer commitments but aren’t sure where else you could help? Look no further than the newly created description of volunteer opportunities that will be available very soon on the MPA website. It will walk you through what each of the teams does for the school, what skill sets the teams are looking for, and what projects might be available during the year. It’s important that each family read through the volunteer descriptions and choose which area they’d like to work in this year. Sign-ups for volunteer teams will be available next week as well, and each family must choose a team to work with by the beginning of the school year.

More milk choices
MPA will once again be offering parents the chance to pre-pay for milk to be provided for students each day at lunch. But this year, we’re offering additional choices – white or lowfat chocolate milk, and several payment plans. You’ll be able to choose a plan that covers the entire year, half the year, or just two months. Remember – students can’t pay for milk on individual days, just as part of the plan, so it’s important to decide soon whether your family will participate. (Order form attached to this email.) Cost for Milk is $50/year, $25 1/2 year and $12.50 for two months.

There will be plenty of new faces to learn on the first day of school – and not all of them belong to kids! MPA is proud to welcome half a dozen new teachers to our staff this year in both upper and lower grades. In order to help our families get to know these new faces, we’ve asked them to introduce themselves:

  • Ashley Schroeder (first grade) writes: I have taught first grade for 5 years, and I spent one school year as an early literacy coach training and coaching teachers in grades K-2. I just moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio this summer, and I live with my new husband, Ryan and our cat Beanie. I absolutely love teaching first grade, and cannot wait to meet my new group of "firsties" in a few short weeks! I am so happy to be joining the Menlo Park Academy team this school year!
  • Denise Machado (teachers’ aide and supervisor of the Edison Club) writes: My background includes a Masters in Education, Bachelors in Psychology, LSW and a Post Graduate Training Program at the Gestalt Institute. I am looking forward to an exciting year!
  • Doug Thompson (first grade) writes: I have lived in Lorain County for the last thirty years, spending the last seven years teaching first grade in Lorain, Ohio. I share a home in Elyria with my wonderful wife Kim. I have a pet bearded dragon named Murray who will be living in our first grade class this year. I am excited to be joining the team at MPA and can't wait to meet all of the wonderful students and parents that I keep hearing about.
  • Eamon O’Donnell (fourth grade) writes: I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2002 with a degree in Elementary Education. I have spent the past nine years teaching in Catholic school in the Cleveland area, while also receiving a Master of Arts in Education from Baldwin Wallace College. Though most of my experience has been teaching math, English, and science in the junior high, I am very much looking forward to teaching fourth grade at Menlo Park Academy and incorporating my background in technology. In my spare time, I enjoy sports, being outdoors, cooking, listening to music, and spending as much time possible with my wife and two children.
  • Julie Kubek (seventh and eighth grade math) writes: Prior to coming to Menlo Park, I taught high school integrated mathematics and geometry in the Toledo area as well as 7th grade math and pre-algebra at Hillside Middle School in Parma. I enjoy spending time with my husband and three children as well as playing piano, reading and whipping up creations in the kitchen. I look forward to working with MPA's mathematicians and hope to inspire them to be their best!
  • Kym Rokas (second grade) writes: I graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College with a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education, Mild/Moderate Intervention Specialist, and a Reading Endorsement. I have been teaching for 6 years now in a variety of different settings. I am so excited to be leading one of the second grade classrooms this year! Personally, I am married to a wonderful man named Joe. We have a 5 month old baby girl named Lilly and a golden retriever named Bella. As much as I will be missing my baby this fall, I know I will be equally excited to work with your children. In my free time, you can find me on a softball field or a tennis court. I'm so excited to be joining the Menlo Park community this year. Let's make it a good one.
  • Leslie Weber (Middle School social studies) writes: I am very excited to be a part of the Menlo Park Community! For the past four years I have been teaching 8th grade at Marburn Academy in Columbus, Ohio, a school for exceptional students who learn differently. In the classroom I enjoy discussions and relating history to current world issues. My husband and I have been married for three years and we have an adorable beagle/German Pointer mix named Mosby. When I'm not teaching or lesson planning, I enjoy reading historical fiction and watching movies. I can't wait for the school year to begin to meet the students and get started teaching.

Musical classrooms
MPA has seen a lot of construction this summer in preparation for our growing student body. The room which used to house the Edison Club and art classes is now home to a second grade classroom, as is a large portion of the former office and volunteer area. That’s right – second grade will now be held downstairs with the Kindergarten and first grade classes! The art classes will now be held in the former music room, and music classes will be held onstage and in classrooms throughout the school. Edison Club will start each day in the gym, then may go to classrooms. The "room of the day" for Edison Club will be posted on a sign at the entrance each day. Several of the teachers on the second floor have moved rooms, too – so it won’t just be the new kids who have to search for their classrooms the first few days of school! If you’d like to see how the construction has progressed, be sure to stop by school during the Open House on the 29th. We’ll be happy to give you a tour!

Coming soon to a school near you …
Monday, August 22nd - Class lists announced via e-mail.

Sunday, August 28th -- 5-7 pm: School picnic at Lakewood Park Kiwanis Pavilion. Sign up for volunteer teams, meet other MPA families, and have a good time! Hot dogs, chips, and drinks will be provided by the school.

Monday, August 29th -- 12-3 pm or 6:30-7:45 pm: Open house to meet teachers and drop off school supplies. This is optional – you can choose to drop supplies off at another time the school is open, as long as they are clearly marked with the child’s name and grade. And if you ordered your school supplies online, rest assured that they have already been delivered to the classrooms and you don’t need to do anything further with them.
-- 1 pm, 2 pm, and 6 pm: Training sessions for daytime volunteers (choose one to attend)
-- 2:45 pm and 7 pm: Orientation sessions for Edison Club

Wednesday, August 31st – First day of school for 1st-8th graders

Thursday, September 1st – Half day of school for kindergarteners, full day for other students. Kindergarten students attend from 8:30 to 11:30 am, with one parent or other adult invited to stay from 8:30-9:15. Kindergarteners must be picked up at 11:30, which is just before lunchtime.

Friday, September 2nd – Partial day of school for kindergarteners, full day for other students. Kindergarten students attend from 8:30 am to 1 pm, which includes lunch and recess. Kindergarteners must be picked up at 1 pm.

Monday, September 5th – Holiday – No School

Tuesday, September 6th – Full day for all students

PE is now twice as nice
This just in … MPA will now be offering Physical Education TWICE a week. We’re beginning a special partnership with the local YMCA, which will be coordinating the classes and providing the instructor, Mr. John Mould. Look for more information on this exciting development over the coming weeks as we nail down the specifics of the program.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Third summer newsletter

Calendar correction
The original school year calendar listed a school kick-off program on August 25th.  This program has been split and moved to August 28th(during the school picnic) and August 29th (during the open house/supply drop-off/Edison Club orientation/volunteer training).  We will NOT be holding any program on August 25th – and you’re welcome for the newly open date on your calendar!

School picnic August 28th – now with free food!
That’s right, MPA will be providing hot dogs, chips, and drinks at the back-to-school picnic on Sunday, August 28th from 5-7pm at the Kiwanis Pavilion at Lakewood Park Stop by to sign up for volunteer teams, chat with the staff, meet other families from the school, and have a hot dog, all on the last weekend of summer break.  Make sure to claim your name badges when you arrive – they’ll be coded to help everyone meet families whose students are in the same grades.

Stop the presses!  Revised dress code policy for 2011-2012!
All students at Menlo Park Academy are required to dress in a manner that is comfortable, safe, and allows for vigorous play.  The school dress code helps MPA students and staff identify who “belongs” with the school, which helps with security on campus and during field trips. 
In order to offer our students more flexibility while maintaining a uniform look for the student body, the dress code has been updated and expanded as follows:
On regular school days:
·         Updated: Solid-color shirts with collars, long- or short-sleeved. Turtlenecks are acceptable.
·         Khaki, black or navy blue “dress-style” pants
·         Navy blue, black or khaki knee-length shorts may be worn in appropriate weather
·         Girls may wear navy blue, black or khaki knee-length skirts or jumpers
·         White, navy, or light blue sweaters
·         White, navy, or light blue turtlenecks may be worn under shirts or sweaters
·         “Dress-style” shoes that are not open-toed or backless
·         Athletic shoes
·         Boots may be worn to school in winter; if worn in the snow or rain, they must but be removed in school.
·         White, black, khaki or navy blue socks, leggings, or tights

The school has no locker room, so changing clothes completely is problematical. If gym shorts are worn on gym days, the student must bring regular school-day bottoms to put on over the shorts or change into quickly.  On gym days, students may wear the following:
·         Grey, white, navy, or light blue t-shirt or sweatshirt
·         Navy blue or black shorts, sweatpants or leggings  
·         White, black, or navy blue socks
·         Athletic shoes

Updated: Field trip days: light blue shirts with collars, long- or short-sleeved. In cooler weather, may top with a white, navy, or light blue sweater. White, navy, or light blue turtlenecks may be worn under shirts or sweaters.

In the spotlight: Edison Club
Edison Club, MPA’s before- and after-care program, is gearing up for another great year.  The safety and security of kids participating in Edison Club depends on parents understanding and following the club procedures.  That’s why we’ll be offering several sessions of orientation for Edison Club parents – both new and returning – on Monday, August 29th.  Sessions will be held at 2:45pm and 7pm.  We’ll discuss attendance policies, billing, drop-off and pick-up procedures, as well as other important information.

If you have not yet registered your child for Edison Club but have decided to participate in the program, please visit the MPA website to download the registration form.  Please mail the completed form and registration fee to Katie Gerba, 1116 Richmar Drive, Westlake, 44145 BEFORE August 29th.

And in the meantime, we’re still looking for someone to work the door of the Edison Club from 4-6pm every school day to admit parents and check out students.  This would be a great position for an MPA parent or older sibling (high school or college age) who would earn volunteer hours for their family while providing a valuable service to the school.  If you work as the Edison Club door person, your child can attend the club for free, so it’s a great deal, as well!  Anyone interested in the position can contact Katie Gerba for more information

Singapore math
As many parents have heard, this year MPA will be implementing a new math curriculum for all grades.  Singapore Math is a program developed from the math programs used in the country of Singapore where the students consistently outperform the US and most other countries on the TIMSS ratings (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies).

Singapore Math is an approach that uses both drill and memorization, but also creative problem solving which is so important for our gifted learners. The program emphasizes depth and mastery before moving on to new concepts. In so doing, the Singapore approach moves along to more abstract math concepts in a very rational way and, depending on the student's pace, more quickly. Other positive feedback indicates that the Singapore approach encourages greater problem solving skills and creative thinking than the approach of traditional US-based math curriculum programs. 

The program has workbooks for students, textbooks, and relies heavily on the use of manipulatives to aid in visual, hands-on representation of what students are learning.  Teachers will be going through intensive two- day training on the program this month. Look for more information to come from your child’s math teacher as the year begins.

Random acts of awesomeness
MPA wouldn’t be the incredible school that it is without the support of our dedicated, talented parents and family members.  Our thanks go out this week to all the families who volunteered at the Browns concession stand last weekend, and the folks who showed up for the work day at the school last Saturday.  Way to kick off the year right!

Many  volunteers have been an invaluable help throughout the summer, as well.  They include Sandy Howlett, Kathy Thomas, Hal Daugherty, Shawn Watters, Kay Kibbey, Rachel Didytch, Julie Kovalik, Alexander Carman, Scott Carman and the "ever faithful" Bill Rudnickas.  Without these folks, we wouldn’t have as organized a facility, as smooth of an enrollment week, or as functional a building or IT system.  Thanks for all of your talent and hard work, folks!

Look for more information and links to sign-up for Volunteering for the 2011-12 School Year Early Next Week.

Basketball Camp
The Camp has many students signed up to participate and promises to be a great time for all involved.   Anyone still interested in signing up may do so by contacting Coach Willie Littlejohn or (216) 287-8786

Social butterflies
We all know that MPA has a website, but did you know the school also has a blog, and a presence on Facebook?  Download official school forms, read more complete information on some of the newsletter stories, or connect with other MPA families, all from your computer or cell phone!  Here’s a cheat sheet with all the pertinent links:

Second Summer Newsletter

Please note: The Menlo Park Academy school office is currently under construction.  Because the work stations in this area have been temporarily relocated, you may experience some delays in reaching MPA staff members during the construction.  Please be patient and rest assured that the staff is returning all voicemails and email messages as soon as possible.

As a community school, Menlo Park Academy is highly dependent on parent participation and involvement.  In order to maintain a lean cost structure, Menlo Park Academy does not employ a management company but instead relies on parent volunteers and occasional part-time professionals to execute the primary functions of the school.  These include but are not limited to daily operations, marketing, development/fundraising, information technology, and academic/curriculum development. 

Volunteer opportunities exist on many levels, both inside and outside the school and during many different hours.  Whether you actively participate on one of the school operating committees or volunteer in the classroom or office, during recess or lunch, or assist with other school activities, we deeply appreciate and rely on your help.

Descriptions of the various volunteer teams and responsibilities will be sent out to parents later this month, giving you plenty of time to choose how you’d like to contribute before we ask you to officially sign up in late August.  In the meantime, here are a few volunteer opportunities available this summer:

We Want You (and your cleaning supplies)!
This Saturday, August 6th, is an excellent opportunity for Menlo Park families to come together to help make the school a little nicer for our students.  Starting at 8am, we’ll be washing windows until they gleam, getting lockers ready for a new year of backpacks and brown bags, and vacuuming up all the dust bunnies that have accumulated over the summer.  Many hands make light work – and many squeegees, shop vacs, rags, buckets, and paper towels make everything go faster, too, so plan to bring some cleaning supplies with you.  We’d like to know ahead of time how many workers to expect, so please sign-up here to let us know you’ll be coming.  And don’t forget to log your volunteer hours online when you’re done!  You can find the link online here.

Go Browns! Go Volunteers!
This year MPA will once again be working concession stand #148 at all Cleveland Browns football games.  This stand is a great way for MPA family adults to get some volunteer hours AND help earn some money for the school.  Our first commitment is Browns Family Fun day on Saturday, August 6th.  You do not need to have attended the concession stand training to attend this event, so it’s a great opportunity to get "on the job" training working in the stand.  Please click the link below to sign up and work this fun event.
Family Fun Day Saturday, August 6, 2011
After this initial event, volunteers at the concession stand need to have attended the appropriate training in order to participate.  Luckily, the Browns have added additional training dates.  Just click a link below to register for a training time:
Returning Volunteers
NEW Volunteers
Training sessions last between 2.5 and 3.5 hours.  Visit our Browns Concession Page here to see all the details and to choose which games you can volunteer.  Just contact our team lead, Chris Harrison at 216.375.2117 or by Email here if you have questions.

Volunteer School for School Volunteers?
That’s right – we’ll be offering training for all MPA family adults who would like to volunteer during the school day.  This training is designed for anyone who is interested in working during arrival or dismissal, helping out with lunch or recess, leading an elective or club, working on the Thursday folders, or helping out in the school office.  Basically, if you’re going to be at the school during school hours and want the volunteer credit, you should attend one of these training times!

All training will take place on Monday, August 29th.  There are four sessions to choose from: 1pm2pm6pm, and 7:30pm.  More information on this training will be sent out soon, as well as information on how to sign up for your session of choice.

Party Time!
Want to meet other MPA families, have some fun, and get first crack at signing up for all the volunteer teams? Then Lakewood Park is the place to be on Sunday, August 28th, from 5-7pm.  We’ll be meeting in the Kiwanis pavilion – conveniently located near both the playground and restrooms – for a picnic and all-school playdate.  Bring dinner for your family, meet MPA teachers and parents, and get primed for a great school year!  Click here for a map to the park, which is at the intersection of Belle and Lake Avenues in Lakewood.

Coming Soon …
More information will be sent out soon on volunteer team sign-ups, the open house/supply drop-off on Monday, August 29th, and Edison Club orientation (also on August 29th).  We’ll also be letting parents know what to expect from the new Singapore Math curriculum, as well as introducing some of the new teachers.  In the meantime, enjoy your summer, and we hope to see you at the school (or at the Browns Family Fun Day) on August 6th!