• Community Dinner and Kindergarten Connect

    Last week when I wrote the community news, I had started my day in 3 degree weather in NYC, this week I am writing while very aware of the precarious weather forecast for Portland over the next several days! It is certainly winter!

    I do hope you and your family enjoyed the day off Tuesday…and I must say that I REALLY am hopeful that we will indeed have school next Tuesday, as we have our PTA mtg, a staff meeting, Community Dinner and Connect to Kindergarten! We will not make a plan B yet, but I promise to keep everyone posted!

    We would love to have a great turnout for our Community Dinner…if you haven’t come to a dinner yet, this will be a good one! Many parents have asked for a bit more information about how our focus on social justice is going…how does it impact our teaching? How about impacts on the school community? What can we be talking to our kids about in regards to social justice? What plans does Vestal have for next steps??? And more…in fact, if you have a question you want to be sure is addressed, please send it to me!

    Connect to Kindergarten is also happening Tuesday night…please extend the invitation to any families you know who have a youngster that may come to Vestal in the Fall!

    Tomorrow- FRIDAY-is Vestal Spirit Day!


    Many of you have asked about the conference I attended in NYC last week…and a few have said they’d love a little summary- So, here we go…

    • This gets kind of wordy, certainly you do not need to read it:) All of the important dates and upcoming events are written above; this is more of my reflections on my own learning and connections to Vestal.

    Teacher’s College through Columbia University is world renowned for work on teacher preparation and administrative leadership. Over my years in education I have been fortunate to attend several institutes and have found it to be the most impactful professional development ever! This past week was focused on leading the teaching of writing specifically, but much of what I learned connects to great teaching in all areas of the curriculum as well as the importance of building the professional community amongst teachers and with families.

    Much of the focus around teaching writing was the importance of being very precise and clear with what we are teaching children and then giving relevant, meaningful feedback to move each individual writer to the next level. We talked about and practiced (at Public School 158 in Manhattan) both teaching well and giving meaningful feedback…as simple as it sounds, both of these are such sophisticated teaching strategies that take an entire career to cultivate. I was reminded of how challenging it can be to teach well and precisely while at the same time monitoring all the rest of reality that is happening in the room!

    So many times during the week, I was reminded how incredibly fortunate we are at Vestal to have amazing educators who are reflective about their current practice, and always willing to continue to learn and grow. I see precise, thoughtful teaching in each classroom at Vestal, which is a gift that impacts your children every day.

    On more of a leadership angle, my big learnings and current thinking revolve around the importance for a school to have common purpose, vision, rituals, and celebrations As we are in our first year with a focus on Social Justice, I see the Vestal community planting the seeds of rituals that strengthen our school. Our Town Hall meetings have become a nice gathering place to start out each week, our social justice, academic, and character monthly awards support our celebrating one another, out weekly wheel drawings that center on Vestal Bucks also provide a time for celebrations, each classroom is helping teach and practice our social justice standards. The common language around individual and family identity, community diversity, local action, social justice and academic engagement is becoming the norm at Vestal!

    Teachers are learning together about how to integrate social justice topics into both reading and writing workshops…this is an area of such academic richness! I have to admit that workshop is my favorite time to visit classrooms and see kids super engaged in reading and writing!

    We have room to grow, of course. However, last week was a great time away to reflect on how beautiful Vestal is and how much care is present in our community!

    Peace and stay warm... Sabrina Flamoe