Principal's Report to the PTO

Principal's Report to the PTO
Aug-Sept 2012 

I’m pleased to report that we’re off to a great start at Marshall this year!

We’ve been able to provide all of our students, some 580 of them at the moment, with a safe, secure placement in a an equitably balanced classroom that’s at or very near the class-size par set for elementary schools by FUSD. As a Title 1 school serving a large number of families who qualify for the federally subsidized free-and-reduced-price lunch program, it’s often very difficult for us to predict our enrollment numbers with a great deal of precision prior to the first day of the year. In fact, we started out on August 13 some 45 students below our summer projections. However, due to the state of Arizona’s statutory requirement to provide intensive English language instruction to some students, and our actual enrollment numbers in certain student subgroups on the first day of school, we were able to open a new fourth-and-fifth grade Structured English Immersion classroom on Tuesday, August 14, the second day of school. Opening this new classroom, initially with a substitute teacher, now staffed full time by Kelley Ingols, served the dual purpose of meeting the state’s legal requirements, while at the same time reducing our class sizes to more reasonable levels in every other classroom at the fourth and fifth grade.

Marshall’s annual Back To School Open House took place last week on Tuesday evening. The event was well attended. We acquired signatures (a requirement for all public events at Title 1 schools) and email contact information from nearly 200 individuals. Many families appeared to stick around until the conclusion of the event at 7:30 PM. Several local organizations, including Girl Scouts, The Boys and Girls Club, Parenting Arizona, as well as our own PTO were also present in our lobby during the event.

We've made great strides to continue to make Marshall an ever-more safe and secure environment for your children. We've rearranged the daily schedules of many of our paraprofessionals in order to enable more of them to be present on the playgrounds more often and in greater number during our lunch times. Likewise, we've been able to put Anna Hudson, our new Fit Kids of Arizona Health and Wellness coordinator, and Jason Slater our new Positive Behavior Support specialist in place on both the morning and lunchtime playgrounds to work with students to coordinate structured and organized play activities. We still have some small need for one additional aide hour during the day, chiefly to provide additional coverage for the kindergartners on their separate playground during their lunch recess.  Last year the PTO was kind enough to provide the school with the funding necessary to cover this position, and I am hopeful you will consider making a similar investment during the 2012-2013 school year.

Similarly, in the absence of the Ballard/Novak team, we’ve been compelled to make some minor adjustments to our afternoon dismissal procedures, which we feel have enhanced the order and safety of this this critical time of day as well.

All our new Promethean Boards, purchased with Mustang Gallop funds, were installed over the summer and teachers have already received one in-service training on their use from Mr. Shaddy. Every classroom at Marshall now has a Smart or Promethean interactive whiteboard in it, with the exception of our new ⅘ classroom, which will have one installed very soon.

In view of the PTO’s interest at the conclusion of the last school year in helping Marshall School develop a teacher’s lounge here at the school, we initiated a project-approval and bidding process over the summer with the intent to determine the feasibility of converting and expanding our “orange” room (the office space with the Pepsi machine in it across from the office) into such a place for staff members. The district has approved our initial concept and has sought and received an acceptable bid on the project which will include the removal of an interior wall, installation of new carpet, water lines and a sink. We have formed a faculty-lounge committee at the school level which hopes to work with interested members of the PTO to further develop this space on behalf of our staff.

Finally, we’re very pleased to report that we were able to hire, rehire, and/or assimilate a number of new employees at Marshall over the course of the past summer. Judith Arnold, a district initiated transfer, formerly of MEMS, now teaches fifth grade here. Likewise, Lisa Price, another district transfer from Thomas, now works in our third grade. Shelia White, our new music teacher comes to us of her own volition from MEMS. Biz Bruchman joins our team as a .5 SPED teacher; she also works at Sechrist in the same role. Monique Freeman has been hired to work as our other .5 SPED teacher. Jen Ernst joins us as our new speech-language pathologist. Lillian Gillmore is our new nurse. James Connell is our new school psychologist. Emily Heck is our newest fourth grade teacher. And, as mentioned above, Jason Slater joins our team as our PBS specialist, Anna Hudson is our new Fit Kids of Arizona coordinator, and Kelley Ingols is our new ⅘ SEI teacher.

 We’re also happy to report that, despite FUSD’s reduction in force layoffs at the conclusion of last year, we were nevertheless able to retain or rehire Andrea Shaw, Shawn Gillett, and Lizzy Baker (now Mrs. Kohl) at Marshall.

 Last of all, we’d be remiss if we failed to mention the invaluable contributions of the half-dozen or so new paraprofessionals who also joined our ranks as new-hires in the past few months. We are still advertising three paraprofessional positions as well as a highly specialized medically fragile special education teaching position. Due to the unique qualifications necessary for this position, it is my understanding that FUSD intends to help us find a qualified applicant by advertising this job beyond the state of Arizona. For the time being it is temporarily being filled by a very capable sub, Dr. Gail Tetrick.

John Coe

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