Ashby Elementary School
Annual Town Report
I am pleased to submit my fifth annual town report for the Ashby Elementary School. In my fifth year as principal of the school, I proudly acknowledge the successes of our Ashby students, the professional commitment and willingness to help children displayed by the schools faculty and staff members and the involvement and cooperation of the parents in promoting an effective learning environment.
The 2000-2001 school year for AES students in Grades 1-6 began on August 29, 2000. On that date, a kindergarten parent and student orientation was also conducted. The first day for kindergarten children was August 30, 2000. Parent Open House evenings were held on September 11 and 12, 2000. The number of students enrolled at each AES grade level on October 2, 2000 is as follows:
Grade 1 48
Grade 2 36
Grade 3 50
Grade 4 38
Grade 5 58
Grade 6 46
Total 157 (boys) 166 (girls) = 323 (one less student than was in attendance on October 1st of 1997, 1998 and 1999)
We welcome as new staff members to Ashby Elementary School during the 2000-2001 school year, Mrs. Judith Philip, who is teaching an additional section of Grade 5 necessitated by high student enrollment at that grade level for this year, Mrs. Jennifer Murray, a special education assistant and Mrs. Susan Bankuti, a cafeteria general worker. An additional Title I teacher, Ms. Christina Banks, was hired to work with eligible students in Grades 4-6 as a result of increased Title I funding for AES this year. Ms. Banks left on December 8th to take a full-time teaching position in another community. Mrs. Joan Cote has been recommended to replace Ms. Banks. After many years of faithful service to the students of AES, Mrs. Carol Swenor retired from her second grade teaching position at the conclusion of the 1999-2000 school year. Mr. Ted Kilton, AES guidance counselor, resigned his position in December and, at this writing, we are seeking another counselor to replace Mr. Kilton.
The Ashby Elementary School Council established a new school improvement plan for the 2000-2001 school year, and created as a Core Value goal "to develop and broaden communication skills for our students." This goal will be implemented in various ways throughout the schools curricula at each grade level. The citizenship curriculum developed last year and which emphasizes respect and responsibility, continues to be implemented on a school-wide basis with AES students.
Ashby Elementary School students continue to be provided with opportunities to pursue their interests and talents beyond the regular school day. The Afterschool Enrichment Program continues to provide a variety of interesting "hands-on" activities for elementary age children. An intramural sports program is offered after school during particular seasons of the year, with tag football, floor hockey and volleyball available. The Learning Club (TLC) continues to provide academic support after school in the school library three days per week in order to assist students with their homework and organizational skills. A six-week Summer Academy program was conducted at AES during the summer of 2000 for ten students who were entering fourth and fifth grade and were recommended by their teachers for additional reading/language arts assistance. A new Winter Academy afterschool program was conducted at AES from January through May of 2000 to assist approximately twenty-five recommended third, fourth and fifth graders to strengthen their English Language Arts and Mathematics skills. AES students continued to perform in drama productions under the capable direction of Mr. Robert Hogan. The AES band, consisting of a large number of the schools fourth, fifth and sixth graders, along with performing singers and instrumentalists from all grade levels, performed very entertaining holiday and spring concerts under the able supervision of Music teacher, Mrs. Deborah Hencke. Weekly beginner and advanced group guitar lessons were provided by Mrs. Catherine Johnson for second and third graders after school. Several teachers also continue to offer enrichment and helping activities within their own classrooms which benefit Ashby students.
AESs computer technology program continues to grow. E-mail is available to all AES teachers through their classroom computers. Internet access, under adult supervision, is available in many classrooms and in the computer room. New Apple computers have been added in the fully networked computer room. Each grade level classroom has at least one computer capable of accessing information through CD-ROM and other technology software and devices.
Capital improvements, repairs and maintenance have continued at Ashby Elementary School. The stage area of the gymnasium was repainted and the stairways refinished. New hallway carpeting and doors were installed. Due to the successful completion of several capital improvement projects during the past three years, the Ashby Elementary building grounds are in very good shape and provide a fine educational environment for the students.
Parental and community involvement continues to play a key role in the effective educational program and positive school experience provided for the children of Ashby. The Parent Teacher Cooperative (PTC) continues to be proactive in sponsoring and supporting many of the schools cultural and assembly programs which enhance the curriculum. Parent volunteers continue to present interesting programs for the students and also assist in various classrooms and in the school library on a regular basis. Senior citizens in the community also do presentations and help out whenever they can. Through the involvement of the Massachusetts State Police and the Ashby Police Department, the DARE program continues to provide important information to fifth graders regarding strategies which students can utilize to resist the use of drugs and alcohol.
In curriculum areas, the third round of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) testing English/Language Arts, Mathematics and Science was administered to fourth graders across the state in April and May of 2000. The test results were received by the school, sent to students and parents and discussed and analyzed with faculty members in December, 2000. Scaled score results indicate a drop of two points in English Language Arts, one point in Mathematics and two points in Science as compared to 1999 results. Comparison scores over the past two years (1999 and 2000), however, do show that improvement expectations established by the Department of Education have been met in Mathematics and Science but have failed to be met in English Language Arts. Topic development in written expression will continue to be a major focus in improving the students English Language Arts skills at all grade levels throughout the school year. A district-wide writing sample will continue to be administered to students in Grades 2-8 in the Spring. District-wide mathematics assessment testing will continue to be conducted in Grade 2 (end-of-year), Grades 3 (mid-year and end-of-year), Grade 5 (mid-year and end-of-year) and Grade 6 (mid-year and end-of-year). This year, MCAS testing will be spread out among several grade levels (Reading in Grade 3, English Language Arts and Math in Grade 4, Science and Social Studies in Grade 5 and Math in Grade 6).
Planning is taking place this year for Ashby sixth graders to begin attending Hawthorne Brook Middle School in Townsend for the 2001-2002 school year. Meetings with Ashby parents and students, conducted by middle school administration and guidance counselors, will be held to inform and acclimate them to the middle school program with all Ashby and Townsend students entering HBMS as sixth graders.
In summary, I feel that Ashby Elementary School continues to provide a very successful educational program for the children of Ashby. I appreciate the spirit of cooperation which has been established over the years between teachers and parents to the benefit of AES students. I believe that with this cooperative relationship as well as the diligent and dedicated efforts of the faculty and strong student desire for success in learning, our excellent educational environment will continue to flourish. As always, I am pleased to have the opportunity to serve the Ashby community as principal of Ashby Elementary School.