AE/MS News, January 2013

By Jane Slayton, AE/MS Principal

We love January and February. We return from Christmas vacation and enjoy the long, uninterrupted (mostly) stretch of academically productive weeks leading up to February vacation.

We have an ideal situation at AE/MS. Our students work hard all week and then thoroughly enjoy winter recreation options on Friday afternoons. We are fortunate that our community makes these options available to our students every year.

The outdoor ice rink is getting a lot of use. It is fun to see families skating on weekends, and most every evening there is an informal hockey game in progress. I do have the opportunity to see all the hours involved with the upkeep and have a huge appreciation for the tireless effort of these volunteers.

School is in session on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Tolerance and civil rights are taught through classroom activities. There are many excellent children’s literature options available. Many classes choose to write and have class discussions.

We are very appreciative of the $10,000 donation given to AE/MS by Proctor Academy. This donation will enable us to replace the computers in our lab. They have served us well since 2006, but technology changes quickly, and our students will be able to accomplish so much more with new computers. The current computers will retire to classrooms.

Our playground funds continue to grow! A generous donation of $5,000 was received in December. We now have approximately $9,000. Collecting and redeeming Box Tops for Education has contributed over $2,000 to our efforts. Keep those Box Tops for Education coming in!

AE/MS has a new Web site. Please check it out at

Teachers continue their curriculum work, transitioning toward the Common Core State Standards. The standards clearly communicate what is expected of students at each grade level. This will allow our teachers to be better equipped to know exactly what they need to help students learn and establish individualized benchmarks for them.

The Common Core State Standards focus on core conceptual understandings and procedures starting in the early grades, thus enabling teachers to take the time needed to teach core concepts and procedures well, and to give students the opportunity to master them. The standards are designed to provide and add rigor and relevance to the skills being taught from kindergarten through high school that students need for success in college and careers. The focus is on quality instruction.

New England College Professor Bill Preble will once again offer a graduate-level course to Andover teachers this spring. Many teachers are taking advantage of this opportunity.

Chinese New Year is an annual celebration at AE/MS. It is a tradition for the fourth grade class to lead the dragon parade throughout the building. It is the Year of the Snake, and AE/MS will celebrate in mid-February. An incredible lunch is served to the students, with many Chinese delicacies. Look for photos in the next Beacon and online at

Ms. Hildebrand’s second graders will open their once-a-year restaurant on Valentine’s Day. The Heart Healthy Restaurant serves a scrumptious breakfast with the menu designed by the students. Lucky staff members have their orders taken and delivered by the second grade waitstaff. Change is made using finely-tuned second grade math skills. It is always a treat!

Thursday, February 21, is the annual Parent Breakfast. A delicious breakfast is served at AE/MS beginning at 7 AM. Parents are encouraged to have breakfast with their child before they head to work.

Monday, March 4, is the annual Andover School District Meeting at 7 PM in the AE/MS gym. It is at this meeting that the school budget for 2013-2014 is voted upon. You must be present to vote.

Like many school communities throughout the nation, the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut prompted us to review our emergency plans. We have reviewed our emergency response protocols with all staff members to be sure they know what is expected of them. The Andover Police have increased their presence within our building.

Our school is safe and secure, and we have the proper safety protocols in place insofar as controlled access to our school during the day is concerned. We have ready and solid communication available with our local and state police, fire, and emergency personnel. An emergency management consultant volunteered her time and expertise to review our emergency plan and work with our school community.

The events in Newtown cut to the core of our collective being because as a school community, we are committed to doing what is best for our children, and first and foremost we are charged with protecting their health, welfare, and safety.

It was comforting within our community to receive many offers of help and support for our own school immediately following this event. Many notes of appreciation were received. Once again, Andover is a special place.