Last week, I read Dr. Gallo's recent letter about our Central Falls' 'warriors.' (On the Central Falls School District website) It resonated with me and it also made me think about my nephew and the suitcase.
Somewhere in the basement of my sister's little house, under dust :) and undoubtedly behind piles of board games and out of commission vacuum cleaners there is a massive suitcase. It is filled with plastic swords and belongs to my nephew, Cole. You should know that, although now 17 years old, 'Colie' was a preschool/Kindergarten 'warrior.' As a young child, he loved nothing more than his 'weapons.' For years, he would read books about castles and do battle with everyone and everything that he could. That treasured suitcase would travel with him as he visited grandparents, cousins, and even me on vacations. We all couldn't help but wonder how Cole's warrior self would evolve into the future?
Early on, there were certainly karate lessons but those soon became 'hip hop' classes and summer camps that taught kiddos how to use video cameras to create films. The ever present suitcase of swords was relegated to the basement. Now Cole is a high school senior heading off to college next year, a new battle awaits in an uncertain and unknown territory. He has taken all o f the energy that he used to utilize to 'fight with his swords' into creative pursuits and the arts. In fact, next week, he will act in a high school production that he and his friends and classmates, fellow warriors, wrote together. His art even graces the posters that publicize the production all around their community. Colie is still a warrior at heart but he has grown into an intellectual and creative warrior; the little boy who only wanted to fight with swords has become a maturing inspiration for what can happen when you Dream Big, Dream Fierce. We can all relate to playing out our fantasies as children, which helped shape who we are today, as we watch your little ones grow before our very eyes.
We are quickly approaching the last quarter of our school year; I am hoping that our entire early learning community can be inspired by Cole's journey. We need your help! We need Parent Warriors! We need you to pick up your suitcases and join the fight. Our preschoolers heading off to Kindergarten need to know how to rhyme, sequence stories, identify all the letters in their name, and as many upper and lower case letters as possible in order to be ready to learn next year. Please help your child practice these skills at home. Maybe your suitcase will be filled with letter games, books, paper and crayons.
This year, despite lots of hard work, 46 percent of our Kindergarten students are not reading on grade level; please check in with your child's teacher and see how he/she is progressing. At this point in the school year, our children are expected to know all 26 letters and sounds, as well as x sight words. Please be a Parent Warrior at home and help your child to know and practice these skills each and every day.
Please consider contacting your designated collaborator; Julissa at Robertson, Karen at Captain Hunt or our new Home School Liasion, Luci to volunteer at school to help your child and all of the other children to learn these skills. They can help you plan a strategy to help those students heading to Ella Risk and Veteran's Schools for First Grade be 'on or above grade level' by the end of this year. Knowing these necessary skills will give out little warriors confidence in order to successfully transition to First Grade. It is a new and sometimes scary place, they will need to be armed with a suitcase full of skills to successfully take on this new challenge. I have already reached out to Dr. Horn and a class of Rhode Island College students who are in our building on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to have as many volunteers as possible. Together with our Reading Specialist, Mrs. Clark, they are going to help us to be Creative Warriors and use the next 10 weeks to help our students reach the end of the year reading benchmark. We cannot win without your help as Parent Warriors!
As we work towards these goals, I invite you to participate in the process to create a more formalized parent structure at our school. During parent meetings at Captain Hunt and Robertson, we always talk about what is working and not working in our early learning community but, as we move towards next year, I invite Captain Hunt parents, especially, to nominate fellow parents to be the leaders of Captain Hunt/Robertson Early Childhood Advisory Council. We hope to have this Council up and running for the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. We need Parents to act as President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. I will soon send information and a nomination form to Captain Hunt families, in particular, as the goal is that we will create a structure over the next few months. Thank you for considering the possibility of leading a more formalized early childhood parent advisory council next year.
Next Saturday evening, I am going to see Cole perform in his play. As I sit with his mom (my sister), his dad, brother and watch the play that they wrote with such fierce warrior-like determination, I will no doubt think of, not only the preschool & Kindergarten Cole who loved to fight with his plastic swords, but all of you! Someday our kiddos will be seniors in high school and I hope they are all we dreamed them to be. With creativity, passion and a plan, together, we can all be warriors for the sake of our early learners!
Beth Tanner, MS Ed