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Welcome to Elm Hill Primary School

Elm Hill is a primary school made up of nearly 300 students in grades kindergarten through second grade.  We are organized into five smaller schools-within-a-school of K-2 teams that we call “extended families.”  Since our school is named for a hill on which many Elm trees were located our extended family teams also take their names from trees.  We have the Apple Family, Birch Family, Maple Family, Oak Family and last but not least the Willow Family.  We hope you will come visit us!

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June 13th News

Dear Families,


Today was Elm Hill’s Step-Up Day!  (Second graders had an extra indoor recess since their step-up to Union remains scheduled for Monday at 1pm.)  Due to the forecast for heavy rain today we swapped our Field Day for Step-Up Day and it was a terrific success!  I had so much fun walking from classroom to classroom seeing the smiling faces full of new possibility for the new school year.  It was also great fun to chat with the “looping” classes who walked out of their classrooms as first graders and right back in as second graders!  Be on the lookout in your child’s backpack with information about his/her next year’s assignment. 


Monday’s weather looks to be much more suitable for a field day and we will be having lots of outside fun before lunch.  We have plans for bubbles, tug-of-war, relay races, egg toss etc.  It will be a great time!  Remember that Tuesday is our last day of school with dismissal is at 12:15.  Your child will bring home his/her report cards that day. 


I’d also like to alert you to this year’s summer reading program. In the fall, if your child has read 20 books we will give him/her a coupon for an ice cream cone at Jonathan’s Summer Place.  It counts if you read to your child, if he or she reads twenty (20) books or twenty (20) chapters.  All you need to do is be sure your child lists the books names or have your child bring in his/her summer reading log from the town library.  Please note the hours of the town library are the same all year:  Mon-Thurs 9-7pm, Fri 9-5pm, and Sat 10-1pm.  


Warm Regards,



Last Updated (Friday, 13 June 2014 15:13)


May News

Dear Families,


I hope this newsletter finds you well rested from the long Memorial Day weekend.   With three weeks of school to go it seems like everyday counts for us right now!  We are in the midst of our final assessment window so we know how well each child progressed this year at Elm Hill.  Just a note about our reading and math assessments, these are done interview style with individual students and are very informative for us as we diagnose next steps for teaching.  At the end of June you will receive a copy of the data profile from these assessments as well as a narrative standards-based report card.  We hope these two forms of report present a balanced perspective on your child’s learning at Elm. 


I have also the bittersweet honor to announce that this June will be the last for our lovely Elm Secretary, Judy Spaulding.  With Judi Stebel retiring as the Assistant to our superintendent, a better person couldn’t be found to present the face of our district than Elm’s Judy Spaulding.  While we are sad to see her go, we wish her well on such an endeavor and are glad she is only a phone call away!  Meanwhile, we have selected Amanda Johnson as the new Elm Hill secretary.   In fact, as Judy pointed out, she never would have thought to apply for a new position if Amanda didn’t have our office so well in hand!  Congratulations to both!


As for the rest of our staff, we have some exciting new roles for existing staff.  It seems like a year of great potential as many veteran teachers take on new roles to keep our approach to primary school fresh.  Becky Spaulding (a certified guidance counselor) from the planning room will move into fill Karol McGee’s role in guidance as she retires to Maine after 10 years in Springfield!  Ashley Rich, a current Special Educator will take over for Becky in the planning room offering us some more flexibility with alternative assignments as a certified Special Educator.  Replacing Ashley will be Kim Farrar, a special educator from the Occupational Development Program who has run a preschool in the past. 


Doug Gray will replace Betsy Willis as a Reading Specialist with her retirement this summer after 29 years of service!  Doug has been working as a first grade teacher but his greatest love is reading intervention.  Meanwhile, Alicia LaCour will move from kindergarten to replace Doug in first grade.  Finally, a teacher from Union Street School, Greg DeAngelis will join us in his dream to be kindergarten teacher!  We have also chosen a K-5 Literacy Coach by the name of Denis Chasse who comes to us with a wealth of experience and training.  I believe he will take us to a new level next year with respect to reading and writing in the elementary schools! 


Our celebratory news is quite extensive this spring.  We are saying farewell to Deanna Dexter, a Springfield teacher for 26 years and Susan Pugh who has served our children as a para for 24 years.  We wish them both all the best and look forward to their frequent visits!  Heather LaFantano, a 2nd grade teacher is beginning a new adventure south of the Mason-Dixon line and Bev Savage, a para, is re-opening the Red Barn Café in Ascutney.  They will both be missed!  And, speaking ofpara professionals, Jen Stepler, has received an award from the VT Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired for "Outstanding Educational Support"  for her work with one of our students.  This is quite an honor for all of us!  Congratulations everyone! 


I have been busy this past month preparing placements for our students next year.  With our first graders “looping” to second grade our greatest challenge has been placing our current kindergarteners as first graders and preparing our rising third graders for their transition to Union.  These placements are almost complete and you will find out about them on June 16th, our Step-Up Day. 


Elm and Union have both been working hard to improve our transition process between our schools.  It began with a working afternoon on the May early release for Elm teachers to visit with Union teachers about our students and what we know about how they learn best.   We are also planning a “mentoring” program that partners current 2nd and current 4th graders as pen pals for the summer (we’ll provide stamped post cards) so new students can ask questions of returning Union students.  We will also continue to arrange visits for those children who need more time in transitioning as well as host a Q & A here at Elm with some Union students.


Please note the last day of school is June 17th and will be a half-day.  I wish all those families well who are moving on to Union Street School and for those with students at Elm next year, may your children’s summer be full of wonder, and I look forward to seeing you again in August! 




Last Updated (Friday, 30 May 2014 14:06)


April Newsletter

Dear Families,


What a busy and exciting week back from vacation!  We hosted PuppeTree, a puppet theater from Thetford, on Monday at our All School Meeting to perform Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina for us. The town library offered us the performance of the book by PuppeTree and from there this project took off.  It was a wonderful wrap-up to a year of activities on this one book. The performance was featured in this week’s Message on page 11 if you are interested in hearing more. 


Thanks to our community partners every child at Elm Hill will receive a copy of Caps for Sale for their home library. As a result of the generosity of the local Alpha Delta Kappa chapter the kindergarteners all have received books.  The Springfield Medical Care Systems graciously underwrote all of the first grade books and the Springfield Rotary supported the purchase of a book for every second grader. We are very grateful!  Be on the look out for your child’s book coming home in the next few days. 


Last Wednesday’s early release day was kindergarten registration for the incoming kindergarten class.  It was such a fun day for all of us at Elm Hill as we greet the future of our school.  We met 63 families of rising kindergartners.  This day also reminds us that it is time to start preparing to transition on our current classes. 


Teams of teachers from both Elm and Union have been working to make the second graders transition more deliberate and comprehensive.  Parents will soon receive a letter offering input into their child’s placement. If you have a team preference we will need it no later than Friday, May 9th.  We will try our best to accommodate parent preferences, however, a request is not a guarantee.


In addition to the placement of incoming kindergartens and outgoing second graders, we are also thinking about next year’s classes at Elm Hill.  We have been very pleased this year with the success of our “looping” pilot (where students and teacher stay together for more than one year).  As such all current first graders will loop in some fashion to second grade.  Students will eitherloop as a class to the 2nd grade teacher in their “extended family” or stay with their current teachers for second grade. 


We are all excited to work together for what is best for primary school students and are looking forward to adopting a looping practice throughout our school.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. 




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March News

Dear Families,


Today has been the second day in a row of outdoor morning recess!!  Hopefully this cold will lift so we can finally start sugaring in earnest in April – only a month late!  


It has also been a fun month with our early release day devoted to hearing the Vermont Red Clover Award nominated books and partaking in “sugar on snow.”  The kindergarten classes also enjoyed a Dr. Seuss day in honor of his birthday, March 2nd.  The kindergarteners had visits from a Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2 as well as participating in some very neat activities! 


I have seen many of you, our parents, over the past couple of weeks for parent conferences.  These conferences follow a busy month of collecting assessment data for our profile page.  I hope you find this information useful and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask any of us at Elm. 


I am so very grateful to our teachers for holding meetings before and after school to accommodate so many work family schedules.  We have had about 85% of our students’ families participate in conferences.  Such a great turnout!!


With less than one third of the year left, I’d like to take a minute to remind you about the speed on the Elm Hill drop-off circle.  Because we are a school the speed limit is 25 mph on the campus.  Please keep this in mind even if you arrive feeling a bit late.  We must protect our young children at all costs.  


And, here is a reminder that only happens in Vermont (or perhaps Alaska), please do not park on the sidewalks.  I know with all the snow banks there is limited parking but it really isn’t right to make pedestrians leave the sidewalk for the road. 


Thank you for all of your support as we are looking forward to spring!











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February Newsletter

Dear Families,


Welcome back from February break!  Many of our classrooms are celebrating, or have celebrated, the 100th day of school.  It is hard to imagine we’re in triple digit school days – it feels to me like just yesterday that it was fall!  While February has been a brief month it has also been busy.  Andie Bentley, our very active music teacher, held two concerts, one for first grade and one for kindergarten.  The Willow and Apple “extended families” hosted potluck suppers. And, our second grade took part in a weeklong artist-in-residence program, sponsored by Suzanne Farrell (our art teacher), with local artist Matt Lorenz who specialized in making musical instruments from found objects.  A video of the “junk band” concert will air on SAPA in March. 


We did receive the 3rd grade NECAP scores this month.  In reading we went down 7 percentage points and in math we went down 16 percentage points. The teachers and I have already met to discuss the results.  We brainstormed a number of ideas that we could put in place to move our scores in a positive direction.   Please see the list below and note that it is not presented in any particular order.  If you have any ideas or questions that you would like to add to this dialogue I hope you will join our next Parent Advisory Council meeting on the evening of parent-teacher conferences, March 20th from 5-6pm. 





·      Create a math academy/intervention program

·      Identify and develop more interventions for struggling students

·      Establish more curriculum time to develop units using the Common Core

·      Use more pre-assessments/flexible grouping for better instruction

·      Teach to the standards with hands-on learning

·      Assist parents in accessing SES tutoring

·      Work more deliberately with Union Street School

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