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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!

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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The Springfield Public Schools are now registering children for Kindergarten for the 2014/2015 school year.  Children born in 2009 who will be five (5) ON or BEFORE September 1, 2014 are eligible to enter kindergarten.  If you have not yet received a registration form, please call Judy Spaulding at 885-5154 to request one.


Budget Information

Dear Families,


In case you haven’t been able to follow the school budget process during January, I thought I would briefly update you on the Elm Hill side of things.  As a result of a decrease in the amount of money we will receive from the state this next fiscal year, the School Board asked that we reduce the district budget by $960,000. 


At Elm Hill that means for next year we will downsize our classrooms from 15 to 13.   I recommended doing this for two reasons.  First, our enrollment is down and is projected to continue its decrease.  And, we have a teacher at Elm retiring and another on a year leave of absence (not intending to return to the classroom) so we can reduce these positions by attrition and not through layoffs.


Before recommending eliminating two teacher positions I studied the projected state data on student enrollment, our Vermont school quality standards (class size maximums) and those of our neighboring states.  In Vermont it is recommended that our class size (K-3) not exceed twenty students for every teacher.  Based on our projected enrollment for next year with 13 classroom teachers we would have class sizes of exactly 20. 


Our neighboring states of MA and NH recommend primary school classrooms not to exceed 25 students while NY recommends a size of 20, like Vermont, but with one Para-professional for every 20 students as well.  And, that is also my plan.  I plan to have one teacher and one Para with every class of 20 students.  We will also be able to maintain our same “family” organization as this year (albeit with one fewer family) and continue our looping structure for 1st and 2nd grades that we worked hard to create for this year.


By decreasing our classrooms by two we also save two Para professional salaries. I have also recommended eliminating the HCRS school based clinician and sharing the Licensed Social Worker with Union Street School.  This means that all of our children with counseling services built into plans will still retain them. 


While the task of cutting a budget is never easy or pleasant, I was fortunate to be able to do so mainly through attrition.  I know that next year will be a challenge with fewer staff in the building but I am confident we will rise to the occasion.   If you have any questions about the process or decisions that we made, please do not hesitate to contact me. 


Best Regards,



PS  We held a required "secure the school" drill again today.  The students did a terrific job staying quiet and the drill was over in 5 minutes.  As much as I wish practicing these safety procedures was unnecessary, I am glad they are becoming a smooth routine.  

Last Updated (Friday, 31 January 2014 16:15)


Mid Year News

Dear Families,                                                                                                                       


Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day and welcome to the halfway point in our school year!  Coming home this week is an updated standards-based report card that our teachers have been working on.  We did use a similar report last year but have aligned it to the district’s new ‘power standards’ based on the Common Core State Standards.  This report will come out twice a year, at the midpoint and at the end of the school year. 


We would love to have your feedback on these reports – as well as on other aspects of our school.  Twice a year I open a ten-question survey so we can assess how we are doing in your eyes.  I have data from last year that we can compare to this year’s data.  I hope you will take a few minutes to complete our survey:  (it does not work in Google Chrome) http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/elmjune13


One of the messages we had from last year’s survey is increased parent communication.  As a result we have been working in our “family trees” on websites that include information about our teachers, program and homework (if applicable).  The websites will be live next week and can be accessed from the Elm Hill page: http://www.springfield.k12.vt.us.


I am also enclosing some work that the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) has completed.  First, is a home-school compact that we hope you will go over with your children, sign and return to school.  We believe it is important to revisit these expectations midway through the year.  This was written as a collaborative effort between the PAC and faculty. 


Finally, I am including a permission form for our new websites.  While we did have you sign at the start of the school year a general media consent form – it did not specifically reference websites.  Please take a minute before Mon., Jan. 27th to complete this so we can honor your wishes before our “family tree” websites go live.  




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Last Updated (Tuesday, 21 January 2014 14:40)

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