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In Celebration of Georgetown Teachers

spotlightGeorgetown Elementary is well into it’s fifth year of operation. We opened in September of 2006 and we are just one of SEVEN outstanding Hudsonville Public school elementary buildings.   This year, we have 591 students, ages 3-11 and in grades ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education) through fifth grade.  There are 35 teachers and over 20 specialists and paraprofessionals who support children in learning each day.  In addition, our two building secretaries (Mrs. Ripley and Mrs. Nurenberg) and our head custodian (Mr. Rob) and his three assistant custodians keep the building managed, clean and secure.

Often, the main stream media creates ripple sof negativity by saturating the news with articles focused on failing schools, ineffective teachers and poorly maintained and operating schools.  I want to use this post to highlight some POSITIVE work we are doing at Georgetown, which is just one of the successful Hudsonville Public Schools…a truly incredible district!

I have worked several schools throughout Michigan during my 25+ career in education—with hundreds of teachers, administrators and specialists.   With this broad perspective, I want you to know that at Georgetown, your children are working daily with an outstanding group of gifted educators.  Not only do they work as a team model and guide the most progressive instructional strategies, they collaborate before, during and after school to plan lessons that extend learning.  Throughout the year, they pursue advanced studies for their teaching degrees in reading, math, technology, specialized learning courses, at one of six local colleges, universities and several online sites.

The teacher’s blogs are designed to highlight student learning and celebrations of events that take place throughout the year.  I would like to encourage you to visit these and see examples of the great work being done in our many classroom.  All the blogs are listed in the sidebar to the left.  I have selected one from each area to highlight below.

Thank you for all you do to support us as educators and most importantly, to support your child as as learner!  We could not do our important work without your support.

Mrs. Reagan

Mrs. Estefan’s recent post shares how she and her students welcomed a consultant from our local intermediate to share the work they are doing as kindergarten writers.  The consultant, Mrs. Reimbold, shared a strategy that will help the kindergarteners add more details to their personal narrative stories.

Miss Taber, a first grade teacher, celebrates the great progress her students have made in working together to create a climate where all learners can listen and problem solve together.

Mrs. Kuieck,  a second grade teacher, provides an example of how she updates parents on assessments and events in her classroom.

Mrs. Flory, a third grade teacher, shares photos from a science field trip to the Outdoor Discover Center.

Mr. Kooiker, a fourth grade teacher, has posted curriculum maps for the fourth grade curriculum.

Mrs. Bouwens, a fifth grade teacher, created a video highlighting the work her students are doing to understand the core democratic values in social studies.

Did you know that we have specialized programs at our school?  These students are an equal part of our school.  To learn more about them, visit the Mrs. Van and Mrs. Murphy’s ECSE Blog and Mrs. Kok’s Blog

All of our specialists have blogs that serve as resources to help you with tips for reading , speech and language ,  art, music and PE.

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First Grade Chalk Drawings Say It Best

Have a fun summerIf you walked into Georgetown on Wednesday between 1:15 and 2:00, you saw a 80+ first graders writing “happy summer” wishes with chalk on the sidewalks, blowing bubbles, sitting in the summer shade or playing on the playground.  This is one of my favorite Georgetown traditions—our newest readers and writers for the year wishing all of us a the best vacation possible.

Wishing you a great start to your summer and many “just right” adventures during the months of June, July and August.  I will post updates regarding class list postings, teacher assignments, and much more throughout the coming weeks.

Mrs. Reagan

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Hello Turns to Goodbye TOO soon!

two countries Raey Guang and Georgetown students sit on opposite sides of cafeteria, waiting patiently to be introduced to their pen pals!

Just as we got to know our Raey Guang friends, it was time for them to depart for their home country, Taiwan!

If you have been following our blog, you are aware that much energy and passion has been devoted to their journey to meet us.  We welcomed them on Thursday, June 3 at 8:30 am and we said goodbye to them at 12:30 pm today (June 4) at Meijer Gardens.

I will share more about the experience in an upcoming post.  Until then, read this excellent article by Matt VandeBunte a writer from the Grand Rapids Press.  His words sum up the experience very well and I am honored that he took the time to visit our welcome ceremony.

Group photo We are friends forever…two countries, two schools…ONE GOAL:  learning together!

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The week ahead…June 1-4, 2010

I simply cannot believe today is the final day of May…and tomorrow begins the month of June.  How have all these school days flown by so quickly?

I hope that everyone has had a relaxing and fun Memorial Weekend.  This morning, when the sun was School Flagshining, I took a photo of our flags in honor of Memorial Day.  These flags are cared for by Mr. Rob Thurkettle, our wonderful custodian.

For those of you who visited our school last week to celebrate the writing and AUTHORs of these pieces, many thanks!  We also said farewell to our Liverpool visitors on Friday, and this week we welcome our sister school, Raey Guang Elementary. The students and staff arrive on Thursday.  We are looking forward to their arrival and time to learn together.

Here is a snapshot of some of the activities that will take place.  Visit your child’s class blog for more specific information.

BLog wk 40

Mrs. Reagan

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Literacy Essayists

I was invited to be a guest listener during Mrs. Bouwens‘ 5th grade writer’s celebration.  I sat in the round with a 5th Grade Essayistsgroup of seven writers who each shared their literacy essay about a specific short story.  As an essayist, their job was to connect the each essay’s central purpose to their own lives.  As a writer who makes many revisions to even the simplest piece, I have great appreciation for the hours of work devoted to the development of these essays.

I was impressed with the short stories they each reviewed:  Eleven, by Sandra Cisneros, The Marble Champ, by Gary Soto, Boar Out There,  Slower Than the Rest, Marble Champ and Spaghetti–all by Cynthia Rylant.

Not only are these three of my favorite writers, I now have seven favorite literary essayists to follow.  Enjoy their pieces below.

Literary essay on “Slower Than the Rest”
By: Sydney Segard
Everyone is slower than the rest at something from one time to another. For example, when I was in third grade I did girls on the run and usually I was slower than the rest. Because of that time I can relate to how characters like Leo feel.

In the story, “Slower Than the Rest” by Cynthia Rylant Leo has trouble keeping up with his classmates.

Leo doesn`t have a lot of friends because he is slower than the rest. When he finds Charlie, his turtle he is happy because he finally finds something that can relate to how he feels about being slower than the rest.

In the story it says Leo was slow in reading, numbers, and in nearly everything that passed before him in the classroom. In fourth grade Leo was so behind in everything that he had to go in to a special room with people who were as slow as him. Leo thought he would never get over it. But, Charlie helped him feel better.

For example, during forest fire prevention week  Leo took Charlie to school for his project. When it was Leo`s turn he took Charlie out of the box and said, “It isn`t fair for the slow ones during a forest fire.” I think Leo was not only talking about Charlie but himself too. I think this because Leo hates being slow, and he doesn`t think it`s fair for him to have to go in to a a special room because he is slow.

Later that day Leo`s school had an assembly. There were dancers who everyone was laughing  at. But Leo didn`t feel like laughing. Leo just sat there holding Charlie and went off in his head to his own world. Soon, everyone was cheering and shouting his name. Leo walked up to his principal who gave him an award for having the best presentation.

Leo felt happy.
Leo felt proud.
and for the first time in a long time
Leo felt  fast.
Reading this story makes me think that Leo should not be embarrassed about being slower than the rest, because other people are slow too. Just like I was.

Literary Essay to “Eleven”

by Jack Mandryk

I believe growing up is one of the hardest things kids have to go through. And if you can’t stick up for yourself, every thing’s going to get a lot harder.

In the story, “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros Rachel, the main character, thought growing up to be eleven would make her feel older and smarter, but she didn’t. She figured out that even though she was eleven she was still just a kid.

Eleven is about how Rachel has to wear the ugly red sweater that smells like cottage cheese, even though it is not hers. I mostly think this story is about how Rachel is a girl who is unable to admit the truth when it comes to sticking up for herself.

When Sylvia tells the class, “I think it belongs to Rachel.” Rachel knows it’s not hers but all she can say is, “That’s not, I don’t, and you’re not… Not mine.” She finally manages to say in a little voice that no one could hear like when she was four. Then she just gives up and thinks because Mrs, Price is older, she is right. This was showing that Rachel couldn’t stand up for herself  in front of the class. Rachel also shows that deep inside she is three trying not to let the ugly red sweater wreck her eleventh birthday, as it sits of the corner of her table. She is thinking about how when she gets home, her mom will be baking a cake and they will be singing, “happy birthday, happy birthday to you.”

When Sylvia lies about the red sweater Rachel should tell the teacher, but she doesn’t. Like in football practices, when kids are messing around next to me, I should walk away from them or I get in trouble too. Rachel makes the same mistake about the sweater when she should tell Mrs. Price it isn’t hers, instead she has to face the consequence of having to wear it.

“Rachel!” Mrs. Price yells at her bringing her out of her daydreaming.

“You put that sweater on right now and no more nonsense.”

“But it’s not-”

“Now!!” Mrs. Price says. This is a example that Rachel is a girl who doesn’t protect herself in bad situations. In the real world, Rachel will probably find out that starting at that age, she will not get special attention like she did when she was younger. I think Rachel should try to get over the fact that she was to wear the sweater and just get up and tell the teacher. After Mrs. Price yells at her she is forced to put the sweater on in front of the class. She slides her arms through with all the years pushing against her eyes. Now when Rachel finally got the sweater on she thinks the red sweater hurts her, it’s all itchy, and full of germs that are not hers.

Then, right before the bell rings, stupid Phyllis Lopez remembers it is hers. Mrs. Price thinks everything is o.k. now, but it’s not.

I think Rachel will learn from this experience and not let it happen again. I mostly think Sandra Cisneros wrote “Eleven” to show that life is rough, especially when you don’t stand up for yourself. What I learned from “Eleven” is that when you are in a tight situations, give yourself a chance, even on days you feel like a, “runaway ballon.”

Literary Essay

By: Andrew Vredeveld

In the story, “The Marble Champ” by Gary Soto Lupe thinks she sill never be good at sports. ”I’ll never be good at sports she fumed one rainy day.” But she kept practicing and became good at marbles. When I was in third grade I wasn’t good at  fielding ground balls. But now since I’ve been practicing I am really good at fielding them. It’s just like Lupe. She practiced and practiced and became good.

Lupe was determined to be good at marbles so she    “rummaged through her closet until she found a can  of  her  brother’s marbles. She poured them out and picked the five most beautiful.” She noticed while she was practicing that her thumb was very weak. So she, “…took an eraser and  squeezed it 100 times to make it stronger.” This shows you that Lupe is determined to win at this sport even though I would not consider it as a major one.

Lupe knew the tournament was coming up so she worked harder than ever and it made her thumb very sore. This shows you she wasn’t going to give up on wining in this sport. Lupe was pretty close to being ready but she still had time to improve. After her dad found out why her thumb was so swollen he wanted to help,”So he rigged up some lights in the back yard so she could practice after dark. He squatted down on one knee, entranced by the sight of his daughter easily beating her brother.” Lupe had practiced so much she beat her brother.

On the day of the tournament it was cold and cloudy. Lupe knew she needed all of her concentration to win the tournament. She was up for it. “Lupe walking between her father and brother, shook from the cold not nerves. She took off her mittens and someone asked, “How are you going to play with a broken thumb? Lupe smiled and said nothing.”  Lupe had practiced for so long her thumb looked broken! “Lupe had her first match on diamond number 3.She easily beat.” Lupe is now really good because of her practicing and she beat her first three opponents. Lupe worked so hard to become good at this one sport.

In the end Lupe goes on to win the tournament. Lupe succeeded and finally got a trophy in sports. That shows you that everything Lupe did helped her to win. “…but winning in sports was a new experience.” Lupe finally got her dream to win in sports. Just like me when I practiced and succeeded in what I needed to do to be a good fielder. I learned from this story that if you set your mind on something and practice you’re likely to succeed.

Literary Essay On “Slower Than The Rest

By:Allie Boonstra

Sometimes I am slower than the rest. Just like Leo was in “Slower Than the Rest” by Cynthia Rylant. I think that the author put Charlie the turtle and Leo in the story because they both can relate to being slower than the rest. I think she shows that it’s okay to be slower than the rest. Sometimes I am slower than the rest in math because it’s a harder subject for me to understand. I know that sometimes being slower than the rest is okay because it helps build confidence and understanding.

I think that Leo took being slow in a bad way. But, when he found Charlie he realized that there are other things out there that are as slow as himself!

In his classroom, “Leo was slow in reading, slow in numbers, slow in understanding, nearly everything that passed before him in a classroom.” He also had to go into a room with kids that are as slow as him. This made Leo upset because he thought that he would never be fast at things. “But Charlie took care of Leo’s happiness.”

“One day Leo decided to take Charlie to school. It was prevent forest fires week and all of the students were working on posters…” and other things. But Leo wanted to take Charlie to school for his project. I think that Leo wanted to bring Charlie because he wanted to show how some people are slower than the others.

When Leo began his presentation he said, “ When somebody throws a match into a forest he is a murderer. He kills trees, birds, and animals.” I think that Leo felt bad for Charlie because he is a slow animal and would not be able to survive a forest fire. When Leo opened the box and took Charlie out all of his classmates laughed at what they saw. After a while Leo’s classmates began liking turtles and hating forest fires. I think that Leo felt happy because they had began to understand how some are “Slower Than The Rest”. “Leo’s teacher had tears in her eyes”during his presentation.

“That afternoon the whole school assembled in the gymnasium to bring the special week to a close”. When the dancers proffered “Leo wondered if he should laugh at the dancers like everyone else”, But he did not feel like it, instead he was in his own little world.”Finally the principal stood up and began a long talk. But Leo just thought about being home.” When Somebody whispered  his  name he could not hear. he was to busy drifted off in his thoughts. Then he heard his whole school chanting his name. Leo had won for having the best presentation.

“He looked back and saw his principal smile at him”. He was so happy Leo felt like he could explode. “ And for the first time in a long time Leo felt fast.” After reading the story “Slower than The Rest” Makes me feel that it’s okay to be “Slower than the rest”,and that everyone works at their own pace.

Literary Essay on “Spaghetti”

by   Drew Boeve

In the short story, “Spaghetti” by Cynthia Rylant, Gabriel is a lonely boy needs to find a friend, but doesn’t think he could do it. Just like me when I moved out of state and never thought a friend would come.

When Gabriel is sitting on the stoop of a tall building thinking deeply about things he nearly misses a cry from the street. He thought it could have been the wind or a stubborn window. Gabriel decides to follow it. In the story it says, “ On skinny stick legs wobbling to and fro was a tiny gray kitten.” I think Cynthia Rylant put the kitten in the story because Gabriel and the kitten are both lonely. When Gabriel picked up the kitten he finally found a friend. Just like Gabriel I found a friend. Now every time I see stray cat I think of Gabriel and his new kitten friend named Spaghetti

Literary Essay

By: Bryce Akins

I think in the story, “Boar Out There” the main character Jenny wants a friend. Jenny thinks she can be friends with the wild Boar that lives in the woods. It turned out she wasn’t. This is similar to a time when I moved and I needed a friend. I moved to a new school and I was thinking I could be friends with someone nobody liked. But it turned out I didn’t become friends with him.

In the story Jenny goes to find the Boar. She finds him and is scared but she doesn’t move even though she knows he is much more powerful than her.  “Jenny matched his silence, her body was rigid but not her eyes.” I think this shows that Jenny really wants a friend. When the boar runs past her she feels sad. I feel that Jenny wonders if she’ll ever be friends with the Boar. Now she doesn’t know where to get a friend.

I also think that Jenny feels that she did find a friend in the Boar because she still looks over the fence and whispers “Boar Out There.”

After reading this story I don’t know why Jenny still thinks the Boar is her friend because if somebody ran from me I wouldn’t think that I would ever be friends with them. I feel that no matter how you see friendship you can always have a friend.

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Bustin’ Through Books

bean bagOn February 2, we begin to devote a portion of every day to focused time for reading.  This will be called BUST THROUGH BOOKS BOOT CAMP.

We need your help to get this up and running!  You can help in three different ways:

1.  If you are a DAD, volunteer to spend a day running our boot camp.  It’s easy…and fun.  Requirements:  Sign Up by clicking on this form; Wear Comfy Clothes; Bring your reading material (work and just for fun); SHOW UP WITH A SMILE, sense of humor and your books.  Jeff Wressell, Lily’s Dad, will be heading up the volunteer list.

2.  Donate $1.00 to your child’s classroom.  The money will go toward buying timers and bean bags.  Write:  BUST THROUGH BOOKS on your envelope, along with your child’s name and classroom.  (We will also take used vinyl bean bags and timers)

3.  Donate any well loved books from your home.  We have students who love to learn about non-fiction topics.  If you have any books on the topics listed below, please donate them to our program.  Books can be dropped off in the library with the incredible, wonderful Mrs. VandenBerg!

Science Topics of Study

* Solar System
* Matter
* Animals
* Plants
* Weather
* Rocks/Fossils
* Force and Motion
* Water
* Light/Sound

Social Studies Topics of Study
* Maps/Globes/Flags
* Hudsonville History
* Michigan History
* Early American History: American Indians, Africans, Europeans, Colonization and Settlement, Slavery, French American War
* Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution
* Geography/Regions (Hudsonville, MI, U.S.)
* Government (local, state, federal)
* Economics
* Civics: citizenship/rules/trade/rights/responsibilities

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First Grade ROCKS!

Can I just say this, “THE FIRST GRADERS AT GEORGETOWN ROCK!” I am the luckiest principal in the world because I get to listen to first graders read every week.   For those of you who have forgotten how much brain power it takes to read, try to read to the principal after lunch!

This past week, I had the honor of spending an hour PLUS a few extra minutes teaching Mrs. Stadt’s first grade class. They won the prize for the October Blog Scavenger Hunt. As winners of this most sought after prize, Mrs. Stadt got to work on “teacher stuff” and I got to teach the first graders “principal stuff.”

I picked up Mrs. Stadt’s class after lunch, and while she was looking the other way, we disappeared into a secret location. (My contract does not allow me to disclose this information on the blog.  To find out, you must interview a first grade student from Room 106.)

Once we landed back in the classroom, we got down to very serious work.  We reviewed the principal’s job description which includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  1. Making announcements
  2. Helping kids who are sick
  3. Helping kids who are hurt
  4. Making sure kids are nice (and teacher’s too)
  5. Keeping the building safe
  6. Heating and cooling the school
  7. Buying food for kids to eat
  8. Helping teachers teach
  9. Buying crayons and post it notes
  10. Making calls on the 2-way radio

Once this was done, I demonstrated how the 2-way works -assisted by Mrs. VandenBerg who was in the office.  Each student then received the BEST EVER principal supply kit:  a notepad for lists (principal must have), small post-it notes (memory keepers), washable marker (for the principal who always writes notes on her hand) and a very cool paper clip.

NEXT, each first grader wrote in their very best first grade spelling “IF I WERE THE PRINCIPAL, I WOULD….” I expected responses like “give extra recesses to all the kids”  or  “make no homework the rule”  but instead, these first graders wrote about wanting to BE NICE to others, make sure everyone had food for lunch, and help kids make friends on the playground.  Each one of these students can feel free to list me on their resumes when they apply for their first principal job!

We took our very special writing projects down to the copy room where each child made two copies—one for me and one for them–on our GINORMOUS copy machine. Following this, we headed over to the conference room for an important meeting (see the principal thinking faces below), toured the principal’s office (where we picked up a special snack) and then headed to Art Class…a wee bit late.

After Art Class, I took the principal’s in training for a WELL DESERVED break in the teacher’s lounge. I delivered the first graders back to the classroom in time for them to complete agendas and pack up for the day.


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Diary of a Wimpy Kid Interview

I will forever be a lover of the genre, KID’s BOOKs.  I cannot go to a book store Diary of wimpy kidwithout spending time in the kids’ section pouring through pictures books and chapter books.  I would much rather curl up in bed with a chapter book by Sharon Creech than a newspaper!

To stay up with the news, I use an RSS reader system that feeds the news to my email system.  Today, I was delivered an NPR interview with Jeff Kinney,  author of the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID series.  Just yesterday, I was talking with Ryan (a 5th grader at our school) about this series and what specifically we liked about the writer’s style.  So, for you, Ryan…and any other kids that might be interested, check out this interview—and all the questions come from the best readers ever: KIDs!


I would like to remind you that our book fair will be the week of November 2.  This event will be held in the Media Center…and I am sure that these books will be available for purchase.  They are very popular with our readers ages 10 on up.

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Do you like scavenger hunts?

I have a Valentine’s Day weekend challenge for you! The first blogger to find all the letters of the word “valentine” will win lunch out with me! To participate in this, you simply have to follow these rules:

1. Make a list of the letters:

* V
* A
* L
* E
* N
* T
* I
* N = Megan’s Blog
* E = John’s Blog

2. Go to each of the student blogs and hunt for the letters. (These are found on the Blogpals main site.)

3. When you find a letter, write the student blog name next to each letter. (See the examples I put above next to N and E. These are just examples!)

4. You must post a comment to the school blog.

5. The first person to find all the letters and make a comment, WINS!

AND…the letters do not need to match the letters above.

There are two e’s and two n’s. They must be from different student blogs!

Good Luck…Have Fun…and happy Valentine’s Day!

Mrs. Reagan

Please NOTE: Any of the students in our school can participate! Also, if you are a parent or visitor from another school, you can participate as well. I can’t give you lunch, but we can celebrate your talents on the blog!