May is always a very busy, and a very exciting month here at LES. This year, however, there has been something different… we have had such cause for celebration here at Leesville. I hope that you will read on about our events, adventures, and our celebrations that we have so enjoyed.
As many of you all know already, we have started our End of Grade assessment process. This process started this past Friday with our 5th Grade Science test and will continue through this week and into next week. The students, while anxious about their tests, are also highly motivated to perform well. They really want to show their teachers all that they have learned and retained from this year… and, they know that if Leesville earns a composite score of 80% proficient across the three grade levels and all tested areas, I will publicly shave my beard and mustache that I have had since I was 19 years old. The challenge is on and the real!
To further encourage our tested Cubs, we also had a Pep Rally for all of the students. This Pep Rally had inspirational and motivating messages, in addition to the lip sync talents of their Teachers, the Instructional Assistants, the School Counselor, and even me, their Principal. Even our mascot, Leo, made an appearance to pump up the students and show off his dancing talents. The students had a great time, felt highly encouraged, and came away from the event even more motivated to perform and succeed for their Leesville community. We could not be more proud of the PRIDE demonstrated throughout this wonderful school.
Each year, Leesville Elementary School enjoys hosting curriculum celebration events… events that invite students and their families to the school to enjoy the more creative side of the curriculum. Earlier this year, in the fall, we hosted the always popular Literacy Celebration.
More recently… last week, in fact, Leesville Elementary School hosted an Evening with the Arts, a celebration of Creativity, organized and facilitated by our Special Areas Teachers. Whether it was the students’ art work on display in EVERY hallway and in the Library, the musical exploration, the practice with games and movement, the STEM design opportunities, the robotics, or even just the Kona Ice Truck out front, this event left our community wanting… no, needing more. At the end of the hour, as the families left, we even had some of our students in tears as they wanted more time to participate in the offerings around the school.
After handing out over two hundred event maps to the more than 400 people in attendance, and after speaking with our families the very next day, I think it is safe to chalk this curriculum night into the books as yet another successful Leesville celebration.
Leesville Elementary students had an incredible Field Day this past May 19. Each grade level enjoyed more than two hours of fun and engaging rotations on this beautiful Friday.
Under the leadership of the PTA and the facilitation of Ms. Fareena Mehdi, the students moved from the bounce houses to the tug of war, to a variety of relay races, to the water games, and finally, to the wettest part of the day, me, Mr. Cohen in the Dunking Booth. The students got to cheer their teachers on as they all, every member of the staff and faculty, had three opportunities to hit the target and send me swimming in the cold drink below.
While the dunking booth was both cathartic and way too enjoyable for my staff, the entire event was a huge success for our students, who have worked so hard and applied themselves so diligently to their learning and growth all year long… nobody deserved this treat more than they did, so I was happy to see this day as such an overwhelming success.
That’s right, don’t rub your eyes or send me an email expressing an error in the date above. Leesville Elementary School was proud and excited to welcome our rising Kindergarten Class… the High School Graduating Class of 2030… for their Kindergarten Orientation Event.
I am always excited about this event as it gives me an opportunity to greet and begin a journey with our newest and youngest Cubs and their parents. This year seemed to be one of the best yet as there just seemed to be even more positive energy in the room this evening. Our new families were eager to build their partnership and to be actively engaged in their child’s odyssey through their educational career. If this event was any indication of what we get to experience through the next 6 years, I could not be more optimistic for the future of our Leesville community.
On Tuesday, May 16, Leesville Elementary School was very excited to enjoy the recognition of a rare group of educators within our school. What makes them rare is NOT that they are remarkable dedicated and committed to their students, as this makes them rather common among our outstanding ranks. What make them rare is the compassion, love, patience, and high expectations that they all demonstrate toward our Autism classes. There is no way to effectively or sufficiently express how much we admire these teams, who have helped to grow our most interesting and eccentric group of students.
It was a pleasure to recommend them to receive the WCPSS Employee Recognition Awards at the Board Meeting, and an honor to serve our community alongside them.
Leesville Elementary School has fully embraced the Readers and Writers Workshop approach to Balanced Literacy, and, where it has been done with great fidelity, we have seen terrific student growth. This process really lends itself to sustained learning and cross-curricular connections as our Cubs engage in academic discourse and dialogue that causes them to think more critically and creatively.
As we have advanced this instructional process, we have come across other schools in Wake County that have either also found merit to this approach, or they have seen the benefits and wish to learn more for their own school and community. Leesville Elementary School was very proud to host a workshop collaborative with many other schools, whose participation has included administration, IRTs and Literacy Coaches, Teachers, and a few other instructional support services.
It was inspiring to hear the engaged conversation across schools, and more so surrounding an instructional approach that has had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on how we teach our students. We are so looking forward to further conversation and collaboration with these, and many other schools, across the county.
One of my favorite and most eagerly anticipated events each year is our Spring Musical. Three years ago it was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; the next year was Annie; and last year was The Aristocats… they were all wonderful performances.
However, this year was special. I don’t know if it was the charm of the songs, the incredible transformation from stage to jungle, the contributions of a student stage crew, the talent of our Cubs, or even a combination of it all, but this year’s Musical, The Jungle Book, took the Tony Award at Leesville for best performance by a school (self-proclaimed, but no less worthy).
I continue to be amazed by this arts collaborative and cannot wait to see what is in store for next year… this will be pretty tough to top!
Every year, Leesville Elementary School is invited to put forth the name of one student, who exhibits remarkable character and talent. This year, we were very proud to nominate 5th Grader, Gabrielle Batista, to represent LES. The following statement was shared with the WCPSS Board of Education and Dr. Jim Merrill, Superintendent of Wake County Schools:
At Leesville Elementary School, we teach our students to demonstrate Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Determination, and Empathy (better known as PRIDE) in all they do and in all they strive to accomplish.
Gabrielle Batista is a remarkable student and demonstrates Leesville PRIDE in everything she does and in all academic areas. She is a hard worker in her classes and focuses on how her process today will impact her goals for the future. Her regard for herself, others, and her surroundings, as well as her strong sense of right and wrong demonstrate a level of maturity well beyond her years. Gabi can be relied on to consistently choose the right thing to do, even when it might not be the most popular choice among her peers. Gabi's determination to succeed in the classroom and in all of her extra-curricular activities at Leesville is truly exemplary. She works extremely hard in all academic areas and is an enthusiastic learner and leader in the classroom, who genuinely and sincerely cares about the welfare of others. Gabi really values her relationships with her peers and is recognized by all as a reliable friend, mediator, and confidant.
It is our honor to recognize Gabi's wonderful qualities and to have her represent our school community as Leesville Elementary's 2016-2017 Spotlight Student.
Nick Simpson has been an outstanding teacher for well longer than my 4 years at Leesville, but there was something about him this year that really pushed him forward to another level.
This year, Mr. Simpson taught 5th Grade Math to three 5th Grade sections… more than 75 students benefitting from his gift as an educator. Between his willingness to always reflect and seek way to improve his instruction, and his willingness to be more visible and vocal as an advocate for best and collaborative practice, Mr. Simpson has managed to impress not just his students’ parents and not just the school administration… Mr. Simpson has managed to leave his colleagues awestruck and fully engaged by his contributions during PLT, full faculty, and professional development meetings. In fact, he left them so impressed that they voted for him to be their Leesville Elementary School Teacher of the Year and the Leesville Elementary School Math Teacher of the Year. Considering the talent that exists on the LES staff, this is a tremendous honor and statement about the quality of his instructional program.