ABS Thursday Notes- February 18, 2016

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                           February 18, 2016




How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.” – Jane Austen


Among our abundantly Valentine-worthy staff, everyone at ABS will agree that Ms. Nicole and Ms. Brown are extra-BFFs. We are acutely aware of the unique and precious gifts we regularly receive from these two guardians of goodness. At any given moment, in spite of on-going draftiness from frequent door-openings, they deliver a warm welcome to anyone whom they buzz into our gates, north and south, having first carefully observed the approach of the visitor by security camera. Band-Aids, ice packs, and soothing words are dispensed liberally. Medicine is carefully stored and supplied according to physicians’ orders. Ms. Nicole books field trips and befriends the bus drivers. Ms. Brown is our “go-to” friend for computer glitches. Many a Kindergartener has been known to take special comfort from Ms. Nicole’s company during those first fresh weeks of school. Her kind, focused listening makes any anxious child feel safe and centered again. In the 7th Street building, Ms. Brown is the calm at the center of any storm, from hormonal hurricanes to jubilant celebrations, gazing wisely over the top of her glasses with a gentle but firm reminder when necessary. The two of them communicate with one another all day, sending packets of this and that back and forth, redirecting lunch deliveries to the correct building, calling to deliver important missives to administrators. Ms. Nicole manages the “Secret Buddy” list, enlisting teachers in exchanging surprises anonymously to brighten the day. She calls out the cheerful reminder that keeps dismissal on time and posts silly jokes on the kitchen cupboards. Ms. Brown tucks your lackluster, virus-inflicted laptop under her arm as she heads home, and returns it the next morning, healthy and revived. She happily delivers basic software lessons on the fly to staff who require a quick tech tweak. Ms. Nicole and Ms. Brown answer endless phones and doorbells, slip on gloves to help with wounds and illness, call Mom or Dad or Grandma about a headache or a mistake. They listen to the teachers’ reports of weekend adventures, tidy up the dishes, manage school records, publish the arrival of treats for staff in the kitchens, and help all of us rediscover our sometimes misplaced senses of humor. Ms. Nicole and Ms. Brown; we heart you.


ABS on the Radio

On February 26 at 8:35am and 5:44pm, listen to the re-broadcast of a 2013 interview with Ms. Siebert and ABS 5th graders about “Romeo & Juliet on the Border” at 88.5 WFDD public radio on the program Triad Arts Up Close.


MAP Results Sent Home

Third through Eighth grade students will receive MAP results in their Thursday Packets today.  Please take some time to review these results.   Overall results show that ABS students in each of those grades achieve higher scores than the national norms in all areas tested: math, science, reading, and language arts.   Congratulations to our students and their teachers for a job well done.   If you have any questions regarding MAP results, please contact your child’s teacher.


Conference Time is Coming

Soon your child’s teacher will be setting up conferences to discuss your child’s progress.  Students attending the Arts Based School are assessed using a portfolio system in place of the traditional report card.  The portfolio is designed to illustrate a student’s academic growth and successes as well as guide the teacher in planning appropriate instruction.  Teachers at ABS do not issue letter grades.  Teachers use observation, interviews, analysis of student work and performance tasks to assess student understanding.  Examples of student work, as well as other objective standards of assessments are incorporated into the student’s portfolio to give an enhanced portrait of the student’s progress.  These portfolios will be discussed and presented to parents during the Student-Teacher-Parent conferences.  Please be sure you schedule and attend your conference so that you can support your child’s learning. 

Conference Days- March 4- Early Dismissal

                        K-2 Dismiss at 11:45

                        3-8 Dismiss at 12 noon



mClass Results

Kindergarten through third-grade students will receive mClass results at their March conference.  North Carolina Department of Public Instruction requires a kindergarten through third-grade reading assessment called mCLASS: Reading 3D to help teachers assess, track and support each student’s reading skills.  Each student will be assessed every trimester using the online assessment program.  mCLASS: Reading 3D will instantly analyze your child’s development in grade-appropriate foundational reading skills. Teachers will use this data to focus their instruction around your child’s specific needs in areas that may include:

  • Hearing and using sounds in spoken words (Phonemic Awareness)
  • Knowing sounds of letters and sounding out written words (Alphabetic Principle)
  • Reading words in stories easily, quickly, and correctly (Accuracy and Fluency)
  • Understanding what they read (Reading Comprehension).


After each assessment period you receive a letter outlining your child’s specific assessment results and progress as a reader. The letter includes learning activities you and your child can do together at home to reinforce skills learned at school.  Parent support and reading at home are a vital part of your child’s education. The teacher’s efforts, combined with your support, will help your child read with mastery and confidence.  If you have any questions about the assessment, the activities, or your child’s classroom work and progress, please talk to your child’s teacher.


Annual Giving

It’s week TWO of our Annual Giving Campaign and we’re off to a great start!



Hopefully by now, you’ve each heard from a parent representative in your child’s classroom.  These folks are not there to harass you, but simply to serve as a resource for your class during this very important effort.  Many parents and community members are not aware that Charter Schools do not receive the same funding as a traditional public school.  We’re also not a private school so we charge no tuition to attend.  The combination of lower funding and no tuition causes a bit of a double whammy in the budget department!  To bridge that funding gap, we must raise those dollars ourselves.  We have vowed not to ask our children to sell wrapping paper, candles or cookie dough multiple times a year but we do ask, once a year, for our families to support us in any way that is suitable for their situation.

You may wonder where the dollars from other fundraising events held during the year go – things like Fall Festival, January Jam or Movie Afternoons?  Those dollars go back to the school as well, but under a different budget line.  The Parent Council is given a target amount to raise for the school each year and those events help support that effort.  Larger events, such as Community Creates, go to support specific programs within our school.  100% of the proceeds from Community Creates go toward funding of our Artist-in-Residence programs.  That means people like Mr. Bill, who teaches our children African Drumming,  and Diana Greene who works with the kids on their amazing photo journalistic “My Inside Outside Self” project in the 4th grade.  The list goes on and on.

It’s important to have a general understanding of how our school funding works so you realize just how important you are in this process.  If you think your participation won’t matter or what you contribute won’t make a difference – you’re wrong.  Every single dollar counts – just as every single child in our school counts.  What matters now is that you participate, in any way you can, so we can achieve our goal of 100% participation.  We can’t do it without you.

Thank you so much for your consideration and participation!

Last Week for Read to Feed

The K-Kids are once again sponsoring the very popular  school-wide fund raiser for Heifer International called “Read to Feed.” Heifer International is an organization which contributes livestock and training to families in need around the world and helps them build sustainable businesses. Each child who participates will ask family and friends to donate a certain amount for each book he or she reads (or, for young students, for each book read to them) from now until Feb. 26, and that amount will go toward buying cows, chicken, sheep, goats or llamas for a family.

Begin gathering your sponsors. Now, let’s  READ, READ, READ!!!!!!!


Music Camp

Check out Mr. Wilbur’s summer music camp for the weeks of July 18 and July 25. See attached flyer for more info or contact Mr. Wilbur at  pwilbur@artsbasedschool.com