ABS Thursday Notes- February 23, 2017

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community

February 23, 2017





How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.”

– Thomas Jefferson


Matt Mayers has been a dedicated volunteer in Winston-Salem for the thirteen years that he has lived here. He and his wife Katherine were inspired by the late Lula Leake, associate vice president for academic affairs at Wake Forest University, who suggested that two people might attempt to live from the salary of one, freeing the other to do needed work for the community as a volunteer. Matt has volunteered full-time in this model, to the great benefit of our community. He is a philanthropist who makes his generous gifts in time, labor and intellect. He is the father of the popular “Cobblestone Farmers Market” in Old Salem, a weekly gathering place that draws countless shoppers, families, organic farmers, musicians, and artists together from every neighborhood across the region each Saturday of the growing season.

Although he describes this development as “almost an accident” which stemmed from the expansion of the Triad Buying Co-op, that’s the kind of accident that only occurs through persistent, dedicated, hard work and creative vision. Eventually, he landed a grant that allowed him to hire a professional coordinator of the market, and stepped back to watch it thrive. He continues to connect sustainable practice farmers with consumers in our area as a volunteer for the Co-Op. We at ABS are also beneficiaries of the sustainable growing practices that Matt Mayers encourages. In the past year alone, Matt volunteered at least twenty hours weekly at The Arts Based School, where he impacts the lives of all our 520 students and our staff. This is Matt’s final of twelve years as a volunteer for the school, because the youngest of his children will graduate this spring.

He has been a constant and reliable source of assistance and inspiration at ABS.

When ABS first decided to transform our gravel surroundings into gardens, Matt was the first volunteer in line. He helped dig holes for the mature trees that grace the playground next to the MLK building, back when they were teeny saplings that he had somehow managed to procure at sharply discounted rates and transport here himself. It took about two hours to dig each of those holes; the gravel and hard-packed dirt were like reinforced concrete.

The shade structure near the church playground? Matt built it. The lush, terraced gardens bursting with arugula, lettuce and spinach? The wood reinforced pathway steps between the two buildings? Matt’s work. The gardens at the base of the dismissal area, which were once heaps of rubble, which produce abundant peppers and eggplant? Matt. The semi-circular raised beds near the basement door, planted with cotton and other textile-based plants for students to study? Guess who. The trees, bordering MLK and on both sides of the fenced-in play yard were procured and planted by Matt. The area around the 7th Street parking lot is planted with native grasses, shrubs and trees from the three regions of our state: coastal, Piedmont, and mountain. Matt designed that, and made it happen. Matt recruits and leads the gardening volunteers. He harvests our veggies and shares them with staff and students. He team-teaches our kids when it’s time to learn biology goals through hands-in-the-dirt experiences. He’s often at ABS for hours alone, developing and nurturing the gardens.

Most recently, Matt has worked with the two Kiwanis service organizations on campus: (K-Kids for 2nd – 5th, and Builders’ Club, for middle school.) Together, they have researched the best crop to help alleviate the serious food shortages in Winston-Salem. Based on its dense caloric content, powerful nutrients, and easy storing capacity, they chose a local variety of sweet potato to plant this spring, harvest in the fall, and deliver to a local food kitchen.

That’s just gardening! He’s also assistant to our Production Manager, Claire O’Boyle; a job that amounts to hours and hours of lifting, moving, storing, transporting, climbing, repairing, setting up, and striking all our sets, costumes, and props for nine major productions and countless smaller ones.

Before we cry out in despair about how on Earth we will fill his shoes, I wanted to take this moment to tell Matt, as a community, how deeply grateful we are for the beauty, wisdom, and the powerful example he has shared with our students for twelve years. The flowers we sketch, dissect, and behold, the strawberries we snatch up between buildings in the spring, the waving branches where there once were no growing things at all, these are all gifts that Matt Mayers ushered into our world.


MAP Results Sent Home

Third through Eighth grade students will receive MAP results in 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.


mClass Results Sent Home

Kindergarten through third-grade students will receive mClass results in Thursday packets today.  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.



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 3- Early Dismissal

                        K-2 Dismiss at 11:45

                        3-8 Dismiss at 12 noon


ABS Yearbook Deadline

This is the last week to submit photos for the yearbook. Please upload hi-res photos to your class Shutterfly site or email to sherribcarter@triad.rr.com.    I am still in need of 8th grade baby photos for the “Guess Who?” page, and more 7th and 8th grade candid photos.  You have until May 1st to order a yearbook. The cost is $20. To pay online, go to http://www.strawbridge.net/order-online/. The order code is 106312.   To pay by check, use one of the forms from the front table at the entrance to the MLK building, or at the front desk at the 7th Street building. Turn in orders to Donna at 7th street, or Angela at MLK.


ABS Garden Work Day

Saturday, February 25, 9 am to 1 pm

Spring is coming up on us. Come help your fellow ABS families keep the campus looking beautiful. There is always more than enough work for everyone. Anyone who comes will get COMPLIMENTARY hot beverages and cookies from Builders Club.

Questions and RSVP: Matt Mayers



All Read to Feed Money Due Friday

Money for the Read to Feed fundraiser is due tomorrow, February 24. Checks can be made out to Heifer International. We are also collecting some of those great books (gently used) that your children read to be donated to the Downtown Health Center. They are especially needing chapter books, but any picture books can be donated as well.