Amanda C. Rowe Elementary School Newsletter Early May Edition

Message from Sarah

Hello Family and Friends of Amanda Rowe School,

It is hard to believe that there are only six more weeks of school! Every year at this time, it is jarring how quickly the time goes and how quickly all the children grow and change.

The interviews for Principal are being held over the next few weeks. The hope is to have a candidate chosen by late May. Assistant Superintendent, Jeanne Crocker is leading this work.

In the meantime, we have lots of news around Rowe School. Our playground is open and is a huge hit! The explorers of Rowe have checked out every inch of the new space. The tireless Playground Committee (Big thank you to Laura Newman for her incredible efforts on this) continues to work to realize the long term vision of the playground that will include a fully accessible sand table, a preK playhouse, another climber, a second disc swing and a water feature. One of the questions we have gotten a lot of is around the sway in the "red mountain" climber. The climber is designed to sway-it is not loose or dangerous. The bounce and sway of the big blue pole are part of the appeal! Please stay tuned for details on our official grand opening.

We are also getting excited to see our courtyard garden get up and running. The Garden Committee is hard at work coordinating with Portland Trails, (a huge thank you Daniel Bishop and the PTO) to set up two really exciting days to get our garden open. On May 16th, we have the Day of Caring and are planning to put together garden beds and fill them. Then on May 24th, we'll have a whole school greening day so all classes will have an opportunity to plant. Meanwhile, 3rd and 4th grade students will plant apple trees as part of the curriculum with Cultivating Communities. Please contact me at sirois@portlandschools.org to get involved.


Dear families,

Please join us on Thursday, May 9th for a night of family engagement. We have two great events, Math and Literacy Night and Heart Heroes combined for you for an evening of fun! The events overlap a little bit allowing families to attend both events.

Spend the evening exploring what we have going on at our school and participate in activities with your children! We'll have interactive experiences that include building, estimating, creating, and more. There will be materials to take home so the fun can continue. We hope to see you there!


First, 5:00-5:30pm Parent Presentation in Library: (Childcare provided in the Cafeteria) Discussion Topic: Instructional Math Changes, District Initiatives & How you can support your student

Second, 5:30-6:30pm Math & Literacy Activities for kids

Then join Mr. Custeau in the gym from for some physical Activity for Heart Heroes!

Details about the Heart Heroes Event

(Formerly, Jump Rope for Heart)

On Thursday, May 9th from 5:30 – 7pm, Rowe School will be having a “Heart Heroes” event at our school in the gymnasium. The fund raising component of the event is open to all 3rd – 5th grade students, however all grades are welcome to attend the event. During this event students will participate for 30 minutes of activity in a Kids Heart Challenge (formerly known as Jump Rope for Heart). Events like this one are held at schools nationwide and not only help students learn about the benefits of regular physical activity and heart health, but they also raise funds to support vital heart and stroke research as well as educational programs. The American Heart Association is dedicated to helping people live longer, healthier lives. The money we raise helps people in our community learn how to prevent heart disease and stroke and also helps our local patient care. Our school will qualify for gift certificates for free physical education equipment based on the amount we raise, and students will qualify for individual thank you gifts based on the donations they collect. Family and friends can support your child’s participation by making contributions. If you are a parent of a Pre-K thorough 2nd grade student and would like to make a donation, please feel free to send your gift to the main office.

Lockdowns and Evacuations

We wanted to alert you as parents that we will be conducting a few more fire drills, a lockdown drill, and an evacuation drill this spring. The rainy weather has prevented us from doing outdoor drills so we will be looking for sunny days over the next few weeks to complete them. The drills are part of regular school business and are no cause for alarm. We will be sure to communicate with our students that these are just practice to lessen any worries the students may have. We wanted to let you know that the practices were happening so you can be prepared to talk about them at home but also so that you are not alarmed if you see a police car at the school, or if you see the whole school walking over to Sagamore Village for an evacuation practice. We are partnering with Portland Police Department to ensure our new building procedures are as effective and safe as possible. We are very grateful for Portland PD's support and help. Please note that police will not be visible to students during the practices.


  • Monday-Friday May 6-10 - Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week
  • Thursday May 9th - Family Math & Literacy Night and Heart Heroes 5-7:00pm
  • Wednesday May 15th - PTO Meeting in the Library 6:30pm
  • Friday May 17th - PTO Family Dance Night 6:00pm
  • Wednesday May 22nd - Incoming K Family Night
  • Friday May 24th - Rowe Night at the Sea Dogs
  • Monday May 27th - No School - Memorial Day
  • Thursday and Friday May 30th & 31st: Incoming PreK & K Screening Days
  • Saturday June 1st - Rowe 5K and New Super Hero Dance Half Mile
  • Tuesday June 4th - 1st and 2nd Grade Performance 6:00pm

Last Day of School Announced and no Early Release in June

To make up three snow days, the last student day of the 2018-2019 school year will be Friday, June 14, 2019. Teachers’ last work day is Monday, June 17. There are no early release Wednesdays in June. The last early release day is May 29th.

This Week Is Teacher Appreciation Week

All week we will be honoring the incredible hard work of Rowe School Teachers and staff. Please join me in thanking our amazing teachers! Rowe teachers make our school the tremendous learning place it is and we are infinitely grateful.

Tick Alert from the State of Maine

Speaking of warm weather, the CDC and the state asked us to share some information about Lyme Disease with you this month

Portland Stage came to dazzle our whole school through Play Me A Story.

4th and 5th Grade Track

To support the PPS goal of equity and access for all kids to enrichment and sports, we have transitioned our before/after school track program to Recess Runners! Coach Custeau is holding track practices on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during recess until June 3rd. We have a great track set up! The kids run around the ball fields and it makes for a nice, safe loop. Thank you to Mr. Tom, our incredible foster grandparent who helps Coach Custeau keep an eye on kids on the far end of the loop.

The New Playground is Incredible!

We are so grateful for all the hard work of the Playground Committee for the vision of our beautiful new space.

Title 1 Math Update

After the April Break intermediate teachers jumped into studying the wonderful world of fractions! Staff worked with Tracy Zager, our district math consultant, to delve more deeply into the Common Core State Standards and bring engaging, meaningful experiences to students to support their conceptual understanding of fractions as numbers.

One strategy encouraged by our work is using images and simply prompting students with, “How many?” to open up math discourse that can span the breadth of students’ skills - another example of low floor, high ceiling instructional practices. This work supports students' flexibility and making conjectures toward building ideas using evidence. Third and Fourth graders were especially inspired by this avocado series of images from the book, How Many? by Christopher Danielson to elicit conversation and concepts related to unit fractions.

As students are immersed in sense-making around fraction representation, equivalence and comparisons, they are deepening that work by making conjectures about the patterns they notice, and working together to test their theories to make claims. Here’s an example from Ms. Mirisola’s class:

This work will support our final cluster standard in Measurement, Data and Geometry.

At our Math & Literacy Night and Heart for Heroes event there will be a parent presentation (5pm-5:30 in the Library with childcare in the Cafeteria) by Bianca Winship and Renee Carbone to offer more information about Portland and Rowe’s work with math instruction, and how we may partner to support your student’s math development.

Title 1 Literacy Update

We have been reviewing and analyzing our student reading data, looking at growth and areas of need. As a result of that, we have added some additional Title I reading supports where it is appropriate. In Kindergarten, we have implemented Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) for Title I identified students. In third through fifth grades we have also added LLI, as well in addition to push in classroom support. First and second grades have utilized LLI for many years with much success. We are happy to be able to offer this to other grade levels.

We have been grateful for our four Starting Strong reading volunteers who read with those first graders who could use a little lift once a week. This program is focused on early literacy support at the first grade level.

We hope to see you at our Family Literacy and Math night next Thursday.

District Budget Update and Staffing Update

We have a number of retirements to announce. We are very happy for our retirees but so sad for our school. We will miss them greatly and are so humbled by their dedication and years of service.

  • Sherm Kendall, Art Teacher
  • Heidi Litman, 1st/2nd Grade Teacher
  • Chris Fricke, Librarian
  • Annette Major, ELL Teacher
  • Anne Taliento, Ed Tech and Crosswalk Extrordinaire

We have hired an art teacher! Jean Rank has accepted the position and will be starting with us in the fall. Jean brings tremendous experience in teaching art with a multicultural lens and experience as a professor at USM in the teacher education department. We are thrilled to have her as part of our Rowe family!

The current budget includes two staff cuts to Rowe School. We will still move from four teachers in 5th grade to three teachers next year. This is due to the policy that was approved last year regarding class sizes. Our fifth grade enrollment projections for next year do not justify a fourth teacher. This will require some shuffling of teachers as some teachers will need to change grade level to make this happen. We will not be losing a contracted teacher as Mr. Yates is a long term sub in 3rd and 4th grade and so his position will cover the cut; allowing us to keep all of our permanent staff. Please stay tuned as we work through teacher assignments and the ripple effect this cut will have for teacher placements.

One of Ms. Sherry's students hard at work during writing workshop

Dismissal Policy

We wanted to remind you about our policy around parent pick-up and dismissal changes due to business in and around the office. Our policy is purely about safety and to ensure that all children are where they need to be and to lessen confusion when last minute changes are made. We are no longer allowing parents to come to the office and dismiss students between 3:15-3:30pm (2:15-2:30pm on Wed.). Additionally, between 3:15-3:30pm (2:15-2:30pm on Wed.) all calls will go directly to voicemail as our office staff are fully focusing all students dismissal plans. Voicemails will be retrieved after 3:30pm. We appreciate your understanding of this policy.

Ms. Carten reads to a group of kindergarten students during Library time

Curriculum Corner

K and PreK

April has allowed Pre-K and K to get outside to learn and play in many exciting ways! Probably the most exciting way is out on our incredible outdoor play spaces. Students have had many opportunities to visit the outdoor space with their classroom teachers and Mr. Custeau in gym class to learn how to use each piece of equipment safely. We have also had warm and sunny days perfect for taking bird watching and listening walks. We are learning that there are many different types of birds just outside our classroom windows with our bird feeders. It has been exciting to use our year long learning about birds as we explore bird life around Rowe School.

Kindergarten bird art

Speaking of exciting, this past Friday May 3rd Pre-K and K traveled to Merrill Auditorium to watch “Me….Jane: The Dreams and Adventures of Young Jane Goodall”. Leading up to our visit we have been learning about Jane Goodall and her work with Chimpanzees. Each student will be receiving the book “I Am Jane Goodall”. As you read this book with your child you can ask them something they have learned about Jane Goodall or something about their experience visiting Merrill Auditorium.

The month of May and June will be busy, fun, and exciting with many special events happening for Pre-K and K students. Please pay close attention to any notices sent home with your child with important dates and times to mark your calendar with!

1st and 2nd Grade

We recently wrapped up our Realistic Fiction writing unit. This unit seemed to be one of their favorites as they were able to use their imagination with every story! Our next unit, Opinion Writing and Writing Reviews, began this week. You can help by discussing opinions at home and by asking for evidence of why your child chooses one thing over another. Please also share your opinion and give evidence of why you prefer certain things. Modeling this will be so helpful when we ask them to include these details in their writing!

In reading we are focusing our learning on comprehension skills to support student’s reading growth and higher level thinking skills. Students will be reading at their independent level and completing a variety of “responses” to demonstrate deeper understanding of their texts.

In science we have continued learning about the solar system, including order and size of planets, phases of the moon, and constellations and have had a blast creating our planet cards. Not only have the students learned a lot of information as they conducted their research, but they have also learned valuable research and study skills.

Lastly, and most excitingly, children have been able to spend some extra time on our new playground learning and practicing the shared expectations for this big, amazing, new space of ours! They have been LOVING it!

Save the date for Tuesday, June 4 at 6:00pm! More info to come but we will be having a 1st/2nd grade performance that evening. Hope to see you there!

3rd and 4th Grade

Our third and fourth grade learners have been hard at work exploring immigration stories throughout history as part of our “I’m Your Neighbor” project based unit. We have been thrilled to welcome families and community members into our classrooms to share their immigration stories. We are so excited to use our observation journals to begin brainstorming a collaborative mural to welcome everyone to Rowe with Side x Side artist Laurie Downey.

5th Grade

Grade 5 students are continuing to work hard, have lots of energy, and be excited about the last 8 weeks of their elementary education. They had an amazing culminating experience working with Side X Side teacher, Gretchen Berg and Val Vassar, to show their learning of The Nervous, Circulatory, Digestive, and Skeletal-Muscular Systems of the body.

In Reading and Writing Workshops we are wrapping up our 2nd Non-Fiction unit, Argument and Advocacy, and moving on to 5th grader's favorite of the year...Fantasy! Please ask your children about their subjects they studied and felt passionate enough to research.

In Math Workshop students have been working on Fractions. On display in the upstairs hallway you can see evidence of their learning in the beautiful Fraction Quilt Squares project that they finished recently in Ms. Quimby's class.

Please be on the lookout for end of the year 5th grade happenings. (We will send home reminders.) We are busy, excited, and still have lots to look forward to.

5th graders acting out how the body systems work in physical theatre

The Golden Dustpan Award

You may have heard your children talking about “The Golden Dustpan Award”. We started it in February, this year. Each week night the custodians decide which classroom is the cleanest. The custodian will leave the golden dustpan in the chosen classroom. There is a dustpan for each floor. The award has been so positive and has helped build community.

The students work hard at the end of each day anticipating a win for their classroom. The classroom winners are announced daily on the morning announcements. At the end of each month the winning classrooms are tallied. The classroom with the highest number of awards wins for the month. There are special classroom prizes that are voted on by the students. Movie and Popcorn, extra gym or recess, or a dance party are just a few of the choices. At the end of the year, there will be a grand prize for the classroom who wins the most monthly prizes. The custodians must have a hard time deciding who the winners are for the day! The pride the students feel and the time they take to clean their classrooms really is amazing!

Reminder: We would love to have you volunteer in our school! If you are a new volunteer, please know that our volunteer application process has transitioned to online. Please use the link below to apply to be a volunteer.

We are so excited to share our learners with you!

*All students pictured in the newsletter have a signed media release on file at the school.

Created By
Sarah Jane Sirois

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