Charles G. Taylor Elementary School A Communication Guide for Parents

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1 Charles G. Taylor Elementary School A Communication Guide for Parents PHILOSOPHY OF THE CHARLES G. TAYLOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL VISION STATEMENT The Charles G. Taylor Elementary School is committed to creating a learning environment in which every student is challenged to be the best he or she can be academically, socially and emotionally. We are committed to the values of the three R s Respect, Responsibility, Relationship and the three C s Caring, Compassion, Consideration. We believe that a combination of the three R s and the three C s represents our school and provides a climate for life long learning. MISSION STATEMENT The Charles G. Taylor Elementary School, in partnership with the community of Foxborough, has as its mission the responsibility to prepare students to participate productively in a rapidly changing world. Together we will provide an environment that maximizes each student s academic, social, emotional, artistic and physical development. This environment will encourage each student to develop the skills and sensitivity for living responsibly and successfully. GOALS 1. Communication and Collaboration: To ensure a positive educational experience by promoting communications among parents, teachers, residents, and town organizations. 2. Academic Excellence: To support challenging and effective educational experiences that promote engaged learning and ensure a quality education. 3. Respect: To cultivate responsible students through a positive, inclusive, supportive environment that reflects respect for the diversity and dignity of individuals and cultures. 4. Environment: To provide a safe and supportive environment that fosters positive attitudes among students, staff, families and community. 1

2 The Critical Nature of the Home/School Partnership Communication between home and school is a high priority at the Charles G.Taylor Elementary School ( Taylor or Taylor School ). As stated above, communication and collaboration is the first Taylor School goal. The role of the parent or guardian is an important factor in the academic and social success of each student. Indeed, the home/school connection is a critical factor in helping your student gain the most from his/her education at Taylor. Ongoing communication and shared resources among parents and teachers is a core value of the Taylor School, and we, as parents, teachers, and administrators, share the responsibility of modeling for our children the process of working together and of teaching the benefits of open and honest communication. It is the Taylor School s responsibility to provide the opportunities for your child to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed and to act responsibly in a rapidly changing world. The teachers and staff are also responsible for providing information about your child and his/her education, as well as sending home formal reports at periodic intervals. It is your responsibility to talk to your child so that you can know when to ask questions. It is also your responsibility to keep informed through the school about your child's education. Together, we will enable our students to reach their potential as both responsible young people and successful learners. The Purpose of the Communication Guide Navigating through offices and personnel to express parental concerns, views and questions at times can be daunting. The Taylor School Council has assembled this booklet to aid parents in the process of communicating with their student's teachers, guidance counselor, and school administrator. It does not replace the Student/Parent Handbook that covers all areas of necessary information about Taylor and deserves a careful reading. The Guide provides you, as the parent/guardian of a Taylor student, an overview of avenues helpful to you in communicating with the school and in keeping abreast of elementary school life at Taylor. Facilitating Communication Between Home and School There are several avenues for gaining information at the Taylor School including the principal, teachers, guidance counselor, the Taylor School website, and the weekly newsletter. Below we outline the various sources of information available to elementary school parents in an effort to encourage and simplify communication between home and school. Contacting the Right Person Begin with the person closest to the issue. Questions and concerns revolving around a specific class can generally be answered by talking directly to the 2

3 teacher. Communication with your child s teacher is always welcomed and encouraged. Teachers are direct links to information about your child s academic life and can provide valuable information. Concerns and problems need to be solved as they arise in order to best serve all involved participants, especially your child. In-person conferences, telephone conversations, handwritten notes and communications are all open to you. Should you need to reach the teacher with a question or concern, you may call the front desk to leave a message for the teacher. All of the teachers at Taylor have voice mail in their classrooms. Calls received during the school day are forwarded directly to voice mail to avoid interrupting classroom instruction. Parents may also send a note to the teacher(s) in their child s backpack or communicate through . Explain your concern and the teacher will make every effort to respond within twenty-four hours. addresses, voice mail and phone numbers are available on the Taylor website (see below). If this does not prove satisfactory, the next step is to communicate your concerns with the Taylor principal. The principal is integral to your child s elementary school and she/he encourages an open line of communication with parents. You may address any questions or concerns at any time by contacting the principal during school hours. The front office secretary either will schedule an appointment or have the principal return your call. If the issue cannot be satisfactorily resolved with the teacher and principal, then your next step would be to contact the superintendent of schools to discuss your concern. You will find the telephone number and address for the superintendent listed on the main Foxborough Public Schools website, Planning Your Approach When contacting your child s teacher or the Taylor principal to communicate your concern, you should first gather your information and be clear on the facts ahead of time. It is helpful to organize the points you want to discuss and perhaps make a list of the questions you want to ask. Communications with the Taylor staff should be constructive as you share important information about your child. Remember to be an active listener your child s teacher, principal or guidance counselor may have significant information to share with you as well. Give thought to your preferred solution, and work with the school staff to reach the most favorable outcome for your child. Most issues can be resolved successfully through meaningful and purposeful conversations. The best strategy is to keep the lines of communication open. Parent/Teacher conferences provide you with a face-to-face evaluation of your child's progress and the opportunity to discuss curriculum with the teacher. Conferences for all Taylor students are held in November, with a second 3

4 conference in February for kindergarten parents. The conferences usually last ten to fifteen minutes. Conference times are scheduled in advance at the September Open House. Those who do not sign up at Open House will be assigned a time or can contact their child s teacher to set up an appointment. Open House Other Avenues of Communication Each fall, the Taylor School sponsors an Open House for students and their families. Open House differs from individual conferences in that it enables parents to meet their child s teacher, view materials to be used during the year, tour the school, and become acquainted with the structure of the school day. Other personnel, such as Special Needs staff, Reading Specialists, Music, Art and Wellness teachers are also available to meet with parents. Conferences In addition to a formal scheduled conference, teachers and parents can initiate mutually convenient meeting times throughout the school year. If your child is having academic or other difficulty, the teacher may contact you to schedule a parent/teacher conference. Likewise, if you are concerned about your child s progress, you can call or the teacher to arrange a conference. In-person conferences may be substituted by telephone, , and handwritten communication at any time. Please check with the individual teacher for convenient communication methods for both of you. Formal Reports Report cards are sent home with the students in grades 1-4 in November, January, April and June. Specialists (Art, Music, Spanish and Wellness) send report cards home in February and June. Kindergarten students report cards are sent home in February and June. Guidance/Parent Communication The Taylor School Guidance Program offers students many opportunities to develop the knowledge, beliefs and behaviors necessary to effectively interact with others in the school and community. The focus of the program is on the development of positive, healthy relationships and the application of skills related to attitude, self-acceptance, and positive coping strategies. 4

5 This program is available to all Taylor students to help them reach their maximum potential in both social and academic arenas. Classroom instruction is available for all Taylor students in grades K-4 to address specific issues that may arise. Consulting services are also available to parents, teachers and students as the needs arise. The Guidance Counselor can be reached at the Taylor School via phone or e- mail. You will find the Guidance Counselor s extension and address on the Taylor school website. Taylor Printed Information The following written publications are available: The Taylor Made News is a weekly newsletter sent home each Thursday. It is another means to keep parents informed of various school activities and student achievements. Included in this newsletter are the Principal s message, Parent Teacher Organization ( PTO ) news, and School Council information. There is also a calendar of events and a monthly lunch menu The Handbook for Elementary School Students is provided to every student in the fall. It is important that both parents and students review its contents. The Taylor Internet home page is either reached directly by going to or by going to This is the town s main Internet site. Select the School Department. This leads you to the Foxborough Public Schools home page website. Select Schools and go to Taylor Elementary School. Solving Problems in the School Setting At the Taylor School, we strive to provide students the opportunity to experience high academic achievement and steady social development as well as to provide an enjoyable experience for students. For these goals to be fully realized it is necessary for the parents and school to work effectively as partners. Please allow us to attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic of solving problems in the school setting. How do I establish a relationship with my child's teachers? As stated above, open house and parent/teacher conferences provide the initial opportunity for you to establish a relationship with your child s teacher. However, you should call their teacher immediately with concerns, questions, or just to check on progress. If you wonder about issues such as homework, test results, classroom expectations, or behavior, the teacher is the one who can answer you 5

6 best. In most instances a brief phone call will lead to understanding and resolution. If necessary, meetings can be arranged with one or several teachers. Please be aware that it is not always possible to be immediately available for a conversation or a meeting. However, if you leave a message the teacher will return your call. If I am worried or upset how do I keep the interaction positive and moving toward a good solution? When problems arise everyone involved wants them solved as quickly as possible. Parents, teachers, and the student all have the same goal. No one benefits from prolonged worry. With that in mind it is best to begin the interaction with information gathering as the goal. Few, if any, issues are as simple as they might seem at first glance when seen through one set of eyes or when retold in an emotional context. It is always necessary to keep an open mind until all the facts, as seen by all parties, are articulated. Only after the facts, as seen by each party, are articulated is it time to define the issue and develop a strategy to deal with the issue. It is important to keep in mind that while some problems are quickly solved, others will require several exchanges, often with different Taylor personnel, and may require attention over many weeks. My child says to stay out of it because things will only get worse if I'm involved. What should I do? Issues do not resolve themselves. Some issues require a collaborative effort. As a parent, you should carefully evaluate the information you have and decide whether to become involved or not. In this context, we have had parents call us to express a concern, but then ask us not to talk to the teacher and/or not to use their name due to a fear of retribution. We can only deal with issues when expressed in an open and forthright way. As mentioned above, we have the same goals and need to work as partners. Under no circumstances would any act of retribution be tolerated. No teacher would benefit from such an action. Indeed, the consequences of such an action would be severe. What are the steps I need to take to address my questions/concerns? The place to start with any classroom issue is with the classroom teacher. They are the ones who are most likely to have the information that can clarify any issue or help resolve any conflict. Only after speaking to the classroom teacher should you bring an issue about the class or the teacher to a higher authority such as the principal. Of course, there may be questions or concerns that do not deal with classroom issues that are best addressed by counselors or administrators. 6

7 Should I call the Principal? The Principal should only get involved in resolving classroom issues when the avenues pursued are not satisfactorily concluded. When an issue is brought to the Principal's attention, his or her review process will always begin by fact finding, evaluating conversations that have been held, and assessing the strategies that have been tried. Only after this review can the Principal be of assistance in resolving the situation. Opportunities for Involvement Parental involvement in the child s school remains valuable no matter the age of the student. At the Taylor School there are many opportunities for family involvement. It is both encouraged and welcomed by the Taylor School staff. They are: Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) The PTO is a group of parents and teachers devoted to enriching the educational experience of elementary school students. The PTO raises money and provides volunteers for many enrichment programs and activities. The PTO offers an opportunity for parents to be involved in their child s Taylor School education in many ways. The PTO meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Taylor cafeteria. Child watch is provided at the PTO meetings. The PTO Handbook provides comprehensive information on the various PTO committees, and is available on the Taylor PTO website. Volunteer Opportunities -- In addition to the PTO, parents assist at the Taylor school as library assistants, room parents, and computer lab assistants. Teachers also may request help from parents for special projects, field trips or events. Information regarding volunteer opportunities will be sent home in the weekly newsletter or in separate notices. You should feel free to talk to your child s teacher or a member of the PTO Board of Directors about any volunteer ideas you may have or special talents you wish to share. School Council -- The School Council is an elected body of parents, teachers, and community members that serves to advise the principal on matters of concern to the Taylor School. The mission of the School Council is to share ideas and resources and to shape the direction the school will take to strengthen teaching and learning. When an opening exists, elections are held in the fall. School Council meetings are held monthly and are open to all parents/guardians of Taylor students. Information regarding the dates, times, and agendas of these meeting is available in the weekly newsletter and online, as well as at the Taylor front office. 7

8 Published by the Taylor School Council. Concept, content and organization borrowed from Lexington High School s Communication Guide and Foxborough High School s Communication Guide. The Lexington Public School s School Council and the Lexington High School Parent/School Communication Guide, Lexington: 2005 was used with their permission. Other sources: Taylor Student Handbook; Clark County District Communication Guide; Special Education: A Communication Guide for Parents and Students, York Region District School Board; Family Involvement in Elementary School s Education Harvard Family Research Project, Winter 2006/2007 (available at 8

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