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Parent Handbook For 2013-2014 Mrs. Marks Washington S.T.E.M. Academy 423 W. Kincaide St. Warsaw, IN 46580 371-5097

I want to welcome you and your child to a new school year. I am thrilled to be your child’s teacher. It’s going to be a fun year full of lots of learning and new adventures. I look forward to working together with you to provide a safe, challenging, creative and fun atmosphere for your son or daughter. I have been teaching for 18 years with 16 of those in first grade. I previously taught reading recovery and special needs. I graduated from Grace College and earned my Master’s Degree in Education from Indiana University. I am married to an amazing man and have 4 wonderful sons, 3 sweet daughter in laws and 7 beautiful grandchildren. I hope this packet helps to answer any questions you may have about your child’s school experience. If you would need to contact me for any reason concerning your child, please use the communication log in your child’s FROG binder or you may reach me at school between 8:20 and 8:45 or 3:40 and 4:00. You may also contact me through email at

You will be awed at how much your child will grow. Most likely, your child already has a solid foundation of reading and writing established. During first grade we build upon that foundation, enabling your child to become an accomplished reader, writer, and mathematician. You will see changes in your child’s thinking, as he/she becomes familiar with abstract concepts and symbols. The change will be dramatic--just compare a set of blueprints with a constructed home. That’s the kind of growth you’ll see this year!

For a successful school year start your child’s day off with:       

Adequate sleep A good breakfast Lunch money or lunch Necessary supplies, books, homework, etc. Proper dress for the weather After school directions A kiss and a hug

Things to do throughout the year:     

Provide a study place Read with your child, let your child read to you, let your child see you reading Take your child to the library Take part in school activities Praise your child every day

Language Arts

Our primary classes are using a Balanced Literacy method of instruction utilizing Indiana Common Core Standards. This system includes a working with words block including phonics, word attack strategies and spelling; writing workshop where students write daily in a variety of genres; reader’s workshop which includes whole group reading, partner and individual reading with a strong emphasis on comprehension strategies. A part of our balanced literacy is also guided reading groups, where instructional assistants come to our room for thirty minutes daily for instruction in a small group setting using our library of leveled readers. We are very fortunate to have these reading assistants at Washington .


Math in Focus: The Singapore Approach is the math curriculum WCS will be using this

year. This curriculum revolves around several key strategies that are layered upon one another: building number sense through part-whole thinking, understanding place value, and breaking numbers into parts that are easier to work with when performing math operations. Singapore Math teaches students to understand math in stages, starting with concrete (using hands-on materials), then pictorial (solving problems using pictures), and finally working in the abstract (where numbers represent symbolic values).


Warsaw Schools uses the continuous stroke method of handwriting (somewhat like circles and sticks). A copy of the alphabet is available so that you can practice with your child. Please help your child remember that tall letters (b, d, f, h, k, l, and t) should be made taller than the small letters (a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, and z), and letters with tails should fall below the handwriting line (g, j, p, q, and y).

S.T.E.M. Our STEM Curriculum will continue to focus on aquatic biodiversity, which is the study of life in the ecosystems of lakes, streams, ponds and rivers. We have chosen Winona Lake and Cherry Creek as our field of study. In our second year of STEM, we will also be focusing on the human body and biomedical engineering. This is another exciting year to be a part of Washington STEM Academy as we, as educators, students, and parents will all experience the second year of our STEM program together.

Arrival, Absences & Dismissal

Arrival time: 8:45-9:00. Students need to be in their seats and ready to begin at 9:00 a.m. If your child arrives before 8:45 they will need to wait in the north hallway, not in the classroom. If your child is late, they will need to stop at the office to get a tardy slip. Don’t forget to contact the office when school is missed due to illness and/or appointments. Dismissal is at 3:40 p.m. It is school policy that I send your child home following their usual transportation plan unless you send a note, email me or call the office before the end of the day.


Breakfast cost is $1.25 daily. Lunch cost is $2.25 daily. Milk is included with the tray lunch. Students who pack their lunch may also purchase milk for 50 cents. The office will let you know when you need more money in your account. Please send all money in a sealed envelope or baggie, marked with your child’s name, my name and Lunch.


I have been blessed in the past with some amazing parent volunteers! If you would like to volunteer time at school or would like to work on things at home please fill out a volunteer sheet. If you are going to volunteer in the classroom or chaperone field trips you must fill out a Criminal History Report. This is a Warsaw Community School policy. It takes a minimum of two weeks to get the report, so PLEASE if you think you may want to chaperone a field trip, or help in the class, fill out the Criminal History Report and return it right away so that I have it on file. Room mothers/fathers are also needed to help with parties. Let me know if you are interested.

Scholastic Orders

The book order is a great way to purchase books for you child at a lower cost than a book store. Look for order forms monthly along with instructions for ordering online. If you send your order to school with your child, please ensure that your check is made payable to Scholastic, it must be made out the book company not Washington Elementary.


If you pick up your child after school in the “Parent Pickup Line” please be patient and wait in line until your car has pulled up to the loading zone. For everyone’s safety, we cannot allow your child to run across the parking lot to your car.

Cold Weather Wear

When the weather turns cold please make sure that your child leaves the house ready for any type of outdoor weather. Since we will be outside during most recesses it is a good idea to send a warm jacket even though it was mild in the morning. Please be sure to listen to the weather and to dress appropriately. At lunchtime the children go to recess for 30 minutes. It can be chilly at times and most days we will go out. Also handy is a pair of socks to keep at school in case of wet feet during recess. Please mark everything with your child’s name – we often have duplicated coats and backpacks.


You are welcome to send in a simple treat to school with your child on their birthday, but please let me know in advance if you intend to do this so that I can plan accordingly. I’ll be happy to set aside 10-15 minutes to celebrate your child at the end of our school day. It is now Washington’s school policy that treats MUST be store bought in original packaging. This will help identify ingredients that may be linked to student allergies. Also, if you send in drinks, juice boxes will reduce spills. Please send napkins with your treat. We ask that you do not send birthday invitations to be handed out at school. This is a Warsaw schools policy.

Baggy Books

I will be sending home a baggy book (book in a zip loc bag) for your child that is at or near their reading level each day. They should read their book and bring it back the next day. This consistent reading of books at their level, slightly above or below will really enhance their reading ability and love of books. Please take time to listen to them and sign their reading logs. The reading logs will be collected on Monday. Praise them for their hard work! They deserve it.


In addition to our baggy books, your child will be bringing home a homework pack on Mondays which will need to come back on Friday. This homework should only take about 10 minutes each night. Other homework might include unfinished work or special projects. Providing a consistent time and quiet place for your child to do their nightly homework will be very beneficial to them.

Frog Folder

Frog folders are a great communication /organizational tool we will be using in the primary grades. FROG stands for Fully Responsible, Organized, and Growing. This notebook is designed to help students develop good organization skills that will benefit them throughout life. It will also ensure that you receive all homework assignments, notes, and grade papers. Please check the FROG book each night and remind your child to bring it to school each day.

Growing Caring and Successful Students

At Washington, we strive to teach children how to make appropriate choices and to be responsible. Every Friday during Gathering, Mr. Ray addresses our students and teaches the importance of the following character guidelines:

GOOD ATTITUDE HONESTY SELF-CONTROL COMPASSION EMPATHY KINDNESS ENCOURAGE I believe that these characteristics are essential throughout a person’s lifetime. Therefore I expect students to honor these guidelines. By living these character words, our students can work together as caring, kind, respectful, responsible students that can stand by their choices and actions. I am confident that our students will be able to meet these expectations and make appropriate choices in our classroom.

Behavior Plan My classroom expectations correlate with Washington’s school wide expectations – SHARE which stands for Self Control, Honesty, Acts of Kindness, Responsibility, Respect, and it’s for Everyone. We will demonstrate and practice how to use these expectations every day. I will use system to monitor behavior. It’s a system that helps students take responsibility for their own behavior in the classroom. Here’s how it works: As a class, we will create a list of ways to help our classroom be caring and productive using good behavior. This list will be posted in the classroom. The is set up to track your student’s success at helping achieve this good behavior goal. Your child will receive points for good behavior and might lose points for making poor decisions. Students will receive classroom rewards for getting points. As a parent or guardian, you will be able to go on the computer, Apple or Android application and see your child’s daily, weekly and monthly behavior reports. See information page on how to create an account and access your student’s reports. Thank you so much for being a part of our Behavior Plan.

Parent Packet  

This packet contains information about Mrs. Marks classroom.