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There have been so many special things happening at Sycamore Creek lately! One priority and focus as I begin my work in such a wonderful school has been to build relationships with the students, staff, and families. ~ Melody Brunson, Principal

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS A highlight for me has been visiting classrooms and reading to every class. The students have been so creative in asking me questions to learn more about me and I love getting to know them! In addition, it has been a blast riding four of our school buses so far on their afternoon routes. My afternoon bus adventures will continue! I also have had the privilege to meet with all the amazing staff teams at SCES to find out more about what they are doing specifically to contribute to the success of the school, challenges they are facing, and what roles individual team members play. In addition to our initial team meeting, I have meet with every grade level team twice to focus specifically on students who are not meeting benchmarks and identifying what additional interventions and supports we can put in place right away to help these students be even more successful. Currently I am really enjoying scheduling one on one individual meetings with every staff member to find out more about them, what they love about Sycamore Creek, and what they believe are areas of growth for our next steps. Getting to know you is also important to me! Thank you for stopping me when you see me to introduce yourself and your family. It has been such a pleasure meeting even more of you and your children whether at the Bagels with Brunson, Book Fair, individual conferences or phone calls, or at the recent Student Led Conferences.

IMPROVING SAFETY Improving safety at Sycamore Creek is another one of my top priorities. After identifying some areas of concern, I met with our WCPSS Security Department to identify several action steps to increase student and staff safety. Our outside doors are always locked now, and we will be providing more protection in the classrooms. As emergency plans are updated and additional resources are purchased for this project I will update you with the details. I also met with the Town of Raleigh to discuss the safety issues related to morning arrival and dismissal. They will be assisting us to provide some additional support to address our concerns. GATHERING PARENT FEEDBACK Thank you so much to the 185 parents who completed the parent survey. It allowed me to find out more about what you value most as well as the ideas you have to make Sycamore Creek even better. Thank you for taking time to give me feedback and for being so open, positive, and honest!

diversity, communication about clubs, enrichment for K-2, Special Education, smaller classes in upper grades, stronger communication, student assignment, streamlined volunteer communication, and technology. I will be sharing the recommendations and ideas with both the Administrative Team and the Instructional Leadership Team as we continue to reflect on ways to make things ever better at Sycamore Creek! EVALUATING SURVEY RESULTS The last survey question was about preferences in receiving communication from me. Based on results, my plan right now is to use the School Messenger only for very important timely messages or reminders of big school events. Instead of a separate Principal Newsletter, I will include my Principal Newsletter in the PTA Croc Chronicle sent every other month. Then the method of communication preferred most from the survey is through email. Right now, any messages I have for you between newsletters will be sent to the classroom teacher to forward to you. However, I am working with WCPSS Communications to find a way that I can email you all directly.

The things that parents love about Sycamore Creek Elementary School were overwhelmingly the teachers, safety, and the culture of the school community.

I encourage you to follow me on Twitter @MCBrunson where I love to highlight all the amazing things I see every week at Sycamore Creek!

Based on the survey, there were identified areas where parents felt improvements could be made. Some of these related to carpool, specialists, EOG stress, playgrounds, recess time,

BAGELS WITH BRUNSON I invite you to pop in at one of the informal “Bagels with Brunson” so that I can meet you! ~Saturday, April 14, 8:30 AM ~Wednesday, May 30, 2:00 PM

STAFF DEVELOPMENT Our Early Release staff developments have been focused on equity. As a staff we are working hard to identify the inequities that exist for our students at Sycamore Creek and taking steps to increase equity for all. In addition, teachers have received training on how to use the MTSS Explorer Tool when creating Tier II Intervention Plans for students.

PLANS FOR THE NEW YEAR We are anticipating receiving our student enrollment numbers, staff allotments, and class size guidelines for next year very soon. As soon as we receive them I will be able to share with you more about projections for next year classes, determine track change approvals, and give information about classroom spaces and specialists.

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL SEARCH Ms. Hartman, one of our Assistant Principals, moved to Durant Middle School at the end of February. She was an incredible administrator and I am so very thankful I had the opportunity to work closely with her during my transition. Although we were so sad to say goodbye, we were thrilled for her that she had this opportunity to add to her educational experiences as she continues to prepare for her next steps in administration. Mrs. Debbie Everett, a retired Assistant Principal, is serving as our interim AP during our search. In addition, to administration, Ms. Everett’s passion is counseling, and she has been very instrumental in supporting SCES staff and students. We have formed a large interview team with representatives from every team. Throughout this month, the team has conducted many interviews and will continue to search to find the perfect person to help us continue the tradition of excellence at Sycamore Creek.

VOLUNTEER SERVICE WEEK All Wake County schools will be celebrating and participating in National Volunteer Service Week on April 16-20. We will be sending out the details of how Sycamore Creek will participate soon. During that week we will also highlight all the amazing service projects the school community has participated in all year.

ESL SUBSTITUTE TEACHER Please welcome Ms. Cathy Traccarala, who is the new ESL Substitute Teacher. She is passionate about the ESL program and is very excited to serve our students. Please welcome her and reach out to her with any questions or concerns related to ESL service delivery.

SNOW MAKE UP DAYS Don’t forget our Saturday Make-up Days for Tracks 1, 2, and 3 are: April 7, and April 14 Hours: 8:30-12:00 STUDENT & STAFF CELEBRATIONS I am so impressed with the Student Led Conferences on every track. Thank you to all the teachers for finding meaningful ways for students to be leaders and demonstrate accountability for their own learning. Thank you to all the families who came to support your child! I was so thrilled to hear the children sharing what they had learned, teaching you, and sharing meaningful goals for the next quarter. Innovation Expo The Innovation Expo was incredible! We have some very scientific thinkers who challenged me. I was so proud of all the students who had created projects and who were being leaders by teaching others about what they learned.

Do you know that I even changed the laundry detergent I use at home based on what I learned?! Thank you to Mrs. Wright for organizing the event and thinking of everything! Odyssey of the Mind Congratulations to our Odyssey of the Mind teams! It was very exciting to see our three OM teams compete at Wake Tech in Raleigh. Did you hear that one team tied for 1st and is moving on to the State Competition? Did you hear that one of our SCES students was given the OMER award for not giving up? I felt so proud to be a Sycamore Croc! A very special thanks to Mrs. Hochbrueckner who coordinates Odyssey of the Mind. First in Fitness Congratulations to Sycamore Creek’s First in Fitness Team! Not only did they inspire me by their spirit and motivation even before the competition, but they put us on the map placing FIRST!!! We are so very proud of this team! Thank you to Mr. Miller for preparing the students all year and motivating them to do their best! Crocs Unify The Crocs Unify Club students have engaged in many leadership opportunities this month. They hosted assemblies and led our pledge to Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign. In addition, they just participated in a new morning YOGA class and hosted Special Olympics International! Others are traveling from far away to see the Crocs Unify club in action. Seeing students care about other students makes my heart smile and is one of the reasons I love being at Sycamore Creek. Thank you to Mrs. Hoke for leading

this team and finding so many opportunities for Crocs Unify to

be leaders and for highlighting Sycamore Creek in our community. Special Congratulations also to Ms. Hoke for being awarded the Bronze Award from WCPSS Special Ed Services for promoting Disability History and Awareness Month! National Board Certification Congratulations to Ms. Seha for receiving her National Board Certification. She was honored at the WCPSS Teacher of Excellence Award Ceremony. We are so proud of her. AMAZING PTA I wanted to share that among all the things I am in awe of at Sycamore Creek, one of the biggest is the tremendous support of the PTA. Hands down you are the most involved and supportive PTA! You make a difference in the lives of the students, staff, and families. You are one of reasons that Sycamore Creek has such a strong sense of community. Every day I turn my head and there is the PTA serving breakfast on Saturdays, providing creative ways to show teachers their appreciation, providing bus drivers with tokens of appreciation, planning incredible events for the students and families, fundraising to provide more resources to children, developing partnerships with local businesses, hosting the District Board Advisory Council meeting, and always offering your support! THANK YOU! Thank you for your continued support! CROCS Rock! Mrs. Brunson

EXAMPLES FROM PARENT SURVEY Teachers: • Teachers and students held to high standards • Teachers and administrators who truly love our children and want the best for them • How understanding the teachers are and their flexibility • Staff is held accountable • Teachers commitment to overall success of the children • Amazing specialists • Friendly and involved teachers • Kind interactions between teachers and students • Excellent teachers • Caring staff • Teacher dedication • Communication and engagement from teachers • Differentiation for advanced students • Individualized support for my child • The staff is terrific! • Dedicated teachers who work hard to help my children learn and grow. • Teachers challenge students to do better and be better students. • Amazing, dedicated teachers and specialist teachers that work so hard every day • The staff. This is our first year here and it is without a doubt the most friendly and knowledgeable staff I have ever seen in a school. • Loving, genuine, and competent teachers. Safety: • Safe environment for our children • My child is safe • Safe, loving community • Children’s safety • Most importantly, the zero tolerance when it comes to bullying. Community and Culture: • Fostering love of learning • High standards • Well organized schedules • Efficiency – well run and organized • Structure with genuine and personal

care and concern for my children • Big school but has an intimate closeknit feel • Sense of community • Positive community • Feeling of being part of a community as soon as you walk in • Chomping culture • Values taught, not just academics • Strong connections between teachers, students, and families • Really strong and supportive PTA • Parent involvement – volunteering in class, visiting for lunch, communicating with teachers • The amazing staff, students and parents - who are all SO involved and SO supportive of making SCES the very best place for our little ones to learn! • Parent involvement is encouraged, welcomed and valued. I’m not an intruder at Sycamore, I’m a welcomed partner. SCES is a high achieving, special school and we hope it stays that way! • The culture. High expectations while still making room for fun. Love the personal relationships the staff builds with the entire student body. It feels like family. • I love our tight-knit community. The school is enormous and operates on 4 different schedules, yet somehow, I feel like we are all part of a family. We know each other, but it is more than that. We are all proud to be Crocs, and I think that is what joins us together. The pride comes from SCES being a fantastic school: great teachers, staff, administration, students, and even the building. • Strong vision and mission; sense of unity across the 4 tracks; genuine care about the well-being and success about each and every student • Confidence. From bottom to top, I am confident that my kids are in good hands.


Hello March!! Good bye winter… hello spring!! With the flowers and trees budding we can also pop with excitement for what we have in store for the coming months and the rest of our school year.

~Cat Jackson, PTA President BOOK FAIR Thank you to everyone who came out and got their Paws on some new Scholastic Books! Thank you to Amanda Meehan, Megan Phanmiller and Dawn Cain for organizing the fair and working with Scholastic to give our students the most variety of books ever offered! Thank you to all of you who volunteered to set up, work, and pack up the book fair as well. We had an incredible turn out on Family Night. Thank you to everyone who participated in that fun evening! Clifford and Mrs. Brunson loved seeing so many friends in their reading corner. INNOVATION EXPO We packed in a lot on February 10th with the Book Fair, Saturday school and the annual Innovation Expo!! Thank you to Mrs. Wright for opening our kids minds to science, innovation, and engineering! What a fun day! Thank you to all of our volunteers and evaluators!! All of the students, even those who did not present, had a great time enjoying all of the projects. We look forward to seeing you next year! SNOW DAYS We have 3 more snow days to make up: March 24th, April 7th and April 14th. I wanted to thank Leslie Rossner and the Hospitality Committee for waking up early and providing breakfast and coffee to our teachers on make up days!! If you would like to be a part of the hospitality committee email list please email:

CHILI COOK OFF We held our Annual Chili Cook Off on February 23rd for our teachers. Thank you to everyone who donated their chili (and recipes) and side items to make for a wonderful feast! Our teachers sampled each chili during their lunch and voted on their favorite. Congratulations to this year’s winners: #1 Melissa Hoffman #2 JD Gidley #3 Julianne Gorton!! FAMILY NIGHT What a perfect night to have burgers and ice cream with all of your crocodile friends!! Thank you Brendan Betts for organizing so many fun nights out!! How fun is it to raise money for our school by eating dinner and dessert out! Our next Family Night will be on March 29th at Moe’s and Coldstone in Brier Creek from 5-9pm. On April 19th from 5-9pm please join us at Jason’s Deli in Brier Creek. Look forward to seeing you there!! TURF CHANGE DRIVE We held a change drive on March 2nd to raise money for the Turf Fund. Thank you Brendan for walking the carpool line in the wind! We raised $680 thanks to all of our students and parents who donated their change (and dollars). This year we have also received Turf donations from some pretty terrific Crocs who donated their birthday money to the Turf Fund! In lieu of gifts these students asked donations to be made to the Turf Fund. The PTA thanks them for their generosity! Just another reason why our Crocs Rock!

SPRING PALOOZA We are so excited to invite you to our first Spring Palooza on Friday, May 4th from 5-8pm. This event will celebrate to 10th anniversary of Sycamore Creek!! The Palooza will include a food truck rodeo, a band - MikeMickxer, a caricaturist, facepainting, inflatables, a photo booth, a Lego booth, a craft table, and a dance floor!! This is going to be a great night - we hope you will join us!! ART SHOW

The annual Art Show and scavenger hunt will be held on May 9th from 4:30-6pm. Please come and view our Crocs Art! Thank you Mrs. Mountz for showcasing our students’ creativity! Following the Art Show the PTA will hold a General PTA meeting. NEXT GENERAL PTA MEETING

On May 9th we will be meeting for our last PTA meeting of the 2017-18 school year. Please join us as we vote for next year’s Board of Directors from 6-6:30pm in the Media Center. If you are interested in serving on the PTA board please email we are currently in need of a Treasurer and a Track 1 VP. If you are interested in serving on a committee please email committees currently in need of a Chair or Co-Chair are: Carnival, Spirit Wear, Yearbook, Square 1 Art. Thank you to all of our 2017-18 Chairs!



04.20.2018 - 05.04.2018


april 14 at 8:30 am



Flexible hours Relaxing environment Helping teachers and kids Interested? Email:




l a r e n Ge PTA g n i t e e M Please join us!









PTA BOARD President: Cat Jackson Treasurer: Dawn Cain Secretary: Amanda Meehan VP Communications: Courtney P. Orning VP Faculty Appreciation: Leeanne Burda VP Fundraising: Brendan Betts VP Hospitality: Leslie Rossner VP Membership: Amanda Howell

COMMITTEES Book Fair Dawn Cain, Megan Phanmiller, Amanda Meehan, Box Tops Heather Swanson, Croc Crew Ryan Orning, Croc Mile Theresa Sarmiere, Cat Jackson, Croc Shop Asia Chavis, Cultural Arts Cat Jackson, EOG Proctors Jessica Kronen,

Movie Night Brendan Betts, Outreach Sherry Oliver, Retail/ Restaurant Nights Brendan Betts, School Improvement Team Elizabeth Anderson, Heather Swanson, Science Expo Stephanie Wright, Sue Mabe, Spiritwear Vacant Square One Art Michele Minehart,

Finance Dawn Cain,

Student Recognition Deborah Hendren, Cayce Wagner,

GoPlaySave Dawn Cain,

Super Crocs Day Mike Miller,

Website Hospitality/Recognition Leslie Rossner, Courtney P. Orning, Leeanne Burda, Yearbook/Historian Juliana Novozhilova, Hurricanes Cayce Wagner, Brendan Betts,

Track 1 VP: Ben Bobay

Track 2 VP: Beth Raymond Track 3 VP: Meghan Becker @SycamoreCreekES @MCBrunson

Track 4 VP: Jen Fox

Croc Chronicle March-April2018  
Croc Chronicle March-April2018  

The newsletter of Sycamore Creek Elementary School, Raleigh, NC.