June 10, 2016 

June 10, 2016

Monday, June 13

            Chorus Concert- 2:15 and 7:00pm

Tuesday, June 14

            All library books due!

            Kindergarten field trip to Upinngil Farm

Wednesday, June 15

            FIELD DAY!

Thursday, June 16

            Last day of preschool

            5th Grade trout stock out

            Taste of Destination Imagination- 4:30-6:00pm




This Wednesday, June 15 is our annual outdoor games extravaganza!  There will be activities for all, including flying disc games, face painting, croquet, line dancing, capture the flag, and more!  New this year:  TIE DYE!  Students are invited to bring a clean, white article of clothing (t-shirts, socks, skirts, whatever you have on hand) to dye.  It all begins at 9:30 when the 6th graders will face off against staff in a fierce volleyball competition!  And as always, field day concludes with a picnic lunch, catered by our fabulous lunch ladies,  Molly and Tab.

Please send children to school prepared to spend the day outside.  They should wear sneakers and hats and bring water bottles.  Sunscreen and bugspray should be applied at home.  



Is it a Reason, or an Excuse?

Last week, at the second day of the staff’s “Taking Stock,” we looked at some of our reflections on the year using a different lens. In the areas cited as needing improvement, how much accountability had we had, or could we have as we move forward? In short, were the items on the list reasons or excuses? Or, possibly, was it a little bit of both?

Excuses are legendary in the education world. The late Frank McCourt, in his book, Angela’s Ashes, reminisced about collecting the absence excuses that his high school students on Staten Island submitted to him on a daily basis.  Seldom did he confront students about those often self-penned excuses, noting,“They’d been forging excuse notes since they learned to write, and if I were to confront each forger I’d be busy 24 hours a day.” At one point, he put the excuses into two piles, one for the forgeries, and the other for the ‘real thing.’ McCourt quickly saw that the forgeries pile was both larger and more creative, in fact, he called them ‘brilliant,’ recognizing the excuses exceeded the imaginative writing that students were doing in class. He realized that he had a way of tapping into his students’ imaginations, and had what he called ‘an epiphany’ that completely changed his teaching, and the learning for these kids.

What Frank McCourt did was to take genuine excuses—kids refusing to be accountable for their actions—and use them as a way of eliminating his own potential excuse that these students would never learn. He grabbed hold of that teachable moment, and made the most of it.

As a junior and senior high school student, I often lacked discipline with my schoolwork. My parentsrefused to be involved in any way when it came to homework, and sometimes it got done and sometimes it didn’t. Extended writing or large projects captivated me, and with the day-to- day work, I somehow managed to get by with my ‘smarts.’ But I lived in a sea of excuses and, looking back, I realize how many opportunities I may have squandered because of it. The same could not be said of my discipline as a student musician. I had a beloved teacher who I knew would not teach me if I did not practice. That, in combination with my love of music, created a reason for me to be accountable, and I practiced and practiced and practiced.

But there is often a fine line between reasons and excuses, and that was evident in our teacher conversations last week. We could agree that there are some things over which we have very little control, and could move into the “Parking Lot”, so that there was more room to focus on those ideas where we could effect change in the coming year. There were things that I, as the Instructional Leader, could ‘own,’ recognizing ways that I could change my practice or pursue other resources leading to positive change.

By the end of the day, seven pages of ideas had been whittled down to about twenty ‘sticky’ notes. Twenty suggestions for ways that we, as a staff, will hold ourselves accountable for continuing to grow our educational practice together. These ideas are not just about math, or writing, or reading, though academics are definitely well represented. What is reflected on those little pieces of paper, are ourgenuine commitment to develop children who are also happy, friendly, and resilient.

When your children arrive home on the last day of school, our afternoon of work will just be beginning. It is an afternoon that LES teachers decided to use, not to clean their rooms, but to come together to decide how we are going to give life to the ideas on those twenty sticky notes, how we are going to be accountable to the children and families of Leverett.

I could not be prouder or more grateful to work with a staff that cares so deeply about their work and about their students. I hope that you, as parents and caregivers, will encourage your children to join me in extending an especially big thank you to our teachers as the school year comes to a close, and a new chapter begins. 

Greenhouse Gratitude

As the Greenhouse program winds down for the year, we would like to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of Dawn Ward, our treasured Greenhouse Specialist. The following piece was the product of a recent 3rd grade lesson on opinion writing.


We Need To Appreciate Dawn

by Maevin Um

Dawn is not being appreciated enough! She works in the greenhouse with all the classes in the school teaching us about different plants and flowers. In third grade we learn things that were made long ago in colonial days.

Dawn is not being appreciated enough. For example, the kids are given fun choices. Dawn tries her best to make greenhouse fun. It is really hard for her to work with all the classes. She makes greenhouse fun by making fairy houses. We get to be creative and design our own fairy houses. She also teaches us cool things like making paper and showed us how to write on bark.

Dawn plants vegetables for our school every year. She plants a lot of vegetables like kale, spinach, chard, radishes and basil. She teaches us how to plant seeds and how and when to water the plants. She also showed us how to harvest the egetables. This is important for us to know in order to plant our own gardens.

One day I saw Dawn working all day with no thanks! She had fun activities and the children seemed to like the activities but no one thanked her. When the children left the house all I heard from them was “Bye Dawn!”

This is what we should do for Dawn.  Dawn does not work at the school in the summer and she wants to grow everyone’s favorite vegetables, but she can’t because the vegetables come out in the summer. She is not working in the school in the summer! So we should get some people to work in the summer for Dawn to help her out. Also, we should remember to say thank you to her when we leave the greenhouse to show her we appreciate her.


LIBRARY BOOKS ARE DUE: All library books are due on Tuesday, June 14th.  Students who return all of their books by Tuesday can enter the End-of-Year Book-Return Raffle to win one of 15 different prizes.  Each prize is a combination of fiction and nonfiction books and fun games or toys. (Some include passes for things like ice cream or skating.) You can check out the prizes on the LES Library Website at: http://tinyurl.com/hdaok3c

Summer Reading

It's the end of the year, and I keep telling students not to check out books from the LES Library. Saying those words out loud is so strange.  It goes against my every impulse!  But it's necessary. We've got to shelve, repair, and inventory books.  We've got to get ready for the summer! 

This brings me to my point: summer reading is so important and can be so much fun!  In the LES Library, I have already started talking about summer reading with your students.  Last week, for example, we had our Get-Excited-for-Summer-Reading Book Swap.  Each student at LES took away at least two new-to-you books.  

End of Year Raffle

Another way that I'm trying to get students excited about summer reading is through the End-of-Year Book-Return Raffle.  Each prize includes fun books!

Leverett Library

A great resource for summer reading is the Leverett Public Library.  They have fabulous children's and Young Adult collections.  They have picture books, early readers, children's novels, graphic novels, audio books and eBooks.  They're working on an outdoor summer reading challenge--an obstacle course of sorts that you can go to the Leverett Library to participate in.  Keep an eye out for that!

Summer Reading Prizes

If your students are encouraged by incentives, then the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Triathlon is a program that you can support at home this summer.  I have started handing out the B&N "Book Journals" to your students.  Students choose their own books to read, answer some of the questions on the "journal", and then bring it to a Barnes and Noble store to get a free book. 

MCBA Mash Up

The MCBA Mash Up list is available!  This is the list of 25 books that I will encourage our 4th to 6th graders to read.  After reading at least 5 of the books, each student will be able to vote for THE winner of the Massachusetts Children's Book Award AND can attend the Books-In-Action Party in March.  The Leverett Library has all of these books and they're getting them on audio too.

If you're looking for book recommendations, check out the lists up on the library website http://leverettelementaryschoollibrary.edublogs.org/, give me a call, send me an email, or stop by the LES library!

School Lunch Accounts

Please make sure your children's school lunch accounts are paid in full by the last day of school. I have been emailing families who owe money, but if you are unsure of your account status please send me a quick email to check. Any funds left in accounts at the end of the year roll over to next year or can be transferred to a younger sibling.  

                                    - Molly


Taste of Destination Imagination

Thursday, June 16th 4:30-6:00 pm

Leverett Elementary School parent room

Is your child creative, imaginative, and good at hands-on projects? Are you looking for a new outlet to foster this interest in a small, team-oriented atmosphere? If so, we invite you to join a short session aimed at introducing kids and parents to Destination Imagination. We will describe the program, provide examples of problems, show videos of team competitions, and have kids work in teams on some instant challenges. This is also a great opportunity for parents to learn more about the program.

Destination Imagination www.destinationimagination.org is an international, team-based, problem-solving program that fosters creativity in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and fine arts. Based on expressed interest, we are likely starting 2 teams at LES next fall. If you and your child want to find out more, please attend this session and/or contact LES parent Allison Roy at [email protected].




(Items listed here are not school sponsored)


Educational Resources For Sale

K-5 workbooks, manipulative, games, early reader books etc. Previously used for home education. Bundles are posted for sale under books on Western MA Craigslist if you’d like to see some of what I have. Please contact Heather 413-367-2828;  [email protected] if you’re interested. Thanks!


Wild Coyotes After School Program

2016-17 Now Registering

Wednesdays, 1-5pm meeting @ LES
A supportive container for kids to grow, play and deepen their connection to nature. Kids are encouraged to follow their interests and explore the natural world through all their senses. Combining outdoor skills, unstructured free play and a long-term mentoring model, Wild Coyotes offers your kids a safe place to be themselves and develop a deeper connection with the natural world.

For more details, visit us online:  http://www.wolftreema.com/wildcoyotes/


The Hartsbrook School’s Farm Camp offers children the chance to connect with nature through the life of a working farm.  Through meaningful work, Young Stewards (ages 6-12) learn about the farm animals and their care.  They enjoy the land-based crafts of farm and garden, such as butter/cheese making, wool dyeing, felting, and paper making.  The Spouts (ages 4-6) have their own teacher and activities, like grinding grain, making flower chains, and visiting the animals.  All campers sing songs, listen to stories and play water games.  Enjoy some fresh air, purposeful work and the fun of working with fellow campers.  8:45 am to 3 pm, M-F.  One week sessions from June 20 through July 15.  Registration at harstbrook.org.  Questions?  Call 413-586-1908 x116


Awesome available summer childcare! I’m Lily Stratford and I’m a 21 year old nursing student. I live in Leverett and have been babysitting for area kids of all ages for 9 years. I am CPR/AED and PEARS (Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition and Stabilization) certified. In past years, I’ve done trips to Lake Wyola, Look Park, the Eric Carle Museum, Mill River, area playgrounds, nature exploration, arts & crafts and other fun activities which I plan to do this summer! Due to the fact that I have two children participating already, drop off and pick up will be at my house. I’m available from 8:30-4 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through the end of July and Monday through Friday throughout August. References upon request. Please call with questions- 413.834.1654- Thanks!


Lot 80 Rattlesnake Gutter Rd; MLS#72009846

Discover the perfect blend of rural living, close proximity to Amherst, and fiber optic connectivity to the rest of the world right here in Leverett! On a quiet road ending in conservation land, build your dreams on this lovely sunny parcel. Wildlife abounds on this ready to build site. The septic plan is approved and the well has been installed! This highly customizable home can be adapted to suit any living arrangement and can be modified to achieve net zero performance. Various package options are available.

Contact Heather Hutchinson for more information

[email protected]; 413-695- 2954



Leverett Ladies Art Show
Paintings by Hillary Wilbur Ferro, Ivy Mabius and Kaitlin Scutari, Local Artists
at the Leverett town Library 
May 19th - June 28th



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