Principal Letter 2018-19

Principal Letter


That exciting time of year is here! After many years in education, I still feel that joy of beginning a new school year! The staff and I are looking forward to greeting our students and their families!

As many of you may know, we had several staff members retire last year including our assistant principal, Mrs. Vitagliano. Highland has been very fortunate to have Shawn Baskerville take on the assistant principal role. Mr. Baskerville is a highly regarded administrator in the Manchester School District. He has been the assistant principal at Hillside Middle School for the last seven years, and has decided to transfer here in order to work with elementary school aged students. Mr. Baskerville is married and has two young sons. We have had the opportunity to work together this summer, and I am delighted that he will now be at Highland!

Highland will also have a few new teachers this year. Mrs. Timpe will be joining the fifth grade teaching team, Mrs. Chandonnet will be teaching second grade, Mrs. Bailey will be teaching our 1-3 grade self-contained classroom, and Ms. Gribok will instruct our K-1 self-contained class. We also have a new reading specialist named Mrs. Barner. All new staff are highly qualified and are eager to meet their students. Highland also has several new paraprofessionals joining our staff as well. They are: Ms. Turner, Ms. Perkins, Mrs. Finethy, Mrs. Carlson, Ms. Rondeau, Ms. O’Rourke, Ms. Barbowski, Mrs. Gonzalez, and Ms. Allen. We welcome all of our new staff to Highland!

As many of you know, Highland has been the first school in Manchester to have a therapy dog assist students at school, and has been a model for many other schools. Even though, Mrs. Dubois retired last year, she will continue to bring our therapy dog, Remington, to Highland. Mrs. Dubois and Remington were winners of the “Life Changer of the Year Award” for 2017-2018. This is a national award given to nominated educators who make a difference in the lives of students. Remington holds the honor of being the first four-legged recipient! We also are working on having another therapy dog join Highland’s staff named Lucy!

The staff and I are looking forward to learning and growing with our students! Highland is one of a few elementary schools in the district to be allowed to participate in High Quality Project Based Learning professional development provided by the Buck Institute. This work dovetails with the work we have already been doing with quality performance assessments. Many of Highland teachers will be training this summer to create projects for students in their classes. Assistant Superintendent Allen has procured this professional development for the district, which will put Manchester at the forefront of new and exciting educational learning experiences that promote success for all students.

Robotics has become an important learning experience for many students at Highland, and we will continue to have our fourth graders participate in the First Jr STEAM Lego program. We also have an amazing team of fifth grade teachers who run our Highland Robotics Club for students in 4th and 5th grade. Students in K-5 are involved in STEAM lessons during the school year, and we celebrate students’ work on STEAM Night. This is an evening event in May where students showcase their projects, and explain the process they used in developing their projects to their families.

Mrs. Schwalbe will be taking over the Drama Club, which is now going to be referred to as the Theater Club. Also helping Mrs. Schwalbe is Mrs. Coyle and her daughter Ms. Stoffel. Both of these ladies perform and direct community theater plays. Parents are encouraged to join this group in helping to make this a successful club for students! Mrs. Schwalbe will be sending parents information about how to join the Club once the new year has begun.

Next year will be a very big year for Highland-Goffe’s Falls as we will be celebrating the school’s 50th anniversary! Mr. Coulon and Mrs. Chase along with staff from the STEAM TEAM have been working behind the scene to help us commemorate this special event by selling bricks that can be personalized and displayed permanently in a prominent place within the school. More information will be coming on how to purchase your families engraved piece of Highland.

This year, we have a new PTA President, Karly Gaudette! Mrs. Gaudette is a creative and energetic individual who will be bringing some fun ideas to the PTA. We highly encourage parent participation and know how important it is that we all work together in a collaborative manner for the benefit of our students. We are quite fortunate to have many caring adults who help to make Highland a very special community.

Academics are important at Highland, and we do have homework. Please check with your child/ren to make sure they complete all of their homework. We try to stress the importance of being a responsible learner and try to instill good work habits that will hopefully last a lifetime. We make no excuses for having high expectations for all of our students.

Highland will continue to foster the Growth Mindset philosophy (Carol S. Dweck) that believes intelligence is something that can change and grow through hard work and perseverance. We teach our students not to give up but to keep trying. Our students learn the power of “yet”, which means they have just not learned something yet, but can if they keep working at it. We ask parents to join us in this effort!

This was a very quiet summer for me where I took time to reflect. Going forward, I invite you all to join me as we try to instill kindness throughout the school community this year. We will be focusing on the importance of being a “Husky Hero” by standing up to any bullying that is witnessed! We want all of our students to feel safe and cared about at Highland-Goffe’s Falls School. Welcome everyone to a new year at the Home of the Huskies!

Caught Reading!!

Principal Matthews, M.Ed., CAGS