September 12, 2018
Dear D.J. Montague Families,
I hope this letter finds you and your family safe and dry. We are off to a great start, and I am excited to begin a new school year. I hope the transition back to school has gone smoothly for your family, particularly those of you who are sending a child to school for the first time. The students are adjusting well, learning classroom and school routines, making new friends and reconnecting with old friends. We are looking forward to a successful year!
It is my pleasure to welcome Ms. Pat Chappell to the D.J. Montague staff. Ms. Chappell is a veteran educator with 20 years of teaching experience in Williamsburg-James City County. This is a bit of a homecoming for Ms. Chappell who worked at D.J. Montague from 1997 – 2010. Now, after a brief retirement, she has decided to return to the classroom. Ms. Chappell will be serving our kindergarten – second grade gifted students. We are excited to welcome Ms. Chappell back to our Mustang family and look forward to the many ways she will engage our students in their learning.
In accordance with the Code of Virginia and Accreditation Standards, one fire drill will be held each week for the first month of school and one each month for the remainder of the school year. Additionally, public schools are now required to conduct two lockdown drills during the month of September and two during the second semester, one of which must be held in January. The first drill will be conducted by our school staff and other drills may be conducted by members of the James City Police Department. During this and any other drills, parents and visitors will not be permitted to enter the building. Students have done an excellent job during the drills that have already been conducted.
This year we are focusing on fostering a growth mindset in our students. We all want our children to work hard, be risk takers and succeed, but our choice of words may be conveying a different message. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck differentiates between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset and the role we as parents and teachers have in developing the growth mindset. I would like to share with you some ideas about what she calls the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset.
Simply, the fixed mindset message says: You have permanent traits and I’m judging them. The growth mindset says: You are a developing person and I am interested in your development. I frequently lavished praise on my children for doing something well or succeeding in the hope of encouraging confidence and achievement. My comments included, “You are so smart.”, “You’re a natural athlete.”, “Look how well you did without even studying.” Dweck’s studies show that the message children hear is quite different. “If I don’t learn something quickly, I’m not smart.”, “I’d better quit studying or they won’t think I’m brilliant.” Children like to receive praise for their intelligence and talent, but that boost is short lived. Once something is difficult or challenging, that confidence and motivation fall by the wayside because if success means they are smart, failure means they are stupid. This is the fixed mindset.
So what can we say to let our children know we are proud of their successes? Rather than praising their talent or intelligence, we should praise them for the growth oriented process – for their effort and accomplishments achieved through practice, study and persistence. Comments like, “You really studied for your test and your improvement shows it.”, “I like the way you tried many strategies on that math problem until you solved it.” and “That assignment was so long and involved. I admire how you concentrated and finished it.” As Dweck stated, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenge, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.” Ask your child about the power of yet!
As you probably have heard, the WJCC School Board adopted changes to its Student Wellness policy. These changes have no impact on what students can bring to school in their lunches, but do affect food that can be served during the school day such as birthday treats, snacks and class celebrations. In the D.J. Montague Elementary School Family Handbook which should be coming home soon, I have provided the criteria snacks and treats must meet to be brought to school. General standards must be met first and then there are nutrient standards for calories, sodium, sugar and fats that must also be met. To put it simply, to meet the general standards, the first ingredient on the label must be
- whole grain or
- a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or protein food or
- a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetable
If that standard is met, the food must also meet the following nutrient standards
- Calories – 200 or less
- Sodium – 200 mg or less
- Total Fat – 35% of calories or less
- Saturated Fat – Less than 10% of calories
- Trans Fat – 0 g
- Sugar – 35% by weight or less
I encourage you to visit these links on the WJCC website for more detailed information and answers to frequently asked questions. http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/wjcc/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=98CK2Q4F74D0 and
Mark your calendar.
19th – 21st Spirit Night at Papa Murphy’s (Be sure to mention D.J.!)
20th Back to School Night (6:00 – 8:00 PM – Gym)
26th Picture Day
29th Color Run (8:30 Registration/Check in – D.J.)
8th PTA Meeting (4:00 PM – Media Center)
18th Math-Science Night/Book Fair (5:30 – 7:00 PM)
It is important that we work together to make this school year a successful one for your child and your family. If you have any questions, concerns or feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-258-3022.