Words from Wallace

  • 2020 Welcome Back

    Posted by Michele Revalee on 8/4/2020 11:00:00 AM

    Dear Cotton Boll Community,

    I would like to welcome you to our 2020-2021 school year.  I know you agree with me that this is not the beginning we would have designed but it is the beginning we have been handed.  My classroom teacher experience is at the high school.  After 13 years at Ironwood High School I became an instructional coach which placed me on every elementary site in the district for coaching and professional developments.  I was stunned and impressed with the work I observed elementary teachers engaged in each day meeting educational needs of every student respectfully, differentiated, and crazy creative.   As your Principal at Cotton Boll I want to assure you this excellence continues here at Cotton Boll Elementary.  I have watch teachers return from their Summer break refreshed and diving into a new framework of instruction with tenacity.   Last Spring some were proficient with housing their communication through Synergy, others were proficient using Teams to communicate with their students, others acquired google phone numbers, others used their personal devices for communication.  We had a high percentage of engagement from students and we are proud of that. 

    With this new and different year, we have three points of delivery for communication and instruction which all teachers have been trained on the last few days and are ready to get on-line with your student August 5th at 8:00am

    Synergy:  This is where teachers will house grades and take attendance daily.  It is imperative you are enrolled in Parent Vue, which requires you to physically come to school and sign up.  This is a highly secure system of student data and requires the legal guardian to initiate and keep personal information updated. 

    ParentVUE Video Overview

    ParentVUE User Guide

     

    Microsoft Teams:  This is the site we will use for student-teacher interfacing.  We will follow our Master Schedule of electives and teachers will be communicating their schedule with you.  Specials should start August 17th on-line, again teachers will communicate these details. 

    Getting Students Ready to Use Teams

    Florida Virtual:  This is a complete on-line curriculum delivery system.  The students will not be getting on Florida Virtual for the first few days of school.  The first few days of school will be devoted to reviewing digital skills and protocols.   

    We are excited and ready to get on-line tomorrow through Microsoft Teams and provide school experiences and learning for your child for as long as we need too.  We miss your faces desperately but know this is the safest format currently and we are all in to make it successful for you and your family.  Please be patient with yourselves and your students and call us with any questions or concerns that arise during this new delivery system. 

     

    Go BIG – Go BOLD – Go BULLDOG STRONG

    Cathy Wallace, Principal

    623-412-4700

     

    FOR STUDENTS

    StudentVUE Video Overview

    StudentVUE User Guide

    Teams Meetings Student User Guide

     

     

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Social Media

    Posted by Michele Revalee on 1/27/2020

    Social Media, is it good? Or is it bad? SnapChat, InstaGram, WhatsUp, Facebook, You Tube, WeChat, QQ, QZone, Weibo, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. are some of the Social Media Platforms used to communicate with each other. I will not make a blanket statement about social media being good or bad, but like so many things it can hurt, and it can help. My hope, and conversation to students who are in my office because of Social Media disruptions to their mental health, is to regulate it and continually challenge and assess if it is productive or destructive.

    Productive

    Social Media is used to open up our personal lives to those we want to invite to share our joys and sorrows. This can be helpful to get the word out when we need and want to communicate an event such as a celebrations, graduation, births or deaths. When we are careful with who we invite in, Social Media can be a fun and joyful pastime and mode of communication. I would challenge everyone to audit their friend contacts and delete/block anyone who does not bring joy and positive emotions to your Social Media platforms. I have blocked family members for rude extreme vocabulary regarding political posts, I just do not want to see it, even if I may agree, I will not fill my mind with negative, mean spirited words and emotions.

    Destructive

    Social Media can be destructive. It can turn a great day into a fearful/tearful one. When students and even parents experience negative, mean posts many times they bring them to me, the principal. Administrators are having a lot of conversation and evolving in our involvement with the community and Social Media. In previous years administrator attitude has been, “I did not buy the phone and give it to the student,” “Not my problem,” “take the phone away.” But when the mean nasty posts are out there the damage has been done, relationship has been broken and there are a lot of angry people on campus holding on to words, pictures and shameful communication disrupting the educational environment. When the educational environment is disrupted it becomes my problem. Several conversations stand out to me regarding Social Media and students. Once a guardian called me regarding her child’s depression. After a long conversation about resources and what we could offer at school for help I was stunned to learn that the dark emotions and depression were originating from Social Media posts regarding the student’s looks. This was a beautiful child but someone on Social Media had post body shaming words and pictures about this student, sending this student into a dark place. The guardian mentioned the posts were the catalyst for the student considering suicide. I recommended to the guardian that the phone be taken away for a season, while the student healed and processed the negative intrusion. The guardian became indignant and ended the conversation stating I had no right to suggest such a harsh action. I am still scratching my head over this one …

    In summary I would like to ask and encourage parents to provide constant monitoring of student Social Media. When they are under 18, or under your care, in your home, the social media should be subjected to adult monitoring of all activities. Monday’s have become difficult days for some students because mean/nasty things were posted over the weekend and on Monday everybody comes face to face.

    Let’s keep the conversation going.

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  • Discipline

    Posted by Michele Revalee on 9/3/2019

    Dear Cotton Boll Community,

    Recently I was reading comments in a Facebook post that was responding to a preschooler’s action of putting a boy in a headlock to counteract his comments about marriage (it was humorous), one commenter bragged about how her pre-school daughter handled a “bully” and stated in her comment that the girl had to take matters into her own hands because the school was “not doing anything”.  Parents often tell me I am not doing anything about bullying at Cotton Boll, this could not be further from the truth.  In a spirit of transparency and dialogue I would like to explain our policy and procedure for conflicts and bullying specifically. 

    Proactive Actions

    1. A School Handbook is sent to parents/guardians who read and sign a form of receipt, and knowledge of the handbooks content, which includes an explanation of school rules and behavioral expectations.
    2. Teachers go over and affirm the school rules with every student on a continual basis.
    3. Each classroom/grade level has a behavioral plan, i.e.: behavior cards, social contracts, etc.
    4. Dr. Marsden and I visit each classroom and explain expectations and talk about bullying specifically. Our message centers on, “See Something, Say Something.”  We also define what bullying is and how to respond for students to be successful and grow as a person. 
    5. There is a PUSD Bullying Complaint form that can be picked up in the front office and turned into me or the front office. This can be filled out by the parent/guardian or the child. 

    When Conflict/Bullying Happens

    Many conflicts/bullying are handled by the classroom teacher per their behavior systems.  Teachers are always the first point of contact.  But when the students are referred to administration or a parent calls the following happens: 

    1. I investigate. I talk to all parties involved including witnesses, adults and other students.  From this point I determine if it is a mutual conflict or bullying.  This investigation can take up to a week, but usually a day.    
    2. I take action. This starts with a conversation where a warning is given, and the expectation is made very clear that conflict/bullying will not be tolerated.  Many times, this involves a conversation with the aggressor and the offended.  It is always my goal to come to reconciliation and understanding, recognizing that we are all Bulldogs and need to get along. 
    3. After the initial conversation for clarity of expectations, the policy and procedure behavior plans will be initiated, this considers what the teacher has done already. When it comes to me or Dr. Marsden consequences may begin at suspensions. 
    4. card signatures,
    5. detentions: after school, lunch
    6. on school suspensions
    7. alternate schedules
    8. off campus suspensions
    9. placement at another school

    Information

    All parents/guardians need to know that school employees are not allowed by federal law to discuss any information regarding another student.  This means when you have lodged a complaint against another child, I cannot report to you what consequence the child received.  It will be different for different students depending where they are on the discipline matrix, found in the Student Handbook and classroom behavior systems.  A lot of factors go into consequences, we factor in special services the child receives, i.e., Resource, Cognitive and Behavioral Diagnosis’, etc.  But you can always be sure we always are doing something. 

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 is a federal law establishing an array of confidentiality rights for students and families. This law is required to be upheld by all school employees. ... In fact, one of the conditions for receiving federal funds requires procedures and adherence to FERPA.

    I hope this helps with the understanding of mutual conflict, bullying and other anti-social behaviors exhibited in public places.  It is the intense desire of all teachers and staff at Cotton Boll to ensure all students are safe not only physically but emotionally as well.  If you do not feel this is happening for your child, please call the front office and make an appointment with me to sit and discuss the situation. 

     

     

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Welcome

    Posted by Michele Revalee on 8/2/2019

    Welcome to the new school year 2019-2020!  We know you have choices as to what school you send your children and it is an honor you have chosen Cotton Boll.  Here at Cotton Boll we have several goals that permeate throughout the campus every day.  Our first goal is to keep your children safe and we have made many improvements to our campus to ensure safety.  Last year fencing was installed with 12 locking gates, new drop off and pick up procedures were introduced, and our campus was audited by a team of Police, Engineers, and district Administration from all departments.  Per the audit we will again be changing our drop off and pick up procedures to improve efficiency and keep your children safe coming and going from the school.  More details will follow as the parking lot is restriped.  Another goal and the reason you send your child to school is to provide an environment for learning by providing viable and rigorous curriculum and hiring effective teachers.  This year we will welcome 5 new teachers to the Cotton Boll campus:  Shiloh Fulton (Resource), Rikki Chavarria (PE), Justin Heath (6th grade), Thomas Ogilvie (Band), and a Cotton Boll graduate Kamryn Curtis (2nd grade).  Each one of these teachers bring expertise in their content areas and a love for working with children to provide them multiple avenues for success.

    Dates to know:

    Rosters posted August 2nd by 5pm.  Please know and have full confidence that rosters were not randomly assigned, many factors dictate where students are placed.  The factors are student personalities, relationships, behaviors, academics, teacher styles, special needs, deselect requests by May, etc.  We want you child to have a safe and positive experience at Cotton Boll.

    August 5th The office will be closed for an ALL district event in North Peoria.  It will re-open at 1:00pm.  Also, on August 5th will be our Meet the Teacher from 4:00 - 5:00pm.  We look forward to seeing you. 

    August 7th First Day of School!!  Be aware of new parking lot and entrance procedures.  Pedestrians/walkers will only be allowed to enter from the West pedestrian gate by the MPR.

    August 29th Open House 5:30 pm - Kindergarten, 6:00 - 7:00 pm First - Eighth grade

    It's going to be a GREAT year!!  Teachers have been busy with Professional Development and classroom prep.  Our first meeting was, LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!  We are pumped, ready, and excited to see your children August 7th at 7:45am.

    GO BIG-GO BOLD-GO BULLDOGS

    Comments (-1)
  • One Quarter Down

    Posted by Cathy Wallace on 10/29/2018

    Parents and Guardians,

     

    It’s hard to believe that we are one quarter through the 2018-19 school year.   Because school moves so fast it is important that we stay on top of school work and grades.  If you have not signed up for Parent Vue please stop by the office and get your activation code, you will need a photo ID when you get the activation code.  The reason we verify identification is because your child’s grades are confidential and only those who are designated with educational rights will be able to view your child’s grades.  Parent Vue allows parents to see what assignments are missing and what areas you can help your child be successful in school.  Parent Vue also helps you to have productive conversations with your child’s teacher.  When monitoring your child’s grades please remember that each grade level is required to have a certain number of aligned checks and a certain number of major assessments or projects.  Each of these are weighted different in the application, weights are set by the departments at the district level.  The reason I tell you this is because if your child does not turn in or complete a major assessment or project it can affect their grade dramatically.  Another grade consideration is for students to turn in their work by the due date even if not completed.  Usually teachers will extend a due date if the student brings what they have accomplished, showing good faith.  If the teacher will not extend the due-date then partial credit is better than a zero.  A zero can place a student in a position where it is very difficult to recover.   Grades serve to prepare our students for the real world. 

     

    It continues to be an honor to serve as your Principal.  I am most impressed with the dedication and commitment of the teachers and staff who instruct and care for your child on a daily basis.   In the first quarter all students were assessed in iReady and teachers continually pull data and collaborate together to analyze your child’s progress in ELA an Math.  The teachers adjust their instruction and seek ways to make learning more engaging at a higher level.  I am also impressed with the commitment of the Parent Teacher Student Organization who work tirelessly to provide encouragement to teachers, fundraise for student resources and plan activities for the campus.  Please plan to attend the Family Fun Night on Friday November 9th from 5:30pm – 8:30pm.

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  • Hello Cotton Boll Community

    Posted by Cathy Wallace on 7/16/2018 6:00:00 AM

    Hello Cotton Boll Community,

    I am very excited to be named your principal and look forward to many years of a vibrant and productive relationship. There is a lot of apprehension with a new principal, especially when the previous one was loved and appreciated as Dave Snyder. I have had the opportunity to meet with the staff on two occasions and now officially took the reigns on July 2nd. I have been working with and getting to know Mike Miranda, Kris Lapinski and Shannon Griffus and can’t wait for other staff to begin returning from vacation and trickling in to set up rooms. Speaking of setting up rooms, the painting is finishing up the week of July 16th, allowing teachers to come in on the 23rd and 24th to begin basic room setup. Then we will ask teachers to again vacate as ABM will be on campus the 25th – 31st to detail and deep clean.

    Cotton Boll Staff

    August 1st is an optional day with compensation IF you report to work, please report to Carmen or myself that day to verify your attendance, I am not sure what process the DAC has in place at this time. If it is more than a check in with Carmen and me then I will let you know. Kris and I both will be sending a more detailed welcome letter through email.

    Community

    The beginning of school is always an exciting time for a community and this year is no different. Please seek me out to shake my hand and have patience as I work hard to remember everyone’s names and relationship to the Cotton Boll campus.  I have four main goals as your principal. The first is and always will be Instructional Leadership, after all, that is why we send our children to school to learn Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies, Performance Arts, Visual Arts, Physical Education, Personal leadership and Community. My second goal is the safety of all students, staff and visiting community to the Cotton Boll campus. You will notice the beautiful fence erected around the grounds as a controlled access and exit from the campus. This will bring new paths of movement and access to classrooms and students. We ask for patience and input as the Leadership Team develops safe and efficient plans for entry and exit from the campus. My third goal is keeping our campus beautiful. Mike Miranda does a tremendous job managing the facilities, we appreciate your eyes on the campus to monitor activities on the weekends and report anything that looks suspicious. And my fourth goal is to serve you and your children, our students. Please consider joining our Site Council and our PTSO to add your voice and hands to insure the continuance of the great things here at Cotton Boll.

    Cathy Wallace

     

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  • Cathy Wallace

    623-412-4700

    Email