New teachers at Salida School District R-32-J

Salida School District R-32-J welcomes seven new teachers Wednesday during an orientation hosted by the district. From left are Lauren Baldauf, first grade; Janée Martinez, fourth grade; Morgan Love, third grade; Anna Johnson, kindergarten; Heather Soderman, Early Childhood Center and Crest Academy; Britt Searles, high school language arts; and Felicia Hermosillo, third- and fourth-grade special education.

Believe it or not, this will be the third year in our beautiful school that was provided to our children by the citizens and businesses of Salida.

We just had 10 new students enroll today, and every one of the parents commented on how fine a school we have.

The maintenance and janitorial staff have once again done an amazing job of deep cleaning and caring for the school. Your investment is being maintained and used well. Once again, thank you.

We will be welcoming more than 400 students to Longfellow in the next couple of weeks, along with teachers, staff and volunteers. With the support of businesses and community members we offer our children a safe, enriching, caring environment where they can learn and grow.

I want to remind everyone about what your public school offers our children. Working together with students, families and community groups, our school creates a safe learning environment in which all students can share ideas and learn to disagree in a respectful manner.

It’s important that we are learning to value and celebrate differences in how we look, how we express ourselves and how we think. And there is a clear message that bullying, harassment and being mean are not OK, that school is a safe place for all students. As a kindergarten class sang to the whole school last year, “Be safe, be kind, be honest.”

We recently have added social emotional education, embedding movement into the day for every student and an allergy-aware environment for everyone. There is a fascinating list of what has been added to school responsibilities in the past 100 years at jamievollmer.com/pdf/the-list.pdf. This link is also available on our school district website under the Longfellow site.

Part of social emotional education is learning about the brain. We are learning that there is a lizard brain (the brain stem), the dog brain (the limbic system) and the owl brain (the cerebral cortex). The lizard brain keeps us alive and needs to feel safe for the rest of the brain to function well. The dog brain talks to us through body feelings, and the owl brain is focusing, impulse control, thinking and learning.

There was a first-grader who came to the office for hitting another student. When I asked him what happened, he answered, “I used my dog brain instead of my owl brain. I’ll use my owl brain next time I feel mad.” I was impressed.

Life in an elementary school is quite an adventure. What is important to our students is sometimes different than what you would expect. Two of our kindergarten teachers reported that when they asked their classes what the highlights of Christmas break were, all but one child talked about things they did such as building a snowman rather than about the gifts they received. Relationship building is important.

For our parents, here are some reminders:

The Longfellow Elementary School office is now open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Students new to the school district may come in and register for school. Please bring your birth certificate and immunization Records. Those students who attended Longfellow Elementary School last year are already registered.

Supply lists are available at Salida Walmart, Safeway stores, or the Longfellow office and can be found online at the district’s website, salidaschools.com.

If you haven’t checked out the new website, go online and see what’s there. Watch the video, review the district’s values in the strategic plan being developed and see what’s going on at Longfellow Elementary.

Meet and Greet will be Aug. 15, when parents can bring their children by to meet their teacher and get set up in their classroom.

The first day of school is Aug. 16, starting at 8:15 a.m. and dismissing at 3:50 p.m. Students can be dropped off at 7:45 a.m., and parents who are picking up their child are asked to meet them outside after school.

The entire staff is looking forward to the coming year. Please remember to drive slowly and be respectful of crossing guards if you are near the school – the safety of our children is important. It’s going to be a great school year.

Chuck McKenna is principal of Longfellow Elementary School.

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