Thursday, April 21, 2016

Vacation, Earth Day, All-school writing prompt, REF

I hope our Barrows families are enjoying this BEAUTIFUL spring day today.  Its days like this that vacation is made for!  I've been spending quite a bit of time with my family enjoying the beautiful weather with hikes, beach visits, playing at the park, scooter riding, and more.

beach combing
Visit to Castle Island Park in Boston 

Spring leads to so many wonderful opportunities - and also fills up calendars of our students, staff, and families. As we kick into this spring swing, be sure to pause and enjoy the many exciting spring events and the "small" moments (achievement of a great piece of art, conquering a set of tricky math problems, finally making that 3 point shot, nailing the spelling of the trick words, etc.)

I hope some of our Barrows Shining Stars will consider celebrating Earth Day tomorrow (April 22nd) with an action in their community to support environmental stewardship.  Additional ideas are listed in the websites below.  With April also being National Poetry Month we have teamed them up together and invite our Shining Stars to submit a piece of poetry inspired by Earth day!  Poems will be accepted in the Barrows office until April 29th, when they will be displayed in our school hallways!

Learn more about Earth Day here:
Learn more about poetry structures here:

I hope you will join our Reading Education Foundation (REF) for their annual Spring Gala, auction, fundraiser to support our schools.  If you don't have your tickets yet - you can get them here:  REF has funded grants directly supporting Barrows in acquiring Document Cameras for our classroom, Ukulele gear for our music department, and (coming soon!!) materials and equipment for Barrows Outdoor Learning areas - with our garden beds!  I encourage your participation in this wonderful event and/or online auction.

Enjoy the rest of your April Vacation - we will see you all on Monday!
Love, Mrs. Leonard

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Barrows Read-A-Thon 2016

What an AWESOME way to celebrate reading at Barrows Elementary School.  Our Shining Stars blew their previous records out of the water - far surpassing the school-wide goal of 150,000 minutes.  Barrows Shining Stars read a total of 319,895 minutes during our Read-A-Thon!!!

In exceeding their goal, the class that lead their grade with the most minutes read had the chance to help tape me up to the wall.  Additionally the top reader from the other classes added a piece.  We came together as a school community to laugh, dance, and celebrate this fun achievement!

I am so proud of our Shining Stars!

Check out the names of our 100 minute and 500 minute readers here:

Check out the great video made by Mrs. Becker and some of her 5th grade students capturing our celebration assembly today:

Why all the fuss? Research shows that the best way to improve students' reading skills... is more time reading!

Check out some more links below about love and engagement with reading, books, literature, and stories...

  • Reading Tips for Parents:

  • How to instill the love of reading blog:

  • 12 Ways to Nurture a Love of Reading:

"The biggest, most important question is, "Are kids reading for pleasure?" If the answer is yes, then we are on the right path."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Read-a-thon update

Hello Barrows Families!
We have been so impressed with all of the reading that is taking place at home as part of this year’s read-a-thon!  If things keep going like this, there is no way we won’t make it to our goal of 150,000 minutes read collectively as a school!  In fact, we are pretty sure we are on track to blow last year’s record out of the water!!  With this in mind, we are asking for donations of duct tape to help make our celebration assembly a shining success.  As we enter our final week:
·        Any rolls of duct tape your family would be willing to donate would be greatly appreciated and can be sent to school with your child.  We will have a box in the office to collect donations starting this Friday, March 25th
·        Wednesday, March 30th will be the last day we collect reading logs from students.
·        Donations can be sent in at any time, but we are hoping to have them all collected by Monday, April 4th at the latest.
·        Zinga! has been kind enough to offer an extra reading incentive for our Shining Stars.  Any student who reads at least 100 minutes will be given a gift certificate for 4 free ounces of frozen yogurt from their Reading location.  A special thanks to Zinga! for this sweet incentive!
·        If you feel your child should be recognized in the 100 or 500 minutes read club and they have not seen their name shared at school yet, please reach out to Sarah or Colleen ( or  Your child’s classroom teacher does not have access to recorded minutes, but we do and are happy to help!
·        A big thank you to our Book Fair co-chairs who have donated over a dozen books to be raffled off to students at our celebration assembly.  During the week leading up to our celebration on April 4th, students will be given a raffle ticket for every reading log submitted (up to 4 possible tickets total).  Their teachers will arrange a time for them to visit the lobby and enter their tickets to win the book of their choice.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either one of us with any read-a-thon questions you may have.
Happy Reading,

Mrs. DeRosa and Mrs. Lanzo

Monday, February 29, 2016

A New Barrows Baby!

Jack Ryan McClain early this morning, February 29th is his birthday, a leap day baby! 

He weighed 8 pounds 1 oz and is almost 20 inches long.

Mom and baby are doing well!  The Barrows community sends our love to Mrs. McClain and her new little boy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why do teachers need to be out of the classroom for Professional Development?

During periods of the school year staff may be out of the classroom, attending professional development opportunities.  Although we try to limit the amount of time our teachers are out of the classroom, this time is important learning time that directly benefits students and student achievement.

Teacher Professional Learning, when done well, includes the following components; (Information below cited from Center for Public Education

•  "Short, one-shot workshops often don’t change teacher practice and have no effect on student achievement (Yoon et al, 2007; Bush, 1984).

•    In order to truly change practices, professional development should occur over time and preferably be ongoing. Studies show that effective professional development programs require anywhere from 50 to 80 hours of instruction, practice, and coaching before teachers arrive at mastery (French, 1997; Banilower, 2002; Yoon et al., 2007). 

•    Coaches/mentors are found to be highly effective in helping teachers implement a new skill. In coaching, teachers work with a master educator before, during and after a lesson, getting feedback on their implementation of a newly learned teaching skill. Numerous studies have shown coaching to be successful at changing teacher practice and improving student learning (Showers, 1984; Slinger, 2004; Knight 2007; Batt, 2009; Stephens et al., 2007; Knight and Cornett, 2009). Before coaching, however, teachers need to get a solid foundation of knowledge about the teaching strategy. This presentation of knowledge should be active, not passive (Roy, 2005; Richardson, 1998).  Further, modeling by the coaches has been shown to be very effective at helping teachers grasp a new teaching approach before they attempt implementation (Roy, 2005; Goldberg, 2002; Rice, 2001; Black, 1998; Licklider, 1997).

•    Professional development is best delivered in the context of the teacher’s subject area. Regardless of whether teachers are working with coaches or in professional learning communities, teachers need to be working with the content they teach. Teachers don’t find professional development on generic topics useful (Peery, 2002; Redding and Kamm, 1999; Dunn and Dunn, 1998).  However, professional development that focuses on teachers analyzing the specific skill and concept they’ll teach in their discipline is not only well-received by teachers, but has also been shown to improve both teacher practice and student learning (Bland de la Alas and Smith, 2007; Carpenter et al., 1989; Cohen and Hill, 2001; Lieberman and Wood, 2001; Merek and Methven, 1991; Saxe, Gearhart, and Nasir, 2001; Wenglinksky, 2000; McGill-Franzen et al., 1999; Darling-Hammond et al., 2009)."

Our staff will be participating in a variety of academic trainings that complement the work they are doing in their classrooms with students, is ongoing, parallels the work of teacher Professional Learning Communities as well as the work from the district Literacy and Math Instructional Coaches.

If your teachers are out for professional learning days - it's good news!  They're continuing to grow in their practice in order to provide the best support for our learners.

Questions?  Reach out to your child's teacher or feel free to contact me!

Love, Mrs. Leonard

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Math Challenge Morning!

Students in grades 3-5 are invited to join Principal Leonard for a Math Challenge morning. Thursday morning, 2/25, starting at 7:45am.

Students in grades K-2 may join Principal Leonard for a Math Challenge morning on Friday, 2/26 from 7:45-8:15am. Due to the activity materials and supervision there are limited spots available. Those that want to participate in the K-2 morning are asked to sign up here:

Join Mrs. Leonard and stretch that math brain! It won’t be easy – but it will be challenging and fun! Hope to see you there!

Community activities reminder

Hello Barrows families,

This message is a quick safety reminder for our school community for Valentines and 100 day fun.  Even with these community celebrations, we need to ensure student healthy, wellness, and safety. We will continue to follow the Health & Allergy Guidelines implemented in all Reading Public Schools which prohibit candy and food sharing in classrooms. I have included the information taken directly from our policy below. We appreciate your support in keeping our students safe & healthy during these activities.
  1. All elementary classrooms should be "food free." Food-related activities are prohibited in classrooms (with the exception of daily snacks that students bring from home). To reduce contact reactions and potential for cross-contamination, no food should be used as part of curriculum, class lessons, projects, arts, crafts, etc.
  2. Classroom celebrations or parties will find safe and inclusive ways to celebrate without involving food. Instead, the focus might involve a shared activity such as a craft or game, and rewards or prizes might include special pencils, stickers, etc.
A link for the district allergy guidelines can be found here:

Thank you for your ongoing support, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!
Heather Leonard

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Inviting Recess/Lunch parent volunteers

Want an opportunity to support and volunteer at Barrows? We are looking to invite some of our fabulous Barrows parents and guardians to join us to volunteer and help support our students during recess/lunch. Ideally, we would love to have a consistent set of parent volunteers to join our staff during this important time of our school day. The volunteer spots will include 3 volunteer spaces per day for 2 hours per day. Recess and lunch are valuable parts of our students’ day, providing a time for our students to get fresh air, enjoy a movement break, and engage in social exchanges with their friends and peers. Any parents that are interested in volunteering for this time of day will be provided with a training opportunity prior to the start of the volunteer session and will need to have a CORI check and a fingerprinting check.
So, who’s in for recess fun?
Sign up here:…/10c0e45aba72ea6f85-recesslunch

Click here for additional reading from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Policy Statement:  The Crucial Role of Recess in School

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Practice Safety Drill today

Dear Barrows Families;

I am writing to inform you that we participated in a safety drill this morning.  Students and staff did an excellent job responding and staying calm.  The Reading Police Department complimented the participation of students and staff again and are pleased with the high level of safety in our building.  I am proud of our Shining Star students today!

For more information please see the safety resources on our website here:

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me. 
Thank you,
Heather Leonard

Heather Leonard, Principal
Barrows Elementary School
16 Edgemont Ave, Reading

Twitter: @BarrowsSchool