Thursday, July 30, 2015

Modular Construction Upate

Modular update letter from Dr. Doherty:  also posted below

Modular update letter from Mrs. Leonard:  also posted below

Dear Barrows Community,
I hope that you are enjoying your summer.  It is hard to believe that the end of this week is already August!  Our custodians, Bill and Dan are working hard to get our school ready for opening day.  As you have recently heard in a letter from the superintendent, the modular classrooms for the three elementary schools will not be “move-in” ready by the start of the school year. We, of course, are disappointed in this setback but are in the process of making alternative arrangements within the school to address this space shortage.  
After exploring and discussing all of the options, we feel that locating these two classrooms in the gymnasium will be the best option to creating an alternate learning environment for our Kindergarten students. Although it is not ideal, for this short period of time our Kindergarten students will be located together in the building and will have a consistent working space with the least disruption to other grades/classes as possible. It will be set up to the best of our abilities using classroom furniture and temporary dividers for separation. 

I have had conversations with Mrs. Forestell, and Mrs. Granoth, (our two Kindergarten teachers who will be located in the modulars) and Mrs. Atwood our PE teacher, regarding this temporary disruption to their routine.  They are flexible, highly skilled educators that have already begun to strategize to make this situation work in the best possible way for their students.  During this time, all PE classes will be held outside on the field.  In the event of inclement weather, PE classes will take place in the cafeteria, stage, and/or in classrooms.

Once the modulars are completed, we will be moving the teaching materials and the classrooms.   A dedicated time will be provided to the teachers and maintenance staff to make the move to the modular an effective one.  The students will be transitioned in a thoughtful manner to make this switch from the gym to their new classrooms as seamless as possible.  

We appreciate the flexibility of the students, teachers, and parents during this transition. We are excited to have our new modular classrooms as part of our school. We know the learning at Barrows will continue as our wonderful staff work together effectively to meet the needs of all learners. We will hold our annual brief Open House visits for our Kindergarteners in the few days before school starts.  I hope you have a great rest of your summer and I will be in touch in August as more information becomes available and with dates for classroom visits.
Thank you, Heather Leonard, Principal


Good Morning, Barrows, Joshua Eaton, and Killam Communities,

We hope all is well and you are enjoying your summer.  The purpose of this email is to update you on the modular classroom construction at Killam, Barrows and Joshua Eaton.  Over the last several weeks, I have been kept updated by Director of Finance and Operations Martha Sybert, Director of Facilities Kelly Colon, and our Owner’s Project Manager, Gale Associates.  There have been weekly construction meetings which have discussed the timeline of the project, including when the modular classrooms would reach substantial completion and be ready for our students.

Although there were some delays early in the process, we were reassured by the contractor that the project could be completed by the agreed upon substantial completion date of August 24th.  Recently however, it became evident that this timeline was not attainable.   There have been several delays in the project, including the submission, re-submission and final approval of construction and foundation design plans, some unexpected delays during excavation at Killam and Barrows, and delays in the transit of the modular classrooms from Pennsylvania.  Therefore, due to these delays, the modular classrooms will not be completed by the end of August.  In conversations with our Owner’s Project Manager, it is now expected that the modular classrooms will be completed for occupancy by mid to late September. 

In anticipation of the delayed completion date, we are making plans for temporary classroom space for our kindergarten students at their assigned elementary school.   In the next 48 hours, Principals Eric Sprung, Cathy Giles, and Heather Leonard will be communicating to their school communities the specific details of those classroom spaces. 

We are certainly disappointed with this latest information that we have received, and we will work diligently to assure that our kindergarten students and families will have a smooth transition to their new school.  As we move forward, our building principals will be keeping you updated on the progress of the modular construction at your school and all current information regarding the start of the school year.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Reading Public Schools Administration offices or your building principal.


John F. Doherty

Superintendent of Schools

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Plaground Popsicle Party TODAY!

Playground Popsicle Party - TODAY! Come join us for a cool treat on a hot day - Barrows playground, 12:30-1:30pm (come around the back - the construction fencing will not allow you to park on the blacktop area!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Barrows Summer Updates

Hello Barrows Families!

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far!  I have had wonderful time outside with my family and have also been doing a lot of work at our school including getting classrooms ready for next year, attending meetings and trainings, and planning curriculum, instruction, and schedules for the next year.  If you would like to join me, I would love to hear from some of our Barrows Community!  I am hosting a playground popsicle party outside at the Barrows playground on Wednesday, July 29th from 12:30-1:30.  Come on by, play on the playground, and enjoy a cold treat!  (Rain date is Thursday, July 30th, same time.)  For adults only – come join us for a parent’s coffee and conversation with me on Wednesday, July 5th from 9:15-10:30am in the Barrows library/office.  Hope to see some of you soon!

I am also wanted to share some updates with our Barrows Community;

·         The construction of the modulars happens off site and is moving along quite well, and the work of installing our modulars onsite has begun. Construction fencing was installed on the blacktop this past week and they have begun digging for the foundations at Killiam.  Digging will be starting here soon.

We welcome new staff members to the Barrows community;

·         Mary Spinosa-Halady will be our new Learning Center teacher joining us from Billerica where she was in a learning center position for 5 years.

·         Bethany Granoth is joining us as our .5 Kindergarten teacher, coming to us from Topsfield last year where she spent the year in Kindergarten and 1st grade as a student teacher and long-term sub in 2nd grade.

·         Andrew Herlihy will be joining us as one of our 5th grade teachers, in homeroom 2119, previously in the role of regular education tutor at Barrows with experience as an administrator running the extended day program in Malden.

·         Marissa Holt will be our other new 5th grade teacher, homeroom 2121.  She joins us from Coolidge where she was a 6th grade science teacher and 8th grade robotics teacher last year.

Summer reading incentives are ongoing! See the information below for the exciting components of our summer reading incentives to ensure that the only “slide” for our students this summer is water slides!  To encourage reading – students can watch me reading “Blueberries for Sal” for one of their points on their reading star!  Check it out here:

Also – has your child “been caught reading”?  Check out the Alice M. Barrows Facebook page for some of our Shining Stars that have been caught reading this summer – add pictures of your readers!

Happy Summer everybody!
~Mrs. Heather Leonard

As we approach the summer break, many of you may be asking how you can keep your children engaged.  Simply stated, children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not often slide backward.   A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.  Summer slide affects millions of children each year in this country—but it doesn't have to.   Below is a list of activities and programs we can do to combat the summer slide!

Reading Public Library

Every Hero Has a Story
On Thursday, June 4th children’s librarians, Ms. Fisher and Ms. Wettergreen, from the Reading Public Library visited Barrows and spoke to the children about the summer reading program.  This year’s program is Every Hero Has a Story and it begins on Monday, June 22nd.  Please stop by the library to register for the program or visit the website.


Book Mates

Book Mates is a reading buddy program that gives children in grades 1 – 4 an opportunity to practice reading with a teen!  The program begins July 14th and runs through August 6th with sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 1:30 and 5:00.  Please visit the website for more information and an application! 


Kids Earn a Free Book!

If children read eight books (beginning May 19th through September 7th) they earn a free book, from a preselected list, from Barnes & Noble.   Please visit the website for more information.

Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Program

All Barrows’ students in grades 4 and 5 are eligible to participate in the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Program (MCBA).  This fall will be the 21st year the students of Barrows have participated!  In preparation all students currently in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade will be given a book mark listing the 2016 nominees.  In addition we explained the program to the current 3rd grade as this is the first time they are eligible to participate.  We have at least three copies of each of the 25 titles thanks to the generosity and support of the Barrows’ PTO.


Star Readers

Our Shining Stars will go home this summer with a few extra stars!  Each child will receive a star template and will record their name in the center of the star and on each point of the star the name of a book they’ve read during the summer.  During the first week of school they will bring back the stars and they will be displayed proudly.


Caught Reading

We are encouraging Barrows’ students and staff to take pictures of themselves reading throughout the summer and post their pictures to the official school Facebook page: “Alice M Barrows Elementary School”