Author: Trish Mitchell

PTA Meeting Minutes January 14, 2019

Molly Colling: Welcome to all who are here. Second semester seems to be off to a good start. A few housekeeping reminders: make sure you sign in, and grab a slice of pizza. If you’re using the childcare option tonight, please compensate our teen chaperones. There are a few copies of October’s meeting minutes floating around if you’d like to look at them.

Treasurer’s Report Lex Morrison: We had an amazing turnout for BASH this year. We raised a little over $8000.00. Ruth Farrington and Nicole Brown led up this effort and headed the committee of folks who contributed to the success of this event. From a budget perspective, we are sitting well. We are $1100 ahead in the budget this year. Lex has a copy of the current budget available for anyone who would like to see it.

Principal’s Report Dr. Haynes: We were unable to find a boys’ basketball coach for intramurals. We offer the position to staff members, parents, etc., and did not find anyone. We’ll try for boys’ football and girls’ volleyball. We are partnering with Waypoint to offer a dance club after school for kids. o Just a couple reminders – classroom photos are coming up this Friday, January 18th. That afternoon, we also have Kindergarten Roundup. We usually have around 20-30 families that round up with us. o Harrison has had closed enrollment for 5 years now after we experienced large class sizes. We fought hard to close enrollment and it has been that way for 5 years. Class sizes have become much smaller during this time. What it’s also done is pulled our enrollment down. It was a significant decrease but one that needed to happen. I am now being approached to open up enrollment at Harrison again. At this point, we are still closed, but this may change. Even siblings are not eligible for attendance at Harrison as long as the closed enrollment continues. Enrollment may open up for kindergarten and first grade. Everybody wants to come here, and it is not a bad problem to have. We are comfortable and class sizes are where research says they should be. o January 23rd is I Love Public Schools Day. Also, no school on January 21st for MLK Day. o Mrs. Herzog sustained an injury (rupture to Achilles tendon) while playing with her kids and is out, possibly, for another 2-3 weeks. Haynes has listened to her voice mails and is keeping up with things. Mrs. Shafer is substituting for now and she has experience working in our guidance classroom from previous years. We will welcome Mrs. Herzog back in a few weeks, on a scooter.

Formative testing / MAP testing is happening right now – these are not high-stakes tests. These show us where kids are at and where we need to take them next. The end-of-the-year, high-stakes testing will be in April. The OWH showed a school rating scale – Harrison was rated ‘good’ but should be ‘great.’ Haynes has appealed this rating. The majority of OPS schools fell into ‘good’ or ‘great,’ and a few were ‘excellent.’ Haynes sent over 422 documents to appeal our rating. Scores are based on achievement but other things as well. Harrison consistently scores above district average. Science scores went down a little last year which may have hurt us. Schools are also scored on things like family and community partnerships, parent partnerships, and staff development. We were three points away, and anyone within five points could appeal. o The staff in attendance tonight are Mrs. Portis, Mrs. Lenz, Ms. Prieksat, Mrs. Fischer, and Mrs. Barsness.

Old Business

The staff appreciation committee did a lot of work for holiday gifts, and this comes from the whole membership so we wanted to share a little of that. Jennifer Woolf showed the clipboards that the committee designed and created for the teachers and personalized with their names. There are extra clipboards and supplies leftover from that. This committee also does birthday gifts/treats, treats during testing, staff wish lists, and lunch for conferences. The teacher and staff appreciation lunch is coming up too. o Update about combined teacher/staff appreciation week (Dr. Haynes): In the past, teacher and staff appreciation took two huge weeks and everyone ended up spending lots of money – it was great but got to be a bit much. Now it will be combined into one week. This should be much easier to coordinate for everyone, PTA included.

Yearbook (Annie Johnson): The yearbook deadline is coming up at the end of February, and now is the time to send in your photos from this year, teachers included! We especially need photos of classroom activities and clubs – like Girls on the Run and Student Council and other special groups. The yearbook will have a comic book theme this year – it’s very cool! Thanks in advance for anything you’re willing to send in.

New Business

Star Grant recipients: We were able to fund all of the Star Grants this year. But the only people that really know about these grants are the people who applied and the people who were on the committee, so we wanted to give you a chance to hear from some of the teachers whose Star Grants were funded.

  • Mrs. Portis and Mrs. Lenz: We have a wonderful mindfulness specialist/former teacher who comes in and covers more than just yoga. The kids learn different breathing techniques. She does yoga with them through music and stories. Mrs. Lenz brought letters that her students wrote about what they get out of learning about mindfulness. They work on improved attention, controlling emotions, better behavior, empathy and understanding others, test anxiety, and stress. Second grade also has morning meetings where the kids hear a story that helps them focus for the week. Mrs. Portis and Mrs. Lenz are using the mindfulness strategies in their everyday teaching as well.
  • Mrs. Prieksat: Brain Pop has short educational videos – up to 5 minutes long – that give different kinds of information. The videos cover lots of topics – not just library. Mrs. Prieksat uses it a lot to review strategies for things like doing research and paraphrasing, etc. They can watch a video and take a short quiz. The program includes related reading and games and gives kids a refresher or just another way to make the information come alive besides a teacher telling them. There are some Brain Pop videos that can be accessed from home for free (Brain Pop Jr.). The free stuff on Brain Pop is limited – like a video of the week. Brain Pop Jr. does a video of the day.
  • Mrs. Barsness: First grade got a Star Grant to go to the Safari Park. It’s important to take the kids out of the classroom and into the real world. They can see how big a bison is, look at living and non-living things, actually see an eagle up close, get out and pet some animals. It’s a good application to what we do in the classroom.

As you can see from these examples, Star Grants offer an array of different activities and opportunities for Harrison teachers and students.

Hearts for Harrison (Lex Morrison): We’ve been working on different ways to tweak our fundraising process. Starting February 1, we are following through on a project through the Omaha Schools Foundation. It is a direct ask campaign where everyone will get an email saying that we are doing a direct donation campaign. This is a way for us to avoid having kids sell things. A great thing about this is that you can pass along the link to extended family members, alumni, etc. This will broaden the base from which we get funding. Our goal this year is to raise $1500 during the month of February. We may do some classroom competitions. You’ll be seeing posts on FB and getting emails. Some schools do this as their only fundraising method. This will not likely be the case for Harrison. Another great thing about this is that 100% of every donation goes toward Harrison – there are no administrative fees. It will be shareable for everyone through the OSF website as well. We are really excited about this. Be on the lookout in the weeks to come for more information. Right now our goal is to hit it hard in February, and if we hit our number, close the campaign. We also might continue through the duration of the school year. We are still having these conversations. We’re not targeting the money toward a specific thing, but just general support for our outreach and other school events. There will be a budget committee in the spring that can help us reallocate money or make changes to the budget. There are always unexpected events where it’s nice to have extra resources.

Science and Art Fair: In the past, this has been a big process and we’ve been talking about ways that this might look the same or different this year. If you’d like to be part of this committee but didn’t originally sign up, please sign up tonight (list being passed around) or contact the PTA if you’d like to participate in this committee / conversation.

Other committee opportunities: The 6th grade celebration and carnival committees are still welcoming more members. The 6th grade celebration has happened in the past in lieu of a graduation ceremony. There is a send-off party at school and then an off-site activity (last year it was bowling). PTA has shouldered a lot of the responsibility for this in the past. It’s a busy activity, and we’d love to have more volunteers. The committee has been mostly 6th grade parents in the past. Carnival is May 17th this year. It is not as much of a fundraiser as BASH, but we still like to come out ahead. If you’re interested in any other committees, please let us know.

Robotics: They are having a short gathering after tonight’s meeting. Harrison earned first place at the first Robotics competition in two categories. The teams have made a lot of progress. Haynes got good feedback from the Saint Margaret Mary principal as well about our students’ great sportsmanship, respect, collaboration, etc. Harrison will host a Robotics tournament on February 16th – please come! It’s come-and-go for all ages. There is lots of food, and it’s a great way to see what happens in Robotics in person.

PTA Board positions: Next year, we will need a new treasurer and vice president on the PTA board. We have monthly board meetings and monthly meetings with Dr. Haynes. Please let us know if you’re interested in learning more!

Landscaping award: Although this wasn’t on the agenda, Dr. Haynes asked us to give a little update since many people have come forward with questions. Unfortunately, this has not been a smooth journey. We have been disappointed in the response from Kinnan Scaping. Dr. Haynes and the PTA are working together with TAC to try to figure things out. We got posts for the sun shade donated, but unfortunately they were not suitable. We are still hopeful that some of the basic landscaping needs will be met, but the winter season has interrupted things. We all stayed up late voting – but it turned into a bit of a nightmare. The problems have come from the individual we’re working with and some of TAC’s guidelines clashing with each other. TAGG has been contacted and has slightly pushed back but to no avail. We’re not done. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it will be what we envisioned when we won, but we had no way of knowing this would happen. We left this off of the agenda for the meeting because very little has changed since our last meeting – we are hoping the conversation will pick up again after this winter.

Upcoming Events

January 28th– Family Night at Raising Canes; Raising Canes has been very generous in helping us with Bash. We’re trying to create a reciprocal partnership based on that. This will take place from 4:00- 11:00 at the Raising Canes on 71st and Dodge. A percentage of your purchase will come back to Harrison. o February 1-28th – Hearts for Harrison

February 14th– Classroom Parties; Room parents should be on the lookout for more info about this

February 16th- Robotics Tournament at Harrison; An online signup will be coming out for volunteer opportunities. No experience needed!

February 18th – No School

March 7-8th – No School/Parent Teacher Conferences

March 11-15th – Spring Break o March 25th-29th – Penny Wars; Please note that this date has shifted. This is a competition among classes to raise money. Last year we made $1100.00!

Special program

Toni Choquette is the parent of a second grader at Harrison. She is a literacy specialist at Liberty Elementary as well as a Harrison parent. She “invited herself” to speak because of how much she loves Harrison and appreciates the parent support and principal support. She is very passionate about reading and loves informing parents about reading and teaching children how to read. She struggled with reading

growing up. She had parent support but not the kind of resources and strategies that would have made her reading process easier.

Toni talked to us about creating a literate home. Parents are their child’s first teacher and the same strategies apply to us as they do to teachers. The purpose of reading is always understanding / comprehension; even if a child can read the words, they may not be comprehending them. There are many things parents can do to foster comprehension. We need to think past the 5 W’s. We don’t all have the time to sit next to our kids while they read, and we often ask them questions like, “What? Where? When? Why?” but this doesn’t always lend itself to a conversation.

Text tagging/coding is a strategy for readers to capture their thinking while reading and to be aware in the moment of what they are reading. It’s the difference between deeper thinking vs. surface level and helps readers slow down and monitor their thinking. If you practice this at home, your kids will be impressed. Kids get a stack of sticky notes and use them to “tag” their text while they’re reading. A simpler one to use at home is visualizing. This asks kids to use their five senses, like making a movie. They tag with a “v,” and then kids can show their sticky notes and explain their thinking about what they read. Connecting is a another strategy. “This reminds me of . . . “ (text, self, world). They tag with a “C” on sticky note. Questioning (wonder about characters, outcomes, new info, concepts, etc.) – tag with a “?” Inferencing (reading between the lines/drawing conclusions) – tag with “I.”

They can tag in other ways too that work for them: “L” (I learned something), “!,” “LOL,” heart shape, or smiley face.

This is a great way to have a positive interaction with your child at home about reading. Text tagging is happening at Harrison but we’ve never shared strategy with parents.

Growth Mindset Playlist by Mrs. Quackenbush

Mrs. Quackenbush has created her own growth mindset playlist that she uses to help encourage, motivate, and inspire her students.

Applause – Lady Gaga

Brave – Sara Bareilles

Can’t stop the feeling – JT (Trolls Sdtrk)

The Climb- Miley Cyrus

Don’t stop believing- Journey

Don’t worry- Kidz Bop

Dynamite – Kidz Bop

Firework – Kidz Bop

Get Back up again- Anna Kendrick (Trolls Sdtrk)

I’ve got a dream – Mandy Moore (Tangled Sdtrk)

Happy – Pharrell

How Far I’ll Go – Opetaia (Moana)

Let it Go – Idena (?) Manzell (Frozen Sdtrk)

Live your life – Kidz Bop

Roar- Katy Perry

Shake it off- Kidz Bop

3 Little birds Bob Marely

Try Everything- Shakira (zootopia sdtrk)

True Colors- Cyndi Lauper or Trolls Sdtrk

Home – Philip Phillips

Star Grants for 2018-2019 Announced

As many of you all are aware, PTA budgeted to fund $2400 worth of Star Grants. All Harrison staff are invited to apply for a Star Grant. Proposals may be academic or co-curricular programs, activities, and projects. It is an opportunity for staff to be creative. The Star Grants are then scored by a voluntary committee comprised of non-board members of PTA and Harrison Staff by using a rubric that primarily focuses on the extent to which Harrison students will benefit from the proposed project.

We are thrilled to inform you that we have decided to fund all 8 of the Star Grants that were submitted this year! Thank you for your participation and willingness to provide innovative programming for our students. We sincerely appreciate your hard work and dedication that makes Harrison such a wonderful school!

Congratulations to the following recipients:

Mrs. Prieksat: Brain Pop

Mrs. Skwira: Inflatables for Field Day

Mrs. Herzog: Secret Kindness Agents

Mrs. Wilcox and Mrs. Rivedal: ESGI

Mrs. Quackenbush, Mrs. Barsness, Miss Y: Wildlife Safari Park Field Trip

Mrs. Quackenbush: Reggio Mathematics

Mrs. Portis and Mrs. Lenz: Mindfulness/Yoga

Ms. Birkemeier and Mrs. Brodkey: Virtual Field Trip to Ashfalls Fossil Beds

Please let PTA Board know if you have any questions!

PTA Meeting Minutes – October 1, 2018

Welcome

  • Molly Colling: Thanks to all for coming to our second meeting of the year. If this is your first meeting, welcome. We’ll reintroduce ourselves for anyone who is new. Our board members for the year are Molly Colling (president), Scott Gillespie (vice president), Lex Morrison (treasurer), and Annie Johnson (secretary).

Treasurer’s Report

  • Lex Morrison: We’re still early into the year and everything looks great. We haven’t paid state dues yet. We have already started out with getting some money from Amazon Smile, and we’ll be getting TAGG money shortly. We’re waiting to hear from eCreamery on our final proceeds from that fundraiser. We do know that Harrison won the sundae competition! Each school received about $70 from the pint sales, but we have not yet heard about the 10% day. Please thank Ruth, Nicole, and eCreamery for this cool event.

Principal’s Report

  • Andrea Haynes: The generosity of Harrison families and staff is overwhelming. We had families impacted by the Yale Park evacuation, and we were able to give them hundreds of dollars of gift cards. If you still want to contribute, you can do so. We’ve taken very good care of these families and our staff have wrapped their arms around them. They know school is a safe place for them. The affected Harrison families are settled in new housing.

Thanks for coming to open house. We are thankful for those who came to the intermediate classroom presentations. Conferences are coming up. I tried to put a blurb in the newsletter about signing up for conferences at open house. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do so. 5th and 6th grade conferences will be departmentalized this year. This will look more like middle school conferences where parents wait in line to meet with teachers. Parents should have been notified about this via email and phone. If you have questions, email Dr. Haynes.

Red Ribbon Week is coming up with a spirit week for students. If you have ideas, please share them with Dr. Haynes.

 

Old Business

  • Molly Colling: Our last PTA meeting was August 27th. The meeting minutes are being passed around and will be sent out to our membership list after each meeting. The meeting minutes were unanimously approved.
  • Status of TAGG Landscaping Challenge (Angela Smith): Harrison is the lucky recipient of last year’s TAGG challenge. We’re working with Kinnan Scaping and we’re waiting to make sure we’re all on the same page with TAC before we start working. We are getting some new trees to replace the aging walnut trees, a new stone pathway from the kindergarten doors to outdoor classroom, and additional plants in front to replace deteriorating plants.

Dr. Haynes: We will not be able to put hooks in the building for the sun shade over the outdoor classroom; this request was denied by TAC because it affects the structural integrity of the building. We may be able to do cedar posts to hold up the shade.

Angela Smith: There is a rut in the front portion of the building, and that will be filled in with sod to prevent a tripping hazard. The last issue we’re facing is that he’s securing donations from other landscapers in town. We most wanted pea gravel for the swings, but we can’t get this because it’s not local to Nebraska. If you know anyone who has pea gravel, let us know. We will do mulch under the swings instead. This will be sustainable because mulch is provided to us by the district and Cub Scouts can help, too. We went through different options before deciding on the mulch (crushed limestone, sand, etc. – won’t work for various reasons). Now we are rushing the clock on the weather to see if we can do this before or after the winter. Keep in mind that it’s free. Thanks for your patience as we’ve worked this out.

  • Reminders about free money for Harrison: We make a lot of money from TAGG, so if you don’t have it downloaded on your phone. Lex Morrison will happily share how to do it after the meeting or anytime. We got $385 in the last quarter. It’s free money! It takes extra time, but it really does make a difference. Also, don’t forget Smile on Amazon – another great way to get free money for Harrison. You only set it up once, but you have to start at smile.amazon.com when you place an order. Office Max donates 5% of your receipt too if you tell them where your child goes

to school.

  • BASH (Nicole Brown and Ruth Farrington): This is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year. We’ll have games, dancing, a silent auction, and food. We came up with three different themes. The kids voted at school last Friday and “Magical Bash” was the winning theme. Especially for younger kids, we specifically didn’t name it Harry Potter, so also think unicorns, magic wands, etc. Dr. Haynes will announce the winning theme to the kids at school tomorrow. We already have donations for the silent auction coming in, and if you know of any other sources of donations (friends, family, businesses, etc.), please let us know. Feel free to drop off the donation letter (PDF available) if you know of a business that might help. We need people to attend the event in order to make money, though. Some items will be available for an online auction for those who can’t physically come to the event. We will ask for teacher / staff experiences again – very popular options (ice cream, lunch with teacher, etc.). We will put this in the lounge for sign-up for teachers. We appreciate teachers’ help with this. We are also doing something new: house parties. It’s a way to bring together our families – like learning how to make a new food at someone’s house (10 couples, kids and couples, etc.). We’re looking for people to host these or share ideas. You would be in charge of hosting and the cost of the event. We’ll do classroom baskets again. Share themes if you have great ideas. We need to get these out rather quickly. New ideas are appreciated so it’s not the same choices every year. Stay after meeting or email and let us know. BASH is on November 16th. We’ll have a committee meeting after the meeting tonight.
  • Staff Appreciation (Jennifer Woolf): This committee will meet Wednesday night at Jennifer’s house. Staff Appreciation facilitates meals for staff at conferences – the evening meal on Wednesday night. They will coordinate meal planning with Dr. Haynes. This committee works to support teachers all throughout the year because they are supporting our kids all throughout the year. Staff ideas are welcome too.
  • Molly: It’s never too late to sign up for a committee if you feel called to do so!
  • Room Parents (written update from Charlotte): Room parents support Halloween and Valentine parties and BASH baskets. They’re doing well with volunteers, but some classrooms need more support: Wilcox, Quackenbush, Brodkey, Borgstadt, Owen, and Barber. If you have questions, let PTA board or Charlotte know. If you intend to attend the Halloween party, make sure you do the volunteer form. You must do this in order to attend. A confirmation email saying you’ve started the process is sufficient for room parties or other events where teachers will be present, but if you will be alone with children a background check is really needed. We’ve tried to ease up the requirements regarding parties because staff is present. As long as you have email confirmation (pull up on phone – no printing necessary), that is fine. If you know anyone who’d like to do Trunk or Treat, please encourage them to do so. We’ve seen a decrease in participation, so we’d love to see more involvement. It’s a lot of candy (400 pieces), but if you’re available, please let us know. If you can’t come but you’d like to donate a bag of candy, ambassadors can pass out candy.
  • Clothes closet costumes (Dr. Haynes): We are doing pretty well here, according to Mrs. Boden. She would always take more, but we’re not in a dire place. These are handed out on the morning of Halloween to kids who don’t have a costume from home. It’s really cool to see kids’ faces light up. Donated costumes must be gently used or new.
  • Star Grants (Molly Colling): Eight applications have been received. There are eight people on the scoring committee, two of which are staff members. The PTA board members are not on this committee. Committee members will use the rubric with five different scoring factors. The committee has until Thursday to score, then we will share who is awarded the grants.
  • Robotics (Frank Luceri): The committee met last week. The Robotics program will start up again soon this year. This is an all-volunteer run program at Harrison. We get a lot of added benefits from this. There are 8-10 parents who show up on a regular basis. Harrison has had great success and we’re thinking about expanding even bigger this year. We’ve previous had five teams of five students each; we may have six teams this year. We may stagger tournaments this year because it gets overwhelming having them every Saturday. We’ll send out an info packet in the next few weeks. We are revising right now. Students grades 4-6 will get the information sent home. Have your student look at the provided material and websites. There is an application process for kids to answer questions, and teachers will fill out a rubric. This helps get students who have focus and aptitude for robotics. We are known as a dominant school around town. We hope to host a tournament again this year, and we’ll find out what weekend works; it will likely be a Saturday in February.

New Business

  • I Love Public Schools T-shirts (Annie Johnson): We have a great new fundraising opportunity with Nebraska Loves Public Schools. We will sell “I Love Public Schools” t-shirts with the Harrison PTA logo on the back. Proceeds will go to Harrison and Nebraska Loves Public Schools. We will get a percentage back based on how many shirts we sell (the most we would get is 20%, and that’s if we sell 144 or more t-shirts). T-shirts will be gray, and they will be available in youth and adult sizes. The pricing is still being worked out, but shirts will cost between $20-25. Stay tuned for more details in the next couple of weeks! We’re very excited about this and hope you are too!
  • Hy-Vee Receipts: Bring HyVee receipts to Harrison (we will soon have a box in the main office) or send them to school in backpacks. Receipts must be dated Sept. 1- Dec. 31. They can be anyone’s receipts – they don’t have to be yours. Black out personal info if needed. We just need the date and amount.

Program Highlights: Growth Mindset

  • PTA goal (Molly Colling): Something that’s important to us is to bring to the membership ideas that are being implemented at Harrison. Growth mindset is one of those ideas happening at Harrison right now. It was mentioned at the last principal’s report, and I thought it would be powerful to gain a better understanding of how this is working at school AND at home.
  • Staff intros (Dr. Haynes): Mrs. Spurgeon was reassigned to a middle school at the beginning of the school year, and in her place we got a teacher leader named Adrienne Collins. We are very lucky she landed with us at Harrison. She stands in the street at pickup every day; she is doing great. Also in attendance are Mrs. Fischer, Mrs. Borgstadt, Mrs. Wilcox, Mrs. Anding, and Mrs. Quackenbush.
  • Set up context (Molly): Carol Dweck has done most of the research on growth mindset. We’re focused on how we can support our children at home through efforts of praise for intelligence vs. praise for effort. We have input from staff members on how this is working at Harrison. We’ll watch a short video, hear from Mrs. Quackenbush, and then Dr. Haynes.
  • Click HERE for a link to the video from the meeting.
  • Quackenbush: On a daily basis in first grade, I try to make sure I verbally praise my kids for effort. Each week we do “fun Fridays.” For instance, we read Giraffes Can’t Dance (shares storyline). We talk about what it means to not be able to do something “YET.” They make a chart of things they CAN do but also a chart of things they CAN’T do YET. We read lots of picture books about this and use the characters to discuss solutions and outcomes and to practice problem-solving and “what if.” We do games like Connect Four where they have to strategize and more challenging games like Set. They have lots of fun and don’t realize how they’re challenging themselves. Class Dojo offers support for this as well. I also use music, like Growth Mindset playlists with empowering songs. The kids are having fun doing it, and it’s easy to do at home too.
  • Stuthman in 6th grade (summary of written feedback): We celebrate incorrect answers, and use compare and contrast strategies to problem solve. For instance, if a student answers that 3 times 3 is 6, I might note that 3 plus 3 equals 6, but does anyone know the answer to 3 times 3? We have discussions about how the problem could have been done differently. This helps students get out of fixed mindset.
  • Herzog in guidance (summary of written feedback): Students have a guidance journal where they draw or write to change their mindset. E.g, students write about a time when they couldn’t do something and then get a “time machine” that helps them go back and think about how to fix it. We use mantras in class like, “I’m just getting started” instead of “I’m not good at this.” They repeat these throughout the class. I offer three cycles of lessons just on growth mindset called “Mind Your Mindset.”
  • Haynes: Harrison is a little ahead of the curve with growth mindset. Mrs. Quackenbush has been doing this for a couple of years. We had already talked about it, but then Dr. Logan rolled it out at the beginning of the school year for the district. It’s one of Harrison’s goals. Growth mindset is knowing how to learn. Not all kids come with this background. We often praise kids for their innate intelligence and therefore they don’t challenge themselves. We want them to value the skill of learning: learn, struggle, persevere, grow. This leads to higher achievement. At Harrison we do this through language with students, read-alouds (Bubble Gum Brain), teaching practices, and guidance lessons with Mrs. Herzog
  • There are also parenting applications. Dweck focuses on language (“You’ve worked hard and look how far you’ve come” or “You really studied and it shows”) and actions (children watch us and how we respond to challenges; the majority of us who grew up in 70s and 80s didn’t have this kind of parenting in our lives and don’t always model it for our kids. We need to do more of this).
  • Three things you can do: 1. Ask your child about their day in a way that admires their effort and good choices; 2. When your child is upset over schoolwork, reassure him/her with “not yet” language and brainstorm new strategies with him/her; 3. Let your child experience failure and feel the “struggle”; how else will they build resiliency skills? (try not to “swoop in” to save them to help them learn resiliency for their future education and wellbeing)
  • If you have questions for your child’s teacher about how they’re doing this in the classroom, please ask them!

(Growth mindset activity)

Next meeting: Monday, January 14th, 6:00 p.m.

Meeting Minutes – August 27, 2018

Welcome: Molly Colling

  • Thanks to all for coming to the first meeting of the year. We hope you find this a good time for connecting and learning about what students experience at Harrison. Our board members for the year are Molly Colling (president), Scott Gillespie (vice president), Lex Morrison (treasurer), and Annie Johnson (secretary).
  • Four important to-do’s: Make sure membership and directory forms are completed by September 7th; pay attention to volunteer opportunities on the back. We will walk through some of the committees tonight because they are timely and coming up soon. We encourage everyone to subscribe to the PTA calendar. Try to meet someone new.

Treasurer’s Report: Lex Morrison

  • Last year, we were being very careful with our budget. For our revenues we came in at $500 less than we had budgeted for the entire year. Thanks to everyone who contributed and participated. The budget, at this point, is pretty uninteresting since it’s so early in the school year. One important thing to know is that we offer teacher reimbursement for supplies that teachers buy for their classrooms, and some of those forms have already come in. We have also paid the PTA insurance for the year. Last year’s carnival was a huge success; we exceeded our revenue plan and kept costs low. It was a night when you just love to be at Harrison because there were so many people here connecting and having fun. Please contact Lex if you’d like to know more about how PTA funds are distributed.

Principal’s Report: Andrea Haynes

  • We have many staff members here tonight: Quackenbush, Barnes, Barber, Yuskovich, Stuthman, Copenharve, Herzog, Brodkey. What we are going to do tonight is roll out some information about bigger things happening at Harrison. Tonight, that is MTSSB, which stands for multi-tiered systems of support. Every school in OPS has had to roll this out at some point, and Harrison is in the last round. There were some schools that really needed assistance, but the teachers and staff here are rockstars. We have the highest scores for school climate and the lowest for referrals.
  • We have a new superintendent, Dr. Logan, from Philadelphia. She asked schools to roll out a new mission statement and mascot. We have an official tiger, and our new mission statement is: “Teach. Lead. Succeed.” The staff theme is “We Are Harrison.” Along with that we have a new vision statement: “Through high expectations and caring hearts, the Harrison staff and school community will ensure success for EVERY student!” We have a mission and every single day our staff work toward that collaboratively with parents and community partners. MTSSB is designed to support and teach students appropriate behavior in school through defined rules and expectations, lesson plans that teach expected behaviors, rewards and recognitions, and consequences for misbehavior. This was previously called citizenship plan. We had to choose school rules that students would be able to say if a staff person asked them. We decided to make them pretty easy since they already say them every day in the Harrison Daily Pledge. We say it every day, emphatically. We took the rules and wove them into what we were already saying every day.
  • Dani Herzog: Positive recognition. Classroom management plus behavioral building plan. Just as in years past, we have a principal’s treasure box to reward kids who show good behavior and choices. We now also have “Good ‘cents’ today” – for kids who may struggle but show that they are trying. This is a reward for them that boosts their esteem levels. E.g., “We saw you doing this, we saw that you usually have a tough time, but you used good sense today.” They turn this in to the main office and they can put a quarter into a candy machine and get a reward. Quiet Lunch Friday will continue. Student Council and 6th Grade Ambassadors give students leadership opportunities. There will be “You’re one terrific tiger” quarterly letters home: teachers will pick two students each quarter to send a letter home and reinforce good behavior and choices. We will continue to have quarterly Citizenship Assemblies for kids who haven’t had a PAC referral; they do a fun activity or presentation at the assembly. Kids don’t always get the recognition they deserve and this helps with that.
  • Carrie Cophenharve: Consequences. Five steps. 1. First warning: verbal; 2. Second warning: stop and think / extended verbal reminder; 3. Third warning: buddy room, then return to class; 4. Fourth warning: PAC room; 5. Fifth warning: office referral (severe, doesn’t happen very often). Teachers have a clipboard to know where students are in their plan. This is tracked on the computer to track patterns of behavior that can be prevented or worked on constructively. It helps us keep track of what’s going on and what we’re doing to help. Students start with a blank slate every day. The first two steps are not necessarily relayed to parents, sometimes the third is, and always the fourth and fifth. And if it’s consistent, then parents know. Andrea Haynes: It’s an important point that we track this data because this affects other students too.
  • Nicole Quackenbush and Abby Barnes: Booster Lesson Plans. We sometimes assume that the rules at home match the rules at school, but this isn’t always the case. There are plans for following directions, using the restroom, playing outside, attending assemblies; you name it, there’s plans for it. We want common language for everybody, so teachers rolled these out last week. A lot of these rules are for safety reasons. They create boundaries between school rules and family/home rules (for instance, playing on the playground may be different after school than it is during school hours). Most teachers are already doing these lessons, so this wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it unified the language being used. Andrea Haynes: The student handbook goes over the consequences for different behaviors. We have a very safe school where the majority of students are following the rules every single day. The handbook can tell you the district consequences (which we have to follow). Some kids will work toward a goal of attending a citizenship assembly. The majority of the students are attending the assemblies (90+%). The younger grades do not have as much of an issue as the older grades.
  • Andrea Haynes: Yearly goals. Every elementary school has to turn in focused goals for every year. 1. Guided reading; differentiated individual reading instruction so that advanced readers and beginning readers’ needs are both being met. 2. MAP reports 3. Growth mindset with mathematics; students’ ability to be good in math is always changing and growing 4. New science standards, Elevate Science. After spending millions of dollars on science curriculum, the district had to buy all new science books this year. It seems pretty silly to us that we went through Pierson training last year and now we’re doing this new curriculum. It feels hands-on and more meaningful, but I don’t think we needed a whole new curriculum to do it.
  • Andrea Haynes: Other updates. Explanation of losing our Pre-K classroom. We have had a phenomenal parent-pay Pre-K program. If you’re upset, I’m sorry. I fought hard to try to turn that bus around, but it was not happening. New Attendance Initiative – Strive for 95, reduce absences by 5%. $10,000 landscaping grant is moving slower than expected. New technology has come to the building. An HP Streams laptop cart is being used by 6th grade students.
  • Molly: Dr. Haynes will be here for all of our meetings. We’re open to your ideas that you’d like her to address.

Old Business: Molly Colling

  • Our last PTA meeting was last April. The meeting minutes are being passed around and will be sent out to our membership list after each meeting. The meeting minutes were unanimously approved.
  • Nicole Brown: TAGG summer classroom challenge. The second and sixth grade classrooms won the TAGG summer challenge. TAGG is an app on your phone that generates “free money” for Harrison. There are places all over the city where you can TAGG. It’s super simple. You spend money at these places, and take a picture of your receipt with the app. 5-10% of proceeds go to Harrison. We did a challenge over the summer and raised $384. That’s really great. 2nd grade had the most TAGGS, but 6th grade earned the most money. Those classrooms will get popcorn parties. Popcorn will be popped outside. If anyone wants to help on Sept. 12th, Nicole could use it!
  • T-shirts. Nicole has examples to look at. Order forms are due by Friday, September 7 th. There are extras available.
  • BASH is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year, and many families come. We have a silent auction, dance, dinner, games, etc. Please consider donating something for the silent auction or inquiring at local businesses or workplaces. This is one of the biggest ways we raise money for STAR grants and teacher appreciation. We will pick a theme for this year’s bash but haven’t done it yet. Room parents create BASH baskets for auction; we will likely do this again. Ruth Farrington and Nicole Brown will answer questions if you have them.
  • Angela Smith: Landscaping update. We won the TAGG landscaping challenge. We were the top vote-getter and had an interview and “wooed” Brandon from Kinnan Lanscaping. Brandon is donating his time for this and wrangling people to donate materials. Dr. Haynes had the great idea of polling the teachers for their thoughts. We also welcome parent suggestions – it’s not too late. It helps us establish a wish list for future landscaping.
  • Annie Johnson: I am the yearbook coordinator and welcome parent and teacher submissions of photographs throughout the school year. Please email them to anniejohnson78@gmail.com. You may have noticed that there was some new language in the photo release form (green sheet sent home on the first day of school). This is related to using photos on social media. We are hoping to create more social media engagement this year. If you have questions about the photo release, please talk to Annie Johnson.
  • Molly Colling: All of us have to go through the volunteer application process to attend anything Harrison-related during the school day. Andrea Haynes: If you are not going to be alone with a child, you don’t have to do a Level 3 (background check), but you do have to do a level 2, even to have lunch at school with your child. Dr. Haynes approves Level 2. If you attend a field trip, you would likely have to complete a Level 3. We were highly encouraged to do this by the district. If you did one last year, you need to it again this year. Please try to complete this at the beginning of the year. It’s good for a year. If you’re not sure which level you checked, you have to log back in and bring up your application, or Mrs. Davey can look for you. For large Harrison school events, the clearance is not necessary, but for anything that’s not a school-wide event permission is needed. If you did it last year and you remember your username and password, your info will still be on the form.
  • Molly Colling: Star Grants are an opportunity for Harrison teachers to apply for something they’d like implemented in their classroom (field trips, special activities, items, etc). PTA budgeted $2400
    for Start Grants, an increase from last year. Unfortunately, this large chunk of money doesn’t cover ALL Star Grant applications. PTA members (not board members) go through a rubric to rank the applications. It’s a great volunteer opportunity for new parents. Applications will be due September 28th. If there is a staff member who’s NOT applying for a Start Grant, we encourage them to join the committee. It’s difficult to be biased due to the rubric; this helps to prevent parents from being biased toward their own classroom.
  • Ruth Farrington: Scoops of Support. Harrison is joining four midtown OPS schools in a cool fundraiser. A dollar from every pint of Cool Cats ice cream sold at eCreamery will come back to
    the school. The entire proceeds will be divided by the four schools. The ice cream is vanilla with M&Ms, Oreos, and cookie dough. It’s just the pints that bring back money to Harrison. Our day is
    September 19th – the proceeds will go just to Harrison on that day. It’s not just the pints that day, it’s everything. We’ll be promoting between 4-8 p.m. Annie will take yearbook pictures. Each of
    the four schools picked a sundae. Ours is called Tiger Tracks, vanilla with caramel and brownie rights. They’ll tally this and it will be a friendly competition. If you have questions, please contact
    Ruth Farrington.
  • Lex Morrison: Hearts for Harrison. We’ve looked over our fundraising opportunities over the last few years, and we wanted to try something new. This will be a direct campaign. We’ll do this in February and connect it to Valentine’s Day. You can make a direct donation to the PTA. It’s a great way for family members outside of Omaha to feel like they’re supporting the school. It’s a tax deductible donation. This has been successful in other schools. If anyone else has fundraising ideas they’d like to share, please let us know.

The meeting ended with a “What to Expect” activity asking small groups to match different Harrison milestones with the grade level when they happen.

The next meeting will be Monday, October 1st, at 6:00 p.m.