- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.