October was an awesome month for promoting our school culture here at Mountain View Elementary!
Individuals with disabilities, as well as experts in the field of disabilities, came to Mountain View Elementary to set up eight different stations for presentations on a wide variety of physical and cognitive disabilities. These experts presented information about disabilities to our students and staff and also provided engaging activities that facilitated the understanding of challenges that individuals with disabilities face and overcome on a daily basis. Among other activities students had hands on experience with creating and reading Braille, using alternative communication devices and manipulating artificial limbs. Art was the focus at one station where students worked with illustrator Maggie Winston to paint without using their hands. Her art work, done holding the paint brush in her teeth, was yet another example of focusing on abilities as opposed to disabilities.
As KPBSDs largest open enrollment elementary school, Mountain View provides a number of programs designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities. All of our students benefit from their daily interactions within this diverse student body. It was our hope that this year’s Diversity Day will broaden this natural development of empathy and further prepare our students to participate in an inclusive society.
Kindness was the focus of a school wide assembly early in the month. A variety of short skits, songs and other presentations focused on all aspects of kindness. Teachers and students from across the school teamed up to celebrate the conclusion of our annual, start of the year, 8 week focus on Positive Responses to Conflict and Kindness. During these eight weeks, age appropriate lessons for teaching kindness, empathy and our 6 positive responses to conflict happen at all grade levels.
Combined these two events provided a powerful message to our students of what we value here at Mountain View Elementary, Kenai’s Neighborhood School.
The Director of Elementary Education for KPBSD, John Pothast visited
our building on the first day of school this year. His initial comment as
he walked down our entrance side walk was “lots of positive energy
and smiles.” While the fact that we had two Turbo 1000 bubble
machines going, Dixie Land Jazz cranked on the Bose, and party flags
lining the path certainly helped in that department. I also believe
that the efforts we made that 1st day are indicative of our approach to
school culture all year long.
The overriding principles for school culture at Mountain View
Elementary are kindness and responding to conflict in a positive
manner. In fact, the first 7 weeks of school contain age appropriate
lessons and activities in these areas for all grade levels. It’s really hard
not to smile when someone is kind to you and, equally as important, it
puts a smile on your face when you are kind to someone else.
Teacher’s constantly use the verbiage “that was kind of you to….. “
when conversing with students. This helps students to develop the
self-identity of a kind person and perpetuates the student seeking
opportunities to be kind. Conversely nothing sucks the energy out of
the room like a nasty conflict.
Conflict is natural, whether it’s between adults, students or a
combination thereof, it’s pretty hard to avoid. It’s how we deal with it
that makes or breaks our day. By responding with specific, positive
strategies and common language that avoid power struggles and guilt
we can move forward and maintain the positive energy for a successful
The initial strategy we work on is “Positive Questions”. This basic
strategy asks that we all assume positive intent. That perhaps the
person we are in conflict with did not purposefully seek to annoy us or
break a rule. Questions starting with “Did you know…” are quite
effective at deescalating a conflict and starting the dialogue to
positively resolve a conflict.
So, while every day at Mountain View Elementary might not include
bubbles, jazz and party flags you can be assured that we have
Below is our newsletter for August 2017:
Thanks for a great year and have a good summer. We are already planning for an awesome year starting next August. Here are the dates of some early activities:
August 10th and 11th. Open registration for new to Mountain View Students.
August 18th. Class lists posted on front doors.
August 21st. Meet the teacher hour 5-6PM.
August 22nd. First day of school, doors open at 8:20.
Supply Lists for 2017-2018 School Supply Lists 2017-2018
We would also like to advise you that we will be having a safety closure drill to practice ALICE protocol on Friday, May 5th beginning at 2:30. As part of this drill students will be leaving school grounds with their teachers, gathering at the Kenai Fellowship, and then returning to school. Please visit the KPBSD website link below http://www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/Workarea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=34276 for more information on KPBSD emergency procedure guidelines.
When Mountain View staff began planning for this event a year and a half ago we envisioned how our students would be energized and get a crazy, cool exposure to the performing arts. We were excited that we could also provide that opportunity to students from other schools. We were stoked to bring quality entertainment to our community and showcase the students. However as it turns out we had no idea of what was really going to happen.
Little did we realize that the 36 Young Americans who worked with our 3rd-5th grade students (and 70 students from other schools) would be some of some of the best teachers in the world, teachers who forge relationships, deliver the content with kindness, and leave their students changed in immeasurable ways. I guess we could have assumed that would be what it would take to produce a show with 250 students in only 3 days.
And what a show it was! The Kenai Central Auditorium was completely sold out, all 1000 seats filled!
The Young Americans brought out the best in the students in terms of confidence, joy, teamwork and skills. The positive energy coming from the stage was returned with thunderous applause from the audience at every opportunity. Board President Joe Arness was in the audience and came to Mountain View the next day to meet with the Young Americans Director to look for ways to bring this opportunity to more schools in the district in the coming years.
Mountain View Elementary is proud to be Kenai’s Neighborhood School and we certainly lived up to that name as welcomed in students from around the district, and garnered the financial and logistical support of the community to bring the Young Americans to Kenai on their first ever Alaska tour.
Since the beginning of November we have been starting each day at Mountain View Elementary with a new routine. Students and staff as well as visitors participate in it together at the same time. Its purpose is to help each individual start their day with a feeling of mindfulness, focus on the positive, and make a thoughtful connection to other members of the Mountain View Family.
The routine goes like this: I start the morning announcements with “Give me five,” (this is the common signal all teachers use to have students be quiet focus on the speaker and listen to what is being said). At that point everyone in the school stops what they are doing and takes three big deep breaths, in through the nose for 5 seconds and out through the mouth for a little longer (simultaneously, following the prompts I give) and are encouraged to think about the kind actions they will take to make the upcoming day a positive one for everybody. Afterword everybody shares a smile or an upbeat gesture and we move on with our day.
Try it yourself and see its benefits. By all means encourage your students to do the same at home when a stressful situation arrives, and best of all do it with your students
Taking those three deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, while thinking positive thoughts is a strategy we ask our students to use whenever they feel the need to calm down and collect themselves. It really works well when a teacher does it along with the student. Many of our teachers use practice for their whole class to get them refocused and return to work. I use the practice often throughout the day to clear my mind, relieve stress or to make sure I “am in the moment” for when I need to change gears and be thoughtful about a situation I am about to address.
Mountain View Elementary is bringing the Young Americans to Kenai on March 27, 28, and 29, 2017. https://www.dropbox.com/s/y5223wd20k2p7w4/Flyer_Kenai.pdf?dl=0 This will be a once in a lifetime participatory performance arts opportunity for 3rd through 12th grade children, as well as a world class singing and dancing performance by a cast of international young adults for our community.
The intermediate wing and gym of our school will effectively become a performing arts institute for 3 days as the cast of 28 Young Americans bring a hi-energy comprehensive performance workshop covering everything from vocal techniques, dance, and comedy improvisation, to stage movement, sound lighting and more. A final show will take place at the KCHS Auditorium on the evening of the final day of the workshop. Learning a show in 3 days helps students learn to work together, to respect each other’s strengths and to discover their own potential.
The final performance will consist of two acts, one by the Young Americans and one with the Young Americans alongside the student workshop participants. Tickets will be sold for this show and the public is invited.
We have committed to raising the funds to ensure that all Mountain View 3rd -5th grade students can participate regardless of their ability to pay the $59 workshop fee. We will also be supporting parents of students in the show who may need assistance with purchasing tickets. We will be recruiting KCHS and KMS students to fill an additional 100 workshop spots.
Please do not register online as we will doing that for Mountain View students through the school.
This meeting is a first in a series of public meetings to provide input to the KPBSD School Board regarding priorities for our site as the district prepares for potential cuts in state funding. Come here on-line presentations from the Superintendent and finance personnel give an overview of the budget so that you can be informed and get involved. The meeting will be in the library Thursday 10/13/16 at 6:00 PM.
Thank you so much to those of you who take the time to speak to us and offer your comments and suggestions as to how to best serve your students. This personal interaction is how we ensure our school works for everyone. Stop in any time or give us a call; we are glad to hear from you. On a more formal note our district collects site specific information to help us develop school improvement plans. Please follow the link below to help in that process as well. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LZHWCDY
We Love You and Are Glad You Are Here!
As principal I try to start each day with a positive affirmation for our students during morning announcements. As I contemplated what that statement would be for the first week this year I wanted to capture the attitude and energy our staff have when students return to school. I was still struggling to find that just-right catchphrase or quote as students entered school on day one when suddenly I discovered it. It wasn’t in print anywhere and I didn’t read it, rather, I witnessed it in the teacher’s bright eyed smiles, the excited greetings and hugs they gave students, and the palpable anticipation I could feel from them as they thought about what was to come this year. Every signal they were sending shouted “We love you and are glad you are here”.
Kindness and Positive Responses to Conflict.
We once again are starting the year off with a heavy focus on our school climate goals of kindness and positive responses to conflict. Teaching and modeling these core values early as well as continually throughout the year provide our students with an emotionally safe environment in which to learn. At Mountain View we like to say “Kindness Rules”. In the back of this newsletter you will find a copy of our Positive Responses to Conflict Wheel. Ask your student about how they use these strategies at school and we encourage you to use them at home.