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.
I was in Anchorage for the first three days of this week attending the Alaska Statewide Special Education Conference. As Kenai’s large, open-enrollment, Neighborhood School we are fortunate to have the staff and facilities to meet the specialized educational needs of students with a wide range of cognitive and emotional disabilities. In fact Mountain View has one of, if not the, largest Intensive Needs program in the Kenai Peninsula School District. The benefits from these programs extend to every adult and student in the building.
Our Intensive Needs staff is an amazing collection of teachers and aides dedicated to helping each of our most needy students reach their individual educational, life skills and social goals. The empathy with which they approach their jobs is an inspiration for our staff and an awesome situation for all of our students to experience. Are there hiccups that may disrupt the flow of the school day or cause temporary disruption in common areas? You bet there are; and every one of them is an opportunity for students and staff to see these situations handled with consistency, care and compassion.
Our goal is to integrate our IN students into the fabric of our school as much as safety, and educational appropriateness allows. As these students succeed and achieve their goals our general education students get the benefit of recognizing that obstacles can be overcome with the help of empathy, care and compassion. Some students may also take pride in the fact that their own presence and acceptance of their IN peers may have actually contributed to these students’ success. Perhaps they will be more prepared when they eventually find themselves in a situation when it is their turn to be the one who needs to act with compassion and empathy to someone in need.
It is often hard to tell who receives the larger benefit when Mountain View Elementary Students perform acts of community service. From the smiles on the faces of senior citizens when our students teamed up with Hilcorp to serve them Thanksgiving Dinner to the supplies the Kenai Animal Shelter was able to buy from the money raised by our Kindergarten’s Pennies for Pets fundraiser the benefits to those our student serve are tangible. What may be less visible but equally as important are the benefits our student receive from their efforts.
That “feel good” experience from helping others goes deeper and last longer than just while the students engage in service activities. Researchers have shown that community service provides students with a feeling of social connectedness, of being a contributing member of a community, which in turn leads to a “desire to cooperate and be involved in positive ways” (Smith 1999). As our school builds a sense of community through service projects our students gain a sense of self-esteem based on being a contributing member. This increase in positive feelings extends into the classroom where positive social interactions promote increased learning.
Mountain View Elementary’s goal for the year is to have 150 students participate in community service projects outside of the school and to have our students participate in 6 site-based community service projects. These numbers are approximately 25% higher than last year. A new project this year begun by our 3rd grade, will be working with Central Peninsula Hospital to create gift bags of baby essentials and clothing for new parents to take home. We will continue our relationships with the Kenai Senior Center, the City of Kenai, local veterans, local businesses and are seeking other opportunities.
If you have an idea for a way to get some of our students out into the community for service projects please contact Karl Kircher, principal, at 283-8600
This week a parent brought their student down to class at 9:05 and was surprised to find the class empty as the students had already gone to music. She commented “wow you guys get started right away”. I took this as a complement as “getting started right away” is something our staff takes pride in. Our teachers realize that every minute counts and that a good focused start to the morning sets the tone for the day. A quick tour of our classrooms at 8:55 will reveal instruction happening in all our classrooms.
Students who come late break the instructional routine for that classroom, teachers have to help that student get caught up in the lesson, which in-turn affects all the students in that classroom. Students who come late also start their day of harried as opposed to the daily routine of greeting their peers and teachers and taking care of their morning duties, this often results in those being “off “ for an extended period of time until they settle in.
For the benefit of all students it would be greatly appreciated if you have your students to school no later than 8:45, morning recess bell, so that they and their peers can start the day on a positive note and learning will not have to be interrupted.