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Principal Post: Fall 2018

Sharing our story.

Dear Parents,

When we launched the Principal Post last fall, I shared that there is something magical happening at Bromwell every day. The magic continues, and not just because it’s almost Halloween!

Welcome to our second season of the Principal Post: a place to discover what makes Bromwell so magical. Learn about innovation, volunteerism, and get up close with our curriculum. In this issue we:

  • introduce our new school psychologist,
  • look at how we’re developing social-emotional skills,
  • and unearth the story about 5th graders who are on track to eliminate 800 bags of trash this year!
These are our stories. We want to hear yours, too. I’ll start off the sharing with a quick personal update: baby Isla joined our family this month. We are overjoyed and big sister Rory is playing the part perfectly. I’ve been on paternity leave and am now back at school three days a week. I will be back to full time after Thanksgiving.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon,

Andrew Hodges, Principal and proud dad of TWO!

Andrew Hodges holding Isla

 

John Gallagher

STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Meet John Gallagher, our new school psychologist 

We’re excited to welcome John Gallagher, MEd, EdS, NCSP, to the Bromwell community this year as our dedicated school psychologist.

A Colorado native, John grew up in Colorado Springs. He was a math and science teacher for about 10 years in Teller County and Denver, before deciding to pursue his graduate degree in psychology.

John has been practicing as a school psychologist for eight years with Denver Public Schools, primarily in secondary education, so he is excited to be working with elementary school children again.

His passion is to build relationships with students that foster growth and development, particularly in social-emotional awareness, which is why he’s happy we are implementing the Second Step curriculum. (See the Second Step: Social-Emotional Curriculum story below for more information.)

John has found the Bromwell culture to be uniquely cohesive, and he’s happy to once again be working alongside his friend, Nurse Brooke. He invites parents to engage with him in the way that works best for you – in person, by phone or email.

Office: 101E Phone: 720-424-9361 Email: JOHN_GALLAGHERJR@dpsk12.org

 

Second Step: Developing Social-Emotional Awareness at Bromwell

New this year to Bromwell is a school-wide curriculum called Second Step, a program rooted in social-emotional learning (SEL) that helps transform schools into supportive, successful learning environments uniquely equipped to help children thrive.

Second Step is an evidenced-based curriculum that is highly regarded by school psychologists, as well as the Committee for Children. This program will be ongoing throughout the school year in each classroom, with teachers incorporating the units within their regular learning plans. However, in mid-September, the whole school participated in a week-long unit from Second Step focused on Bullying Prevention.

Bullying is a repeated behavior where someone with a power differential intentionally inflicts verbal, physical or social harm upon a target. (In Second Step, as in other Anti-Bullying programs, emphasis is placed on the importance of not labeling the child exhibiting the behavior as a “bully” nor the child being targeted as a “victim.”)

The Second Step unit teaches Kindergarten–Grade 5 students how to recognize, report and refuse bullying through tools such as identifying the roles kids play when bullying behavior occurs. For example, when a child is targeted by another child exhibiting bullying behavior, there are often bystanders either actively or passively participating by watching, joining or simply being aware of it, but not taking action to stop it. The goal is to empower all bystanders to become “upstanders” – someone who sees wrong and acts.

As with any social-emotional program, Bromwell’s implementation of Second Step will be most effective with continued support and buy-in from staff, students and families. So, what can you, as parents, do to support the effort?

  • 1. Watch for materials in your child’s take-home folder to be aware of Second Step activities in the classroom.
  • Talk with your child about what she or he is learning in Second Step.
  • Reinforce some of the foundational concepts of Second Step, such as the role of an “upstander” in preventing bullying and being mindful of how you speak to your child about bullying behavior.
  • Learn more in this online guide from the American Association of School Administrators.
If you have questions about Second Step or Bullying Prevention, please feel free to contact me or John Gallagher.

 

Girl with dirty hands

Bromwell Composting Program: Helping Keep Colorado Green

Did you know that on average each Colorado resident generates 9.6 pounds of garbage per day? With the generous support of the PTA, Bromwell is making significant progress in reducing waste. We are proud to be one of about 30 DPS schools participating in the Denver Recycles lunchtime composting and recycling program.

Since beginning the program last February, Bromwell has cut its lunch waste from five bags a day to only one. This is a reduction of approximately 800+ bags of garbage over one school year.

Each week, a different team of two 5th grade students, who have been trained by Denver Recycles, serve as compost monitors. They wear green aprons and help ensure the correct items end up in the compost and recycling carts stationed in the lunch rooms. During their week of service, the 5thgraders give up their recess in order to volunteer. This helps the program run smoothly and efficiently.

This amazing program helps our school remain green and teaches our students valuable lessons in sustainable living and taking care of our planet.

 

Thank you to our Principal Post contributors who volunteered their time to produce these stories: Bromwell parents Stephanie Walkenshaw and Tracy Killian.

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Innovation is alive at Bromwell: Spotlight on STEM

Students working on STEM project Trash is becoming treasure at Bromwell. Bags filled with recyclable goods have made their way into Ms. Takano’s technology classroom, and you’ve never seen toilet paper rolls and plastic straws looks so cool, or ignite so many brain cells! New this year, in an effort to boost the school’s creative and innovative curriculum, Bromwell launched a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Lab. Once a week, each grade uses a portion of their “Tech” class to engineer, explore, and imagine. Students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades have been learning about the design process and how essential it is to solving real-world problems. They have also been participating in group design challenges that have teams brainstorming, designing, building, and testing. “I knew the challenges would push the children intellectually, but the most rewarding outcome so far is watching their emotional and social growth,” said Takano. “Collaboration is a critical success factor and it takes practice. Learning to listen and plan collaboratively are skills that will last our students a lifetime,” she added. With the younger grades, the STEM Lab has begun by teaching that scientists are more than just people in white lab coats who make potions! Through the incorporation of the scientific method, students are being encouraged to ask questions and observe and wonder about the world around them. They are discovering that they are super scientists, too! Thank you to all the families who have been sending in their recyclables. Want to see your cereal boxes take on a new life? Here’s a complete STEM Lab donation list.
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Meet Puppy and Snail!

Kids in classroomFirst grade has adopted a few pets. Their names are Puppy and Snail! A dog and a bug may seem like an unlikely duo, but that’s the whole point.

Puppy and Snail are actually puppets and they are part of a new curriculum Bromwell is piloting to help students explore their own unique differences and how to get along.

It can be a forgotten party of elementary education: social and emotional growth. Yes, there’s math and reading, but there’s also learning how to be a good negotiator, how to treat others fairly, and how to listen. “These are the skills that if we invest in now, the future pay offs are huge,” said Anne Marie Stevenson, 1st grade teacher. “We are building the child inside and out,” added co-teacher Alyssa Beski.

The program Bromwell is testing is called Second Step and it focuses on teaching empathy and helping children learn critical listening skills. “We create scenarios in which the students are pushed to put themselves in other’s shoes,” noted Stevenson. “We teach them about empathy as a foundational skill for problem solving and being able to recognize that feelings can look different on other people.”

In only a few short weeks the teachers have both seen amazing progress, especially when it comes to problem solving skills. The best part about the program: it’s fun and the children look forward to the songs, videos, and of course, the puppets!

Bromwell is also testing another unique social and emotional development program with older students. A portion of these pilots were funded by parent donations, and the plans are to expand the curriculum assuming this year’s fundraising goals are met. So, this is a final shout out from Puppy and Snail encouraging you to kindly buy your auction tickets!

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Beautification Day

It’s been three years since Bromwell unveiled its shiny new interiors. And during that time, you’ve likely noticed that our outdoor spaces haven’t quite kept up. That’s about to change. First, the school secured a $22,000 bond for general landscaping improvements and those dollars are busy growing – literally – it’s the new turf, trees, and shrubs thriving behind our temporary fencing. Next, the school is working toward securing grants and additional DPS funds to lay new asphalt by the basketball courts Lastly, the Bromwell PTA has launched a new Beautification Committee this year, spearheaded by volunteer Jen Turner. On October 8, the committee will host its first “Beautification Day” and needs at least 50 volunteers to complete many exciting projects sure to make the school shine. Adults and children are welcome to help with the activities listed below. Beautification Day Improvements:
  • Planting spruce bushes, new ground cover plants, and bulbs.
  • Sealing and installing painted rocks with art teacher Mrs. Duffy.
  • Rake wood chips and add new mulch to play areas.
  • Painting.
  • Placing low fencing to protect new plantings.
  • Weeding