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 At one time or another, we’ve all been the new kid!  At GMSPA we realize that when your student begins school at Mitchell, not only are they the “new kid” but so are you.  We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get the information you need to make your families' time at Mitchell as fun and rewarding as possible.  Below are some of the most commonly asked questions during our monthly GMSPA meetings.  If you have a better understanding of the items below, you’ll feel apart of the conversations at our meetings and we hope you will feel comfortable contributing.  Our goal is to make our students' time at Mitchell the best possible and it truly does take a village!

 1.     What does inclusion mean? 

 Inclusive education, according to its most basic definition, means that students with disabilities are supported in chronologically age-appropriate general education classes in their home schools and receive the specialized instruction delineated by their individualized education programs (IEP's) within the context of the core curriculum and general class activities. 

The way this looks at Mitchell… from the outside looking into an inclusion classrooms, it looks the same as any general education classroom.  You may see additional staff in the room providing support for specific lessons throughout the day, but overall you will see the same curriculum being taught, the same level of academic rigor, and the same love of learning you would in any GMES classroom! “

 2.     What do I need to volunteer at school or in my student’s classroom?

We all have an expectation of safety for our students at school, whether in the classroom, the bus or on a field trip.  That’s why there are certain “rules” we all follow in order to chaperone a field trip, read in class, or ride the bus with the students.  One is to complete a CORI form (Criminal Offender Record Information).  This is a simple form you will complete EACH YEAR that your children are in school.  The forms are submitted and processed.  If there is something on your record that would prohibit you from volunteering you will be notified.  Otherwise you are good to start volunteering.  You will not hear back regarding your CORI if everything is okay.  The forms take a few weeks to process so the sooner you fill one out each year, the better.  The school sends them home in your student’s backpack in early September or you can pick one up at the school office.  The second requirement of volunteering is Volunteer Training.  This is a brief training that takes place at the school in the Fall.  There are usually two sessions, one during the day and one in the evening to accommodate schedules.  You are only required to attend Volunteer Training once for the entirety of your child’s school career here in Bridgewater.

     3.    What is Title One and how does it relate to the Reduced Lunch form?

Title One is a federally-funded, general education support program. The goal of Title One Reading is to provide extra reading help and instruction for struggling readers.  Title One instruction is specialized reading instruction that is provided through the cooperation of the classroom teacher and the Title One Reading teacher. This supplements classroom instruction. Supplemental reading instruction with the Title One Reading teacher will be in small groups, three to five times weekly for approximately 20-30 minutes each session or 90 minutes per week.  Daily at-home reading is an integral part of the Title One Reading program.  Parents should interact with their child while reading and discuss books that their children bring home.

There is a test that all students take twice a year that determines if they are in need of Title One services.  This test is referred to as DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) and is performed by your child’s classroom teacher. 

The amount of Title One funding our school receives is related to the results of the Reduced Lunch forms.  Crazy right?  The idea is that the communities that have lower income tend to have more students in need.  This is debated and discussed at GMSPA meetings often.  More importantly though, people throw away the form assuming they don’t qualify for Free or Reduced Lunches.  ALWAYS fill out this form, as you never know and we need to fight for all the funding we can get for our kids!  You only need to fill out one form per family, not per student.

4.     What are Academic Enrichment Programs?

Academic Enrichment Programs are outside contracted performance groups that present to our students on curriculum related topics.  Examples of programs we’ve had in the past include Big Ryan, a puppeteer/storyteller who presents to Kindergarten and first grade students.  Also Pilgrim Plantation has a group of people come to the school as pilgrims to discuss what life in the 1600’s was like.  This is for our third graders as it coincides with their curriculum.  New this year we will be bringing in the Rhythm Room program to support music education.  Academic enrichment programs are 100% supported by GMSPA.  It makes all those fundraisers worthwhile!

5.     What is a Mini-Grant?

Mini grants are GMSPA funds distributed to faculty and teachers to enhance learning,  based on teacher requests.  A teacher submits a request for funds along with an explanation of how the tools would be used and who would benefit.  For example a teacher may ask for a set of books that enhance the StoryTime initiative and plan on sharing them with all the first grade classes.  The money is voted on by the GMSPA board and can range from $10 to $200 (that’s a ball park but the message is it’s never a large amount:).

6.     Lunch, lunch, lunch!  How does everything happen in the cafeteria?

All students have lunch in the cafeteria and some classes will have snack in the cafeteria as well.  There is only one cafe, however during the day it is split into three different cafeterias via divider walls to accommodate all the students.  Mitchell is not peanut free but we are peanut aware. Students with a peanut allergy eat at one of the peanut free tables set up in each cafeteria. 

Students can bring or buy their lunch.  Students who buy lunch are assisted by teachers who “man” the line to ensure everything goes smoothly.  The lunch menus will come home via your child’s folder and can be found on the school district’s website,  Your child can pay for lunch/cookies/milk with cash that you send in an envelope via their folders or you can send them in with a check or you can use the my meals plus account that each child has.  This is an account, accessed by your student with a 4 digit PIN.  When it’s time to pay, they enter their code and the money is deducted from the balance you have put on the account either through the website or by sending in a check.  The website and all relevant information, such as user id’s and passwords, will be sent home in your child’s folder.  Your little one will not have to remember their PIN, it will be on a necklace or sticker that their teacher will have them bring to the cafe.  But by the time January rolls around they usually have them memorized.  PLEASE NOTE:  there is a small fee for funding your account via the website versus sending in a check, however the ease of the website may be worth it for you.

7.     What is a Family Fun Night?

You will often see Family Fun Night’s referred to as an FFN.  There is a committee of volunteers who organize one night a month for the families of Mitchell to spend some fun quality time together, with each other and with other Mitchell families!  The events usually take place on Friday night, but there are some exceptions each year.  Events are usually an hour to an hour and a half and either begin between 5 and 7pm.  We change it up in-order to accommodate all the different schedules of our families.  Bring grandparents, aunts, cousins, whoever you’d like!  The cost is simply a much needed school supply for our classrooms.  Popular items are pencils, glue sticks, tissues, anti-bacterial gel, etc.  Again almost all FFN’s take place at the school, in the gym or cafeteria and can range from a movie night, to cookie decorating, to a magician or a karate demonstration.  Our hope is to have something for every age group at Mitchell.  At each FFN event we will be selling apparel, note pads, and have a concession stand.  Waters and candy are $1 each.  The price of apparel varies on the item you purchase.  All the money goes directly back to our kids!  We hope to see you there!

8.     What is the School Committee?

The School Committee is made up of elected volunteers from both Bridgewater and Raynham who serve the residents of both towns.  They make critical decisions that effect our schools.  Items they oversee can range from research for a new high school to the approval of new technology in the classrooms.  The committee meets monthly and the meetings are open to the public.  There is always a portion of the meeting allotted for public comment, whether it’s a question or observation.  We strongly encourage you to attend a meeting or two as what they discuss directly impacts your children and our schools.

9.     What is a Thursday Folder?

You will receive a white envelope in your child’s backpack every Thursday with communications from your child's teacher.  It will include  information from school administration, teachers and GMSPA as well regarding events or fundraisers.   After you empty the envelope, the teachers ask that you sign and date the front of the envelope so they can be assured you received the paperwork and then return the empty envelope the next day in your child’s backpack.  Some important things to note about Thursday folders:

-    This is a one way system of communication.  This is for the teachers/faculty to get information TO you.  If you want to send a note to your child’s teacher or the office, you would put it in the two pocket folder your child takes to and from school everyday.  Again parents should not be putting anything in the Thursday folders.

-   Not every teacher sends it home every Thursday.  It’s a mystery, wrapped inside a puzzle but basically teachers use it differently.  You may get it every other Thursday.  If that’s the case you’ll see more communications come home by way of your child's two pocket folder.  GMSPA will continue to fight the good fight and try and get all of the staff on the same page but we make no promises ;)

-   Why is it called the Thursday folder anyway, it’s clearly an envelope???? 

10.     What does it all mean?

Here’s a breakdown of some of the Mitchell code:

    -Mitchell at the Middle - the George Mitchell Elementary school in it's hopefully temporary home at the Middle School

    - GMSPA - George Mitchell School Parent’s Association

    -   RTK - Road To Kindergarten

FFN - Family Fun Night

School Directory - A list of all students names, parents names, email address and phone number.  You can only have access to this list if you agree to be in it.

Monday Morning Blast - Each Monday you will receive an email from GMSPA with important dates, events, reminders, etc.  It’s short and sweet and super helpful.

    -   Instant Alert -  Instant Alert is a phone call that public school families receive from either the School District or from Mr. Lynch at the Mitchell School.  It is a pre-recorded message that details pertinent information such as a school closing due to weather or an upcoming meeting.

    -   Cafetorium - The Mitchell Cafeteria also serves as our auditorium for performances, FFN’s, etc.  Therefore it’s often referred to as the cafetorium.

    -   Classroom Captain- We seek out one parent to volunteer and represent each class to relay pertinent information.  Having a “go to” person also helps with organizing teacher gifts, etc.

    11.    What time is the lunch/recess schedule for the students?

Typically the recess schedule is as follows:
11:30-12 followed by recess, Grade 2
12:05-12:35 followed by recess, Grade 1
12:40-1:10 followed by recess, Grade 3

    12.    Do the students play outside when it is cold?

Typically the students are allowed outside if it is not raining or snowing and it is warmer than 30 degrees.
    13.    Are students allowed to attend the Open House?

YES! The Open House is a time for the students to show off their school to their family!
    14.    Can I volunteer at school in a classroom and bring my students younger sibling?

No. Unfortunately when you volunteer at school, siblings are not allowed.