The Principal's Posts

News from Ms. Appleyard

September 6, 2017
by appleyard
Comments Off on STEM Fair – Register between Tuesday, September 5th – Friday, September 22nd

STEM Fair – Register between Tuesday, September 5th – Friday, September 22nd

Calling all future scientists and engineers! Register for the 10th annual Mt. Bethel Foundation STEM Fair (formerly known as the Science Fair)! The STEM Fair will take place on October 24 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. The STEM Fair registration link and guidelines can be found on the Foundation’s website at

Special thanks to Mathnasium for sponsoring this year’s STEM Fair.

July 30, 2017
by appleyard
Comments Off on Welcome to 2017-18! 40 Years of Buccaneers!

Welcome to 2017-18! 40 Years of Buccaneers!

Parents & Guardians:

We are excited to begin a new school year and know that 2017-18 will be our BEST YEAR YET for the Buccaneers with 40 YEARS OF BUCCANEERS as we continue to embody our vision of EXCELLENCE IN ACTION!  

Some news you can use and important procedures:

Communication:  We communicate in a variety of ways.  Be sure to subscribe to the Mt. Bethel website: and check the PTA Website frequently.  You will receive emails if there is a weather event or dismissal change through Blackboard Connect.  One email address is automatically loaded to Blackboard Connect.  Information on how to subscribe/add additional email addresses will come home in Cobb County folders on Monday!

Arrival:  Please do not arrive on campus before 7:15.  When parents cue up early, it blocks our teachers from entrance and causes a safety issue.  We are ready to receive students at 7:15.  The only drop-off location for carpool is at the front of the school where staff greet you in carpool.

Lunch:  For the lunch menu, CLICK HERE!  We are excited about having a new Cafeteria Manager, Donna Childs-Milford this year!  Student breakfast items are served a la carte and are available in the cafeteria daily.  Student lunch cost has changed to $2.35 this year.  You can pay via check made payable to Mt. Bethel or through MyPaymentsPlus.  Kindergarten students will receive a letter with their ID number on Monday.  If your 1st – 5th graders needs their student’s ID and you wish to sign up for MyPaymentsPlus, please call the front office.  In order to solidify lunchroom procedures and to ensure adequate food for all students, we ask for guest diners to wait until after Labor Day to join us for lunch.  Guest lunches cost $3.75 and will be available in September!

Dismissal:  We begin dismissal early during the first week and try our best to make sure buses run on time.  All transportation changes must be made on our Transportation Change/Bus Pass form and approved through the front office before 10:00 am.  You will receive a copy of this form in Cobb folders on the first day of school and can download the form from our website at THIS LINK.  No guest riders will be approved until after Labor Day.  If you need to check your child out early, please do so prior to 1:45 pm.  NOTE:  GUEST RIDER PASSES WILL BE DENIED IF PARENTS DO NOT FILL OUT BOTTOM PORTION – THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE.  Again, no guest riders until after Labor Day!

Yellow Tags on Backpacks:  Yellow tags will be placed on backpacks for students in K, 1st, and 2nd Grades.  This is a visual cue to bus drivers to ensure that no student under the age of 8 is released without an adult/guardian to meet them at the stop.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION FROM TRANSPORTATION.  If you happen to miss the bus at the afternoon stop, children under 8 or with a yellow tag on backpacks will be brought back to school.

Classroom Deliveries:  We deliver items to classrooms one time daily at 10:00 am.  Items worthy of delivery are lunches and eye glasses.  Please help your student practice the LIFESKILL of RESPONSIBILITY and accept the natural consequence if they forget a water bottle or homework.

Office Hours:  Phones will be answered from 7:15 am – 3:30 pm.  We suspend phone and doorbell response during dismissal (1:45 pm – 2:25 pm) to ensure the safety of our 1,100 students.

Absences/Tardies:  If your child is absent or tardy, upon return, please send them with an Absence/Tardy Excuse form.  Two Absence/Tardy Excuse forms will come home on the first day in the Cobb County folder, or you can access the form by CLICKING HERE. Excused absences include:  illness, death in the family, religious holiday, court order, or parent military deployment/return home.  If a child checks in after 11:15 am, they are considered absent.

We recognize how lucky we are to have your support.  More importantly, we are grateful that you entrust your staff to teach your amazing children each and every day.  If you have a question or concern, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or one of our administrators.

Looking forward to an another amazing year,
Jessica Appleyard, Principal

May 21, 2017
by appleyard
Comments Off on Summer Learning Opportunities

Summer Learning Opportunities

This summer, we hope you explore, relax, and enjoy time off from school.  We also encourage you to take advantage of some wonderful summer learning opportunities.

SUMMER LINK is a repository of Math and English Language Arts resources curated by the Cobb County School District’s Academic Division.   Summer Link’s Math and Literacy resources are grade-specific, and you can take advantage of resources for your grade level, you can back up and remediate learning, or zoom grade levels ahead for a challenge!  

COBB SUMMER READING is a program sponsored by Cobb County Public Libraries in conjunction with the Cobb County School District’s Library Media Education Department.  We will partner with Scholastic and participate in the SCHOLASTIC SUMMER READING CHALLENGE!

GET GEORGIA READING is a partnership between the Georgia Department of Education and many other agencies to provide resources for reading and learning over the summer.

If you would like to share any images of your student participating in summer reading/learning, you are welcome to send them to [email protected] or to post on social media with #SchoolsOutGA .

Have a wonderful summer!


May 6, 2017
by appleyard
Comments Off on Buccaneer Block Scheduling for Specials – Input Needed

Buccaneer Block Scheduling for Specials – Input Needed

This year, we have implemented Buccaneer Block Scheduling during Specials for 1st – 5th grades.  Before we move forward and create schedules for the 2017-18 school year, it is imperative that we solicit input from Specialists, Teachers, Students, and Parents.  Parents and Students, please take a few moments to provide thoughtful insight by completing the Parent and Student Surveys below.

Your input will help us make our schedules for next year!

Input from Parents: CLICK HERE to offer input via survey!  PARENT SURVEY REGARDING SPECIALS ROTATION

Input from Students:  CLICK HERE to offer input via survey!  STUDENT SURVEY REGARDING SPECIALS ROTATION

Survey input provided prior to May 12th will be used to determine specials schedules for 2017-18.

Thank you!

-Jessica Appleyard, Principal

April 29, 2017
by appleyard


May 5th is Georgia STEM Day where over 600,000 students across the state of Georgia will celebrate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math learning.

Mt. Bethel’s theme will be AMUSEMENT PARKS and is sponsored by our Foundation.  Students in every grade level will participate in STEM challenges and each grade level will spend one hour engaged in the five step Engineering and Design Process:  Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve.

We can’t wait to share our products and learning!

In order to complete our STEM challenges, we need a multitude of EMPTY paper towel and toilet paper tubes.  We hope you can drop some (or many) in the bins outside the front office!

March 15, 2017
by appleyard
Comments Off on EdCamp Elementary East – March 7, 2017

EdCamp Elementary East – March 7, 2017

On March 7th, over 200 educators participated in EdCamp at Mt. Bethel!  Most teachers came from MBES, East Side, and Shallowford Falls, but many came from the 24 elementary schools that comprise the Elementary East group.  Teachers participated in 45 different discussions ranging from behavior management to curriculum to scheduling and more.

Anchor charts/brainstorms are below from the variety of topics discussed!

October 19, 2016
by appleyard
Comments Off on Ozobot Challenge – STEM Lab!

Ozobot Challenge – STEM Lab!

ozobot-challengeI walked past the STEM Lab today and heard a lot of chatter and saw students working in groups on something that looked HUGE, COOL, and like PROGRAMMING/CODING coming to life.  I walked in to find collaboration and genuine engagement over a challenge projected on the board:   Can I create a maze to get out of the haunted house for a friend to try and complete?

I thought, surely, our fifth graders could not be experimenting with coding and video game design.  I was wrong!

img_0919-1Our fifth graders were beginning to experiment with the Ozobot Classroom Kit – recently funded by our Foundation.  The Ozobot Classroom Kit includes small programmable robots that follow student-created paths drawn with code markers. img_0927

Students learn basic coding and patterns through studying and experimenting with Ozocode Sheets that outline how to write color sequences that tell Ozobots to behave in a variety of manners (speed, direction, cool moves, wins/exits, timers, counters).  They worked in groups to create a large-scale paper maze on graph paper while deciding the paths and actions the robots/Ozobots should take.  This challenge required planning, communication, problem solving, teamwork, game theory, trial and error, and higher order thinking skills.

Our goal in the STEM Lab is to encourage innovation, increase hands-on experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math that foster higher order thinking skills in conjunction with social interactions, and to engage in real-world problem solving.

Our Foundation’s vision of ENRICH. EMPOWER. EXCEL. is clear in the STEM Lab with incredible support through the funding of cutting-edge tools…including robots!  We can’t wait to see what is achieved in the STEM Lab this year!

See The Ozobot Classroom Kit in action in Fifth Grade:

STEM Ozobot Challenge from Mt. Bethel on Vimeo.

Thank you, Mt. Bethel Elementary School Foundation!


October 14, 2016
by appleyard
Comments Off on School-Wide Training

School-Wide Training

On Tuesday evening, I had the opportunity to attend a Legislative Listening Session with multiple members of the Georgia House of Representatives Educational Committee and State Senator Lindsey Tippins.  The purpose of this meeting was to allow administrators acolemanbrooks84nd superintendents a voice regarding education issues before the next legislative session begins.  One focus Chairman Brooks Coleman addressed was Georgia’s focus on ensuring quality reading instruction in grades K-3.

Cobb County and Mt. Bethel are ahead of the curve with this initiative – as our focus has been on ensuring quality professional learning for our teachers in  Orton-Gillingham phonics, spelling, and decoding methodology paired with the Lucy Calkins Reader’s Workshop Model to ensure comprehension and literary analysis at high levels through multiple-genres of texts is setting our students up for success beyond elementary school.    Training has taken place over the past several years and continues today!serravallo

This week, all grade levels attended two hours of training with Jill Hawes,  Literacy Expert.  Teams looked at reading levels through the lens of individual student data, classroom data, and grade level data.  They then discussed characteristics of readers and necessary actions to move students forward – through differentiation and SMALL GROUP INSTRUCTION – through guided reading, strategy groups, and individual student conferences.

Thanks to the Foundation, our teachers were given The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo that outlines at least 300 strategies to use to help students improve fluency, comprehension, and will help our teachers develop reading skills across all grade levels!

Our teachers were excited – and grateful – as The Foundation’s funding of training and resources continues to ensure that we are not only in alignment with the goals of the State and the District – but on the cutting edge – guaranteeing that we are providing exemplary reading instruction for all Mt. Bethel students – with teacher training on differentiation – a way of teaching that asks teachers to know their students well so they can provide each one with experiences and tasks that will improve learning.  Differentiating instruction means that you observe and understand the differences and similarities among students and use this information to plan instruction.

k-team-serravallo 2nd-serravallo

Reading impacts every other subject – and we are grateful to our Foundation to supporting our teachers so we can improve learning for every individual!

ENRICH. EMPOWER. EXCEL.  It is true.  Our Foundation makes this happen – in ways that will benefit our students beyond Mt. Bethel!








September 25, 2016
by appleyard
Comments Off on Orton-Gillingham Training

Orton-Gillingham Training

On Wednesday, September 21st, our Kindergarten and First Grade Teachers alongside several of our teachers who instruct multi-age small groups began a year-long journey toward earning Orton-Gillingham Certification.

What exactly is Orton-Gillingham?
An APPROACH that prepares a teacher to individualize instruction to meet the specific needs of a learner.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics:  reading words, spelling words, writing words, and being able to fluently decode words to ensure reading comprehension.  In non edu-speak, this means that our teachers are learning how to understand and share rules to reading and spelling with our students in a way that best fits their learning style: as visual learners (who learn best when they see the information – often writing paired with a picture or symbol); auditory learners (who learn best when they hear information – again often paired with some kind of visual symbol or “trick” explained in words), and kinesthetic learners (who learn best by doing, moving, and engaging muscle memory).

Professional learning for our teachers in explicit phonics instruction is in direct alignment with our Superintendent’s Priority:  Simplify the foundations of learning to prepare for innovation.

Who is conducting the training?
We are working with REAP:  Reading is Essential for All People, a group passionate about helping educators receive the best training possible.

Our instructor, Joan Gerken, is an Orton-Gillingham fellow, advisor, and master teacher. Joan is providing the research, the background to the methodology, and the theory behind the OG Approach.  We are fortunate, also, to have Lisa Glickman, Literacy Coach, provide practical application and coaching for our teachers so they can use the knowledge immediately with their students.

What happens during training?
Simulations, direct instruction, guided practice, and time to collaborate/practice!

beginning-readersOur own Katie Walker led one simulation – where participants tried decoding and comprehending a passage that was in a difficult font and appeared to be written backwards.  This gave us the understanding of how students feel when they exert so much effort on physically trying to read the words.  For many, the meaning was lost in the effort exerted to just read each word.

beginning-writersLisa Glickman led a group through a simulation to understand how new or struggling writers feel.  I can personally say that I found it frustrating – and interesting – as our successful and smart staff began to employ techniques we see with students in the classroom. Adults had verbal outbursts, began joking around, were off task, cheated, and gave up.  This insight to how some of our students feel when presented with difficult tasks was invaluable!

reading-group-and-elkoninJoan Gerken led a group through a simulation with advanced vocabulary – that was written so that it was difficult for participants to read.  We experienced what a reading group feels like when early learners are exerting effort to decode words – and the true theme of the story is lost.  We also learned about Elkonin Boxes and how this strategy can help with reading and spelling – and increase reading comprehension.

Is this a big deal?
Our teachers receiving exemplary training on Orton-Gillingham Methodology is a HUGE DEAL!  Our school is working not only to apply this approach to benefit struggling learners, but also to ensure DIFFERENTIATION in our K/1 classrooms in regard to reading and spelling.  The gift of reading is a gift that lasts a person an entire lifetime – and if we can work to ensure that all Mt. Bethel students are reading at or above grade level by the end of fifth grade – through exemplary reading instruction – we have helped charter a course for success for each of our Buccaneers!

Why is this happening at such a large scale at  Mt. Bethel and not other schools?
Through the support of our Foundation!  Our Foundation is providing funding – and this would not be possible without the donations our parents make during The Patron Drive!  Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me or any of our Mt. Bethel Foundation Trustees if you have any questions about how each dollar you donate impacts students.



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