The Principal's Posts

News from Ms. Appleyard

October 31, 2018
by appleyard
Comments Off on The Gift of Education

The Gift of Education

The Mt. Bethel Elementary School Foundation provides unparalleled support to our students, staff and school – impacting EVERY STUDENT positively EVERY DAY.  Parents, it is because of your generous donations that we are able to make this happen.

We are grateful for engaged and involved parents who provide funding so that the educational experience at Mt. Bethel is different from any other school.  Our Foundation ensures that every student receives the tools from highly trained teachers to ENRICH. EMPOWER. EXCEL.

Thank you to our Foundation Board who work tirelessly to ensure that we are good stewards of our parent donations and partner with our school to provide the gift of education for each of our Buccaneers!

Foundation Website:

October 30, 2018
by appleyard
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The Gift of Turf

Mt. Bethel is fortunate to welcome over 1,100 students to our building each and every day!  Our school facility’s original plan was to host far fewer students.  Our gym and cafeteria were built to handle less than 700 students.

While we are over capacity in these areas – we welcome each of our Buccaneers and make our physical space work!

What do you do when your gym is one of the smallest spaces in the District, but you are one of the largest Elementary Schools?  You think creatively on how to increase space for PE.

We are beyond fortunate that our Foundation was able to fully fund replacing our dirt pit with an amazing turf field.

The turf field, installed in February 2018, has expanded our space outside the gym for PE and has served as an incredible place for all students to gather, enjoy recess, play, exercise, and RUN.

One of the benefits we never took into account or anticipated was that when our Buccaneers hit the turf field, they PLAY!  You can hear joyful laughter, see creative games, and watch students run, jump, sometimes flip, play soccer, and fully engage in PLAY.  So much of our Buccaneers’ lives is structured.  On the turf, we see childhood PLAY in action every day.  Not to mention, it is the best space for PE that we could ask for!

Foundation Website:

October 29, 2018
by appleyard
Comments Off on The Gift of Digital Portfolios – Seesaw

The Gift of Digital Portfolios – Seesaw

Have you ever asked your student, “How was your day? What did you learn?  What happened at school today?” and received an answer like this?  “Nothing.  We did nothing.  I learned nothing. “

I can guarantee you that no day goes by at Mt. Bethel when NOTHING happens or NOTHING is learned.

Our Foundation funds Seesaw – a digital Portfolio – with protected interactivecapability!  Students and teachers can upload content. Pictures and videos (often annotated) appear on each student’s feed and parents have the ability by viewing Seesaw content to be a “fly on the wall,” peeking into the classroom.  Parents can add comments and peek into their student’s day.

With such a large school, I am not always able to physically make it into every classroom every week.  However, Seesaw emails me a weekly update with usage reports and I can peek into every classroom via this amazing tool!  I can listen to kindergarten students read, watch class performances, view demonstrations of learning, and track progress.

We are grateful that our Foundation funds this resource and hope that you all have taken the opportunity to enjoy Seesaw!  If you have not yet taken the opportunity, ask your child to login and to show you their digital portfolio that will follow them from Kindergarten through Fifth Grades.

Foundation Website:

October 27, 2018
by appleyard
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The Gift of Resources

Our Foundation ensures that our Buccaneers and teachers have what they need in order to learn and to teach!  The last time Mt. Bethel received funds to refresh computer labs, laptop carts, classroom technology, printers, and copiers, the budget was not as much as we needed to ensure equity across the building.

Our Foundation stepped up and partnered with the CCSD Budget and provided funds to ensure the following:

  • ALL classrooms have a designated printer
  • Labs and Media Center have a high-volume color printer
  • Additional copiers
  • Additional laptops for carts and classroom usage
  • Additional laminators

This hardware is appreciated and ensures the day-to-day business of preparing lessons takes place.

Additionally, our Foundation presented two exemplary texts to each teacher to help better differentiate instruction in reading and writing.  Jennifer Seravallo’s Reading Strategies and Writing Strategies books contain focused lessons that teachers can use to run strategy groups or individual writing conferences.  Each of Seravallo’s  books helps our teachers “crack the code” on how to move students forward in literacy!

All materials in the STEM Labs are funded by the Foundation – including furniture, robots, STEM-based games, building materials, coding supplies, & consumables.

Opportunities for staff training are abundant because of our Foundation.  In the last several years, our Foundation has funded:

  • Gifted Certification for over a dozen staff members
  • Kagan Learning Engagement Strategies Workshop
  • Week Long Reading and Writing Workshop Institutes provided by Columbia Teachers College
  • Microsoft Innovative Educator for over 60 staff members
  • Picademy – Professional Development in Raspberry Pi @ University of Michigan for Mrs. Reyes
  • Orton-Gillingham phonics & reading training for all K-5 teachers with continued coaching
  • Orton-Gillingham math training for all K/1, small group, and AC math teachers
  • STEM Training at GTRI:  The Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • Speech GOSSLP Conference for Speech Teacher

The tangible resources coupled with the vast amount of professional learning our Foundation provides make Mt. Bethel the best place to teach, learn and lead!

Foundation Website:

October 26, 2018
by appleyard
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The Gift of Staff

Our Foundation funds three positions:  Literacy Consultant, Tech Coordinator, and STEAM Assistant.  Each of the three Foundation-Funded staff members are vital to the operation of our school and maximize instructional time.

  • Jill Hawes – Literacy Consultant

Jill Hawes provides literacy support to all teachers and manages critical aspects of professional learning and literacy instruction.  Mrs. Hawes is available to all teachers as a professional learning coach.  Teachers seek her out to model lessons, to have her watch lessons, and to provide critical feedback on how to improve literacy instruction.  Jill plans and provides all content during TPV release time.  This year, we are focusing on how to differentiate learning during Writing Workshop.  Differentiation means preparing to move each writer forward – based on their current level of performance.  Jill has guided teachers in creating Conferring Tool Kits, and will continue to work to coach teachers to run effective strategy groups.  It is truly a gift to have a literacy expert at Mt. Bethel who not only is able to tell our staff how to grow readers and writers, but is able to show them!  I’d encourage you to check out her blog Life is Literacy! to access great resources: .

  • Carolyn Cooper – Technology Coordinator

Carolyn Cooper helps maximize teachers’ instructional time.  She is on-call tech support.  Teachers reach out whenever a device is not working, and Carolyn comes to the classroom and helps to troubleshoot so the teacher can keep teaching.  With the recent addition of 75” Recordex Flatpanel Touch Screens, Mrs. Cooper has worked side-by-side with the CCSD team to make sure she is up to speed and can assist teachers after installation.  Mrs. Cooper manages all of our online databases (there are MANY) and prints required reports for teachers.

One of the aspects of life in a school is that multiple assessments (including the Georgia Milestones) are administered online.  Mrs. Cooper assists administration to ensure that all aspects of testing run smoothly and that instructional time/high stakes testing time is not lost due to technology issues.

It is rare that our technology is not working seamlessly and that a teacher’s plans go awry based on a technology glitch – because Carolyn Cooper arrives on the scene in minutes to help and troubleshoot.  I’d encourage you to check out her blog Buccaneer Bytes to access great resources: .

  • Melissa Pumpain – STEAM Assistant

Melissa Pumpian is on call to assist our Art, Music and STEM Labs.  On any given day, you may find her running from one end of the building to the other.  She preps and delivers all materials for our school-wide STEM Days, uploads images and information to Artsonia in music and assists in Music class.  Her hands-on and administrative assistance ensures that our Art, Music, and STEM Teachers can focus fully on preparing quality STEAM lessons!


Foundation Website:

October 25, 2018
by appleyard
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The Gift of Technology

Almost every iPad in the building has been provided by our Foundation.  Repairs, approved App purchases, and maintenance are all funded by our Foundation.

In addition to iPads, in the past few years, the Foundation has provided funding to ensure every classroom has at least four computers.  Our Foundation has enhanced our laptop carts, provided funding to increase copiers, purchased laminators and funds our annual subscriptions to Seesaw and ABCYa.

Carolyn Cooper, Foundation-Funded Technology Coordinator is an invaluable asset to Mt. Bethel.  She ensures all technology is working and helps trouble-shoot so teacher time is spent on instruction.  More information about our Tech Coordinator in the next post!

Foundation Website:

October 24, 2018
by appleyard
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The Gift of Math

One of the biggest hurdles students encounter regarding success in math is the ability to recall math facts quickly (math fact fluency) or to accurately apply an understanding of place value.

This year, our Foundation has funded Orton-Gillingham Math instruction for our Kindergarten and First Grade Teachers, small group math teacher, and Accelerated Content Math teacher.  In addition to the training, each teacher received multiple kits of hands on manipulative bricks/blocks that allow students to see, feel, and manipulate numbers and to solidify math concepts in a concrete way.

OG Math provides methodology that moves students (and teachers) from being able to build math problems (concrete understanding) to the drawing math problems (semi-abstract understanding) to applying the algorithm (abstract understanding and the traditional way parents learned).  This methodology builds number sense, math fact fluency, and scaffolds learning so that when students have to calculate long math problems, they can visualize and understand why the steps they take are necessary and the WHY? behind math is revealed.

Math plain speak for parents:

Our K/1 students are learning how math works by using number bars/building blocks that look kind of like LEGOS that they can count and manipulate.  They are getting good at using these blocks to accurately add and subtract facts.  They are able to or are working toward being able to draw to solve problems and prove their thinking behind the solution.  All of this work will transfer into quickly and accurately solving math facts in addition and subtraction when they see a typical math problem.  If they need help, they have a useful strategy that will help them quickly be able to find the solution!

So…K/1 Teacher Received OG Math Training this year.  What is the Plan Moving Forward?

If funding allows, the plan is to train 2nd & 3rd grade teachers at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.  OG Math is applicable to higher order concepts such as double-digit addition/subtraction with regrouping.  OG Math is also an excellent strategy to help students understand and master basic multiplication.

Building upon that plan, in 2020-2021, we would hope to provide a three day training for 4th and 5th grade teachers.  This training would allow our intermediate grade teachers to have the same background and language K-3 teachers have, but they will delve deeper into large multiplication/division problems and fractions/decimals.

We have a three year plan for implementation of OG Math Methodology and hope your continued support makes this plan a reality!

Foundation Website:

October 23, 2018
by appleyard
Comments Off on The Gift of After School Enrichment

The Gift of After School Enrichment

Our Foundation manages a SCHOOL AFTER SCHOOL:  FACT Programs.  FACT stands for Foundation After School Club Time.  About half of the families at Mt. Bethel take advantage of at least one FACT Program.  FACT Clubs are exciting because they allow students to participate in areas of interest or passion on Mt. Bethel’s campus for Fall and Spring sessions.

Offerings include:

  • Foreign Language: Spanish, Chinese
  • Chess, Debate, Public Speaking, Genius Hour
  • Fitness: Soccer, Cardio
  • STEM: Robotics, Coding, Drones, Typing/Keyboarding
  • Art: Clay, Fiber Arts
  • Music: Performance, Guitar, Piano/Keyboarding
  • Drama & Filmmaking
  • Full STEAM Fridays: Monthly Friday fun events from 6-9pm with themed STEAM activities

Tuition collected from FACT Programs provides 15% back to the Foundation to fund our school initiatives.  This funds a significant part of our budget and enhances what we are able to accomplish at Mt. Bethel.  Thank you to all who participate in FACT Programs and be on the lookout for information regarding spring offerings!

Foundation Website:

October 22, 2018
by appleyard
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The Gift of STEM

STEM:  Science Technology Engineering and Math – a hot topic in education!  Why is STEM such a big deal?  STEM instruction is critical because it integrates multiple content areas and encourages students engage in the Engineering and Design Process where students ASK, IMAGINE, PLAN, CREATE, IMPROVE to complete STEM Challenges.

Our STEM Labs are staffed by two Gifted-Certified teachers who have taken extensive time to write engaging and relevant curriculum that focuses on higher order thinking skills.

We are fortunate that our Foundation fully funds our TWO STEM Labs.  What does fully funding our STEM labs mean?

  • Furniture: collaborative tables and stools
  • Robots: Ozobots, Sphero, BeeBots, Cubetto, and more
  • Purposeful play: multiple games, puzzles, brain teasers, logical thinking challenges
  • Building materials: LEGO, Keva Planks, Suspend, Jr
  • Coding: BeeBots, LittleBits, Raspberry Pi Lab, Training for Mrs. Reyes @ PiCademy in Michigan
  • ALL STEM Day supplies for two annual STEM Days
  • Classroom consumable materials for both STEM Labs

TWO STEM Labs also means that all students cycle through STEM every four school days.  Students are immersed in technology skills that include computer navigation (logging in, mouse/touchpad skills, basic keyboarding, computer care, etc.) required by grade level standards.   Students are also exposed to grade level science standards, and are immersed in higher order thinking as they have multiple hands-on and minds-on opportunities to inquire, build, and improve!  Coding is an emphasis in STEM –and students move from offline coding with activities that help them understand logical thinking to online coding using Scratch, RaspberryPi, SonicPi,Python, live coding music, and more – as developmentally appropriate.

Annually, two STEM Days allow students extended time to engage in the Engineering and Design Process – where they are challenged to solve a problem and create a working product!  Our Foundation supplies all material for STEM Days!  Our first STEM Day will take place on Friday, November 16th and our second on Friday, February 15th!

Please check your child’s Seesaw account to review images and video of all the amazing learning taking place in the STEM Labs!

The STEM Fair takes place on Tuesday, 10/23 from 5:30 – 7:00 pm.  We are excited to see the self-directed learning and

projects each student participating has designed. This annual event is fun, engaging, and allows our Buccaneers to research an area of passion and present their findings.  We hope to see you there!

Foundation Website:

Today begins a TEN-part series of blog entries about how our Foundation gives the GIFT OF EDUCATION to every student at Mt. Bethel. October is Patron Drive month, and we hope you consider donating if you have not already done so.  Every dollar truly provides the gift of education and helps our school improve practices, procedures, and ensures an education beyond what CCSD funding provides.  An education at Mt. Bethel is different because of our Foundation!

We have unique challenges at Mt. Bethel.  These challenges ask the questions, how we continue to show growth on standardized and classroom assessments with high achievers?  How do we ensure we are meeting the needs of every student, regardless of ability level?

In 2014, our administrative team decided that the best way to begin to address these challenges and to answer these questions was to ensure that quality literacy instruction was taking place in every classroom.  Between 2014 and today, our Foundation has provided training so that all teachers have a common language for reading, writing, and phonics instruction.

We can also guarantee a focus on literacy instruction and meeting the needs of every student – whether they require extension or accelerated intervention.  Our teachers have worked diligently to become masterful at implementing literacy practices and a focus on differentiated instruction in reading, writing, phonics, and spelling.

Funding for the following initiatives has made it possible for us to guarantee quality literacy instruction with common language and methodology in every classroom

  • Lucy Calkins Reading Workshop Units of Study curriculum for every classroom
  • Week Long Reading Workshop Institute from Columbia Teachers College
  • Books and materials to support Reading Workshop
  • Week Long Writing Workshop Institute from Columbia Teachers College
  • Teachers (at least a dozen) and administration admission to one-day in-service to learn from Lucy Calkins
  • Literacy Consultant – Jill Hawes who provides ongoing annual support and professional learning in Reading and Writing Workshop. This year’s focus is to shift from teaching writing to WRITERS through individual writing conferences and strategy group work.
  • Training K-1 and Small Group teachers in 30 hour Orton-Gillingham multisensory approach to phonics, spelling, encoding and decoding methodology
  • Training 2-3 teachers in 3-day Orton-Gillingham literacy
  • Training 4-5 and Target teachers in 2-day Orton-Gillingham morphology, word study, and vocabulary
  • Ongoing coaching for all levels in O-G

Q:  Has this training and have these resources made an impact?


Evidence of increased proficiency in literacy is evident in classrooms through formal and informal observations.  Hard numbers based on standardized tests confirm our observations.

We hope you choose to participate in our Foundation Patron Drive and allow us to continue to give the gift of literacy to all of our Buccaneers.

For more information, visit the Foundation’s Website at

or follow them on Instagram or Facebook

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