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Durant Elementary School

November 2014 Newsletter




MISSION STATEMENT for Sumner & Fredericksburg Community Schools:

ü  Committed to continued Execlence to Lifelong learning, leadership, and Character.

  1. oMission Statement at DES:  Durant Elementary School provides a nurturing environment committed to achieving excellence. All students are challenged to reach their maximum potential by learning at their functional level to provide a solid foundation of skills, knowledge and values.


This foundation enables each student to become a well-educated, productive adult able to cope with an ever changing world.  



Guidelines for Success at Durant Elementary:

The Six Pillars of Character Counts!

Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.


Durant Elementary School November Pillar: Fairness


Our Big Bucket Motto:

                Bucket Fillers display fairness with others.




Parent-Teacher Conferences!!

A huge thank you to each of you for coming to parent-teacher conferences. A high percentage of 99% of our parents attended, as usual. Studies show that when parents are involved and interested in their child’s schooling, that child is more likely to achieve. We hope you will continue to show this interest throughout the school year. Check with your child each day to find out what happened in school. Check with them to see what homework or project needs to be completed and follow up by making sure it gets done and returned to school in a timely fashion. Thank you for partnering with us to educate your child! Thanks Mr. Volker


Reading Counts Program:

The Durant Elementary School utilizes a reading incentive program called Reading Counts. In this program, students are able to take computerized quizzes testing their reading comprehension on books they have read. Points are accumulated with each quiz passed throughout the school year. Kelly Schaufenbuel, Teacher-Librarian and her staff, record the points weekly for grades 3-5 and prizes are given when students reach 25, 50, 100, 250, and 500 points, and if a student can read 1,000,000 words along with some points the students will earn a Nook. The goal of the program is to get students to read more and to comprehend what they have read.


Parents, please encourage your child to read and to take the computerized quizzes!!!


National Education Week November 16-22 this marks the 93rd annual event

The National Education Association was one of the creators and original sponsors of American Education Week.

Distressed that 25 percent of the country's World War I draftees were illiterate and 9 percent were physically unfit, representatives of the NEA and the American Legion met in 1919 to seek ways to generate public support for education.

The conventions of both organizations subsequently adopted resolutions of support for a national effort to raise public awareness of the importance of education. In 1921, the NEA Representative Assembly in Des Moines, Iowa, called  for designation of one week each year to spotlight education. In its resolution, the NEA called for: "An educational week ... observed in all communities annually for the purpose of informing the public of the accomplishments and needs of the public schools and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs."

The first observance of American Education Week occurred December 4-10, 1921, with the NEA and American Legion as the cosponsors. A year later, the then U.S. Office of Education joined the effort as a cosponsor, and the PTA followed in 1938.

Other co-sponsors are the U.S. Department of Education and national organizations including the National PTA, the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American School Counselor Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National School Public Relations Association, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

American Education Week is always celebrated the week prior to the week of Thanksgiving.






Marilyn Lopes
Extension Specialist, Family Life Education
Cape Cod Cooperative Extension
University of Massachusetts

As a parent, you are your child's first - and most important - teacher. Here are eight ways you can help your child become a better reader.

  1. 1.Read yourself. Your actions really do speak louder than your words. When your kids see you reading the newspaper or curling up with a book, they will want to follow your example.
  2. 2.

2. Make sure your children read every day. Reading - like shooting baskets and playing the piano - is a skill. Like other skills, it gets better with practice. Researchers have found that children who spend at least 30 minutes a day reading for fun - whether they read books, newspapers, or magazines - develop the skills to be better readers at school.

  3. 3.3. Get the library habit. Make sure everyone in your family has a library card. Schedule regular trips to the library. While you are there, check out a book yourself!

  4. 4.4. Read aloud to the children. In *The Read Aloud Handbook*, Jim Trelease reports on research showing that this is the most important thing parents can do to help their children become better readers. Here are some tips from the book:

ü  Start reading to your children when they are young. It is never too early to begin reading to your children, according to Trelease.

ü  Don't stop reading to your children as they grow older. You will both enjoy the chance to do something together.

ü  Set aside some time each day for reading aloud. Even 10 minutes a day can have a big impact. Bedtime is a natural reading aloud time. Other busy families read aloud at breakfast or just after dinner.

ü  Read books you enjoy. Your kids will know if you are faking it.


5. Here is a way to use your newspaper to encourage reading: a scavenger hunt. Give your child a list of things to find in today's newspaper. Here are some ideas:

  • A map of the United States.
  • A picture of your child's favorite athlete.
  • The temperature in the city where a family member lives.
  • Three words that begin with "w".
  • A movie that is playing at a nearby theater.

6. Give books as gifts. Then find a special place for your children to keep their own library.

7. Make reading a privilege. Say, "You can stay up 15 minutes later tonight if you read in bed." Or you might say, "Because you helped with the dishes, I have time to read you an extra story."

8. If you are not a good reader, you can still encourage your children. As your children learn to read, ask them to read to you. Talk about the books your children have read. Ask a friend or relative to read aloud to your children.



“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." Lady Bird Johnson



October: Get Ready! Prepare!

That’s right! October is the month to prepare students to take the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS). Second, third, fourth, and fifth grade students will take the ITBS the week of November 3rd .

Parents can be a great help in getting students ready for this assessment. As you know, The No Child Left Behind mandate enables the federal and state government to use the ITBS scores as a lens to look into the academic programs of Durant Elementary School and judge its success based on the results of these test.


IMPORTANT: During the month of November, we ask that parents support students as they complete their math homework and to make sure they are reading and writing each day at home. Reading and writing are skills that must be practiced in order to become more proficient at each. Math skills also must be practiced in order for students to become proficient!


Iowa Assessments:



New Name for the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills

Dear Parents:

                   Durant Elementary will be administering the annual state required test to students in grades 2-5 beginning on Monday, November 3rd. You may be familiar with the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, which are now being called the Iowa Assessments. In addition to the name change, several portions of the new test have been rewritten to align with the Common Core State Standards. Students will be tested in the following general areas: reading, writing expression, math, computation, science, social studies and vocabulary. Students in grades 2 - 5 are also tested in spelling, capitalization and punctuation. The reading, written expression, vocabulary, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, mathematics, and computation tests have all been aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Beyond determining simple proficiency levels, the results from the Iowa Assessments can be helpful in many ways to many people. The test provides parents, students, and educators with information on what students know and can do in key academic areas. As students progress through school, their yearly growth in these key areas can be observed and their college-readiness monitored. In addition, group results can be used as part of a comprehensive program evaluation. These are just a few of the ways that the results can provide helpful information.

                   The Iowa Assessments will be conducted in the same manner as in the past and student reports will be sent home in January. However, because of the changes in the test, it will take time for the test developer to gather information to make state and national comparisons. The test developer is currently working on those comparisons and that kind of a report will be coming soon.


How can I help my child(ren) be prepared?

ü Help them get a good night’s sleep prior to the testing.

ü Help them begin the day(s) of testing with a breakfast of some type of protein, complex carbohydrates (whole grain cereal or bread), and some type of fruit.

ü Talk with them about the test and its importance.

ü If you have questions, feel free to contact

Mr. Volker



Preparing for the Iowa Assessments

            We ask that students show their best test taking behaviors: working hard on the test the entire time allotted, checking back over your work if there is time, not putting down an answer without carefully thinking it through (no speed dotting), and working in a way so as not to bother or distract others.

            Teachers will observe and watch students carefully to determine who is displaying these test taking behaviors. Students who display them all through the testing sessions will be invited to a movie in the auditorium on a Friday afternoon in the near future.





Keeping Kids Active !      

         Anyone who’s seen kids on a playground knows that most are naturally physically active and love to move around. But what might not be apparent is that climbing to the top of a slide or swinging from the monkey bars can help lead kids to a lifetime of being active.               

        As they get older, it can be a challenge for kids to get enough daily activity. Reasons include increasing demands of school, a feeling among some kids that they aren’t good at sports, a lack of active role models, and busy working families!    And even if kids have the time and the desire to be active, parents may not feel comfortable letting them freely roam the neighborhood as kids once did. So their opportunities might be limited.!    Despite these barriers, parents can instill a love of activity and help kids fit it into their everyday routines. Doing so can establish healthy patterns that will last into adulthood.! When kids are active, their bodies can do the things they want and need to do. Why? Because regular exercise provides these benefits:

  • strong muscles and bones
  • weight control
  • decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • better sleep
  • a better outlook on life
  • more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful. And physical competence builds self-esteem at every age.







Here at DES we are working to create a greater awareness regarding bullying behavior within our staff, students and parents.  The three most common types of bullying are as follows: 

Verbal Bullying 
- This is the most common form of bullying and accounts for over 70% of reported incidents.

Physical Bullying 
- This is the most visible and identifiable form of bullying yet it accounts for less than 20% of reported incidents. 

Relational Bullying 
- This type of bullying is the systematic diminishment of the victim’s self through ignoring, isolating, excluding or shunning.  It can involve gestures such as stares, rolling of eyes, sighs, frowns, snickers and hostile body language. 

We want to stop bullying in our school!  Should this happen with your child at our school, please contact school personnel.  We want to know about this information and we will do whatever we can to make this situation better for your child!






I know this is hard to believe but we already have a full tub of sweaters and jackets in our lost and found that are just begging to find their owners. Just a reminder that we can easily return these items to their rightful owners if you will put your name in them. If items are not claimed the lost and found items will soon be donated to a local charity, so please, if you are missing a sweater or a jacket be sure to look in the lost and found which is located in front of the library.




Red Ribbon Week, October 23-31

This year marks the 25TH anniversary of the first official celebration of Red Ribbon Week. The event has grown into the country’s largest anti-drug endeavor. Encouraging youngsters to turn away from drugs is still the main emphasis, but giving them the tools to make other healthy choices is now a component. Say “NO” to drugs; say “YES” to healthy lifestyles.




Who is Kiki Camerena? (History of how Red Ribbon came to be)

         Kiki Camarena grew up in a very poor family. When he was old enough, he became a police officer and joined the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. His mother didn’t want him to join this drug team because it was dangerous. But Kiki said, “I want to make a difference! “

When he was 37 years old, Kiki was sent to Mexico to work undercover and investigate a huge, major drug group that was breaking the law selling dangerous drugs.

While Kiki was in Mexico, he stepped out of his office one day to go out for lunch with his wife. When he was walking out to his car, five bad drug dealers appeared at his side and shoved him in their car and drove away. All of his friends and the other police and drug officers looked for him for days and couldn’t find him. After about a month of looking for him when everyone was so sad and just sure they would never find him, someone found his body in a shallow grave. The drug dealers who kidnapped him had tortured him to death.

            Everyone was so sad that he had died because Kiki was loved and admired by many. His fellow workers and friends knew him as a man that was trying to do

the right thing by going after the drug dealers who were selling bad drugs to people and even children in Mexico. We all know what strong, bad drugs do to our bodies. Bad drugs have a harmful effect on our hearts, brain, liver, and other parts of our bodies.

Shortly after Kiki was found dead, his friends and comrades got together and pledged to lead drug-free lives. Also, in Kiki’s honor, they started to wear red satin ribbons. Today we celebrate Kiki’s life and the work that he did by wearing red ribbons during Red Ribbon Week and learning about bad drugs and their   harmful effects.


Building Block for Success in Mathematics

What Students Should Know and Be Able to Do:

Now more than ever, students need a solid foundation in mathematics in the early grades to prepare them for challenging mathematics courses in middle and high school.

Here are a set of essentials mathematics skills and possible timeline by which to monitor student progress:

  • Preschool—Before children start school, they need many opportunities to explore numbers (their size and meaning), shapes and basic measurements.
  • Elementary School—Students should be proficient with whole numbers: counting, place value, addition and subtraction, multiplication &division. Students should be able to solve problems involving perimeter and area of 2-dimensional shapes.
  • Middle School—Students should be proficient with fractions, decimals and percents: comparing fractions, relating fractions, decimals and percents, additions & subtraction, multiplication & division. Also, students should be able to solve problems involving surface area and volume of 3-dimensional shapes.
  • 8th Grade—Students should be prepared for high-level mathematics, including course work in algebra.


Helping Your Child With Difficult Math Concept

These two first graders are working on the value of coins and their money concepts.

We are finding that many of our K – 4 students struggle with counting money and making change. We hope that parents will help in this area, as spending money is a relevant part of everyday living. Include your child in counting money, paying for items, and figuring out the change they have coming when they buy something.

Another math concept that students find difficult is that of measuring. Most of us didn’t grow up with the luxury of buying items that were pre-measured like our children are doing. It is still an important concept for students to have and they are tested on these concepts on the Iowa Assessments. Parents can give children relevant experiences at home measuring while cooking and baking, measuring with rulers and yardsticks while doing fix-up projects at home, and weighing items to the ounce, when possible.


Effort Matters!! When children believe that their efforts to learn make them smarter, they show greater persistence with math




Reminders from the Elementary Office

  • *If your child is ill, please call the office 563-578-3354before 9:00 on that morning to inform us. Make arrangements to pick up his/her homework later that day, if possible.


  • Please check your child’s contact information with the office and update, as necessary.


  • *Make sure that your child and your child’s teacher know when there is a change in how he/she will get home from school. Being left at the door without knowing who is coming or how to get home is extremely stressful for a child.


  • School attendance is essential for success in school. Please schedule medical appointments outside of school time, whenever possible.


  • Please be advised that you may request information on the qualifications of our staff at anytime.



  • *The school doors are locked throughout the day for the safety and security of your child. We do not want to meet an adult in the hallway that is not wearing a visitor’s badge they have picked up in the office. If you are entering the building during the daytime, please come through the front door entry and walk into the principal’s office, register with the school secretary, and get a visitor’s badge before going into the hallways. Our students are precious to us and we will do whatever it takes to keep each child safe and secure.


  • The DES Handbook states that no invitations to a child’s birthday party will be handled through the classroom. Please comply with this policy. Also, be advised that due to the privacy laws of both the federal and state government, we are not allowed to pass out the names or any other information concerning students in a classroom.


Safety Issues

A friendly reminder

  • At 3:15 we dismiss our students who are supposed to walk home. These students are dismissed out the back of our building.
  • At 3:20 we dismiss our car riders out the North doors of our building. Where parents are supposed to lined up on 5th street and enter the lot and pick students.
  • At 3:25 we dismiss our bus students out the West side of our building.


PLEASE. PLEASE. DO NOT PICK UP WALKERS ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE BUILDING. If the student leaves as a walker let them walk. If you want to pick them up have them leave on the North side of the building. If you have questions contact the office.



You may feel free to contact me at anytime with specific information or questions concerning your child. Just call 563-578-3354 or e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A partner in your child’s education,

Kurt Volker, Durant Elementary Principal



I encourage all parents to sign up and use the infinite Campus Grading program to monitor your child’s grades. Currently in the elementary grades 3-5 places grades on the computer. Once these grades are inputted on the computer parents can check the progress.   At any time you have concerns about you child’s progress visit with you child and or contact the child’s teacher. Also praise you child for the successes they are achieving.  


Student +Teacher+ Parents=Success

United We Build Our Children’s Future


It is the policy of Sumner-Fredericksburg Community School District not to illegally discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, age, religion, creed, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status in its educational programs and its employment practices.


If you have questions or a grievance related to this policy, please click here to contact the Equity Coordinators.