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Durant Elementary

Sumner, Iowa

February 2015 Newsletter

Kurt Volker, Principal

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New Mission Statement








                     Guidelines for Success at

Durant Elementary Schools

The Six Pillars of Character Counts!!









Dear DES Families,

It has been said in a variety of ways that families are a child’s first and most influential teacher. We believe that and rely heavily on our partnership with you to educate your child. DES children learn important skills here at school and at home. At home, through hands-on, minds-on, everyday experiences, children gain background knowledge. We know that children who have these rich experiences outside of school have an easier time learning to read, developing math skills, and understanding science concepts. We hope that you continue to make learning a part of your family routine at home to gain this important background knowledge for lifelong learning.

Mr. Volker


Family Routines to Support Learning

Conversations: Give your child many opportunities to talk with you in order to develop vocabulary, social skills, and reflective thinking.


Meal Preparation: Children practice literacy skills when they read recipes, information on food packages and labels, and learn new ingredient vocabulary.


Leisure Time: Surround your child with books and magazines. Read with your child. Select reading material together. Do creative activities with buttons, fabric, construction paper, and ribbon.


Valuable time together as a family will help ensure your children will develop the critical social-emotional, physical, language, and thinking skills necessary to be an active participant in the community. They will also learn to value family life.




Parent Teacher Conferences

On Monday and Thursday, MARCH 2 AND 5, at scheduled times from 4:00 to 8:00. Parents will come in for the second parent teacher conference of this school year. These conferences bring together a child’s two most powerful influences (parent and teacher) to talk about academic and social progress. Face-to-face communications are much more effective than newsletters, e-mails, and other written communications. We hope that each parent will plan to attend at the designated time.


“Raising good kids is not easy. There are no college courses on the subject, by the time you are experienced at it, you are out of a job.” Anonymous


Scholastic Book Fair MARCH 2-5 2015

While you are in the building attending conferences, stop by and visit the Scholastic Book Fair that will be held in or near the Media Center. Last year’s sales resulted in a total of $3031 given back to the K-5 classrooms and the media center at DES. Each K-5 classroom and the media center were awarded a number of books as a result of this kickback of funds. A special thanks to Kelly Schaufenbuel and her crew for organizing the book fair. We so appreciate their efforts and it pays off in books for each of our classrooms.


Kindergarten’s 100th Day Celebration 1-30-15

100 Days of Kindergarten! 100 Days of Math! 100 Days of Recess! 100 Days of Pencils! 100 Days of Lunch in the Cafeteria! 100 Days of Paper! 100 Days of Work! 100 Days of Writing! Also the Kindergarteners celebrated by making a stack that was made of 100 pieces of food, wearing hats to celebrate the 100th day of school, and finally counting to 100 by ones, fives, and tens.

Not really, On the 100th day the teachers used the aging software to age them to 100 and then they wrote about what they would be doing when they are 100.  



Kindergarten Registration

Kindergarten Registration will take place March 13, 2015. Registration will involve the completion and return of an enrollment packet from the school. Please register by contacting KELLY JACOBSON, DES secretary, 563-578-3354.


A student entering kindergarten must be five years old on or before September 15, 2015.


Registration materials will be completed the day of Kindergarten Roundup/Registration. Students and parents will have a chance to meet the teachers, visit the classrooms, and will take time to do an in-class activity. Any questions please contact the office 563-578-3354.




February’s Character Education Pillar: Caring

Each month Durant elementary introduces, teaches, and reinforces one of the six pillars of Character Education, which at the same time reinforces all pillars of character.


Educational Objectives: What we want students to learn through our assemblies and lessons.

                     1. To increase participants’ understanding of caring as it influences choices and decisions in their daily life.

                     2. To increase participants’ awareness of CHARACTER COUNTS! and the Six Pillars of Character.

                     3. To increase participants’ knowledge of the choices they have in making caring decisions.


Caring includes such human virtues as compassion, kindness, benevolence, altruism, charity, generosity, and sharing, all of which are at the heart of ethics.


A caring person is:

                     • Compassionate and empathetic

                     • Kind, loving, and considerate

                     • Thankful, expressing gratitude

                     • Forgiving of others


               “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, as long as ever you can.” John Wesley



A caring person is not:      

Selfish or self-centered Mean, cruel, or insensitive Too busy to lend a helping hand


Caring involves concern, empathy, kindness, charity, and love.

  1. 1.Concern for others’ well-being is the willingness to be there for them. This is shown when we become so involved with the well-being of others, that it seems as if our happiness depends on theirs.


“If you think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself.”      – Woodrow Wilson

2. Empathy is sharing another person’s feelings and emotions. Empathy involves feeling an emotional response to the pain and pleasure of others.


“Sympathy is two hearts tugging at one load.” Charles H. Parkhurst


Teaching Empathy

Teaching Empathy: Children ages 8 or 9 begin understanding the concept of empathy; even 6 year olds are concerned about being treated well and want others to be treated well too. Here are some ideas to help encourage empathy.


  • Praise empathetic behavior. When you child does a kind act, tell him what he did right being as specific as possible: “Your were very generous to share your pretzels with Alex. I saw him smiling, and I know he was happy.”
  • Use role-play. Have your child put himself in the other person’s shoes and role-play the situation. Also, look back at prior experiences when the tables were turned.
  • Look for good in everyone. When our children are faced with people they don’t like or are at odds with, encourage them to try to find something good, however small, in that person.
  • Involve your child in charitable activities. Acts of kindness and charity are an excellent way to teach your child empathy. Your child could help when making a meal to take to a sick friend. They could also help donate time or items to a local charity.
  • Teach basic rules of politeness. Good manners are a concrete way for your child to show caring and respect for others.
  • Give your child jobs. Research suggests that children who learn responsibility also learn altruism and caring.
  • Use I-Messages. Use I-messages to talk about feelings. Teach your child to use I-Messages to express his feelings in a positive way. “I feel_________, when you _________, and I want______.”


The Bucket Theory: Three Simple Rules

“As we need food, so do we need emotional nourishment: love, kindness, appreciation, and support from others.” J.Donald Walters


At DES our Bucket-Filling Program is based on three simple concepts:

  • Be a bucket filler (Have positive interactions with others)
  • Don’t dip into the bucket of another (Avoid negative interactions with others)
  • Use your lid (Everyone’s bucket has a lid. We can learn how to keep it on to avoid being bullied and having our buckets dipped into.)


“A Bucket Filling school has a warm and caring environment where students are encouraged and inspired to learn.” Carol McCloud


Mother Nature’s Advice

    Send your students to school dressed for the coldest weather. The district’s school wellness policy describes recess as an essential part of the day. Iowa’s Healthy Kid’s Act requires all students to have a minimum of thirty minutes a day of physical activity. Recess qualifies as this time on the days that students do not have gym class.

    Studies suggest that students are better able to focus and engage in learning activities after any kind of physical exercise. Exercise generates brain cell activity. That is why we feel it is important you’re your child comes to school prepared to experience the rigorous Iowa winter days. That includes a warm jacket, snow pants, boots, stocking cap or Hat, gloves, and perhaps a scarf.


Reminders from the Elementary Office

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 which they should 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.


  • 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. First Semester attendance at DES was 97.29% second semester current is 93.94% for DES.


  • If your child is ill, please call the office 563-578-3354 before 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.


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


Cold Weather Reminder

  • The cold weather is coming quickly and will be here for a while. We will be taking students outside for recess as much as possible because we know that physical activity fuels the brain. We will have indoor recess if either the temperature or the wind-chill factor registers at zero. Please dress your child appropriately for the weather. Each child should have snow pants and boots so they can truly enjoy being outside. All students will be expected to go outside for recess each day unless there are individually-approved circumstances.


We keep students in for recess if the real feel (wind chill is under 0). WE HAVE OUR OWN WEATHER STATION MOUNTED ON MADISON STREET. IF NEEDED: We refer to Accuweather which is located at Waterloo airport, Weatherbug which is located at Oelwein Airport for current conditions.


  • Just a reminder that walkers are dismissed at 3:15, car riders at 3:20, followed by bus riders at 3:25.   If your child is a car rider make sure to line up on 5th street and enter the lot in a single file line. This is for the safety of students and adults. DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP SHOULD ONLY TAKE A FEW MINUTES IF WE DO THE PROCEDURES IN AN ORDERLY MANNER AND RESPECT EACH OTHER.
  • Parents/grandparents, or other who pickup students PLEASE pull forward if a space is open and we will release your student to be picked up. We do this for the safety of students. The whole process last less than 10 minutes. If you have questions or concerns please contact me, Kurt Volker.




You may feel free to contact me at anytime with specific information or questions concerning your child. Just call 563-578-3354 or email 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.



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.