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A message from McDowell Mountain Elementary School Principal Valerie Dehombreux, “Mrs. D.,” to kick off the new school year:

We’re looking forward to another outstanding year at McDowell Mountain, a PreK-third grade school two miles from the Fountain!

First of all, here are key dates for MMES parents and students to mark on their calendars:

Friday, Aug. 3, 9 to 11 a.m., Meet Your Teacher.

Monday, Aug. 6, first day of school.

Tuesday, Aug. 14, 6 to 7 p.m., Preschool Back to School Night.

Thursday, Aug. 16, 6 to 7 p.m., K-1 Back to School Night.

Thursday, Aug. 16, 7:15 to 8:15 p.m., second and third grade Back to School Night

Friday, August 17, picture day.

We have a few new teachers and some of our returning teachers have changed grade levels. Our special area classes will continue to be Art, Music, PE and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and we will continue to implement the weekly rotation schedule.

This summer, 78 K-6 students got to enjoy even more STEM with Camp Invention, directed by Mrs. Cooper and taught by four district teachers with the support of volunteer college, high school and middle school students!

Last year we made a significant technology purchase thanks to the community’s capital bond and override support and we will continue using 1:1 Chromebooks in third grade, two Chromebook class sets for second grade, and a Chromebook class set for first grade.

Kindergarten and special area classes will start using a set of iPad Air 2’s this year. We also have two fully-equipped computer labs separate from our STEM class Tech Lab that classes can use every day.

Last year was our second year implementing the math program, “Bridges in Mathematics,” with “Number Corner” from The Math Learning Center. Its success was evident once again in our 2017-2018 third grade AZMERIT results. We held our first Family Math Night and we will be doing so again sometime in September.

This year we will begin implementing a new English Language Arts curriculum, “Benchmark Advance,” from Benchmark Education. It’s a comprehensive program with both print and digital materials that focus on all areas of English Language Arts: reading and writing foundations including phonics; reading comprehension in literary and informational text; writing foundations including spelling; writing; and listening/speaking.

MMES teachers have training the week before school starts as well as throughout the school year. MMES teachers and Site Council spent a lot of time researching and making this very important adoption decision and we are so excited! We will be sharing more about it with you as we learn ourselves.

MMES will continue to implement Response to Intervention (RtI) in grade levels of greatest need. This includes small-group intervention and/or enrichment classes based on students’ specific needs in English Language Arts. RtI has been a great support for our students for the past four years. All MMES 2017-2018 third graders met the AZMERIT assessment criteria for the state statute “Move On When Reading” for promotion to fourth grade.

One of MMES’s traditions is its patriotic and other themed assemblies each quarter.

MMES will continue to reward students’ positive behavior, progress and demonstration of the Character Counts traits through Character Counts awards at assemblies, “dog tags,” the weekly falcon drawing, Kiwanis Terrific Kids, and counselor/teacher on special assignment, Ms. Smart’s therapy dog’s award “Bobby’s Best Buddy.” She and Bobby choose students who do good things that demonstrate the Character Counts traits. Bobby’s friend Muffin is almost finished with her therapy dog training and the two pups are going to alternate Thursdays for their school visits this year.

Students will also continue to have leadership and service opportunities through Student Council, Falcon Leaders, Junior Achievement and class/school-wide projects. Before school support through the Morning Lab and clubs of Spanish, Chess, Legos/Robotics are further great opportunities for students. This year art teacher Mrs. Perry is starting a before school Art Club as well!

This summer our custodians have been working hard to make sure our school looks its best for the first day of 2018-2019 and beyond. Teachers have already been working in their classrooms. MMES parent and local artist Megan Junk has been donating her talent, time, and supplies to paint beautiful murals on our walls. She started with a glorious falcon with the traits for Kiwanis Terrific Kids on its wings and is currently painting the school logo in the lobby.

A wonderful year is ahead at McDowell Mountain Elementary School. We cannot wait to see our new and returning falcons on August 3 and 6!