McKinley School is where students and staff come to Grow Our Hearts and Our Minds. We adopted that mantra several years ago when we all committed to the idea that everyone is a work in progress and that with a positive mindset, our experiences here can help us grow both academically and personally.
McKinley is lucky to be a part of a strong school district which is supported by an active and involved parent community. Our Parent Teacher Organization partners with us on our curricular and character development goals every year. Our P.T.O. Board is vital in providing experiences for our students that help create the culture of our community.
McKinley's teachers work hard to know their students well, both as people and as learners. They work hard to be cohesive teams, to push themselves to progress pedagogically, and to be important contributors to our school's mission.
Marc Biunno -- Principal
Dr. Biunno's Blogs, Articles, Photos and More!
We are back and loving life at McK!
As a part of our beginning of the year routine, I visit each class to read a story together.
First graders are reading Can I Play Too?by Mo Willems. We read this together because it helps teach one of our most important lessons at McKinley: we always say YES when someone asks us to play on the playground!
Second, third, fourth and fifth graders are reading The Pigeon Has to Go to School! also by Mo Willems. Students have come up with interesting lessons and themes from this story: it's okay to be nervous, sometimes something you think will be bad ends up being great, try new things, and school is awesome.
These visits also give me a chance to get to know our first graders and reconnect with all of our other students.
It's great to have students back in our building.
Summer Assignments for Students and Parents!
After another year where we Grew Our Hearts and Our Minds at McKinley, it's time to say goodbye for the summer. Sadly, we say goodbye to our wonderful 5th grade class of 2019 (WHS Class of 2026) as they move on to EIS in September.
Here's a shot of some of us at the 5th grade party after you all "dunked" me in the ball pit:
5th graders -- remember your challenge: be important in someone else's life, and be the person who doesn't let anyone else wander around without anywhere to sit in the lunch room. If you can manage those two things in the beginning of your teenage years, you're way ahead of the game!
But before you all do that, ENJOY SUMMER!
Parents -- summer break is a crucial time for youngsters to learn, though that learning might not have much to do with school itself. Yes, we want our students to keep reading all summer. We want them to read books they’ve chosen and books they love. If you don’t have any of those, give us a call and tell us you’d like to visit the MCK library to check out a few books – we’ll be open for our students almost all summer! You can also visit this site to find the district’s book recommendations.
Beyond that, I have some other learning goals and objectives for students over the summer. I’ve sent these in the past, but I think they should be repeated. Sometime in summer, I hope students will:
be bored and figure out a way to not be bored, or to love being bored
spend inordinate amounts of time with their loved ones
play outside until it’s dark, and maybe even after, to chase after the fireflies
have unstructured time
learn to ride a bike
apply those new bike skills and go on bike rides
experience new environments, social circles, and be uncomfortable
experience conflict or trouble and work it out themselves (really, by themselves)
wake up with no plans and to have to figure out how to spend their day
eat meals with you, regularly
invent a game
Finally, parents, I do have an article suggestion for you which does a good job of summarizing recent research on parenting and the idea of "overinvolvement."
This week, our community and many staff members packed the EIS auditorium to view Most Likely to Succeed, a documentary about innovative, progressive educational techniques which focuses on High Tech High, a California charter school. This event was put on by the Westfield Education Fund, who works extremely hard to partner with Westfield's schools and who has opened up a crucial conversation about what experiences our students need in order to grow to be their best selves.
In the two days since the movie, I've already had numerous conversations with parents and colleagues about the central themes of the movie and how they relate to our mission to Grow Our Hearts and Our Minds. Kudos to the WEF for sparking engaged and important conversations in our district, and also for organizing a thoughtful event, which was complete with a panel discussion after the film.
One of the topics the movie addresses is the use of meaningful projects in schools where students work on long-term goals, are creative in their achievement of those goals, and then present their work in authentic ways.
So, freshly sparked from Wednesday's movie, I thought I'd share two projects happening at MCK:
Students in Miss Ullrich's class were given the challenge to make anything they desired using any resources they could find. Once the creations are complete, they'll explain their process and product in informational writing! One student made a dentist's office. Another made New York City.
Then I was surprised by a visit from these four fourth graders who were working on a difficult math project (figuring out how to feed an overfed dog) and then challenged with the monumental task of teaching me how to get to the solution!
With their help, and some of my own odd tactics, I figured it out! We reflected on the process and decided that teaching is hard.
Those are two examples, but there is much more going on and much more to celebrate. There is also more to discuss, more to accomplish, and more to learn!
One great part of being an elementary principal...
Is when 2nd graders come in to share their informational writing! This group had fun teaching me about their topics and thinking about how to best inform their readers!
Social Emotional Learning at MCK and in Westfield Schools...
The Westfield Public School District has created a series of short TED-style Talks to explain Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and each of its five core competencies, with examples of how they are being used in our district and the research that tells us why they work. We hope this series helps you to better understand the tremendous benefits of social and emotional learning. Beginning this week and for the next five weeks, a new TED-style Talk will be released. We begin with this introductory overview by Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan.
On the evening of 2/6/19, MCK welcomes Mrs. Herits (Student Assistance Counselor) and Mrs. Mazzarese (Director of Guidance) to teach parents about the 5 SEL competencies and how they can help us speak to kids in a way that helps them grow to be resilient and emotionally intelligent young adults.
Westfield's TED-Style Talks on SEL:
The first of the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) competencies is Self-Awareness. Self-awareness is crucial to all levels of success. When we are self-aware, we are able to recognize our emotions and how we respond to them, identify our strengths and weaknesses, and appreciate our self-worth and capabilities. As part of a series of TED-style Talks produced by the Westfield Public School District to explain SEL and how it is being used in our district, K-12 Director of Guidance Maureen Mazzarese focuses on the Self-Awareness competency of SEL, which allows us to live courageously, pursue our individual goals and dreams, and be our true selves.
Self-Management is the second of five core competencies of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). It is the ability to successfully regulate your emotions, thoughts and behaviors in different situations, to effectively manage stress, control impulses and to set and work toward personal and academic goals. In this third segment of the district's series of TED-style Talks on SEL, Westfield High School principal Dr. Derrick Nelson outlines the critical importance of self-management in our schools and in our lives.
Empathy and respect for different backgrounds and viewpoints are themes that appear throughout Social and Emotional Learning. But nowhere are they more prominent than in the third SEL competency, Social Awareness. As Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Programs Paul Pineiro explains in this segment of our TED-style Talks on SEL, developing social awareness among our students begins the moment teachers greet students on the first day of school for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.
MCK students donated, on average, 10 items per student during this year's campaign! MCK loves participating in this food drive because we get to help others. Class 5-P helped load all of the food into cars so it could be delivered...
MCK's Great Kindness Challenge Continues!
Students and staff at MCK are having a great time trying out all of our kindness challenges. See below for the checklists. We will be continuing the challenge into next week and beyond. Here are some of the ideas that classes have come up with...
Class 2-SP's kindness tree...
Class 2-P's helping hands...
5th graders made the challenge a little more accessible...
The Great Kindness Challenge Starts 1/28/19!
During MCK's GKC, students will be encouraged to attempt acts of kindness and then reflect on them with peers during morning meeting. Families are encouraged to participate, as well as faculty and staff!