Trees…a poem by an SBMS student

By Caroline R.

Children of Mother Nature:
Birch, Maple, Oak, and others.
Greeks would say they’re from Gaea,
Romans would say Terra.

Some branches snap softly, others quite loudly.
Some bark is thick, others thin.
Branches and bark,
The color of chocolate.

There’s also the trunk,
Not the gray elephant kind,
The brown of hot coffee.
Home to multitudinous creatures.

And the leaves!
Swaying gracefully down
Like a snowfall.
Sprinkling a rainbow of red like a cherry,
Orange like a mango’s sweet inside,
Yellow like a sour lemon.
They all crunch noisily underneath you.

Ricky Mottram – “The Best of the Best”

 This is one of those moments when I say….”Hey, I used to be his principal.” So proud of Ricky Mottram. Exceptional student and even better person. Well done, Ricky!
Five exceptional scholar-athletes will be honored for their high school accomplishments during the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon, presented by Under Armour, Dec. 5 in New York City.
Tweet this release:
IRVING, Texas (Oct. 4, 2017) – From the more than 1.1 million high school football players across the country, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today the names of five outstanding individuals as the recipients of the 2017 NFF Chapter Scholar-Athlete Awards. Each recipient is selected as the best of the best from his region of the country at the high school level. The five honorees, who are now playing college football after graduating high school in May 2017, are being recognized solely for their accomplishments in high school.
“The NFF Chapter Scholar-Athlete Awards showcase first-class high school football players from across the country,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “This year’s honorees have set the standard for accomplishment on the field, in the classroom and in the community. We are truly proud to honor their success in December.”
2017 NFF Chapter Scholar-Athlete Honorees
(Currently college freshmen, the award is solely based on high school accomplishments.)
  • John Mahoney – from Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, and the Iowa Chapter in the Midwest Region. (Currently attending the University of Notre Dame.)
  • Bobby Maimaron – from Duxbury High School in Duxbury, Mass., and the Jack Grinold/Eastern Massachusetts Chapter in the Northeast Region. (Currently attending Williams College [Mass.].)
  • Brandon Micale – from Pomona High School in Arvada, Colo., and the Colorado Chapter in the West Region. (Currently attending the University of San Diego.)
  • Rick Mottram – from Allentown High School in Allentown, N.J., and the Delaware Valley (N.J.) Chapter in the East Region. (Currently attending Bucknell University.)
  • Blake Wooden – from American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla., and the Brian Piccolo/Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Chapter in South Region. (Currently attending Columbia University.)
Allentown High School in Allentown, N.J.
East Region – NFF Delaware Valley (N.J.) Chapter
Currently Playing at Bucknell University
Rick Mottram defined the student-athlete ideal at Allentown High School in Allentown, N.J. The two-year team captain earned First Team All-State honors at linebacker as a senior after guiding the Redbirds to the 2016 Central Jersey Group IV state title. Mottram made 141 tackles on the way to the championship, including 24 for loss and 3.5 sacks, while also recording two interceptions and forcing four fumbles. He ended his stellar career with a school-record 435 tackles while leading Allentown to three conference titles. The Times of Trenton named Mottram its Defensive Player of the Year twice, and he was a three-time First Team All-Area and First Team All-Group IV selection. A four-year letterman, he was twice named team MVP.
The valedictorian of his class, Mottram graduated from Allentown with the highest GPA in school history – a weighted 4.549. An Allentown High School Scholar-Athlete, he received multiple accolades, including the AP Physics, AP Calculus, AP U.S. History and AP Chemistry awards.
Mottram consistently gave back to his community in high school. A student council representative, he was a four-year captain of a Relay for Life team and was a member of a Villages in Partnership Water Walk team. Mottram was also a member of the National Honor Society and the Math, History and Science Honor Societies, and he helped tutor other students.
He is studying engineering at Bucknell, where he appears as a linebacker for the Bison.

Dec. 5-9 – Hour of Code / Computer Science Week

As you may know, next week is the annual Hour of Code event that occurs every year in the world. It is a great way for you and your students to understand the importance of coding and to develop your skills in programming.

Why should you or your students care about coding? 
Resources for all grade levels (It’s really simple):
I know you are all busy (this doesn’t have to be done next week); but I thought I would share these resources with you, because the ability to code is an important skill for our kids (see articles above). This can be done at anytime, anywhere!

How was your school day? – 15 Questions to Replace “How was school today?”


15 Questions to Replace “How Was School Today?”

These questions will help you draw out important information from your kids.

How many times have you asked your child, “How was school today?” and been frustrated by the lack of response? As a parent, I’m guilty of asking my son this question all the time, even though I usually don’t get much in return.

The Questions

With slight wording modifications, these questions can work with children of all ages:

  1. Tell me about a moment today when you felt excited about what you were learning.
  2. Tell me about a moment in class when you felt confused.
  3. Think about what you learned and did in school today. What’s something you’d like to know more about? What’s a question you have that came from your learning today?
  4. Were there any moments today when you felt worried? When you felt scared?
  5. Were there any times today when you felt disrespected by anyone? Tell me about those moments.
  6. Were there times today when you felt that one of your classmates demonstrated care for you?
  7. Were there any moments today when you felt proud of yourself?
  8. Tell me about a conversation you had with a classmate or friend that you enjoyed.
  9. What was challenging about your day?
  10. What do you appreciate about your day?
  11. What did you learn about yourself today?
  12. Is there anything that you’d like to talk about that I might be able to help you figure out?
  13. Is there anything you’re worried about?
  14. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  15. Is there a question you wish I’d ask you about your day?

Tips for Asking Questions

How and when we ask these questions makes a big difference in the information we receive from our kids. First, you don’t want to ask all of these questions on the same day. You might ask one or two. After a while, you’ll figure out which ones elicit the most meaningful responses. You’ll want to ask during a time when you have the ability to focus so that your child feels they have your full attention. With my child—and in my household—dinner and driving in the car are optimal times for these conversations.

Now these conversations have become routine. My son knows that when we drive to school I’ll ask him what he’s looking forward to, if there’s anything he’s worried about, and if there’s anything he wants to talk about with me that I might be able to help him figure out.

More Suggestions

The following can help your conversations be positive and powerful:

  • Don’t interrupt. This is a good rule for any conversation, but especially if you want to get a lot of information out of a kid.
  • Ask for more. Simply say, “I’d love to hear more about that…” Or, “Can you expand on that a little?”
  • Ask about feelings. After a child describes an experience, ask, “How did you feel in that moment? What did you notice about your feelings?”
  • Validate feelings. Whatever your kid feels is normal and okay. Let them know that. Feelings are okay. Tell them this.
  • Tell them it’s not okay for teachers or kids to be unkind or mean. If they tell you a story about a teacher who yelled or disrespected them (regardless of what they said or did) let them know that it’s not okay for an adult to treat them that way. Same goes for how they are treated by other children.
  • Thank them for sharing with you. Always appreciate their honesty and willingness to share the highlights and bright spots, as well as the difficult moments. This will fuel their confidence in telling you more.

What questions bring about the most conversation between you and your kids?


A wonderful man…Doug Anthony

If you want to know the measure of a man and the extent of his legacy, simply look at his kids. Doug Anthony was a wonderful man, and if you ever have the chance of knowing his terrific kids, you would know how impressive his legacy will be.

After hearing of Doug’s passing, I spoke to a few of the UFRSD BOE and staff members. EVERY single person had the same comments, “Doug was such a nice and kind man.” or “He was always so positive; I never heard him say a bad thing about anyone.” These were almost the exact words from EVERY person, and they were so very true.

I had the distinct pleasure of getting to know Doug over the past 12 years as a parent and BOE member for many of them. Through Doug, I got to know his wonderful wife, Angela, and outstanding kids. NEVER was an opportunity missed by Doug to ask me about my kids, give me a word of encouragement or to see if there was anything he could do for me. He was genuine at every moment of these conversations. I always knew that Doug cared about these interactions and that he wanted the best for me…. for everyone he came into contact with.

As a UFRSD BOE member, I always found Doug pragmatic, calm, and passionate about our district. In fact, all of the UFRSD administrators feel this way about Doug. When he had a comment, a question, or praise for someone, it was always well thought out and backed with reason and sensibility. He sat on a BOE that built a middle school, initiated 1 to 1 Chromebooks, managed a statewide financial crisis, and helped to transform programs and opportunities for kids over, probably, the most transformational period in district history. He was a great BOE member.

I can only imagine what Doug’s family is going through right now. I hope they know that they have an entire district and community, one that Doug was so deeply involved in,  here to support them in any way that they need. They should also know that Doug’s influence will continue to be present in our district for many years to come; through his actions he continues to make an impact on the lives of kids.

I hope that when my life is measured by others that they will look at my kids and see what I see in Doug’s kids….the influence of a wonderful man, respected and admired by everyone.

The world lost a great educator and man today…

Jim Grant – husband, father, grandfather, educator, family friend, and innovator – passed away today.

The first time I ever heard my favorite educational thought was during a Jim Grant workshop – “Kids don’t care what you know, until they know you care.” This has stayed with me ever since.

“Mr. Grant,” as I always called him, was a dear family friend; a relationship sparked when he was helping my parents find a summer vacation rental near Peterborough, NH. A deep and loving friendship soon followed. Our family and his would get together at the Grant homestead or at a lake house for a day of fun and friendship. At the time, I was young and didn’t grasp that I was sitting with and enjoying my time with one of my educational heroes; true innovators of education — Jim and Lillian Grant.

Mr. Grant and Mrs. Grant were the founders of Staff Development for Educators – an organization that provides fantastic opportunities for educators to enhance their professional practice. Today, professional development is an enormous part of successful schools. I don’t believe that the value of PD was recognized as much as it is now when Mr. and Mrs. Grant started this organization. They knew and believed that PD was integral to improving schools and enhancing learning experiences for kids.

As I was getting into the education profession, I would see Mr. Grant at a conference or family functions, and he was always so genuine and so caring with his words. It always meant a great deal to me. He was always someone I looked up to, especially because I was an educator. I would hear his name from other educators and, confidently, share with pride that he was a family friend. Even in the past few years, my mother would always visit with the Grants in NH, and I was always eager to hear how they were and what new journey or idea they had. They remained innovative.

I am saddened today by the loss of Jim Grant. Education has lost an ambassador and innovator. Mr. Grant was an educational guru and would definitely be on my Mt. Rushmore of educators. I will miss his “hello” at conferences, his fantastic New Hampshire accent and his charming and caring nature.  May God bless Jim Grant.

Recent article about Jim Grant’s legacy

Easing the mind through yoga!

Students, during phys. ed. class, experience yoga.

Why yoga? According to Yoga4Classrooms, the following is why schools should incorporate yoga as part of their curriculum:

Benefits of Yoga in the School Setting

Anti-bullying, health and wellness, and character education are common themes in American schools today, all focusing on educating the whole child, mind, body and spirit. Yoga, by nature, supports this learning.
The following are some of the benefits of yoga to support the education of the whole child, thus maximizing the learning process:

  • Provides students healthy ways to express and balance their emotions
  • Promotes a more relaxed, comfortable state of being – the perfect state for teaching and learning
  • Brings students into the present moment – the most basic requirement for learning
  • Encourages community and connectedness within the classroom
  • Helps to create an atmosphere of confidence, enthusiasm and non-competitiveness where everyone can succeed
  • Provides opportunities for beneficial motor breaks throughout the day
  • Eases anxiety and tension (such as pre-test or performance jitters)
  • Enhances focus, concentration, comprehension and memoryIMG_5524
  • Provides opportunities for reflection, patience and insight, reducing impulsivity and reactivity
  • Supports social and emotional learning
  • Improves listening skills
  • Wakes up sluggish minds and creativity as needed
  • Enhances organizational and communication skills
  • Improves posture, assisting students to sit comfortably for long periods
  • Enhances motor skills and balance
  • Improves mind/body awareness and connection
  • Improves confidence and self-esteem
  • Encourages respect for oneself and others
  • Creates a calm, harmonious classroom


UFRSD Expanding 1 to 1 Chromebook Initiative – Join us – May 24th!

It is with great excitement that we share the news that next year’s 6th, 7th , 8th, 9th and 10th graders will be participating in our 1-to-1 Chromebook experience. Each of our 6th through 10 graders will be provided individual district-owned Chromebooks as a tool for learning during the 2016-2017 school year.

A Chromebook is a different breed of laptop. Fast, portable computers, they give students access to the web’s rich educational tools and resources. They run Chrome OS, an operating system developed by Google. Chromebooks are easy to manage and affordable include free Google Apps for Education (GAFE).

Most importantly, Chromebooks are a powerful tool for learning. Chromebooks provide students with a tool to collaborate, create, invent, research, share, investigate, evaluate, analyze and so much more.

The 2016-2017 6th-10th graders will be given the opportunity to use Chromebooks at school, at home, on weekends, during the school day…anytime, anywhere learning. We would like to invite you and our current 5th-9th grade students to an informational evening about our 1:1 initiative on Tuesday, May 24, 6:00 p.m. in the Allentown High School auditorium. More information about our program and some examples of how it can be used to enhance learning and communication for our students will be shared. Join us on May 24th!