STEM Power: Let’s Get Experimental!

This year’s Imagine a World Art & Science event is coming soon — JANUARY 27 — and the deadline to register for our new STEM Fair will be January 22. This is a great opportunity to engage your RES student in hands-on learning in the worlds of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The benefits of doing hands-on STEM work have been documented, but one of the main upsides is that it sparks the love of learning. It’s important to also note that STEM work doesn’t preclude creativity or undermine the importance of the arts — it’s an interdisciplinary model of learning that serves students with all interests well, and it’s the reason our STEM Fair and our Arts programs work together so well in Imagine a World.

As for the nitty gritty: the theme for this year’s Imagine a World is SENSES. This broad theme might help students frame ideas to explore. Kids can choose to develop a project on their own or with friends, and the fair itself is non-competitive, so kids can be free to take risks and work independently. Some ideas for a starting point for your creative explorer can be found here — there’s even a quiz about special interests that might jump start your RES student’s mind!

Does that sound overwhelming? On January 9 (so, TOMORROW, Tuesday), STEM Fair volunteers will be meeting with kids (and parents) after school until 4:30 to help figure out some great ideas! A computer, books and experts will be there to help refine ideas. See you there! (If you plan to have your RES student stay on after school, be sure to update School Dismissal Manager!)

Save the Date: Ladies’ Night Out!

One of RES PTA’s most anticipated events is coming soon! Watch out for more information in your inbox and get updates through the Facebook event page for LADIES’ NIGHT OUT 2018!

If you’re looking for a wonderful way to get involved and meet other families in the community, volunteering for this committee is a great way to do it! We need people who know how to throw a party to join us in getting ready for this awesome evening of fun and friendship. Send us an email or a Facebook message to sign on to the team!

Better Know a Teacher: RES’s Teacher of the Year Edition.

As you may have read, Redding’s Teacher of the Year, Matt Farina, was recently celebrated at a dinner in Hartford. We are so glad that he was able to take a little time to talk about his career at RES, his academic foundations and why he loves what he does. We also got him to share a few fun facts about himself — be sure to share with your favorite RES student and see if they can guess his favorite pizza topping! Here he is, in his own words. 

“Teaching is all about the students.  What we do, why we do it, and how we do it, is all in the best of interest of the students in our class.  
The best days at RES are those in which students have ‘aha moments.’  They’re building schema and making interdisciplinary connections.  No day is the same as any other when working with students.  Every day is rewarding and the students’ personalities and experiences provide opportunities for discourse, insight, and humor.
“So much of what we do has educators is a collaborative effort.  We work together to establish a culture of excellence for ourselves and our students.  RES, and our entire ER9 community, is an environment of collegiality.  I appreciate the support I have been given from my colleagues over the years!     
Mr. Farina wrote a wonderful essay in response on his teaching philosophy in response to his nomination for Teacher of the Year, and his closing paragraph should tell parents and students alike all they need to know about this amazing educator we are fortunate to have at RES: 
“Teaching is hard.  So why do we do it?  Why do I teach?  I teach for the nonverbal student who independently approaches me to say ‘Good morning’ and addresses me by name.  I teach to witness the struggling reader develop a text-supported interpretation of a book.  I teach the gifted writer who manipulates language to craft an ending to their narrative.  I teach the behavior child, the one who travels from grade to grade with THAT reputation.  I teach to see them defy the naysayers and lead their classmates with self-confidence and self-worth.  I teach to celebrate the math student who finally understands the relationship between multiplication and division. I teach to motivate.  I teach to create lifelong learners.  I teach children to be kind and respectful.  I teach because I care.  I teach because it’s in my soul.”
Fun Facts About Mr. Farina!
We know RES is full of dedicated, highly qualified educators and staff members, and we love the chance to get to know these special folks better. Here’s some fun facts!
  • In 2002 and 2003, Mr. Farina participated in the Walt Disney World College Program, where he spent a little over a semester in the happiest place on earth! While he was there, he was a cast member for the Tower of Terror attraction at Disney Hollywood Studios.
  • Mr. Farina has been an extra in some television shows and was even an actor in some educational videos when he was younger. He has been involved in school and community theater since high school, and theater and performing remains his passion. While he still performs himself, he also began choreographing in 2007 and directing in 2015.
  • He played soccer from early childhood until high school!
We asked and Mr. Farina answered…
Favorite pizza topping – I’ll eat and enjoy any type of pizza, but just a classic slice of cheese is my FAVORITE!
Favorite candy – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
Favorite subject when you were in 4th grade – History/social studies has always been my favorite subject.  I love learning about my world!
Favorite YA or picture book – I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan!
Super power you’d pick if you could have one – Fly, so I could travel and explore the world more easily!
Best place to read a good book – in bed or on the beach
Dream playlist – I like all genres of music, so it’d be an eclectic mix of pop, rock, country, rap, Motown, show-tunes, Disney, R&B
Favorite TV show – Survivor (I’ve applied to be on the show more times than I could remember.)
Favorite movie – The Goonies

Attitude of Gratitude: Giving a Love of Reading.

We have been talking a lot about the excesses of the holiday season and how it impacts our kids here and on our Facebook page. Has it left you looking for a new holiday tradition that’s less about presents and more about presence? Maybe this is a year to try Jolabokaflod!

Jolabokaflod is an Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition, and the name means “Yule book flood.” It involves opening gifts of books on Christmas Eve and staying up to read together. Even if Christmas isn’t part of your family’s tradition, it would be easy to adapt this into a winter celebration, perhaps around Winter Solstice or New Year’s Eve. What a great way to spend time together and give a meaningful, special gift that can help stoke a love of reading! And shopping with your kids for book gifts for loved ones you can include in this tradition will be a wonderful way to promote gratitude and learning about others.

Want to find out more about Jolabokaflod and get ways to include your kids? You can read more here, here and here. What books would you recommend our RES PTA community give to loved ones this year? And don’t forget that you can purchase your books for the Jolabokaflod using our Amazon Smile link — just choose Redding Elementary School PTA as your charity!

Following Up: Town Government.

At our December 1 PTA meeting, we welcomed Susan Clark and Ward Mazzucco from our town’s Board of Finance, as well as Laura Hoeing and Colleen Pilato, both newly elected to Redding’s Board of Education. (You can check out the livestream on our PTA Facebook page here!) Mr. Mazzucco mentioned the many town boards that make up our government, and the various meetings they hold. He also discussed the very real impact all of these boards have on our day to day life here in town. If you’d like to keep closer tabs on what’s going on in town, here’s some ways you can do that!

Our town’s calendar has a regularly updated list of all the board meetings held. It includes the location of meetings, as well as the time. It’s standard practice for most boards to offer a time for public comment. At BOE meetings, for example, public comment is usually welcomed both at the beginning (in case you need to leave to tuck in your kids!) and the end of the meetings (in case you were late because you were busy tucking in your kids!).

You can also check out the agendas for all the meetings in advance, as well as read the minutes from the meetings — both are found on this page, and it updates frequently.

Local newsman Bob Moran has made it part of his mission of public service to livestream most town board meetings. He initially does so via his Facebook page, and it’s frequently shared on Redding 411 and elsewhere. Keep an eye out for these videos, which are then archived on Mr. Moran’s website.

You can get in touch with our volunteer board members by emailing them or attending a meeting. Direct email addresses are available on most of the boards’ pages on the town website; just click on the board or commission that interests you here and email away!

Thanks again to our government officials for joining us on Friday!