Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day at Saxe

Veterans Day at Saxe Middle School
Saxe Middle School is holding its Ninth Annual Veterans Appreciation Day today,  Friday, November 11, 2016.  The day will be framed by the Essential Questions:
·    How does the past affect the present?
·    How does an individual impact a global community? 

Saxe Middle School students will participate the Saxe Middle School Ninth Annual Veterans Appreciation Day. 

Music teachers, Chris Coulter, Janet Rosen and Katie Dorfman, will be conducting Saxe band and orchestra students in performing a welcoming medley of patriotic songs in the front lobby. 

John Calitri, Sergeant, U.S. Army (1965-67), will be conducting a special flag folding ceremony as part of the day’s educational activities. 

Saxe students will be able to make thank you cards that will be delivered to the West Haven Veterans Hospital and the New Canaan Veteran Homebound Human Services Division. 

Students will serve as escorts for the visiting veterans. 

This Veterans Day at Saxe Middle will be a day to remember because all of the students will have an opportunity to hear history first hand from thirty visiting veterans. 

This is a day for the Saxe Learning Community to take the time to honor those heroes who have sacrificed so much for the United States. This program is planned in conjunction with the Saxe Library Media Center.

Saxe Library Media Specialists, Monica Sheeha and Mona Biondi have once again, gone "above and beyond" to coordinate this event!
Please visit the Saxe website to play the video from this morning's reception of our veterans in the main lobby...

Friday, October 14, 2016

Saxe Update - Week of October 17

Reminder:  Celebrate Saxe!
You can find more details about Celebrate Saxe 2016 by visiting the Saxe PTC website:

Open House Evenings
Links below to the specific times and class period rotations for each evening Gr. 6-8.  (Separate email coming on Gr. 5).
Please join us for Open House at Saxe Middle School as per the schedule below, at 6:45pm (6:30pm arrival)!  Your child will bring home a personalized schedule for you to follow as the date nears, (if that schedule does not come home with your child, you can obtain a copy in the lobby when you arrive). 
Grade 5     Monday                 October 17
Grade 6     Tuesday                October 18
Grade 7     Wednesday           October 19
Grade 8     Thursday               October 20

Author Visit
The Saxe PTC, in partnership with the New Canaan Library, is thrilled to host Nadia Hashimi, author of  One Half from the East.  This is her first book for young people, but it continues the exploration of her family's Afghan-American culture and heritage.
This coming Wednesday October 19, author Nadia Hashimi will be visiting Saxe and she will present in two assemblies:  one for grades 5/6, and one for grades 7/8.  Additionally, she will have lunch with students of the 7/8 book club.  Her talk will focus on her journey to become a writer, some of the themes within her books, and the writing/reading process to connect to our learners.  Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. She graduated from Brandeis University with degrees in Middle Eastern Studies and Biology. She enrolled in medical school in Brooklyn and completed her pediatric training at NYU/Bellevue hospitals in New York City. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell was her debut novel. Nadia is also the author of When the Moon is Low, A House Without Windows and One Half from the East (...her first novel for young readers is a coming-of-age journey set in modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy).
This event is part of our Celebrate Saxe focus on literacy development for grade 5 and 6 students and will culminate with their grade level Big Read on October 28 as well as our schoolwide Saxe PTC Book Fair October 25-27.
Saxe Parenting & Technology Workshop
Saxe PTC will be hosting Developing a Technology Plan for Your Family!  also on Wednesday, October 19th
9:15am in South School Cafeteria.  Jake Kircher, local youth minister, and Social Media Consultant for New Canaan CARES, will take the guesswork out of parental controls and start the school year with a technology plan that works for your family.  Jake has been helpful in the past in guiding Saxe parents through the on-going challenge of tweens/teens and social media usage.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Saxe Update - Week of Oct. 10

Saxe Update - Week of October 10
Dear Saxe Parent/Guardian:
Celebrate Saxe 2016
This “direct donation drive” of the Saxe PTC has been able to keep every dollar donated and return it directly to the benefit of our students.  
Friday October 7 was Red & Black Spirit Day coupled with the schoolwide launch of the Saxe PTC annual fundraiser, Celebrate Saxe.  Saxe PTC Celebrate Saxe co-chairs, Sara Schubert and Emily Hanlon have worked tirelessly to “re-frame” the fundraiser to include the involvement of the school climate student leadership teams at each grade level 6-8.  Saxe student leaders produced a student-made video which was shown to our students to launch Celebrate Saxe.  Over the next two weeks, Saxe student leaders will continue to promote Celebrate Saxe, as well as, begin to plan proposals for the allocation of some of the money raised this year.
This year, our students have crafted a fundraising campaign to be separated into two, developmentally appropriate, approaches. 
Our Lower Division students in grades 5 and 6 will be Reading Big! In the coming days/weeks in order to participate in a culminating activity, the Big Read!  5th and 6th graders will participate in an all-Lower Division Big Read event (weather permitting, outdoors).  This curricular-embedded literacy focus will allow our Lower Division students to recruit donors to their school fundraising campaign in honor of our student commitment to lifelong reading!  If you weren't aware, in the past, the Saxe PTC  contributed approx. $25,000.00 to the purchasing of classroom libraries for all Language Arts classrooms in the school!

In Workshop classes today, 7th and 8th graders kicked off their two-week campaign to “Unplug to charge your potential!”  That’s right, the Student Leadership Team is challenging their peers to make a commitment to put down their devices and free up a bit of time each day to charge another part of themselves! Be sure and ask your child what they will focus on… the arts, physical fitness, community service… one thing for sure is they will achieve self-growth & fulfillment this fall.  
You can find more details about Celebrate Saxe 2016 by visiting the Saxe PTC website:

After School Activities

“…teens become so preoccupied with their own thinking that they fail to distinguish between their thoughts and the thoughts of others…Dwelling on themselves-constantly focusing on their deepest desires and their most glaring deficiencies-may make them overly self-conscious and reluctant to act…The best way to counter adolescent egocentrism and the lack of confidence it may breed is to help your teen…move away from the intense focus on self.”
The Good Teen by Richard M. Lerner, Ph.D.  
At Saxe, our students are consistently asked to use their assets to create a positive result, for both themselves and for others.  Guiding our young people to develop awareness and empathy for others is an excellent way to move a middle school aged child from self-doubt to self-expression and finally toward contribution, to both one’s self and to others.  So many of our students are already engaged in service learning activities sponsored by local civic groups or spiritual institutions.  When students are engaged in learning about the experiences of others, as well as, co-curricular activities beyond the classroom, we increase the probability that their own development will be asset-driven.   Last month, Saxe recruited 5th and 6th grade students to join the school musical.  Students in all grades were invited to join Odyssey of the Mind teams.  In the past two weeks, Saxe recruited students, in all grades, to join any of the variety of after school clubs/activities being offered.  In the early winter, our 7th and 8th graders will be asked to join their school musical.  Whatever the grade, and whoever the child, there are opportunities both at school and within our community for our middle schoolers to further develop their strengths, for their own good and the good of others.

Saxe Evening Open House Week - October 17-20
Please join us for Open House at Saxe Middle School as per the schedule below, at 6:45pm (6:30pm arrival)!  Your child will bring home a personalized schedule for you to follow as the date nears, (if that schedule does not come home with your child, you can obtain a copy in the lobby when you arrive). 
Grade 5     Monday                October 17
Grade 6     Tuesday                October 18
Grade 7     Wednesday           October 19
Grade 8     Thursday               October 20
A few important reminders:
1.     Please park in a lined parking space.  When the campus spaces are full, NCPD will direct cars to New Canaan High School for additional parking.  You will need a flashlight on your way back at the end of the evening!
2.     Our presentations begin in the cafeteria at 6:45pm sharp.  Please plan to arrive at 6:30pm so that “classes” can begin on time.
3.     Please check the Saxe website to review the Saxe Student Learning Expectations in preparation for our evening(s)!
Open House is a wonderful opportunity to meet your child’s teachers.  If you have concerns about particular policies or about your child specifically, please leave a note or call your child’s teacher to discuss these privately.   Of course, you can always contact your child's counselor or grade level administrator when the need arises.  We would rather know about your concern then to find out in the future that we missed an opportunity to respond!
We encourage all parents to be active members of the school community.  As a member of the Saxe Parent Teacher Council (PTC), you can participate in a variety of efforts all designed to have a positive impact on your child's education.  We look forward to seeing you!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Week 2 Update

There are two basic methods of digging foundation footings – pick & shovel, or power equipment. (From
Saxe students and teachers have been busy this week "laying down the foundation" for the year's worth of learning still ahead.  Whether our approach has been "manual or automatic" is less the concern than whether we have built a strong foundation.  Students are busy getting to know one another and teachers have been involved in learning their new clients as quickly as possible.  All of this contributes to a strong foundation of relational trust that must be in place for real learning to occur.  It is critical that every one of our students develops a "sense of belonging" as we begin this new school year.

School Vision
Celebrating Our Learning Community
Caring, Communication and Commitment

All Saxe students strive to:
Care  for one's self, for others and for all property
Communicate with peers/adults at school and at home
Commit to doing one's very best at school, at home, and with peers
Chapter One-Caring
(For one’s self, for others and for all property) 
When Saxe students care, they create a sense of belonging for themselves and others in our school.  How do you show respect for another student’s thoughts?  How do you show other students that you care about their feelings?  How do you provide opportunities for others to be part of a group?
What would our school become if its students felt like they didn’t belong here?  If you know someone who feels that way, how can you help?

For more...

This past week also gives me to opportunity to recognize the invaluable efforts of our non-certified staff at Saxe.  Our secretaries, assistants and custodians are the "real foundation" of our school and they deserve our highest appreciation for ensuring that our students have had a most successful opening of school!  In that vein, it is also with mixed feelings that I announce that Saxe Head Custodian Stan Sarafin has accepted the position of Head Custodian at New Canaan High School and as such, I am pleased to announce that James O'Hara, has been promoted from the custodial crew at Saxe to the position of Head Custodian.  We will miss Stan immensley but we are glad he helped to mentor his successor!

Speaking of foundations...our construction project team held a parent briefing this week.  Please visit the link here to review their presentation.
The next parent briefing will be on Tuesday October 11 at 2pm in the Saxe Band Room.
As always, if you have any questions about the project, please feel free to contact my office.

Finally, on our first two successive Fridays, we will have completed our opening of school safety drills (building evacuation and lockdown).  Please commend your child for taking our drills seriously and understanding that their individual compliance increases the safety of us all.
Enjoy the weekend and ...Please visit ...

September 11 Anniversary - Morning Announcement

Patriot Day falls on Sunday, September 11, 2016 and is remembered globally as the anniversary of the catastrophic terrorist attacks on the USA in 2001.

Each year on this day, American flags are flown at half-staff to honor and commemorate those lives lost.

The US President asks fellow Americans to observe a moment of silence at 8.46am, the time of the first plane collision into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

To show the world that the country will not be intimidated by cowardly acts of terror and honor those that perished on that fateful day, the site of the former World Trade Center is now home to both the One World Trade Center or “Freedom Tower” and a beautiful memorial.

Alongside, lies the elegant 9/11 Memorial and Museum that features twin reflecting pools with the names of every person that died in the terrorist attacks etched on to its bronze-paneled edges.

A memorial which ​opened in Shanksville, PA last year, pays tribute to the 40 brave men and women that gave up their lives to save others.

​In 2008, a memorial was established at the Pentagon to honor the 184 victims from the attack on that site on September 11, 2001.

Let’s us pause now for a moment of silence:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Opening of School Report Notes for BOE Mtg.

At Saxe Middle School...

Perseverance and Productivity seem to be the common themes from this past week as the transition to a new school year has successfully begun...

During the opening of school, we know that the simple tasks can typically feel stressful as all of our students are encountering a new hallways to navigate, new lockers to open, new teachers to meet, new schedules to keep, and a new mix of familiar and new peers in classrooms.  

Our students are gaining esteem as they are learning to transfer their previously mastered skills to their new environments and as they are shifting to become productive in both process and product as they move from summer activities to school activities...

a few factoids from last week at Saxe...

as for new staff:  we have:

2 additional teaching positions budgeted for increased enrollment in 6th grade
3 Teachers replacing retirees (Kimmerling, Chargar, Owen)
4 new teachers replacing those who have relocated to another school or state
5 Long Term certified teachers substituting for teachers on leave

as for our student enrollment: 

Gr. 5  331   (13 new, 26 left=  -13)
Gr. 6  352   (9 new, 6 left = +3)

Gr. 7  306  (8 new, 20 left = -4)
Gr. 8  377  (14 new, 14 left = 0)

for a total of 1366 (inc. 44 new students , 66 left)  (1347 was projected)

(versus the actual cohort enrollments from this past June of 1343)
last year our total school enrollment on Oct. 1 was 1329

Our school wide focus areas continue to be Student Achievement via higher level thinking and Student Empowerment via student leadership teams and restorative practices.  Our first two professional learning days last week were dedicated to each focus area.

And in the end, it is the voices of our students that will always remind us of what really matters...

This morning as I was receiving car drop offs in the back of the building...a new 7th grader was being encouraged by his mother to go ahead and ask "the Principal" ...the young boy was a bit reluctant to approach, ...

he then spotted a returning 7th grader exiting her family car and approached her to ask "where do we go this morning...I forgot my schedule"  

She asked him if he knew his first period class and he simply responded,  "if you can show me how to get to my locker, my schedule is in there"...she smiled and said with a classic middle schooler's confidence..."Come on... I'll show you..."

Of course, all of this occurred in just a few seconds...a satisfying reminder of middle school perseverance, at its best!  

2nd Day

Happy to report that all of our students came back for Day 2 with "morning smiles"...many were saying how smooth yesterday felt and yet they were glad it was Friday already...
At approx. 8:30am, we practiced a building evacuation drill for the entire campus.  All students and staff evacuated the building in under 3 minutes. Four of our 8th grade classrooms (upstairs) practiced evacuating on the newly built, temporary, "fire escape" which follows an exit from the upstairs hall, to the flat roof over the main office area and down the external stairs constructed in front of the main office.   This evacuation route will only be in use for the duration of the construction. When you see your child this afternoon, please feel free to reinforce our praise for such a successful safety drill, in every grade, on the second day of school!
Preview of next week:
1.  The Saxe Building Committee will host a Parent Update on Thursday, September 8 at 2pm in the Saxe Band Room.  This meeting will be similar to the previous two that were held last year.  Representatives will review progress from the summer and offer a look ahead for the work in the fall.
2.  Friday, September 9 is the date of our first schoolwide lockdown drill.  On the outside chance that you are on campus when the drill occurs, if you are inside the school, you will lockdown with the staff.  If you are in the parking lot, please return to your car until the drill is over.  The drill will last approx. 10-15 minutes and the specific time will be unannounced.
3.  Monday, September 5-Labor Day-No School - Wishing everyone a safe and relaxing holiday weekend!