The latest announcements from the Principal, PTO, and NPS...

A message from Ms. Johal – December 8, 2014

Dear Families,

We have 12 days of school before December vacation and I’m sure many of you have a lot going on as you prepare for the holidays. Here at school the students and teachers are also busy. Please excuse the length of this newsletter as I share some of what is going on:

Burr School Core Values

Our new Core Values at Burr are Compassion, Respect, Perseverance, and Teamwork. Each month we focus on one value and really delve into what it means. Last month’s focus was compassion, and this month we are exploring respect. To highlight our work on compassion we read the book, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” which in a very simple and clear way shows how kindness towards others fills both your bucket and theirs. We invited students to record acts of kindness they witnessed at school. These were collected in grade level ‘buckets’ that were pinned onto a bulletin board outside the Burr library. A few times a week fifth graders shared examples from the buckets over the school intercom. At the end of the month we had recorded over 300 acts of kindness and filled so many buckets along the way. Here is an electronic version of the book for your enjoyment: You may want to watch or read it with your child so you can use the same language at home.

This month students learn how they can show respect for each other, themselves, and the environment. The fourth graders in Mr Glode and Ms. Harrington’s shared their learning about respect with an Animoto presentation at our monthly All School Meeting to help ‘kick off’ this focus. We also tied in National Inclusive Schools Week, which was nationally celebrated last week. Our Respect for Human Differences Committee led the way by supporting and encouraging teachers to plan activities during the week to highlight our community’s commitment to inclusion. Each classroom teacher read books with themes of inclusion and discussed the messages within them with students. Teachers also assigned an activity for students to complete at home with their families to encourage conversations at home so you too can support this important work. Please ask you child about his/her learning about compassion and respect.

New Playground

The children have been enjoying the new playground for a few weeks now and LOVE it. Thank you to so many of you who contributed so generously. Not only did you all have to work to raise a large amount of money, but you also volunteered hours of time helping during the building of the structure. I’d like to extend a special thank you to the Playground Committee members: Meg Salgado, Jen Frankel, Eric Freidman, Jason Wong, Melissa Chatfield, Greg Thompson, Kristen Frohn, Justine Fialkosky, and Jay Ryan. You all worked so hard to motivate us and keep everything on track.


Currently we are working on coming up with some safety rules for the new equipment. Each classroom teacher worked with his/her students to come up with a set of rules and these are currently posted in our cafetorium where everyone can see them.  Before the December break some representative from the new Burr Student Council will help come up with one set of rules for all students to follow.  Often times there is an increase in injuries when children play on new equipment. Children are learning to navigate new structures and are figuring out new ways of moving their bodies and engaging in safe and fun play.  We don’t want to limit this experimentation with these rules, yet we do want to remind children to be aware of those around and how their actions may compromise their safety and that of others.

 We have enjoyed mild weather for the most part, but inevitably the temperature will dip with increasing regularity in the coming months. Please remember to dress your children appropriately for the weather.  We will go outside for recess every day, except when the most bitterly cold air masses are in place.  Children are expected to wear coats and long pants (not shorts!) when we go outside in cold temperatures.  All children should also bring hats and gloves, and boots and snowpants are an expectation for them to play in the snow. Please label all items with your child’s name so they can easily be return to him/her if left around the school.

Lunch Changes

You may have heard from your child that we have made some changes during lunch. With our increase in enrollment, we now have over 140 students in the cafetorium during each lunch because two grades eat at one time. This has meant that the noise level in the café is often extremely loud and for many children, overwhelming. Last week we started to experiment with some other structures. We are currently having one grade level at a time in the café. This means that one group has recess before lunch and the other has recess after lunch. So far the reports are favorable. I will check in with students and staff during the next few weeks to see if the change continues to have a positive impact.

Hour of Code

We live in a world surrounded by technology and we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. Despite this reality, only a tiny fraction of students are learning computer science, and less are studying it than a decade ago. At Burr we continue to explore ways to leverage technology to enhance student learning, and to consider how our programming prepares them for future success. With these goals in sight, Burr School is joining in on the largest learning event in history, The Hour of Code, during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 8-14). Last year, 15 million students tried computer science in one week. The Burr librarian and technology specialist will support teachers in this work. If you would like to learn more about this initiative, check out   We are looking forward to a great week of learning and exploring the world of code together.


Parent Principal Coffees:

If you missed the curriculum presentations given by Burr specialists (art, music, library and technology, and PE teachers) or the cyber safety presentation given by our librarian and technology specialist, please check out the information posted on the Burr School Website:

Specialist Curriculum

Cyber Safety

Superintendent Fleishman and some Newton School Committee members will join us at our next Parent Principal Coffee on January 23, 2015. Please put it on your calendar because it is a great time to have Burr specific conversations with our district officials and find out more about district goals and initiatives.

Student Council

This year we started having a Student Council at Burr School. We decided to have 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade representatives. Each of the 3-5 classrooms have a K-2 buddy classroom that they will also represent. The representatives were randomly selected with the only criteria being that student show interest and that we have a boy and girl from each classroom. At fifth grade we have three representatives from each classroom because we felt it was important they have a larger presence.

The following are the representatives until February vacation:

Grade 3

Canning & Frail: Katie Kotz & Nathan Gallo

Collins & Rudek: Alessandro Della Corte, Maria Filippelli

Oh & Mc Mahon: Greer Wheeler, Rohan Iyengar.

Grade 4

Robinson & Golden: Nicholas Marrucci & Ysable Aligan

Glode/Harrington & Fitch & Espinal: James Thurber & Lucia Capello

Miller & Gaita: Sean O’Neill and Kristyn Vasselin

Grade 5

Cooley & Roberts: Danilo Talisayon , Julia Tulimieri, Tia Joseph

Harris & Field: Morgan Gallivan, Max Goldman , Nina Bobby

Moran & Procaccini: Meriame Rochd, Marion Carter, Anders Erlandson

We had our first meeting last Wednesday and the members decided their first social action would be a Holiday Drive to support families in need. You will be hearing more about how you can help within the next few days. New student council representatives will be selected for March through June.



PTO Meeting Tuesday 12/2 at 7pm

PTO Meeting, Tuesday 12/2 at 7pm

Please join us in welcoming special guest speaker Jane Malberg of the Newton Free Library Children’s Department. Jane will be focusing on raising a reader! She will talk about finding the right book for your child and strategies for reluctant/struggling readers.

This is a great opportunity to discuss children’s literacy in conjunction with our Book Fair – come take advantage of our exclusive access to ask questions and to find out more about all the great resources the Newton Free Library offers for FREE.

5:00pm Book Fair Opens

7:00pm PTO Meeting Begins

Meeting Agenda:
* Approve Prior Meeting Minutes
* Special Guest Speaker

* Phase 2 Playground Ideas
* Fundraising Updates
* Volunteer Discussion
* New Business



Babysitting services are available from Burr alumni in the Music Room. A small donation to defray the cost of the sitters is requested. Refreshments will be provided by our wonderful hospitality team.  

10th Annual Science & Engineering Discovery Week

Monday, January 12th through Friday, Jan 16th.

Does your career or hobby involve science, technology, engineering or math? Would you be willing to share your excitement about one of these topics with a class of Burr students for 30 minutes? Well then this is your opportunity!

We’re organizing Burr’s 10th Annual Science & Engineering Discovery Week, which brings parents into the classroom to provide our children with an exciting and accessible view of science, math and technology. The kids love these presentations and they’re easy and rewarding for the presenter.

To help us schedule this years presentations, please sign up for a class and we’ll figure out what time works best for you and the teacher.

Each presentation will be 30 minutes long and we will try to schedule multiple presentations back to back unless you indicate otherwise. Please consider presenting to two or more classes in the same grade – if you can present to more even better!!

Email if you have any questions.

Book Fair December 2-5th

Burr Book Fair 2014
Tues., Wed. and Fri. after Thanksgiving

Don’t miss the Burr Book Fair RIGHT after break!

Tuesday, Wednesday, FridayDecember 2nd, 3rd, and 5th8:00 – 11:00 am

Burr parents are welcome to shop and browse before school each day…or visit when their child’s class is scheduled (see below)…or really ANYTIME we’re open!

Tuesday, December 2nd 5:00 – 9:00 pmParents, children, grandparents, neighbors, and friends are welcome — the more the merrier! Childcare provided while parents shop and take in the PTO meeting at 7 p.m.Jane Malberg, from the Newton Free Library Children’s Room will give a presentation during the PTO meeting about literacy and young people.  She will also be available to assist families with their book choices.


Tuesday, December 2nd

8:35-9:00 –  Gaita
9:00-9:25 –  Field
9:25-9:50 – Espinal
9:50-10:15 – Glode/Harringon
10:15-10:40 – Robinson
10:40-11:05 – Rudek

Wednesday, December 3rd
8:35-9:00 – Canning
9:00-9:25 – Golden
9:25-9:50 – Oh
9:50-10:15 – Collins
10:15-10:40 – McMahon
10:40-11:05 – Procaccini
10:40-11:05 – Fitch

Friday, December 5th
8:35-9:00 – Harris
9:25-9:50 – Moran
9:50-10:15 – Cooley
9:50-10:15 – Miller 10:15-10:40 – Frail
10:40-11:05 – Roberts

Be sure to look for teacher “wish list” book selections in a display at the register! Teachers will identify books they would love to add to their classrooms.  Buying a book for your child’s teacher is a wonderful holiday gift and a great way to show your appreciation, while building these classroom libraries for all Burr children to enjoy.

Donate Your Spare Change to the Burr Book Fair!

Spare change in between the couch cushions?  Pennies in your pockets?Your spare change can buy books for the Burr School library!
Before and during the upcoming Scholastic book fair we will be collecting loose change for Scholastic’s “All for Books” campaign. The amount collected buys books directly for the Burr School main library, raises our bottom line (which gets us even more free books!) and contributes to a fund matched by Scholastic to get books to kids in need. Please send in any loose change at any time before the book fair! Send in an envelope or plastic bag marked “All for Books” or bring it to us once the fair starts!

Call for Book Fair Volunteers!
Volunteering for the Book Fair is terrific–you get to see what’s hot in children’s literature, you get to visit with all the Burr kids, teachers, and parents as they visit the sale, and you can shop for the holidays–all in our humble little cafeteria. We can use all hands on deck for set-up on Monday, December 1st from 3:15 – 5:30 pm.  Please let me know if you can join us for set-up, or just mark yourself down for that shift on the Doodle poll below. Then, we’re also looking for folks who can staff a full (or near-full) sales shift during our open hours. Please visit our sign up genius ( Questions about the Burr Book Fair?  Please contact Nancy Caulfield or Sarah Sian

Shop at “Just Next Door” on Wednesday December 3rd and 20% of Your Total Purchase Will Go to Burr!

Just Next DoorMark your calendars – Wednesday, December 3rd is BURR SHOPPING DAY at JUST NEXT DOOR!    Plan to check off loads of items from your holiday list at Just Next Door, Auburndale’s wonderful locally-owned card and gift shop. You can find a gift for almost anyone here – they have jewelry (including unique pieces from local artists), hostess gifts, stationary and gift books, holiday decorations, baby gifts, a large selection of Vera Bradley bags and accessories, wrapping paper, cards, and an expanded section of kids toys, all in one store.   Just tell the cashier “I’m shopping  for Burr School” and 20% of your total purchase value will go to Burr! This offer is good all day on Wednesday, December 3 from 9am to 7pm, so let’s take advantage of a great deal and spread the word to family and friends – just forward this email along! All they need to do is mention Burr and we’re on our way. Thank you and hope to see you there! (Just Next Door is located at 327 Auburn Street in Auburndale.)

Friends and Family

Dear Friend or Family of Burr Elementary School,

You have been forwarded to this information by someone who knows that you care deeply for a special student at Burr Elementary School.  If you are a grandparent, aunt/uncle, or close family friend of one of our students at Burr, you are part of our extended “Burr Family”.

We are asking you to consider making a donation to our Gift for Burr campaign this fall.  Our Gift for Burr program is our only major fundraiser this year.  Every penny raised through Gift for Burr goes directly to the Burr Elementary School.  Unlike traditional school fundraisers (such as sales of gift wrap, cookie dough, candles, or other goodies), there is no third party that profits from your donation.  Every dollar that you donate goes directly to benefit the school.

We invite you to visit our Gift for Burr website to learn more.  On the site, you can learn about all of the great programs and services made possible through Gift for Burr donations.  You can also view a heartwarming slide show of Burr kids taking full advantage of all that our school has to offer.

Here is what one Burr grandparent had to say about the Gift for Burr  campaign:

“Whenever I’m with my two granddaughters, I make a special point of talking with them about their schoolwork. I love seeing their enthusiasm for their studies, their teachers, and, of course, their schoolmates. And I can see from the level of work that is expected of them that they are getting a first-rate education. To continue its vital support, the Burr PTO needs to raise $35,000 this year. Our kids, the parents of our grandchildren, will bear most of this burden and raise most of these funds. But they need our help. Actually, our grandchildren are the ones who need our help. It’s their education that’s on the line. I am sending what I can to support the Burr School and hope you can find a way to send in a donation as well. I know our contributions in any amount will be greatly appreciated and put to very good use.  It is said it takes a whole village to raise a child. These days in America, it takes a whole family to educate one.”

We invite you to click on the red Gift for Burr links on this page to learn more about our campaign and to make a tax deductible contribution.  We thank you in advance for your support.


Jaye Schneider, Marlene Gibson, & Sloane Goldhagen

Co-Presidents, Burr Elementary School PTO

Creative Arts & Sciences – Brian Lies

Author/Illustrator Brian Lies will present to 2nd graders in the library today.

Ms. Procaccini & Ms. Field’s classes
8:45am – 9:45am

Ms. Roberts’ class
9:50am – 10:50am

New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Brian Lies has illustrated over 26 books and created the beloved series: Bats at the Beach, Bats at the Ballgame, and Bats at the Library, which was named top picture book of 2008.

He talks to second graders about his creative process, which evolves from “sloppy copies” through his final manuscript and artwork. He shows them the original artwork for his books along side his own childhood attempts at creating books and drawings. He motivates children to keep working on their writing and drawing even when it becomes frustrating.

Parents are welcome to attend, but no younger siblings please. Thank you for your cooperation.

Creative Arts and Science programs are fully funded by the Burr School PTO

From Ms. Johal’s Desk – October 27, 2014

Dear Burr Families,

It was great to see so many of you at Halloween Family Fun Night on Saturday. Each year, I am amazed at the transformation our creative volunteers manage to achieve. The lobby, gym, and cafetorium were completely “spooked up” on Saturday.  Many thanks go to Marlene Gibson and Louisa Hunt for coordinating and heading up the team that made it all happen. It was great to see seasoned and new volunteers joining together to ensure the event continue to be one of the most memorable and fun for the children at Burr.

As much as I enjoy seeing the children all dressed and in character, I ask that these costumes and props stay at home.  At school, they can be distracting and take time away from learning. The teachers and I appreciate your understanding in this matter. The kindergarten classes only will take part in a costume parade on Friday, October 31st. Kindergarten parents will get information about this event from their child’s classroom teacher.

Burr Family Quilt

Many of you have seen and value the Burr Family Quilt that is displayed in our school’s lobby. Children and parents walk by it daily and enjoy looking at the family pictures. The quilt was updated last year and needs annual attention. Currently, we do not have all of our kindergarten families represented, and we still have pictures of families who graduated last year. It will be most helpful to have two parent volunteers with children in kindergarten or first grade willing to take on this project. It is set up in an organized and systematic way and easily explained to whomever takes it on. Please contact me at the email below if you are interested in helping to keep our Family Quilt current.

Fall Conferences

This week we start the fall parent-teacher conferences. These conferences are a time for you and your child’s teacher to discuss initial progress, set goals for the first half of the year, and to talk about anything that is specific to his/her education.  Below are some suggestions for you to think about as you prepare to confer with your child’s teacher.  They were taken from publications of the National PTA and National Education Association and I share them with you annually because both teachers and parents find them helpful.

Parent-Teacher Conferences ~ Ideas for Parents

Getting Ready:  Talk to your child before the conference.  Find out what he/she thinks is going well; find out what he/she thinks are areas for improvement, and why.  Ask your child if there is anything he/she would like you to talk about with the teachers.  Make sure your child doesn’t worry about the meeting and that he/she knows that this is a typical expectation that the school has to facilitate good communication between parents and teachers.  Help him/her understand that you and the teacher are meeting together to share information and support learning.

Before you come to school, write notes to yourself about:

  • your child’s life at home, any significant changes or information you feel is important for the teacher to know
  • your observations and questions about this year’s curriculum
  • questions about your child’s progress
  • ways that you and the school can work together to help your child

The Conference:Some good questions to ask are:

  • What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses as a learner?
  • Is my child working up to his or her ability?  How is his/her effort?
  • Does my child participate successfully in class discussions and activities?
  • How well does my child get along with others?
  • How do you evaluate my child’s progress?  What standards will he/she be evaluated on for the January report card?

If the teacher says something you don’t quite understand, be sure to ask for an explanation. Ask the teacher for specific suggestions for ways to help your child to improve. This is the most important part of the meeting.  It will become your action plan.  It’s a good idea to end the conference by summing up decisions you have made together. If needed, ask to meet again.

After the Conference:  Start immediately on the action plan you and the teacher have worked out together.  Discuss the plan with your child; make sure that he or she knows that you and the teacher care.  To see if the action plan is working, watch your child’s behavior and check your child’s class work and homework.  (Young children need an adult to oversee their homework.  It’s important to look in their backpack every night!)  Stay in regular touch with the teacher to discuss the progress your child is making.  Meeting with your child’s teacher should help build strong parent-teacher partnerships – partnerships that are needed if you and your child’s teachers are to reach your common goal: helping your child get the best education possible.

I look forward seeing most of you between November 7-9 as we work together to help build our new playground. I thank you in advance for your efforts and encourage you to sign up to help if you have not done so already.



Traffic Safety Week


At the request of the principal and staff, the annual fall Traffic Safety Week will be held the week of October 27.  During Traffic Safety Week, parent volunteers help keep the Blue Zone moving and the “No Parking” areas clear during drop-off and pick-up. The Newton Police also stop by as part of the joint effort between the Newton Safe Routes Task Force and the city to reduce unsafe and illegal driver and pedestrian behavior in our school zones.

 Can you help? Want to get involved with Walk/Bike activities?

Send an email to:

Please visit the Safe Routes section of the PTO website for complete information on using the Blue Zone and about traffic safety around Burr, including a color-coded map of the area that you can view and print – please give a copy to anyone who picks up or drops off your child.

Halloween Family Fun Night


We still have many Volunteer Opportunities available for this spooktacular event. Helping hands are needed for Set Up, Actual Event and Clean Up. Please consider taking on a Volunteer Shift and/or Making a Food/Drink Donation.

Please sign up at

Please contact us with any questions.

Marlene or Louisa Hunt:

HFFN is a free event sponsored by Burr PTO and funded by your donations.