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

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. 

Burr School Directory


This is your last chance to review or update your Burr Directory information!

In a few weeks, we’ll be publishing the Burr Directory, a printed booklet with student and family contact information that folks find indispensable for homework assistance, play dates, birthday party invitations and more.  The Directory is compiled by PTO volunteers and is printed and distributed to every Burr family each fall, paid for by PTO funds.


If you have not yet received an email from the Directory Editor, Cecelia Kwartler, with a snapshot of your family information to review, please contact her immediately at so that you can be sure to have your most up-to-date information in the directory.


Don’t miss this chance to make sure that your information is correct. Your kids depend on it! 

Creative Arts and Sciences Welcomes Author & Columnist Fred Bowen

Creative Arts and Sciences Welcomes 

Author & Washington Post Sports Columnist Fred Bowen on October 20th – 5th Grade

Author & Washington Post Sports Columnist Fred Bowen will present to 5th graders.

Ms. Cooley & Ms. Moran’s classes In the library 9:15am – 10:15am

 In Ms. Harris’s Classroom: 10:30am-11:30am

Fred Bowen had been a lawyer but started penning sports books for kids when he couldn’t find any good ones to read to his own children. His passion for making sports entertaining and accessible can be seen in the kids’ sports column he writes for The Washington Post.   Here’s how Fred describes his books, “Most of my books are sports fiction, but each one loops in real sports history and includes a bonus history chapter at the back.”  His presentation covers sports history and his process for writing a book which he lists on a board: get an idea, write it down, first draft or first try, show it to someone, listen, change it. For more information check out his website

 Creative Arts and Science programs are fully funded by the Burr School PTO.  Parents are welcome to attend, but no younger siblings please.  

Thank you for your cooperation.

Playground Party & Updates

Playground Demo – October 17th

The playground is scheduled to come down on Friday!! Let’s come together after school on Tuesday and have a party  – a Farewell Party for the playground. Bring a picnic or a snack and come play. The new one will be awesome but this one has served us all so well for so many years. Let’s all give it a great send off.

Playground Build – November 7th, 8th & 9th

And speaking of the new one and parties, please grab your sign up times to help build here! We need so many more people to raise this playground. We need you. Yes YOU! So far we only have 91 of the 300 people we need to get this built for our kids. Please take a look at your calendar and the sign up and see where you might be able to help.

Also, we have great news – BABYSITTING! So if that’s the bit that had you not signing up. Woooohoooo, right?! The school will be open and there will be movies and activities for school aged kiddos (no infants or littles in diapers). It will be run by Burr alums that are now in middle school and want to do their part – Yay! After you sign up to build send and email to and let them you’d like have your kids hang out at this fun supervised playdate and what times you’re building. So let the kids have some fun inside while we have all the fun outside :-) Who says we can’t make this a party too?!

Visit the playground site at

See you on the Playground :-)

International Walk to School Day – Wednesday


This Wednesday, Burr will once again join with all the Newton elementary schools – and thousands of children around the world – to participate in International Walk to School Day.  Make plans to leave the car at home and walk or bike with friends and neighbors!  If you can’t walk with your kids, arrange for them to walk with a friend. Taking the bus also reduces the number of cars on the road, so kids riding the bus are participating too!

Please make every effort to participate – the goal of this event is to show how much healthier and more fun it is to walk to school – and how much safer our school zone is without all the cars.  The hope is that after participating, families will continue to walk whenever possible. This event is sponsored by the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School program and MassRIDES, which provides the handouts we’ll have for all the walkers, bikers, and bus riders!

Can you help the morning of the event? Want to get involved with other Walk/Bike and Safe Routes activities? Send us an email at

Playground Update & CASC

Playground Update

The Playground is scheduled to be delivered the week of October 20th and built the weekend of Nov 7th. Can you even believe it’s finally here?! The Playground Committee is hard at work going through all the details.

One detail is for certain though, we need all hands on deck. EVERYONE. The playground will be a community build. We are confident that our community will come out in force just as it did to fundraise for the playground!

The installation is scheduled for Nov 7th, 8th and 9th. We’re looking for volunteers 18 and older to build on Friday and Saturday, with some wrap up on Sunday. Please take a look at the sign up form and put yourself down for some time, any time. Please pass the word to family, friends, neighbors, Burr alums, coworkers, etc.

Key dates are:

Week of 10/13 old playground gets torn down. We should have a going away party for it, no?

Week of 10/20 new playground delivered. Prepare site.

Week of 10/27 continue site prep.

Week of 11/3 install week! November 7th, 8th & 9th.


On Monday, October 6th, discover how your PTO dollars inspire learning at Burr with Creative Arts and Sciences.  We’ll meet in the Cafetorium at 8:45am to talk about this year’s programs which include presentations from naturalists, engineers and authors such as Brian Lies who created the New York Times best seller Bats at the Library. Click here for a full list of programs for the 2014-2015 school year. The meeting is open to anyone interested in volunteering or learning more about CASC. We’ll have coffee and baked goods, so stop by even if you just want a snack.

Email Beth Tierney at or Audrey Gallo at with any questions and we hope to see you on the 6th!

Gift for Burr Begins Today, October 1!

gift-redThis year’s GIFT FOR BURR campaign launches today, October 1, 2014!

As a community, we have promised to infuse
almost $40,000 into our school this year through
the PTO’s 2014-2015 Annual Budget. Since its inception in 2007, the GIFT FOR BURR has been the primary source of funds for the annual budget. These funds bring our children the new technology, enriching programs, and academic supports that the Newton Public Schools alone cannot provide.  Our goal is to raise $35,000 and achieve 100% participation from the Burr community by December 1, 2014.

How much you give is up to you!  If every family contributes $150, we will easily meet our budget. Families who are able and inspired to contribute more are encouraged to do so. Still, we wish to emphasize that our greatest desire is to have every Burr family make a contribution – whether it is at, above, or below the $150 mark.  Whether you can give $1 or $1000, we ask you to participate to help us meet our goal of EVERY family at Burr making a contribution.

EVERY child at Burr benefits from GIFT FOR BURR.
YOUR participation counts.

You may be asking – Why so much? Why should I contribute? The GIFT FOR BURR page on our website will answer these questions and more (you can make an online donation while you’re there, or send a check in to school in your child’s folder.) Burr School is a strong, involved, and vibrant community – one that relies on the essential academic support and enriching programs your donation provides. Your support is crucial. Please consider this a gift from you to your child.