30 Sep

Third Graders Making a Difference!

“We’ll fill a bucket and help others in need.
Put smiles on our faces by doing good deeds.
All year long, it will make perfect sense.
We’ll help change the world.
Third grade is making a difference!”

Ms. Blaustein and Miss Sussmann

Third grade teachers, Ms. Blaustein and Miss Sussmann, have developed a community service program called “Third Graders Making a Difference”.  This will be a year-long program that engages students in actively caring for members of the local and global community.

When asked about the overall program and the ‘Soles 4 Souls’ program most specifically, both teachers shared the following:

“Each month the third graders will learn about a different opportunity to give back to local and global communities.  To start us off on a strong foundation of giving back, for the month of September the students collected gently used sneakers and shoes. Those donations will be given to an organization called ‘Soles 4 Souls’.”

“‘Soles 4 Souls’ helps people living in poverty through direct distribution of shoes and other items to communities around the globe.  ‘Soles 4 Souls’ also helps to create jobs for people living in under-served communities.”

“There were several math connections that were also a huge part of this project.  Each day the third graders collected and counted the shoes keeping a tally of the total number of shoes collected.  They then used the data from each day to create bar graphs.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014, marked the end of the first project. We extend much gratitude to family members and friends that helped the students to collect 229 pairs of shoes! 

The third graders want to also give thanks to Mr. Trieu and Mr. Edvin for helping with the delivery of the shoes to the Stride Rite store in the Garden State Plaza.  The manager of the store will then deliver the shoes to the ‘Soles 4 Souls’ coordinators.  

We are very proud of how our third graders really made a difference!  We look forward to their next project!

“It felt really good doing the right thing for someone else!”
Gaby ’24

22 Sep

Congratulations Coach Franco!

Did you know…?

Thursday, September 18, 2014, marked a career highlight for Lower School physical education instructor, Coach Kim Franco.  She charted her 100th career win as the coach of the Dwight-Englewood Women’s Field Hockey team.  Last year, Coach Franco was named Field Hockey Coach of the Year by the Bergen County Women’s Coaches Association.  Her streak of excellence in the area of inter-high school sports continues!

Coach Kim Franco instructing third graders during physical education class  

When asked about last week’s game, Coach Franco shared the details of the win, focusing not on her role as the coach, but on the stellar sportsmanship, teamwork and confidence of the players:

Playing the River Dell High School is always competitive for us. They took a 1-0 lead on us and a minute later, Isabel Guerriero ’15, a former Lower School student, tallied unassisted.  The game went back and forth with each team knocking on the door but goal-keeping was stellar for both teams.  Goal-keeper, Stasia Kuske ’15, another former Lower School student, made 4 diving saves to turn away River Dell.  She finished the game with 10 total saves.

The Bulldogs scored with under a minute left in the game on a broken penalty corner play.  Olivia D’Alessandro ’15 made a long pass into the circle.  Isabel Guerriero redirected the pass to Emily D’Alessandro ’17.  Emily pushed the ball toward the right post for the game-winning goal.  

Defense was able to hold onto a final surge.  It was a very exciting come-from-behind victory!

Coach Franco is just as passionate about her daily work with Lower School students as she is with her Middle and Upper School athletes.  An ever-humble teacher, coach and mentor, Coach Franco enjoys working with our very youngest students.  She encourages great technique, sportsmanship, teamwork and confidence in them every day.

Please join us in congratulating Coach Franco on yet another fantastic accomplishment!

Fast Fun Facts about Coach Franco:
Years at Dwight-Englewood School:  17
Years as Lower School PE Instructor: 13
College Attended:  Boston University
Sports Played:  Field Hockey and Lacrosse
Coaching Experiences:

  •       Varsity Field Hockey at D-E
  •       Varsity Lacrosse at D-E
  •       Middle School Lacrosse at D-E
  •       Assistant Coach for Basketball and Softball in area leagues
  •       Special Olympics: Track and Field; Weight-training and Softball
  •       Enjoys cooking and knitting but can only knit dog sweaters!

“The more we get together, the happier we’ll be…”

Each Friday, the students in the early childhood program, gather together to close out the week as a community of learners, friends and singers.  There is a magnetic energy in the hallway as the kindergarten and preschool 4 students and teachers make their way toward the preschool 3 classroom.

Awaiting the smiles, giggles, wiggles, and waves of all the children are the preschool 3 students and teachers, Mrs. Teply, Ms. Cushman and Ms. Yamin.  As the children enter the room, many give hugs to their former teachers.  Mrs. Cali and Mrs. Geschwer receive hugs and updates about what is happening in kindergarten.  Mrs. Pughkem, Ms. DeCos and Mr. Coyne join in on the greetings as we all settle down and await to begin the singing.

Ms. Yamin serves as our lead guitarist and song leader.  This past Friday, she was joined “on set” by grade 4 teacher, Mr. Rodenbush. Both played guitar and led us through tunes such as “Brush your Teeth”, “Skip to My Lou”, and “Bottle of Pop”.  The children sounded great!  Even those who chose to be good listeners and observers appeared to enjoy being a part of the group.

Ms. Yamin shared the following about why the sing-along is an integral part of the academic program:

“The lyrics of the songs encourage our students to pay close attention to the story in the song.  Learning the lyrics is a direct form of practice of early literacy skills.  Hearing the sounds and singing the rhyming words supports phonemic awareness and early reading.  In order to learn a sequence of words, the children need to tap into their memories.  The songs we sing also have patterns which relate to mathematics and early numeracy development.  Recognizing and practicing high and low pitches are also related to math and, of course, science as well.”

When asked about the role of the movements to the songs, kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Fiore, shared the following:

“The purpose of singing and incorporating large and small body movements is to help students learn to control their bodies as they practice the movements to the songs.  The three- and four-year olds look to the kindergartners for guidance with movements to the song.  This is a great way for the kindergartners to display their talents and leadership skills.”

Once the sing-along ended and the children headed back to their classrooms to pack up for the weekend, the students in preschool 3 asked, “Are our friends coming back again?” — a clear indicator that they enjoyed having the older children in their space.  As the preschool 4 and kindergarten students skipped back to their classrooms, they asked similar questions.  “Mrs. Fiore, when are we going to do that again?”  She replied with a smile, “We will sing with our friends again on a Friday.”

Important Campus Access Update: 
LS Driveway Closure from September 29 – October 3

Please be aware that the campus connector road between the Lincoln Street entrance guardhouse and Mr. Rocky’s Field will be closed for one week, beginning next Monday, September 29 through Friday, October 3.

Thoughtful contingency plans have been made to ease congestion and to ensure that our children have a safe start and end to their school day.  We are also aware of the challenges that this road closure will have on parents and drivers.  Detailed information about this one week road closure and our contingency plans will be provided in a separate D-E Community Email pushpage in the near future.  Additionally we will provide this information in a handout with this week’s “Just the Facts”.   Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Join Us:  LS Fall Festival Reception on October 2 

All D-E Parents and guardians, faculty and staff are invited to the annual LS Fall Festival Reception on Thursday, October 2, 6:00 – 8:00 PM, at the home of Caralyn and Steven Fuld, 351 Lewelen Circle, Englewood.  Please see invitation below for more details.  RSVP to Mrs. Rullo at:  rullol@d-e.org or 201-227-3220.  

16 Sep

Back to School Night

We look forward to seeing parents and caregivers this evening for the Lower School Back-to-School Night.  Parents of new students are encouraged to come to the Lower School gym to meet the special area teachers from 7:00-7:30 pm.  Classroom teachers will begin their presentations at 7:30 pm.  The evening is expected to end by 8:30 pm.
In order to alleviate concerns about parking, valet parking service will be provided this evening.  Limited childcare, for school-aged children, will also be provided in the Lower School library.

All “Phased-In”!

Monday, September 15, marked the first official day when all Lower School students were in classes on campus for the full school day!

During the opening weeks of school, the students in the early childhood program participated in “Phase-In.” “Phase-In” is a process which gradually allows students to begin their acclimation to school in smaller chunks of time. 
Kindergarten teacher, Tricia Fiore, shares, “The beginning of school can be overwhelming for all students but especially our youngest students where separation may be an issue.  Each day the students stay a bit longer building their stamina for the full day.” 
This gradual introduction to the school, classroom teachers, classmates and routines, has had a very good success rate at Dwight-Englewood School.  Students become familiar with the faces and names of their classmates and the various special area teachers, which allows confidence to build.
Although it may be daunting to have families and caregivers arrange schedules to accommodate this practice, our belief is that the investment of time at the outset of the school year really helps to make the students available for learning much sooner.  The students also are witness to the partnership between home and school, which is another important element for a successful school year.

Preschool 3 teacher, Lorraine Yamin, shared the following, “Phase-in sets the year off with students having experienced feelings of success and accomplishment.” We are happy to report that all of our students are off to a great start!

Frost Valley

The fifth-grade students have returned from three wonderful days of friendship, team building, risk-taking and fun!  Last week they spent three days at the YMCA in Frost Valley, NY accompanied by many of their current and former teachers.

This trip serves as an important way of welcoming new students into the grade.  It also prepares the students to embrace their roles as student leaders in the division.  Finally, it prepares them to confidently enter the departmentalized structure of the fifth-grade program.  Although they begin and end their days in a homeroom, the core program consisting of math, literacy, science and social studies, is taught in a departmentalized structure.
The photo at the top of our blog and the pictures below tell a bit of the story of how much our students enjoyed their time away. 

We are excited about all that this group of fifth-grade students will contribute to the Lower School this year!


Change in Dismissal Times for 5th Grade Students

The school year began with the implementation of the new arrival and dismissal times. We  have been very thoughtful about observing the impact of the changes in time on classroom work and on the traffic patterns.

We are pleased with the arrival times and the earlier start of the instructional day.  The extended dismissal time has presented some challenges, not only to our 5th grade students, but also to the dismissal patterns in the other divisions.
In discussion with school administration, faculty and our transportation department we will be adjusting the dismissal times for students in grade 5.  This change will help to minimize afternoon travel time for all our children.
Students in grade 5 will now be dismissed at 3:25 pm along with students in grades 3 and 4.  They will no longer be dismissed at 3:35 pm.  This change will go into effect on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014.
The final carpool, Carpool #4, will be dismissed at 3:40 pm not 3:45 pm.
A new information sheet that details the full scope of the Lower School dismissal times will be made available at Back-to-School Night.
Information for ALL LS Bus Riders
In an effort to improve our dismissal procedures and minimize afternoon travel time for all of our children, the following information is important for families of ALL Student Bus Riders (K-5)
All buses will now depart school by 3:40 pm as opposed to 3:50 pm.  Please be prepared to receive students that ride the buses a few minutes earlier each day.  This change will go into effect on Thursday, September 18, 2014.

Additional information about this change will be forthcoming from Danielle Devlin, Director of Transportation.  Questions should be directed to Ms. Devlin at devlid@d-e.org.

Fall Festival Reception on October 2, 2014

Our annual Lower School reception for parents, teachers and staff is Thursday, October 2 from 6 to 8 pm at the home of Caralyn and Steven Fuld, 351 Lewelen Circle, Englewood, New Jersey. Please RSVP to Lynne Rullo at rullol@d-e.org or 201.227.3220. 

09 Sep

The School Year Begins! – September 9, 2014

Last Wednesday, Sept. 3rd, our first Lower School assembly of the school year was filled with song!

I loved greeting the students and families on our opening day!

Students in grades 1-5 processed into the gym as a second-grade student played a beautiful rendition of “Rondo” by Muzio Clemente and “Little Man in the Woods” by Englebert Humperdink on keyboard.  Following her performance, students from Ms. Sowa’s Grade 4 class led us in the song “America” written by Katherine Lee Bates. Music teacher, Mary Heveran, accompanied on keyboard by music teacher, Lorna Milbauer, led us in a song called “JAMBO”.  As we recessed from the gym, a third-grade student courageously sang and performed “Cups (When I’m Gone)” by Anna Kendrick.  What an eclectic selection of tunes!

As students and families get to know me, all will discover that I love music of all kinds, and I enjoy singing.  As I reflect upon the first week of school, I am compelled to make a connection to this theme of “music and song.”   I remember reading a quote, “Music is one of the greatest creations of humankind.  It is creativity in pure and undiluted form and format.” Surprisingly, I was not as familiar with the song “JAMBO” as I was with the other songs showcased in this assembly.  As I did some research about the song and spoke with Mary further, I wanted to share a bit about what I discovered. 

“JAMBO” was written and recorded in 1974 by Ella Jenkins.  Ella Jenkins is an African-American folk singer, recording artist, and educator.  Her body of work is all about creating music specifically for children and spans over the course of 50 years.  Her primary focus is to create music, sounds, and rhythmic patterns that introduce children to musical traditions from all over the world– “creativity in pure and undiluted form and format”.  Ms. Jenkins has received multiple awards for her musical contributions, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2004.

Mary shared the following:
“The song JAMBO was written by Ella Jenkins and is an example of a ‘Call and Response’ song that gets everyone involved.  It is a song that teaches ways to say hello in different languages such as Swahili, Spanish, Japanese, and English.  While teaching the song I also ask the children if they know ways of greeting each other in other languages.  Some of the examples that the children contribute are Korean, Chinese, Russian, French, Hebrew, Greek and Italian.  I selected the song as a nice way of welcoming everyone back to school… because it is a way in which students and faculty can see and hear that no matter what language you speak, a friendly hello will make you feel welcomed.  It is compelling to me because the fact that it is a call and response song, one is not required to know the lyrics in advance.  All you have to do is listen and sing back what you hear!

The faculty and students in the Lower School are just beginning to “make music” in a broader sense as we welcome each other to the start of the 2014-15 school year.  The students will undoubtedly demonstrate evidence of creativity, not only through music, this school year.  I look forward to being a part of their journey and sharing a glimpse of what is happening each week in the Lower School with you. “Jambo! Jambo sana Jambo!”  Welcome Back!

Kim Lewis

JAMBO – by Ella Jenkins

Jambo! Jambo sana jambo! (Swahili)

Hola!  Hola mis amigos! (Spanish)

Ohaiyou! Ohaiyou konnichiwa! (Japanese)

Hello! Hello everybody hello! (English)

Let’s begin!

Welcome New Lower School Faculty

Mary Cushman is the new teaching assistant in the preschool 3 class.  Mary has earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Swarthmore College. She has also earned a Masters of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education. Mary has taught kindergarten at First Presbyterian preschool and kindergarten in Englewood and has experience in New York City schools as well. She also has a keen interest in the theater and attended the Circle in the Square Theatre School.  Her daughter, Julia, ’20 is in 7th grade at D-E and husband, Fred Daly, is an US Department Chair, advisor, teacher and coach.  Welcome to the Lower School, Mary!

Rachel DiGiovanni is the new teaching assistant in the first grade and is also helping out in the Explorers program in the afternoon. Rachel has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Special Education from Rutgers University.  She has also earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Montclair State University.  Rachel has had a breadth of experience working with students in preschool through third grade in various schools in New Jersey.  She looks forward to sharing her knowledge about innovative means of integrating technology into the curriculum.  Rachel has a daughter, Savannah, ’16 who is a junior at D-E, and she’s also the proud parent of D-E Alumna, Bianca, Class of 2011.  Welcome to the Lower School, Rachel!

Julie Pugkhem is the new teaching assistant in the preschool 4 class.  Julie has earned a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and Human Biology from Emory University.  She has also earned a Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education.  Julie has a strong interest in promoting students’ interest in the sciences.  Julie has a beautiful chihuahua named Machi that she loves dearly.  Welcome to the Lower School, Julie!

Thank you for your cooperation and patience!

As routines begin to take shape regarding arrival and dismissal patterns for families, the morning and afternoon car lines and bus routes will become much more predictable.  Thank you for your cooperation and patience during this transition time. 

Please be sure to refer to the Just the Facts document that was sent home on Friday Sept. 5th.  Just the Facts outlines a few additional points, such as the arrival and dismissal times, that will likely make for a more successful week.

Below are a few additional reminders that will help with the flow of traffic in the morning and the afternoon:

Please do not exit your car while in the carline. The sidewalk helpers will do all that they can to get your child, backpacks, lunch pails and other goodies out of or into the car safely along the sidewalk. 

Please be mindful of parents and caregivers behind you in the carline. We want parents and caregivers to send the children off with a kiss and proper goodbye and to greet them with the same excitement at the close of the day; however, we do ask that you move along to the exit gate as soon as the conditions are clear and safe.  Let’s work together as a community to shorten the carline from both the Lincoln Street entrance and the Palisades Ave. entrance.

Please do not make a left turn onto Palisades Avenue once you have reached the exit gate.  It is against the law to do so.  Additionally, although it may be inconvenient to turn right, the increased wait time has an impact on the remaining drivers in the carline.

If you would like to walk your child into the building this week, parking is permissible on Lincoln Street until Friday, Sept. 12, 2014.  If we receive permission to continue to park on Lincoln Street for the following week, that information will be posted in Just the Facts. 

Grand Opening – Lower School Book Room

by Susan Abramson, Assistant Principal


You may have noticed the room next to the Lower School library has a new look!

Our math specialist, Cecily Gottling, has moved the math office down the hall across from Mr. Rodenbush’s 4th grade classsroom, and thanks to the initiative and hard work of a group of teachers, the former math office is now a space for a Lower School bookroom.

After the close of school on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, we had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the creation and opening of our new Lower School bookroom.

The purpose of a bookroom is to offer all learners, teachers and students, a collection of texts to support children’s literacy development. What distinguishes the bookroom from the library and the classroom collections is that it contains sets of books that are intended to be connected to the reading and writing units at each grade level. The books in the bookroom are also categorized by the level of complexity, thus giving teachers a valuable tool for focusing their instruction to the needs of learners.  The bookroom is also significant because it allows us to share one of our most valuable resources – BOOKS – across the entire school!

The Lower School bookroom is an exciting addition to our school and a reflection of the collaborative efforts our faculty engage in to support our work with all of our Lower School children.