Sunday, September 29, 2013


Happy Birthday to all of our October Babies..........

  • October 3- Amanda Gordon
  • October 7-Stephanie Rice
  • October 13-Jaymie Almaguer
  • October 15th-Lisa O'Brien
  • October 21-Ann Farthing
  • October 22-Julie Magness
  • October 29-Skye Dorsett
  • October 31-Carleigh Joyce

An Update from the Lead Learner:) September 30th-October 4th

Hanes Brand's Day of Caring at Diggs-Latham!  We're so appreciative!

Reflections from the Principal's Desk!

Do you know when you have those days when you say to yourself, "I am so blessed that I am a teacher!"? Well, I have been having the "I am so blessed to be the Principal of Diggs-Latham Days...Everyday!"  Granted all my days are not perfect, but I just have to say that you all are amazing and I am so proud of you.  We have gone through a lot of transformations and the results are really showing.  I see happy students, teachers and staff everywhere.  I know you must be so tired as you navigate your day but you don't show it and you never let on to the children.  Thank you.  Remember, we have visitors, interns, student-teachers, parents, community members and WSFCS employees in our building on a daily basis. We are the face of our school so we always have to remember that people are looking up to us, listening to how we relate to and talk to children.  Continue to put your best foot forward:) We want our school to be known as an orderly safe place where we respect each other. We want our school to be just what it is, a happy place to learn!  You can definitely have fun and learn the standards at the same time, I see it happening everyday.  

Hanes Brand's Employees Share Their Talents!

About 25 employees of Hanes Brands came out to plant pansies and mums, help in the media center and weed the vegetable garden.  They paid for all the materials and we are so grateful.  The grounds look awesome!  We are so proud.  Please point the new flowers out to the children and make a point to say these were all volunteers who care about Diggs-Latham.

A Good Friend Retires-Good-Bye Susan Kimball

I spent 8-9 years teaching at Moore Magnet School as a 3rd Grade AG teacher before I moved into Administration.  I had 2 colleagues that also taught AG. Susan Kimball and Laurie Rhodes were and still are the kind of teacher that everyone wants to be; smart, creative, funny and engaging with their students.  They were also great mentors to me. I learned a lot from both of them. Most importantly, we laughed, supported each other during hard times and learned a lot of new stuff together.  Today will be Susan's last day of work after 25+ years.  I give this information to you because our theme is all about relationships.  You are making them now with your colleagues.  Are you a team player? Do you believe in our mission and vision?  Do you offer encouragement, support and humor when you can?  All of these things are important. You will make life-long friends if you let yourself be a friend and return the favor.  I am so proud of both my former colleagues.  I'll be joining Susan in another 6 years or so.....maybe..., I do love what I do!  Life is all about Relationships! You can choose to work together as a team or apart in a silo. I know my choice!

Important Information

  • By now, everyone should have completed their Self-Assessment, Signed of on Orientation Date and completed your PDP ready for review.  Today is the deadline.  If you need help, see me or Dr. Frazier.
  • All newsletters should also be turned in today to administrators.
  • Bookworms Meeting is today at 9:00
  • Tomorrow is Mid-Term:)
  • Parent Resource Room will open up October 1
  • Literacy Night is Thursday-Pizza served by Home Moravian at 5:30/Please turn in RSVPs to the office so we will know how many pizzas we will need.
  • Volunteer Orientation is Friday Morning from 9-10:30/Thank you Dr.Madison
  • Spencer Ballus will start putting up Arts sculpture and beautifying our campus on Sunday.
  • United Way Campaign starts the week of October 6th
  • ITBS the week of the 6th as well
  • Faculty Meeting the 8th -If you need to be on the agenda, please email me.
  • "It Takes A Village" tutoring starts on the 9th
  • October 11-Percussion Ensemble at 10:15 Grades 4 and 5.
  • Picture Day -October 22nd.
  • Fall Festival and Multi-cultural celebration October 25th
  • Please join PTA $5. We need 100% from our faculty and staff.  Please step up.  We are working to be strong to help our kids.
  • Book Fair is the week of Fall Festival:)

If you read this far, HOORAY! Everyone....Please leave me a comment about good things you have seen happening here at DL since the beginning of school. They can be positive comments about colleagues, lessons you've seen or done, random acts of kindness, collaboration, humor or support given to you.  You can be as creative as you like!  If you want to leave a comment, click on the no comments link or as a reply.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's A Beautiful Day at Diggs-Latham Elementary School! Sept. 22nd

What A Great Day to be an Administrator, Teacher or Student at Diggs-Latham!

IC Meeting a Huge Success!

A very special thank you to the IC Team who worked very hard to organize and present key information in delivering our SIT plan to key district officials.  I was very proud of all of them.  They were passionate, confident and knowledgeable. They presented our Goals, strategies and action steps.  Our feedback was very positive and were even filmed to be able to share "Best Practices" with other schools.  Congratulations to: Dr. Cheryl Frazier, Gloria Pubantz, Katie McGregor, Diana Adkins, Andrea Slusher, Beth Bostian, Jennifer Hart and Allison Sechrist.  I would also like to recognize Linda Studevent, Amanda Gordon and two UNCG Interns: Harry Caines and Zane Doty. Way to go team.

SIT Plan Voting

It has been a very long and tedious process preparing an effective SIT Plan.  I thank you all for your motivation and participation in developing this ever-changing plan of action. Please make sure that you vote on the plan, sign off on the roster and if you are a SIT member, sign the cover sheet.  Be sure to fill out a red ticket to be eligible for the drawing:)  We need this completed first thing this morning (Monday) so we can meet our deadline. The Sit-Chairs will tally the votes after everyone has signed off.

PDPs (Professional Development Plan) and Self Evaluation/Assessment-Due September 30th

What is a PDP?  A PDP is a living document that reflects your goals for professional development.  You should choose goals that are aligned with your Evaluation Standards and school SIP Goals.    Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, results-based and time bound.  They should not be too broad or contain too many components.  "Research has shown that PDP experiences that are disconnected from a teacher's practice have little or no impact on teacher practice or student outcomes."   (Newman and Whelage, Successful School Restructuring)  Your goals should focus on the learning needs of the students you teach.  Your standards should help you to frame these goals.  A high quality PDP would focus on professional learning that will deepen your knowledge of content, pedagogy and social and emotional learning.  Your goals should always support student learning.  You want to choose goals to help you meet the needs of your current students and their abilities. Make sure that you carefully state the action you will take, describe the area of focus, rationale for goal and activities, etc.. to help you meet the goal.  Your goals should be new and directly improve your practice. Here are some SAMPLE examples of well written PDPs.

  • I will investigate intervention strategies to incorporate RTI processes into my classroom in order to better differentiate student instruction by working with Ms. Varga, district RTI coach.
  • I will acquire necessary knowledge needed to collect data, develop materials and put into place individualized learning plans for leveled reading and/or math groups.
  • I will seek out assistance from Connie Rogers in order to improve my ability to create solid and meaningful reading acquisition lesson plans that will benefit all student learners in my classroom.
  • I will research and implement strategies in order to improve my classroom management strategies so that the student engagement in my classroom will improve.
  • I will enhance my skills in administering and collecting assessment data to effectively plan interventions, to improve student learning by working with my grade level team and star 3 leaders.
  • I will learn how to use new technology (Promethean boards, laptops, software, mini-ipads, response eggs, etc..) to incorporate technology into my instructional practices to improve student learning.
  • I will put into place a practice that will teach students to self-assess, Justify, and Set Goals for themselves. 
I hope the above PDPs will illustrate what an effective PDP should look like. Yours can be as creative as you like as long as it is specific, measurable, attainable, time-bound and results oriented.

Star 3 Leadership Positions Announced:

After the brainstorming of leadership positions and the official voting, the following Leadership Positions and Leaders are as follows:

Leadership Position 1-K through 2 At-Risk Tutoring Program Facilitator-Sidonna Brown
Leadership Position 2-Grades 3-5 At-Risk Tutoring Program Facilitator-Alisha Taylor
Leadership Position 3-Differentiation Specialist-Amanda Gordon
Leadership Position 4-Parent Involvement Resource Specialist-Suzanne Asbury
Leadership Position 5 to be split: Intervention Specialists in Literacy-A. Slusher and Math--Jenn Hart

Leaders, you may get busy putting your plans into action.  Remember to keep documentation of everything you do. Connie Rogers will answer any questions you may have.

NISL Training-

Many of you already know that Cheryl and I are in the process of completing an 18 month training entitled: National Institute for School Leadership. This training is for Title I/Star 3 principals.  It is very informative. However, it will require both of us to be out of the building for 2 days at a time throughout the year. Many of the days will fall on non-student days which is helpful.  You can go to Gloria and the office staff  if you have an immediate need. The office staff can reach us if needed. We will both be out today and tomorrow for this training.  

Have you seen how beautiful our grounds are?

Thanks to Steve Cutright and his Maintenance and Grounds Department, our Japanese Garden is looking beautiful.  They went above and beyond in filling in ground water ruts, gravel and rock around the fountain.  They also put down pine straw everywhere.  It looks awesome. I have 2 Red Velevet cakes in the refrigerator to thank them for all their hard work.  Last weekend, Amanda Gordon and I went to the fundraiser at United Methodist Church for our school. Spencer Ballus, our newest eagle scout, held a Greek dinner to raise money to beautify our school. There were several hundred people at the dinner. The plans for the beautification should begin in a few weeks!

Gift Cards from Home Moravian

Home Moravian has once again designated money to go towards gift cards. Each teacher and specialist will receive a $50. gift card to be used at either Kaplans, Dollar Tree or Target.  Mrs. Kennedy will post the sign up sheet for which card you want in the lounge.  There is a quick turn around on the cards.  You do not have all year to spend as you did last year.  See my previous email sent out on Saturday for details.  Please sign up today so that we can get these cards purchased for you.  FYI... Home Moravian will hold a fund-raiser dinner for us coming up in November.  We are so very fortunate.

Positive Post Cards

We have received only about 13 postcards and they have been mailed. Please be sure to get your post card written to a student  and put it in my mailbox outside my door to be reviewed and mailed.  I love seeing the positive words.:) Kids and parents just love getting these:) It means a lot.  Thank you!


  • September 23rd and 24th Cannon and Frazier to NISL Training in the Education Building
  • September 23-SIP Plan Due to Assistant Superintendent
  • September 24th-Good News Club Begins and Star 3 Meeting with Connie Rogers
  • September 25 and 26th-PDP and Self-Evaluation Meetings in Computer Lab
  • September 25th-Mentor/Mentee Meeting 3:10 conference room
  • September 26th-LEP Fall Parent Night
  • September 27th-A Day Of Caring-Volunteers from Hanes Brands will be here to work in the vegetable garden.
  • September 27th-ALL GRADE LEVEL AND SPECIALIST NEWSLETTERS DUE TO ADMINISTRATORS for approval.  They will need to go home the following Tuesday.
  • September 30th-Bookworms Orientation at 9:00
  • October 1-Mid-Term and Parent Resource Room opens/Joint Principal's Meeting
  • October 3-Literacy Night 
  • Week of October 7th  ITBS testing window opens
  • October 22nd is picture day

Thank you for reading the blog and being informed. If you have read the blog, please leave me a comment on the blog. You will see a place to do that at the top of the blog.

Family Affairs- We are very excited that Linda Wright will be rejoining us today. It is great to see her back.  Mrs. Bracken did an outstanding job in Linda's absence.  Welcome Back Linda.  We were so pleased to hear that Ms. Reece has been feeling better and received a good report from the doctor.  Keep Kristy and her mom in your prayers as she navigates her way through the loss of her husband. Congratulations to Amanda Gordon who won several art award ribbons in the Stokes County Fair.  We are also very proud of Amanda Stevenson who was part of a show on Saturday night in which her talents were once again showcased:)
Please keep Mrs. Blasini in your prayers as her father-in-law passed away last week.  This is a very difficult time for the family and she could use your support.  Please keep Ms. Faqih in your prayers as she continues to recover.  We all miss her a lot.  Please keep Mrs. Farthing's mom in your prayers as she has been under the weather and could use happy thoughts sent her way.  If ever you have something you would like to share under Family Affairs, please let me know.

Happy Birthday to...  Dr. Madison whose birthday was September 17th!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Another Successful Week at Diggs-Latham to Begin September 9th!

Happy Birthday!

A very Happy Birthday this week to:        

  • September 9-Linda Studevent
  • September 13-Nurse Kim Hall    

Don't forget our school theme for the year:

 Relationships, Risks and Results  

I was able to witness some great relationship building this week. Thank you to Mrs. Ochoa and Miss Greenlee who were sharing ideas on classroom management in the hall afterschool on Friday.  Love hearing that valuable "teacher talk". Thank you  to Ms. Pullen and Mr. Powelson who have been building relationships all over the building by helping to troubleshoot in technology areas.  Thank you Mary Winterhalder for pitching in with a smile by helping with Dibels, technology, and something to do with a mop, I'm told! Julie Wright has been smiling as she has assisted students and teachers in their execution of curriculum! Ms. Wynns deserves a special thank you for sharing a great leveled reader lesson planning website with us all. It utilizes many of the books we have in the bookroom. We need team players and that is what we all have to be.  Kindergarten, Second and Fourth Grade Teams, way to work together and plan.  You really are a joy to watch.  It is hard work and we all face challenges but everyone is trying to work through roadblocks with a "can do" attitude. I am proud of you. A special Kudos goes to the Pre-K teams.  They have to follow new procedure in which all of their 4 year old children must handpick their breakfast and lunch choices, and then they are recorded and taken to the cafeteria.  Each tray has to be made individually. You can only imagine how much patience you need for this task! That team deserves encouragement from us all.  The 5th grade team is on fire as they are executing the standards in many creative and constructive ways.  There are smiles and enthusiasm all around the fourth and fifth grade hallways. Thank you Third Grade for the work you all are doing, you have really pulled together to help Mrs. Bracken.  I saw some great team building activities on your grade level.  Building relationships has to be the motto for Maeretha Hopson.  She didn't even flinch when asked to cover a class for a few hours next week.   I appreciate her collaborative spirit. Thank you to Jaymie for being in lots of place and doing lots of things to help our kids:) Way to go Sidonna Brown, Debora Snider, Elena Guevara and Lynsey.  Their Leveled Reading Workshop was excellent.  They took risks and asked hard questions.  The training was informative! Our whole ESL team has been very busy assessing kids and working out schedules under very tight constraints.  They have to use brainpower and creativity to work out schedules. We appreciate you all.  Our specialist team has always been a happy, strong and collaborative group and that is no different this year. Getting to know all the kids and jumping right in to the thick of things is what they do so well. The Media Center looks awesome, thank you Leslie and Veronica!  Our Assistants in Kindergarten deserve special recognition for going to specials with the students to help ease those first quarter jitters. They work very hard all day long in all they do and are much appreciated.  The floors are shining and the building is clean, our office staff has the office running smoothly amongst many parent and teacher requests.  Our social worker, guidance counselor, nurse, speech teacher and home school coordinator have all been an incredible support to us all. I treasure them. Let's not forget our wonderful cafeteria ladies and gentlemen. Their hard work made the first two weeks of school a snap. HI Teachers and team, and Ms. Taylor, you rock!  Way to go. You are facing challenges and planning to meet the needs of all your students. ALL of our interns and students teachers have really worked hard to be a part of our DL family. We are so blessed to have them all here.  Lastly, thank you to Mrs. McGregor for leading great LTMs and the challenge of Dibels. The LTMs  have been awesome due to great planning and grade level participation.. Thank you to Mrs. Pubantz for the training opportunities and making yourself available to help teachers Your expertise is valuable and will benefit our staff. I know we are all thankful for Connie and Barbie. They continue to go above and beyond.  Dr. Frazier HEMINGWAY is my right hand and I am most grateful for all she does.  I  am planning to spotlight staff going that extra mile to help students, parents and colleagues. (it won't be as long as this article, I promise but I will look for specific random acts of kindness and collaboration in action) I am just very proud of the work you are doing, the planning, the thinking, the collaborating and the execution of common core while at the same time having a positive attitude.  Do you feel it?  It is the feel of a successful team and a great school!


The ballots are counted and the five Leadership Positions have been voted on.

They are:
  1. Intervention Specialist
  2. Rising Star Tutoring Facilitator Grade k-2
  3. Rising Star Tutoring Facilitator Grades 3-5
  4. Parent Involvement Facilitator
  5. Differentiation Specialist
It was by a large majority that Teacher Retention Advocate was removed. Several of you have given me an indication that you want to apply for these positions. I will put applications in your mailboxes. There is at least one application for every position with the exception of Parent Involvement Facilitator. This leader would help with the planning for the Parent Resource Room and help to be a liaison between parents and teachers in planning parental involvement activities.  We have started on the planning of the Resource Room and there are a team of people who can offer support.  This will not take time away from being in the classroom.  Someone who has not had a lot of leadership experience, please step up and apply:)  We need you.  We asked for an extra position and were granted it so we need to use it:)  Thank you everyone for making this an easy process this year. Applications due by Tuesday and we can vote at the faculty meeting.

We need a TAC Representative.  Come prepared to the faculty meeting to nominate someone or yourself for this very important position.  We already have our Arts Council Rep., Our United Way Co-Chairs and our UNCF Rep. We need to fill Danielle's position.  We also need someone to chair Fall Festival in Ms. Faqih's absence.  Let's make her proud. PTA will assist and there have been people who have signed up for the committee.  The date is late October so there is plenty of time.


Communication issues can sometimes be a cause of frustration and lead to ineffectiveness as a school. I would like to be very clear with my expectations. As you know, we only have faculty meetings once a month on average.  It is imperative that you read your emails twice daily and the blog every week. I intentionally only write the blog once a week to help you manage time.  It is your professional responsibility. Today, to  put our communication system to the test, I have hidden my maiden name "Hemingway" in the blog.  If you have read down this far, you would have seen it and said, "What in the world?" as it is out of place.  It is written in red letters.  Also, if you read the emails with attachments sent out by me this weekend, you can answer this question.....When is our Annual Title I Parent Meeting to be held? So, if you have read the blog and emails, without saying a word to anyone, write the word Hemingway in red and the date of the Title I Parent Meeting on an index card with your name, put it in the yellow basket outside my office door by noon on Monday and you will get a raffle ticket for a drawing, the prize being: Having one of your recess periods covered by me or Mrs. Frazier this week or if you don't have recess, we will cover a duty!  We will choose two names each. There will be a roll of raffle tickets, take one and put the other half in the yellow basket with your answer card.  This is just a way to gauge communication efforts. I know we can all do better with this  including me:) I will do this periodically for incentives. I just want to be clear that the following are expectations of mine.
  • Read the blog every Monday Morning (A lot of times, I will have it up by Sunday evening) I write it with you as the audience as an information tool. 
  • Always read email in the morning and before you go home.
  • Return parent emails and calls within 24 hours
  • Make those positive contacts home. Keep a record of who you contact via note, call, email, postcard, etc...
This isn't meant to be a "gotcha" as I will not make known or talk to those who don't give me a card, but my hope is that word will get around and this will serve as a refresher for those who need to remember to read and return communications.  Thank you for your help with this as it has an effect on us all:) I know we will get better.

Evaluation Assignments-

You will get an email from me letting you know who your evaluator is for this year.  I will also match all mentors and mentees. There may be some changes in mentor/mentee assignments from last year for logistical purposes.


Once again, Home Moravian has adopted us. We can vote on your choices for the top 3 stores as we did last year. I believe the winners were: Target, Kaplans and the education store in the mall. I will put sign-up sheets in the lounge so that  teachers can once again sign up for a gift card after we determine locations.  Mallie has asked that all gift cards be completely spent by October 15th for church record keeping purposes. Remember that only school items can be put on the receipt. Put your name on the receipt and place it an envelope with your name and grade level. She said juice boxes, and snacks for the class are ok. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

We Are Off To A Great Start! September 2, 2013

Week of September 1st to 4th 

Happy Birthday this week to: 

  • Shakila Faqih-August 31st
  • Stephen Friel-Sept. 4th
  • Melissa Baccari-September 6th

A Quick Note from the Lead Learner:)

I just wanted to let you know that I am so very proud of you all.  I am just thrilled at how smoothly the first week of school went.  This just doesn't happen automatically.  Thank you for all your planning and preparation from lesson planning to our first fire drill of the year.  Everyone has worked hard and done their part to make sure that our students were welcomed into a safe, warm, inviting and caring learning environment where expectations are high and so is the belief that all children can and will learn at Diggs-Latham. Dr. Frazier and I have continued our practice of being as visible as possible.  We saw great teaching happening.  We  saw quality student work posted. We saw bright and attractive door and hallway d├ęcor devoted to the children and curriculum. Students were reading across all content areas. Congratulations to all the teams that have almost all their individual student assessments done. Way to go.  Flexibility and teamwork made the process go very smoothly as you shared children and kept on teaching!  Thank you so much for supporting our school rituals and routines.   I saw all classes putting them into practice.  Remember that all adults should also model the zero or low volume in the hallways. I always say that every job in this building is equally valuable. We are a team and it has truly been evident this week from the shiny floors, to the smiling cafeteria ladies to the patient and very busy office staff to all the great teachers and support team.  All of you impact our students positively. Thank you for the smiles and dedication to our kids!

Classroom Walkthroughs

Classroom walkthroughs start this week. The focus is on curriculum. Refer to your CWT schedule for details.  We will be in your rooms for a quick 3 minutes or so. We are looking for EQs to be posted, evident to students and aligned with common core standards.  Remember to point out to students the EQ at the beginning of lesson and revisit it at the end. 

PDP-Professional Development Plans

All PDPs will be due soon.  It is time to start thinking about what your goals will be. Your PDP is very important. A lot of thought should go into your goal statements.  They should be tied to the standards on your evaluation rubric.  We will talk about these goals during our training.