November Meeting Recap

The O’Hara PTO welcomed about 40 people to our second morning meeting of the year on November 15th. For those who were unable to attend, a recap is below. The full meeting minutes are located here.

Ms. Frick and her 3rd grade class were also kind enough to give tours of the SMALLLab (Student Multimedia Accelerated Learning Lab) both before and after the meeting. Participants observed students playing a memory matching game with fossils and spinner game using math facts.

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Upcoming Barnes and Noble Fundraiser

O’Hara PTO will be holding its first Barnes and Noble fundraiser at the Waterworks location on 12/1.  A portion of all purchases will be donated to the PTO, including Starbucks purchases (just make sure to tell your customer service representative that you are there to support O’Hara!). The PTO will also be manning a complimentary gift wrap table from 11am-5pm at this event, staffed by volunteers (you can sign up to participate here), who will also be collecting donations.  Can’t make it to this event? Online purchases made between 12/1 and 12/5 will also benefit the PTO. Just use the Code 12454575 when you check out.

Volunteers are Needed for the Library

O’Hara’s new library is now ready for volunteers!  There are two different volunteer opportunities available at this time: 1) shelving books and 2) preparing instructional materials and bulletin boards. Ms. Fornari may also offer an opportunity for volunteers during instructional periods in the future.

Principal’s Update

Mrs. Batis discussed O’Hara Elementary’s student growth and achievement by highlighting our most recent PSSA results.  Our PSSA ELA average show a 3.79 point increase since 2016.  Our PSSA Math average increased 8 points since 2016, and approximately 10 points for both the 4th and 5th grades. 4th grade PSSA in science went up 1.5 points since 2016.

Mrs. Batis also discussed instructional response plans–emphasizing that teachers/administration regularly review several data inputs for each child, including PSSA data, STAR assessments, teacher observations, and teacher feedback. When specific needs are identified, a rigorous and collaborative RTII process is initiated that includes familial involvement. If families have any concerns regarding their child’s school performance–either high or low performance–they are always welcome to reach out for a meeting. Also, parents are always welcome to look through their child’s quarterly STAR assessment results. Just email the teacher for a copy of the parent report.

District Update

FCASD’s new School Safety and Security Coordinator, Officer Joe Kozarian, introduced himself at the meeting. Officer Kozarian lives in the South Hills and is the father of five grown children. He has been with school districts for almost 17 years and is very passionate about school safety.  He notes that the Fox Chapel School District is far ahead of many other districts in terms of school safety. 

Officer Kozarian informed us that there is now a School Resource Officer in each school in the district. He sees these officers as serving several roles: 1) being a law enforcement officer to protect kids and staff against threats, 2) being a guest speaker, who can talk to kids about bus safety, being home alone, bullying, calling 911, internet safety, etc, and 3) being a mentor for kids that need them. These officers are not involved in routine discipline of kids.  Officer Kozarian noted that each officer wears a “dress-down” police uniform (khaki pants and a polo shirt) and wears a belt with a sidearm, handcuffs, flashlight, and an extra magazine. Each school resource officer is a certified police officer, who also undergoes an additional 40-hour training to work in schools.  If you have questions or concerns for Officer Joe Kozarian, his email is joseph_kozarian@fcasd.edu.

Finally, Officer Dennis Lynch introduced himself as O’Hara’s School Resource Officer. For the past four years, he has been a school police officer at the Freeport School District. Before that, he worked for the Penn Hills Police Department. He began volunteering in the Penn Hills School District the day after the Columbine shooting and has been involved in school safety initiatives since then.  He introduced himself to the kids at the beginning of the school year and is now affectionately known as Officer “Fist Bump.”

He described his typical day, noting that he’s regularly walking throughout the building and grounds, checking security cameras, and closely monitoring times when kids are outside, such as pickup, dropoff, and recess. He also spends a fair amount of time building a positive rapport with the kids, especially at lunchtime when he appreciates leftover cookie donations :).  Want to get in touch with Officer Fist Bump? His email is dennis_lynch@fcasd.edu.

Thank you to all those who attended this month’s meeting! Our next meeting is scheduled for December 20th at 6pm. Because we know December evenings can be busy during the holiday season, we are asking that you please RSVP by 12/10 if you plan to attend. If expected attendance is low, we may reschedule or cancel. 

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