Meeting Recap: Upcoming Events, Girls on the Run, Safety Update and More!

Thank you to everyone who came out to last Thursday’s evening meeting.  For those who couldn’t make it, here’s your handy recap:

Special Guest:  Girls on the Run

Casey White, head coach of the O’Hara Elementary Girls on the Run team, joined us to share information on the upcoming GOTR session. The O’Hara team is open to girls in grades 3 – 5 and will meet Tuesday and Thursdays from 6:00 – 7:30pm from March 12 – May 30. Registration closes March 8th.

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Upcoming Events & Volunteer Opportunities

February is a busy month with many great events:

O’Hara Foxes Club

The OFC continues to add programs and plan for future after school activities.  Registration is currently open for K-2 students to participate in Lab Ratz.  Planned programs include a second session of Spanish Globetrotters, more yoga and a Spring session of Chess Club.

We will also be introducing “Story Explorers” in April. Story Explorers is a new OFC program being facilitated by O’Hara parent and Spark Books owner, Adriene Rister, and a Fairview parent/engineer, Melinda Guinn. This five-week program is designed for children in ages K-1 and will combine literacy and STEAM activities. The pilot session will focus on the classic children’s story, The Three Little Pigs. Each week, students will begin class by gathering together to read children’s literature based on the Three Little Pigs story, such as The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale by Steven Guarnaccia, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas, and the True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scisezka. After reading the book, children will use their imaginations and problem-solving skills to explore the story in greater depth–acting out different characters to create alternative endings, building houses that can withstand a wolf, learning about perspective (did the wolf just have a cold?), and becoming the story’s illustrator, author, or using only music to tell the story. Registration will open in March – stay tuned for more details!

Have an idea for a future OFC program? Email Meghann at ofc@oharapto.org

District Forum Report

The next public meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb 26th at 9:00 a.m. Tim Mahoney, Director of Special Education and Pupil Services will be sharing information on Ability Awareness and Special Education Services. 

Principal’s Update: RTII and Safety

Mrs. Batis provided an update on school safety.  O’Hara staff have completed another round of A.L.I.C.E. training.  Additionally, Officer Lynch will be coordinating reverse evacuation drills (what to do if we are outside and need to get in quickly). Families will receive more information before the drills, which will be conducted starting with our oldest students first. Reverse evacuation can be used for a variety of situations, including severe weather or in response to events occurring within the vicinity of the school. 

Mrs. Batis also shared an update on the instructional decision making process.  A copy of the presentation will be posted here when available.  Key takeaway:  you can request a meeting at any point in time if you have concerns about reading, math, social/behavior issues, etc. and to explore appropriate interventions or enrichment opportunities.

New Ideas!

Several new ideas were discussed, including the possibility of a student store, a family dance night and ways to show our appreciation for teachers.  Stay tuned for a survey from the PTO to gather more ideas for next year and to provide feedback on your experiences to date.  The PTO board will be meeting soon to kick off our planning for the next school year and we value your feedback!

Last Evening Meeting of the School Year: 2/21 at 6pm

This Thursday we will host our last evening PTO meeting of the year at 6pm in the Auditorium. Throughout the years, we have received many requests for evening hours to accommodate the varying schedules of our families, and we look forward to seeing some new faces at the meeting!  Here’s what’s on the agenda:

  • Principal Update – Mrs. Batis will share a security update as well as information on the instructional decision making process.
  • Special Guest – The O’Hara Elementary Girls on the Run team leader will share information on the upcoming Spring session.
  • District Update – Sari Brecosky, Director of Literacy, will join us.
  • Reports from our District Forum, Teacher and PALS reps.
  • PTO Board and Committee Updates – your chance to hear about upcoming projects, volunteer opportunities and more!

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January Meeting Recap

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend are January 17th PTO meeting.  We look forward to seeing the “night owls” on Thursday, February 21st at 6pm for the last evening meeting of the school year.  Please help us spread the word to families who would appreciate the evening option!

Below is a recap of the meeting. Full minutes here.

The OFC

At January’s meeting, we shared some exciting news about the O’Hara Foxes Club.  The OFC now has a chair (thank you, Meghann O’Mara Jones) , and has already added a new Spanish after school option that kicks off in February (sorry, all spots full!). If you are interested in leading an after school program, please email Meghann.

The PTO Board would like to thank long-time Chess Club Chair Alice Paviglianiti for dedicating countless hours over the years to inspire and encourage a love of chess in O’Hara students. After many years of championing the Chess Club, Alice is ready to pass the program on to someone else. The chair helps organize the afterschool program. Position responsibilities include overseeing attendance, dismissal, parent communication, and helping set the schedule for future chess sessions.  In the past, chess club has offered three sessions throughout the school year.  Each session is 6 weeks, and meets from 3:30-5:00 pm in the school library.  We would like this to keep this schedule, however we maybe open to other options based on volunteer response.  You do NOT need any chess knowledge to fill this roll.  However, school clearances are required.  Chess master, Bob Willson, will continue as the club’s instructional teacher. Please contact Meghann if you are interested or have any questions about this opportunity. Thank you!

Teacher Stipends and Spending Survey Result

The PTO provided a status of Teacher Stipend funds. $6,000 was approved this year to support our teachers through stipends, and to date we have dispersed almost $1,000. Purchases include lamps for the SMALL Lab, Boogie Board tablets for reading support, a classroom rug for the art department, and a math book for the gifted program.  Teachers have a deadline of April  30 to submit requests for funds.  The PTO also surveyed teachers to determine what they are spending out of pocket and what their most needed items are. You can view the teacher spending survey results here.  The PTO Board is considering ways we can use the results to better guide our support and find ways to keep our teachers stocked with their most needed items.

New Events Coming Soon

Several new events are coming soon – stay tuned for volunteer opportunities and more details:

February 22 – Family Movie Night at O’Hara – more details coming soon for an evening at O’Hara with family and friends!

February 26 – Read Across America Celebration during the Scholastic Book Fair: Many families may remember the Dr. Seuss event at Barnes & Noble led by O’Hara librarian Mrs. Fornari. The Read Across America Celebration will bring that event to O’Hara during the Scholastic Book Fair. Dr. Seuss themed activities will include a tattoo artist, mystery readers, crafts, and other literacy activities. The free event will be held from 6-8 p.m., during which time you can also shop the Scholastic Book Fair!   

May 11 – Garden Sale Pick Up: Plants will be available for sale from a local nursery.  Families will be able to advance order plants for pick up on the Saturday before Mother’s Day.  The PTO intends to use the funds raised for the Courtyard Improvement project.  Plans for developing the courtyard may include raised garden beds and outdoor classroom space, but the District needs to address a drainage issue before the project can move forward. Weather has delayed further attempts until the Spring. 

 

PALS Report

At the next meeting of PALS (Parent Advocates for Learning Support), Kerr School Resource Officer Scott Bailey will join part of the meeting to discuss the training FCASD SROs complete to prepare them to work with all students, specifically those with challenges that may cause a barrier in communication. He will also share information about trainings he offers to parents and children with special needs on how to identify and engage with emergency responders  The meeting is scheduled for January 30th at  9:15am at the Eat ‘n Park at Waterworks. Visit palsinfo.org for details. 

New RAPTOR System

Mrs. Batis provided a brief overview of the changes to volunteer clearances now that the District has adopted the RAPTOR system.  Existing clearances are loaded in the RAPTOR system, but the system checks to see if any offenses or issues have occurred since obtaining clearances that might be a cause for concern. The first time entering the building with the new system takes the longest, so plan to add a few extra minutes on your next visit.

OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Program

Mrs. Batis also provided an update on the OLWEUS bullying prevention program. O’Hara received a Safe Schools grant from Highmark, and our new teachers have now received Olweus training, and teachers will continue to receive training throughout the year.

New Student Advisory Committee

Mrs. Batis announced that a New Student Advisory Committee will begin rolling out soon.  The program is inline with the PTO’s efforts to getting our students more involved, with the ultimate goal of launching a Student Council next year.  The Student Advisory Committee will have two representatives from each homeroom, who will selected randomly from interested kids.  The committee will meet with the principals two times a month during the lunch period to provide input on a variety of topics.

Thank you!!

Mrs. Batis and the PTO Board thanks everyone for their support of the Make a Wish fundraiser and for the generous collection of funds for our staff for the holidays. Your generosity always amazes!

January PTO Meeting Agenda

The O’Hara PTO invites you to join us for our monthly meeting this Thursday, January 17th at 9:15am in the O’Hara Auditorium. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.  This month’s agenda is as follows:

  • PTO Board Report
    • Treasurer’s Report (Kristina Adams)
    • Teacher Stipend Status (Sarah Shaffer)
      • Teacher Survey – most wanted items
    • Vice President’s Report
      • Read Across America Celebration – February 26
      • O’Hara Foxes Club Registrations (Math Pentathlon, Spanish Globetrotters, Lab Ratz)
  • Committee Updates and Volunteer Opportunities
    • Family Movie Night – February 22
    • Garden Sale – April kick off (May 11 Pick Up)
    • Scholastic Book Fair – February 25 to March 1
  • PALS Report (Stacy London)
  • Principal’s Update (Mrs. Batis and Mr. Edwards)
    • Changes to Volunteer Clearances – RAPTOR
    • OLWEUS Update
    • New Student Advisory Committee Roll out
  • District Update (Dr. Constantine)
    • New Pre-K Program

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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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October Meeting Recap and Square 1 Art

Thank you to everyone who came out for our first evening meeting of the year on October 18.  Future evening meetings are scheduled for December 20th and February 21st from 6 – 7pm.  All other meetings will be held in the morning.  For those who couldn’t attend, here’s your handy recap:

Help Needed

The PTO is still in need of someone to chair the O’Hara Foxes Club.  All of the logistics for the after school enrichment program are already in place.  Now we need an organized individual who would like to help us expand the offerings and grow this program! For the most part this is a “behind the scenes” opportunity.  If you are interested in learning more or signing up, please email nadine@oharapto.org.

Looking for something else? Check out our open volunteer opportunities here.

District Presentation on Curriculum

The October meeting included an overview of Elementary Curriculum from Dr. Ashley Constantine, Executive Director of Elementary Education and Instruction.  Sari Brecosky, Director of Literacy, provided information on Journeys and Fundations and Megan Collett,Director of Instructional and Innovative Leadership, shared information on the district’s STEAM curriculum. School Board Vice President Nancy Foster also joined the group.  We appreciate the District directors sharing their passion and insight into the elementary curriculum with us.  A copy of the presentation from the evening is available here: Overview of FCASD Elementary Curriculum

Principal’s Update

Mrs. Batis shared that there will be some safety changes to the Halloween parade.  Details were shared via PowerSchool after the meeting. The District’s new Safety and Security Coordinator, Officer Joe Kozarian, and O’Hara’s new School Resource Officer, Dennis Lynch will join us at the November 15 PTO Meeting.

For additional details from the October 18 meeting, you can read the full minutes here: 10-18-2018 Meeting Minutes

Square 1 Art Fundraiser

Each student received a personalized catalog featuring their own unique artwork from Square 1 Art. Square 1 is an annual PTO fundraiser that provides the opportunity to purchase your student’s unique artwork on a variety of items. From aprons to journals and coffee mugs, Square 1 has something for everyone, and the items make great gifts for family members or keepsakes for your child.  The PTO receives at least 33% of all purchases (we earn more the more families who participate, so even small purchases can have a big impact!).  Orders are due by Friday, November 2.  Use the unique access code on your student’s Square 1 Art catalog to order online at https://shop.square1art.com/shop

November 15 PTO

Mark your calendars for our next PTO Meeting! On Thursday, November 15th, we will be joined by the District’s new Safety and Security Coordinator, Officer Joe Kozarian, and O’Hara’s new School Resource Officer, Dennis Lynch. We will also be hosting tours of the SMALLab before and after the meeting (pre-registration and clearances required, details and sign up to follow).