University Schools

Elementary School Information

We know that education is a team process and that schools and parents must work closely to provide our students with the best possible educational environment. Together we can give every student the chance to make the most of their educational experience.

A Message From Our Principal

Ahoy! In this summer of change, there has been a quote about how we cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails, which speaks to me on many levels and seems pertinent. I like to think of things not happening to me but rather with me. Sometimes things happen and we have to adjust or risk being pushed off course. Education tends to do that, either we keep up or get blown off course. But, if you stay ahead of the forecast, you can get ahead, which is what we intend to keep doing.

This coming year will see a few changes at University Schools Elementary. Mainstay and Ms. University, Carol Riggs, will not be in her familiar role as Master Teacher, as she sailed off into the retirement sunset after 25 years with our school. She has been a good friend, great ambassador, and inspirational teacher and I can’t thank her enough for all she did for our school, its inhabitants, and the community. However, I am thrilled to say that we adjusted our sails early in March when the winds of change came through and we found a wonderful new Master Teacher, Cora Halmo. Cora has been a teacher leader in fourth grade from the time she arrived four years ago and will continue to help me with leading and our community with learning. Carol and Cora have worked closely these past few months and I look forward to Cora hitting the ground running in August. The winds of change have brought new faces in kindergarten, third, fourth, fifth, music, and the HS/Elementary counselor all of whom I can’t wait for your students to meet and for you to partner with.

Classroom Visitation - August 15, 5:00-6:30 p.m. We will have a chance for parents and students to meet the teacher, see the classroom, and get all the important information for the coming school year. We will have three sessions: 

  • 5:00 - 5:25 p.m.
  • 5:30 - 5:55 p.m.
  • 6:00 - 6:25 p.m.

As many of us with school-aged students know, math sure isn’t what it was when we were in school. In getting a better grasp on our math curriculum and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) we will be adopting a new curriculum. Our elementary math committee started with six different math curriculums and ultimately settled on two to take closer looks at during the 2016-17 school year. After reviewing materials, teachers gravitated toward Stepping Stones by Origo. Teachers from each grade level spent part of last year researching, evaluating, collaborating, and eventually ended with two teachers (one in primary and one in secondary) piloting Stepping Stones in preparation for this coming year’s adoption.

Blended Learning will again be a focus and will be fully implemented in grades 2-5. To get us started, a gracious donor purchased the technology for this (one computer for every two students). If you are interested in donating, you can contact The Success Foundation by e-mail, or call 970-348-6362. A student subscription to Dream Box is $8 for the year while a Chrome book is as low as $170. If you are interested in doing more, a computer cart (to store up to 26 chrome books which keeps them charged and ready for use) is $1700. The ultimate gift would be a fully loaded mobile lab with all the bells and whistles for $6000. Every little bit counts and we would greatly appreciate a donation of any amount as we find the balance with screen time while staying innovative! 

We also look forward to fully utilizing our math program with Dream Box this year. Dream Box, another highly beneficial online resource which pairs well with Stepping Stones, will help push all of our math students through differentiated lessons during our math centers. 

I again wish you a happy summer and look forward to when all our ships come back to port and we again meet up at University Schools for what is sure to be another great year.

Mike Mazurana

Mike Mazurana, Principal

Elementary News
Minimize First Day Jitters

The start of the school year is an exciting and sometimes scary time for children. Not knowing what to expect that first day often leads to nervous stomachs and sleepless nights before the first day of school. Advance preparation can help relieve some of your child’s anxiety.

  • If possible, visit the school before the first day of school, either at a scheduled event or by appointment. Even if your child is a return student, it’s been a whole summer since he’s walked the halls, and a little refresher doesn’t hurt.
  • Talk about your child’s fears and expectations in the weeks before school starts. Recount some of your memories as a child. While it’s best to focus on the positive, a funny story or two about your past struggles could help put things in perspective too.
  • The week before school starts, work on getting back into a routine. Set your child’s alarm each morning, and have him get up and go through the school-morning rituals. This will help reset his body clock and get him ready to get moving in the morning.
  • Check out the school supply list, and make sure your child is prepared.
  • If you did not receive a school supply list ahead of time, ensure your child has pencils, a two-pocket folder, and a small spiral notebook for the first day of school. He’s sure to bring home a list of supplies after the first day.
  • Get everything ready the night before. Prepare your child’s lunch, set out backpacks and outfits, and decide what will be on the breakfast menu. Then, send your child to bed early. He’s sure to have trouble falling asleep, so some extra quiet time may help settle his nerves.
  • Get your child up a little early that first day to alleviate some of the stress of rushing through the morning routine. Leave the television off to ensure your child keeps moving.
  • After school, talk to your child. Kids are notorious for one-word answers, so ask open-ended questions that require a longer response. “Tell me what you did today.” “What is your teacher like?” and “What was the best part of your day?” are some great starters.

We hope your child is looking forward to his return to school. Some advance preparation is sure to help! Most of all, send him to school rested, prepared, and ready to tackle the year ahead.