• Black History Month: Celebrating a History of Grit, Determination, & Tenacity

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 2/13/2020

    Inventiveness.

    Character.

    Vision.

    These words describe the men and women we pause and celebrate during Black History Month. Just a short list illustrates their wide range of contributions:

    • Benjamin Banneker, who invented more effective versions of the clock and planned Washington, D.C.
    • Patricia Bath who invented the Laserphaco Probe, which has revolutionized the treatment of cataracts.
    • Charles Drew, who invented the modern blood bank (which also led to blood mobiles).
    • Thomas Elkins, who invented the modern chamber commode.
    • Alexander Myles, who created an automatic device to open and close elevator doors.
    • Garrett Morgan, who invented a traffic signal and created the gas mask which grew in popularity when it was used to aid workers after an underground explosion.
    • Lewis Latimer, who invented carbon filament, a critical component of the light bulb.
    • Marie Ban Britten Brown, who devised a system that would alert her of strangers at her door and contact relevant authorities as quickly as possible—the modern home security system concept.
    • Otis Boykin, who developed circuit improvements in pacemakers after losing his mother to heart failure.?
    • Lisa Gelobter, who was integrally involved with the advent of Shockwave, a technology that formed the beginning of web animation.

    We acknowledge politicians such Rep. Elijah Cummings, Rep. Shirley Chisholm, and President Barack Hussein Obama, who committed their lives to making life better in a system that did not always value them as human beings. It is fitting that we reflect and celebrate, but it is more valuable that we learn from the lives of these men and women.

    From the inventors, we learn that life is full of problems that need solving. People exist that need helping. Our God-given talents are gifts we share to make life better for others. From the politicians, we learn that a life of public service, a life challenging and agitating the system, is a life worth living. We learn that we can work alongside allies — people who do not look like us or sound like us — and actually cause change in the world.

    From the individual stories of artists, performers, athletes, and social activists, we learn the concept of “grit.” We learn that we cannot stop in the face of adversity. We cannot flinch in the face of blatant enemies, or in the face of unjust laws. We celebrate in Black History Month, but we study all year so that we too can make a difference, solve a problem, help people who need help, or serve unselfishly so that others may have better lives.

    Black History Month is full of lessons. My hope, as an educator and a member of a community, is that I can help young people learn these lessons. There are problems to be solved and people to be helped.  Let us work together to help our young people make history.

    Black History Month is Grit. Determination. Tenacity. Perseverance. Inventiveness. Character. Vision. Pride.

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  • The Drum Major Instinct: A Personal Reflection

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 1/20/2020

     

    On February 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached “The Drum Major Instinct.” The sermon dealt with the idea that each of us has an inherent desire, a deep personal desire to be number one, to lead the parade, to be out front. He says that when a baby cries, this is a desire for attention. When we compete, this is a desire for attention. Each of us wants to “lead the parade.” The sermon actually became him preaching his own eulogy. He ended that speech with declaring that he wanted to be remembered as a drum major for justice.

    This “drum major instinct” is a powerful force within us, but rather than us shutting it down, we need this instinct to be harnessed and channeled in ways that truly make a difference in the lives of others. Author and educator Dr. Michael Fullan calls this idea of making a difference in the lives of others “Moral Purpose.” Having a sense of moral purpose means that I see a wrong that needs to be made right, and I know that I am the one to do it. We then combine this with another concept — “Kairos” which means at the right time. Now is the time for us to act! This is the Biblical idea of “Now is the time, at the appointed time, or in due season.”

    Dr. Martin Luther King cast the drive to be the first, to lead the parade, to be the one in the light of the idea of moral purpose by making a difference in the lives of others.

    The Call of the Faith, A Call to Action

    I am driven by my faith. I seek to study and apply the Word of God in my life, so, when I read Isaiah 58, it spoke deeply to me about the call on my life, on our lives. It gives me clear marching orders.

    Isaiah 58:6-7

    Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

    Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

    This passage is a call to action, to make life better for others. Likewise, Dr. King’s analysis of the “Drum Major Instinct” is a call to action, to channel our innate desire to be number one, to lead the parade to serve others, to make a difference in the lives of others. This call does not distinguish between different people. It is a call for all of us to serve.

    …Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life. 

    …Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking.

    ...The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


    Quality education and equitable access are critical tools or strategies for our community. Even as I acknowledge the challenges of our school system, our understanding of the mission and our commitment to work with others to provide opportunities for the children we serve remain constant.

    This pursuit of educational equity requires us to re-imagine every institution associated with educating for the future. Dr. King’s vision was about social justice which is both legal, social, economic, and personal. We are called to partner in new ways, to not default to what is conventionally assumed to be best practice.

    We must leverage human capital and human ingenuity. We have emotional investment and passion. We have the capacity to imagine greater for the community, for the state, for the country.

    We must act in new ways. We must imagine a different scenario. In 2020, this work continues for everyone in urban education.


     

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  • 2019 Annual Performance Report: The Foundation for Our Growth

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 10/17/2019 8:15:00 AM

         The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has released the Annual Performance Report (APR) for school districts throughout the state. Like many districts we look to these results to help us monitor the progress the district and our students are making within the standards of Academic Achievement, Attendance, College & Career Readiness, and Graduation Rate.

         For four years, Normandy made significant progress on the APR. This progress supported NSC being reclassified as a provisionally accredited school district in 2018. We’re proud of all of the work on behalf of the students, teachers, and staff that helped us reach that goal.

         In reviewing our data, there was movement within a level, but performance stayed within the same band as previous years. The results reinforced what we already knew: What led us to provisional accreditation will not take us to the next level — full accreditation.

         The new APR looks at school performance using the following metrics: Growth, Status, and Progress. Growth measures the change in achievement scores for individual students over time. Status is a measurement of the district’s or school’s level of achievement based upon a three-year average of the MAP Performance Index (MPI). Progress measures annual improvement on MAP assessments.

    Analysis of the 2019 NSC Data*

    Standards 1 and 2 [Academic Achievement and Subgroup Achievement] correlate. Standard 2 is a percentage of Standard 1 and is weighted to give added support for districts with large subgroups (low income, minority, students receiving special education services). Under the Growth measure, ELA and Mathematics performance is within the Floor range. Under Status, ELA is in the Approaching range, while Mathematics performance is in the Floor range.

    Standard 3 [College and Career Readiness (CCR)] has three sub-standards, and measures Status and Progress only. CCR Assessments’ performance was in the Floor range of Status. Advanced Placement was in the Approaching range of Status. Post-secondary placement performance was in the Target range of Status.

    Standard 4 [Attendance] measures Status and Progress only. We performed in the Floor range of Status.

    Standard 5 [Graduation Rate] measures Status and Progress only. It tracks graduation over 4 spans. We performed in the Approaching range of Status in all four spans.
    * See explanation of terms and measures below.

    For 2018-2019, our strategic actions focused upon:

    • Planning the realignment of the instructional model by consolidating Pre-School, Pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten in a new Early Learning Center. (Standards 1 and 2)
    • Construction of a new Early Learning Center to house Pre-School, Pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten. (Standards 1 and 2)
    • Converting five schools into EleMiddle (grades 1-8) schools, thus eliminating the Middle School model in the district. (Standards 1 and 2)
    • Establishing a Career and College Readiness Division to improve access and opportunity for all students whether college or career bound. (Standard 4)
    • Identifying strategic priority projects in literacy grades Pre-K to 12th to implement in 2019-2020. (Standards 1 and 2)

    In 2019-2020, the strategic actions occurring are:

    • Opening the new Early Learning Center. (Standards 1, 2)
    • Implementing the EleMiddle Model. (Standards 1, 2)
    • Piloting three frameworks/programs for developing skills of teachers grades 1-6 in literacy instruction. At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, performance data will be analyzed and one program will be implemented districtwide to grades 1-8 in the 2020-2021 school year. (Standards 1,2)
    • Training Early Learning teachers in the LTRS approach to lay a strong foundation in literacy at the early/primary grade. (Standards 1,2)
    • Ongoing professional learning on the Envision Mathematics curriculum (Standards 1,2)
    • Implementation of a four-year Career and College Readiness Plan for grades 9-12. (Standard 3)
    • Implementing a research-based model, Think Circa for 9th graders at the high school to support strengthening literacy (reading, writing, speaking, reasoning, listening). (Standards 1,2,3)
    • Piloting a rewriting of curriculum at the high school that is “Lexile” appropriate for our students. (Standards 1,2,3)
    • Researching, analyzing, auditing, and systematically implementing improved procedures in attendance documentation. (Standard 4)

    Note: The projects listed above are based upon strategic planning documents submitted to the JEGB in June 2019. (See attached addendum.)

    Explanation of Terms and Measures on the Annual Performance Report

    There are three metrics on the Annual Performance Report: Growth, Status, and Progress.

    Growth measures the change in achievement scores for individual students over time.

    Growth is divided into three levels:

    • Exceeding: The district or school growth measure (effect) is greater than 50 and the difference from 50 is statistically significant.
    • On Track: The district or school growth measure (effect) is not statistically different from 50.
    • Floor: The district or school growth measure (effect) is less than 50 the difference from 50 is statistically significant.

    Status is a measurement of the district’s or school’s level of achievement based upon a three-year average of the MAP Performance Index (MPI).

    Status is divided into four levels as follows: 

    • Target - represents a level of performance approximately equivalent to the projected performance of the top 10 states on the corresponding National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam or, in subjects for which state-by-state NAEP data are unavailable, an equally rigorous target.
    • On Track - represents levels of increasing performance expectations with a goal of 75 percent proficient by the year 2020. 
    • Approaching - represents a level of performance equal to 100 percent Basic.
    • Floor - represents a level of performance less than 100 percent Basic.

    Progress measures annual improvement on MAP assessments. This measure is expressed as a percentage of improvement or a percentage of progress toward a goal. It holds districts accountable for continuous improvement year to year using a rolling average. In ELA, Math and Science, the progress calculation measures improvement by comparing two-year averages of data and setting targets based upon a Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE).

    Progress is divided into four levels as follows:

    • Exceeding — represents equal to or greater than five percent improvement based on the MAP Performance Index or NCE Gap.
    • On Track — represents equal to or greater than three percent but less than five percent improvement based on the MPI or NCE Gap.
    • Approaching — represents equal to or greater than 1 percent but less than three percent improvement based on the MPI or NCE Gap.
    • Floor — represents less than one percent improvement based on the MPI or NCE Gap.

    For more information on the new APR, click this link to view the Missouri School Improvement Plan Comprehensive Guide.

    For Strategic Planning Projects designed to address improvements needed for improved  academic performance, please click here: Strategic Planning Projects

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  • Promises Kept - An Update on Proposition N

    Posted by Charles J. Pearson on 10/9/2019

    To the NSC Community,

         What a difference 18 months has made!

         In 2017, the Normandy Schools Collaborative community passed Proposition N, a $23 million no-tax- rate increase bond issue. This support was a critical first step to redesigning Normandy Schools programming in ways that will provide a quality education for all children in our schools in the years to come.

         Concurrent with passing Prop N,  the Joint Executive Governing Board approved a progressive set of priorities that will lead to improved educational opportunities for all students. Those innovations included:

    • Combining Pre-School, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten on one campus
    • Implementing the EleMiddle Model—closing the Normandy 7/8 Grade Center, while opening five schools as 1-8 schools. This move will now provide a better learning environment for students grades 1-8.

         To implement this vision, Prop N funds were allocated to do the following:

    1. Build a brand new Early Learning Center to meet the needs of our youngest scholars, Pre-school to Kindergarten.
    2. Expand and improve Jefferson and Washington schools by adding a new library, secure front entrances, restrooms, classrooms, and STEM room to teach integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
    3. Renovate Bel-Nor School to prepare it to serve students grades 1-8.
    4. Complete targeted renovations at Lucas Crossing School to serve students grades 1-8

         Construction has been completed at Jefferson School and Washington School. Renovations at Bel Nor and Lucas Crossing have been completed. The EleMiddle (1-8) model was successfully rolled out this school year which we will continue to monitor to ensure the model is meeting the needs of students.

         On August 19, the Early Learning Center opened, serving the three grade levels. All classrooms and student learning spaces were ready for students when it opened. However, site work has continued and will be completed by December 2019. Outstanding projects include completion of the early childhood playground, permanent driveways and parking lots, and extensive landscaping designed to both enhance the site itself while providing a screen from Natural Bridge and traffic.

          When we proposed the 2017 bond issue, we committed to maintaining the tax rate for our residents, and we have kept that word for two years straight. At our September 30 tax rate hearing, our Joint Executive Governing Board voted to maintain the tax rate at its current level of $1.7825.

          Even as we kept this promise, the JEGB and Normandy administration have diligently worked to stabilize the district’s finances in order to provide the resources necessary for a quality education.

          In the coming months we will continue to reach out to families and community members to get your feedback on these developments or other matters you may have questions about. We will continue to post information on our website, social media platforms, and other outlets to notify you of upcoming community meetings.

          If you have questions or want to share an idea, please reach out to us at info@normandysc.org, or click the Have a Question? graphic on our home page, www.normandysc.org. You can also leave a message on our NSC Community Line, 314-493-0141.

     

     

     

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  • Homecoming 2019 - A Message for the Normandy Community

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 10/7/2019

    I want to thank all of the students, staff, and families who participated in our homecoming activities last weekend. The events that week, the parade and football game (despite the loss) made for an enjoyable way to spend time with friends, family and neighbors.

    Unfortunately, the weekend did have a low point. You probably have heard about the incident at the alumni bonfire which resulted in serious injury to five people in attendance. The alumni bonfire is an annual event that is not sponsored or affiliated with the school district, however, we know that many in the Normandy community look forward to attending this yearly celebration. We are saddened and troubled anytime violence affects members of our community, and want to reassure you that no current Normandy students were involved in this incident.  

    It’s unfortunate that, at an event intended to bring people together to celebrate and fellowship in a positive way, can have this outcome. Our thoughts are with those who were injured at the event.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Charles J. Pearson

     

     

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  • Superintendent's Update - Early Learning Center & EleMiddle Schools

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 8/22/2019

         As we begin the 2019-2020 school year, we are sharing an update on two major initiatives. First I want to take this opportunity to update you on the full scope of the Normandy Early Learning Center project and the timeline for completion.

         When this project was approved, an aggressive schedule was developed that would meet several goals in phases.

    • Goal 1: Complete the building to the point where students could enter the school at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers were able to enter the school a full two weeks before school began to allow them time to prepare classrooms. This goal was met.
    • Goal 2: Complete the demolition of the now vacated middle school building. This included three steps: 1) abate the building for all hazardous material; 2) demolish the building beginning with the section closest to the new Early Learning Center; 3) haul away all debris. This goal is on target.
    • Goal 3: Complete all site work, which includes: 1) new roads in and out of the complex; 2) new parking lots to accommodate both ELC parents, visitors and staff; 3) finish landscaping once all of the other site work is completed. These goals were part of the original schedule with the expectation that all of this work would be completed by November 2019.

         Weather had a significant impact on the construction schedule. We responded to the weather delays by implementing an aggressive schedule which continues to date. This schedule ensures that all remaining work will be completed as planned. The current schedule for completion will have sidewalks and pathways done by the end of August. The demolition of the former middle school is scheduled to be complete by mid-September, with the completion of the parking lot scheduled for mid-November. We will keep you posted on the site’s progress as more information becomes available.

           Second is the implementation of the EleMiddle model. We now have five schools, each of which is serving students in grades 1-8. Throughout the year, we will share highlights from each school as we forge ahead to build the educational system our children deserve. Our grade 1-8 schools are the foundation for more nurturing schools and better academic environments for primary, elementary and middle grade students.

          I want to personally thank you for your patience and cooperation during this time. The Normandy Early Learning Center is a state-of-the-art facility designed to prepare our children for academic success as they progress to adulthood. Our grade 1-8 schools are the foundation for more nurturing schools and better academic environments for primary, elementary and middle grade students. Please know the changes we are making are for the benefit of children. If you have specific questions, please contact us at info@normandysc.org.

         Again, thank you for your cooperation and patience as we grow and strive to provide the best for our children.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Charles J. Pearson

    #NormandyStrong

     

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  • Parents & Schools - A Partnership for Student Success

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 8/13/2019

    Monday, August 19 is the first day of school and we can’t wait to see our students and families. As superintendent, my charge is to provide the best education for our students. Our students are intelligent, inquisitive, talented and deserve great opportunities.

    There are some changes for the upcoming school year, changes made to help our students continue the improvements made over the last four years.

    Our state-recognized early childhood program and Kindergarten  are moving to a state-of-the-art facility, the Normandy Early Learning Center. This Center will provide students the strong start we know is important to future success.

    Our five elementary schools have transformed to EleMiddle Schools. These 1-8 schools will provide elementary and middle grade experiences to students in a neighborhood school environment. STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) takes on a major focus this year with the addition of renovated spaces in the EleMiddle Schools. We are strengthening our curriculum at the elementary/middle grade levels to ensure our students have a solid foundation in math and literacy.

    We are working with companies and colleges to better align our high school courses with student interests and regional employer needs. There are multiple pathways to success for young people today. Our goal is to ensure students are prepared for many options ahead of them. Each of these changes was designed to create greater opportunity for our students to learn.

    To fully experience a quality education, we need every child at school the first day, every day and all day this year. Attendance matters in children learning, getting to know routines, and building relationships with teachers and classmates.

    If you have questions or concerns about your child’s class or any other school-related matter, please let us know. Principals and teachers are here to work in partnership for our children. You can contact us via email, phone, or through the website. Working as partners for the good of our children is how we will be successful.

    Thank you, and together, let’s have a great school year!

    #NormandyStrong

    Changing Lives Today. Educating for the Future!

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  • The Parent Factor

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 6/3/2019

    “It takes a village to raise a child” is an Igbo and Yoruba proverb that emphasizes the value of family and community in those cultures. This sentiment is reflected similarly in cultures all over the world because of a common understanding: It takes a team of caring adults to ensure that our children grow up safely, learn deeply, and mature into the kind of adults who will make the world a better place.

    As we end the 2018-2019 school year, I want to thank our parents for their support and contributions to the Collaborative.

    Study after study has shown two facts about schools. The quality of the teacher has the greatest impact on a student learning. The teacher’s mastery of the content, and the teacher’s ability to develop respectful relationships with students make a huge difference in the education of children. The second greatest school impact is the quality of the principal. The Principal leads the creation of the culture of the school, implements the systems that support effective teaching and learning, and provides critical feedback to teachers so they get better and better. These are called “in-school” factors.

    son and daughter with mom The most important factor however is an “out-of-school” factor — parents. As a parent, you send children to school from loving and nurturing homes, homes where the values of the family have been communicated. You send us your best, your hope for the future. The opportunity we have each school year is to make sure that there is a home-school learning connection. Children must be supported in seeing the connection within the village. They must see the adults in their lives outside of school, and the adults in their lives in schools, as part of the same village.

    Parents play a vital role. Here are some tips to help encourage year-round learning. Students will progress further and faster and benefit from healthy relationships.

    • Talk with your children from birth, and keep talking to them. Language is learned through conversation and interactions.
    • Talk about how much you value education. Share how you continuously work to learn more each day.
    • Talk about high aspirations. Say, “Do your best, aim for an ‘A.’ You can do it, and I am here to help!”
    • Talk about “future” aspirations. Say, “When you go to college, or when you own your own business, or when you own a home, not ‘if’.
    • Ensure your child reads and does some math every single day. This is the best way for children to progress. Read to them. Read with them. Talk about what is read. Make counting games at the store, at the movies, while they help you around the house.
    • Use positive words about school, even when you are experiencing a challenge with a school. Children need to know that the adults are working through their challenges. Children will then focus on learning.

    Educators, families, institutions like the library, social services, businesses, churches, and law enforcement are all the village. Collectively, children will be well if we, the village, truly work together.

    In August 2019, the new Early Learning Center will open, creating a new space that brings our youngest scholars together. These children will experience effective teaching that gets them ready for elementary education. All five of our former 1-6 schools will become 1-8 schools. This will ensure that these schools operate more like neighborhood or community schools. Children will experience fewer transitions, develop longer relationships with the adults in the school, and have more nurturing environment in the middle grades while still experiencing the most effective middle grade instructional practices.

    This is a significant amount of change. It is both exciting and high stakes. We believe, however, that these changes will be more supportive of students having the quality educational experience they deserve.

    As Superintendent of Schools, and a fellow member of the village, I thank each of you for sending us your best!

     

    #NormandyStrong

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  • Teacher Appreciation Week - Thank You for Riding the Wave

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 5/9/2019

        This week we join school districts across the country to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week! This time is set aside to express gratitude to each of our teachers for their commitment to excellence to our children.

    surfer riding a wave      We began this school year discussing the “Surfer” metaphor. We talked about the qualities of the great surfer. The surfer equips himself or herself for the wave by practicing until their technique is perfected. The surfer does not control the wave. Rather, he or she chooses a big wave as it roars in, and rides it. The ride is uneven, high risk, loud, and fast. The surfer is at different positions on the wave throughout the journey. If the surfer washes out, he is tethered to the surf board for a quick recovery. Then he gets back on the board to ride again.

         Our teachers have shown themselves to be tenacious “surfers” -- this year in particular. These educators have demonstrated the growth mindset to keep getting better. For that and so much more, and to them I say thank you!

         On behalf of the Joint Executive Governing Board, I salute our teachers for their continued commitment to doing what is morally right for our children!

    #NORMANDYSTRONG

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  • A Balanced View of State Assessments

    Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 4/15/2019

         One of the great challenges in today’s world of education is to balance the reality of state assessments and the weight they carry, against the work that we do each and every day with children.

         Normandy has just completed its first week of MAP, the state’s annual round of assessments in English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Students in grades 3 through 8 are tested in English Language Arts and Math. Students in grades 5 and 8 are tested in science. High school students are tested in four classes: English I, Algebra II, Biology, and Social Studies. The high school exams are called End of Course (EOC) Exams, but serve the same purpose as the MAP. In many circles, these test results determine if we have been successful in our efforts to provide a sound education to our students. These assessments will stretch over a four-week period, so we have three more weeks to go.

          I mentioned the word “balance” earlier. While our children and our schools will be judged on how they perform on these assessments, it is vital that we all see this as just a part of the daily work that we do. Our expectations must always be high. Our actions must always be intentional. Attendance must always be a focus. Getting rest for school and having a sound nutritious meal must always be a priority if we expect our students to do their best. Our students must always understand that they will be judged by how they perform in the world—as with any other job or career. They must also know that they are smart, capable, resilient, and equal to anyone else they encounter. They have what it takes to be successful!

          We will continue to give these messages to our students on a daily basis just as you will give these same messages at home. We will continue to maintain a learning environment at school as you continue to encourage learning at home.

          And our children will demonstrate who they are and what they know. Thank you for your continued partnership with the district!

     

     #NORMANDYSTRONG

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