Palmer Elementary: A community of learners

Palmer Elementary strives to provide students and their families with a feeling of community, a strong connection between school and home. The school officially kicked off the year with its annual community dinner and open house at the end of September.

Principal Steven Frey said the popular pasta dinner serves as a transitional activity each year for families and students as they are easing themselves back into the routine of reading, writing and arithmetic. The dinner is just the first of many activities at the school geared toward building and sustaining a sense of community. With the support of a strong PTA, Palmer is able to host several events throughout the year to strengthen the connection between home and school.

Because reading is an essential building block in a child's education, the PTA has sponsored three family book nights this year to provide parents with an opportunity to shop for books with their children in the school setting. The PTA also hosted two family-friendly movie nights at school.

This year Palmer kicked off its 12-week PARP reading program in November with a special PTA-sponsored assembly. Representatives from the MOST gave a presentation on the planets to generate excitement in the PARP theme -- "Reading is Out of This World." The students also experienced a laser light show focusing on space and the planets. Students were encouraged to read for at least 20 minutes each night with a parent or another adult. Over the course of the program, Palmer students read a total of 434,709 minutes, which is roughly 7,245 hours.

Reaching out to future students

Principal Frey said that the connection between Palmer and the community extends to families with children who are not enrolled in school yet. This is the second year that Palmer has reached out to these families with the READy for Kindergarten program. The program, which is funded through a grant from the Kiwanis Club as well as funding from the school's PTA, invites future Palmer kindergarteners and their families into school several times during the year to ease their transition into kindergarten. Through various activities, staff members share learning strategies with parents that they can do with their children during the coming year. The children meet future teachers and participate in activities in physical education, art, music and library so that they become familiar with what they will be doing as kindergarteners.

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