2019.10.4 – The Saxe Weekly (10.10)

October 4, 2019

** Please note: this edition of the Saxe Weekly was posted after the original 10/4 date due to connectivity issues last week and a .pdf was sent out through email. Fortunately, it was able to be uploaded and will now be archived on the saxems.com site. Better late than never!

Dear Saxe Family,

With Celebrate Saxe in full-swing and all four Open Houses in the past five school days, we have had a lot of action at Saxe! This week, we take a look at a world-renowned athlete/visitor, Math, Language Arts, World Language, Town Hall Meetings, new staff, our SRO, a mascot update, the latest one-second everyday, and more!

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Dave Gusitsch

Principal, Saxe Middle School

Upcoming Noteworthy Dates:

10/7 – BOE meeting

10/9 – No School, Yom Kippur

10/11 – Grade 5/6 Walk to School Day (rescheduled)

Want to check out the “Saxe Weekly” from last week? You’re one click away, here.

*Quotes that resonated with us this week:

“The happiest people in life are the givers….. not the getters.”

“A negative mind will never give you a positive life.”

“Don’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one.”

“There is no failure. You either win or you learn.”

Back again for this week – the latest, updated Saxe Middle School 1-Second Everyday! “Life is made of seconds.” Check out a few seconds from each day of 2019 (so far), showcasing so much of what makes Saxe Middle School great. This is a recurring, bi-weekly feature. At the end of the year, we will have a full version that includes every single day of the 2019-20 school year. Enjoy!

Pro tip: want to enjoy it more? Set your youtube playback setting to play at .75 speed

Celebrate Saxe

Thank you to all of our wonderful PTC members who have helped kickoff Celebrate Saxe in historic style! This week, we welcomed NCAA, Olympic, and World Champion soccer player Kristine Lilly! She captivated the crowd with her message as well as her talent. Ms. Lilly was able to connect with all students by stressing the importance of taking care of the little things, dreaming big, being kind to one another, and being aware of “who you represent” (your school, family, town, state, country, etc.). It is not everyday you get to be in the company of someone who has performed at the highest level for over two decades, but also is a terrific, down to earth person…

Here is Saxe Science teacher, Ms. Veach, using her head and volleying with Kristine Lilly. They “brought down the house” with their skills!

Thank you to everyone who has participated in Celebrate Saxe, at any level. Your participation and contributions allow us to dream big and provide amazing, meaningful experiences for your children!

Kristine Lilly’s newly released book:

Congrats to the spirited 7th-grade!


Mrs. Berry’s 5th Grade Class has been practicing problem solving in collaborative groups. Students used specific group roles to demonstrate grit, collaboration, and make connections. Part of being a successful mathematician is the ability to problem solve, persevere and justify thinking.

Student Roles:

Organizer: Keep the group together and focused on the problem; make sure no one is talking to people outside of the group. Make sure your group reads all the way through the problem together before you begin. “Who wants to read? Does everyone get what to do?”

Resource Manager: You are the only person that leave the group to get materials for your team. Make sure all questions are team questions and make sure everyone is ready before you call the teacher.

Understander: Make sure all ideas are explained so everyone is happy with them. If you don’t understand, ask whoever had the idea… if you do, make sure that everyone else does too. Remind your team to find reasons for each mathematical statement and search for connections among the different statements. “How do you know that for sure?”

Includer: You are the team captain. Make sure everyone’s ideas are listened to; invite other people to make suggestions. Organize and record your team’s results and make sure they show everyone’s ideas. Use color, arrows, and other math tools to communicate your mathematics, reasons, and connections. Make sure that all the important parts of your explanation get written down. You are the only one that will submit your group’s work. Be ready to join the teacher for a huddle.

Mr. White’s received their Unit 1 Assessment scores back and each student completed a reflection via Google Forms. We then looked at some of the reflection data together and discussed how this unit went and what could be next steps as we enter our second unit. We used a new smartboard that’s being piloted to collaborate and share thoughts as a class.

Students in grade 8 have been working on the Pythagorean theorem. Students had to use what they know to determine if a triangle is a right triangle. It is important for students to apply the theorem and not rely on whether it appears that way on the coordinate plane. Problem-solving strategies and logical reasoning skills were applied to justify their answers.

English Language Arts

As the English Language Arts department continues to work toward goals of independence and choice to inspire and cultivate a love of reading and writing, teachers are working diligently to create environments in their classroom to mirror these goals. Teachers are building spaces to include diverse, exciting classroom libraries and welcoming places that encourage students to take risks and read ferociously and critically. In their book, Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters (2017), reading experts Kylene Beers and Bob Probst say, “Ten minutes. Ten minutes a day of focused, silent reading has the potential to change a child’s academic life, and that might, in turn, change her life’s trajectory” (p. 136). The ELA Department is working closely with consultant Chris Lehman from Educator Collaborative to continue to inspire the love and joy of independent reading/writing into our rigorous ELA curriculum. Please ask your child what independent book they are reading, and don’t hesitate to read aloud with him or her! Connecting through books and literature (at any age) is a great way to discuss relevant issues kids may be facing and may be wrestling to understand. If they need a great new book to read, please have your child reach out to his/her teacher or browse wonderful selections in the Library Media Center. There are so many great books from which to choose!

In addition to new, exciting titles and shelves to grow classroom libraries, ELA teachers are also testing out new document cameras, and white-board desks (in 5th grade) to enhance teaching and learning. Check out are a few exciting ELA classrooms around Saxe!

Above: Ben Young’s (7th grade) “Shelfie” wall highlights the independent reading books kids are reading!

Above: Sue Devine (5th grade) uses the new whiteboard desks for small group instruction, EI work, and collaboration!

Above: Karen Mangino (8th grade) organized her library to make it easy for kids to find a great book! Look at all the books 8th-grade blue students have read so far!

Above: Dana Taylor’s (6th grade) classroom library is filled with great new books!

Above: Tara Thomas (7th grade) created fun spaces for kids to read and collaborate.

Town Hall Meetings

This year, each team and/or grade-level will be meeting on a monthly basis for “Town Hall Meetings”. Goals include, but are not limited to, team-building, focusing on school values, student voice & choice, living the “middle school model”, and having some fun! Below are some pictures from grade 6 this week.

A few words from 6-Blue:

“As mentioned, we took the time to commend our team for the smooth transition and great start to this school year. We told them how impressed we have been with how kind they are with each other and how they are living out the charter…”

World Language – Spanish

Fifth-grade FLES students are off to a great start! They have been utilizing pictures (some from social studies classes for cross-curriculum exposure) to spark their prior knowledge of describing what they see and what they like as well as to pose a question to name a few! Students will start to describe themselves and others in the coming weeks.

In this photo, students work diligently to write sentences to describe what activities are possible to do in various places.

6th-grade Spanish students are exploring how to describe themselves and others in our TODO SOBRE MI unit. We are enjoying learning to speak, write, listen and sometimes even SING as we delve deeper into our curriculum learning subject pronouns, adjectives and common phrases in Spanish. In the video below, In the video link provided below, 6th-grade students Soraya and Emily help us remember the subject pronouns. Can you remember them all?


In this photo, students are practicing to match subject pronouns with correct verb forms with an all Spanish activity!

Students in 7th grade Spanish are enjoying learning about the role that food plays within a culture as they compare and contrast breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Spanish speaking countries to their own culture. In the photo below, students are sharing their “Aventura de Comer” food field trip in which they pretended to fly to a different country for each meal of the day. Students actively listened and reflected about what countries they wanted to visit as they actively listened to their peers describe the dishes utilizing unit vocabulary and grammar. It is proving to be a DELICIOUS first unit!

In this photo, 7th-grade students are speaking in the target language about their meals of the day on Lingt Language and recording themselves for teacher feedback.

8th-grade Spanish students are enjoying applying prior knowledge, grammar and vocabulary to write, speak and listen in the target language. In the photo below, 8th-grade students are on a “virtual field trip” to Mallorca, Spain and are taking in the sights to then write and speak about the experience. iBuen viaje a nuestros estudiantes!

Welcome to Saxe!

We are pleased to introduce a few new members to our Saxe Family. Please join us in welcoming three new Teaching Assistants to the Lower Division!

Michael Oxley is joining the Saxe staff as a Braille transcriptionist and Teaching Assistant in the Lower Division. Michael comes to us from Stamford where he played a similar role supporting a visually impaired student.

Kristin Aug joins us from Brookfield Middle School where she has extensive experience supporting students in grades 5-8. Kristin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Adelphi University and is also supporting the students in Frozen, Jr.

Jack Rakoczy holds a Bachelors degree in Communication from High Point University. He is currently a freshman football assistant coach at New Canaan High School, as well.

Continuous Improvement

In the spirit of best serving all of our students, 6th-grade teachers Alicia Collins and Brett Gillan attended a BEZBE workshop to learn more about braille.

Saxe Open Houses

Grades 5, 7, & 8 held their Open Houses this week, which were a huge hit! Thank you to everyone who came out to meet your children’s teachers. Participation was great and the feedback from parents was terrific. A special thanks (again) to our PTC for providing food, snacks, spirit wear, and information about joining in on Celebrate Saxe!

SRO in Action

Our awesome School Resource Officer, Jeff Deak, with his new 5th-Grade Deputies as they patrolled recess today!

Saxe Mascot Update

After receiving 100+ nominations, the Saxe Mascot Committee met and whittled down the list to include submissions that were: most frequent, unique to Saxe, and would represent our school community with everyone proudly rallying around!

Shoemakers (&/or Cobblers)

– Unique mascot for Saxe

– Historical connection to NC

– Alliteration

Green Dragons

– Unique mascot for Saxe

– Fun logos & representations/depictions

– “Previous” mascot (short-term)

– Can have a variety of positive characteristics


– Popular NCHS mascot

– Current logos & representations/depictions

– Familiar


– Unique mascot for Saxe

– Excellent logos & representations/depictions

– Found all around New Canaan, can often be seen around Saxe

– Positive attributes / connotations

Stay tuned as we solicit more student, staff, and community participation to soon announce our Saxe mascot!

Have a great week!

* A special thanks to Mary Calabrese for the continuous stream of positive, optimistic quotes!

Saxe Resources (live links)

Website: https://www.ncps-k12.org/saxe PTC: http://www.saxeptc.org/

Twitter: @SaxeMS Weekly: SaxeMS.com

Saxe Middle School

Celebrating Our Learning Community Through Caring, Communication & Commitment

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