Dear Birney families,
A lot has changed at Birney since I began as principal in 2002, and we continue to rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of a very diverse student population. Our relentless focus on student achievement is reflected in our yearly growth on the Academic Performance Index. We aim to continue this success for every student at Birney, but growth in test scores are just a small part of what makes our school thrive.
You are an integral part of our program, and you are key to its success. Becoming a world-class organization requires teamwork, and we are better every year at working together in the service of our Birney students. Our motto is “Think globally, learn locally,” which means we take into account the global perspective in addition to our own, and we recognize and respect the last thought in the IBO’s mission statement which is that “Other people, with their differences, may also be right.”
The Birney community thrives when everyone remembers to be caring, contributing and inquiring members. We acknowledge that academic success is paramount for all of us, yet the Birney goal is to also make sure that every child’s time here is memorable, enjoyable and successful. Every classroom at Birney has an expansive library, in addition to the state-of-the-art central library with books, movies, games and a media center. All classes are equipped with document cameras, projectors and amplification equipment. Grades 3, 4 and 5 also have class sets of notebooks or iPads, as well as Promethean SmartBoard technology. Primary classes are equipped with AlphaSmart NeoBoards as well as 5-8 Thin Client computer work-stations. Every child has weekly PE, art, Spanish and other enriching classes. In addition, you will find plenty of after-school enrichment classes such as gardening, theatre and dance.
To make sure our community remains balanced, we have a tradition of school wide fitness events which are fun for the students and adults alike, as well as a daily running club with weekly ‘mile runner’ timing events. In the fall, we raise funds for the American Heart Association with the ‘Jump for Heart’ event; the March “Run for the Green’ Jogathon is a major fund raiser, and our summer Field Day and “Minute-to-Win-It” celebrate student fitness. So you can see we try to offer our students a variety of ways to experience success and the confidence that comes with it.
It is important for our teachers to feel valued as well. They benefit from at least 2 hours of weekly collaborative reflection time to plan and analyze students’ progress while their students participate in enriched curriculum called ‘Specials’; we find this to be a very productive time for teachers and students alike. In addition, each grade level has 45-60 minutes of preparation time by contract. Our teachers are also offered IB training as our budget permits, as well as on-site and district-based professional development. However, we find that the most effective staff learning occurs during the reflection collaboratives when teachers are analyzing student work, determining the next steps for instruction and planning for the IB curriculum.
We work closely with our parent and community volunteers to maximize the many opportunities for our community’s enrichment. Our growing PTA and Friends of Alice Birney Foundation (FOAB) have contributed enormously to our success, and we hope to continue to strengthen our partnership with our amazing volunteers. FOAB has committed to supporting our school financially in these tough budget times. Together, these amazing school organizations have committed together to raising $100,000 this year in order to support our specialist classes, assemblies, field trips and the Birney library.
There is a real village contributing to Alice Birney Elementary, made up of individuals and groups who consider our success important to the community; please feel welcome as you become part of our community; our school is a dynamic, busy place. We value your feedback, especially if it comes with a solution or suggestion, and we continuously strive to improve our school. We hope that this is evident in the progress made by every child. Each year we measure our success in many ways, using ‘hard data’ such as the STAR test data we receive every fall, as well as ‘soft data’, such as your comments and feedback or our students’ reflections as they move through the grades.
I hope the information on this website will help you navigate the school year successfully, but if you can’t find the information in here, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You will also receive a weekly newsletter with important information, as well as regular phone calls and emails reminding you of calendared events. Please let me know if I can help you in any way, I am just a phone call or email away! Have a wonderful school year!