Reasons to be thankful.


I love this time of year.  It is an occasion to stop  dashing about and think about the wonderful things in my life.  Of the many things I have to be thankful for in my life,  some of the more immediate ones are:

  • fresh cranberries
  • fresh cranberry sauce
  • a wonderful husband  of 10 years who shares my quirky sense of humor
  • a challenging new job
  • talented people to work with
  • health care for my son and husband
  • a comfy house
  • living closer to my Mummy and Vermont friends
  • Nutella
  • Ann Patchett’s latest novel sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read
  • Eoin’s great report card this term
  • a new coffee maker

It is a time to fest, celebrate the harvest, to count the many blessings in our lives and to be thankful.  More importantly, it is a time to think of others and create a positive impact by sharing our blessings with others.  This can come in the form of giving of your time, talents or financial support.   It is a time to  reach out and offer a hand of support to others in our community who are in need.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Summer plans…version 2013

What are you planning for your upcoming summer? Traveling? Family reunions? Summer Camp? Summer reading?

disneycastleWith the end of the school year around the corner, the Potwins have a few plans ahead of them. A short get away to Disney is definitely in the cards. One last pilgrimage to the Land of the Mouse before the crowds get too cumbersome, as well as the Florida humidity rises to similar levels found only in the thickest portion of the Amazon Jungle.

Since both Mr. Potwin and I will be working most of the summer, preparing forlakechamplain the coming school year as well as shuttling between summer camps, travel will be limited. Sadly our annual ( and relaxing) Vermont fishing trip will not happen, much to the collective relief of all bass fish in Lake Champlain.

Much of my reading will be centered around many of the titles on the newly announced Sunshine flwinnState list, in addition to my course work reading about Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. This preparatory reading will help me better understand the lessons during my National Endowment for the Humanities – Landmarks in American History grant. In mid July, I will be traveling to Iowa to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and writings. Thank you NEH for selecting me as part of your program.  Thankfully, I am attending  the American Library Association conference. Woohie!  chicagoala The annual ALA conference will beheld this year in one of my favorite city’s , Chicago, home of the ALA (and Intelligensia Coffee– yummie! ). With luck, I will be able to meetup with my two rockstar librarian idols…Nancy Pearl and Sarah Houghton.

easy-to-make-christmas-ornaments-simple-craftsTime off will be spend with Eoin, traveling to local museums , reading and doing arts and crafts. Normally, we work on our Christmas crafts in the summer months, as that December is too busy a month to fully enjoy the intricate nuances of glue and glitter and paint and fun foam.  We are eagerly awaiting the release of the diary_of_a_wimpy_kid_ver84th Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie this August as that Eoin and I are reading Jeff Kinney’s books in tandem. The reality of my son turning 8 years old this summer is shocking; my baby was just born, or so it seems, and now he is a healthy and active 8 year old who loves to read, count everything, thinks math is the coolest subject, wants to be a football player/ restauranteur/teacher/Lego brick designer. Where did the time go?

Field trip to Edison Ford Winter Estates


During IQ week, I was excited to be invited to join the team of chaperones for the grade five field trip to the Edison Ford Winter Estates  in Fort Myers,  Florida.  Our students  toured both historic homes, learned about the lush botanical gardens, discussed the history of these two inventors, made a polymer  gunk mixture, flew Bernoulli balls and experiments with  electrical circuits.  Thank you Mrs. Caskey, Mrs. York, Mrs. Mandel and Mrs. Boothby for  and engaging day.














End of year round up


20130520-073223.jpgIt is that time of year again.  Bravo to the many who have returned their library items so far… still many items out.  A new batch of courtesy notices have been sent on 5/17.  Mrs. Potwin will be digging around in your classrooms and in cubbies to help you.  Please look high and low.  Missing items will be billed to  student accounts this week.

398.2 revisited, grade 1

20130510-092202.jpgToday, my 398.2 section came to life in the grade one classrooms.  Students have been studying various cultural versions of Cinderella, read Peas Porridge Hot,  recited the Princess and the Pea, wrote about the Enormous Turnip, create wanted posters of the Big Bad Wolf, created sculptural castles and dance a fairy tale medieval dance.  It was been a fairy tale whirl wind of a day. It is always a pleasure to work with the grade one teaching team to better promote youth literacy.

















A job well done, my friends!

Is there a Doctor in the house?

20130425-141917.jpgToday, we collectively feted our Head of School, Mrs. Jan Pullen, on the occasion of her successful doctoral defense. Officially, she will walk at Penn’s 2013 Convocation ceremony in early May to accept her certificate and related honors. Today, Mrs. Pullen…er… Dr. Pullen….. had the chance to practice by running the Gauntlet in the Falcon Courtyard, flanked by students and staff of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School. We are immensely proud of you and your dedicated work. Bravo!


This will now bring our PhD staff members to 4. With a handful of co-workers at various stages of their respective doctoral programs, this number will rise in the coming years. The majority of Saint Stephen’s staff hold a Master’s degree (yet we all have a love of education and children), thus making our school a challenging and warm learning environment. Come visit us

Sunshine State Young Reader 2013-2014 books are announced….

If you are seeking the 2014-2015 Sunshine State Young Readers List,  please click here.  


It’s here! In anticipation of summertime reading, the new 2013-2014 Florida Sunshine State Young Reader’s list has been  announced. To all Saint Stephen’s children entering grade 4-5-6, you will be eligible to participate in our reading program. I would encourage you to be reading these books over the summer months, making notes at the end of each chapter. You may read from either the grade 3-5 list, or the grade 6-8 list. Please make sure that your parent is aware of what you are reading.

During the school year, Intermediate School children are invited to read at least 5 books from the recommended list, then take and pass the accompanying Accelerated Reader test. Children who read at least 5 books are then invited to our voting party on Wednesday April 9th, 2014.  In  April 2013, 26 IS students attended our afternoon voting party off campus. Aliens on Vacation, received the most votes  at SSES.

Accelerated Reader testing can begin on Monday August 19th, 2013, Open House Day. Why not join us in April 2014? Why not read some of these books over the summer months? Enjoy!

SSYRA 2013-14 – Elementary (Grades 3-5)
Angleberger, Tom. Fake mustache, or, How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved thfakemustachee U.S.
Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind. (AR 4.6)

Lenny Flem Jr. is the only one standing between his evil-genius best friend Casper and world domination as Casper uses a spectacularly convincing fake mustache and the ability to hypnotize to rob banks, amass a vast fortune, and run for president.

Applegate, Katherine. One and Only Ivan. (AR 3.6)IVANAN

When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.

Breitrose, Prudence. Mousenet. (AR 6.0)MOUSENE

Sent to live with her chef father and his wife in Oregon after having stayed with her inventor uncle and scientist mother in Cincinnati, ten-year-old misfit Megan is lonely until she starts working with some computer-savvy mice to try to save Mouse Nation–and the planet.
Carman, Patrick. Floors. ( AR 5.7)

The Whippet Hotel’s truly unique, with features like the Cake Room, where delicious sweets are stocked daily, and the Flying Farm Room, which is populated by flying animal holograms. But since owner-architect Merganzer Whippet vanished 100 days earlier, the hotel’s caretakers, 10-year-old Leo and his father, are completely in charge of looking after the guests. Then Leo discovers a mysterious box with a note that warns Leo of the hotel’s future and includes enigmatic instructions for tasks that, when completed, might help protect it. With only FLOORdays to succeed, Leo jumps into an adventure-filled, suspenseful quest through secret rooms on hidden floors to locate other boxes. Aided by a young friend, a feisty duck, and a chatty robot, Leo must use his wits and courage to save the hotel before the letter’s deadline. Mixing mystery; colorfully drawn, offbeat characters; and some Willy Wonka–evoking flourishes, this series starter offers an absorbing, entertaining read with an appealing and sympathetic protagonist. Fantastical inventions and humorous scenarios abound, but the story also sensitively explores themes of loss, healing, and family.YEARBOO
Cheng, Andrea. The Year of the Book. (AR3.6)

Follows a young Chinese American girl, as she navigates relationships with family, friends, and her fourth-grade classroom, and finds a true best friend.
THOMADRAGCrum, Shutta. Thomas and the Dragon Queen. (AR 5.3)

When the princess is kidnapped by a dragon queen, thirteen-year-old Thomas, a new–and very small–squire-in-training boldly sets out on a quest to rescue her.

Graff, Lisa. Double Dog Dare.  (AR 4.4)DOUBLEDO

When Kansas Bloom moves to California and joins the Media Club at school, he soon finds himself trying to outdo one of the other fourth-grade students in a “dare war” while vying for the job of on-air video homeroom announcer.

MELLKelly, Katie. Melonhead. (AR 4.0)

In the Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Capitol Hill, Lucy Rose’s friend Adam “Melonhead” Melon, a budding inventor with a knack for getting into trouble, enters a science contest that challenges students to recycle an older invention into a new invention.

Lord, Cynthia. Touch Blue. (AR 4.4)TOUCH

When the state of Maine threatens to shut down their island’s one-room schoolhouse because of dwindling enrollment, eleven-year-old Tess, a strong believer in luck, and her family take in a trumpet-playing foster child, to increase the school’s population.

WAITINGMAGIMacLachlan, Patricia. Waiting for the Magic. (AR 3.0)

In absence of their father, a brother and sister adopt four dogs and a cat in an attempt to save their family.


Mass, Wendy. The Candymakers.  (AR 5.0)

Four gifted twelve-year-olds, including Logan, the candymaker’s son, are set to be contestants in the Confectionary Association’s national competition to determine the nation’s tastiest sweet, but nobody anticipates that a friendship will form between them.

Rocklin, Joanne. The Five Lives of our Cat Zook.  (AR  4.5)ZOOK

In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, convinced he can only get better at home with them, Oona tells Fred the story of Zook’s previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives has echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan—whom Oona secretly calls “the villain.” The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.

GLORYScattergood, Augusta. Glory Be. (AR 4.3)

Gloriana faces her twelfth birthday in 1964 and struggles with the changes she sees happening around her, but while she struggles to understand the shift in her relationships with her sister–who is about to enter high school–and her best friend, Frankie, Gloriana witnesses tempers rise in a debate over a segregated public pool.

WISHSTEALTrivas, Tracey. Wish Stealers, The. (AR 4.4)

Years ago pennies were stolen from a wishing fountain, and it falls to Griffin to set things right, but he will undoubtedly face grave dangers on his quest.

WhitesiJANITOdes, Taylor. Janitors. (AR 5.1)

The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it’s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy Gullible Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. First in a new series.

SSYRA 2013-2014 Middle School (6-8)

Buckingham, Royce. The Dead Boys. (AR 5.3)

In the desert town of Richland, Washington, there stands a giant sycamore tree. Horribly mutated by nuclear waste, it feeds on the life energy of boysDEADBO that it snags with its living roots. And when Teddy Matthews moves to town, the tree trains its sights on its next victim. From the start, Teddy knows something is very wrong with Richland-every kid he meets disappears before his eyes. A trip to the cemetery confirms that these boys are actually dead and trying to lure him to the tree. But that knowledge is no help when Teddy is swept into the tree’s world, a dark version of Richland from which there is no escape . . .

GIRLTHREWBUTTERCochrane, Mick. The Girl Who Threw Butterflies. (AR 5.1)

Eighth-grader Molly’s ability to throw a knuckleball earns her a spot on the baseball team, which not only helps her feel connected to her recently deceased father, who loved baseball, it helps in other aspects of her life, as well.

Fagan, Deva. Circus Galacticus. (AR 4.2)CIRC

Trix, an orphan charity case at a snobbish boarding school, is given a glimpse at a whole new world full of potential friends and deadly enemies when the Circus Galaticus comes to town.

FREETHAGosselink, John. Free Thaddeus.(AR 7)

Twelve-year-old Thaddeus A. Ledbetter, who considers it a duty to share his knowledge and talent with others, refutes each of the charges which have sent him to “In-School Suspension” for the remainder of seventh grade.

Hiaasen, Carl . Chomp. (AR 5.2)CHOM

The difficult star of the reality television show, “Expedition Survival,” disappears on location in the Florida Everglades, where they were filming animals from the wildlife refuge run by Wahoo Crane’s family, and Wahoo and classmate Tuna Gordon set out to find him, but they must avoid Tuna’s gun-happy father.

ONEMUR[HHunt, Lynda. One for the Murphys. (AR 3.4)

Carley struggles with being open to love after she suffers a betrayal that forces her to move in with a foster family.

LEGENLu, Marie. Legend. (AR 4.8)

In a dark future, when North America has split into two warring nations, fifteen-year-olds Day, a famous criminal, and prodigy June, the brilliant soldier hired to capture him, discover that they have a common enemy.

Meyer, Marissa. Cinder. (AR 5.8)CINDE

Cinder, a gifted mechanic and a cyborg with a mysterious past, is blamed by her stepmother for her stepsister’s illness while a deadly plague decimates the population of New Beijing, but when Cinder’s life gets intertwined with Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle.

Nielsen, Jennifer A. The False Prince. (AR 5.1)FALSEPRIBN

In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition to be selected to impersonate the king’s long-missing son in an effort to avoid a civil war.

WONDEPalacio, R.J. Wonder. (AR 4.8)

Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunts and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

Price, Lissa. Starters. (AR 3.9)START

Sixteen-year-old Callie, having lost every family member besides her little brother when a genocide spore killed all of those who were not vaccinated, thinks she has found a way to support them by renting her body to seniors who want to be young again, but after a neurochip malfunction results in her being stuck in the life of her rich renter, she uncovers the horrible plan of her boss and must race against time to stop it.

OKAY4Schmidt, Gary. Okay For Now. (AR 4.9)

Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck faces many challenges, including an abusive father, a brother traumatized by Vietnam, suspicious teachers and police officers, and isolation, but when he meets a girl known as Lil Spicer, he develops a close relationship with her and finds a safe place at the lMILLOocal library.

Silberberg, Alan. Milo –Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze. (AR 5.5.)

In love with the girl he sneezed on the first day of school and best pals with Marshall, the “One Eyed Jack” of friends, seventh-grader Milo Cruikshank misses his mother whose death has changed everything at home.

UNDERGREENSullivan, Laura. Under the Green Hill. ( AR 6.8)

While staying with distant relatives in England, Americans Rowan, Meg, Silly, and James Morgan, with their neighbors Dickie Rhys and Finn Fachan, learn that one of them must fight to the death in the Midsummer War required by the local fairies.

Yee, Lisa. Warp Speed. ( AR 4.0)WARPSPE

Marley Sandelski has always felt invisible at school when he is not facing bullies, but a series of unexpected events gives him a taste of popularity and insights into some classmates who are well-liked or greatly-feared.

Money Smart Week, 2013

moneysamrtweek logo

During the week of April 21-28, the Money Smart Week’s mission is to promote personal financial literacy by partnering with community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations and other financial experts to help consumers learn to better manage their personal finances. Bravo to the American Library Association for partnering with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to bring this  valuable life skill to the forefront.  Libraries are a perfect place of consumers to access materials to become better informed about their finance management .

To better foster our children’s emerging money management skills, a list of some of the many up to date and useful  books relating to teen/children’s  economic literacy are as follows. America…your challenge is understand your money;  treat it well and it will treat you even better…to paraphrase Susie Orman.

 msamrtaboutmoney]101 ways to be smart about money by Rebecca Vickers

Offers 101 facts and tips that will help readers save and spend wisely and also includes information about credit.

All about money: the history , culture and meaning of modern finance by Rae Simons

Budgeting smarts: how to set goals, save money, spend wisely and more

by savingbasicsSandra Donovan

This book explores budgeting from all angles. You’ll discover how to make your own budget, how to evaluate your financial goals and priorities to make sure you have money for the things you really care about, and much more.

moneysenseConsumer Sense By Andrew Einspruch

Gives tips on how to be a smart consumer, including how to assess needs and wants, what to know about consumer rights and responsibilities, how to handle peer pressure and how to get the most out of your money.

Cost of living by Helen Thompsoncostofliving

An introduction to cost of living that provides information and answers related questions, covering costs associated with eating, wearing clothes, having fun, and other aspects of life; inflation; the consumer price index; and more.

dollars and senseDollars and Sense: developing good money habits by John Burstein

Helps children develop smart money skills, explaining the importance of saving, offering tips for earning money, and describing how to set up an effective budget.

Economies around the world by Gail Fayeconomiesaroundworld

Explores how money flows in an economy, what a free-market economy is, and which countries have a command economy.

how debt and defaultHow debt and default affect you by Philip Wolny

This informed and easy-to-follow volume defines and describes debt and default and how they affect the average person and his or her family. Causes and effects of different kinds of debt are explored, as well as the consequences, such as bankruptcy. Other topics that are discussed include the U.S. national debt debate, paying off interest, the debt ceiling, government shutdowns, and the European debt crisis. The economic crises confronting U.S. states and cities are also examined, along with the effects on emergency and essential services and education. Students learn about the emotional and physical tolls debt and bankruptcy can take on families. Readers also investigate ways to attack the symptoms of debt, reset priorities, learn about financial planning, and help to positively influence their family and community’s futures.

Managing Money by Linda Crotta Brennanhowmoney

Introduces money management, including how to create a budget and the importance of spending, saving, and donating; features a glossary; and lists resources to explore the subject further.

The money system by Andrew Einsprmoneytroughtradeuch

Gives an explanation of the economy and the financial system, including imports and exports, financial markets, investment funds, and banks.

Planning for education by James Fischerplanning for colelge

Focuses on the need to start early planning and savings in order to have enough money for college.

secret life of moneyThe secret life of money: a kid’s guide to cash by Kira Vermond

If discussing money is a difficult task for adults, it’s doubly so where kids are involved. Not only is the subject loaded with cryptic jargon (mortgages? Bull markets? Huh?), but it often fails to click with how a kid sees his or her world. Many preteens and young teens do not yet have a job, and even if they do, their responsibilities with their earnings are miles away from grown-up money issues. In other words, not only is money a little overwhelming and mysterious, it’s also seen as something they can’t do anything about.
The Secret Life of Money is written to address this last point in particular. It’s central message is that money affects us deeply and that even kids can have an effect on it, too. This book uses odd anecdotes, engaging comics, and a wealth of surprising everyday connections to help young readers see and understand cash from an entirely different angle. From the history of different currencies to why we buy what we buy, from how charities and credit cards work to saving and investing, and a whole lot more, readers will gain not only an appreciation for the myriad ways that money changes, influences, and (even) betters their lives, they will arrive to an understanding of the control they have over it.
Top 10 tips for developing money management skillsmoneybasics
by Larry Gerber
Readers are encouraged to think about money as a tool—like a Swiss Army knife that can be used for many different tasks, to create things we want in our lives. Money is like a tool, in more ways than one. It is an all-purpose survival kit, because life gets tough without it. If we handle money carelessly, it can do serious damage. And just like any tool, sometimes it works great, sometimes it doesn’t. The ten tips found in this book are ideas shared by many people, from billionaires to working-class moms, dads, and kids. Readers will learn about spending, saving, investing, setting financial goals, budgeting, borrowing, and seeking financial advice. Some tips involve doing specific things: writing, adding, and subtracting. Others suggest ways of thinking about money and what we do with it. This volume is intended to help readers get the most out of this tool we call money, whether dealing with a lot of it, or just a little. Readers are encouraged to think further with 10 Great Questions to Ask an Economics/Finance teacher and Myths & Facts.

Spring bookfair has sprung from our campus


The arrival of the Scholastic truck signals the end of the Spring book fair. The remnants of the book fair were collected on Wednesday, April 3.
We have reported sales totaling 4077.11$ ; approximately 20 boxes of books sold. This resulted in 1168.34$ to benefit our library, as well as 517.33$ in Scholastic dollars. One cannot help but wonder the impact of ebooks and the proliferation of iPads on campus on our book sale figures.

A huge thank you to our many parent volunteers who make so many wonderful things happen on campus. See you on December 5/13, 2013 for our next Holiday Bookfair.

DOAWK # 8- November 2013

doawk8For those of us who are eagerly awaiting the latest Diary of A Wimpy Kid book…..we are circling November 2013  as the worldwide  released of   #8  .  Amulet  Books,  DOAWK publisher released an original new image by Jeff Kinney, featuring Greg Heffley under an umbrella being bombarded by raining Magic 8 balls, was revealed to tease fans about what might next happen to Greg Heffley.