Ashford Headlines

Ashford School at NELMS Conference

Ashford School was well represented at the recent New England League of Middle School’s 34th Annual Middle Level Conference held March 23rd and 24th in Providence, RI. In fact, Ashford School offered the second most workshops of all middle schools in New England. The conference theme of “Magic in the Middle” brought together teachers, administrators, higher education students and professors, and others committed to educational growth and improvement.

The conference focused on effective instruction, improved student outcomes, positive school culture and learning strategies. Over 100 sessions were held relating to topics such as advisory, literacy, math and science, common core curriculum, technology, anti-bullying, professional learning communities, differentiated instruction, student motivation, assessment, and leadership.

The following staff members, six teachers and the principal, and two students presented workshops that were directly related to our STEAM initiative.

Mrs. Aubrey – Promoting 21st Century Skills Through Interdisciplinary Planning

Ms. Silverstein – Music Technology

Mrs. Lindsay – Tech Tools for the Advanced Beginner

(Students – Kate Lindsay and Lindsay Irvine assisted Mrs. Lindsay with this presentation)

Ms. Imhoff and Ms. Manfre – Try a STEM Homeroom

Ms. Manfre and Mr. Hollister – Let’s Get STEAMY! Science, Engineering and PE Together

Mr. Hopkins – Student Motivation and Engagement – Ideas that work! 

Mr. Hopkins, principal, stated “This is just one way that we are sharing some of the high quality learning that occurs at Ashford School while achieving our school goal – Promote critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills through the implementation of interdisciplinary curriculum, following the concept of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics), which applies to the real world now and in the future.”

Mary Jean Fawcett, NELMS’ Interim Executive Director said, “Today it is more important than ever that the middle level educators are provided with professional development opportunities that support the incredibly important work they do every day in their classrooms. It is a goal of the NELMS 34th Annual Middle Level Conference to do that that. Attendance at the conference provides middle level educators the opportunity to network with colleagues from around New England and bring back to their schools strategies and ideas that are middle level best practices and support learning for young adolescents.”

The New England League of Middle School is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the educational experience for young adolescents. To learn more, please visit or call the League office at 978-557-9311.

Future Problem Solvers Success

Ashford School fifth grader, Kate Lindsay, was awarded  March 28, with the Future Problem Solvers’ Medallion Award.  She was nominated by members of her Future Problem Solving team, and selected from middle and high school students throughout the state of  Connecticut.  Kate’s teammates nominated her for being “great at solving problems, positive, helpful” and an “out-of-the-box” thinker.   Teammates also expressed that she helped her team set goals, and encouraged them to do their best.

The award was presented at the Future Problem Solvers’ State Competition at North Haven High School.   Eleven  students  represented Ashford School by participating in the quest to solve the future problem of artificially enhancing human potential.  Students explored the challenges, successes, and possible  dangers of human enhancement from unfair advantages to socio-economic concerns.  Following a two-hour written competition,  teams created and performed  skits portraying what their team determined to be the biggest issue of all with human enhancement.   The teams competed against other schools throughout Connecticut.

The Ashford School Future Problem Solvers Team members are:  Jonathan Varga, Jason Hnath, Emily Johnston, Sarah Johnson, Alissa Recchia, Ayla Perosky, Victoria Janosi, Serenity Goodell, Autumn Mahoney, Kate Lindsay, Skylar Garrison, Alison Bean, and Sebastian Holmes.

Congratulations to Kate for your award and to the Ashford School Future Problem Solvers for your hard work at the state conference.

Ashford School to offer track and cross country

By AKAYA MCELVEEN Chronicle Staff Writer

ASHFORD — Local school­children who are fleet of foot now have a place to utilize those run­ning shoes.

Ashford School Principal, Troy Hopkins, announced July 17 the school will introduce a cross country and track program this upcoming school year.

The two new running sports will join soccer, baseball and softball.

For the two new sports, the league allows students in grade 5 to compete, giving children in that grade level an opportunity to participate competitively, some­thing many wouldn’t have had the chance to. “There are a lot of kids who aren’t doing a sport and they would,” said Hopkins.

With the fall athletic season approaching, Hopkins will con­tinue to act as the school’s athletic director, though there will be a search for a new athletic director from the K- 8 school’s internal staff in the future.

“I’d prefer to have someone in the building to hold that posi­tion,” said Hopkins, hoping to have someone he knows do the job well to fill the position.

The school is also currently reviewing applicants for the cross­country and track and field head coaching position, which will be filled by two existing teachers in the building. For the track program, Ashford School would have to host one home meet in the spring, though there are still preparations that need to be done before the start of the season.

“My concerns are the equip­ment and uniforms,” said Ashford Board of Education member Don­ald Wesson.

Ashford School would have to provide school-issued team uni­forms, as well as equipment such as shot puts for field events and hurdles.

Finding a facility will also be needed before the start of the season. School officials have discussed holding practices and home meets at E.O. Smith High School in nearby Storrs, close to the University of Connecticut campus.

In order to participate in either sport, students will have to com­plete and turn in the appropriate health forms. Forms will be sent out to students’ homes before the start of the school year.

Forms can also be obtained from the school’s web site at ash­fordct. org.


Ashford School STEAMS to new curriculumBy AKAYA MCELVEEN Chronicle Staff Writer

ASHFORD — Local school officials are STEAMing ahead with plans to modify Ashford School’s curriculum for the up­coming school year. The Ashford Board of Education July 17 was introduced to the STEAM model, namely a course of study emphasizing science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics for district kinder­garten through eighth-graders.

Already, teachers at Ashford School — the district’s lone school — have organized STEAM ideas and plans for the new school year.

On Aug. 27, an EastConn rep­resentative will provide STEAM training to the staff. EastConn is a Hampton-based regional educa­tional services agency that assists eastern Connecticut schools.

STEAM is similar to the sci­ence, technology, engineering and math (STEM) dynamic that is a current educational trend.

But, it also incorporates a liberal arts element — essentially adding the “a” in STEAM.

The district’s mission statement on STEAM is “to present a school district that supports all students in achieving their highest educa­tional and personal potential as productive citizens of the diverse, multicultural, and global, 21st century community in which they live.”

Further plans to set STEAM in motion for the new school year include:

• Implementing a schedule with extended instructional time and additional enrichment time for student choice in grades 5-8.

• Creating a STEAM committee with a representative from each curriculum instruction commit­tee (language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and cli­mate and wellness) that will meet before Oct. 14.

“Professional development days will be devoted to helping teach­ers to understand what STEAM is all about. We can bring STEAM to life in terms of actual instruction­al changes in the building,” said Superintendent James Longo.

According to a STEAM hand­out given at the July 17 meeting, once changes to the curriculum have been made, the school will be able to:

• Examine student achievement data and identify areas of concern at each grade level.

• Distribute content specialists to assist areas of need.

• Provide optional opportunities for student growth (for example, sports and clubs).

In addition to discussing the STEAM curriculum, the board recommended the paraprofession­al position in the school’s library be restored with a few changes.

The position will now require a person who is capable of storytell­ing with the younger students and being more active with the kids.

The position was eliminated in the 2013- 14 budget year, but was restored for the 2014- 15 year, costing $21,373, plus benefits.

“We have a lot of great things happening,” said Ashford School Principal Troy Hopkins.

Improvement plans for the up­coming school year have already begun to take place.

One plan has students from Eastern Connecticut State Uni­versity in Willimantic and the Uni­versity of Connecticut in Storrs coming in as student teachers.

In addition, Hopkins said he also met with teachers to help develop a new eighth-grade course called “Habits of Success.”

“ The curriculum is tied with student success plans and has a lot to do with goal setting, time management, organization, mak­ing good first impressions with people and a lot of habits the students can get into that will lead them to success now and in the future,” Hopkins said.

Faculty and staff members have been preparing for the upcoming school year, meeting with each other and preparing their class­rooms for the students.


Ashford music program gets free gear
By AKAYA MCELVEEN Chronicle Staff Writer

ASHFORD — Ashford School’s music department was awarded $3,00 worth of On-Stage brand acces­sories from The Music People Inc.

Ashford School was the winner of The Music People’s “Music in Our Schools Month” contest.

The contest was open to schools nationwide as part of The Music People’s 35th anniversary.

“The Music People takes community seriously and gives back every chance it gets,” On Stage reported in a press release. “ This contest was nationwide, but the Berlin, Conn., company couldn’t be happier that the winner is from its own backyard.”

Ashford School music director Amy Dotson said it was worth entering the contest.

“I saw the contest for the elementary kids and said, ‘why not;’ can’t win if you don’t enter and try,” said Dotson. “I enter contests for expensive guitars on Facebook every day. That’s how I saw the promotion for the elementary school giveaway.”

The On-Stage brand accessories included micro­phone stands, accessories, drum sticks, iPad cases and stands, mutes, microphones, amplifiers and more.

Dotson said 1973 Ashford School graduate Mark Hand entered the school in the contest at her sug­gestion.

“I remember recently seeing newspaper and TV articles about schools dropping music as a first option to cutbacks and saving money,” said Hand. “I thought that was wrong and I was totally against it. We need music in our lives” Ashford School provides general music in grades pre-K through six and offer instrumental and choral music to grades four through eight.