Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Shoemaker's Elves at Work!

This week I can sense the excitement and enthusiasm of our faculty and staff.  We are so ready to welcome back our Cardinals!  When you come up to school for the Meet the Teacher Event or on the first day, you will see that we have been very busy people up here.:)  In addition to our wonderful faculty and staff preparing our classrooms for engaged student learning, other folks have worked in front of and behind the scenes to improve our school even more.  A special thanks to our custodial team for all of their hard work cleaning, waxing floors, touching up paint, and even more!  A big thank you to Marybeth Gordon and Nancy Hallmark who, with the help of many middle and high school volunteers (some of whom were Clayton alumni), painted sections of our school as a part of our district wide Play60 grant.  All around the Kinder playground and on the covered playslab, kids will be moving and grooving while also learning about nutrition and healthy habits.  Please see below.  Love it!!

Also, most of you will notice that the Early Childhood and Kindergarten playground has been enhanced with some additional shade sails.  Thanks so much to the help of a parent volunteer and the financial support of the campus and PTA, we were able to make some additions in that area that will keep our Cardinals cooler when they go to play outside!  I sincerely appreciate the help of Dave Robinett who spent time working on this project as well.  Kids will be running around and having a great time in no time.

We're looking forward to seeing you soon!  Enjoy the last couple days of summer.  We're ready for a GREAT year! :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nothing Like the Green, Green Grass of School!

Hello there, Cardinals!

We've sure been missing you this summer.  The school is never the same without the smiles and laughter of children.  While you have been away, our custodial team has been cleaning everything inside the building, and many of our teachers have been coming back to set things up for an awesome year.  I always love the excitement that a new school year brings.  One thing I am also very excited about is the help we have received from the Clayton PTA and our AISD Grounds team to address the long-term challenges on our Clayton field.  Since we opened in 2006, we have battled the issue of trying to grow grass on the field.  It's a dry and rocky place, and our resourceful kiddos have figured out ways to run around and have lots of fun in the dirt, dust, and mud regardless of what's out there :).  Some of you may remember that we spent some time and put in some effort seeding the field a few years back and keeping students off of the field for several months.  We even set up a rotation schedule for the kids to play on the field by grade level during different weeks once we reopened the area in order to give it some time to rest and grow.  Needless to say, our efforts were not successful with almost 2000 little feet running in one spot every day.  Dust and dirt are all that remained on the field, and it seemed every year people brought up suggestions about addressing the space.

After hearing the same requests many times over, this summer, for one final shot, our campus, the Clayton PTA, and AISD Grounds teamed up to finance and install a strong (sod) growth base on the field.  This is our one and final best shot to try to get something to grow there for the campus (even weeds would be nice).  Below are photos documenting the big transformation.  Of course, we loved having the big rains in early July, and everything has been looking great since there are no students running around.  While I'm not sure how long we can keep it alive for the long term, this final "best shot" effort along with the watering variance we got to regularly sprinkle the area will show us once and for all if we can have some designated green space on the Clayton field. 

Check out the photos below and recognize that we need everyone's help and support to keep the field alive once the school year starts.  We will have loads of kids running on it each day, and we hope to give it a rest at least in the afternoons and on weekends.  AISD Grounds will hand mow the field and keep it fairly high for a while so that it can be better sustained.   Certainly this is not an investment that we can make annually, as we have many additional campus instructional needs.  Hopefully, we will be successful in maintaining this little slice of greenspace in addition to the other great outdoor spaces that our campus offers. 

Please join me in giving a huge thank you to Russ McElrath with AISD Grounds, Dave Downing with Austin ISD, and our PTA for joining with us to fund this project!  Beautiful!!

 I'll check back in with you later.  We look forward to seeing you back at the Cardinal nest very soon!