Good morning Murch Families,
Lunch at Murch
All breakfast and lunch will be free of charge this school year. Of course, you can still send lunch from home with your child. Based on recommendations from DCPS, lunches for pre-K and Kindergarten will be held in their classrooms. 1st grade will eat in the pre-K commons (across form the gym) and grades 2-5 will eat in the cafeteria on a staggered schedule.
Full School Picnic
We are planning to have a full school picnic at the end of the first week to build community and come together and celebrate as a school. If you are interested in serving on a planning group with teachers for this event, please let me know. I am looking for three parents to be part of this group.
The sneak-peek, to be held on Friday, August 27th, will follow a modified version of what we have done in past years. We want everyone to come and have a few minutes to meet the teacher, see the classroom and drop off supplies before the first day of school. Everyone entering the event must enter the main door on Davenport and will need to answer the ask, ask, look protocol before entering. We will do this in groups of 8-10 people to move things along quickly. As a reminder, everyone entering the building must wear a mask. As we await additional guidance from DC Health and DCPS, any changes in our plan will be communicated well in advance.
Parent Orientation Evenings
The orientation sessions will provide an overview of how things will work, share daily schedules and review the safety precautions we are taking as our students come back to in-person learning. This will be both an in person and live streamed event. There will be ample time for Q and A.
We will be piloting home visits this year in kindergarten and 1st grades. Our teachers will be doing home visits for all students in their classes. The purpose of a home visit is to ensure that every family builds a relationship with at least one adult at school. Visits will be done on Friday August 20th and Thursday August 26th. Appointments will be in advance, and teachers will contact every family in their class.
Comprehensive School Plan
Our comprehensive school plan focuses on goals that address family engagement, shared leadership, school culture, and academics. These goals are being monitored at the both the school and district levels. Our Academic Leadership Team and Local School Advisory Team (LSAT) are responsible for monitoring our plan and providing recommendations based on the data produced. Our goals for the CSP are:
- Increase teacher efficacy through job embedded Professional Development.
- Increase the effective use of facilitative leadership while developing capacity and skills related to efficacy.
- Increase the positive feedback from parents about the communication of academic progress and assessment data.
- Increase the use of effective communication strategies teachers use to connect with parents.
- Increase the percentage of teachers who shared essential assessment and academic information based on an agreed upon timeline.
- Increase the percentage of students feeling loved, prepared, and challenged.
- Increase student understanding of the intended purpose of morning meeting.
- Increase in seat attendance
- Mathematics: By the end of the year 90 % or more of students in grades 2-5 are on or above grade level as measured by I-Ready Diagnostic assessment or make 1.5 years growth if the student is below grade level at the beginning of the year.
- Reading: By the end of the year, 90% of students in grades K-2 are proficient or advanced as measured by DIBELS/TRC and/or the Reading Inventory assessments.
New Teacher Introductions
I would like to introduce our teachers by presenting a brief bio each of them prepared:
Natalie Troadec, Math Instructional Coach
Hello Murch Elementary! My name is Natalie Troadec, and I’m so excited to be joining the Murch community this year! Originally a Jersey girl, I left the cold weather for sunny California where I received a BS in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. After ten years of working in corporate, I decided to make a career change and pursue my passion for education, and I’ve been a teacher ever since. During my time as an educator, I’ve obtained a M.Ed. at Nova Southeastern University and Master’s in Educational Leadership at Arizona State University. I moved to the DMV area in 2018, where I’ve taught for DCPS for the past three years. In my free time, I love to spend time with my two teenage daughters and my Bernese Mountain Dog mix, Auggie. I also enjoy traveling with my family, and am a long-time, avid follower of college football. I’m so excited to join Murch Elementary and look forward to meeting all the staff, faculty, and students! Go mustangs!
Marc Fry, PE/Health
Marc has been teaching and coaching for over 18 years in areas such Wisconsin, California, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Marc played basketball in college and overseas in Cuba. He has 3 adopted children from Haiti who are all grown and are now in college or the military. Marc enjoys surfing, swimming, and riding his bike around the neighborhood.
Rebecca Burton, Librarian
Hello, team! My name is Rebecca Burton, and I am the new librarian. Prior to Murch, I was the librarian at Ludlow-Taylor for five years and at Eagle Academy PCS for four years. I’m from Dallas but moved to the area many years ago to attend Georgetown University. Go Hoyas! After a few years in NYC and Chicago, I moved back to the area and got my masters in library science from the University of Maryland. In my spare time, I love to read, birdwatch, practice yoga, and hang out with my husband (Eric) and kids (Thea-14; Alden -10).
Stephanie Kay, Art Teacher
A native New Yorker, Stephanie Kay has been devoted to art since she was a little girl doodling in the margins of her elementary-school notebook. After graduating Hunter College High School, she earned her MFA at Boston University and taught painting, drawing and design there for over a decade. She moved to DC in 2003, married, started a family and taught art at The Catholic University and the Washington Studio School. In 2014 she transitioned to teaching elementary art in DCPS and has been there ever since. Stephanie’s specialty is figurative art, and as an award-winning professional artist she has had numerous gallery shows. She believes, as Kafka wrote, that art “is the axe that breaks the frozen sea inside us”. Stephanie also loves to cook and bake, and – before the pandemic- loved to travel, which she hopes to get back to doing. One of her greatest experiences was running a marathon in the Himalayas, in the shadow of Mt. Everest. She is very excited to join you as the art teacher of Ben W. Murch Elementary School.
Katie Webb, Pre-K 4
Katie has her master’s degree and has been working as a licensed teacher in early childhood for six years, starting in Michigan. She moved to Nevada, teaching, and leading the first five star rated Pre-K class in the public schools in the state’s QRIS program. Katie coached other early childhood teachers and focused on professional development related to children’s social and emotional development in Las Vegas, then moved to Washington, DC during the pandemic. After a year of enjoying all the wonders of the area while social distancing in nature, she is looking forward to exploring DC socially. She can’t wait to join the Murch community and teach in the Pre-K program, as much like the students, Katie learns (and teaches) best in a discovery and play-based environment!
Raymond Pyle, Kindergarten Teacher
My name is Raymond Pyle, and I am thrilled that I have been given the opportunity to be a kindergarten teacher at Murch Elementary. I just received my Masters from John Hopkins University thanks to my partnership with Urban Teachers. Last year I worked at Moten Elementary as a PreK-4 teacher, so I am excited to bring my knowledge and experience to help create our future leaders. Here are some fun facts about me is that I know how to record and edit YouTube videos. I am into weightlifting, building Lego architecture and before I became a teacher, I worked in the STEM field working with building websites and app development. I hope to bring some of that to a STEM club. Excited to meet you all!
Sam Fisk, Psychologist
Hello everyone! My name is Sam Fisk, and I am honored and thrilled to start my career as a school psychologist with the Murch family. In 2019, I graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in psychological sciences. I then completed my Masters degree in educational and counseling psychology from University of Kentucky in December. A few of my passions in education are social justice advocacy, behavior and classroom management, and emotion regulation. I just moved to D.C. in late June so I am welcoming any recommendations for things to try or do in the area. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, traveling, watching UK basketball, learning about other cultures, and going on long walks with my dog, Maizey. I cannot wait to start working with the families, students, and staff members at Murch this year!
Chloe Wellens, Kindergarten Teacher
Hello Murch Family! My name is Chloe Wellens and I am very excited to begin my career as a kindergarten teacher at Murch Elementary. I graduated this past May from University of Kentucky with my Bachelors degree in elementary education. I plan to eventually further my education with a Masters degree in educational policy. Aside from education, another passion I have is traveling. As an undergraduate, I spent a summer term studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Over the summer I took my first road trip out west, spanning 30 days, 13 states, and 7 national parks. In my free time, I also enjoy hiking and spending time with my German Shepherd, Maizey. I am looking forward to starting this new chapter in my life with the supportive community at Murch Elementary!
Lucie Mendelson, Kindergarten Teacher
My name is Lucie Mendelson and I am very excited to start working at Murch this coming school year. I recently completed my Masters degree at American University and worked at the Lab School of DC for the past year. Prior to starting my graduate degree, I worked with the Peace Corps as a Spanish Literacy Teacher in the Dominican Republic. It was the best teacher training I ever could have asked for. A few fun facts about me: I’m very interested in photography, I only moved to DC during the pandemic (so I’m still getting to know the area), and I am looking to take ceramics classes soon. I’m looking forward to getting to know you all!
Karley Sessoms, 4th Grade ELA Teacher
Karley Sessoms has been teaching for over 6 years as both a classroom teacher and an after-school program instructor. She started as a substitute to gain classroom experience when she started her entrepreneurship development enrichment business. She enjoyed being in the classroom so much she pursued her teaching license and has been working in long-term roles for DCPS schools. Prior to transitioning to education, Ms. Sessoms also worked for the public sector in financial management and economic development/entrepreneurship development. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio University and a Master of Public Administration from The Ohio State University. She is a passionate supporter of youth entrepreneurship and hopes to start a youth entrepreneurship club at Murch. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, running, and doing yoga.
Have a great rest of your day!