Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Free puppet show this weekend!

The Tanglewood Marionettes will perform Hansel and Gretel, from 10:30-11:30, this Saturday. Come join us for a *free* puppet show at Grace Episcopal Church, 14 Boltwood Avenue!
Fun for all ages but especially the people in your life in grades 1-6.

For more information click here.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Crocker Farm Book Swap - April 13th & 14th

Bring your used books (all reading levels preschool through 6th grade; fiction/nonfiction) to school by Monday, April 12th!!  We’ll have collection boxes in the front lobby & parent pickup areas.
The more books we collect, the more we’ll have to give away!
Thank you for your support!

Intercambio de libros en Crocker Farm -- El 13 y 14 de abril

Traigan sus libros usados (de todos niveles de dificultad – y de todo tipo de tema) a la escuela Crocker Farm antes del 12 de abril.  Las cajas de colección están en el vestíbulo (cerca de la oficina central de Crocker Farm).
Los libros más recoger, más tenemos para regular.

PGO Social Gathering, Tues, April 5th, 7 pm

Dear PGO friends,
Following up on the PGO's last social gathering (thanks, Hallie!), PGO leaders will be hosting another event on Tues, April 5th.
All Crocker Farm parents/guardians are welcome to join us, to chat with other parents/guardians, to learn more about the PGO, upcoming events, how to get involved, & more.
The PGO welcomes each & every volunteer, people with a little time to give or a lot, & there are many ways to get involved with the PGO.
Light refreshments will be served & additional refreshments are welcome. Please RSVP if you can attend, to or at this Facebook event:
The gathering will be held at Tracy Zafian's house, 51 Blue Hills Road.
If you are interested in volunteering or in finding out more but are not available on April 5th, please email or otherwise reach out to the host.
Best regards,
Tracy Zafian, PGO Chair

Local Election on Tues, March 31st, Includes Race for School Committee Seats

The Amherst Town Election is tomorrow, Tues, March 29th.  Polling places will be open from 7 am to 8 pm.  

There are three candidates running for the Amherst School Committee seats being vacated by Rick Hood & Kathleen Traphagen.    

The candidates are:  (in alphabetical order)
Laura Kent, Vincent O'Connor, & Anastasia Ordonez

The candidates for School Committee, the Select Board, Charter Commission, among other offices have made recorded statements at Amherst Media.  The statements are available online. 

 Laura Kent
Vincent O'Connor
Anastasia Ordonez:

Last week's Amherst Bulletin has an article on the School Committee (SC) candidates
(link here), statements from the candidates running for town boards & Amherst Town Meeting, & variety of letters to the editor about the election.   It is a good source of info to find out more.

The bottom of the ballot includes a question on Amherst town government & whether a Charter Commission should be established to explore changes to the structure of town government.
The question:
"Shall a commission be elected to frame a charter for Amherst?"

If the majority of voters vote Yes on this question, than a Charter Commission to explore issue will be created, & will be comprised of the top vote getters of the Charter Commission candidates.

For info on where to vote or to look at sample ballots, please visit the Amherst Town Clerk's web page or contact the Town Clerk, 413-259-3035,

Your vote counts! 

Questionnaire for Crocker Farm families

March 23, 2016

Dear Crocker Farm Families:

As we mentioned in the last Crocker Chronicles, the Amherst-Pelham Schools have formed a partnership with the UChicago Impact to provide us with reliable, ongoing data for school improvement.  Between March 23rd and April 15th, all Amherst Schools will partner with UChicago Impact to survey students in grades 4, 5, and 6 as well as the staff in our school.  In addition, UChicago Impact provides a parent survey component.

Today, students began taking the survey in their computer/technology classes.  Parents and guardians can take their survey using this link:  

Your identity and survey responses will be kept completely confidential and will never be connected to you or your child.

The components of the 5Essentials:   

1.   Ambitious Instruction:  Classes are challenging and engaging.

2.   Effective Leaders:  Principals and teachers implement a shared vision for success.

3.   Collaborative Teachers:  Teachers collaborate to promote professional growth.

4.   Involved Families:  The entire staff builds strong external relationships with families.

5.   Supportive Environment:  The school is safe, demanding, and supportive.

It is vitally important that we hear from all of our Crocker Farm Families.  To that end, we thank you for taking the time to complete this short survey. Certainly contact one of us if you have any questions.
Derek Shea, Principal and Sharri Conklin, Assistant Principal

cuestionario para las familias en la escuela de Crocker Farm

23 de marzo 2016

Queridas familias de la escuela Crocker Farm:

Como mencionamos en la última edición de las crónicas de Crocker Farm,  Las Escuelas de Amherst-Pelham han formado una asociación con Impacto de la Universidad de Chicago que nos proporciona datos fiables y constantes para el mejoramiento escolar. Los datos se generan a partir de los resultados de las encuestas de los estudiantes, del personal y de las familias. Les pedimos que participen en la encuesta. Su participación en esta encuesta es voluntaria y usted tiene el derecho de no participar. Sin embargo, espero que usted considere seriamente la posibilidad de compartir su voz, ya que los resultados de este estudio ayudarán a impulsar mejoras en Crocker Farm.

La Encuesta “5Essentials” proporciona una visión global de la cultura organizacional de la escuela en un informe individualizado que mide cinco "Esenciales" críticos para el éxito escolar:

·        Líderes eficaces

·        Profesores colaborativos

·        Familias involucradas

·        Entorno favorable

·        Instrucción ambiciosa

Los alumnos de nuestra escuela empezaron a tomar la encuesta hoy día.  Los padres pueden tomar la encuesta si hagan clic en este enlace para participar en la encuesta:

Las repuestas, los resultados son anónimos y jamas se van a conectar a Usted o a su hijo.  ¡Su participación es importante! Esperamos que Ustedes puedan tomar un minuto para tomar la encuesta.  Agradecemos su participación de antemano

Sinceramente, Derek Shea y Sharri Conklin

Local Vocal Chord Bowl - Benefit Concert for Amherst & Northampton School Music Programs, April 2th

7 pm, Amherst Regional High School
Tickets available at the door & at:
*AJ Hastings, Amherst
* Coopers Corner, Florence
* State Street Fruit Store, Northampton
Adults & Seniors: $12 Advance/$14 Door
Children & Students: $8 Advance/$10 Door

UMass Dash & Dine 5K Event, for the Amherst Survival Center, Apr 9th

For the seventh consecutive year, UMass Dining is hosting their annual 5K Dash & Dine on the UMass campus Saturday, April 9th 2016! Open to the campus community and the general public, the run/walk is held to raise funds for our neighbors in need at the Amherst Survival Center (ASC). 

“The ASC provides a welcoming community where families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet can come for food, clothing, health care and for companionship and relief from isolation. People are here to share their material resources, information, concerns, and frustrations. No one is turned away."

UMass Dining has raised over $25,000 for the Survival Center over the course of the last few years thanks to your help, and our goal is to raise more than $6,000 this year! Register today and help UMass Dining and the ASC reach our goal to help our neighbors in need.

Don’t forget to check out our “Fun Run” that will be happening at 10:00AM in Southwest Residential Area for children 8 years and younger!
Register online at this link.  Online registration ends on Friday April 8th 2015. Walk-ups welcome.

Jones Library Comic Book Club, Mar 31st, for grades 3-5

Jones Library
Afterschool Comic Book Club

Thurs, March 31st, 4-5 pm
Kids Biography Room
for grades 3-5

Pre-register & pickup copies of the books in the Kids Room.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Amherst School Committees pass resolution regarding students opting out of statewide standardized tests

At their meeting last week, the Amherst Regional (MS&HS) & Amherst (elementary) School Committees approved a resolution regarding students' right to opt-out of state-wide standardized testing. The superintendent shared the language of the resolution in her weekly newsletter to families this past Friday.

Here is the resolution:
By law, students, in consultation with their families, have the right to opt out of state-wide standardized tests such as MCAS and PARCC.
Consistent with prior practice, students along with their families, who choose to exercise a student's right to opt out of these assessments -- either by a statement or a note from parents or guardians -- will not be subject to any form of negative consequences from the school district. Opting out will not have negative implications for grades or class placement of any individual student. High School students should be aware that Massachusetts regulations dictate that a passing score on the tenth grade level MCAS is a graduation requirement. Educators who choose to discuss the right to opt-out with their students or with parents shall not be subject to any form of retribution by anyone in the Amherst or Amherst Regional public schools.
We are pleased to reaffirm that free speech is a fundamental right of all members of our educational community.

MCAS testing for students in grades 3-6, starts this week

Dear Families of Students in grades 3-6,

As you may know, Spring brings the state assessment window. Starting on Tuesday March 29, our students (grades 3-6) will participate in English Language Arts MCAS testing. The test has a new component this year called a narrative writing task. For 4th graders, the narrative writing task will replace the long composition subtest. For more information about this year’s MCAS please visit: and/or

Attached you will find Crocker Farm’s schedule for the upcoming MCAS English Language Arts (ELA) and Math state assessments. Grade 5 will also have a Science/Technology portion of the MCAS assessment.

Please consult this schedule and do your best to make any appointments outside of your child’s testing schedule. It is very important that all students are on time for school every day, and particularly on these testing days. Being in class by 8:50 allows time to settle in prior to testing.

Please feel free to call your child’s teacher or the school if you have any questions.

Sincerely, Mr. Shea and Ms. Conklin

MCAS para estudiantes en grados 3-6

Queridas familias de los alumnos de los grados 3° - 6°,
Tal vez algunos de Ustedes reconocen que la primavera nos trae la oportunidad de ofrecer los examines provenidos por el estado de Massachusetts. Empezando el jueves, 29 de marzo, los alumnos de 3°, 4°, 5° y 6° grados participaran en los examines de lectura MCAS. El examen nuevo, este año requiere que los niños escriben un tema narrativo. Para los niños de cuarto grado, la escritura narrativa reemplaza la escritura larga del examen de los años anteriores. Si Usted desea obtener información sobre los examines MCAS pueden visitar los siguientes sitios en la red de información:

 Aquí (al fin de la página) se encuentra el horario/calendario para los examines MCAS de lectura y matemáticas para nuestra escuela, Crocker Farm. Los niños de 5° grado también toman el MCAS sobre ciencias y tecnología.

Por favor, repasen el calendario para los examines MCAS y tómenlo en cuenta cuando hacen citas de médicos para sus hijos. Es importante que cada niño llegue a escuela a tiempo todos los días especialmente en estos días de exámenes del estado. Llegando sobre las 8:50am les da tiempo a los niños para relajarse antes del examen y poner sus cosas en orden.

Por favor, si tiene preguntas, pueden comunicarse con los maestros o con la escuela.

Señor Shea y Señorita Conklin


March Crocker Chronicles & Letter from Mr. Shea & Ms. Conklin

 The full March Crocker Chronicles, including the April-June events calendar, is available hereCHRONICLES
The UChicago Impact survey is now available. Here is the link.
Dear Crocker Farm Families:

This year, we have worked closely with our School Governance Council (parents and teachers) to find ways for our school to continuously work to improve. A key aspect towards finding out what is working and what is not, is hearing from the people who matter the most: students, staff and families.

Although we have done surveys over the years (and had a terrific survey and response of 66% last year!), as a school, and, as a district, we have needed a consistent way of surveying these stakeholders to inform our Improvement Plans. To that end, the Amherst-Pelham Schools have formed a partnership with the UChicago Impact to provide us with reliable, ongoing data for school improvement. After studying more than 400 elementary schools in the Chicago area the authors of the article, “Trust in Schools, a Core Resource for School Reform” came to the conclusion that social or relational trust is an essential component of effective school change. In examining these schools, the authors go on to say that relational trust operates as both a lubricant for organizational change and a moral resource for sustaining the hard work of local school improvement.The fundamental principle of trust is interwoven into the questions that UChicago Impact surveys ask. The surveys center around what they call the 5 Essentials:
1. Ambitious Instruction: Classes are challenging and engaging.
2. Effective Leaders: Principals and teachers implement a shared vision for success.
3. Collaborative Teachers: Teachers collaborate to promote professional growth.
4. Involved Families: The entire staff builds strong external relationships with families.
5. Supportive Environment: The school is safe, demanding, and supportive.
Between March 23rd and April 15th, all Amherst Schools will partner with UChicago Impact to survey students in grades 4, 5, and 6 as well as the staff in our school. In addition, UChicago Impact provides a parent survey component. It is vital that we hear from as many of you as possible. We will use staff from the Amherst Family Center as well as volunteers from Mt. Holyoke College to help us reach out to all of the Crocker Farm Families. All of the surveys will be completed by the April vacation which will allow us to get the results before the end of the school year. UChicago Impact will provide ways for us to easily analyze this data, and more importantly, turn it into actionable steps for improvement. Our School Governance Council (parents and teachers) and our School-Based Leadership Team (teachers) will lead this important work.

Thank you for your time and attention to this survey,
Derek Shea, Principal and Sharri Conklin, Assistant Principal
The UChicago Impact survey is now available. Here is the link.





Read Across America Day - Videos from Crocker Farm's Celebration

The Crocker Farm library staff has uploaded some great videos from the school's Read Across America Day in early March.

Check them out!  :)

Here's the link:

MAGE upcoming conference, April 30th, & scholarship for students in grades 3-6 for enrichment activities

MA Association for Gifted Education (MAGE) Annual Conference
Saturday, April 30th,  9 am-3 pm
Springfield, MA
$30 Registration, includes lunch!

Sessions on the Academic, Social, & Emotional Needs of Gifted Children in the Classroom & at Home, & on implications of the new federal education funding act (Every Student Succeeds Act - ESSA) for gifted education
Register at
Scholarship Program
Each year, MAGE offers the Nicholas Green Award scholarship to support a student in grades 3-6 with exemplary potential in one or more topic areas.  The scholarship (up to $500) can be used to defray the costs for an enrichment program (summer camp, online course, etc.).  More than one award may be given per year.  
Click here to download instructions and application forms for the 2016 Nicholas Green Award.  The deadline for applying is April 15th.
This award was made possible through a generous donation from the Green family, which was administered by NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children). Nicholas was a bright seven-year old who was killed in a senseless shooting while on vacation in Italy. His parents wanted to keep his memory alive, and they donated money they had saved for his college expenses to fund this award.

For further information, please contact Carol Lach, MAGE Nicholas Green Awards Committee,

Crocker Farm Early Childhood Visioning Group, District seeking Parents of 1-2 year olds to Participate

(click on poster to enlarge)

The district is seeking parents/ guardians of 1-2 year olds to participate in the visioning group for the future Crocker Farm. The group, which will consist of staff members & community members as well, will be meeting on April 7th, June 23th, & June 28th, from 8 am to 2:45 pm. 
Please contact Sasha Figueroa,, to signup to participate.

Save the Date: Crocker Farm Musical, A Midsummer Night's Dream, May 25th

Wednesday, May 25th
9:30 am & 6:30 pm
Crocker Farm Elementary School

Happier Valley FAMILY Show, Easthampton, April 16th

Monthly improv comedy show for the whole family.
Best for 5-12 year olds and their adults.

Saturday April 16th, 4pm  

Located at Eastworks' 121 Club (formerly Apollo Grill). 
116 Pleasant Street, Suite 121, Easthampton. 

Tickets at the door: $10/Adults, $5/Kids, $20/Family Max. 
For more info visit 

Adult Learn to Ice Skate Sessions with the Amherst Hockey League, start April 2nd

Saturdays 6:00-6:50 pm
April 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30
(April 30th, 7-7:50 pm)

$95 per participant
UMass Community Skating Rink Mullins Center

To register or for questions, please contact Dan Feldman, president of Amherst Hockey Association,

(not a school-sponsored event)


Kestrel Trust Upcoming Events for Families: Frogs & Forests

Dive Into the Dynamic World of Vernal Pools
Glimpse the changing life phases of frogs & other creatures. 

Spring is here and the frogs and salamanders are on the move to the vernal pools. This year, we've got two chances for you to enter this fascinating world of metamorphosis. At the first outing in Northampton on April 9, you'll likely see fairy shrimp, frog eggs, and other creatures up close! Or, come with us to vernal pools in Hadley on April 23 to learn about the next phase of amphibian life when we may see tadpoles and other creatures that rely on these special places.  
Frog eggs
                                                          vernal pool

When:   Saturday, April 9 OR Saturday, April 23, 1 pm - 3 pm 
Where:  Northampton OR Hadley
Fee:    Free (donations accepted)
Please specify which date you want to attend. Meeting location details will be provided. Thank you!                                                           

Forestry Walk & Maple Sugar Morning
Learn how low-impact forestry benefits wildlife & people.   
View from Tob Hill
When:   Sunday, April 10, 10-11:30 am       
Where:  Westhampton    

Fee:      Free (donations accepted)
  Forests provide so many benefits, from clean air to wildlife habitat to the wood we use every day. Join licensed forester Tom Jenkins for a guided tour of working forest lands in different stages of growth in Westhampton. Learn how harvesting trees can be done in a sustainable, low-impact way. 

Massachusetts Soccer School at UMass - Summer & April Vacation programs

Massachusetts Soccer School

JULY 6-9
JULY 13-16



Friday, March 18, 2016

Hillside Pizza Fundraiser -- Seeking a few more orders -- Can you help?

The PGO's Hillside Pizza Fundraiser orders are due at the end of today (we extended the deadline from Thurs). If we can get in just a few more orders, with 10 more items total (to bring us to 100 items in total for the fundraiser), we will earn an additional $1 per item, or $100 more. This is huge.

*** PGO friends, please, please help us out if you can! ***
Hillside Pizza's pizzas & cookies are delicious, & made with healthy ingredients. From their web site: "We are committed to using only the finest natural and organic ingredients in all of our products. We never use additives, preservatives, hydrogenated oils or GMOs. Everything we produce is handmade in small batches."
& Hillside Pizza is the only area restaurant we know of offering gluten-free pizza.
If you want to order ready-to-cook pizzas, cookie dough or $20 gift certificates (good at any of Hillside Pizza's 3 locations) & can't make it to Crocker Farm to dropoff an order in person, please email us ( & place your order that way.
Thank you so much for your support!

order forms & descriptions of the pizza & cookie items & prices are available at this link:  Hillside Pizza fundraiser

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

This week at Crocker Farrm & ARPS

This week at Crocker Farm:
Orders for the PGO's Hillside Pizza Fundraiser are due this Thurs, Mar 17th. Order forms available online or at the office.   A variety of pizza (including gluten-free) & cookie dough options available, or you can buy gift certificates good at all three Hillside Pizza locations (Hadley, Deerfield, Bernardston)
All money 
raised through this fundraiser goes to fund mini-grants for special classroom projects, special events, & field trips.
Please make checks payable to Crocker Farm PGO. 
Thanks for your support!

This week at ARPS:
Tues, Mar 15th, Wildwood School Building Committee mtg, 3:45 pm, ARMS Classroom C-27.
Agenda here:…

Wed, Mar 16th, ARPS School Equity Task Force mtg, 6 pm, ARMS, Professional Development Center
Agenda: Announcements, Approval of Minutes, New Business, Old Business, Adjourn

ARPS School Calendar for 2016-2017 School Year

Full calendar available at this link:  CALENDAR
**First day of school:Wed, August 31st (grades 1-12)Tues, Sept 6th (kindergarten & pre-K)
Kindergarten orientation Aug 31-Sept 2)

**No school on Nov 8th (Election Day) & Jan 23rd, for Teacher Curriculum Days, preK-12th grade
**9 early release days for preK-6th grade

School Committee Candidate Coffees & Other Events

There are 3 candidates running for the Amherst School Committee seats being vacated by Richard Hood & Kathleen Traphagen: Laura Kent, Vincent O'Connor, & Anastasia Ordonez.    

The candidates for School Committee, the Select Board, Charter Commission, among other offices have made recorded statements at Amherst Media.  The statements are available online:
Laura Kent:
Vincent O'Connor:
Anastasia Ordonez:

There is an informal coffee with the School Committee candidates this morning, 11 am-1 pm, at Share (formerly Rao's) downtown. & another one of Friday, March 25th, also at Share, 11 am-1 pm.

The League of Women Voters is sponsoring a town candidates forum on Tuesday, March 22nd, 7 pm, Amherst Town Hall

The election for the Amherst School Committee and other local elected positions is Tuesday, March 29th.   Polls will be open from 7 am-8 pm.