Harrison Elementary School

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School News

Principal's Messages

  • November 13, 2018

    Posted by Cynthia Healy on 11/13/2018

    Dear Parents and Guardians,

    We enjoyed seeing you at our PTA Game Night, Halloween Parade, and during Parent/Teacher Conferences! It has been a very busy few weeks.

    Hero Groups

    We had our first Hero Group on Halloween morning! The children met with their groups and welcomed their new kindergarten members! During this first meeting the teachers introduced the purpose of our Hero Groups initiative which is to help the children to:

    • develop positive relationships with their Harrison peers.
    • learn how to be healthy and happy.
    • learn to recognize their emotions. (beyond happy/sad)
    • learn how to help themselves when upset. (e.g., breathing, taking a break, etc.).
    • learn how to be a responsible and kind member of our school.

    The sessions have a structure which always includes a mindfulness strategy, a SEL book, discussion and activity. During this session the groups read You be You by Linda Kranz. Together the groups examined the connection between the little fish’s story and utilizing a social filter.  Basically we discussed the following:

    • This little fish sees differences as good.
    • When you see something different or unique, it is not bad.
    • Our social filter tells us how to compliment people rather than commenting on differences.
    • How can you stand out in a good way in the classroom? On the playground? At home?
    • Why are these types of themes found in many different books?
    • Can you think of any other books or movies with this theme?
    • If you find any books with this theme please let the group know throughout the year!

    The children got to know each other as they each created a unique fish which will help to make up our Harrison School of Fish –where we all swim together!

    Professional Development

    Our district continues to supports our teachers’ professional growth in all areas. This month the teachers attended a variety of sessions in specific areas of their curriculum, teaching strategies or pedagogy. I would like to highlight two. The first was given by our Reading Specialists at Harrison and focused on interpreting literacy data in order to plan for small group instruction. The second was provided by Dr. Nikki Newton for district K-5 math teachers. It highlighted the components of guided math groups which focus on the differentiated needs of our students. Both workshops support our school goals by providing the teachers with questioning strategies and activities.  This type of small group instruction gives the children the opportunity to talk with their peers, ask questions and justify their thinking across content areas. 

    Family Math

    Thank you for your enthusiastic participation! This month’s problems will focus on our Harrison School Thanksgiving traditions! The sheets will go out to the grade levels on the 19th and will be due back any time before the 30th. Please discuss the problems with your children so that you become familiar with the types of questions you can ask them based upon your life outside of school. It is important that the children understand the connection between the math class and their real lives.

    Special Visitors

    Illustrator Adam Gustavson visited Harrison School on Tuesday, November 6th.  Using works from his portfolio, he took students through the process of being approached by a publisher to illustrate a book, receiving the words to the picture book as a 3 page email, and then doing at least three different sketches before he creates his final oil painting for each illustration.  Adam stressed the need for research in order to maintain authenticity for period pieces and biographies.  His gentle humor also encouraged students to continue working through mistakes, as they have to do in school, and as he still has to do as a professional artist.

    Our second grade students kicked off their service dog unit with a visit from Flicka –a puppy who is being fostered for The Seeing Eye by The Konstandt Family. The children were excited to meet her and begin to learn how our furry friends help us in many different ways!

    Beethoven, as portrayed by Dennis Kobray of Meet the Musicians, linked music and history for our students. The children were intrigued by his presentation as we enjoyed his music! A special thank you to the PTA for providing this wonderful cultural arts assembly.

    Officers Klapal and Mullaney as well as Mrs. Siti facilitated a discussion of internet safety with our fourth and fifth grade students. This session warned the children of the pitfalls of social media and reinforced their responsibility to use it appropriately.

    Birthday Book Club

    This month we look forward to Birthday Book Club which will be held on November 13th at 7:00. Mrs. Caulfield and several of our teachers will read and perform for the children while parents attend the PTA meeting. The children and parents will come together at the end of the meeting for birthday cake, and the children who donated a book to the media center will bring home their book for the week. These books will then be returned to school and will become part of our media school collection. 

    Just a few more highlights……  

    • Congratulations to our First Harrison Hawk Award Class-Mrs. Schulke’s 1st Grade!
    • Many of our classes wrote letters or created cards thanking Livingston resident Wilbur Hoffman who served in the Navy aboard a destroyer named the USS Hughes during WWll. The letters were presented after a ceremony where Mr. Hoffman received the Bronze Star for the meritorious actions he took to save his ship and his crewmates.
    • Our Kindness Garden has been replanted with Icicle Pansies. Please make sure to thank our young K-1 gardeners-they did a beautiful job!
    • Class Trips have started. Our trips help the children to experience concepts from the curriculum in a vivid and hands-on manner. Students in grade three visited a mine to support their study of geology while the kindergarten and first grade visited a pumpkin and apple farm respectively. Classroom lessons occur before and after our trips so the children can apply there what they have learned in and out of the classroom!
    • Please continue to send your pop tabs, plastic bottle caps and box tops!
    • Please label all items with your child’s name –as the winter approaches –our Lost and Found will grow. Don’t forget we try to get outside whenever possible. Fresh air and activity keeps all of us happy and healthy!
    • The Gag Pit is here!  It will be completed as soon as the weather cooperates for a few days in a row!
    • Thank you -Mrs. Adams (P.E.) for providing the cornstalks which decorate the front of our building.
    • Thank you –families we raised $1,050 through Bag a Lunch, Help a Bunch, benefitting Table to Table!
    • Please visit our Harrison Home page to see photos from our various events! Click Here to visit.

    Our next article focuses on developing a Gratitude Attitude. Please read the attached article- 10 Ways to Raise a Grateful Kid by Homa Tavangar.

    Click here to visit PBS Parents.  


    Mrs. Healy


    Nov 13 - PTA Meeting –Birthday Book Club

    Nov 14 - 3rd Grade Leaders

    Nov 15 - Picture Re-Takes

    Nov 16 - Kidz Klub begins

    Nov 18 - 5th Grade Applebees Fundraiser

    Nov 20 - 4th Grade Leaders

    Nov 21 - Half Day, 12:15 PM Dismissal, Thanksgiving Holiday

    Nov 22-23 - No School, Thanksgiving Holiday

    Nov 27 – 5th Grade Band Day

    Nov 27 - 5th Grade Leaders

    Nov 29 – 5th Grade Orchestra Day

    Nov 30 - Kids Klub

    Dec 4 - 2nd Grade Leaders

    Dec 5 – 5th Grade Chorus Day

    Dec 5 – Hour of Code Parent Night, 6:30 PM

    Dec 7 - Holiday Boutique

    Dec 7 - Kidz Klub

    Dec 11 – 3rd Grade Leaders  

    Dec 11 – PTA Meeting

    Dec 12 – 1st Grade Leaders 

    Dec 14 - Kidz Klub

    Dec 18 - 4th Grade Leaders

    Dec 19 - 5th Grade Leaders

    Dec 21 - New Year’s Assembly

    Dec 22-31 No School


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  • October 16, 2018

    Posted by Cynthia Healy on 10/16/2018

    Dear Parents and Guardians,

    October brings many opportunities to foster our students’ social and emotional learning. We continue to work closely with our parent community to foster these SEL skills. We strongly believe that it is this home–school connection which will help our children to grow into kind, confident and resilient young adults!

    The first week in October has been designated as The Week of Respect in New Jersey Schools. Throughout the week, classroom teachers discussed our kindness initiative as well as the importance of trying to understand other children’s feelings and perspective . We celebrated World Smile Day and had a fantastic Pep Rally to end the week! The children had a great time and as always our Harrison School  Cheerleaders (staff) were a big hit !

    Through four school based skits, the teachers reviewed our T.H.I.N.K acronym and the importance of using  a social filter. Lots of giggles occurred as the “Social-Filter-Think-Before-You-Speak-Choose-Kind-Be-A-Good-Friend-You-Don’t-Want-To-Insult-Anyone-ADVISORarrived during each scenario to remind the actors of  what should or should not be said! When the classroom teachers debriefed the program last week, the students were able to describe in writing and/or pictures the assembly’s message!  

    Last week we focused on helping the children begin to set short manageable goals. Effective short term plans help to organize students and support their continued efforts.  Small consistent successes build  student confidence and help them to associate their hard work with academic growth. Teachers read books such as What Gritty Kids Do and After the Fall in order reinforce that all people face challenges, make mistakes and struggle, however it is often through these experiences that we learn and grow the most!

    This is School Violence Awareness Week; thus classes will continue to discuss perspective-taking and the use of a social filter. While we always hope to prevent a conflict we also realize that our children need the tools to resolve problems effectively. Mrs. Siti will visit the classrooms over the next few weeks in order to support the children’s understanding and use of conflict resolution strategies. These lessons will introduce  or reinforce the use of self-regulation and reflection tools.  

    October 22nd –October 26th is Red Ribbon Week. This week is dedicated to educating our young children in healthy choices and our older students in the dangers associated with the use of illegal drugs. Please see the attached flyer regarding a variety of  special days the district has set up to reinforce important anti-drug messages. Health lessons will be focused in these areas and the Livingston Police Department will visit our fourth and fifth grades to provide safety information.

    Our Student Council has been very busy as we focus on helping others! We raised $1,050 for The American Red Cross which will be targeted for hurricane relief.  Our Ronald McDonald House pop tab total has risen to 377,000. Additionally, all of the children drew Smile Day Cards which will be sent to "Color A Smile" and distributed across the county to those in need of a smile!

    Choose Kind

    Please help your children collect the following items all year long! Grandparents and extended family continue to be an integral part of theses drives. It is easy to help –- your child will be decorating a Choose Kind Cup during a rainy lunch period or two. When the cup is filled, simply send in the contents! Repeat as often as possible .

    • Pop Tabs for Ronald McDonald House -Student Council Grade Level Competition
    • Plastic Bottle Tops for The Kindness Bench Project  - Guidance/ Recycling
    • Box Tops for Education - PTA collection which helps to buy playground equipment such as balls, jump ropes, and hula-hoops.  

    School Wide Math Contest

    In our last email we mentioned a weekly Family Math problem. As we developed the idea, we decided the project would be better received, more challenging, and exciting if it occurred once a month!

    • The problems will be created monthly for each grade level.
    • Each month problem will have a “school-life” theme-October’s will be our Pop Tab Collection for Ronald McDonald House.
    • The problems require perseverance and close reading.
    • The purpose of this activity is for families to discuss how we use math on a daily basis. We hope these problems will help parents to understand the type of mathematical language used in school and to encourage their children to discuss their thinking.  Parents may help the children to think logically and organize their thoughts.
    • The children will have a week (including the weekend) to bring back their problem. October’s problems will be sent home on Tuesday and are due back by October 23rd .
    • All problems will be reviewed in class and the children will share the various ways they attacked the problems. This discourse is critical in developing solid mathematical problem solving.
    • All problems will be placed in a special box. The first correct problem pulled from each grade level will win a prize.

    Our Halloween Parade will take place on October 31st at 1:00. Everyone is welcome as long as the weather cooperates! More information to follow.

    Have a wonderful week and enjoy the promised sunshine !

    Mrs. Healy

    (Please click here for this week's article: Creativity: How Parents Nurture the Evolution of Children's Ideas)

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  • September 25, 2018

    Posted by Cynthia Healy on 9/25/2018 4:00:00 PM

    Dear Parents and Guardians,  

    We are off to a smooth start! Our first 12 days have been sunny –even when the weather doesn’t cooperate! It has been a pleasure to see the children’s smiling faces in class as well as on the playground! 

    Thank you to all the volunteers who helped to make our Welcome Back Picnic a success! A fun time was had by all. If you were unable to attend –we will have another in June! Also consider volunteering at our PTA Book Fair which takes place in October.

    Our Student Council will be initiating two Kindness Projects this week:

    • Members of the Executive Board visited each room to discuss how our students can help the students in North Carolina who have been affected by Hurricane Florence. The older students explained that we wish to help the American Red Cross raise money to replace homes and nurse people back to health in the areas affected by the hurricane. 


    • We are asking that each child perform a chore(s) at home in order to raise funds for the American Red Cross. Remember no donation is too small!  The collection will run this week and next. We will collect the last classroom envelopes on Friday October 5th.
      • A new twist-We will use the total donation amount as part of our weekly math challenge –an activity which will highlight how our student’s math content is seen in their everyday life.
    • We will also be collecting pop-tabs again to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. Since 2011, we have collected about 336,000 pop-tabs!  When we reach 1,000,000 (a million), McDonalds will throw an assembly for our school. Money raised from the pop-tabs goes to making and renovating rooms for children and their families to stay in when they are being treated for serious illnesses far from where they live. We have a several families which have found comfort at a Ronald McDonald House during difficult times. Please make an effort to support this worthwhile initiative.
    • We will collect tabs by grade level each month and the grade with the most pop-tabs will earn extra recess time at the end of the month. The grade with the most pop-tabs at the end of the year, will get a special reward from Mrs. Healy. The containers will be moved from outside the library to the main hallway this year!
    • A new twist- Outside Mrs. Healy’s office, there is a container of pop-tabs that was donated to our school by a friend of Mrs. Piegari and Mrs. Giannopoulos! The children will be given the opportunity to write down how many pop-tabs they think are in the container. The student who gets closest to the total wins a prize! The winner will be announced next Monday morning.

    Classroom Connection-Kindergarten STEAM

    • Our youngest students have already begun to learn the engineering process to solve problems. The primary focus for early kindergarten STEAM is learning how to create with partners, understanding that it may not work the first time and then creating a new plan! These type of activities help to develop problem solving as well as language and listening skills. Additionally, such lessons foster inquiry, curiosity, cooperation and perseverance!
    • After reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, small groups of kindergarten children worked together to meet the presented challenge -build a three dimensional tree which holds the most letters. The children were given the opportunity to develop a plan and a variety of materials to choose from.  Their interactions were positive as well as thoughtful. The resulting structures were amazing !
    • Be on the look-out for STEAM lessons throughout the year in all grade levels!


    • Hopefully, our newsletters will stimulate conversations at home regarding school. The following questions may also help deepen these discussions. Rather than the typical, "What did you do in school today?"  You might want to try one of the following:

    • "What's new this year?" This helps to motivate your children as they enter into a brand new year -filled with both excitement and responsibility.
    • "What will you learn today?"This helps build excitement for the day ahead and provides opportunity for a follow-up conversation.
    • "Can you show me what you did?"This encourages your child to demonstrate new knowledge and reinforces learning. 
    • What was the nicest thing you did for someone else? This reinforces self-reflection as well as your child’s role in creating a positive school environment.

     Here a few more that you might find fun!

    What games did you play at recess?

    What was the funniest thing that happened today?

    Did anyone do anything super nice for you?

    What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?

    Who made you smile today?

    What new fact did you learn today?

    Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?

    What challenged you today?

    What would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?

    If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day, who would you want it to be? Why?

    If you had the chance to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?

    What is your teacher's most important rule?

    What is the most popular thing to do at recess?

    Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? How?

    Tell me something you learned about a friend today.

    What was your favorite subject to study today? Why?

    What is one thing you did today that was helpful?

    When did you feel most proud of yourself today?

    What rule was the hardest to follow today?

    What is one thing you hope to learn before the school year is over?

    Which area of your school is the most fun?

    Which playground skill do you plan to master this year?

    • This year all newsletters will also include an article which we believe both parents and teachers will find enjoyable as well as thought-provoking. The articles will cover a wide range of topics regarding child development, social/emotional growth and elementary education.  A portion of each PTA meeting will be dedicated to fostering a light discussion of the recent articles. 
    • Please click here for this week’s  article:  12 Questions that Teach Kindness in Your Children by Megan Jordan

    Please visit our website for additional information regarding your child's school experience. Articles and photographs found under School News will certainly spark some great discussions at the dinner table!

    • The First Day of Schoolgallery (click here), our farewell to Mr. Amdi (click here), and some photos from the first weeks of school (click here) are ready for your viewing pleasure.  Be sure to check School News often to view happenings around Harrison!
    • Please visit your child’s Teacher Page. All teachers will post daily homework, monthly curriculum updates as well as other pertinent information.

    We look forward to seeing you on Thursday at our Back to School Night!


    Mrs. Healy  


    September 27    Back to School Night

    October 5            Pep Rally-Students Only

    October 9          PTA Meeting

    October 10         Book Fair Preview Night

    October 11 -12   Book Fair


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  • August 23, 2018

    Posted by Cindy Healy on 8/23/2018

    Dear Parents and Guardians:

    Welcome Back!  It is hard to imagine that another school year is upon us.  I hope that you are as thrilled as I am to see what this year has to offer.  We have been planning many exciting activities to ignite your children’s creativity and to keep them moving forward.  

    As a parent, teacher, and principal, I never tire of seeing a child smile when he or she proudly says, “I did it”!  Our focus this year, as in the past, is to teach our children to keep trying despite mistakes or personal misgivings.  It is our sincere wish that every child has enough grit to deal with life’s challenges and to flourish.

    With this mission in mind, we are going to stress solving problems creatively and powering through mistakes.  Recently, members of our faculty attended a workshop called, creatED sponsored by Crayola. The focus of the program was to show educators ways to build creative capacity school-wide.  We look forward to implementing their ideas.

    In addition, we will be looking at famous people who did not always have a smooth pathway to success.  Have you heard of Richard James?  He was a naval engineer who had great difficulty repairing a ship with a special spring.  Although the spring he was using did not work on the ship, he (and his wife) came up with an alternate use for the spring - the Slinky!  Now, that took creativity and grit! 

    School begins on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Mr. Ramani, Mr. Diaz, Mr. Gibson and Ms. Dias worked tirelessly this past summer and the building is in tip- top shape! We will begin school with several new staff members and families as well as a new kindergarten class. These children will be part of the Livingston High School Class of 2031!  Additional information regarding the opening of school will be emailed over the next week.

    In closing, please allow me to share with you the words of the great master artist, Pablo Picasso.  He said, “When I haven’t any blue, I use red.”  That says it all. Whatever the color, let us take a page off his sketchbook and create a portrait of success for our children so that we may experience more of those “I did it” smiles. 

    Mrs. Healy


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Call for Safety

  • Call for Safety In order to ensure the safety of our students, parents should use the Call For Safety phone line and report the student’s name, day or dates the student is absent or tardy, and the reason for the absence or tardy.

    973-535-8000, x7103