Suffield Public Schools

McAlister Intermediate School

October 2015

260 Mountain Road | Suffield, CT 06078 | 860-668-3830 |

Upcoming Events:

Friday, Oct. 2, 2015

Signature Project
(All school assembly)

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015

Suffield BOE Meeting
6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015

Walk to School Day
7:30 a.m.
Various Locations
(October 13th Rain Date)

Monday, Oct. 12, 2015

No School - Columbus Day

Tuesday, Oct.13, 2015

NCCC Support Group
5:30 p.m.
SHS Room 221

PTO Board Meeting
7:30 p.m.
MIS Media Center

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015,
Monday, Oct. 19, 2015

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 (Rain Date)

Grade 4 Walking Tour
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015

Wingmasters Presentation

Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015

McAlister Family Hike
11:30 a.m.
Heublein Tower in Simsbury, CT

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015

Suffield BOE Meeting
6:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 23, 2015

3:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
SMS Cafeteria and Gym

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015

AWS and MIS - Early Release - Professional Development
1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015

Picture Retake Day


Virtual Backpack:

2015 - 2016 District Calendar

McAlister Menus

McAlister Family Handbook



A Message From The Principal

Dear McAlister Families,

We’ve had a fabulous first month of the 2015-2016 school year!   Everyone has been working together to ensure students’ transition into the new school year was successful and built upon a foundation of engaging instruction, deep care and concern for our students, and continuous improvement.  A testament to this successful transition is the way that our students are smiling and busily chatting with each other each day when they enter the school, the way they are engaged in their classroom learning, and by the way they are connecting with both their teachers and classmates.

In addition to transitioning the students into a new school year, we have also worked to develop positive relationships with our families through a variety of activities.  The August Back to School Letter, the Before School Open House and the Parent Open House Night, helped us build successful home-school relationships. We will continue to focus on developing those all-important relationships with many upcoming activities during the months of October and November.  Please take careful note of the following activities. We encourage our families to join us for as many of these events as their busy schedules allow:

McAlister Celebrates National Walk to School Day--We are holding our first-ever Walk to School Day on October 8, 2015 (raindate on Oct 13).  This nationally recognized day will be comprised of students being dropped off at either the Suffield Green or at the Suffield Country Club and then walking to school in chaperoned groups.  Walking to school gives our students a healthful start to their day!  All students participating in this day must have a permission slip (one was recently sent home--and can also be found on the Virtual Backpack at signed by a parent or guardian. 

McAlister 2nd Annual Family Hike--This is our second time offering this weekend activity to our families.  Please join us as we gather at Hublein Tower in Simsbury on Saturday, October 17 at 11:30 a.m.  This invigorating, 2.5 mile round trip hike with truly stunning views is a fun physical activity for all members of the family.  This year we are encouraging families to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the top of the hike.  This is an event that will only be held weather permitting.

Show and Tell Open House--We will start the month of November off with one of our favorite evening events--the Show and Tell Open House!  On the evening of Thursday, November 5, 2015 we invite families into our school to visit their child’s teachers, view their their current work, and tour the school using a specially devised family “scavenger hunt”.  In addition to the Show and Tell Open House our PTO will be holding our fall book fair. Come and join us for this fun and informative evening!

In closing, know how deeply we value the connections and relationships with our families, as these relationships truly further the success of our students. And as always, we look forward to another joyous and successful school year!

Warm regards,

Karen E. Carpenter-Snow

Karen Carpenter-Snow

Picture Day Makeup

Our Picture Day Makeup will be on Wednesday, October 28, 2015.  If an additional Picture Order Form is needed, students can pick one up in the McAlister main office.

Bus Driver Appreciation Day

Bus Driver Appreciation Day is on October 8.  On this day our PTO holds a breakfast for all bus drivers to show our appreciation.  Our students are also encouraged to make a card or write a letter for their specific bus driver. The positive role that our bus drivers play cannot be underestimated, as they are the first member of our school system that our students see each day and they are responsible for getting our students safely to and from school.

Expanding Horizons Fall Session

We are excited to once again offer our fall session of Expanding Horizons! Expanding Horizons is an after school enrichment program offered to all students. Signups and additional information can be found in the Virtual Backpack. This year's classes include cartooning, sign language, legomania, chess, checkers, cards, and more. Signups end on Thursday, October 15th and classes start on Monday, October 19th. Check out the Virtual Backpack for all the details.

McAlister Breakfast and Lunch Menus

Please note that both our breakfast and lunch menus can always be found by going to, then clicking on "Lunch & Breakfast Menus" on the left hand side.


New Pick Up Procedures


We are always working to increase the safety and security of our school.  To that end, we will be instituting an additional layer of security to our student pick up procedure.  Parents and families will continue to pick up their children in the cafeteria at the end of each day starting at 3:05 P.M.  However, starting on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, we will ask that all parents and families who are picking up their children present our staff members their driver’s license as proof of identification.  This will assist us in further ensuring that we are releasing children to the correct adult.  Be sure to have your driver’s license with you when you pick up your children, as this ensures that student pick up occurs without delay.


The Signature Project


On Friday, October 2, 2015 our students will attend a performance of The Signature Project, sponsored by our wonderfully generous PTO.  The Signature Project is a digital tapestry created by artist Patrick Dunning.  Mr. Dunning created this tapestry by collaborating with over one million people, and the tapestry contains images that are based on his Irish heritage as well as stories from all around the world.  This truly unique performance will bring the tapestry to life with elements of story-telling, music, art, and technology.


Nurse’s Corner by Mrs. Fall


Hello and welcome to the Nurse’s Corner!  I’m Mrs. Fall, the school nurse here at McAlister School.  My main goal is keeping students healthy, safe and ready to learn!  As we embark on a new school year, I want everyone to know that my doors are always open from 8:10am to 3:25pm.  Please feel free to stop by or call with any questions or concerns: 860-668-3822.  My email is

I would like to remind all parents that if you have a child with asthma or allergies or any other medical condition requiring medication at school, to please make sure it’s brought to the nurse along with the physician’s authorization. All medication must be delivered by the parent, guardian or other responsible adult to the nurse, or in the absence of the nurse, the school principals who are trained in the appropriate administration of medication.

The cold and flu season is just beginning. In addition to keeping sick children home and practicing good hand washing hygiene, the single best way to protect against the seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year.  For more information visit the CDC website ( for what to expect for the 2015-2016 Influenza season.

Curriculum Highlights

Grade Three by Mrs. Halzack


Third graders have been hard at work in our math pilot programs! Students working in the Eureka Math Program have been immersed in a challenging unit on multiplication and division. Students are learning multiple ways to represent multiplication such as repeated addition, arrays, and skip counting as they broaden their understanding of multiplication concepts. Third graders in the Investigations Program have been focusing on understanding place value and the relationship between ones, tens, and hundreds. They have also been working on decomposing numbers (e.g. 95 = 90 + 5; 135 = 100 + 30 +5)) and deepening their understanding of addition and subtraction. Concepts are reinforced and applied through games that students are really enjoying!  In reading, we have been focusing on establishing the routines and expectations of reading workshop. Lessons on choosing “just right” books, talking effectively about text with a group, and monitoring one’s own reading for understanding are just a few of the many lessons that are being presented to students in this unit of study. Students are also working hard at strengthening their independent reading skills and building their reading stamina. In writing, students have been engaged in learning the routines and expectations of writing workshop. Students are working on “zooming in” on small moments in their lives and writing about that simple moment with lots of detail!

Lastly, third graders are engaged in an exciting science unit on plant and animal adaptations. On October 15th, the PTO Enrichment Committee will present a fascinating program called Wingmasters to our students. The program includes information about the adaptations of different birds of prey, including owls, falcons, and eagles! The opportunity to observe live birds of prey always makes this program a memorable one for third graders!


Grade Four by Mrs. Pitocco


Fourth grade is off to a great start!  The children have all learned and modeled the McAlister Way in the lunchroom, hallways, classrooms, etc.  They even had their McAlister Way Passport stamped to prove it.  We have jumped right into our new math programs and we are becoming mathematicians!  They are currently investigating place value or factors, multiples, and arrays.  We have launched the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops and the routines and expectations are in place for incredible learning.  In reading, we will be delving into fictional stories and interpreting the characters.  In writing, the students will be sharing stories of their own lives in a personal narrative.  We can’t wait to learn even more about our students!  In science, the students will engage in the process of discovery through hand-on exploration of forces and motion.  In social studies, the students will begin to look at Connecticut’s location in relation to the world and our state symbols.  We are excited to visit the King and Hathaway House in October!  The children will get to see history right in their own town.  We are thrilled about all the learning we will do in fourth grade.


Grade Five by Mrs. Larson


Fifth graders are getting our routines down for our daily reading and writing workshops! We are practicing our ability to make inferences, detect mood, and understand elements of fiction. We are reading aloud Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate, and using this for our daily lessons.

In science, students will be continuing to develop their understanding of sound energy.  We will be learning about pitch, volume, loudness and about reflection and absorption as well. We will be completing our first project during the month of October, so look for information on that to arrive home mid/late October.

In social studies, we will continue to study early colonial history and the founding of the original 13 colonies.  We will explore reasons for the founding of each colony and cover topics such as trade, everyday life, and the interactions between colonists and Native Americans. 

In math, our math pilots are underway and teachers are working to help students establish routines for math and laying a groundwork for a year of mathematical learning. The Eureka group will continue to work with place value and multiplication skills and strategies. The Investigations group will move from prime factorization into multi-digit multiplication strategies. Please be on the lookout for parent letters from each of the programs, as these letters further communicate details of these important skills.


Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) by Jack Ferraro


If a child doesn’t know how to read, we teach. If a child doesn’t know how to swim,we teach. If a child doesn’t know how to multiply, we teach. If a child doesn’t know how to drive, we teach. But what do we do if a child doesn’t know how to behave? At McAlister Intermediate School, an essential component of our PBIS framework is to take a systematic, instructional approach to teach students the behaviors we expect everywhere, all the time.

The start of another school year is the best time to explicitly teach students our expected behaviors of acting with kindness, showing respect, taking responsibility, and being safe. During the first weeks of school, every teacher took time to facilitate common, school-wide lesson plans that teach students specifically what The McAlister Way looks like and sounds like in the classroom, hallway, cafeteria, bathroom, on the bus, and at recess. These lesson plans follow a common format incorporating effective instructional strategies and include common language so that all students hear the same message to promote a school-wide understanding of expected behaviors throughout our school.

After all students participated in these common lessons and practiced showing expected behaviors, Mr. Ferraro, our assistant principal, met with each grade level to hear what students learned from the McAlister Way lessons and to reinforce the importance of being kind, respectful, responsible and safe not only with each other at school, but with all people in all places all of the time.

Having an established system for reinforcing and acknowledging expected behaviors is another essential component of PBIS. One way we acknowledge expected behaviors is through the distribution of McAlister Way tickets. This tangible reinforcer is always paired with verbal acknowledgement, a key part of the reinforcement process. By pairing tangible reinforcement with verbal reinforcement, adults can make clear to students which specific behaviors they are recognizing and effectively promote students’ inclination to make good behavior choices.

This year, instead of weekly raffle, all students will be able to use their McAlister Way tickets and exchange them for items at our new Paws ‘n’ Go Cart. Cool items such as special pencils, markers, change purses, or stamps, many featuring our McAlister Wildcat Paw logo, will be available, along with certificates for special lunches or recess games with teachers.

As always, the partnership we share with parents is instrumental to the success of any school-wide initiative, and our Paws ‘n’ Go Cart is certainly no exception! We are grateful for the many parent volunteers who will run the Paws ‘n’ Go cart every Tuesday and Thursday during each grade-level recess. We are always in need of more volunteers, and parents looking for a way to get involved at school can contact one of our PTO Co-Vice President of Volunteers, Sandy Carroll (860-550-1754) or Cheryl Sunshine (203-829-1812).

Our shared collaboration sends a powerful message to our students that when we all show The McAlister Way we create the kind, caring, and safe learning community we call McAlister Intermediate School!


Suffield Public Schools
350 Mountain Road, Suffield, CT 06078
Phone: 860-668-3800 (Central Office)


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