Friday, February 24, 2017

It's Friday! So, there is a newsletter.

A Couple of Easy Ways to Help Teachers (and Students)
Mr. Duso and his 8th grade FACS students will be running a full-service restaurant next week on Wednesday and Friday.  They will have take out, delivery, and full table service.  The FACS Cafe allows students to get some real world working experience and job training, while learning about kitchen safety, cooking, and more.

Mr. Duso is also looking for one or two parent volunteers who have their clearances to help escort other parents who don't have their clearances. Please reply to this newsletter if you would be interested in being an escort.
Please Donate to the DMS Book Drive!
News and Other Information
DMS Student Social, Friday, March 24, from 6:00 - 8:30 PM at Dorseyville Middle School
Please Sign Up to Volunteer. Link Below.
Following up on the stellar success of the November student social (over 300 students attended), details have been revealed for the upcoming spring social. Your students will surely not want to miss this event!

The cost for the social will be $5.00. Tickets must be purchased at school before the event - no tickets will be sold at the door. The price includes all the fun that can be had (more on that below), 2 pieces of pizza, 2 drinks, ice cream, and snacks. What a deal!

Activities will be facilitated by a DJ and photo booth, which were both successful last time, as well as a corn-hole toss and craft tables. There will also be ping pong and ga-ga ball.

Parent Volunteers are needed to sell tickets at  school the weeks of March 6-10 and March 13-17. Volunteers are also needed on the day of the event (March 24th) to setup and decorate, and later, to chaperone. Please follow this link to sign up!
Follow Up On Screenagers
Several DMS parents and families attended SCREENAGERS at the Hillman Center at Shady Side Academy last night. It was an informative and entertaining look at finding the right balance of technology use in our lives. The creators of the documentary have a series of posts called Tech Talk Tuesdays to continue the conversation of growing up in the digital age; here is a link for more information. If there is enough interest, DMS can have its own screening at a later date. I know some of you have already expressed interest, but we are looking for others to please respond to this newsletter if you would like us to host a screening as well.
Order the Yearbook Soon Before the Sale is Over!
Yearbook sales continue just through the end of the month of February.  Books can be purchased online for $25.00 at www.yearbookordercenter.com. The school number is 4992 or the school code is DMS.

The yearbook committee is in need of images from the DMS dance and sporting events.  If parents have images to share they can upload them to the Herff Jones Eshare site and enter the school code, DMS.  They cannot guarantee all would be used but they would greatly appreciate receiving a variety of images.

Like always, if parents have questions or comments about the DMS yearbook please send an email to Mary Jo Montgomery at:
maryjo_montgomery@fcasd.edu
PTO and Other School Events Coming Up:
Book Club Next Week -- March 2nd!
The DMS PTO Parents' Book Club will be discussing the books Queen Bees and Wannabes and Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman. Please read (one or both) to prepare for an exciting and insightful discussion that will take place at 6:30 PM on March 2 at the Panera Bread at the Waterworks. See the video on our facebook page for more information.
8th Grade Transition to High School Meeting, March 7, 6:30 PM
This meeting will take place at DMS (despite what was said earlier) and will allow parents to learn about what they and their students can expect in ninth grade.
Spring Fundraiser, March 13-24
All of the great events described above (and all of the other events that have taken place throughout the school year) would not be possible without your help. We hope we can count on you for your continued support. Information about the spring fundraiser will be coming soon!
Next PTO Meeting Will Be Wednesday, March 15, at 9:30 AM, at Dorseyville Middle School
DMS Parents Night, Tuesday, March 28th at 6:15 PM
All parents will be invited to get a sneak peek at some of the tools, learning games, and technology that our students use in the classrooms. There will also be information sessions on topics pertinent to raising adolescents. Mark it on your calendars!
Thank you so much for contributing your Box Tops! We will have more information about who and how much next week. 
Looking for your ideas . . .
Teacher appreciation week is the first week of May and we need your ideas! Please submit your thoughts about ways that we can show appreciation for our teachers by sending an email to president@dorseyvillepto.org.
Hope to see you at the DMS PTO Parents Book Club Next Week!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Newsletter is Here!

DMS PTO Newsletter for 2/17/17
Grants Given to Teachers
Mr. Shaw, English/ Language Arts teacher for team 8A, has used PTO grant money to purchase Raspberry Pi computers and copies of the Nintendo 3ds game “Mario Maker" for team 8A's upcoming STEMM project.

Students will use these materials to design (and market) original video games for a specific target audience. The theme of the games will be to challenge the players' problem solving skills. The end product will be an actual video game (or preliminary designs of a game) and a mock-up of a “Kickstarter” campaign for it. Students will present their ideas and designs to the entire team, competition style, in order to create the best possible product. In addition to enhancing their technical skills, students will also focus on communications and writing. They will be required to submit a written proposal and rational for their design before beginning the project. They will also need to create various promotional materials for their game, including artwork and instructions, which will help them prepare for and understand the field of technical writing. The project will begin in May.

Social Studies teacher Mr. LaPatka of team 8A has purchased strategy board games that deal with specific topics and eras in U.S. history to play with students during homebase enrichment sessions and lunch periods.
DMS Student Social, Friday, March 24, from 6:00 - 8:30 PM at Dorseyville Middle School
Following up on the stellar success of the November student social (over 300 students attended), details have been revealed for the upcoming spring social. Your students will surely not want to miss this event!

The cost for the social will be $5.00. Tickets, which must be purchased at school before the event, will include all the fun that can be had (more on that below), 2 pieces of pizza, 2 drinks, and 2 ice creams. What a deal!

Activities will be facilitated by a DJ and photo booth, which were both successful last time, as well as a corn-hole toss and craft tables. There will also be ping pong and ga-ga ball.

We will need 20 parent volunteers to supplement the 18 teacher volunteers, so please consider helping out.

More specific information will follow.
PTO and Other School Events Coming Up:
Screenagers Screening on Feb. 23rd at Shady Side Academy.
The one hour film will be shown on Thursday, February 23rd at Shady Side Academy. It is free and will begin at 7:00 PM. Parents from the Dorseyville community are officially welcome to attend. Please click on the school name to follow links to more information about the screening.
Book Club Fast Approaching -- March 2nd!
The DMS PTO Parents' Book Club will be discussing the books Queen Bees and Wannabes and Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman. Please read (one or both) to prepare for an exciting and insightful discussion that will take place at 6:30 PM on March 2 at the Panera Bread at the Waterworks.
8th Grade Transition to High School Meeting, March 7, 6:30 PM
This meeting will take place at the high school and will allow parents to learn about what they and their students can expect in ninth grade.
Spring Fundraiser, March 13-24
All of the great events described above (and all of the other events that have taken place throughout the school year) would not be possible without your help. We hope we can count on you for your continued support. Information about the spring fundraiser will be coming soon!
Next PTO Meeting Will Be Wednesday, March 15, at 9:30 AM, at Dorseyville Middle School
DMS Parents Night, Tuesday, March 28th at 6:15 PM
All parents will be invited to get a sneak peek at some of the tools, learning games, and technology that our students use in the classrooms. There will also be information sessions on topics pertinent to raising adolescents. Mark it on your calendars!
Looking for your ideas . . .
Teacher appreciation week is the first week of May and we need your ideas! Please submit your thoughts about ways that we can show appreciation for our teachers by sending an email to president@dorseyvillepto.org.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Newsletter, February 3, 2017

Spotlight:
Sixth Grade (6A) Science Teacher and Coach for Girls Basketball and Track and Field, Jim Neely

by Danielle Bradley

Special thanks to Mrs. Burke (6A math), who contacted Mr. Neely's former students.
In this Spotlight Interview, we are celebrating a wonderful teacher, Mr. Jim Neely.  Mr. Neely, probably in his final year teaching at DMS, came into teaching as a second career after seventeen years of working with Steamfitters Local 449.  He explained that he had always wanted to go into teaching but "life happens" and he initially chose another career path.  His elementary school teacher, Mrs. Marylou Stefanko, encouraged him to follow his dream of becoming an educator, so at the age of 32 he went back to school to pursue what he felt was his true calling.
Mr. Neely started his career at North Allegheny for two years, then came to Fox Chapel to teach sixth grade math.  Eventually he moved to science two subjects he feels go hand in hand.  He enjoys teaching sixth grade science because it is the first time that the students have science five days a week.  He feels that this opens up a whole new world to the students because they use the "Inquiry Method" which allows them to internalize the concepts on a much deeper level.  Over the course of the year, they focus on life science, physical science and earth science. During the life science unit this year, the science teachers were able to get eggs so that the students could observe and study the life cycle of chickens.  The children loved this process; it helped to illustrate the concepts very clearly and they had fun at the same time.  They even named the chicks!  These types of experiences are what Mr. Neely hopes will stick with his students and inspire a life-long interest in science.
In addition to teaching science, Mr. Neely is also the girls basketball and track coach.  Coaching is one of Mr. Neely's true passions.  He enjoys coaching the students and seeing them succeed not only academically, but athletically as well.  He likes that there aren't try outs for track so that anyone who wants to pursue a sport has the opportunity to do so.  He thinks it is a fantastic way to build character, work together on a team, and adopt healthy lifestyles that can be carried beyond DMS into adulthood.  He has been lucky enough to see some of his former players in high school and college.  Mr. Neely hopes to continue coaching even after he retires as an educator because he enjoys it so much.  
Some sentiments from those who know Mr. Neely:
From Erin Rowlands (8th Grade Science)

Eleven years ago, I was a newly hired Fox Chapel teacher on my way to the first department meeting of the school year.  Upon arriving, I was greeted by my new science colleagues, and one man in particular stood out.  His soft-spoken voice and kind smile were things I had heard and seen before… I realized that this man was the Mr. Neely who was my fourth grade student teacher in Social Studies at McKnight Elementary in NA sixteen years prior!  Out of all of my fourth grade teachers, I remembered Mr. Neely the most, even though he only taught us for a short time--he was the “cool, young” teacher in the 4th grade!   Most importantly, I still remember what he taught me--twenty-plus years later, I can still name the capitals and provinces of Australia and sing songs like” Kookaberra” that went with them. He was and is a wonderful teacher and person, so I consider myself lucky to have been able to work with him for over a decade as an adult.  I will truly miss him when he retires!
From Melissa McKamish (Math Teacher at the High School)

Mr. Neely was my basketball coach, and I was part of the first team he coached. Through the years he has truly had a real impact on my life. He cares about each student and player that he encounters. I look up to him, and can only hope to be as good of a person as he is. Thank you for all you've shown and taught me as a player, a fellow coach, and most importantly as a person.
From Michael Frank (5th Grade Teacher at Fairview)

I can still remember having Mr. Neely for math when I was in sixth grade at Dorseyville.  We were the first sixth grade class to attend Dorseyville when it became a middle school, and I can remember being happy to be on his team because he was one of the first male classroom teachers I ever had, and that helped make that transition to a new building much easier.  I was also lucky enough to student-teach at DMS when I was finishing my education degree and had the pleasure of working on the same team as Mr. Neely.  He is definitely someone that has contributed so much to the students at DMS and will surely be missed!

From Ashley Wickert (7th grade Math)

I had Mr. Neely as a second grade teacher at North Allegheny after he completed his student teaching with Mrs. Tatum.  I will always remember sharing our classroom with the art teacher and the group of Michael's we had in that class.  Fast forward 17 years and once again I found myself sitting alongside Mr. Neely but this time as a colleague on team 6C.  Although it took me a while to call him Jim, I will always be grateful to the help he provided me as a young teacher here at Dorseyville.  Thanks, Mr. Neely!
Screenings of the movie Screenagers 
In SCREENAGERS, as with her award-winning documentaries on mental health, Delaney Ruston takes a deeply personal approach as she probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction. Through poignant and unexpectedly funny stories, along with surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, SCREENAGERS reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.

A link to the trailer.

The one hour film will be shown on Thursday, February 23rd at Shady Side Academy. It is free and will begin at 7:00 PM. Parents from the Dorseyville community are officially welcome to attend. Please click on the school name to follow links to more information about the screening.

If there is enough interest, DMS can have its own screening at a later date. Please respond to this newsletter if you would like us to host a screening as well.
Three Ways You Can Contribute to Your and Your Students' Experiences
Career Fair:

Please consider volunteering an afternoon to showcase your career at the 8th grade career fair from 1:00-3:00 on March 17th. According to Mr. Reinhard, he is lacking presenters in the areas of the arts, business, government and public administration, hospitality and tourism, human services, and transportation, distribution and logistics.   If you or any members of your family are interested in presenting at the Career Day this year please fill out the google form. Please contact Mr. Reinhard at Craig_Reinhard@fcasd.edu with any questions.

Suggestions for Parents' Night:
Please respond to this email if you have any ideas about what you would like to see presented at the DMS Parents' Night on Tuesday, March 28th. We will pass along your suggestions to Mr. Nauhaus.

Photos for the Yearbook:
The yearbook committee is in need of images from the DMS dance and sporting events.  If parents have images to share they can upload them to the Herff Jones Eshare site and enter the school code, DMS.  They cannot guarantee all would be used but they would greatly appreciate receiving a variety of images.
PTO and Other School Events Coming Up:
District Forum Meeting 
The regular district forum meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 14 at 9:00 AM at the high school's LGI room. They will be discussing the use of technology in the district.
February PTO Meeting
The next PTO meeting will occur on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 PM at Panera in the Waterworks.
No School Friday, February 17 and Monday, February 20
Book Club to Take Place on March 2, Read Across America Day.
Start Reading Now!
The DMS PTO Parents' Book Club will be discussing the books Queen Bees and Wannabes and Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman. Please read (one or both) to prepare for an exciting and insightful discussion that will take place at 6:30 PM on March 2 at the Panera Bread at the Waterworks.
8th Grade Transition to High School Meeting, March 7, 6:30 PM
This meeting will take place at the high school and will allow parents to learn about what they and their students can expect in ninth grade.
Spring Social on Friday, March 24.
Tell your students to get their dance moves ready for a fun social event for all DMS students. Tickets will be $5 and will be sold in advance.

Anybody who is interested in helping with the festivities (either in planning or the day of), please reply to this newsletter or write to president@dorseyvillepto.org.
Box Tops!
Non-expired Box Tops are due on Thursday, February 16th. They can be put in the bin in the front lobby. Please put them in baggies so they don't get lost. If you don't have the baggy that was sent home, just put them in a new baggy with your student's name and homeroom on it.
Hope to see you at the next DMS PTO meeting on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 at Panera Bread in the Waterworks.
Copyright © 2017 Dorseyville Middle School PTO, All rights reserved. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Senate Bill 76, or How to Save our Schools

A Letter from our District Forum representative, Elizabeth Rambeau.


Dear fellow DMS parents:

District Forum and Superintendent Dr. Gene Freeman believe it is imperative that parents understand the nature of a proposed bill that, if passed, would create onerous funding hurdles for FCASD. 

What is the legislation we oppose?

Sometimes called the Property Tax Independence Act, this bill has been proposed in the past in both the house (HB 76) and senate (SB 76). A recent memorandum released by our state senators indicates that it will be introduced to the senate soon as SB 76. Unlike in past legislative sessions, there’s evidence there’s more momentum for it this year. This bill proposes to fund schools largely through a hike in state income tax and an increase in state sales tax including taxing food and clothing that are currently untaxed. 

What can we all do to prevent this bill from passing?

The last time this bill came up for a vote, it lost by only one vote! We cannot afford to assume this bill will not be passed when it is reintroduced to the Senate as early as next week.

Act NOW!

  • Come to the EMERGENCY District Forum Meeting. Please come learn more about the negative impact these bills will have on our schools, our community, and our property values, by coming to a meeting at the Fox Chapel Area High School TODAY, Tuesday, January 31 at 7 PM in the LGI Room.
  • Call your state senator (see below)

Why do we oppose this bill? 

Loss of local control. Right now our educational money stays in the hands of our local district. Most of the money used to fund FCASD is local—in fact about 83 percent of FCASD funds are generated right here. Why would we give up local control of our tax dollars when we know Harrisburg has proven unreliable in disbursing funds to schools in the past? This is a gamble we can’t afford to take. Local school districts would lose control of their budgets, because these tax dollars would be controlled by the state.  Property taxes would not go away. 

Referendums are a risky bet. SB 76 attempts to provide local communities with the ability to raise additional school funds through voter-approved referendums that would raise local income tax. To maintain current levels of funding, our district will need to pass a referendum within a year. While the FCASD community is supportive of its children, the reality is that 72 percent of households in our district DO NOT have children in the FCASD and may not be connected to the educational community. We cannot be sure that this group will want to increase their personal income tax contributions to schools they are not using. The burden of these referendum campaigns will more than likely fall on the 28 percent of households with school-age children. Frankly, the odds of getting a majority of votes are not in our children’s favor.

Regressive tax. Linking education to sales tax and income tax disproportionately burdens working families and individuals. SB 76 will make goods and services cost more for individuals and families because of the sales tax hike, but this same group will have less income to spend on those goods because of the income tax hike.

Tax on workers. Retiree income in Pennsylvania will be exempt from school income tax. Did you know that less than 48 percent of Pennsylvanians are employed and that Allegheny County is one of the oldest by age in the country? With the number of working Pennsylvanians expected to decline over the next few years, a shrinking pool of workers will be responsible for the ever-increasing costs of education.

Unpredictable revenue stream. Income and sales taxes are unpredictable sources of revenue, which will make budgeting extremely difficult.

Does not help poorer school districts. It is important to note that this is not an attempt to equalize school funding across the state.  Under SB76 each school would be ‘locked in’ to the current year’s budget—never getting an increase.  Schools in poorer districts are not getting help, instead, they will forever have an insufficient budget. 

Community support. Currently about 17 percent of FCASD funds are generated from local business property contribution; our business communities, like RIDC, are valued contributing stakeholders of our schools. It is unlikely that FCASD can do without their contributions.

Calling your State Senator:

Your state senator is Randy Vulakovich or Wayne Fontana (Sharpsburg only). They need to know that their constituents will not benefit from SB76.

Please take a moment to call Senator Vulakovich or Senator Fontana and voice your concerns. It is that easy—but senators can only listen to the constituents they hear from.

Please call either office or both. Below is a suggested message:

“Senator, my name is ____________ and I am a parent in the Fox Chapel Area School District.   I am very concerned about the impact that SB76 would have on Pennsylvania schools. This is wrong for our children and community. Please voice my concerns to the senate. Thank you for your time.”

Randy Vulakovich (R) – 38th PA Senatorial District
District Office 412-487-6600
Harrisburg Office 717-787-6538

Wayne D. Fontana (D) – 42nd PA Senatorial District
District Office 412-344-2551
Harrisburg Office 717-787-5300

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Friday Newsletter From 1/27/17

Please help us make Parents' Night a useful event for all DMS parents. 
On Tuesday, March 28, at 6:15 PM, DMS will hold its annual Parents' Night. This is a time for parents to come to DMS, without their students, to learn about important topics related to education and the raising of middle schoolers.

Many people we have talked to so far feel that there should be a presentation related to technology discussing "parenting in the digital age."

We are looking for ideas about what you would like to learn in a presentation about technology, and we also want to hear what other topics you would like to see at the DMS Parents' Night.

Please send your ideas for topics to be presented on Parents' Night to comms@dorseyvillepto.org or you can just hit reply to this newsletter.

There are no guarantees that your idea will be chosen, but it can't hurt to try! 
Emergency District Forum Meeting, Jan. 31, 7:00 PM
An emergency District Forum meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 31 at 7:00 PM, at the high school in the LGI room; the room can be accessed through the entrance by the fox in the back parking lot. The meeting is being held to discuss a bill that has been submitted to both houses of the Pennsylvania Legislature that would vastly change the experience of students in our district. The superintendent has assured us that there will be plenty of parking. Just because you want to believe it will never happen, doesn't mean it won't. Come to the meeting to learn more about what you can do.
Help Needed for Career Day
The DMS Counseling office is hoping to bring back the 8th Grade Career Fair this year.  As of right now it is scheduled to take place on March 17th from approximately 1:00 - 3:00 PM. Mr. Reinhard is looking for anyone who is willing to volunteer an afternoon to come to DMS to do a few presentations to 8th grade students about their career.  Prior to the Career Fair, the students will select three careers that they would like to learn more about from the list of available speakers.  Therefore, Mr. Reinhard is looking for a diverse range of career presenters.  If you or any members of your family are interested in presenting at the Career Day this year please fill out the google form.

Please contact Mr. Reinhard at Craig_Reinhard@fcasd.edu with any questions.
Yearbook Information
Well, the musical might be over, but yearbook season is gearing up.  

The yearbook committee is really in need of images from the DMS dance and sporting events.  If parents have images to share they can upload them to the Herff Jones Eshare site and enter the school code, DMS.  They cannot guarantee all would be used but they would greatly appreciate receiving a variety of images.

Also, the yearbook postcard sale was just recently sent out 1/25/17, from Herff Jones.  Yearbook sales are on now through the month of February.  Books can be purchased online for $25.00 at:  www.yearbookordercenter.comThe school number is:  4992  OR school code is:  DMS.

The yearbook advisors expressed their gratitude for the PTO's donation that will pay for yearbooks for students in need. The guidance department will handle all the details identifying students and book distribution for student privacy.  

Like always, if parents have questions or comments about the DMS yearbook please send an email to Mary Jo Montgomery at: maryjo_montgomery@fcasd.edu
PTO Events Coming Up:
District Forum Meeting 
The regular district forum meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 14 at 9:00 AM in the high school's LGI room. They will be discussing the use of technology in the district.
February PTO Meeting
The next PTO meeting will occur on Wednesday, February 15, at 7:00 PM, at Panera Bread in the Waterworks.
Book Club to Take Place on March 2, Read Across America Day.
Start Reading Now!
The DMS PTO Parents' Book Club will be discussing the books Queen Bees and Wannabes and Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman. Please read (one or both) to prepare for an exciting and insightful discussion that will take place at 6:30 PM on March 2 at the Panera Bread at the Waterworks.
Spring Social on Friday, March 24.
Tell your students to get their dance moves ready for a fun social event for all DMS students. Tickets will be $5 and will be sold in advance.

Anybody who is interested in helping with the festivities (either in planning or the day of), please reply to this newsletter or write to president@dorseyvillepto.org.
Money for Nothing

Box Tops Collection Going on Right Now!

Please ask your students for their baggies. A resealable plastic bag (with your student's name on it) was given to your students' last week. Have your student put his or her non-expired Box Tops into the baggy and drop them into the large, pink, fluorescent collection bin in the entryway of the school by Thursday, February 16. If your baggy is lost, please just put the Box Tops in a new bag with your student's name and homebase on it.

The fall collection raised $730.07 for the school, which is more than we received all of last year! Can we top that?

Amazon Smile

DMS PTO will receive up to 10% of your purchase from Amazon.com when you click in from this link