Welcome to Westbrook!
This is not by any means an ‘official guide’ to Westbrook Elementary School. Rather, it is intended to be a concise primer with tips and information that we have learned over the years and that we wish someone had told us when our families were new to Westbrook.
School families are invited to join the school listserv, an email distribution list which is used to post school related announcements. Almost everything you need to know gets posted on the listserv. This is often the way to find out about after school activities, sports teams and issues concerning the school. We strongly encourage at least one person in your family to join the school listserv. To join, please visit the Westbrook School Listserv and make sure to submit your child's name and grade for the list serve moderator.
A separate listserv has been set up for the parents or guardians of a Westbrook student with special needs or learning differences or who receives educational support. To join, please visit the Westbrook School Special Needs Listserv or e-mail WestbrookES_Special _Needs@yahoogroups.com.
For non-school related information, there are community-based listservs available for announcements of local events, news, power outages or sales. To join, please visit the Westbrook Neighborhood Listserv and to join a discussion of neighborhood concerns.
These list-serves are not moderated, and users need to be aware that any message sent is delivered to around 600 people.
Tip: Join the Westbrook school and neighborhood listserv. It is the easiest way to stay informed.
Tip: Be sure to sign your name and your child's name and grade when posting messages on the school listserv.
Tip: Consider carefully before hitting "reply-all" on a listserv message!
RECEIVING EMERGENCY INFORMATION
Sign up for Montgomery County Alert, which uses the Roam Secure Alert Network to contact you during a major crisis, emergency, or severe weather event (e.g. water main break, tornado warning). If there is ever an emergency at the school and Ms. Lane cannot send a message via ConnectEd (the school's communication system), you will be able to receive information via Montgomery County Alert.
Tip: Make sure that the school has your current phone numbers and e-mail addresses so that the school can contact you in the event of an emergency.
All decisions about weather delays and cancellations are made at the school system level--not by the individual school or any geographical region within MCPS. Therefore you will not receive messages from Westland or me (except today!)
To learn about delays or cancellations, tune into local news or check the MCPS website's main page http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org. At times, announcements will be made the evening prior to a weather event but typically the announcement is shared in the morning by 6:00 am.
This website lists other ways you can sign up for weather alerts by text, email, twitter, etc. http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/emergency/sources.aspx
When there is a 2 hour delay for students we follow a bell schedule that runs from 10:15 to 3:00--periods 1-7 with lunches beginning at 11:28.
GETTING INSIDE THE SCHOOL - SECURITY FOR VISITORS AND VOLUNTEERS
Although Westbrook uses more than one entrance for dismissal, visitors must enter the school through the front doors, wait to be buzzed in through the security system, and sign in at the Main Office with a valid driver’s license. For security reasons, the front doors are locked during school hours. In the office, visitors will receive a name tag sticker or pin to put on before proceeding to other areas of the school. This is a safety precaution so that all people in the building are accounted for in the event of an emergency. If a visitor is coming to volunteer, he or she is encouraged to mark the hours of volunteer service in the blue PTA notebook so that Westbrook can report totals to MCPS.
Tip: See the staff in the Main Office for your own personalized Westbrook button. It can be left in the office for use whenever you come and go.
PTA (Parent Teacher Association)
The Westbrook PTA is a strong and active organization of parents and teachers working together on behalf of our children. The PTA welcomes volunteers. Every school year, at least 200 parents volunteer, providing nearly 8,000 volunteer hours to the school community. The PTA has more than 50 active committees chaired or co-chaired by about 80 parents. All parents are welcome and encouraged to join the PTA and get involved at Westbrook.
The PTA provides critical funds and support to Westbrook students, teachers, programs and facilities. Funds are raised primarily by parent donations, Book Fair, and the Westbrook Carnival. With the guidance of many dedicated volunteers, the PTA funds expand music and arts programs, science and cultural arts assemblies, the Community of Caring program, parenting seminars, and sponsors before and after school programs at Westbrook, among other things.
Tip: Join the PTA! Go to Cheddar Up and set up an account for your Westbrook student. Join the PTA, pay class dues, and buy an extra directory all in a few short minutes.
Tip: Participate in the school listserv and attend PTA meetings to stay informed. PTA meetings are generally held the first Tuesday of most months. If you can’t attend nighttime meetings, read the PTA monthly meeting minutes and the PTA Patter, and take the opportunity to get a volunteer position you can do from home or work.
Tip: Getting involved is a great way to meet other Westbrook families and learn about what is going on in the school community. There are lots of evening and weekend volunteer opportunities if you are not able to volunteer during the school day.
FOWS was established in 1999 as a not-for-profit organization to raise money for specific capital projects that fall outside MCPS or PTA budgets or spending guidelines. Membership on the Board is open to any interested parents. Past FOWS projects include a security system upgrade, technology equipment for the computer lab, Promethean Boards and ELMO projectors, a full suite of playground equipment, and overall grounds and drainage enhancements. In 2013, in concert with MCPS opening the new classroom wing and gymnasium at Westbrook, FOWS raised funds to underwrite the costs of an outdoor courtyard and necessary repairs to the All Purpose Room (including an amazing new sound system). For more information, go to www.friendsofwestbrook.org.
Resources and Rules
The Westbrook Directory is so much more than a directory! It contains the school calendar, MCPS policies and logistics particular to Westbrook, contact information for PTA leadership and committee chairs, in addition to other important information.
When you join the PTA, you get a complimentary, bound copy of the Westbrook Directory with your membership, as well as access to a mobile directory app.
Tip: Be sure to always update your information with the Main Office if you have changed jobs or phones. This is the actual data used to reach you in an emergency as well as to create your directory entry annually. You definitely want this to be accurate!
The Westbrook Elementary School MCPS website is a great source of MCPS information. Be sure to check back frequently for the most current information.
Follow the Westbrook PTA on Facebook. The PTA posts regular updates, photos, and reminders of important activities.
This is a monthly calendar update from Ms. Lane on upcoming events. It is distributed at the beginning of each month via the listserve and email. Older monthly updates are accessible on Westbrook's MCPS website.
Parking at School/Traffic Management
It is quite obvious that parking at Westbrook is not easy! In fact, parking and pickup can get so jammed that many times it is easier to walk to school, even on bad weather days. If you live close enough, just get an umbrella, some boots, and a good jacket, leave a few minutes earlier and spare the earth some emissions.
When driving, there are several rules that MUST be followed:
Obey ALL posted signs – they are there for a reason. For example, cars parked at the bottom of the Allan Terrace hill can make it impossible for the buses to turn the corner. In addition, it is illegal to park in front of a fire hydrant.
Do not drive on Allan Terrace from Baltimore Avenue during posted times. The street is one way during drop off and pick up hours.
Tip: Do not stop on the street side of the school bus area in front of the school to drop off a child. It is a dangerous place to cross onto the school grounds, and it blocks the traffic flow.
“Kiss and Learn”
Parents who wish to use the “Kiss and Learn” for arrival should enter the school parking lot by proceeding all the way down Baltimore Avenue, turning left onto Glen Cove Parkway, then turning left onto Allan Terrace. Cars should not enter the bus loop between 8:15-9:30 AM.
After turning right into the school parking lot, “Kiss and Learn” drivers should continue past the first set of parking spaces and drop their child off in the designated area. Because of the small size of our parking lot, we ask that your child be ready to exit from the car in a timely fashion.
Students must exit ONLY on the right hand, passenger side of the vehicle by the sidewalk. Students can then walk up the stairs and use the sidewalk in front of the building to travel to their line up area.
A staff member will be in this area during the arrival time to greet students. Fifth grade patrols are also on duty to greet and assist arriving students.
Tip: It is not recommended that Kindergarten students use the “Kiss and Learn” because no staff members are available to escort students to the line-up area. There is no “Kiss and Learn” area at dismissal.
Rainy Day Arrival
In case of inclement weather, the following arrival locations will be used:
Grades K-2 will use the gym for inclement weather line-up.
Grades 3-5 will use the All Purpose Room for inclement weather line-up.
Teachers will meet their class in these locations and escort them to the classroom.
Bus riders, car riders, and those students approaching Westbrook from the front of the building should enter through the front door on rainy days. Walkers who enter on the side of the building nearest the playing field should enter the doors near the gym.
Tip: If you can, walk to school as much as possible or, if you live in Brookdale or Westmoreland Hills, have your children take the bus. If you must drive, drive slowly and cautiously, and be courteous to your neighbors. There are very few sidewalks in the neighborhoods surrounding Westbrook.
School Year Events
BACK-TO SCHOOL PICNIC/END-OF-SCHOOL PICNIC
School picnics are very informal gatherings of families, usually held on a Friday early in September and in June. Bring a blanket and something to eat, and enjoy socializing with other families on the school field and playground.
Tip: Bring the bug spray and a trash bag to cart your garbage off the school grounds. Also bring some spare change - - usually ice cream or gelato is available for sale at the picnics.
Tip: The bathrooms in the All Purpose Room at Westbrook will be open during the picnics.
AUGUST/SEPTEMBER - BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT (BTSN)
Back To School Night (BTSN) occurs on a weeknight and is a parents-only event. (Typically the Kindergarten BTSN is held the Thursday before school begins and there will be a different BTSN for grades 1-5.) First the principal introduces the staff, then parents split up by grade level and usually the teaching team for each grade presents an overview of the curriculum with a question and answer session. Parents are invited to visit their child’s classroom and leave a note at his/her desk. After the program, parents gather in the all-purpose room to sign-up for various activities at tables run by their children’s room parents, including a teacher conference at the end of the 1st marking period, usually around Veterans Day.
Tip: This is a great opportunity to learn about school and meet other parents. Introduce yourself and bring your calendar!
OCTOBER – PARENT VISITATION DAY
Parent Visitation Day is usually scheduled on Columbus Day (a federal holiday) and is an opportunity for parents to visit the classroom and see what a typical school morning is like. (It is typical, except for the fact that there are 30 parents sitting in the classroom, too). Visitation Day usually begins 20-30 minutes AFTER the start of school and lasts through the morning and ends before lunch.
Tip: This is an activity that many parents attend. You must arrange for childcare for pre-school age children.
NOVEMBER - BOOK FAIR
The Book Fair is a significant fall fundraising event held in the Fireplace Room over the course of a few days to raise funds and promote reading.
Tip: Book Fair offers a great opportunity to buy holiday gifts early. Look for your child to bring home a wish list of books to purchase. Also, check out teacher and library wish lists and consider making a donation to a classroom or to our sister school, Viers Mill Elementary.
JANUARY - BINGO NIGHT
This fun evening is open to all Westbrook families. Cards are available for a minimal fee and there are many opportunities to win fun prizes.
Tip: Bring money to purchase pizza and desserts and make it an evening outing for the entire family!
FEBRUARY - TALENT SHOW (1-5th grade)
All Westbrook superstars in grades 2-5 are invited to showcase their talents at the annual Westbrook Talent Show, held one evening in the spring. This fun event is eagerly anticipated by all Westbrook students!
MARCH – INTERNATIONAL AND MULTICULTURAL NIGHT
International and Multicultural Night is a long-standing tradition. It is usually held in the all purpose room at Westland Middle School. It is a springtime evening event where families share their cultural backgrounds with the school community. Families often wear their national dress and provide samples of their cuisine for small fees. Cultural exhibits and activities are also a part of this fun evening. The PTA coordinated language classes usually perform short programs at this event.
APRIL - CARNIVAL TEE SHIRTS
Different from Spirit Wear, these short-sleeved tee shirts feature artwork of Westbrook students. They are sold by advance sale – usually beginning in late March -- and delivered to the classroom before Carnival. The vast majority of students wear these special keepsakes on the day of Carnival.
Tip: Look for the Carnival Tee Shirt Art Contest announcement if you think your child might want to submit a thematic drawing.
MAY - CARNIVAL
The Westbrook Carnival is (and has been for decades) held after school on the first Friday in May. A wide range of activities - including games and rides - and food in the form of concessions, bake sales, food trucks, and a cake walk provide fun for the whole family.
Tip: Plan to participate somehow - by taking a daytime or afternoon volunteer shift at Carnival. Parents with young children often help with set up the morning of Carnival. Volunteer shifts are also available for middle and high school students. Carnival is a major undertaking that requires the assistance of every Westbrook family to ensure its traditional success.
A PTA committee sells “spirit” wear - comfortable clothing (usually pants, sweatshirts, pjs and tees) in school colors (navy & white) with Westbrook logos on them. The spirit committee also sells magnetic car stickers with the Westbrook logo. The sale is ongoing and will be available online and at various Westbrook events.
Tip: Spirit Wear makes a great holiday gift!
SGA SPIRIT DAYS
During the school year, the SGA will sponsor “Spirit Days” which follow different themes such as, “Wacky Hair Day’, “PJ Day” or “Jersey Day.” Participation is entirely optional and may be practiced by the whole school or a single grade. Spirit Days are often announced only in school – and not on the listserv or through a notice in the backpack.
Tip: If your child starts making their hair wacky one morning, it could be a sign that it’s actually SGA Spirit Day. You can call the office to confirm as no child wants to miss out on being wacky!
Lunch is served daily and the menu is distributed to the students. To view the menu online, visit here. If your child plans to buy lunch, you need to deposit money (check payable to Westbrook Cafeteria) in your student's account or online at www.mylunchmoney.com. To purchase food, each student is given a PIN number. The PIN is used to debit the cost of their lunch purchase from this account. Notices of low balances are regularly sent home.
WHAT IF MY CHILD FORGOT LUNCH OR HOMEWORK?
Have you seen the Drop-Off Table? It is located in the main hall just outside the Media Center and main office. Parents can place items such as lunches, books, assignments, etc., on the table as long as they are clearly labeled with the child's name. Teachers remind students to check this table during the day if they are expecting (or hoping for) any items.
Tip: Do not enter the classroom without prior approval since each visit interrupts instruction. If you're leaving something not expected by your child, tell the main office you've left something and they can notify your child's teacher.
WHAT IF MY CHILD IS LATE TO SCHOOL?
School starts promptly at 9:00 am and any child arriving thereafter must sign in at the main office. Escort your child to the office and sign your child in on the blue clipboard on the counter. Your child can then head off to his or her classroom. You do not need to accompany your child. Leading a child into the classroom interrupts instruction and the flow of the morning.
Tip: The principal is watching. Parents of regularly tardy students will hear from her.
HOW CAN I COMMUNICATE WITH MY CHILD'S TEACHER?
Emailing the teacher is usually least intrusive. You may also call the office and leave a message for the teacher so that the teacher can return your call. Do not stop by the classroom unannounced.
Tip: All teacher and staff email addresses are located on the Westbrook web site under the staff tab.
HOW CAN I SHOW MY APPRECIATION FOR THE STAFF AT WESTBROOK?
Westbrook’s teachers and staff are the best! To show how much we appreciate them, the PTA sponsors luncheons and various activities throughout the year. Some lunches are catered and some are potluck style. Families that cook or bake for the potluck luncheons will be recognized for their contribution. Feeding the folks who tend to our children for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week is a great way to say, "thank you!"
During teacher appreciation week, the PTA organizes a Flower Day in which students are asked to bring in 2-3 flowers to be used in arrangements for all teachers and staff. This is a fun tradition which is loved by both the students and staff and makes for a very festive start to teacher appreciation week!
Another beloved staff appreciation tradition is Thanksgiving Pie Day. Each class donates three pies to the event on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving vacation and every staff member gets a pie to take home for the Thanksgiving Holiday.
In May, the PTA organizes an end of the year gift collection for the teachers and staff at Westbrook. This is an excellent way for our Westbrook families to show their appreciation for the staff’s hard work throughout the year. You will hear about this collection through your room parents and the PTA Coordinator. The gift cards are presented at the End of the Year Teacher Luncheon.
HOW DO I RESERVE A ROOM FOR A NEW ACTIVITY?
Each year, one of the PTA vice-presidents is responsible for making reservations for PTA activities through the county reservation system (called the ICB or Community Use of Public Facilities Office). Even though Westbrook is “our school,” every club, event, or after-school activity must reserve the space and pay a small fee. If you are trying to start a non-PTA activity, you will need to attend training and receive your own login and password to the CUPF online reservation system. More information can be found at: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cupf
Do NOT call the office to notify your child about a play-date for that afternoon. Last minute social arrangements should be made outside of school.
Tip: Keep a directory handy or have the directory website programmed in your phone so that you have a backup plan if something comes up around dismissal time.