Mrs. Watts Classroom Handbook

Welcome to 2nd Grade!  

Dear Parents,

           My name is Sarah Watts and I am very excited to begin the school year. I know we will have a fantastic year together and I am looking forward to getting started. This will be my fourth year teaching the second grade. Prior to that, I taught kindergarten here at Hawthorne Elementary for two years. Before coming to Kearney, I taught kindergarten in a small community an hour north of Orlando, Florida for six years. I have also taught in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I attended Truman University in Kirksville, Missouri, and Mankato State University in Minnesota. I hold a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in reading, and my Master's in Elementary Administration.

           I really enjoy working with kids. We will work very hard, and we will also have some fun. I think I developed my philosophy on teaching from my fifth grade teacher in Anchorage, Alaska. He held high expectations for us in both our integrity and work ethics, but he also believed in learning activities that were fun and helped build a very unified group of kids. Because school is such a big part of childhood memories, I hope to create many happy memories for your child.

         My husband Rudi and I have a second grader, seventh grader, and a junior in high school. All girls! We love to go swimming, hiking, and I also enjoy gardening. 

         The following pages contain miscellaneous information regarding classroom procedures and answers to other commonly asked questions. Second grade is an exciting year where your child will develop more independence as he or she prepares to move up to the intermediate grades next year. If you ever have questions or concerns, please feel free to email or call anytime!

 Thank you, 

 Mrs. Watts



         This year, your child will attend library, art, music, or P.E. for 50 minutes once every four days from 1:35 to 2:25. We will also work with our counselor each week for 30 minutes. This schedule will rotate each week. To help you remember, just remember LAMP, with each letter standing for the name of the specials class.  For example, the first week of school will look like this:

 Tuesday:      Library  (day 1)

Wednesday: Art        (day 2) Counselor will also be on this day starting 8/24.

Thursday:    Music     (day 3)

Friday:         P.E.       (day 4) 

         On Monday, we will have Library again. Should we have a snow day, we do not skip that special. We will start with the class that should have been next when we return.  


       Lunch will be served at 11:40 and ends at 12:00. You are welcome to join your child for lunch. If bringing a lunch for your child, please be sure your child is aware so that he or she does not purchase a school lunch. When arriving, please stop in the office to sign in and get a visitor's pass. We will then meet you in the cafeteria. If you are more than 5 minutes late, we will ask the student to purchase a lunch so he or she will have enough time to eat.           Meals cost:

          Breakfast: $1.40          Lunch: $1.90          Milk is included with the meals.    Additional milk: $0.35               

         The easiest way is to pay for many meals at a time. Make checks payable to Hawthorne Elementary, and please list your child's name and "lunch" in the memo. If you have had a change in income, you might want to see if you qualify for reduced or free lunch. Forms are included in your child's packet. 


          The fall and spring months can be hot during recess and P.E., and I allow your child to bring a bottle of water to school. Please no giant bottles, just a normal size. Also, students will be asked to take it home daily for cleaning. Please also use an old sock to cover the lower half of the bottle. This keeps it from "sweating" on your child's papers. If your child plays with the water, the privilege of having the bottle at his or her seat will be lost for the day.             

Agendas and Daily Folders

      Each day, your child will bring home an agenda and a daily folder. It is the child's responsibility to bring these two items back to school each day. Once you have reviewed the information in the daily folder and message written in the agenda for that day, you will need to sign your initials for that day's date in the space where you will see a happy stamp for the day. Those initials indicate that you have read and understand the information. The happy stamp is a daily stamp that will change with the seasons, but any stamp means your child did his or her best and was respectful to others that day. If there were challenges with behavior, a behavior note will come home. This will need to be signed and returned the following day. More information on behavior follows in this newsletter. The daily folder will have any assignments and/or graded papers, and other classroom notes.


     The primary purpose of homework is to provide a brief review of skills that were taught. Your child will have homework two to three nights per week. All homework is due the Friday of the week it was assigned. Your child is welcome to turn the work in earlier if desired. If school is not in session on Friday, I will usually assign less homework that week and have it due Thursday instead. Your child's agenda will have any information on homework assignments. The second purpose of homework is teaching your child responsibility. Gradually increasing responsibility at a comfortable pace will prepare your student for a successful future in school.

Reading Minutes

       Your child will be asked to spend some of his or her free time at home reading. Reading is like working out. The more you work out, the easier it is and the stronger you get. Reading regularly will help your child become a better reader, and it is an activity that engages the mind and builds connections in a way that T.V. cannot. Ask your child what he or she watched on T.V. last night, and what happened on the show. Very often children will struggle to remember. Ask your child to describe the last book he or she read or that you read to him. If the reading level of the book was not too difficult, your child can usually describe many details of the story. The expectation is at least 20 minutes per day. If your child has a very busy evening, he or she can read 40 minutes the next evening, but I would like that to be a rare event. The most important thing to me is that your child enjoys what is being read and that it is a book that is not too hard to read. I will have him or her track what is being read, and each week, your child will meet with me to discuss the reading this week. 


          My philosophy to discipline is simple. I treat children with respect and patience, the same way I would want someone to treat my own children when they don't follow the rules. Instead of focusing on what should not be done, I encourage children to focus on what should always be done:

                    1. Listen carefully.

                   2. Follow directions.

                   3. Work quietly. Do not disturb others who are working.

                   4. Respect others. Be kind with your words and actions.

                   5. Respect school and personal property.

                   6. Work and play safely.

        If a student is disrupting class, I will provide a warning and a brief time period for the student to stop the behavior. If the student disrupts again or fails to stop the behavior, he or she will receive a second warning for the day. A third reminder will result in a lost privilege such as recess or free time, and the student will be asked to present a "think sheet" that will explain the day's problem to the parents and what should have been done instead. I should mention that there are some things, such as hitting another child, that will automatically move the child to the third stage without two warnings.

           Most students do very well with behavior, and I have never met a student that didn't like being recognized for a good behavior. For that reason, I will be doing Fun Fridays this year. Students will be rewarded with an activity for the week's good behavior and work completion, including homework and reading minutes. 


           Every child needs a day to feel extra special. If you would like to send in treats, please jot a note in your child's agenda that you will be doing so so I can be sure to set aside this time for your child. Our schedule allows me to serve treats at 2:30, or 3:00 at the latest. If possible, please send in identical treats. The day is about your child, so his or her favorite treat is what we will enjoy! Birthday treats are optional; please don't feel obligated to send them in. Summer birthdays get to celebrate their ½ birthdays. Important: Please read over Kearney School District's new guidelines for sending treats to school. 


       Recess is from 10:30 to 11:00 each day. Our playground is often windy. If in doubt, please send a jacket. It is not a big deal to leave it in the locker if it is unneeded, but it is a big deal to your child if he or she can't enjoy recess because it is cold.