October 19, 2018

From the Desk of Ms. Maeghen,

In the fall, we at the Fresh Start School, like to reflect on all that we are grateful for and look forward to the adventures that await us for the 2018-2019 school year. We have a lot to be grateful for. We are very thankful to our students who make us smile every day and challenge us to think outside the box. We are thankful for you, the parents and guardians, of these amazing students for being invested in their education and supporting a wrap-around continuum of care. After all, we could not do our job without you, the experts in your children!

Thank you for those that made it out to the Open House night at the beginning of October. The staff loved the opportunity to share the exciting work that our students are involved in.

Note from the nurse: The flu season is upon us, please review the sick policy attached and don’t forget your flu shots! As a general rule of thumb, if your child is feeling under the weather, err on the side of caution and keep them home for extra rest.

Staff update: We are sad to announce that Ms. Cynthia will no longer work here at the Fresh Start School. We appreciate all that Cynthia has done to develop this school, including coining the name “Fresh Start School!” We are all going to miss her and we wish her the very best. Of course, you never really say “goodbye” at Fresh Start School, we say “see you later” as our staff and students will ALWAYS be a part of the Fresh Start family!

I would like to introduce our staff line up for this year:

Maeghen Plourde Harris, Director of Educational Services
Carol Doiron, Educational Consultant
Nora Hansen, Social Worker
Dan Sitcovsky, Social Worker and Director of Autism Services
AnneMarie Heller Cox, School Psychologist
Erika Davis, Head Teacher
Jennifer Archer, Teacher
Amanda Pasler, Administrative Assistant and Teacher Assistant
Donna Frustere, Art Teacher
Scout Crafts, 1:1 Teacher Assistant
John McGuire, Teacher Assistant
Darlene Lefevre, Teacher Assistant
Sandy Kissel, APRN Clinician
Sherril, 1:1 Nurse
Eric Cohen, Teacher Assistant and Technology
Kayla Marlowe, Clinical Intern Ben Morris, Volunteer
Lauren Gardner, Teacher Assistant and Autism Services Coordinator

Updated calendars: The updated 2018-2019 school year calendar was sent home recently. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. If the calendar never made it to you, it can also be found on our website: www.focuscenterforautism.org

Some important dates coming up:
November 1st- 1pm Dismissal
November 7th – Parent Support Group 6-7:30
November 12th – NO SCHOOL for Veteran’s Day
November 22-23rd – NO SCHOOL Thanksgiving Holiday

Classroom News

Ms. Erika Classroom

It has been a busy start to the year and I am looking forward to another year of learning, growth, and meeting new goals!

In my World History class, we are studying ancient and new civilizations. Topics have included: leaders, military power, beliefs, and everyday culture. The students recently completed a research project based upon ancient inventions. It was neat to learn about these inventions and how all are still used today. As part of the project, the students will be presenting their research to each other as well.

In Earth Science, we are studying the Earth, describing the Earth, and learning about the Earth and Moon System. As part of these lessons, we are working on reading and interpreting various types of maps (i.e. topographic, standard time zones, country, world, etc.) and grid systems on a globe (block grids, global grids). The students have successfully located the latitude and longitude of locations all around the world.

In my Pre-Algebra class, we have been studying factoring by using area models to “un-multiply” (starting with an algebraic expression and factoring it). In order to keep their skills fresh, the students continue to review their multiplication and division facts and skills. Moving forward, we will be building upon this foundation by studying exponents and how they can help us with really big numbers in real world situations (for example: the population of the world in billions).

In English, we are working on improving our reading, writing, spelling, speaking, and listening skills. In Reading groups, we are looking at the parts of the story (characters, setting, problem, solution) as well as making predictions and inferences before and during reading. Our spelling vocabulary and lessons are directly linked to the stories we are currently reading. In writing, we have reviewed the writing process and are learning about what the traits of good writing are. The students recently completed lessons that focused on understanding, identifying, and using vivid details to describe characters. Moving forward, we will use this skill to write descriptive paragraphs.

In my Music Appreciation class, we are focusing on the students’ appreciation of music. We are exploring music and developing an understanding of the importance of music in our daily lives. As part of this process, the students have learned about the various instruments in an orchestra. They have listened to sound clips and watched videos of each instrument being played. In addition to this, the class has discussed and completed writing assignments regarding their personal viewpoints of the music.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions this year. ~Ms. Erika

Ms. Jen’s Classroom


Not only do we all matter, but we are all made up of matter also, and this, is where our Physics unit began. We spent Unit 1 learning about motion, forces, and forces in fluids. We are able to describe the motion of an object, learned the difference between speed and velocity, and used calculations to determine average speed and acceleration. The laws of the universe were explored, Newton’s Laws of Motion and the Law of the Conservation of Energy, and answered questions of how we stay on Earth, and why a spaceship stays in orbit. Currently we are studying pressure and will learn the factors that affect flight. We may even tie in language arts and write a Fluid poem!


Our math class began with a review of basics in order to increase our fact fluency in multiplication and learned how multiplication and division are related. We will be proceeding to use these strategies to solve multi-step and word problems. Fractions will be our next area of study so it will be important to continue to work on our facts.


Ever wonder how our government came to be, or what our rights are under this government? Do you know you have a role in government? These are some over- arching questions in our Civics class. Unit 1 is a Tradition in Democracy where we established what qualities make a good citizen and examined some historical documents that gave America its foundation. Class time is spent with a lot of discussion where students are learning not what to think, but HOW to think in order to be active citizens. Talk with your child about some current issues our nation is experiencing.

Language Arts

In ELA class we are talking about character traits, and learning how to conduct a character analysis based on information from a story. We read some short stories and developed character profiles using examples, and recently began our book Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. Using details from the text, students will write about characters and what makes them alike and different. Reading out loud also helps build fluency!

~Ms. Jen


Ms. Cynthia’s Classroom

My 6th grader is learning about atoms, organic vs. inorganic matter in science. In Social Studies we are learning about ancient civilizations of the world. We are just beginning to learn about the ancient Assyrians.

My 8th graders are learning about the important leaders and significant events of the American Revolution in History. In Physical Science we are learning about gravity and motion.

My 10th graders are exploring the geography of the United States and learning how to read and use maps. In Biology we are on characteristics of living things such as atoms and molecules.

In Consumer Math we have covered wages, overtime, how to calculate tips and salaries and are about to move into learning about commissions. In Consumer math II we are learning about expenses, wants vs. needs, what are expenses. We are ready to move on to budgeting.

My 12th grade English class is reading Tolkien’s Hobbit and they are keeping a reading log to
reflect and answer questions about the book.

My Career and Transition class is learning about the importance of having good health in order
to reduce stress. We are also covering how to improve one’s self-esteem.

~Ms. Cynthia


Mindfulness Practice:

In Mindfulness we continue to practice each morning in a variety of ways. We do deep
breathing, mindful movements/yoga, mindful mandala coloring, and many more exercises to
practice our paying attention mindfully. We are working on the MindUp Curriculum and the
students have been introduced to the limbic system which controls our emotions and
motivations including the amygdala and hippocampus. The amygdala regulates our emotional
state by guarding our brains from perceived threats. The hippocampus helps in managing our
response to hear and threats and acts as a “filing cabinet” where we keep all our memories.
Our prefrontal cortex is the thinking and reasoning center of the brain and controls our decision
making, focuses our attention, and allows for learning. By teaching the students the key players
of the brain we are helping them understand how our brain responds to stress and how we can
use deep breathing or any mindfulness activity to calm our minds enough to be able to use our
prefrontal cortex to make good decisions.

~Ms. Maeghen