Principal's Message

  • A Message from the Principal

    Welcome to Sunnybrae Elementary School! Home of the Sunnybrae Stingers.

    Principal's Message Update- September-October, 2023

    Dear Sunnybrae Families,

    I will be using the Principal's Message to provide updates on things that are happening at Sunnybrae. I will also be updating families during our monthly PTA meetings as well. At the bottom of this update are important activities, dates and events that are happening at Sunnybrae. I also ask that you refer to our district calendar and school calendar as well. 

    DISTRICT ACADEMIC CALENDAR 23-24

    SUNNYBRAE CALENDAR

    Over the first three weeks of school, teachers have been busy establishing routines and creating positive classroom communities. I have been informally observing each classroom by sitting for a few minutes and getting a glimpse of what is taking place. Mr. Moore (our Campus Monitor) and I have been present during both lunch periods and third, fourth and fifth grade recess. Students have done an excellent job being respectful and following our key school-wide procedures. These include the following.

    1. Keeping our hands, feet and objects to ourselvesThis school-wide rule covers everything from avoiding any physical conflicts to respecting the property of others. 
    2. Walking in a straight, silent lineOur expectation is that students are always walking inside. When students transition as a whole class, they have to line up in number order. This avoids conflicts in regards to "being first". Students walk with their eyes forward, hands to themselves and mouths are closed. 
    3. At Sunnybrae we also operate under the Golden Rule which is, "Treat others as you would like to be treated".

    These procedures will be expanded on with input from staff and students throughout the school year. These school-wide procedures help to maximize time and avoid conflicts which could distract us from our mission of academic achievement. 

    Our fifth grade students are expected to model these rules and behaviors at all times. While we want all students to follow our school rules, the expectation of fifth grade is even higher as they are addressed as "leaders" on a daily basis. In addition to my experience as an elementary teacher and administrator, I have also worked in middle school in both capacities. I understand the necessary traits that students need to be successful as they transition to middle school. When I spoke to our fifth graders at the beginning of the year, I set the expectation that each one of them is a leader whether they have an official post or not. I told the fifth graders that they would be an important part of teaching our younger students to follow important safety rules. By instilling a strong sense of responsibility and high expectations in our fifth grade leaders, I am confident they will meet the challenge and be ready to excel at the next level. Our Safety Patrols have been established under the expert guidance of Mrs. Rickett and Mr. Panas. Mrs. Bruey will also be working on selecting students for our PALS program, which will add even more leadership roles for our students. 

    Once again, we will be working with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs Program. More information on the therapy dogs is available on our website. 

    Alliance of Therapy Dogs Program

    Students in grades 1-5 are in the process of completing their first i-Ready benchmark in Reading and Mathematics. 

    Please join us on October 5th at 5:30pm for our Ice Cream Social. This is a new date and time.

    I encourage all families to become PTA members. Families are encouraged to participate in meetings and events throughout the school year. Sunnybrae has a strong PTA which supports our students, staff and families, but volunteers are always needed. 

    SUNNYBRAE PTA WEBSITE

    I am often asked how parents can support their child's education. In addition to making sure students are on time and present, another important way parents can support students and the school is to be aware of their child's technology usage. My recommendation is that students not be on screens or phones at any age after 8pm. That includes phones, iPads and school issued devices. 

    As a parent myself, my wife and I often struggled with making sure my son was not spending too much time in front of a screen. It is an important aspect of the health of our children to be involved in activities where they can get exercise, be creative and socialize. Socializing is an integral part of the development of a child. Some of the best aspects of school is that students can interact with their peers and engage in activities that teach cooperation and peaceful conflict resolution. 

    Below is a virtual program/workshop for families through Penn Medicine titled Digital Wellness for Families. Parents are invited to join Katherine Doyle, MD, a board certified pediatrician, to start the conversation around healthy technology use at home, including balancing screen time with other activities. Dr. Doyle is a member of the Medical Staff of Penn Medicine Princeton Health. Penn Medicine was one of our vendors at our Pop-Up Schoolhouse in August. 

    This virtual program will take place on October 10th from 7-8pm. Registration is required.

    Registration for Digital Wellness for Families- Penn Medicine

    You may also call 1-888-897-8979

    Our district's theme is Every Day Counts in the Hamilton Township School District. One way to make every day count is for our students to be present and on time each day. Consistent daily attendance supports academic, social and emotional growth in students. Strong attendance is directly tied to increased academic achievement. Please consider avoiding pulling students out of school early, if possible, so as not to impact their academic program. 

    Sunnybrae Atttendance Goals

    1. Perfect Attendance- 100% days present (0 absences, 0 tardies)
    2. Un-BEE-lievable- 97% days present (5 or less absences)
    3. Hive-Five- 95% days present (9 or less days absent)
    4. Bee-Excellent Awards- Students that were chronically absent last year who improved their overall attendance by 10%. 

    I look forward to making each day a great day at Sunnybrae!

    You can reach me at (609)631-4166 ext. 2850. Or you can email me at rkesting@htsdnj.org

    Respectfully,

    Roberto Kesting

    Principal

    Sunnybrae Elementary School

     

    PTA Activities/Fundraisers:

    • PTA/5th Grade Back to School Night- Scented Bookmarks- September 26th
    • PTA Spirit Wear Fundraiser- Ends of September 29th
    • PTA Fall Mum Sale- Ends of October 3rd. Pick up is on October 9th from 3:30-6.
    • PTA Book Fair- October 23-27 (Students visit during their scheduled library time.)

    Important Dates

    • September 15- October 15- Hispanic Heritage Month
    • September 25- School Closed (Fall Recess)
    • September 26- Back to School Night @ 6:30pm
    • October 1-31- Anti-Bullying Month
    • October 2- October 6- Week of Respect
    • October 5- Ice Cream Social @ 5:30pm (New Date and Time)
    • October 8- October 14- Fire Safety Week
    • October 23-31- Red Ribbon Week- Theme: "Be Kind to Your Mind. Live Drug Free."
    • October 23-27- PTA- Book Fair (During students' regular library time.)
    • October 27- PTA- Trunk or Treat Event- 6pm (Sunnybrae Baseball Field)
    • October 31- Halloween Parade @ 10:00am
    • October 31- November 3rd (One-Session Days- 1:15 Dismissal- Parent Conferences)
    • October 31- Parent Conferences- Daytime
    • November 1- Parent Conferences- Evening
    • November 2- Parent Conferences- Evening
    • November 3- Parent Conferences- Daytime
    • November 7- No School for Students (Election Day/Teacher Professional Day)
    • November 9 and 10- School Closed (Teacher Convention)
    • November 13-17- American Education Week
    • November 22- One-Session Day- 1:15 Dismissal
    • November 23 and 24- School Closed (Thanksgiving Recess)
    • December 22- One-Session Day- 1:15 Dismissal
    • December 26- January 1- No School (Winter Recess)
    • January 15- School Closed (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
    • February 1 and 2- One-Session Days- 1:15 Dismissal- Parent Conferences
    • February 5-9- School Counseling Week (Counselor Appreciation)
    • February 19- School Closed (President's Day)
    • March 15- No School for Students- (Teacher Professional Development Day)
    • March 29- April 5- School Closed (Spring Break) *
    • May 6- Nurse's Appreciation Day
    • May 8-12- Teacher Appreciation Week
    • May- Band and Instrumental Concert (Date and time TBA)
    • May 27- School Closed (Memorial Day)
    • June 7- Fifth Grade Picnic
    • June 11- No School for Students (Teacher Professional Development Day)
    • June 13- Fifth Grade Moving Up Ceremony (9:30am)
    • June 14- Middle School Orientation @ 1:15. 
    • June 17 and 18- One Session Days- 1:15 Dismissal
    • June 19- School Closed (Juneteenth)
    • June 20- Last Day of School- One-Session Day- 1:15 Dismissal

    *Depending on the weather this winter, there may be adjustments in the calendar in April or May. Refer to the district calendar.

    Our Principal- from August 2023 update

    I am so excited about embarking on this new adventure as Principal of Sunnybrae Elementary School. This is my 31st year in education and my seventeenth in Hamilton Township. For the last sixteen years, I was Principal at Kuser Elementary School. Prior to that, I worked as a teacher and Vice Principal in East Windsor and as a teacher in the Baltimore City Public Schools. 

    Sunnybrae is my neighborhood school. My son attended Sunnybrae (Class of 2014) and my wife was a former PTA President. I have fond memories of my son attending Sunnybrae and will work hard to continue the positive traditions that exist here. My mentor, Dr. Fizzano, was a former Principal at Sunnybrae. He instilled a tremendous culture of positive character as well as high academic expectations. 

    I am available if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach me at (609)631-4166 ext. 2850. You can also email me at rkesting@htsdnj.org