Thank You From Bowen

Dear Parents,

Thank you for your support of the Bowen Community! In typical years, you have contributed to Bowen’s community by volunteering at events such as the Halloween Party, International Potluck, Science Day or Spring Fling, by participating in programs such as Creative Arts and Sciences, Understanding Our Differences, or Safe Routes to School, by helping in the classrooms as Room Parents, library and activity volunteers, or field trip chaperones, and by giving donations to fund it all through Walks-the-Walk sponsorships, raffle tickets or direct donations to the PTO. All of this and so much more that you do makes Bowen the active and vibrant community we are all proud to be part of!

That is a quite a list of ways Bowen’s community is supported by its families, but did you know your contributions to the PTO are also used to directly support the day-to-day educational environment at Bowen?

Short-Throw Projectors
One way PTO funds were used to support learning at Bowen in 2019 is through spending on classroom technology. We felt fortunate enough to have a surplus we could put to good use in the classrooms by installing short-throw projectors in every classroom. This was incredibly well-received by teachers, specialists and students for classroom-management reasons, but also because it supports the best practices of the new math curriculum.

Mini-Grant Program
Another way is via the mini-grant program. This program was re-launched over the winter in 2019 and it received an enthusiastic response from teachers and staff. The PTO is excited to announce that over $2,000 in teacher-initiated projects were funded in 2019. The funds available through the mini-grant program helped several classes expand their learning through new tools, alternative class environments, and creative projects. Requests funded by mini-grants included alternative seating, STEM manipulatives, robot programming, OT support items, and even quilting!

Please take some time to read through the thank you notes below written by Bowen staff in 2019 about the impact these programs have had in their classrooms. It is your participation in the Bowen PTO which has made this and so much more possible, so thank you!

Short-Throw Projectors for Classrooms

THANK YOU so much for purchasing the short throw projectors for our classrooms! If teachers had one wish, this would be it!  Having these short throws is really a dream come true!  1.  No more extension cords running across the classroom floor and/or plugging in and unplugging the cord every time we want to show something with the document camera or on the computer (several times a day).  We can spend way more time efficiently transitioning from one activity to another. 2.  Now I can stand in front of the class when I’m teaching lessons (as opposed to having to stand next to the old projector cart behind the students). 3.  Students have way more room on the rug because they can sit closer to the white board. 4.  Students have more space to move around the classroom.  5.  The new math program has many components online and having the short throw allows us to access the online component way easier because it’s already set up and we don’t need to set up the cart! There are many more reasons why these short throws are amazing and already in 1 week of having it and using it all day my daily teaching life has changed for the better.  We really can’t thank you enough!!!

Caryn Chapler
1st Grade Teacher
Bowen School

STEM Hands-On Materials for Kindergarten Classes

The children in my kindergarten class often squeal with delight when we take out the materials that were purchased through the mini grant fund. I see budding future engineers who are curious and creative. My students come up with innovative designs using their imagination. Sometimes a structure that they build topples down and it is an opportunity to reflect on why it happened and what they can do better next time. These materials allow the children to be architects, structural engineers, construction workers, problem solvers, product designers and teammates. They learn to listen to their peers’ ideas and work through conflict when they have differences of opinion. The lessons embedded in these materials keep on changing because each time they use them, my students can innovate and feel excited about new discoveries.


Helen Sheehy
Kindergarten Teacher
Bowen School

We have been using our new STEM activities throughout the day. Students have loved building, exploring, comparing, and creating with our new manipulatives. They have shown great interest in these activities and it has led to the development of some wonderful teamwork and cooperation skills. Students are able to use their imagination and think creatively. We are so appreciative our new materials!

Thanks so much!

Kathleen M. Paolillo
Kindergarten Teacher
Bowen School

Alternative Seating in 5th Grade

On behalf of the teachers and students of 5CM, I would like to thank the PTO for supporting our transition to a more comfortable, flexible learning environment. After a long winter, the classroom felt crowded. We noticed students fidgeting as they stayed in one chair for a long school day. We talked to students about their physical regulation needs and decided it was time for a change. Over February school vacation, we made the transition from desks to tables: the first step in our classroom makeover!

We greatly appreciate receiving the PTO mini-grant which has allowed us to implement elements of flexible seating. We purchased a variety of different seating including floor seats and tables, wobble stools, cushions and a yoga ball. We have seen a drastic improvement in the learning environment. Student conflicts have decreased as they now sit next to a greater variety of peers. Students seem more comfortable, especially in reading class when students can relax with their favorite book. The overall atmosphere of our fifth-grade room is more calm, welcoming and conducive to learning. We strongly believe that a comfortable learning environment supports students academically, emotionally and behaviorally.

Thank you for your support.


Joe Chapin
Grade 5 Teacher
Bowen School

Universal Design in Kindergarten

Thank you so much for the grant money which funded universal design materials to support children in the general education kindergarten classrooms. The children are using the backjack chairs throughout the day but particularly in the afternoon to support their ability to sit upright for lessons on the rug or reading periods. They are using the Hoberman spheres and fidgets in their classroom break space (or calm down space) to help them when they are feeling sad, overwhelmed or simply need a brain break before getting back to work. Please see pictures attached. Thank you again for this awesome opportunity. The kindergarten team, the kindergarten students and I thank you so much!


Amanda Caramanica, OT, 11172
Occupational Therapist
Bowen (M, Th) and Cabot (T, W, F) Elementary Schools
Newton Public Schools

“My Two Blankets”–Inspired Quilting Project for 5th Grade ELL Students

Thank you so much for the grant. This year my fifth grade ELL students made quilt squares that represented their yearlong learning. In many of our units we used the time to make quilt squares as a way to reinforce learning or to show what they know.  The project was inspired by a book that we read at the beginning of the year, My Two Blankets. In the book, an immigrant student likens her two languages to two blankets that she wraps around herself. At first, she only used the blanket of sounds from her native language, culture and food; however, as time progresses she also uses a blanket made up of the sounds, food, language and culture of the USA. The idea was that for my fifth grade ELL students blankets would be a memory of their fifth-grade learning at Bowen and of their first year in the USA.

Thank you again for your support,


Joanne Cudkowicz
ELL Teacher
Bowen School

Coding in the Classroom

Computer science provides a foundation for students to succeed in 21st century careers. Learning to code helps students to think critically and logically, learn to be creative and problem solvers, as well as learn to collaborate with their peers.

With the help of Ms. Dietz, instructional technology specialist, the students of Room 206 have been coding all year long. Using the curriculum from, students learned to problem solve, persevere, and collaborate as they learned to code. We wanted to take the next step in coding by learning to apply this new knowledge in new ways. With a generous grant through the PTO, we were able to purchase different coding robots to use both plugged and unplugged. We purchased the Botley, Dot and Dash, and Bit.

Botley is an unplugged coding robot. Students were excited to code using the coding cards and then to program the remote to follow the code. Once you pressed “play”, you can see Botley following the code you programmed.

Dot and Dash
To program Dash, students worked with a partner to use Blockly to code on the iPad. Once they had used the block coding to come up with a program, you can see Dash move, spin, change colors, and/or make sounds.

Bit is a very small coding robot that follows a black line. Students created a color code program for Bit to follow. You can make Bit spin, move turbo speed, or change directions.

On behalf of the students of Room 206, Ms. Dietz (instructional technology specialist) and myself, we would like to thank the PTO for supporting our students as we get ready for 21st century careers.

Sincerely, Janet Lee
Second Grade Teacher