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Principal’s Message

Principal’s Principles, MARCH 2018

Dear Colonial Trail Parents:

Winter has been very busy with testing at Colonial Trail.  1) Students in grades 2-5 completed benchmark tests in reading and math.  These serve as a cumulative review of first semester content; teachers use benchmark data to identify areas to remediate as needed to support success on end-of-year SOL and HAT tests.  2) K-2 students completed midyear PALS to measure growth in reading fluency and to identify specific areas for further instructional focus. 3) All students were individually assessed in reading using the Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) comprehension assessment to measure growth from September. 4) ESL students completed ACCESS testing, a measure of leveled English language acquisition that determines ongoing ESL needs and support.

That seems like a lot of testing when viewed as a whole school/county effort, yet it is important to put in the proper perspective.  We view standardized tests as a guide to instruction, not as an end goal of instruction.  The data testing provides assists us in differentiating individual student and programmatic instructional needs in terms of remediation and enrichment of learning.

Several of you have expressed concern that Colonial Trail’s ranking on has dropped from 9/10 to 6/10.  This website is used by many realtors, but please bear in mind it is not always an accurate, current, or fair measure of our actual school progress. The rationale for the drop are our test scores from two years ago (2015-16).  At that time we did not meet annual measures of progress for two “gap groups”: students with disabilities and African American students.  The primary reason we take standardized tests is to identify as a school where we are succeeding and where we need to improve.  I am pleased to share that our 2016-17 gap group test scores all exceeded annual measures of progress.  These scores are not yet reflected on the website, though I am told our ranking should be updated in May.  I will be honest that I do not have great trust in this website; however, because it is widely known it is indeed a concern that our score be accurately raised—and be consistent with our Virginia Board of Education EXCELLENCE AWARD four years running.

Instruction must always be about learning, not teaching to a test.  While standardized test scores determine school accreditation and local property values, both extremely important, they do not (and cannot) measure the qualitative human factor of what goes into a high quality education.  Great teachers teach children, not content.  They develop relationships, strong character, good work habits, personal responsibility, social skills, compassion, empathy, and strong self- esteem.  They make learning personally relevant, empowering, interconnected, challenging, and fun.   They meet children where they are, academically and developmentally, and build within them their mastery of content.

Great teaching is an art, and data is just part of the pallet.  At Colonial Trail, our teachers are artists, indeed.  How appropriate that March is MUSIC AND ART IN OUR SCHOOLS MONTH.

A few important dates in March:

3/1  Student Half Day, dismissal at 11:35

3/2  Read Across America Day / Dr. Seuss Day!

3/13  Spirit Night at California Pizza Kitchen

3/29  PTA/CTES Art Show and 2nd Grade Performance

Your teachers and I look forward to spring and to nurturing the continued growth of your children. Thank you for your continued partnership and trust.


Kirk Eggleston, Principal


Principal’s Principles, February 2018

Dear Colonial Trail Parents:

In February, our students look forward to Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th.  What a wonderful tradition that gives every child the opportunity to communicate caring for others.  The simple act of giving (and receiving) a Valentine is a powerful way for all students to feel they are a contributing and integral part of a learning community.  Your child’s teacher will provide individual classroom guidelines this month for Valentine‘s Day.

In the spirit of community building, we have two important events surrounding Valentine’s Day.

  1. SCA CANDYGRAM SALE.  Our Student Council will be selling “candygrams: every day Jan 30-Feb 6th ($1.00 each or 5 for $4.00, cash only) to be delivered to teachers or classmates on Feb 14th.
  2. PTA FAMILY FORMAL DANCE!  Ticket sales ended January 26th.  We look forward to seeing all who are attending, Friday, February 9, 6:30-8:00 PM.

Other important events in February:

* Feb. 5th, 3:00-6:30 PM, Parent/Teacher Conferences.  Sign up through your teacher’s blog if you would like a teacher conference.

* Feb 5th, PTA Spirit Night at LEHJA.  Enjoy amazing Indian cuisine!  A percentage of all sales will go to our PTA. Thanks to Mr. Baweja, owner and CTES parent, for his generosity.

* Black History Month.  Students will be learning about the historical contributions of Black Americans.

* Report Cards.  Second quarter report cards will go home Monday, February 12th.

* February 19th Staff Development Day HAS BEEN CANCELLED.  Regular day for students.

* SOCIAL STUDIES SHOWCASE!  We will have an OPEN HOUSE, February 21st, 5:45-7:00PM, for all to see project based work in every classroom/curriculum.  We will meet at 5:45 in the gym for the PTA General Meeting and Budget Review, and a PERFORMANCE BY THE FIRST GRADE STUDENTS. You will then have the opportunity to view how ALL of our students are creatively and collaboratively bringing social studies alive, K-5. We hope you can attend!

As we continue to weather the winter, we are focused deeply with our students on learning.  John Hattie, PhD., is a renowned educational researcher who has measured relative effect sizes of Visible Learning.  The top three (among many learning strategies) are integral to our program at Colonial Trail Elementary:

  1. HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR ALL LEARNERS. There is no such thing in this world as “those kids”.  All children will learn and will exceed our expectations if we believe in their ability and hold them accountable to meet new challenges.
  2. COLLECTIVE EFFICACY. We all hold high expectations for students in our community.  We all believe in every child.   We all work together with the same educational mind-frames of relevance, relationships, and rigor.
  3. REGULAR FEEDBACK. Praise is important to students, but it does not challenge them to reach higher, dig deeper, and learn what they don’t already know.  Differentiated instruction with regular feedback helps to meet students where they are and lead them to where they need to go.

We know our students can go far.  Thank you, as always, for your continued partnership in taking them to the next level.

Have a great February!


Kirk Eggleston, Principal


Principal’s Principles



Dear Colonial Trail Families:


Happy New Year!  I hope you have enjoyed a relaxing break with your families and friends, and that you could celebrate your own religious tradition with a spirit of renewal.


The New Year is a natural time for personal resolutions, especially with regard to our children’s education. As a parent myself, I ask that you join me in resolving to do the following consistently with your children in 2018.

  • Read together at least 3 times a week. Curl up with a good book or just read comics together.  This will model fluency and make reading fun.
  • Help your child to learn addition/subtraction and/or multiplication/division facts. Automaticity will help with higher level math.
  • Study with your child and help him/her to get organized nightly. These are skills that must be taught through modeling and routine.
  • Make sure your child gets to bed at a regular time. A good night’s sleep is critical for academic achievement.
  • Keep regular contact with your child’s teacher. Email or call if you have any concerns.  A home/school partnership should always be proactive to be beneficial.


Being a presence in your child’s school life is as much a long-term investment as it is immediate gratification for both of you.  Will you also commit to doing one or more of the following?

  • Join the PTA if you haven’t already, and ask the PTA how to get more involved with Colonial Trail events, programs, and fundraisers.
  • Volunteer in your child’s classroom, in the cafeteria, or to chaperone a field trip.

As we begin a new calendar year, I look forward to working together to continue what we have started, and to set new goals and objectives for this school year within the framework of our school mission:

Colonial Trail Elementary is a supportive, student centered learning community.  We are leaders, problem solvers, and life-long learners.

Effective differentiation of instruction is our ongoing objective– providing appropriate support and challenge to all learners based on academic readiness, ability, interest, and learning profile.  Our teachers are doing an outstanding job leading every child to his or her next level of achievement.  Your partnership assists tremendously in this process.  Consistent home support helps to raise the bar for your individual child, while regular teacher/parent communication facilitates a working relationship.   Because helping your child to fully meet his or her full potential is indeed hard work, and at Colonial Trail Elementary we consider it the most important job in the world.

I want to welcome our many new families to Colonial Trail.  Should you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher or me.  We are here to help and to partner with you and your child.

  • Please take the time to view our school website at
  • Your child’s teacher has a blog updated weekly to keep you informed and involved.  Please check it out regularly.
  • Our Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is critical to the support of our school (financial, volunteerism, school spirit).  Please join!  Our goal is always 100% PTA membership.   Please refer to the PTA website at

We have several important dates in January.

1/9 Spirit Day/Night at Panda Express. Let them know you are from CTES; a portion of all sales will go to our PTA.

1/15 MLK Holiday – School Closed

1/29 Student Holiday / Planning Day – School Closed

Thanks for your continued support of Colonial Trail Elementary.  We look forward to a rewarding 2018!


Kirk Eggleston




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