September 14, 2009

Dear parents/guardians

Hello! My name is Jim Farrell, and I am your child’s language arts teacher at Illing Middle School. I’m writing to introduce myself, to tell you a little bit about our class, and to invite you to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.First, about me: This is my first year at Illing but 14th as a teacher. I taught at Bennet back when it was a middle school, and also have taught at Great Path Academy (a magnet high school here in town) and Manchester Community College. In addition, I am a longtime editor and writer at the Hartford Courant.As for our class, we will -- as you might imagine -- do lots of reading and writing. The students will be well-prepared when they take the CMTs in the spring. If they really apply themselves, they also can build a great foundation for the challenges that wait in high school and beyond.Our primary textbook is “Elements of Literature,” which has more than 800 pages of wonderful short stories, poems, plays and more. We also will read a few novels, including “The Outsiders,” which was written more than 40 years ago but is still a hit with teenagers.  Needless to say, I encourage you to frequently ask your child what we are up to. (In fact, you might want to ask them about the letters we wrote a week ago to Barack Obama, LeBron James and others.)

Now, a few words about the basics.

I insist on respect in our classroom – respect for each other, for our materials, and so on. If there are persistent problems, you will hear from me.

Grades are determined using the following formula. Class work and homework account for 40 percent, quizzes 30 percent, projects 20 percent and participation 10 percent.

Finally, if you need to reach me, you can call the main office at (860) 647.3400, email me at b25jfarr@ci.manchester.ct.us or simply jot a note in your daughter or son’s planner. To that end, I would appreciate it if you would initial the box in the “Sept. 14” column, indicating you have received and read this letter.

That’s it for now. I look forward to seeing you at open house!