• Dear Families,

    Welcome to Kindergarten at Ann Arbor Open@Mack! 

    I am very excited to meet your children, and to begin 

    this vibrant and exhilarating new chapter in your lives with 

    you. We are in room 247. Our back door opens up to the 

    upper playground, near the top of the steps. 


    One of my main goals for your children this year is to 

    nurture their natural love of learning. We will do this in a 

    myriad of ways including exploration, problem solving and 

    community building. We will work hard to maintain joy 

    while growing in our understanding of how we are 

    responsible in our learning. Responsible not only to 

    ourselves while learning, but also as we are responsible 

    for the good of the whole group, in our families, in our school 

    community and the in greater community at large. 

    This is truly going to be a year of amazing growth for your child and I am honored to share it with you. 

    Although the classroom may not be entirely ready, I will be at school in our classroom, from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM on Friday, August 26, 2022. Please feel free to stop by with your child to see the classroom and meet me. There will be popsicles on the playground afterwards for the children. If you cannot make that visit, please reach out to me and let me know my contact information is listed below. 

    On Monday August 29th, the first day of school, parents are invited to stay in the classroom with their child for the first

    hour if you wish, to ease the transition. After the first 60 minutes or so, I ask that you say goodbye. If your child needs help parting from you, I can do that. Just signal to let me know you think that your child might need help. If they are sad, please know that I have been doing this for over 30 years and although they might be sad for a short time, it will be much harder on you than it will be on them. They most often chipper up as soon as parents go; they are ready for this change.

    On Monday August 29th, the first day of school, parents are invited to join their child in the classroom at 8:10 AM. Our second bell will ring at 8:15 AM; please try to have students in the room by 8:15 AM. Our back door in the classroom opens up to the parking lot off Brooks Street, near the bus loop. Students can come in there, or they can come through the front door. Our bell rings at the end of the day at 3:18 PM. If they are riding on a bus, we will help them get to the bus. When picking up at the end of the day, for safety, please make visual and verbal contact with me to let me know you are taking your child. Or, you can let your child can do this with me each day! 

    In the morning, on the first day of school it is imperative that I have your child’s end-of-the-day (pick up) plans, before you leave. Please be certain that I have correct contact information for reaching you if your numbers have changed over the summer or since you filled in school paperwork. Our Start-up Teaching Assistant, Kim Rasor will be in the room on our first day of school and if needed, you can give her your pick-up information, or corrections to add to our chart before you leave. Also, we will have that chart here on Friday when you visit as well. 

    Kindergarten students must be picked up by an adult over the age of 18; this is a school district requirement. This means that Kindergarten students cannot be picked up by a sibling under the age of 18. 

    I want to take a moment to tell you a little bit about myself. For the past 31 years, I have been a teacher and an administrator. I have had the honor of teaching in a variety of educational settings, including teaching at a laboratory school at the University of Michigan and in an open school in a neighboring school district. The majority of my teaching and administrative duties have been in early childhood settings. Amidst this bevy of teaching positions, I have to say that working at Ann Arbor Open@Mack is where my heart is and I feel truly lucky to be part of the community here.



    My loving family keeps me active on the weekends. We have four children aged 15-33. My daughters are 33, 17 and 15 and I have one son who is also 15 (yep... they are twins)! That said, I have provided you with my cell phone number in this letter. I am a mom and I know that sometimes a weekend of worry can be cured with one five-minute phone conversation. I am best reached between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on weeknights if it is after school hours. 

    Below is my cellphone number; the messages you leave will be private. If I am unavailable, I do my best to phone you back within 24 hours. Texting is also very convenient for me and you will find that I can often text you back quite quickly. Texting is likely the easiest way to reach me. If I am sleeping, I will turn my phone sounds off, so please feel free to leave a late-night text should the need arise. If convenient, please send me an initial text (today) letting me know who you are, and who your child is, so that I might add you to my phone book. If you email me and I do not respond as quickly as you need me to, please call or text me to give me a heads up! If you do not text, please drop me an email so I know you got this letter. 

    We’d like to serve a shared snack each day in kindergarten, something simple like crackers, vegetables or fruit. Having a community snack helps the students feel more comfortable at school and is a valuable, social learning experience. The snack is provided by parents. I will send a recommended list of snacks in a subsequent note. Usually, each parent brings two small snacks, one for the morning and one for the afternoon, for the entire class, once each month. I will send home a calendar with snack date assignments during the first week of school. Please let me know right away about any food allergies so that we can arrangements to keep all children safe. Until we know if we have any classroom food allergies, I would like to ask that all snacks are made up of fruits and vegetables for the first week of school. Also, know that you can, at any time choose to send in a specific healthy snack for your child, separate of the group snack. 

    Curriculum night is a very important meeting for parents in our class. It sets the tone for all of our schoolwork for the year. More information will be coming about this. Please try to attend if at all possible. At Curriculum Night, we can talk about the daily schedule and how kindergarten runs. We also talk about kindergarten curriculum and about volunteering. This is a meeting for parents alone without students. 

    I will be looking for one or two parents to coordinate emails, organize class celebrations & a separate person who can attend AAOC (Ann Arbor Open Coordinating Council) meetings. The AAOC is the equivalent of the Parent-Teachers Organization for our school. Being the AAOC representative for our classroom is a moderate job, and requires a person to go to at least one meeting monthly, and that person will be responsible for sharing meeting minutes with the classroom parents and guardians. I will also be looking for volunteers who would be willing to come in and work in the classroom weekly. 

    It is a good idea for students to have a backpack or bag to carry things home. Kindergarten projects may be more easily carried in backpacks, or bags that zip or close. I also ask that students have a full change of clothes, including socks and underwear to store in the classroom. Please put them in something like a large, labeled Ziploc bag, or a recycled bag with something to close it at the top. We have a shelf in the bathroom for storing our extra clothing. In case of mud or other accidents, students prefer having their own clothes to change into. 

    I am very excited to begin a new school year with (you and) your child. Our Kindergarten classroom is an active, sometimes loud, often messy place! That is where the best learning takes place. I hope you can take the time to volunteer in our classroom and get to know all of the children. I would be honored to have you, as their first and best teacher, working with us on a regular basis, or whenever you are able to be here to hang out. I will put out a formal volunteer sheet for specific times and days of the week, but you are always welcome in our classroom.


    All my best,

    Diane VanDorn

    Kindergarten Teacher

    Ann Arbor Open@Mack


    (734) 904-4661

    pronouns: she/her/hers

  • Diane VanDorn