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Notes from the Dragon Cave

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

A Note From IBCS Leadership...

Dear Izzi B. Dragons,

After a brief hiatus, Notes From the Dragon Cave is back. In this inaugural edition for the 20/21 School Year, we're starting off with introductions to our Collective Leadership Team (CLT). The team seeks to empower IBCS faculty and staff to create shared ownership for success, to foster innovation, and to make efficient use of resources. Current team members include Tonda Potts, Rebecca Mercer, Tabetha Ross, Joannie Collado, Melissa Fogal, Kim Hundley, Shayla Williams, Noelle Reeves and Clare Maeda.

Dr. Tonda Potts, Interim Principal

Tonda has many years of experience in the field of education. She led Park Hill Elementary for eight years before formally retiring from DPS. She was subsequently recruited by Advancement Via Individual Determination to provide professional development for elementary principals and teachers across the country in a set of strategies to close opportunity gaps, so that more of our children can participate in traditionally tracked classes. Most recently, Tonda served as Interim Principal at Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences; she was there at the end of the year through the conversion to all remote teaching/learning, which helped prepare her to now assume a collaborative leadership role at Izzi B. She grew up in rural Ohio in a family of educators (her parents served as teachers, coaches, principals, Knox County Elementary Principal Supervisor, director of a vocational school, and superintendents). Her daughter teaches first grade in Boulder, and her husband, Ken Howe, recently retired as a professor in the School of Education at University of Colorado in Boulder. Tonda has lived in Colorado since 1972, so she's almost a native.

Rebecca Mercer, Assistant Principal

Rebecca is excited for the opportunity to serve the Isabella Bird Community in a new leadership role. This is her seventh year with Denver Public Schools and at IBCS school. She began her teaching career in 2002 in Tampa, Fla., as a special education teacher and later returned to graduate school to earn her Master’s Degree in education with a focus on gifted and talented. Her husband’s career moved her family to Colorado and led her to our community at Isabella Bird. Our community’s values of empathy, engaging and meaningful learning, innovative practices, distributive and shared teacher leadership, academic excellence and social justice, deeply align with her own values. She is humbled by the opportunity to serve our teachers, students and the community by empowering and uplifting others. Her beliefs lie in ensuring the academic success of all of our children - elevating the learning capacity of our students by developing their habits of mind and cognitive skills to become lifelong independent learners. Outside of school, her passions include playing the piano, listening to music, reading, jigsaw puzzles and anything outdoors with her family, including her two children, Zachary (13) and Zoey (11), who inspire her each and every day.

In upcoming editions of Notes From the Dragon Cave, we'll provide introductions to additional CLT members.

In Partnership, Isabella Bird Community School Administration

For questions or conversation, reach out to members of the IBCS Collective Leadership Team (Tonda Potts, Rebecca Mercer, Tabetha Ross, Joannie Collado, Melissa Fogal, Kim Hundley, Shayla Williams, Noelle Reeves and Clare Maeda)


Take Action...

Important In-Person School Day Reminders

  • The arrival window is 8:15-8:45 a.m., daily. Please utilize this window to decrease the number of people congregating at one time outside.

  • Please remain with your student until they are cleared to enter the building. You must complete the Google health screen form before arriving at school.

  • Please adhere to the bell schedule and do not drop your child off before the start time of 8:15 a.m. We cannot provide supervision before school due to co-horting and health safety guardrails. This is critical to our return with in-person learning.

  • Our playground is off limits before and after school due to health guardrails created to keep us all safe and for allowing us to return to school.

  • Please pick up your child on time each day. We are not able to provide supervision after school due to co-horting guidelines. 

For questions about in-person school day reminders, please contact Rebecca Mercer, IBCS Assistant Principal.

School-to-Home Communications Methods

To ensure you receive timely and important information from classroom teachers, school leadership and beyond, be on the look out for email communications via School Deets, our targeted, multi-lingual platform allowing families to select preferred communication languages. Other methods of school-to-home communication include the official school website, the Isabella Bird Community School Council website and the school Facebook page (@isabellabirdcs), as well as grade-level Facebook pages (listed below).

  • Kindergarten: Izzi B Kinder Parents ('20-'21)

  • 1st Grade: Izzi B 1st Grade Class ‘20-‘21

  • 2nd Grade: Isabella Bird 2020-2021 Second Graders

  • 3rd Grade: Izzi B THIRD Grade Parents (‘20-‘21)

  • 4th Grade: Isabella Bird 2020-2021 Fourth Graders

  • 5th Grade: Isabella Bird 2020-2021 Fifth Graders

For questions about school, grade-level or classroom communications, please speak with your classroom teacher(s).

Isabella Bird Community School Pantry Food Drive

A local community member and realtor passionate about providing for the greater Central Park Neighborhood is orchestrating a North East Denver Food Drive benefiting children and families in the area. To participate and ensure IBCS families receive much-needed food, please sign-up to provide one or more of the items listed at After signing up, a food drive volunteer will contact you to arrange for contactless pick-up. Please note, the IBCS Food Pantry is unable to accept expired items. This event is on-going throughout the 20/21 School Year. Contact Event Organizer, Megan Farina, for further information.

IBCS Spirit Wear NOW Available

All IBCS Spirit Wear items, including masks, are now available for purchase online via Purchased items will be shipped directly to your home. 

For questions, please contact Parent Volunteer, Jennie Castles.


What's Going on with...

IBCS Book-of-the-Month

One of our initiatives this year at Izzi B. is to bring back our Book-of-the Month tradition with a culturally responsive lens. This is an opportunity for school-wide collaboration around inclusivity and literacy. Our book choices coincide with Author and Children's Literature Professor, Rudine Sims Bishop’s ideas that all kids should have books that are mirrors and windows. Mirrors, where children can find themselves, their families and their communities reflected and valued; and windows, to help children develop understandings about the wider world. Continuing to build a common language as a school community is key. Exposing students to great books about characters they can relate to is important; we will also work to build-in time for reflection and conversation led by children. Guest readers, including paraprofessionals, specials teachers, school leadership and more, volunteer each week to visit grade-level classrooms and read the books of the month. This month's book is The Word Collector, written by Peter H. Reynolds. Past books of the month include Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal, and The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson. Each of these books is available for digital check-out free of charge via Sora, a reading app for students.

October Book Description: The Word Collector

Some people collect stamps. Some people collect coins. Some people collect art. And Jerome? Jerome collected words . . ."In this extraordinary new tale from Peter H. Reynolds, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him -- short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower."

October Calendar

Hot off the press, the October IBCS Calendar is now available. You can print it to have important dates at your fingertips, or use the following link to subscribe to IBCS' Google calendar: This month's events include community meetings, family conference dates and more. For questions about the calendar, contact IBCS Dean of Operations, Tabetha Ross.

New Resource: Joy as Resistance

Introducing Joy as Resistance! Joy as Resistance is an organization serving LGBTQ+ youth (ages 10- 21) with individual and group mental health counseling, wellness services and school/nonprofit partnerships. The organization works with local youth and organizations to provide useful topics of mental health, nancial literacy, inclusive sex education and intergenerational support via social media outlets, including Instagram, Tik Tok (@joyasresistanceaurora) and Facebook (@Joy as Resistance). Call (303) 785-6635 or email Joy as a Resistance Coordinator, Bre at, to learn more and get connected with services. And as a reminder, DPS' Sora offers an excellent collection of free LGBTQ+ eBooks and audio books.

Save the Date...

IMPORTANT: Oct. 20 Teacher Planning and Classroom Set-up Day

As we prepare to welcome grades 2-5 back for in-person learning on Wednesday, Oct. 21, teachers in these grades will use Tuesday, Oct. 20 as a day to plan and sets-up their classrooms. To allow teachers this much-needed opportunity, students in these grades will engage in asynchronous learning and no live teaching will take place. If you have questions, please contact your student's classroom teacher.

Fall Student-Led Conferences

At IBCS, we believe strongly in family engagement of student-learning. For this reason, we engage in student-led conferences. These conferences are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21, 3:30-7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct. 27, 3:30-7:30 p.m.; and Thursday, Oct. 29, 3:30-7:30 p.m. Your student's classroom teacher will send invitations for family sign-ups in the coming days. This time can be used to discuss student engagement, get to know new families, and so much more. For questions about fall teacher-student-family conferences, please contact your student's classroom teacher.


Mark Your Calendars...

  • Monday, Oct. 12, 8:15 a.m. - 2 p.m.: 1st Grade fully in Person

  • Thursday, Oct. 15, 6-7 p.m.: Return Plan Community Meeting for 2nd-5th Grade

  • Monday, Oct. 19, All Day: No School (All Grades; Professional Development Day)

  • Tuesday, Oct. 20, All Day: No Live Virtual Instruction for Grades 2-5

  • Wednesday, Oct. 21, All Day: Grades 2-5 Return for in-person Learning

  • Wednesday, Oct. 21, 3:30-7:30 p.m.: Teacher-Family Conferences

  • Tuesday, Oct. 27, 3:30-7:30 p.m.: Teacher-Family Conferences

  • Thursday, Oct. 29, 3:30-7:30 p.m.: Teacher-Family Conferences

  • Friday, Oct. 30, All Day: No School, Fall Break (Staff Comp Day for Conferences)

  • Monday, Nov. 2, All Day: No School, Fall Break

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