Friday, March 28, 2008

Taking risks

David C. graduated from Parker last year and now lives on Long Island. Each Thursday, he comes up to run our computer club. Computer club kids run up the hall to the lab with huge smiles. With a sweet manner, expertise, and enthusiasm, David has created a very special time for the kids in the club.

4254 News, a regular feature at assembly, is the brainchild of Lydia and Jenn, 8th graders. The humorous format includes interviews and some running gags. Their script is well done and their delivery has improved. It has a daffy charm. They have an indulgent audience who laugh right along.

Buddies for Pre K and the 4-5's is after assembly. They start with a circle and a greeting. There is so much excitement about sharing with each other. Older students learn nurturing and patience and the rewards of being role models.

With real responsibility comes real risk. Maybe no one will come to the club. Maybe the show will fall flat. Maybe you don't know how to talk to a four year old.

Children have a chance to try big things here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

As the flashlight bulb turns...

2-3's becoming ever more skilled electricians.

The rewards of dedication

4-5's are learning the recorder. They sound wonderful! This enthusiastic group can't wait to play in music class. No one broke concentration as I entered to take their picture - they were listening to each other to make sure they blended their sounds. Impressive! Their debut will be at Spring Sing on April 3.

I visited Peg Parker last week in North Carolina. Peg is the benefactor of our beautiful John C. Parker Library, dedicated to the memory of her late husband who was Robert C. Parker's brother. John was an oncologist at the University of North Carolina Medical Center and an extraordinary man. The two Parker brothers grew up in Chapel Hill after an early start in Connecticut. It was wonderful to walk a little in their footsteps with Peg as the guide.

Peg has been dedicated to helping our young school grow. She has worked to build our endowment funds by a series of gifts - each one pushing us to reach in our fund raising efforts with a challenge or match that inspires others to give. She has an abiding interest in all things sustainable and green, and is a cheerleader for our sustainable energy education initiative.

Persistence, enthusiastic work and dedication - the 4-5's and our friend Peg have these traits in common.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pi Day

3.14159 On March 14 at 1:59 PM we celebrated Pi Day at Parker. We ate pie, of course. And held an assembly where each 3 and 4-year-old announced his or her favorite number and sang a special version of "There were 10 in the bed and the little one said..." It is still running through my head. There were math jokes and tricks and then games and activities afterwards.

When asked, the preschoolers had definite favorite numbers in mind. No question. I realized that my favorite number has always been 25. What's your favorite?

When I asked a couple of middle schoolers if there were any improvements they would make for next year, they said, "More pie. More whipped cream."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Doctor week in Prek K 3

I couldn't resist sharing these pictures of our future physicians.

JoAnn, our Pre K 3 teacher, who is also an adjunct teacher in early childhood education, went to a conference at St. Rose about literacy preparation in Pre K and kindergarten. They cited a longitudinal study about practices that lead to literacy success and that prevent reading problems in first grade and up. The study supported so strongly what we do in our Pre K and K.

The experience of dramatic play is crucial to children for learning story line, cooperation, language skills, and vocabulary. The same study linked free play (versus play monitored by an adult) to a development of self regulatory behavior. These are critical features of our children's daily activities through kindergarten and first grade. No wonder we have such skilled and independent readers and writers!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spring Fever

Mud season has officially begun! K-1's have put out suet and seeds to see who will come a-callin'.

At recess a gang went exploring - Jenna found an animal's den with nut shells all around it. She kept a sample to see if she can identify the kind of nut.

Everyone likes to dress up!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Read Across America Day

Visiting authors, story tellers, puppeteers, archivists, and illustrators, singing and a parade - and of course costumes! How could it get any better?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Coming Back to School

I have been away for a few days at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference in NYC. On Friday all the Parker teachers took a very early morning bus down to NYC to join in!

I love going to the NAIS conference. It is filled with inspiring speakers, informative workshops, and lots of meetings with old friends. This year there were 6,500 people at the conference! The keynote addresses were held at Radio City Music Hall - and we filled it.

The messages we heard there were very confirming about how we teach at Parker. Many spoke of the creativity, innovation and collaboration that our kids will need to be successful for the future. Many spoke of how to be more green and sustainable. Some spoke of how we should never give up on kids. Some spoke of the experience of being an immigrant in America. There was lots of information about "web 2.0" and how we can become even more connected.

I will write at more length about what inspired me - for FYI or in a more thoughtful piece than I typically write in this blog. I will need to write about it to process what it meant for me and for Parker.

The teachers were most touched by Marianne Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan. Her message about how she is determined to live as bravely as her husband died - her message of hope - was so moving.

I was also touched by Ismael Beah who had been forced into being a child soldier in Sierra Leone, and by Roland Fryer, author of Freakonomics, who rose from a challenging childhood in south Florida, to become a Harvard professor of economics, dedicated to changing the dynamic of disengaged kids in inner city schools.

I came back excited by all the ways we work with Parker students and by the joy of learning and growing here. And by all the exciting things we are moving towards! Tonight is the first meeting of our emerging Center for Sustainable Energy Education. I'll let you know how it goes!

Pictured above: First grade geometry; 6-7 research and revision for ancient Rome papers; real "connected learning;" and two excited parent volunteers sorting books for the Read Across America Book Sale!