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!

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