Well, it’s not Friday anymore, but I promise I have a good reason for not finishing my Top 5 post finished two days ago! After school on Friday, I zoomed to the airport to fly out to meet my niece for the first time. We’ve been bonding ever since, and even though she’s wailing in the photo below, I like to think she’s crying tears of joy at meeting her favorite aunt.
Let’s get to five of the many great things that happened in Love Hall last week:
5. Record-breaking swimming success: The culmination of the swimming units for Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders in P.E. is one of the most exciting times of the year. At the Third Grade meet, the excitement was worth the slight hearing loss due to the constant cheers (screams). Two Pre-First classes made the trek to Turner to watch their buddies participate in relays and individual events. We saw history made! McKinley Bandy and Nyvette Gray’s student, Cate, broke the record for the Girls 25 Yard Butterfly. The record had been in place since 1985! Way to go, Cate!
4. Wildcats, horses, and chickens: I learned a lot about Westminster by reading this blog post by Pre-First teachers Kimberly Rimmer and Jennifer Griffith. Assistant Headmaster Scoot Dimon visited with students to share the history of our school, how we became the Wildcats, why we enjoy Coke products, and lots of information about the rich family history of Westminster. Also, First Grade teacher Andrea Haan visited with the students to tell them all about Cluck Hall!
3. GOAL: A great highlight of the week was the launching of GOAL groups. So much time, careful thought, and detailed planning went into creating the groups of students receiving small group instruction. We’ve had two meetings so far, and the students in my group have shown compassion for each other, self-reflection skills, a genuine interest in the materials we’ll use throughout our sessions, and a sense of humor. If you have questions about your child’s GOAL group, email your child’s homeroom teachers.
2. Chalk time: If you’ve walked through Carpool A and the garden, you’ve noticed the chalk drawings decorating the area. Members of the Kindness Club spent Tuesday afternoon adorning the concrete with happy messages and pictures so that the first thing people see when they arrive at Love Hall is love! Some of the First Graders created a game in which one can step only on the smiley faces on the stairs, avoiding the frowny faces.
1. An honor for one of Westminster’s finest: Did you see the announcement in the Weekly Parent Update about the one and only Nancy Beane? Mrs. Beane, Westminster’s wonderful Associate Director of College Counseling, recently was named president-elect of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Here’s another article about this exciting announcement.
Happy long weekend! Teachers and staff will be at school on Tuesday, and students will return on Wednesday. Enjoy the extra time together!
What a great week in Love Hall! Here are four things that made your children and their teachers smile and one that we’re looking forward to!
5. India Day: Second Graders celebrated the culmination of their studies on India today with food, music, dance, trivia questions, and crafts. Students rotated through the four classrooms, learning non-stop from parents and grandparents who volunteered to share about their culture. Teachers and some students dressed in traditional Indian attire. It was such a fun morning!
4. Fun with Food and FLIK: During Tuesday morning’s Town Hall meeting for parents, Westminster’s Director of Dining Services, Terrence Dromm, and Executive Chef Eric Centeno shared with attendees a wealth of information about the lunches they create for the school. The chicken parmesan on Monday’s menu? Hormone-free, hand-breaded chicken. The tomato sauce? Made from scratch. The brussels sprouts your child hopefully tried recently? A request from a student. FLIK does a ton of programming with the students; if your child tried the black beans available during the celebration of the black bean, he or she received a sticker and a recipe card. Also, FLIK’s wonderful intern, Ms. Busby, worked with Student Council members to educate students about food waste and how to reduce it in our Hamilton Room.
An added bonus at the Town Hall meeting — attendees were treated to a tasty and healthy smoothie made right before our eyes! Thank you, Chef Eric. Also, don’t forget to check out upcoming menus online!
3. Be Responsible: On Thursday morning, Mrs. Plunkett and Ms. Jagger’s Fifth Grade classes taught the rest of the school all about responsibility. The audience enjoyed the older students’ take on well-known fables such as “The Ant and the Grasshopper” and “The Little Red Hen.” Mr. Chalmers and Mrs. Doster lent their expertise to the classes throughout rehearsals and during the assembly. Great job, everyone!
2. A Sublime way to start the day: He’s so humble that he won’t want recognition for his contributions to the happiness of the Love Hall faculty & staff, so I won’t reveal the name of the male Science teacher who brought Sublime Donuts to school this morning. He also wouldn’t want to receive any thanks for the bagels he provides on some Fridays. And he definitely wouldn’t want praise for the pancakes he’s cooked on a griddle in the faculty lounge. So, let’s leave it as a simple thank you to one of the teachers who cares for not only your children but also his co-workers.
1. Girls rule! Tomorrow morning at Georgia Tech, approximately 20 female Wildcats will run their hearts out in the Girls on the Run 5K. If you’re not familiar with GOTR, take a few minutes and check out their website. Parent coaches, Becky McKnight, and other adult leaders have been teaching a wonderful curriculum and running with the girls for the past few months. Rain or shine, they’ll be running tomorrow! Best of luck, girls!
Have a wonderful, safe weekend!
Happy Friday and Valentine’s Eve! Love Hall was buzzing with energy and happiness all day. Fun Dip, conversation hearts, cupcakes, and giant Rice Krispie treats probably contributed to the excitement, but you won’t hear me complaining about the extra noise. Perks of classroom party-hopping in an elementary school? See treats listed above. Now let’s get to some other good stuff from the week:
5. Truth: On Wednesday during snack time in Pre-First, a student told me that she and her parents love three instruments: the violin, trumpet, and flute. I responded, “Those are all very different and beautiful.” Without hesitation, she smiled and said, “Just like all of us.” Truth, little one.
4. Should vs. would prefer: Recently, I read this article from Time.com about how to improve your patience by making a small change in your vocabulary. This small change — substituting “would prefer” for “should” — can lead to big changes in attitude, mood, and overall wellbeing. After a week, already I’ve noticed a difference in my stress level. Instead of thinking, “That person should hold the door for me!!” I say to myself, “I would prefer that the person hold the door open until I get there because my hands are full.” Instead of, “This person shouldn’t talk to me like that,” I think, “I would prefer that this person use a different tone of voice with me.” We tell kids every day, “You can’t control anyone else’s behavior; focus on you.” It’s good for us to remember the same advice.
3. So far, so good: The second of five Parenting the Love and Logic Way™ sessions was Thursday morning, and parents seemed to enjoy the stories shared by the presenters in the DVD clips. The stories lead to valuable advice and parenting tips, and some of the brief conversations we’ve had after the videos have been revealing and honest. Thank you, parents!
2. A happy place: My First Grade GOAL group meets in the chapel because there are only a few of us, and a Third Grade academic-focused group uses my room. On Tuesday, the students and I role played various situations first using stuffed animals and then acting them out ourselves. After I walked the students back to their classrooms, I returned to the chapel and decided to spend 15 minutes working in the quiet, sunny, peaceful room. I challenge anyone to find a more beautiful working spot inside of a building.
1. My favorite valentine: It’s so special to be remembered on Valentine’s Day by little Wildcats. I received thoughtful notes and cards today that warmed my heart, especially the one pictured below. “Love one another.” Good advice from a wise Fourth Grade girl.
A safe, happy, love-filled weekend to all! See you Tuesday — no school for students on Monday!
Happy Friday! We’ve made it through our final full school week of 2014! Here are a few things that made the past five days extra fun in Love Hall:
5. A battle for the ages: Who would win in a fight: Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter? At lunch yesterday, this important question sparked a lively debate with three Third Grade boys and one girl. Immediately I established myself in the Harry Potter camp, and across the table it was all about the Force. I claimed (and will claim for all eternity) that Harry’s wand and spells would render Luke helpless. Luke’s supporters maintained that a light saber surely would block all such spells, and the Force would help Luke obtain Harry’s wand. Long story short? We all agreed that whoever got in the first shot would win.
4. Pour some sugar on…: Anyone who passed the First Grade classes this morning got a whiff of deliciousness as students and moms decorated gingerbread houses. I had never seen so much candy in my life. It was heaven. In Mrs. Chapman and Mrs. Haan’s classroom, the visitors also played a greeting/morning meeting game with the students that involved specific clapping sequences and eye contact. So that I wouldn’t disrupt the flow with my eternal lack of rhythm, I took a picture from the safety of the doorway.
3. A special thank you: Second Graders’ PBL (Project Based Learning) unit on community helpers culminated in a special celebration yesterday morning. Members of the Westminster community were invited to Love Hall for a viewing of the hallway bulletin boards, a visit with the students, and a light breakfast. From the grounds crew to FLIK to our office staff and nurses, these invaluable personnel seemed very appreciative of the students’ interest in their work, but it is the students and the rest of Westminster who appreciate them so much! Thank you!
2. More appreciation of Westminster’s own faculty/staff: Pre-First teachers Mrs. Dick and Mrs. Widness blogged about their students’ fun social studies project last month, but before this week I hadn’t stopped and taken the time to read the writing and appreciate the drawings on their hallway bulletin board. Take a look at the detail in the students’ work!
1. A special senior: On Tuesday, a Westminster senior spent a few hours with me to see what a school counselor does. It was fun to hear about her potential college options, current challenges she faces regarding clubs and after school commitments, and memories of Love Hall. When I told her that she’d accompany me to Ms. Tedesco and Ms. Padgett’s class for our guidance lesson, she said, “Ms. Tedesco was my second grade teacher!” They had a happy reunion when we walked into the room, and then the children welcomed the senior and explained the lessons within The Quiltmaker’s Gift, last week’s lesson topic. Ms. Tedesco disappeared for a little bit and then returned with a book of recipes that the student and her classmates had made during their time in second grade!
P.S. Just because hundreds of stuffed animals thrown from the stands onto a basketball court for a good cause is awesome, here you go. Happy weekend! http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/101324/division-ii-school-makes-it-rain-toys?ex_cid=espnFB
I hope everyone has had a fun week recovering from overeating during the Thanksgiving break! (I hope it wasn’t just me…) Here are some things that made me smile this week:
5. Works of art: Who knew that bulletin boards could be so exciting, informative, and even inspirational? I won’t give away details here because they’re still in progress, but the Second Grade classrooms’ bulletin boards are worth a trip to Love Hall. Highlighting members of the Westminster community in our building and around the school, the children’s projects are personal and respectful. I absolutely cannot wait to see the finished products.
4. Name-calling: In Ms. Hartness and Mrs. Hines’ class, I told a story during our lesson about my sister and me, using both of our first names a few times in the story. At the end of the lesson, I turned to leave and heard a boy say, “Wait, Kate!” I turned around, and my wide eyes met his wide eyes. Then we both burst out laughing because he couldn’t believe he had said that, and I knew he hadn’t said it on purpose. I assured him that one day when he’s an adult, we can be on a personal first-name basis, but not yet!
3. Unsung heroes: Does there exist a magical place in which people look forward to calling the IT department for help? It does exist, and it’s Westminster. Ready with a calm, clear answer for any tech crisis, the members of this Westminster team are behind-the-scenes heroes on a daily basis. They’re available anytime during the day, they return calls and emails with lightning speed, they answer the same questions 100 times a day with unending patience, and they’re all really, really nice. They’re incredible. Today I sat with a funny, helpful IT staff member for over an hour while she kindly assisted me with my laptop. The extra bonus? So that visitors to their offices are enveloped not only in friendliness but also deliciousness, the IT people have candy and bottles of water for when employees are desperate for help and treats.
2. Happiness in a jar: Yesterday afternoon, the Coop Cats carefully filled more than 20 large jars with ingredients for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Their assembly lines were beautifully messy and well-orchestrated once the students got into a rhythm. Look for these and other great holiday gifts at the Alternative Gift Fair this evening!
1. I wish I had thought of that: My favorite moment of the week. In Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. Rimmer’s classroom, the students and I were talking about snowmen. It was time for me to leave at the end of the lesson, but I just had to call on one more eager student because it looked like she really had something good to share. I called on her, and she excitedly announced, “If President Barack Obama were a snowman, he’d be Barack SNOWbama!!” I think I laughed so loudly that I scared the rest of the kids.
See you at the Gift Fair in Malone Dining Hall! I need to get to the ATM to prepare for some serious holiday shopping…
Happy Friday! Here are a few bits of happy randomness from the week:
5. The Weird Machine: How many Pre-First girls can fit into a hula hoop? Glad you asked. The answer is five. What will they do once inside the hula hoop? Travel around the playground blacktop making “computer noises” and calling themselves “The Weird Machine.” Welcome to recess!
4. Interviewing Enisa: I happened to walk through the Hamilton Room while members of Ms. Tedesco and Ms. Padgett’s Second Grade class were interviewing wonderful Enisa. Enisa is one of the Flik employees who takes great care of us at lunch each day. I heard one student ask, “What time do you get up to get to work on time?” It’s fun to hear the questions the students choose to ask. I also loved that three students were using iPads to film the interview.
3. Thoughts on cheese: As I walked by a Fourth Grade room, I heard a student say to her friends in an extremely serious voice, “Mozzarella cheese is scientifically known to be the perfect cheese.” Maybe it was part of a skit, maybe it was a thoughtful observation on dairy products, or maybe it was a line of a song — who knows — but it made my day.
2. Awesome avocados: OK, I’ll admit that this wasn’t the first time I’ve taken a picture of lunch at school. Check out the avocados and tomatoes available in the faculty/staff salad bar earlier this week. Are you kidding me? YUM! Thank you, Westminster and Flik! And yes, while I enjoyed them with my chicken fajitas I thought to myself, “This is totally going on my top five list.”
1. Surprise on the ceiling: During this morning’s counseling lesson in Ms. Bonin and Mrs. Clarke’s class, a rainbow appeared on the ceiling. We never figured out what was reflecting the sun; we just enjoyed the surprise beauty.
Have a beautiful fall weekend!
My Top 5 list didn’t make it to the blog on Friday, but it’s never too late to share some fun times from last week!
On Tuesday morning, the Lower School gathered in the Hamilton Room for our first community celebration of the year. Mr. Alberty’s class and Mrs. Jackson’s class treated us to skits focused on one of our new school rules, “Be Safe.” Your child probably will remember the phrase, “STOP! That’s unsafe!” as the Fifth Graders used it many times to reiterate how students should stop and think about their actions. Are they being safe? If not, make a different choice! At the end of the assembly, of course there was an opportunity to dance to a song about being safe, respectful, and responsible. Thank you, Fifth Graders!
On Wednesday, the Second Grade classes took a “community walk” around the school to meet and learn from various personnel. After everyone heard from Pamela Nye, the school archivist, they traveled to Turner Gym to interview Athletic Director Rusty Hudson. After Coach Hudson’s time with the students, the classes split up to visit art teachers, President Evans, English teachers, history teachers, and more. I couldn’t decide which class to follow! I managed to catch up with Mrs. Roland and Mrs. Steele’s class when they visited Mr. Griffith in Campbell Hall, and then I followed Mrs. Bradway and Ms. Shelton’s class to Mr. Mackay’s classroom in Clarkson Hall. Thanks for letting me tag along, Second Grade!
In Fourth Grade, “E” days are Second Step days during Morning Meeting, so I visited Ms. Mahoney and Mrs. Sadler’s classroom to learn what the kids were learning. Mrs. Carroll and Ms. Heller’s class had joined them while their Smartboard was being uncharacteristically uncooperative. Ms. Mahoney led a great lesson on being assertive. At the end, the teachers let the students have a short dance party to the Second Step empathy “Walk, Walk, Walk (in Their Shoes).” I loved watching the teachers and kids let loose! I thought about joining in, but watching Ms. Strother dance is too frightening a sight for 8:25 in the morning.
And of course, Friday included the wonderful Halloween parade. From Mr. McKnight’s parade-leading as the “new sheriff in town” to the high-fives craved by even the coolest Upper School kids to the Halloween-themed music on Pressly Patio provided by the band, it was a fun experience for all of Westminster! My favorite moment from the morning was when a student described his walks with his parents. “When I walk with my parents,” said this Pre-First boy seriously, “usually I walk forty inches in front of them. But sometimes I walk a hundred and five inches in front of them. That’s how I do it.” (I don’t know how I could love these kids any more than I do!) I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!
5. Love for Habitat: This morning, Upper School service prefects stood at the flagpole to collect donations for Habitat for Humanity from our students’ banks. Thank you to the older students for getting to school early to help Mrs. Boggs collect the money, and thank you to the Lower School Wildcats for their generosity! The next flagpole collection will be Thursday, October 23.
4. Love for beans, too: Yesterday, our Flik nutritionist, Melanie Lester, set up a table in the lunchroom to highlight the bean of the month, the black bean. Students were encouraged to try the black bean habanero pepper dip. Most of them sported a sticker indicating that they had been a food explorer and tried a new recipe! Stay tuned… next month, there will be a new bean to enjoy!
3. Games galore: The Second Grade cardboard arcade is a spectacular culmination of students’ hard work in Design Thinking. Along the lines of the inspiring Caine’s Arcade, our students worked in groups to build games. Check out the fantastic (and difficult to win!) games below.
2. A new role: Next Friday is an extremely special day in Love Hall, Grandparents and Special Friends Day. Most students will parade around their beloved family members, showing off the art room, gym, and other special locations. Students whose relatives are unable to attend will have a faculty or staff member as their special friend. Just a few minutes ago, a third grader stopped by to ask if I would accompany her around the building next Friday. I was so happy! I told her Yes and that I wished it were next Friday already! When I went through the elementary school here, my grandparents lived in California and Massachusetts, and they weren’t able to travel to visit for this day. I was so lucky, though, that my friend and classmate, Jenny, was the granddaughter of our wonderful principal, Judy Marine. Mrs. Marine did double duty and acted as my substitute grandmother, and now I have the honor of acting as someone’s special friend on this special day. Isn’t it amazing how things come back around?
1. Kindness Club note discovered! Speaking of things coming back around, earlier this week, I received an email from a father of a Pre-First student. He wrote, “We wanted you to know that our son got a book from the library, and we were elated to find a Kindness Club note (see photo attached). It made our day. We will be sure to pass on the kindness. Hope you are having a great day!” I was so thrilled that a) the note was discovered by a family who would make sure to pass on the kindness and b) the parent would take the time to send me an email. Here is last year’s post about the day when the Kindness Club wrote and hid the notes in the library books.
Happy weekend to all! Don’t forget to collect coins, eat beans, play games, hug your family, and pass on kindness! 🙂
What a beautiful day to kick off our three-day Columbus Day weekend! Here are just five of my favorite things that happened this week:
5. Right all along: In Ms. Padgett and Ms. Tedesco’s Second Grade class, one student proved me wrong during our regular classroom counseling lesson, and I loved it! The children were playing a Memory/Concentration-type game on the Smartboard about listening and focusing as a follow-up to their “Tuned In” lessons. The game is fairly difficult, especially at the beginning when all 24 cards are on the screen. I have a tough time with it! Students took turns going to the board to touch cards to reveal potential matches. As one student stood at the board, trying hard to decide which card to choose, a boy sitting nearby said, “It’s that one! In the corner! That one’s the match!” I looked at him and said gently, “Come on, there’s no way you know where the match is! I have no idea where it is!” He said, “I do, I promise! It’s in the corner!” I sincerely believed that there was no way anyone could remember which one was right. The student at the board took his classmate’s advice and touched the card in the corner. When it revealed itself as the correct match, I burst out laughing and looked at the boy on the floor. He simply smiled the most innocent, fun-loving smile, put up his hands, and whispered to me, “Told ya.” No bragging, no loud celebrating, just a moment between the two of us that made my day.
4. Leisurely lunches: So that I can build strong relationships with Pre-First students as a foundation for their career in Love Hall, I will have lunch with all of them in my office in groups of six. This week, I started with Mrs. Dick and Mrs. Widness’ students. After the first 11:20 lunch date, I couldn’t wait for the next day and the day after that! During our lunches together, the students and I discussed matters such as middle names, pets, pets’ middle names, cousins’ pets’ names, and dessert. When you bond with Pre-Firsters, you’ve got to start with the basics. 🙂
3. A special invitation: A Second Grade girl was so proud that her grandmother planned to visit on Wednesday that she passed out handwritten invitations to meet this special visitor at 11:25 in the lunchroom. It was heartwarming to see the student’s obvious adoration for her grandmother when she introduced us at the lunch table.
2. Now the hard work begins: After I posted the list of students appointed to Student Council, Mr. McKnight said to me, “This looks great! Now the hard work begins!” Well, I certainly believe him…! Yesterday was the very first meeting of the 2014-2015 Council, and we had a packed agenda for our 25 minutes together during Morning Meeting time. I have a feeling that we’re going to want to meet more than once a month. At the meeting, students heard about two important upcoming projects that will have an impact schoolwide, took a group photo, volunteered to make signs for Habitat for Humanity during recess, and agreed to check their Schoology account to accept an invitation to join the Student Council group. Fifth Grade Science teacher Ms. Linkon has agreed to host the meetings in her room all year. Thank you, Ms. Linkon! We’re going to have a great time this year.
1. Playing wall tag: The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade swimming units in P.E. culminated in swim meets this week. How proud I was of our brave little Wildcats! They displayed great courage, teamwork, and perseverance with every lap. Many parents and siblings cheered from the balcony as students demonstrated their skills in their games of “wall tag,” as Coach Pete Higgins used to say to us when we practiced in junior high and high school. It was very special to hear him announce the meets this week — many memories came rushing back! Jokingly he yelled at me to get my suit on, and I assured him that the kids would smoke me in the pool these days…
Happy long weekend! See you on Tuesday!
P.S. One more photo — I can’t resist. The First Graders are deep in their study of bees, and they had visits from special people this week. Check out the First Grade teachers’ blogs for more! In the meantime, here’s one student from Mrs. Lovern and Mrs. Hitchcock’s class being photographed by Mrs. McCarthy. (The one-to-one iPad endeavor is incredible, by the way.)
Better late than never for my Top 5 “Friday!” 😉
5. A special sighting: One of the most popular visitors to Love Hall is Scoot Dimon, Assistant Headmaster for Student Life. Mr. Dimon reads to classes frequently, and the students and teachers love his guest appearances. When his sweet dog, Rambler, accompanies Mr. Dimon, it’s an extra special treat!
4. Score! G.O.A.L. time in the lower grades began this week, and I’m so lucky to be part of the Reader’s Theatre group in Second Grade. Mrs. Lamb, Mr. McKnight and I will share the responsibility of working with the students throughout the next few weeks. We’ll work on increasing the students’ oral language fluency (expression and accuracy) and building their confidence in speaking in front of others. Our first time together was so fun that I wished we could have continued all afternoon! Mrs. Lamb selected a short play for the students to act out, and they enjoyed our first read-through. Some of the boys played female roles, and a few of the girls acted out male roles. I think the ones who got to play roles of parents and teachers had the most fun. One student shared, “I think this will be fun, but I have bad stage fright.” Another said, “I never stop talking at home, so I think this group will be perfect for me!”
3. Mealtime News: At the lunch table on Wednesday, a First Grade boy announced, “I have some good news and some bad news.” Of course, his classmates and I asked to hear both. “The good news is that we have G.O.A.L. today! I don’t really understand what it is yet, but my teachers talked about it and it sounds really fun! The bad news is that my grandmother is coming, and I have to sleep in my sister’s room.” Love the honesty!
2. Buddies: On Friday morning, I spent time observing a First Grade class and their Fourth Grade buddies playing together on the playground. Buddies are one of my absolute favorite things about Westminster’s Lower School. To watch the older children swell with pride at the responsibility of caring for their younger friend is a beautiful thing, and it’s wonderful to watch the younger children (literally) look up to their older friend.
1. Encouraging Peers: To announce the members of the Student Council, I posted the list of student names on two doors in the Fifth Grade hallway across from the Science rooms, two near the Fourth Grade rooms, and one on the Student Council bulletin board. I asked Science teachers Mrs. Sultan and Mr. Sottnick to keep an ear out for student reactions. Less than half an hour after posting the list, Mrs. Sultan and Fourth Grade teacher Mrs. Sadler found me and reported that they had both overheard nothing but cheers and congratulatory remarks from students. Mrs. Sultan had peeked into the hallway, and she saw one Fourth Grade boy yell, “Way to go!” and hug his classmate. During Fourth and Fifth Grade lunch, I talked to a number of students to learn about reactions to the announcement. Although some students reported disappointment, of course, overall they were happy for their peers. Our students’ displays of good character didn’t surprise me one bit. We have pretty incredible kiddos in Love Hall!