From the Director's Chair
Dear Lower School Parents and Families,
The first month of Lower School is wonderfully joyful, but also quite unique. Spending a summer outside of school is usually a time of growth and change for anyone, but for young children the growth and change can be dramatic.
Our teachers prepare by spending the previous spring and summer months doing two primary things: learning about their new students and how they performed last year and making sure that our classrooms are fully stocked and prepared for the range of learning about to take place.
With these two things in place, the first month of school is a time to notice and define each student’s growth and change. It is also a time to begin to match the new learning environment of a new grade level with the current strengths and challenges of each student. It is a time of caring assessment, both formal and informal, a time of conversation and sharing, and a time when we adults share our reflections and observations as often as possible so that our collective compassion and wisdom becomes the basis of our teaching actions.
On the formal side of assessments (primarily for grades 1-5), we examine the returned summer math work, see how students are performing on new math work, and give reading, writing and spelling benchmarks. On the informal side, we see how our students approach classroom work, how students navigate a new classroom and grade-level social world, and how much knowledge and confidence students have retained from the previous year. The first month of school is an incredibly rich, enlightening month with a clear focus for us to get to know our students as they now are and to partner with them to foster each student’s greatest success as a learner.
October brings with it settling into an academic routine that includes differentiated instruction based on all we now understand about each student. We adults, of course, continue to examine our assumptions and approach with students, but always from the perspective gained in September. What we have learned about each student and how our approaches in the classroom are working become the main focus of our first set of reports and conferences, held just before Thanksgiving break.
For me, another place I witness the forming of this year’s Lower School community is in Meeting for Worship. To date, the first through fifth grades have gathered for Meeting on three occasions. The other two weeks they have met for Meeting with their grade in classrooms, and kindergarten and pre-K have met each week by grade. For first through fifth graders, returning to the Meeting Room offers a chance for quiet reflection and a chance to settle back into the habits of Meeting. Our September Meetings are often lively, with some amount of energetic excitement, and filled with student ministry about friendship, kindness and doing good deeds. Of course, we adults usually need to give reminders: only give one message per person per Meeting, listen well and don’t repeat a message already given, and give a good amount of time between messages in order for reflection to take place. As we move into October, Meeting usually begins to deepen, to become more focused. By late November, kindergarten is ready to join Meeting and we are ready for them.
The first month of Lower School is a full introduction for everyone joining or reconnecting to our learning community. I love to experience the energy and effort that is put into the start of school. September provides a loving foundation for the school year.
Here’s to a great year ahead. I am so happy to have you as partners.
All the best,
Monday, Oct. 31, 8:30 am
All families are welcome to attend our annual Halloween parade. The parade for grades K-5 will begin in Lower School at 8:30 am sharp near the science room and end at 8:50 am on the Lower School green. (If it is raining, the parade will conclude after touring the Upper School, and children can meet their parents back in the classroom for final photos.) See the parade route.
Pre-K students and their families should gather in the pre-K by 8:15 am. They will then walk over as a group and watch the parade from the kindergarten playground. Afterwards, they will walk back to enjoy their own festivities. If it rains, they will not go to Lower School but will remain in the pre-K. They should follow the same costume guidelines as the rest of Lower School.
All children who are participating in the parade should wear their costumes to school. As a Quaker school, we ask that students not wear costumes that are overly scary or violent, or military clothing such as camouflage or other depictions of war. We also ask that they do not carry toy weapons (swords, guns, etc.) or other violent accessories that may be part of their costumes.
Be sure your child brings a change of clothes to school. Children will change into school clothes following the festivities and should remove all face paint, etc. Regular classes will resume later in the morning.
Alternate Activity for Children Who Don't Celebrate Halloween
Out of respect for the diversity of our community, as we have done in past years, we will provide an alternate activity for children whose families do not celebrate Halloween. To sign up for this option, contact Lisa Reedich (ext. 171) by Oct. 28.
Parent Social, Grades 1 through 5
Save the date, and here is the link for the Signup Genius.
Lower School Memories
Thank you to all the families who attended the Fall Festival – and all the wonderful volunteers who made it a success! Photos.
In case you haven't seen them, take a few moments to view photos of the first day of pre-k and kindergarten. So sweet!