Monday, September 5, 2016

WELCOME TO 2016-2017!

Dear Lower School Families:

WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL!  It's been so fun to see so many of you in the early morning walking your children into school and waving as you drive up in the car line.  Similarly, the energy is high as students exit their buses and enter Door K.  What a thrill it is for us to be into a new school year!

Last week, we had our first Community Meeting where we welcomed 65 new students and 5 new faculty members to Lower School.  More than 40 parents joined us for this meeting . . . the theatre was rockin' as we sang our community song!  Our first C.A.R.E. theme for the year is CITIZENSHIP.  We will use this theme throughout the year as a foundation to six pillars of citizenship.  Our student council and fourth grade leaders will help us learn more about being citizens of our community.

Three primary goals are our focus for the 16-17 school year:

  • Singapore Math In Focus will be implemented in kindergarten-grade four.  After more than a year of research, we selected the math program based on coherance (the program focused on fewer topics to greater depth), focus (students learn to 'think' about their learning), and rigor (it teaches to mastery so students can transfer their understanding and skills to new situations).  Math In Focus pays attention to fact recall, problem-solving, and builds algebraic thinking.  Students use manipulatives to build a solid understanding of concepts before moving to the abstract.  Bar modeling is an important component of the program.  Embedded in Math In Focus is appropriate support and enrichment for students.  Join us for a Math Parent Night on Tuesday, October 18 at 6:30pm to learn more about Singapore Math.
  • STEAM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Arts, Mathematics) will give all Lower School students an opportunity to engage in design and problem-solving.  Each grade level will participate in project-based activities facilitated by Emily Jones, Dave Kust, and Kris Simonson.  In January, students will learn how to code in the classroom.  We're excited to see this initiative unfold 'organically'.  Any parents who have expertise in this area are welcome to share their knowledge in the classroom.
  • Healthy Eating Initiative:  What are 'nibblers'?  What are sources of protein?  Why is it important to "eat what you take"?  We are paying attention to making choices at lunch that will fuel our brains and bodies for learning!  Small changes will initially be seen in preschool-kindergarten lunch, including nibblers (ie-carrot sticks/hummus) on tables and a small-sized salad bar beginning in October.  New signage will call attention to 'special' salad bar items, teachers are spending time in the classroom talking about nutrition, and all of us are reducing waste by taking a portion size that we can eat.  We've also asked our parent ambassadors to think about healthy alternatives as classroom holiday parties are planned.

As part of our ongoing professional development at Breck, teachers are engaged in learning groups throughout the year.  Topics of exploration include:  growth/fixed mindsets, visible thinking, mindfulness, inquiry-based learning, motivation, resilience/grit, project-based learning, and understanding "quiet" introverts.  Teachers/administrators will collaborate on self-identified SMART goals in these topics during the year.  Shared reading, online learning, school networking, and professional dialogue are some of the ways we'll learn this year.  This effort is part of the work of the Peter Clark Center for Teaching and Learning.

So . . . the year is underway!  Right around the corner are four important dates:
Thursday, September 8  (6:30pm):   Back-to-School Night
Saturday, September 17:  (11:00am):   Blessing of the Animals and Homecoming 2016
Monday and Tuesday, September 19 and 20:   Picture Days  (2/3/4) and (P/K/1)
Thursday and Friday, October 6 and 7:   Parent-Teacher Conferences

I hope your child's first weeks of school have been exhilarating . . . new teachers, new friends, new experiences!  Thank you for sharing in the work we do - we are grateful for your partnership!  Please find ways to get involved and share your child's school journey!

Respectfully,
Peg Bailey 

Ruby enjoys her first day of kindergarten
                 Sam says, "I'm finally here!"