You may be wondering why we didn’t have school this past Tuesday. Why on earth did we make you find child care on a Tuesday?!?! Good question. We closed so that all faculty members could attend the first day of the 2015 Schools of the Future (SOTF) conference, the largest education conference in the state. We have been fortunate to be able to send all faculty members to this conference for several years in a row now. We do this out of a commitment to continue our own adult learning so that we can constantly learn about new educational practices and collaborate with our peers in other public, private and charter schools.
Two things made this SOTF conference particularly exciting for me. The first was the emphasis on social-emotional learning (SEL). In fact, the morning keynote address was titled, “Social and Emotional Learning: Best Practices, Research and Overview of the Roots of Empathy Program.” I was very encouraged to see the premier educational conference in our region place such an emphasis on what we at Assets know is essential to a child’s overall well-being.
An administrator friend of mine, who works at a large independent school in our community, commented to me after the keynote that, “Assets has been doing these things for years.” While we continue to learn more and refine our SEL curricula at Assets, I agree with my friend. Our school has been a leading institution in the community in recognizing the importance of a child’s social-emotional health and developing programs that nurture that part of a child’s self. In my experience, parents often compliment our teachers for helping their child improve their literacy skills; but, when asked to reflect on why Assets has been meaningful to them, most parents first speak to their child having their self-image repaired and the joy of learning returned. This is because we recognize that a child’s social-emotional health needs to be intact for him to access the cognitive functions required for learning.
The second exciting feature of this year’s SOTF conference was the strong presenting presence Assets had. We had 11 faculty members present, across 5 different sessions. This included high school teachers Kerri Schweibert and Ali Beste presenting the title, “From Zero to Show: Embracing the Arts & Allowing Students to Shine Beyond the Walls of the Classroom.” As for K-8 faculty, I would like to congratulate the following individuals for their contributions to our greater education community:
Kenneth Powell and Christian Fox. Leave No Stone Unturned: Helping Students Identify Their Strengths and Pursue Their Passions. In this session, Mr. Powell and Ms. Fox explained our enrichment program and how it’s beneficial to students.
Randy Castello and Cat Vericella. Cloud Dance: An integrated classroom experience built around literature, music, art and movement. In this session, Mr. Castello and Ms. Cat shared a powerful lesson they led in class last year, which featured fabulous literature and arts integration. If you were able to attend our Star Gazing event last year, you saw our 1st and 2nd graders perform their magical cloud dance.
Carol Uyeda, Cindy Thurman, Julia Kona, and Lisa Nakamura. Old Dogs with New Tricks: iPads in the Classroom. In this session, our teachers shared how iPads have enhanced teaching and student engagement at Assets. Our teachers shared how you could use the iPad for assistive technology and help students develop their strengths. The teachers also provided guidance on how to best manage iPads within the classroom.
Jon Pennington. DIY Generation: The End of Teaching As WE Know It. In this session, Mr. Pennington shared how our students are using diy.org to direct their learning, explore their interests and collaborate with others.
As I told each of the teachers who presented, I was pleased for the greater community to learn more about what I get to witness every day – how caring and talented our Assets teachers are! Please join me in sending your congratulations and appreciation to these presenters.
Last Friday’s costume parade was not to be missed! The Minions seemed to be the costume of the season. As you’ll see, our 5th/6th and 7th/8th grade teachers joined in the fun as yellow and purple minions themselves. There were also beautiful fairies, superheroes, Minecraft characters, and lots of other creative costumes. If you weren’t able to join us for the parade, please enjoy the slideshow below.