November 17, 2011

Giving Thanks

As we prepare to take a week’s break from school for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a good time to reflect on what we have to be thankful for.  As a brand new American citizen (my first U.S. passport arrived in April) it will be especially meaningful for me this year to celebrate this uniquely American tradition, one that all of us of every stripe and creed can share together.

For me, my family and my health top the list. But not too far behind is my absolute joy and gratitude for being welcomed into this Friends' School community.  You have all been so very generous and warm in making my first few months here as wonderful as they have been. 

I am grateful for being at a school where parents and teachers alike are so invested in a shared educational philosophy of integrated learning.  From preschool through fifth grade, students learn best when the subjects they are learning can be blended together in a way that allows students to apply their strengths and build on their challenges. 

This was never more evident than in the celebration I attended this week in Beth Huennekens’ first grade classroom.  For weeks her students have been studying birds and all of their hard work was on display.  The children sang Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds and they showed off their immense knowledge on large science fair boards.  They shared their research and their poetry, their paintings and their sewing projects, their masks and their wingspan calculations.  The kids showed me photos from their birdwatching field trip, the discoveries from the owl pellets they dissected, and the books they have been reading and writing.  It was a wonderful avian celebration of integrated learning.  And similar in so many ways to the spectacular units of integrated study going on across the school.

I believe we are all blessed to be at a school where teaching is completely based on the vast knowledge our teachers possess about how children learn.  I am thankful every day to be able to see master teachers in action and the happy buzz of engaged children.

Thank you to everyone who attended our Flip The Switch Solar Celebration this morning.  Wherever your travels take you this Thanksgiving, or if you are staying home, I wish you a peaceful and fun-filled week away from school.  Or, in the words of Bob Marley that I heard in first grade:
            Rise up this mornin', smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs of melodies pure and true,
Sayin', "This is my message to you-ou-ou:"
Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."

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