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Chapel Message for March 3, 2016

Several people enjoyed Father Cameron's message this morning so much that they suggested we share it on our blog:
What I want to focus on today can be reduced to one very simple word, but unlike many of my messages in chapel, it’s not love. It’s faith! Grace is God’s gift to us…not that He doesn’t want us to try to live lives of love and service, but we don’t earn our way into God’s favor. That can be confusing to us at a deep level if we hear messages that we always have to prove that we are good enough. We are already good enough for God. The Lord made each of us that way. 

Books for Winter Break

Just in time for the Winter Break, school librarian Mrs. Sylvie Roy, has assembled a great list of books to keep the kids entertained at home, in the car, or on a plane.  Stop by the library before pick up today to check one out or visit your neighborhood library over the break.
Wish by Emma Dodd

Pre-K- Kindergarten
World of Reading Star Wars The Force Awakens: Rey Meets BB-8: Level 1 by Walt Disney Company

Pre-K- 1st grade
Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood

Hot Rod Hamster series by Cynthia Lord.
Ms. Lord will visit Saint Andrew's on April 8th for a special author reading and book signing. Check out some of her award winning books

Choosing our words wisely

by Erik Carlson, Head of School
In the last two summers the faculty read Mindset, by Carol Dweck and The Power of Our Words, by Paula Denton. We have been focusing on the language that we use with our students. The meaningful feedback and guidance provided by the adults in the community shapes the students' mindset and stimulates their growth intellectually and socially. We are cultivating their inclination to be curious and kind and hard-working. I was reminded of one of the key messages from Mindset recently, when I read the following blog from one of our education journals.
The Best Type of Praise by Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers
As educators, expectations and achievement remain front and center. This arena is not limited to teachers and students. It extends to leaders with teachers and to leaders and teachers with parents. It exists in formal evaluations and informal communications. Expectations and student achievement are a bottom line focus in schools and are paramount in the thinking of adults in them.
The remainder of Ms. Berkowicz' and Ms. Myers' blog is available to read on EdWeek.

Next Generation Science Standards

by Dr. Len Bloch
The media has devoted a lot of attention to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and how they might change science education in public schools. Saint Andrew’s families are naturally curious about how the NGSS might impact science teaching here. Educational standards provide an important baseline for educational practice: They represent the minimum of what students should learn, and they should not limit what they learn.

A Super Science-filled Holiday Break!

Are you looking for another source of fun for the winter holidays? Trying to ease that academic slump when the holidays are over? Why not try some science! Science is the best way to keep children engaged and thinking over the break because it provides them with a joy of discovery, the excitement of exploration, and builds the life long skill of curiosity! It can provide a chance for students to make mistakes without feeling the pressure of a bad grade or the distress of failing in front of a group. Science can also bring about a realization that everything is connected in some way by a scientific explanation waiting to be found!

Teaching Our Children to be Kind

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh)

We all want our children to be kind. In fact we find ourselves stunned and embarrassed when we witness them being anything but kind. But childhood is a series of growth lessons and learning to be kind is one such milestone.

We all assume our children know what being kind means, however it is important to define it for them and discuss it just as you would any other value that’s important to you. So what is the definition of kindness?
reprinted with permission from Parents Place

Raising a Spiritual Child

Lisa Miller’s book The Spiritual Child is a groundbreaking study on the health and development of children. Her book concludes that developing the spirituality of your child is the greatest gift you can give for managing adolescence and beyond. Spirituality affects brain development, healthy relationships, one’s connection to the transcendent, and our identity and purpose.

Get to Know Head of Middle School Tom Burgess

Yesterday afternoon, it was announced that Tom Burgess had been selected as our Middle School Head.  Tom has made an immediate positive impression on all within his sphere of influence.  Parents describe him as thoughtful, responsive, and knowledgeable on Middle School matters.  Teachers note his inclination to listen and appreciate the programs and traditions at Saint Andrew’s, while also sharing research and his vast experience to advance the program.  On the administrative team, Tom is quick to frame issues according to the School’s mission and strategic plan.  Tom is a trusted colleague and a champion for Middle School students.  He continually seeks opportunities for the students to share their “voices”, to participate in decisions that affect their school life, and to assume leadership opportunities.

Our Giving Community

Parents, students and teachers in the Saint Andrew’s community give of their time, talent and treasure to make our community a better place. Saint Andrew’s is a place each of us can be at our best because we are embraced by a generous community. The many gifts that you offer lead to multiple successes for each and every child, each and every day.

How to minimize stress during homework time

by Paula Ramos, Learning Specialist
The after school homework routine can be a challenging time for many families. Following are several tips to help ease this potentially trying time for you and your children.  

Time for homework!
First and foremost, it is important to develop a homework routine that begins at roughly the same time every day.  The time of day you choose to begin homework is not as important as sticking with the routine you develop. What time is best? That will depend on your child. Every one is different. Many children need some down time before getting started on homework. They enjoy a snack and perhaps a ½ hour of physical activity or playtime with a favorite hobby. Others have trouble shifting from a down time activity to the structure of homework and therefore need to just get started on homework right away. Again, whatever your child’s personal style, the homework start time should be as routine as possible.

Learning a Second Language: How Parents Can Help

Saint Andrew's offers Spanish instruction as an enrichment course in Lower School and as a core daily subject in Middle School. Our Spanish teachers, Ana-Zahra Ezzine de Blas, Saul Guizar, and Bibi Millet, help students learn about the Spanish language and culture, practicing the four basic skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students feel excited about Spanish and are enthusiastic learners, while being acquainted to new values, ideas, customs, and traditions. We pay special attention to the spoken language. The language of instruction is almost entirely Spanish.
BUT, you don't have to understand Spanish to help your child boost his/her language skills.

Why do we celebrate Eucharist in a multi-faith school?

by Father Cameron Ayers
Firmly rooted in the Episcopal tradition, Saint Andrew’s is an inclusive community grounded in respect and honor for each of our members. The religious pluralism of our school community provides a magnificent opportunity to foster the spiritual formation of our students from a variety of faith traditions. Students are encouraged to seek clarity about their own beliefs and to honor those traditions more fully and faithfully in their own lives.

What is Morning Meeting?

by Victoria Trevor
Morning Meetings are a powerful way to begin the day.
The best way!
The way we begin each day in our classroom sets the tone for learning and speaks volumes about what and whom we value, about our expectations for the way we will treat each other, and about the way we believe learning occurs. The Morning Meeting is part of Responsive Classroom and is an integral way to do this.

Bringing Out the Best

By Erik Carlson
Over the summer, we published our school magazine, The Oak, which elaborated on living our mission to educate the “whole student.” I wrote an article about how satisfying it is to be an adult in a community dedicated to educating the whole student. As we attend to the balance of the intellectual, spiritual, physical, and social growth of each child, we are stretched and challenged and grow with our children. We count on each other, our fellow parents, for support and guidance, and that camaraderie is lasting. In the opening chapel I encouraged the students to seek out role models. You, with the teachers and administration, are those models, demonstrating the behaviors and attitudes you wish your children to adopt. Educating the whole student brings out the best in us.

The Student Experience Survey

By Joey Jalalian and Joelle Strickland

Here at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School, we recognize that each child’s school day is a unique experience full of exploration, curiosity, relationship building, and the development of identities and lifelong values.  As professionals in education, we want to ensure that we are delivering the richest experience possible for each and every student.  In order to ensure this, the Lower School faculty wanted to understand in a deeper, more meaningful way, how our students perceive their school world on social, emotional, and academic levels.  While there is no one way to measure the complex symbiosis of teaching and learning within a special community like ours, we chose to start by administering The Student Experience Survey to our second through fifth grade students. It was our hope that this survey would be a valuable start in capturing a comprehensive picture of student life.

Winter in New York City

As you think ahead to Spring Break, take a minute to check out the great trip Ms. Halla and Mr. Souder had over Winter Break as they took a group of nine 7th and 8th graders to NYC on an arts/literary New York extravaganza.

Prior to the trip, students attended a series of NYC post WWII art history classes where they studied why and how the center of the art world shifted from Paris to New York.

The week long trip included gallery walks in Chelsea, MOMA PS1 in Queens, SOHO art lofts, Greenwich Village art tours and so much more. The group somehow found time to see Les Mis and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night on Broadway, witness the NY Rangers lose to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout at Madison Square Garden, go sledding in Central Park, and eat the most amazing pizza in the west village.
Check out some of their pictures!

The Episcopal Tradition

by Erik Carlson, Head of School
A favorite part of my job as Head of School is the opportunity to meet with many of the families considering our school for their child’s education. It’s a great time to get to know the families and discuss why I believe Saint Andrew’ Episcopal School is an amazing place of learning for both the students and the parents. I often recount for them how last spring, after my appointment to be the eighth head of Saint Andrew's Episcopal School, I had an unscheduled opportunity to visit the campus. Moments after I stepped onto the plaza, an 8th grade boy broke from his casual conversation with his friends, approached me, and asked if I was Mr. Carlson. He looked me in the eye, extended his hand, and said, “I am going to be graduating, so I won’t get to know you at school next year, but I am glad you are joining us. So welcome.”

My first three months at Saint Andrew's

Deacon Lauren McCombs recently shared about her experience as a new member of the Saint Andrew's Episcopal School faculty.
I can’t believe that three months have already passed since I first joined the staff at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School as the Religion teacher for Pre-K and Kindergarten. I am truly enjoying my time here immensely. I have gotten to know my 39 students quite well as I tell them stories about God who is all loving and all forgiving.

Our new fifth grader

Late last semester, Mrs. Trevor took part in a one day shadow experience to understand what it's like to be a fifth grade student at Saint Andrew's Episcopal School. Complete with SAES uniform, "Vicky" began her experience by completing the homework that would be due the following day. Here's her adventure...

Monday Evening:
Tonight, my trepidation, excitement and nervousness have started to build as I prepare for my 5th grade student experience. What will it be like? Will I be able to do the work? How will the students respond to me? What will I do at recess? Who will I sit with at lunch? Lots of questions!

First, I prepared my uniform. Proudly, I squeezed myself into a blackwatch pleated skirt and SAES sweatshirt. I have developed a new appreciation and understanding of our uniform. It is much easier not to have to choose something different every day to wear however I do have some ideas for the scratchy skirt material and new recognition of how cold the skirts can be!

Choir and Ensemble Receive Gold in Anaheim

The Concert Choir and the Jazz Ensemble made an outstanding showing at the 2014 Heritage Festival in Anaheim, California. Both groups received 1st place Gold rankings in the Jr. High School divisions earning scores in the 95th percentile of all High School and Jr. High School Choirs, and scored in the 90th percentile of all High School and Jr. High School Jazz Bands in the nation.

Throwback Thursday

Just sharing a few fun photos of some of the students from the Class of 2014. Back in March 2009 as third graders they explained the inner workings of our solar system to the Lower School Science Expo attendees.

Sunsational Sundials in the Outdoor Classroom

The Third Graders have been studying the Sun, Moon, & Stars FOSS Unit this quarter to reinforce their understanding of the relationships between heavenly bodies in the solar system. In previous weeks, our young scientist studied that it really isn’t the Sun moving, but the rotation of Earth on its axis that makes it appear that the stationary Sun is moving across the sky in a predictable pattern. We observed this natural phenomenon for ourselves by conducting an outdoor investigation to observe how the Sun's ever-changing position in the sky affects our shadows' lengths and positions.

Learning Through Service

Students volunteering at CityTeam.The mission of Saint Andrew's Episcopal School is to offer an enriched curriculum within the tradition and values of the Episcopal Church. We aim to educate the whole child, developing as fully as possible the intellectual, spiritual, physical, and social capacities of each student.

Developing the whole child goes beyond memorizing multiplication tables or dissecting a frog.  It even goes beyond opportunities to paint and sculpt, sing and play instruments, stretch and run, discuss world religions or learning to code.  Woven into our philosophy of whole child education is a strong belief in being people of good character and providing service to those around us.

To that end, students take part in a wide variety of character and service learning activities throughout the year.

A TRRFCC photo

Character Counts photo

This past October, to kick off our participation in the national CHARACTER COUNTS!® week activities, students gathered with their buddies wearing the colors of the Six Pillars of Character™ - Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, Citizenship.

“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”
   ― Abraham Lincoln

Five Things to Know About...Peter Estacio

Peter Estacio, Director of TechnologyWe're excited to launch a new series for the blog, "Five Things to Know About..."  Every couple of weeks we'll highlight a faculty member, class or school program in a short Q&A feature.  We're kicking the series off with Peter Estacio, our new Director of Technology. 

Mr. Estacio is the former Director of Technology Operations at Aspire Public Schools, where he led a ten-person team that managed the all technology resources for the nation's largest public charter school organization.  Previously, he was the founding Director of Technology at the High Tech High schools in San Diego where he taught networking and systems administration in the Cisco Networking Academy and spent several months working in Academic Technology at Castilleja School in Palo Alto.  In addition, Mr. Estacio practiced criminal law as an Assistant District Attorney prosecuting Identity Theft, computer crimes, and various other felonies in New York City.

Week of the Young Child

Ready to perform "Friendly Neighborhood Helpers"

Last week was The Week of the Young Child™.  This is a national event sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) - the accrediting organization for our Pre-Kindergarten program. The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.  The theme for the week is always Early Years Are Learning Years®.

And while NAEYC may only celebrate once per year, we celebrate the importance of these foundational years each day at Saint Andrew's. Our Pre-Kindergarten program aims to strike a balance between play-based learning and the more traditional academics-only learning philosophy.  David Elkind, child development expert, and author of The Hurried Child, says “play is the activity through which children learn to recognize colors and shapes, tastes and sounds — the very building blocks of reality. Play also provides pathways to love and social connection. Elementary school children use play to learn mutual respect, friendship, cooperation, and competition.”

It Matters

Last Tuesday, Mrs. Gerrans, Ms Lewis, Mrs. Sherburne, Ms Strickland and I attended the Common Ground Speaker Series talk given by Dr. Leonard Sax, entitled Why Gender Matters. As I listened and ruminated on his suppositions, I wondered about the fate of teenagers who are living in our current world of technological revolution and constant, rapid change. Are they doomed to a life of dissatisfaction, displeasure and despair?

Dr. Sax’s premise that parenting for the 21st Century is different from parenting in prior times appeared to resonate with many in attendance. A poignant example is that prior to the explosion of the Internet as a resource, when a child closed his/her bedroom door at night, s/he did not still have the potential to be exposed to the entire world (through being virtually connected). How then do the adults in a child’s life help him/her to navigate the boons and banes of constant connection? What matters is having authentic dialogues with our children, monitoring their Internet access and adopting parenting skills more suited to a new world.

7th Grade Giver Debates: Safety or Freedom?

Nearly twenty years before Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games dominated young adult fiction, Lois Lowry created the world of The Giver. And the teen dystopian craze was born! Lowry was the first to demonstrate that children were capable of wrestling with the same weighty questions that Orwell, Huxley, and Bradbury presented to adults.

The Giver posits a seemingly utopian world—under a system called Sameness—that has eliminated inequality, pain, suffering, hunger, overpopulation, and even natural disasters! But the high price of Sameness becomes increasingly clear as hidden truths about the society are revealed to Jonas, the young hero of the story. The novel causes readers to consider whether the benefits gained in this community are worth the significant sacrifices required to maintain it.

Last week the 7th Grade English students culminated their Giver unit with formal debates. But rather than presenting an argument from their personal point of view, students portrayed a character from the novel and defended their character’s position. The Committee of Elders argued for their proposition that “Sameness is best for the community and must be reinstated,” while Jonas and Giver passionately argued the converse.

"That was awesome!"

"I loved the lynx!"  "I want some (liquid) nitrogen!"  "The fifth graders were terrific." "The laser in the water was cool."  These are just a few of the many comments overheard last Friday, March 15th, as Saint Andrew's Episcopal School hosted its Sixth Annual Science Expo.  Students in grade Pre-Kindergarten through fifth were treated to a morning of presentations on topics such as: How to make a battery with a lemon. What does a snowy owl eat?  What happens to your body during exercise? Why do volcanoes explode? 
The featured 'keynote' was a presentation by Wildlife Associates. Students had the opportunity to see a lynx, a snowy owl, a kinkajou, and a snowy fox up close.  They learned about the habitats of the animals, how long they live, what they like to eat...

Our accomplished 8th grade journalists recently crafted beautiful newspapers based on various, exciting, young adult literature novels. Students created fabulous articles demonstrating background history, setting, characterization, and plot, as well as special edition sections creatively depicting important themes and significant events. Each newspaper has a unique title and layout showing individuality and extraordinary thought.

When asked about this unique book report project, students were eager to share:

My favorite part of this project was that I got to use my creativity and learned a lot more about Mother Teresa. The most surprising fact that I learned about Mother Teresa was that even-though she lived to be 87 years old, she never saw her mother or sister again after the day she left for Ireland. The most interesting fact about my book would be that when Mother Teresa was little she was struggling with lack of food, but even when she got some food she gave it to people who she thought would need it more. She was Giving Till It Hurt. - Alyssa L.

What I liked about this project was that I did three little summaries instead of one long detailed summary, so I was able to show the story from different perspectives. I learned how to change the settings in my computer so it prints on a larger sheet of paper. In my book I learned that there are no endings only new beginnings. Technology made it easier for me to correct my mistakes.  -Sarah d.V

What I liked about this project was it really got me involved in my book and it made me take the time to get the information needed for the report. I learned how hard it is to write a newspaper. I read Moby-Dick and I liked the idea of how the author brought me into the book by using so much sailor talk. Lastly, Technology class helped me with this project because Dr. Willis taught us how to format the newspaper to make them seem as if they were real. Even though its past the due date, I still wanted to let you know how the project was. - Andrew J.

Gong Hey Fat Choy!

All around campus we've been celebrating the Lunar New Year this week. The Pre-Kindergarten class kicked off the festivities with a dragon parade around the Character Creek in our Lower School Courtyard.  Many classes had guest speakers visit to share the significance of the holiday.  Students read stories and watched videos about the holiday, practiced writing Chinese characters, made crafts, and enjoyed lots of traditional treats.  Director of Admissions Mrs. Mah delivered oranges and candies to each of Lower School students and almond cookies and candies to the Middle School students.  On Tuesday, the entire school was treated to a Lion Dance performance. 

Thank you to Anita Yee (mother to Bradley '13 and Matthew '15), for contributing the following information regarding the Year of the Snake.

2013 is the Year of the Snake according to Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Snake starts from Feb. 10, 2013 (the Lunar New Year / Spring Festival of China) and lasts to Jan. 30, 2014. The year and people born in that year are associated with the traits of that animal, generally ones that are fairly obvious: the ox for hard work, the tiger for aggressiveness. 

Students Explore Some of Today's Occupations

Did you know that the top ten jobs of today didn't even exist in the year 2004? Research shows that today's graduates will have 5 to 15 jobs in their life time. We should no longer ask our children, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" We should be asking, "What do you want to be first?"

On Friday, students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through fifth took part in our second annual Occupation Exploration! This event invited parents and friends of the school to share their professions.  Students rotated in a symposium-format from speaker to speaker to learn more about each person's education, day-to-day activities, special skills and what lead them to choose his/her career.

Good Character Around the Globe

Today the first graders chatted live with the first graders from the Colegio Karl C. Parrish School (KCP) in Barranquilla, Colombia. Like Saint Andrew's, KCP is a member of the CHARACTER COUNTS!® Coalition. After some brief sharing about our Character Counts! Week celebrations, we had the opportunity to say the Character Counts! Pledge together, across the continents! We look forward to building this relationship and making more connections with KCP in the future.

In the Studio

"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for. "
Georgia O’Keeffe

At Saint Andrew’s, our Studio Art program is a cohesive, developmental sequence that spans pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Throughout the program, starting with the youngest children, students are exposed to the history of art, looking at the work of many artists and civilizations to inspire and excite their own work.  The curriculum includes work in a broad range of media including drawing and painting, sculpture, ceramics, printing, and mixed media.  The Curricula is developed based on the media taught.  The emphasis is on the integrity of art as a process.

Lower School Spirit Days!

While the Middle School students were all away taking part in experiential learning trips, the Lower School Student Council took charge of the campus and instituted a variety of themed Spirit Days.  On Wednesday, students were encouraged to wear crazy hats.  Thursday was the day to proudly display favorite sports teams. And on Friday, duct tape was everywhere as students and teachers alike created a multitude of Duct Tape bracelets, hats, vests, purses and more...

Kindergarten Pomologists

While most pomologists study a wide variety of fruit and nut trees, our Kindergarteners choose to focus their fall research on Malus domestica – apples, that is.  Using all five senses and crossing many subject areas, it’s a fun, hands-on investigation…and pretty tasty, too.

In science, students learn how seeds grow into plants and learn to use all of their senses to describe an apple.

They read and write about apples in language arts, and learn about Johnny Appleseed in social studies.

SSR - The Gift of Reading

One of the many gifts that my parents bequeathed to their children is a love for reading. They gave us the gift of time to read. Even though we led busy lives, they took the time to read to us. They took us on excursions to the library that lasted glorious hours. Books were always part of birthday and Christmas presents. I have countless happy memories of my childhood and one of my favourites is lying for endless hours in my hammock, reading. During play, my siblings and I re-enacted numerous adventures of our favourite heroes and heroines about whom we had read. I think that growing up sans television or the Internet helped us to hone our imagination and creativity. Every night at the supper table, my father held debates, where we were expected to defend our points with examples from our reading. I did not know it at the time but I now believe that this helped us to develop our critical thinking skills.

A Note from Mr. McKay

Each year at our Middle School Back to School Night I try to remind our parents that while their students are maturing and beginning to show early signs of adulthood, they really are still children and that in many ways they benefit from and even require much of the same type of parental attention we generally reserve for younger children.

Following last Thursday's Back to School Night, I received an email from Nanette Fondas,  mother of Joan and Luke '14 and Jake '20, letting me know that she was inspired to blog about my message for Psychology Today online.
I thought you might like to see what Nanette had to say.

About Nanette: Nanette Fondas is co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where, and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line (2010). Formerly a professor at premier universities including Harvard's Radcliffe College, Duke's Fuqua School of Business, and the University of California, she now writes about the psychology and economics of work, organizations, and management in national newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Chapel in the Outdoor Classroom

 Mrs. Trevor welcomes everyone to this morning's chapel.
This morning we held our weekly Lower School Chapel in the 50th Anniversary Outdoor Classroom. While the weather was not as bright as one may have hoped, the mood was light and cheery as all of the students in grades Kindergarten through Fifth along with their teachers and several parents gathered together in our beautiful cathedral under the Oak tree.

This morning’s reading was an excerpt from Romans 13. The concluding verse was, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

Welcome Back Class of 2008

On Thursday, May 10, we joyfully welcomed back the members of the Class of 2008 and their parents for a reunion before the members of the class scatter to various colleges across the country! The alumni/ae and their parents enjoyed reconnecting with one another and faculty and staff members, as is evident in these photos of the reunion. The reunion was coordinated with the school by Alum Parents Alicia La Fetra, Head Room Parent of the class when they were 8th graders, and Cynthia Tate, who served as the Class Treasurer.

Previous Blogger Posts

Kristin Poolos '92, our former Admissions Associate, lovingly created and coordinated a school blog for several years.  You can check out her favorite posts by visiting our archived Blogger-based blog.