Extracurricular Excitement

I just returned from an exciting day of Park Maitland successes and accomplishments and could not be more proud. This follows an amazing week of spelling competition (see newsletter for details!).  The day began with a rousing and close 6th grade boys’ basketball game.  (Because of the huge growing interest in being on a sports team at Park Maitland, we were able to field two 6th grade boys’ basketball teams!)  The “Blue” team played this morning against a very strong group of players from another school and played hard throughout.  The two teams were neck and neck at basketball girlstimes and played very competitively. The spirited effort of our boys led us to a 30-20 win!  Congratulations, boys!  Our 6th grade “Gold” team played this evening and lost after a valiant effort to an outstanding team.  However, we could not be more proud of their effort! Our girls’ basketball team had their very first game today, and even with only one practice leading into it, they pulled out a “win” over a group of extremely competitive players!

Very First Math Competition!  To add to the excitement, the Park Maitland Math Olympiad Team walked away with two trophies today in our very first (not including the Florida Math League virtual contests) county math competition!  After several hours of challenging and intense math problem solving against some of the best young “math minds” in the county, our team excelled!  We earned 3rd place overall, and 5th grader, Brice C., won 1st place for the individual top highest score out of all the 5th graders in the competition!  We were thrilled to earn such high scores, and this is just the beginning of Park Maitland’s participation in high-level math competition.

I am especially pleased to share the math news since reading our parent surveys, so that I can address the perception that some parents have mentioned, which is “ there 2are concerns with the quality of the math program.”  I have been involved in independent school leadership long enough to realize that perceptions can become reality if parents are misinformed or have a personal experience that may be consistent with common “gossip.” Teachers and administrators are dedicated to providing our students with the best academic program possible, and our departmentalized program helps us to accomplish this goal.  We are fortunate to have highly experienced teachers who are not only “math minded,” but also highly skilled at providing a challenging and engaging math experience for all of our students.

We have carefully analyzed our nationally normed standardized test scores, student performance, and potential math aptitude of students in grades 4-6 to structure a program that is designed to meet the needs of the various levels and prepare students with an outstanding foundation in math.  Those students who are qualified will have the opportunity to soar in highly advanced math placement at their next school. Although we do not place much emphasis on standardized test scores, it is important to know that we carefully analyze our data on standardized and informal assessments to determine the effectiveness of our curriculum and programs as well as individual and overall performance of our students.

Our mean score for math is 89%ile.  This means our students scored 89% or higher than students taking the same test throughout the country!  More than 50% of students in grades 4, 5, and 6 earned 95%ile or higher in math or reading scores last year!  This 3puts them in the top 5% of the country! These scores have remained consistently high, and, in fact, have improved in the last five years.  Sixth grade graduates continue to perform well at their new middle schools.  We are in the process of collecting alumni data to share their progress, but through informal conversations with administrators from these schools and parents of our graduates, we know our students continue to excel in advanced math placement throughout middle and high school.

Now, students particularly “in love with math” have the opportunity to join our Math Olympiad team in grades 4-6.  They work with Ms. Brooke Jensen who joined our math department this year and who has been a tremendous asset to our school.  Ms. Jensen was previously an administrator at a math and science charter school and most recently taught math for students in a middle school gifted program.  She is so excited to work with the Math Olympiad Team and help them gain amazing test taking skills in high-level math.  See the following examples of just a few of the many math problems that our students solved successfully in today’s competition:

  1. Find X, if 2x = (4x)
  2. An isosceles right triangle has an area of 200.  Calculate the square of its hypotenuse.
  3. A bag contains 27 dark chocolates and 27 milk chocolates. What is the probability of drawing first a milk chocolate and then a dark chocolate?  Assume that chocolates are immediately eaten upon being drawn.1

The math program, like all of our programs at Park Maitland, continues to produce strong and capable students who go on to excel after they graduate from Park Maitland School.  We strive to bring out the best in each of our students whether it is playing sports, reading classical literature, performing on stage or solving math word problems!  Exposure to many different enriching experiences truly helps children discover their passion!

Cindy Moon

Head of School

Goal Setting

I hope that each of you has had a great beginning to 2015!  Our first week back at school was highly productive as students and teachers spent time reflecting on 1st semester progress and discoveries before they enthusiastically catapulted into the second half of our eventful school year!img_5734

The start of a new year is always special. There is a feeling of renewal as we look to a new year as a new beginning, and there is a sense of excitement for making changes or adopting new habits.  It’s also a time for reflection. We all know that to be successful in life we need to form good habits. Setting personal goals and following through on them is one habit that builds self confidence and resilience.

As a school, like all successful organizations, we are constantly reflecting, analyzing and scrutinizing our program and setting short and long term goals as we move forward.  (A loftier term is called strategic planning.) In order for our s_mg_1344-achool to continue to thrive, we gather feedback and input from all of our constituents — students, staff, parents, and the greater community.  This feedback is done informally through everyday conversations, parent-teacher conferences, planning meetings with faculty, observations, and more formally through school surveys and examining other hard data/trends. Our recent school surveys gave valuable food for thought.  Out of the 205 responses, 97% or higher reported being satisfied or very satisfied in all areas of the school program.  Some specific comments with commendations or suggestions were made in each grade which allowed us to better understand and gauge the effectiveness or success of particular areas.

Our 7 Habits program was applauded by many parents, while a few questioned the importance of it. One of my goals is to respond to parent questions/issues/concerns throughout the year through these weekly letters.  In my 27 plus years as an educator, I IMG_6124-X2[1]have come to realize that many times, it is misinformation or lack of information that leads to confusion or doubt.  The reason the school adopted the 7 Habits – Leader in Me program was because it aligned with our founding principles.  As a matter of fact, this program presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to what Stephen Covey calls “true north” principles of a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless.  The principles that we try to instill through this program are not new to Park Maitland.  The school was founded on such ideas and the 7 Habits are simply one way for us to communicate/teach/practice these universal principles through a common language.  Your child may or may not be able to list the 7 Habits, but hopefully, he/she is learning the character traits that fall under each of them.  That is our true goal.

The 2nd and 3rd habits relate to the importance of goal setting and planning:

Habit 2 — Begin with the End in Mind — Have a Plan…

I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school’s mission and vision. I look for ways to be a good citizen.

Habit 3 — Put First Things First — Work First, Then Play…

I spend my time on things that are most important. This means I say no to things I know I should not do. I set priorities, make a schedule, and follow my plan. I am disciplined and organized.

Goal-setting isn’t a skill that comes naturally to children. Learning to implement objectives is important for children because it helps them develop life skills that_DSC4157-L[1] facilitate planning for the future using a series of smaller steps that lead to positive rewards. Goal-setting shares overlapping benefits across the age groups. A good time to start is when a child is old enough to take on simple responsibilities, such as picking up toys or finish homework.

“The Community,” a publication put out by the Stephen R Covey Foundation, shares the following insight on the importance of teaching and practicing goal setting:

Providing a Focus…

When you help a child set goals, you give him a vision of the future. Whether he wants to save his allowance to buy a new toy, improve his grades, or go to a friend’s birthday party, goal-setting gives him a positive focus that will encourage him to make better decisions.  This focus encourages a child to think ahead about activities or behaviors that might get him closer or farther away from achieving his goal. As a parent, you can help your child develop this focus. For example, if your child’s goal is to get better grades in science, have him think of different ways he can achieve this goal and write down the ideas. The ideas serve as smaller goals and may include double-checking homework, handing in homework on time, and completing extra-credit assignments. Always help your child focus on the “process” — working hard, practicing, etc. instead of simply the outcome…all A’s or B’s._mg_0157

Goal-setting lets young people establish ideals for their lives and encourages them to keep moving forward even when they encounter setbacks. When a child learns to set goals, he develops a sense of purpose. Children who have a sense of purpose in life tend to be more confident:

Meaningful Motivation…

Goals motivate young people when they are specific, realistic, and measurable.  Children who work on goals they set are more motivated to accomplish the objective because they directly see or experience the benefits of their achievements. The most motivating goals to children are meaningful and personal.

Develop Responsibility and Self-Efficacy…

Long- and short-term goals help children gain a sense of responsibility for their own behaviors. With this sense of responsibility comes improved self-DSC_3022-X2[1]efficacy because positive goal-setting experiences help a child learn more about herself and the boundaries of her abilities. A child with high self-efficacy is less likely to view a goal she doesn’t achieve as a failure. Instead, she’ll likely attribute the outcome to inappropriate efforts.

The beginning of a new year is an exciting time — it’s a time for reflection and a time for looking forward. We look forward to helping your child accomplish the short term goals that he or she has set as they develop the skills that will lead to many more outstanding life accomplishments!

Warm wishes for a wonderful new year!

Cindy Moon