Young Scientist

Excitement is in the air! Our young scientists (grades 1-6) have been busy researching, developing hypotheses, formulating plans, conducting experiments, building models and/or inventions, and much more!  The results are in!  DSC_0337-SThe children are eager to share their discoveries at our annual “Dr. Alan Saffran Science Expo!” We look forward to seeing all of our students and their parents this Wednesday evening for a thrilling night of science!

More happenings on the horizon:  As we strive to educate the “whole” child — academically, socially, and emotionally — we are always having lessons and discussions on inclusion, kindness to others, and, of course, making safe decisions. Character     education and safety are paramount at Park Maitland School. We are excited to bring in “experts” in the field of security and child safety as well as child psychologists to meet with our students.

Stranger Safety Workshop for students! We have been in touch with area professionals and look forward to having them come and teach our students “tips” about stranger safety. (This is above and beyond general conversations we always have with students in class.) DSC_0241Look for more information to follow as well as tips for you as parents as we work together to educate our children on safety.

Mean Girls/Mean Boys Workshop for students!  Coming in March… We look forward to having Carol Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and founder of Social Bridges come work with students in various grades on “relationships.”

Park Maitland students almost always impress us with their outstanding manners and the compassion and care that they exhibit towards one another. As we know, learning to be a good friend and learning to share friends and accept others or be kind to others is a process. _DSC0170-SStudents at Park Maitland, just like at any elementary school, can sometimes be unkind to one another for a variety of reasons. They may get mixed messages from adults and media about friendships or how to treat/include others. Conflicts and learning to be a friend to others are a normal part of learning to socialize. As we all know, some adults have not even mastered this skill!

Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to educate your “complete” child — the mind, body, and spirit!_DSC0168

Second Chance

This past week was a whirlwind of activity at school with focus on the sixth graders’ Washington, D.C. trip highlights; Science Expo “conclusions;” U.S. presidents; black activists and famous black figures; Valentine’s Day celebrations, and much more!IMG_1845-S I ended my week having a remarkable ‘Morning Meeting’ with a first grade class. I say remarkable because it once again reminded me of the amazing virtues even our youngest can understand and practice!

I was immediately struck by the discussion students were having as I joined the circle on the floor. They began reading me the “message of the day” which included a quote from Gandhi — “Where there is love, there is life.”  They eagerly took turns to tell me who Gandhi was and how he was a man of “peace” and, in their own poignant way, what they thought he meant by these words. This led to a discussion on living loving lives of “peace,” and students gave examples of how we can live each day in a peaceful and caring way. You could see their little minds swimming with thoughts and ideas! They feel that “all people should” live peacefully and with kindness towards others.

We then began to “practice peace.” The students excitedly showed off their collaboratively created greeting which consisted of a series of special hand motions, eye to eye contact, 2015-02-12-102336_(_DSC9795)-X3and a warm “Hello”…each “greeting” causing warm, toothless smiles of acceptance, belonging, and affection towards one another.

After this, they were eager to teach me a game requiring concentration, silence, eye contact, and deep awareness of those around you. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I made a mistake when it was my turn. According to the rules, I should have been “out!” The moment that I called the next “incorrect” person, my fatal flaw, there was a deafening silence; everyone was visibly worried for me. Within seconds, a brave little girl, as if calling a summit at the Pentagon, called out, “Why don’t we give her a second chance?”

As we continued the game, me included, a few more children also made a similar mistake, which ALWAYS meant they were out for the game. However, today, the peace activists of 1 Purple declared was “Second Chance Day!” As I glanced around the circle, I was struck by the fact that this was true synergy. There was true inclusivity — despite their diverse DSC_6772-Scultural backgrounds and varied skin colors, this little group was learning to work together to practice empathy, solve problems, and create solutions.

As I said my goodbyes and left the classroom, I realized I had just missed (lucky for the 5th graders) the 5th grade yoga morning where the entire class gathered in the gym for reflection, meditation, relaxation, and peace building. As I walked through the campus several 4th graders stopped me to share their “wearable technology” (rings, sunglasses, etc.) that they created (by trial and error) from electronic textiles that are sewn with conductive threads to create electricity! They have been practicing 21st Century Skills — collaborative problem solving — all year in Smart Tech and all their other classes. Now, they were putting their skills to work to independently design.

As I struggled to stay awake that evening, reading the last pages of chapter 2 from The Lincolns in the White House by Jerrold M. Packard, I had flashbacks from my discussions with 6th graders just one week earlier as they stood in awe at the Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials. They so eloquently shared their views on the great contributions that these men made for equal rights. I remembered the sadness in their eyes when hearing the story of “David,” the fictional boy at the Holocaust Museum.1%20Yellow-S When I see these same students and students in other grades in class working together to solve problems — fictional or real world problems — or when I read their sophisticated and articulate essays on social justice, current events, and/or analyses of historical happenings, I have a renewed hope for the future.

Our world desperately needs leadership in achieving sustainable social justice, not simply learning the answer to a test question. Future generations will be called upon to solve some of the most challenging problems ever created and faced by man: renewable energy, world hunger, climate change, and, ultimately, the design of a better world. They must also possess the compassion to recognize the rising human population and create a world that is inclusive, rather than exclusive.

Although this month, Black History Month, was mainly established to celebrate and honor the work of African Americans, it signifies unity and recognition cutting across racial and geographical barriers.2015-02-12-113452_(_DSC0160)-X3 It therefore holds a very special position and significance in today’s world where the importance of highlighting the work and effort of every single citizen of the nation, irrespective of his regional or national identity, is honored and celebrated. It brings to light that, despite our skin color, religious, cultural, or economic background, or despite the mistakes we may have made, we all need a “second chance!”

“If we wish to create a lasting peace, we must begin with the children.”  –Mahatma Gandhi

The above quote, I truly believe! On that note, have a fantastic week!

Cindy Moon

Head of School

6th Grade in Washington D.C.

IMG_1817-aa-XLWith all the negative hype about politicians, our country’s dismal economic stature, and the strong divide between parties, it’s refreshing to see that love and pride for our country is still strong! As you all know, this week, I journeyed to Washington, D.C. with over 100 6th grade students and their parents on the annual Park Maitland School 6th grade field trip!

Some of the many experiences we enjoyed included a trip to Arlington National Cemetery, where our students laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as we all watched in somber awe at the reverence shown by the soldiers there in their ParkPress-Feb15-01-aceremonial tribute. At the capitol building, we had the unique opportunity to visit the House of Representatives, thanks to our local congressman, John Mica. In the midst of his many meetings and obligations, Congressman Mica spent nearly an hour with our students and parents, giving them a hands-on history of our government right in the House chambers! Another momentous occasion was having the opportunity to meet our Attorney General, Eric Holder. He brought the entire group into his office and even allowed students to sit around his huge conference table where dignitaries from all over the world often gather.

In spite of their political party of choice, parents and students were honored to have these unique opportunities.ParkPress-Feb15-02

As we all toured the many wonderful memorials and paid respect to those people who have died for our country or who were instrumental in making our country what it is ParkPress-Feb15-00today, I couldn’t help but notice the sincere pride and respect that our 6th grade future leaders showed towards everything they saw. Of course, it’s a lot to take in when you are only 11 or 12 years old, but I do feel that these experiences help to shape our students and give them the opportunities to understand and appreciate our forefathers and the great historical events that shaped our country. Everywhere we went the docents and/or tour guides remarked at how articulate, knowledgeable, and interested our students were. They were truly amazed that these young children had such a vast knowledge and understanding of our government and history! I am so very proud of our teachers, especially Mrs. Finwall, for filling their young minds with such advanced, interesting, and pertinent information in a way that they will always remember. A textbook could never duplicate these experiences.

Patriotism and respect for our country and its history remain a valuable and integral part of our school curriculum as we work to prepare our students to be productive and successful leaders of tomorrow. Yes, patriotism is alive and well at Park Maitland School!Day3-FDRMem-XL

Warm regards,

Cindy Moon

Head of School

Winning is not Everything

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It’s Super Bowl weekend, and there is much big talk about who will win or lose this epic game. We place a lot of value on “winning.” Winning is important — when we play, we play to win, and we should. If we didn’t, there wouldn’t be a need for a scoreboard, and there wouldn’t be a lot of the great elements that are part of a competition. IMG_8500-X2I have had the pleasure of watching our students win and lose in sports games, academic competitions, and other challenges in school over the course of the last few months. This being our “inaugural year” for competitive sports and teams other than our longstanding revered swim team, I have been analyzing the ups and downs of these “first ever” seasons.

After spending time lately reading a lot of literature on the value of winning and losing in youth sports, I found that much of the research indicated that winning doesn’t always rank high on the list of reasons why children want to participate in competitive or intramural sports. My husband had the pleasure of coaching youth soccer for over 15 years as our children were growing up. I had the pleasure of “watching” this experience from my own children’s perspective and my husband’s. I could tell you that “having fun, being part of the team, making new friends and learning new skills or how to get better” always ranked higher on the list. IMG_8438-X3Statistically, the importance of winning comes much closer to the bottom for children. It doesn’t mean it isn’t important to them, or that it isn’t an important part of competition. It just doesn’t seem to be their main priority.

Winning seems to be more important to adults. Admittedly, I love to win and have never really liked to lose. Problems can arise when adults are unable to cope with winning or losing in sports or other events or aspects in their life — in their own adult games, or, worse yet, in games or activities that are for their children. We have all heard about or have maybe even seen the scenes that some parents have made over calls made in their child’s little league game or even more troublesome, when these parents scream at their own or other children for mistakes made on the field. Thankfully, none of our parents have demonstrated this over-zealous involvement during any of our competitions! But we all know that it does happen…frequently.

The problem with rating a team on whether they win or lose is that it doesn’t always measure success. Many people use that as their only form of measurement in how the game went. Lose? Bad. Win? Good. Sometimes, this couldn’t be further from the truth! IMG_8578-X2This reality played out in front of me on Friday night as I watched a very competitive game of youth basketball — our 6th grade “Gold” team in action! This “mighty” Gold team has ended up playing against teams that have older and bigger/taller players. In their first game, they never gave up and played their hardest throughout despite the numbers on the board. I was at their last game and saw for myself the amazing tenacity and “grit” that these boys demonstrated throughout. I was so impressed and proud of their heart and effort. They scored more points than their first game, and the opposing team had far fewer points on the board than they had had in their first game. At the end of the game, despite the end score, our players had looks of pride and satisfaction on their faces for their individual and team “improvement” and successes during this tough competition. The players on our Gold team might just get the most benefit out of participating, although it may not seem so at the time.IMG_9079-X3 They have the opportunity to learn how to compete and what it takes to improve over time. While being a loser requires that you lose, the corollary that losing makes you a loser is certainly false.

So, to me, (however, the fans of the losing Super Bowl team may not agree) competing, the process and the path that it takes you on are more significant and can be one of the greatest benefits of playing a sport. Giving it your best effort and seeing where that takes you… Over time, this best effort will most likely result in improvement. If you are fortunate, it may even result in some wins.IMG_8591-X3

We can also use these lessons to improve other aspects of our lives because losing is as much a part of everyday life as it is a natural experience of playing sports. As parents, we make such an effort to help our kids feel better and to not let them experience failures. Ultimately, by not acknowledging their shortcomings, mistakes, and losses, we don’t allow them to live up to their potential. Failing is natural, and it creates motivation. Without failing, kids may not see the need to work harder to improve.IMG_8596-X2 While nobody wants to lose, we can use losing to motivate and improve. We can also extrapolate the lessons of losing to the greater life lessons so that we can all become the best of which we are capable. Losing is part of everything we do and has tremendous value. Mistakes are a natural part of participating, so we shouldn’t be afraid of acknowledging our errors and using them to improve. Our goal, in youth sports and in life, has to be to see the value of losing and use it to become better athletes, parents, and people.

On another note on perseverance and determination, unrelated to sports, our “Eagle News Today” newscast had a true lesson on the subject these past two weeks. After weeks of working to complete their January newscast, they lost the entire production due to a computer crash! With patience and encouragement from their teacher, Ms. Danhof, they decided to start from scratch and work hard to redo it in time for their “deadline”…and before they had to leave for the D.C. trip! Please check out their fantastic newscast.  A link and password will be sent to you in a separate email. It is the result of hard work and “grit!”

Cindy Moon

Head of School