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

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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

Winners in Every Way!

vball1Maya Angelou once said, “It may be necessary to encounter defeats so youvball2 can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” I think that these wise words speak to us as parents and educators as we strive to teach our youth the importance of facing challenge and rising up from it.  It helps our children learn humility, perseverance, and grit.

It is with deep pride that I say that our Park Maitland girls’ volleyball team demonstrated this yesterday.  The steadfastness, determination, grace, and passion that each player showed us all speaks to the quote above.  vball5As you all know, they participated in the playoffs yesterday!  In the playoffs, you must win two out of the 1st three games against your opponent to advance to the finals. Our players gave it their best shot but lost the first game.  The level of play between the two teams was superior.  In the next two games, we were neck and neck.  Our team would gain a few points, only to have their lead taken away by the other team.  Our girls never gave up and went on to play their very best match to win!

In the first game of the finals, perhaps we were over-confident, and we found ourselves behind once again, which led to a loss.  vball6After a powerful and encouraging pep talk from Coach Houman Rassa and steadfastness, determination, pride, and team spirit, the likes of which I have never before witnessed, we went on to win both of the following games… and thus we won the match!

I am proud and honored to say that our Park Maitland Eagles are the league champions!!!  What made this win even more meaningful was the gallant effort put forth by each player (on and off the court) in support of her teammates.  In the final moments of the last game, we tied; then the other vball4team gained a point, but we didn’t give up!  We then gained a point but needed one more to win.  The other team tied again.  This tense play repeated itself over and over until the Park Maitland Eagles pulled it out by two points!

Congratulations, girls, for not only being the champions but for demonstrating the spirit of champions throughout! Thank you Coach Rassa, Coach Allison, and Coach Jennifer for teaching our girls so much more than how to win. Thank you for teaching them how to be humble leaders on the court!

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by Mrs. Cindy Moon

Head of School

 

Athletics Starting to Lead The Way

Not only are we growing leadeEA-Logo-00rs in the classroom, but we will now be growing them on and off the court/field. We are pleased to announce the Park Maitland Eagles interscholastic sports program. Our Athletic Program is lead by Mr. Rassa. He comes with great experience as he created a sports program prior at Paige Private School, as well as coaching at Trinity Prep. In our inaugural year we will be offering Volleyball, Flag-Football, and Basketball.

The Volleyball season has kicked-off and our Eagles posted an impressive showing as they defeated Brush Arbor in two games. We are very excited to be offering our sports program as it offers many life lessons such as teamwork, discipline, and leadership.volleyballgirls-00

Observing Excellence!

One of my greatest joys at Park Maitland is having the opportunity to visit the classes and observe your children “in action!”  I’ve spent a lot of time this week observing our students in and out of class.  In just three weeks into the new school yeBlog3Aar, it was amazing to see the enthusiasm, high level of engagement, collaboration among peers, teamwork, and learning that has already taken place!   From the excited K-4 students who met their new “letter people” friends, learned new swim strokes, recited color names in Spanish, and so much more to our proud 3rd graders boasting new backpacks and binders as they compared and contrasted maps and globes, began character analysis of “Lemonade Wars,” and learned about the history of our National Anthem in music class.

 

Our 6th grade “Super Seniors,” after an extravaganza of a beach overnight, presented their version of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination based on a recently read book, wrote persuasiBlog3Cve essays in history, and worked in teams to plan, draft, and design their own versions of fold up lounge chairs in our new “Maker Space.”  It is quite obvious that we continue our school-wide embrace of an ethic of excellence where students and teachers are engaged, employ high order thinking skills, collaborate, critique, plan and research, and commit to nothing less than the best in doing so.

This “ethic of excellence” — which I will be referring to often this year — is what we strive for each and every day in every part of our curriculum/program. It can happen in the classroom as well as on the field (or pool) in team sports.

Go Eagles!

I was honored to attend our very first Park Maitland interscholastic athletic competition yesterday!  Yes, it was our first big game of our first season of school-sponsored sports – girls’ volleyball!  Excellence was heard loud and clear!  We believe that Blog3Eparticipating in team sports, academic competitions, or teams in the classroom can teach values and life lessons that children can use in their teenage years and beyond: sportsmanship, teamwork, discipline, hard work, sacrifice, dealing with success and failure, setting and striving for goals, the value of practice, preparation, perseverance, and overcoming adversity.

During our first game, it was refreshing and enlightening to see these basic values come into play.  Our “emerging athletes” were guided and encouraged throughout both games with the goal of making this first ever experience a positive one where each participant was treated by teammates as an important part of the team, where the opponents were treated with respect, and where mistakes were used as “teachable moments.”  Our goal is that our young competitors or “teammates” — whether they are playing volleyball, flag football, basketball, swimming on our swim team, competing on our Math Counts team, or even working as a team member on a class project — learn to take pride in their accomplishments and those accomplishments of their teammates and pride in their improving skills, so that they see themselves as winners, even if the scoreboard doesn’t show the numbers g   oing in their favor._MG_0040

Too often, our society depends upon “the score” or “the grade” to define the meaning of excellence.  Scores and grades certainly do have a place among myriad other data in sports and in education — but they do not tell the whole story of individual or team success.  Our hope is that our students gradually come to understand that the real winners are those who know how to persevere, work hard, practice, set goals, and most of all, behave with dignity and respect whether they are successful that time or win or lose a game. At Park Maitland School, we focus on how we can bring out the best in your child on the field and in the classroom.  We believe that in order to create citizens who value respect, responsibility, integrity, compassion, and hard work, we need to create a school culture that models those attributes.

And the winner was…Park Maitland Eagles!

Many times, when you employ those values mentioned above, it leads to a win!  Congratulations, Eagles, on winning your very first match of the volleyball season!

 

Cindy Moon

Head of School