Tradition!

It’s hard for me to talk about tradition without thinking of “Fiddler on the Roof” and Topol’s deep voice belting out the song, “Tradition!”  The song rings true in that when we have similar experiences to celebrate and pass down it creates a feeling of belonging and “roots.”  Those of you who have been part of the Park Maitland “family” for any length of time are familiar with the many honored traditions established here in each grade level and as an entire school. Some of these traditions give way to new
traditions so that they are still relevant and meaningful. Nonetheless, they are one of the things that make Park Maitland School such a special place to be!

As I write this week’s message we are at the tail end of our annual 5th grade Williamsburg, VA trip! I have had the pleasure of spending this past week with this tremendous group exploring and “living” the traditions of the Colonial days and their impact on the _DSC6022development of our country. This Park Maitland tradition allows our students and their parents time to share special memories while engaging in spellbinding reenactments and historical lessons.

Back at home, our 3rd graders are preparing for one of their special annual highlights…the Native American Festival.  After spending weeks learning about the traditions and culture of Native Americans, the children will spend a day celebrating and honoring these great people with reenactment of songs, dances, games, and most exciting, enjoying a visit from Jim Sawgrass, a Florida Native American. This entire process is as authentic and close to the “real” thing as it comes!

Ms. Cindy Dawson shared this about the “famous” tipi that she (with help from a few of our staff) erected last week: It is a traditional Sioux tipi from the plains tribes who followed the buffalo across the central plains of our nation several thousand years ago, right up until the early 1800’s. It is made to the exact specifications of that particular tribe, and it is 18 feet tall!  _MG_6333The poles themselves are from a Lodge Pole Pine, a rare tree found in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. In the 1700’s, the cover would have been made from large buffalo hides stitched together with sinew and softened with the juice of the bison brain! One family would live in each tipi, and the actual dwelling was “owned” by the mother. It could be put up in 20 minutes by just two braves and taken down in half that time, which is why it was a perfect home for the plains tribes, who were mobile and followed the buffalo year-round, even in the snow.

This tipi was made by a very famous Montana man named Don Ellis, who owned White Buffalo Lodges in Livingston, Montana. His family can trace their people back to some of the first who settled in Montana. Anyone who is lucky enough to own one of Don’s tipis is very lucky, indeed. He is world-famous. Each tipi is made completely by hand, and the wait for one can be up to one year due to the planning and strategizing to obtain and strip the _DSC6178amazing and beautiful poles. Each pole is a single tree! This particular tipi has found it s home in the Bell Garden of Park Maitland School for the past 16 years and is beloved by all.  Our 3rd graders have just learned the history and “story” of this tipi, and, each year, students from each grade are invited to go inside!

In the midst of the Native American excitement, our 1st grade students are eagerly anticipating their “Harvest Festival” this year with a new twist. Students and parents will spend the day exploring about our early settlers and their first celebration of Thanksgiving. They will create jewelry, make butter, and explore and learn together with their families and friends.

It is the common values, morals, customs, and general culture that help bond members of a school family.   These highly anticipated traditions bring students, teachers and parents together _DSC6160to celebrate learning in a relevant, fun and engaging way!  How can they possibly be forgotten!

Each year, more and more Park Maitland alums send their own children to our school. One of the things that we are delighted to do is celebrate these much loved traditions with their children! They are always so happy to hear that we have held on to these celebrations. They are also relieved and pleased to see that the “old fashioned” values so important to our founder, Nell Cohen, such as good manners, morals, and character are as important as always!

I think that one of the problems plaguing our fast paced and ever-changing society today is the “rootlessness” of so many people and the lack of common values. It is very important for families, schools, and the workplace to establish traditions and values that allow for a coming _DSC5952together of all to reflect, learn, connect, and celebrate!

On that note, I hope that each Park Maitland family enjoys your family traditions next week as you gather together on Thanksgiving! We have much to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Cindy Moon

Head of School   

Welcome Back

The wonderful days of “back to school” are here!  The enthusiasm and excitement radiated throughout campus this week with a fury. It was_DSC2006 a joyful first week of school for the teachers and students!  The beginning of a new school year can bring some bittersweet moments.  There is always some mixed emotion as you see your youngest start their “official” first day of K-4, move up to backpacks in 3rd grade, or,  finally nod you away without a “public” kiss goodbye as your “super senior”  flaunts independence. As you release
your most precious possessions to our care each day, please know we covet this awesome responsibility and realize that you are entrusting them to our care._MG_6411

SAFETY FIRST –– On that note, we realize that there is no greater task for parents than protecting the innocence, welfare, and safety of their most prized possession — their child. This tremendous responsibility is shared by the teachers and staff at Park Maitland School.  We take pride in the fact that we provide our students _DSC1976with a superior academic foundation and well-rounded program.  However, the safety and well being of each of our students is by far our most coveted priority.

We are constantly analyzing, reevaluating, and “tweaking” our safety and security protocol.  This school year is no exception. As you know, updates on our newest safety and security measures are sent home periodically, and we are excited to let you know about our recent enhance-ments.  The addition of a highly experienced and highly trained full time Security Manager this year was one of our
many improvements.  Our “safety and security ambassador,” Mr. Jesse Johnson is a tremendous asset to our school, and we are certain
that you will all agree. Please read his message in this week’s newsletter.  As always, we appreciate you working with us as we team up to educate your child and provide him/her with a joyous and safe place to reach those milestones each day._MG_6365

Welcome back!

Mrs. Cindy Moon

Head of School

School Year Coming to an End

_MG_0578   As we wind down the school year with a flurry of culminating classroom projects and school wide activities, we continue to reflect on the fun traditions that make our school so very unique. As promised, I asked a wide range of students in various grade levels to name some of their favorite Park Maitland School traditions.

Here are some 5th grade responses:

“My favorite Park Maitland tradition is Sports Fest. I can run fast, I can jump high, and I can be competitive. It’s fun to compete and put your skills to the test!”  –Andrew F.

“My favorite Park Maitland School tradition is Camp Wewa and here’s why. It is a chance to truly bond with your classmates. You swim, roast marshmallows, run, play and have fun.DSC_0120 You get to spend the night there, which lets you learn even more about your friends.” –Lila A.

“My favorite Park Maitland School tradition is the Williamsburg trip in 5th grade. I had a great time on the trip. We visited a ton of historical reenactments. Also, I had a wonderful time hanging out with my roommate!” –Emily S.

“I liked the Williamsburg trip because it is a fun and amazing learning experience for 5th grade.” –Trevor M.

“My favorite Park Maitland tradition is Jelly Fudge Friends because it was really great to have a role model and friend who were older and helpful. Being the role model will be even better!” –Kara W.

Many, many students school wide talked about the Sports Fest as being one of their favorite traditions (not only because it is fresh in their minds) but, also, they all like it for the various competitive activities that give everyone a chance to shine and compete, cheer for their friends, demonstrate sportsmanship, and hang out with their amazing, dedicated, and creative PE teachers!DSC_0053

Our final two weeks of school will be highlighted by our renowned 6th grade show! 5th and 6th grade students are very excited to be the “inaugural” performers at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in our very first performance of “Shrek the Musical” this Thursday night!

 Another exciting event will be our 6th grade graduation where each and every Super Senior is highlighted for their gifts, talents, and Park Maitland accomplishments!DSC_0083 It’s another favorite yet “bittersweet” tradition at Park Maitland School!  We will enjoy every moment left with your precious children as we end the 2014-2015 school year!

 Warm wishes for an amazing summer of “Sharpening the Saw!”  

Cindy Moon  

Head of School

 

Week Filled with Appreciation

A Mother’s Prayer

Dear Lord, it’s such a hectic day,

With little time to stop and pray,

For life’s been anything but calm,

Since you called me to be a mom..

Running errands, matching socks,

Building dreams with matching blocks,

Cooking, cleaning, and finding shoes

And all those things that young ones lose,

Fitting lids on bottled bugs,

Wiping tears and giving hugs,

A stack of last week’s mail to read —

So where’s the quiet time I need?

Yet as I go to bed each night,

My heart is filled with true love’s light

As I take one last peek, I see

This treasure you have given me —

God’s own sweet blessing sleeping there,

The answer to a Mother’s Prayer

                                                                                    — Author Unknown_MG_0209

I read this sweet poem at one favorite Park Maitland event this week — our annual K-5 Mother’s Day Tea!  Many moms came to me during this delightful celebration to express their heartfelt appreciation and to share that this is one of their favorite “traditions!” (Some asked me to share this poem.) _DSC8511Those moms with older children said that it’s a memory that they hold dear to their hearts and loved sharing with each of their children!  From the endearing and sweet songs to the precious handmade gifts and original artistic renditions of each “mommy,” it is a wonderful tribute of love from a kindergartner’s perspective.

Our arms wrap around each mother today for all the things you do each and every day! We love you!

On another note — many, many moms (and probably some dads too!) put together an amazing and vast array of tantalizing and delicious homemade food this past week for a delightful and much appreciated Teacher Appreciation Luncheon!  On behalf of our entire _MG_0214faculty, I thank you for this very generous and heartfelt gesture!  Susan Wordell deserves special recognition for “hosting” and coordinating this special day!

Cindy Moon

Head of School

Justice for All

A “Picture Perfect Picnic!”

A huge thanks to the over 700 Park Maitland community members who came out today to enjoy fun in the sun and wonderful camaraderie! Too often, we get so caught up in our tightly scheduled activities and the hustle and bustle of life that weIMG_9277-X3 forget to take the time to enjoy relaxing with friends and family!  It was a wonderful Park Maitland event! Now…on to just one of the amazing projects or activities that took place on campus this past week! We enjoyed the heartwarming Across Generations in 2nd grade, the Author’s Tea in grade 3, and much more!

And Justice for All…

No doubt, our country and its citizens will always be challenged with ensuring justice and opportunity for all. After listening to the “mock” Supreme CourtIMG_9470-X3 hearing in our 6th grade social studies classes, it is promising to see what ensues. Mrs. Finwall’s class, like no other 6th grade social studies class that I’ve ever seen, is always engaged in relevant, challenging, and interesting real life current events of our nation and world. After researching and learning about our justice system, meeting Attorney General Eric Holder, visiting the Supreme Court in Washington D.C., and studying current controversial cases, students had an opportunity to put on their own justice gowns and participate in a lively and engaging Supreme Court hearing.

I walked into the classroom on Friday to witness this controversial debate in action, planning on being there for five or 10 minutes tops as we had events going on elsewhere on campus that I was going to visit. However, IMG_9257-X3once I arrived and listened to the “lawyers’ so eloquently and confidently defend their case and the sophisticated interaction between the lawyers and the “Justices,” I just had to stay for its entirety!

The particular case these students argued for or against was whether the clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch discriminated against a Muslim woman when it declined to hire her because she wore a headscarf that clashed with the company’s dress code.

I had to remind myself that these were only 11 and 12 year old students. They furiously reviewed their pages of notes and supporting evidence and demonstrated expertise and decision-making beyond their years as they debated fairness, religious rights, IMG_9339-X3discrimination, employment accommodations, employee responsibilities, and so much more. I stood in awe at their level of understanding of fairness, equality, inclusion, acceptance, and responsibility; these students truly understood. Not only were they knowledgeable of the laws, or what it meant to be conservative or liberal, as well as justice and important information surrounding the case, they showed compassion, common sense, respect for human rights, and carefully thought out conscientious decision-making. I stayed until the very end of class and walked out enthused and excited about what I had witnessed and about the fate of our future with such amazing leaders as these!IMG_9280-X3

Cindy Moon

Head of School

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

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