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“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
-- John Dewey’s Democracy and Education (1916)

 

There is no better day to feel the meaning of this quote than on the first day of school. Our children come back running, taller (did you stretch them?), smiling and laughing, quietly different than before and yet wonderfully the same. Grown-ups come back hugging one another, talking about summers, lives, big and new events, hopes and fears for the coming year. At Blue School, we are so lucky to have the chance to live these years together, collectively striving to raise our children -- and to remain ourselves --  intellectually curious, collaborative, brave, and resilient.

 

Another wise quote from the same publication, written almost 100 years ago, describes the first day perfectly: “Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” On one hand, an ending to a summer of planning, conversation and preparation; on the other, the beginning of an educational journey that will last the year long. This year’s lobby installation marks this moment, describing our commitment this year to explore all of the ways that Blue School is a place for thinking -- considering, evaluating, wondering, evaluating, tinkering, trying, authoring, discussing, directing, and so on. Take a look at our installation; it is the work of many hands and minds.

 

We are so grateful to have all of you with us -- returning and new. Welcome, and welcome back! See below for some pictures of our first day.

 

Best,

 

Allison

 

REMINDERS

In honor of 9/11:

We certainly can’t overlook the significance of this day.  As we begin this school year, we should be mindful of the first day of school in 2001.  Below is an excerpt from an email Allison sent to Blue School faculty and staff last year (the full blog post can be read here).  It is still relevant this morning.  

 

Being an educator on September 11th, and on other days that memorialize horrific events, is challenging. We hold the opportunity and the responsibility to try and bring more peace and understanding into the world through our work, and after a summer like this one, during which unchecked and unmitigated hatred seem to define so much of the activity on the world's stage, this responsibility feels significantly more urgent. Depending on the age of the young people we work with, discussions may or may not be necessary or warranted. But for all of us at Blue School, I hope we can find a moment today with children to breathe, to find a center of peace, to teach a song of struggle and hope, to open our ears and hearts to someone we don't yet understand, to use a conflict between children as a way to teach that people have different ideas; and whether any of the events of that morning or the dynamics around it are mentioned, I hope we find a way to honor those who were lost by teaching for the future.

 

Community Meeting:

Please review the email sent on September 1 in which we shared new information about Community Meeting this year. 4s/5s through 2nd grade is on Monday mornings as usual. 3rd through 6th graders will have their community meeting on Friday mornings, which will be for students and teachers only. Parents will be invited during key moments in the year. Please take a look at the description of Gratitude and Reflections, a practice we’ll begin with 3rd through 6th graders at our Friday meetings.

An excerpt:

As many parents noted this past year, our weekly community meeting on Monday mornings for 4s – 5th graders was bursting at the seams, and could no longer be held reasonably and safely in the Commons. This begged a conversation we have been itching to have, which stems from our understanding that from a developmental standpoint, our older students (3rd-6th grade) are ready for a different type of experience, one that reinforces their increasing independence and responsibility as community members and individuals. Over the spring and summer, a group of faculty met and discussed what a different type of meeting for those older students might include. We aimed to meet a few goals: 1) to nurture independence and responsibility, 2) to encourage more inter-age and faculty-student relationships and 3) to establish ways of noticing and showing gratitude for one another in specific ways as we collectively build our community and culture.

 

To this end, while our 4s/5s through 2nd graders will continue in the tradition we’ve established on Monday mornings, our 3rd through 6th graders will be participating in (and eventually leading) a different type of Community Meeting, which will be held on Friday mornings at 8:45-9 am. This meeting will follow a similar pattern: a quiet opening, a greeting, a song and a closing breathing activity. However, it will take place without parents in attendance, reinforcing the increasing independence of each child and his or her interdependence with the community at this stage. It will also differ in that we will also be adding a new routine. Gratitude and Reflections will take up a significant portion of the meeting, where students and faculty will share noticings, happenings and behaviors that they noted in one another over the week that demonstrate integrity, honesty, responsibility, empathy and more. We’ll ask for students to prepare what they want to say thoughtfully. While families will not be joining us weekly, we will invite parents to this new Community Meeting for older students at each of the Open Classrooms scheduled for the year. In addition, our 6th graders will split off from this meeting at a certain point during the year to establish some of their own routines, including a Moth-inspired storytelling exercise.

Threes Round Table on the Transition to School

Thursday, September 17th, 9:15-10:15am in the Art Studio on the 6th Floor

**Note: The date has been changed (this was originally scheduled for Wednesday 9/16).

 

Join Laura Sedlock, Pre-Primary Program Director, Harriet Richards, Child Development Counselor, and Wanda Frankel, Early Childhood Consultant to discuss your thoughts, questions and concerns about the supported autonomy process and the transition to school. Some of the questions we will discuss may include:

 

What kinds of routines and language can help ease the transition to school?

What types of behaviors can I expect at home and at drop off?

How can I learn about my child's experience in school?

How long can I expect the adjustment to take?

 

We hope to see you there, even if it is just for part of the time. Feel free to drop in at any time. Parents in the afternoon class (3c) are welcome to join us as well, and we will also be available to talk with you informally in the afternoon from 1-2pm on the 2nd floor.  

Arrival and Dismissal for 4s/5s through 6th:

Thank you for getting to school on time each day for your program at 8:45 for 4s/5s-6th and 9 am for 3s. Attendance will be taken (and lateness noted) at 8:50. For K-6th grade, dismissal is at 3:20 this year. For 4s/5s, dismissal is at 3 pm. Thank you for promptly picking up and leaving the building so that we can smoothly transition to after school programming and other important professional learning that teachers do after school hours.

Missing emails:

We became aware that due to an email glitch, only one email from each child’s MyBackpack account was receiving emails until about one week ago. While we have rectified this issue, please be sure that if you are still missing emails, try to look in MyBackpack to update information. If it is correct, please let your child’s teacher know and he or she will forward it along to our team who can work to correct the issue.

 

Filming at Blue School:

As mentioned in last week’s email, we welcomed grandparent Kirk Simon and his production company for our first morning. He will be filming at Blue School periodically throughout this year for his documentary for HBO on the “power of play” in education. He is a very established filmmaker who made HBO’s Kindergarten series over ten years ago, which airs daily on HBO even now.

 

From his site describing the project: “Play is instinctual and precisely the way in which young children learn about the world around them. Yet more and more elementary schools and institutions of higher learning have focused on teaching literacy and other academic skills at the expense of play. This film will explore the critical importance of play in early childhood development. We will examine how some of the most innovative schools in the country are meeting the challenges in education today, and talk with leading experts in the field. By visiting play-integrated schools across the country, we will see first-hand how students excel when they take active roles in their educational pursuits.”     

 

Greetings from Advancement:
Hello from the newly formed Advancement Team. Advancement encompasses fundraising, community building, and communications. As a new team, we’ve been hard at work preparing for your return. We are looking forward to connecting with each of you during the school year.

 

To that end, we will be hosting informal morning meet-ups throughout the year in our shared office. Our hope is to meet as many community members over the course of the year to discuss communications and building an even stronger Blue School community.

 

We hope you and your families had a great summer!

 

James David

Director of Advancement

 

Jeff Goff

Associate Director of Advancement

 

Jessica Vanderberg

Associate Director of Communications

Makers Faire Save the Date:

Blue School will have a table at this year's MAKERS FAIRE at NY Hall of Science on September 26th and 27th.  We will be sharing some of last year's 3rd graders' work-- illustrating ways that making and STEAM can be integrated into thoughtful project work.  We will offer visitors opportunities to work with Makey Makey as a tool to use for storytelling, and to design and construct a sand mandala.  If you are visiting the MAKERS FAIRE, please stop by and say hello.  If you have any questions or would like to help out at Blue School's table, please contact dawn@blueschool.org.

 

Magnus Medical and Immunizations Forms Update

It is vital that all families have complete Magnus profiles as soon as possible. In particular, please make sure that you have filled out and uploaded the Consent to Treat Form, the Over the Counter Medication Form, the Food Allergy Action plan, and any other action plan forms that pertain to your student. All of these forms are on your Magnus account and need to be downloaded, filled out, and then re-uploaded. Telling your student’s teachers about a food allergy is not enough, you must complete the Food Allergy Action plan.

 

All immunization information must be turned into the school immediately. If you have a student out of compliance with the New York State Department of Health requirements, we need to be notified as to why. If you are are looking for a religious or medical exemption for your child you must email Lauren Miller (lauren@blueschool.org) for the required paperwork. Any approved exemptions from last year have not carried over to this year. If you were approved last year and would like to be approved again, you must submit the required paperwork. We need your immunizations as soon as possible and we’ll be following up with individuals within Magnus. Please understand that our goal is not to have any children miss time from school, but rather to keep all children safe.

 

If you are having difficulty with your account, please contact Lauren Miller (lauren@blueschool.org) as soon as possible.

 

If there are still outstanding health form and Magnus documents next week, you will start to be automatically contacted by the system.

 
 


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