WHPS Blog

Exciting News - 5th Grade Legacy Gift

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

Our 5th grade class spent some time today deliberating and ultimately voting on their Class of 2019 Legacy Gift. Part of today's discussion included looking at a video from the 2019 Morehouse College Commencement, at which Robert Smith announced his family will pay off the graduates’ student loans. This is quite a legacy to leave. 

While we don’t necessarily have that same level of resources to work with laughing, we wanted to help put the funds our 5th grade families raised this year to good use. Today, the children debated three options:

Image result for manual outdoor bottle filler station Image result for scholarship

Outdoor Café

Add high top tables and seating outside the library for students (and/or teachers) to enjoy.

Water Bottle Station

Purchase/install a water bottle refill station for children to use, instead of the drinking fountain.

Scholarship

Establish a one-time need-based scholarship to assist a family with a portion of their annual tuition.  

In the end, here is how the votes broke down.

In the very near future, we will be purchasing and installing the new water bottle filling station. As soon as the station is installed, we will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on campus. While we anticipate that the installation will happen after the end of the school year, the class of 2019 will be invited to attend (in person or virtually) for the ribbon cutting. We will also have a plaque representing the class. Stay tuned for more information.

And, thank you Class of 2019!

Taboo Topics: Discussing with children

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

“Why are some people racist?” How do you answer that question to a 4th grader? What if you are a teacher? How would you address this question with 24 children staring up at you? Or, how do you respond as a parent when your child asks an awkward question in public?

While the question in this TED Talk was not specifically asked in our school, it’s a salient reminder of the importance of small moments that happen all the time in school. It’s also a reminder that teachers have to make many consequential split-second decisions throughout the day.

February is Black History Month. We have some special conversations and presentations happening in different age groups and classrooms to further children’s interest and understanding of topics surrounding race and black history. Perhaps even more important than these teacher (or presenter) initiated conversations is how we respond when children ask questions during any month throughout the year.

This could be questions about race, puberty, fairness, LGBTQ+ issues, homelessness, religion, something they have heard about politics, the list goes on… If we simply shut down the topic or brush past it, this can send the message that their question is too taboo to talk about. It's not our job to teach children what to think. As Liz Kleinrock puts it: "It is about giving them the tools and strategies and language and opportunities to practice how to think."

Getting comfortable with uncomfortable conversations is a hot topic that will be discussed in our March 2019 newsletter. Stay tuned for some more tips about what this means in a school setting. And, if you watch one Ted Talk this month, let it be this one: “How to teach kids to talk about taboo topics.

To sweeten, or not to sweeten, that is the question...

Written by Jacey Dexter, Elementary Principal on .

Critical Thinking in Writer’s Workshop

You may have heard that the USDA recently rolled back restrictions on healthy school lunches. Since 2012, schools had been required to meet healthier school lunch guidelines, requiring whole grain-rich breads/pastas, lower sodium levels, and phasing out high fat/flavored milk. Beginning in 2019, these requirements are being lifted, and schools can once again serve chocolate milk, as well as partial grains and higher-sodium foods. While the political debate wages on, so does the debate at WHPS. Some of our Upper Elementary students are taking a deep dive into this issue, using and honing critical thinking skills in the process.

Thinking Critically (there are multiple perspectives on every argument)
In Writer’s Workshop, Room 19 students have been learning what goes into a strong Argument Essay. This includes some pretty sophisticated work: collecting evidence, developing a position, outlining, using evidence to back up a claim, and unpacking quotes to show how they relate to your claim, all while learning how to convey this information with their own “author’s voice.”

Connected to the Real-World
The chocolate milk debate serves as a model for children in learning to develop and argue their position. Each student had an opportunity to collect evidence and develop a strong position about the issue, in this case chocolate milk. They then learned how to unpack quotes and present reasons for their claim. 

Debating & Disagreeing Respectfully (can someone PLEASE teach this to the adults)
The next step in this unit of study is a debate, in which students will practice the art of persuasion: backing up their statements with evidence while also applying what they’ve learned about disagreeing respectfully with one another.

Leveraging their Passion
All of this is a primer for the students to take a stance on a cause or issue they are personally passionate about. After the in-class chocolate milk debates, children will work to transfer the skills they have learned into their own writing project. They will develop and eventually publish their own Argument Essays, which they will share with an authentic audience of parents and peers at their next Publishing Celebration.

Third Grade Prepares for the Next Level
This is one of my favorite culminating units in Writer's Workshop. There is a lot of emphasis throughout 3rd grade on understanding and working with non-fiction texts and features (Table of Contents, Headings, Bold Words, Captions, Photographs, Graphs, Charts, Illustrations, Glossary, Index). It’s a sweet reward to see 4th/5th graders using all the information and skills they have gained in our program to go out and change the world.

Effective Parent-School Partnerships

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

Like most families, you probably put a lot of thought and care into selecting the best school for your child(ren). After all that research, you have chosen to be part of a truly special community at WHPS, one that is known for unique and strong parent partnerships, deep understanding of child development, and a school where we pride ourselves on responsiveness to our families.

We are incredibly invested in your child’s success and your family’s experience in our program. And, this year we launched a new forum, Coffee & Conversation, to help ensure you are getting the greatest possible return on your investment (ROI) in our program.

Our February Coffee & Conversation topic is one you will NOT WANT TO MISS! On Friday February 15, our school leadership team will be facilitating a conversation on how to maximize your ROI through Effective Parent-School Partnerships. Whether you're a first-time parent or this isn't your first rodeo; preschool or elementary, or even if you have children in other school(s), I believe you will find this topic useful. 

We will be sharing out more information about this Coffee & Conversation topic on the WHPS Facebook page as the date approaches. So, please be sure you are following us on Facebook. And, remember to add February 15th (8:30-9:30) to your calendar. We will meet in the Oxnard Street campus Library.

Hope to see you there!

Seth Pozzi, Head of School

Diversity & Inclusion #SelfieStation

Written by Jacey Dexter, Elementary Principal on .

 

In our most recent Coffee & Conversation, we discussed some ways to raise kind kids and how to help our children grow into adults who will strive to make the world a better place. One of the main topics discussed was Inclusion. Often, the concept of inclusion/inclusivity is oversimplified to to mean including students with special needs or learning abilities outside the normative range in a classroom. However, our school's concept of inclusivity is really about valuing each individual’s personal beliefs, values, and cultural identity. To be inclusive means that you believe everyone has value and significance, even if they are very different from you. One of the greatest drivers of children’s academic success is the extent to which they feel a sense of belonging and significance as a member of the school community, and here at WHPS we strive to help our students feel this way each and every day.

To foster inclusivity in your child, one of the first big steps is exposure. So often parents aim to shelter their child from the overwhelming world around them. For example, when you see a homeless person on the corner asking for help, what would you do? I would encourage you to have a conversation with your child about that person versus simply telling your child not to look at them. If you see someone who looks different and your child has questions, answer them! A good rule of thumb is if your child is asking you about something, they’re already thinking about it, and you should answer their questions open and honestly in an age appropriate manner. Not doing so can indirectly send the message that something is “bad,” “taboo,” or “not to be talked about.”  Fostering this communication early will lead to your children growing into teenagers who communicate more openly with you.

This December, we are working on a school-wide collaborative art project to honor the wide variety of cultures and differences in our school community. This inclusive project will be put on display as a #SelfieStation when we return from winter break. 

On the morning of Friday, January 4, our leadership team will be outside at the Oxnard Street campus to greet and welcome everyone at the Diversity  Inclusion #SelfieStation, and we will have goodies and information to share with you about some very exciting events that are happening in January and February. We invite ALL parents and caregivers to stop by for some Coffee & Conversation the morning of January 4

Hope to see you there!

 

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