We’ve been at work all month preparing the school for students. Today, Parent and Child Teacher Flora McEachern and Lead Extended Day Teacher Aureole Lopez Shulman painted a ‘fire’ for the Fireplace Room. The Parent and Child Program and the Extended Day Program share the Fireplace Room and Flora and Aureole have worked on beautifying and organizing the space. Our entire Early Childhood Department is excited about the year ahead and they plan to collaborate in many ways. They have new ideas for their own classes and for the whole department. We are all looking forward to seeing students and parents again!
In May, Meira Lifson flew in from Vermont to guest teach as a part of the application process for our Spanish Language Teacher position. She brought her friend Chocolate, a llama puppet that delighted Grade Two. We’re pleased to let you know that Ms. Lifson will be our Spanish Language Teacher next year. You can read quite a bit about her on her website here.
To catch you up on some of the other hiring news, Sommer Whitmarsh is now the Lily Pond Kindergarten Assistant Teacher. Sommer joined us mid-year as our Grades After School Care Teacher. When the Assistant Teacher position opened up, Ms. Whitmarsh saw it as an opportunity to spend more time with kindergarten students. She is a second-year student at Sound Circle Teacher training. Ms. Whitmarsh and Lead Teacher Zoe Ryan are excited about their new partnership in the year ahead.
Minnows Preschool Teacher Alison Landeros will be joined by Andi Galliher next year. Mrs. Galliher will serve as the Minnows Assistant Teacher. She has worked at BWS for three years as an after school care teacher, a substitute teacher, and a third kindergarten assistant teacher on walk days. We’re looking forward to what this creative team will bring to our preschool families next year.
BWS will open the Grades After School Care Teacher position in August.
Last week, Grade Seven finished up their mechanics block with some experimentation on a grand scale. There to help were civil engineer Jeff Johnson and mechanical engineer Bill McGurk, both of whom have students enrolled at BWS. The class experimented with pulleys, levers, and gears. What follows is an explanation of the demonstration Jeff Johnson led.
The bike experiment was one of gear ratios and calculating how many times the rear wheel would turn around for each time the pedals turned around. The students were able to see that in the bike’s lowest gear that the rear wheel made 2/3rds of a revolution per pedal stroke. When ridden on the bicycle trainer in this gear, the pedals were very easy to turn but the rear wheel did not spin very fast. The students also checked the highest gear ratio in which the rear wheel turned around approx. 3.7 revolutions per pedal stroke. On the bicycle trainer, this gear ratio was difficult to turn but made the wheel spin very quickly. This ratio of the tire revolutions per pedal stroke was calculated both by dividing the number of teeth on the front chainring by the number of teeth on the rear cog and also by counting the number of spokes turned by the number of spokes on the wheel. Both numbers matched within expected experimental error. On a direct drive bicycle, such as a unicycle or an old-fashioned, penny-farthing, high wheel bike, the lowest gear in the experiment combined with a 26-inch diameter rear wheel was equivalent to a 17-inch diameter wheel and the largest gear was equivalent to an 8-foot diameter wheel. The latter wheel would be quite impractical to ride by any known human.
With that money, we bought school supplies such as pencils, erasers, notebooks, and Wite-out. We bought the merchandise knowing that as it was nearing the end of the year, many students would use our store as a chance to restock. We worked in class to find the cost of each item and democratically decided on the prices. The store was open during snack and lunch recess from May 14th through May 23rd.
We were able to repay the $70 we borrowed and donated our profit toward the school Curriculum Trip Fund.
Today marks a milestone in our school’s yearbook history: its first-ever student made yearbook. The club was formed in January of this year and was made up of six students from seventh and eight grades. Students decided on the book’s content and did the layout and art for all of the pages. They also took some of the pictures–most of the pictures from Crazy Hair Day are student shots. Club members discussed a number of options for cover art and decided to ask grade school students, via their teachers, to submit art for the book. The group then did a ‘no-name’ selection of the final art, which was done by seventh grade student Mia S.
The club met weekly, and the book was ready to be assembled for printing two weeks ago. The group is proud of their achievement and is excited to get it into student hands. Yearbooks will be sold on the playground at lunch recess and also on Friday afternoon in the front lobby. They cost $15. I enjoyed working on this project with this group and look forward to next year. My hope is to have more photos taken by students, and for them to learn pagination.
The St. Nicholas Building opened as The St. Nicholas School For Girls, and above is one of the plans that was recently unearthed by the architects working on our Science and Music Lab design. As you can see from the plan, the Community Room and the Grade Eight Room were once a place for science. New plans for the room are pictured below and, as it happens, botany will reside in the same section of the new lab as it did in the original plan.
Architects Pablo Pizarro and Nicolaas Wilkens began working on our project in late winter. With our Science Task Force, they toured and discussed the basement rooms that inspired the drive for a Science Lab. We then showed Pablo and Nicolaas the Community Room as another possibility. In comparing the basement space and the Community Room, the group decided the upstairs venue was clearly a better choice because of location, light, and lower construction costs.
On May 23rd, Pablo and Nicolaas unveiled their drawings and plan for the room. Out of necessity, the Science Lab will spend part of the week as a Music Lab, and will therefore be called ‘The Science and Music Lab’. Because band and strings take place at the same time during the week, two music spaces are used at once: one is Skinner Theater and the other is the Community Room. Those are the only two rooms large enough to host music classes. Using the room for music will not interfere with science classes because science is held in the Main Lesson period, while strings and band classes take place in the subject periods following. Our Task Force wanted the Lab to keep its primary focus and function as science, yet still needed to consider and plan for a comfortable music space. To that end, Gust Burns joined the group as the music department representative.
Plans for the new room include a botany section with a terrarium and propogation section, a teacher workstation, locking storage throughout, augmented lighting in the hallway to display work, a chalkboard on the south wall, shades on the western windows, acoustic treatment for the ceiling, carpet for a large portion of the room, 12 workstations that seat two students each, drum storage, and much more. We plan to begin work shortly, and to have the lab operational in September!
Part of the money raised at the auction for this project also goes to professional development, and three of our teachers are enrolled in the ‘Sensible Science’ training at Sound Circle Teacher Training this July.
Grade Five students completed their state reports, and they are on display in the upstairs hallway. Please take a look. Teacher Beth Simpson assigned students to write a book about a state of their choice. The assignment was a blend of geography, history, language arts, and art. Students took to the task with great enthusiasm, and the results are impressive. I hope you can take some time upstairs to enjoy the students’ efforts.
Social skills are an important part of our curriculum, and community service is a component of building those skills. This year’s eighth grade students did community service for their eighth grade project. Each student wrote a proposal in October for their service. On May 14th, students presented their projects to the community. Their presentation boards are on display in the upper hallway, and two pictures are included here. Please visit the upstairs hall if you can!
Projects included working at:
Animal Talk, a non-profit, no-kill animal shelter
Serenity Equine Rescue, an equine rescue and rehabilitation program
Family Works–student taught knitting after school to clients of Family Works. This was a student-created project.
Youth Suicide Prevention Program; student worked with other teens to increase the program’s visibility to young people.
Boys and Girls Club, coaching basketball for second grade girls
Treehouse for Kids, an organization for foster children
Earthcorps, an environmental restoration program
World Impact Network, a food bank in Bellevue
One student played music at retirement homes through the Seattle Conservatory of Music.
One student created and executed a fundraising event to benefit Water First International, an organization that works to provide communities around the world with a safe water supply.
Each of the students spoke of the benefits and surprises in the work they did. Nels S, who organized a fundraiser for Water First International, had to find an effective way to communicate his event, and navigated a lot of administrative details (insurance, background checks). Arielle D, who taught clients of Family Works how to knit, spoke of a Roosevelt High School freshman she met who was moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia a few years ago. In getting to know this new friend, she learned that her peer often played the role of translator for her mother and accompanied her to doctor’s appointments and so forth. She also learned some knitting terms in other languages. Stella S, who coached second grade girls’ basketball at the Boys and Girls Club, talked about the impact of competitive sports on young children. She had wanted to play competitive sports as a youngster, but her parents ‘wouldn’t let me!’. Stella shared that having coached young children, she now sees that competitive sports at that age are not appropriate, and that skill-building and fun is where she would like the focus be.
When asked whether they would continue their volunteer work, each student said they would. It was an inspiring evening!
The faculty diversity discussion this month centered around the article ‘Unpacking the Knapsack of White Privilege’, which we read and discussed in small groups. I’ve provided a link to the article so that you can follow along with our work.