FA L L 2010
I NS I D E THIS ISSUE
A Walk Worth Taking
2 A Word From Our Board Chair
By Ron Waldman | Head of School
An aspect of my job that I particularly enjoy is visiting
4 Responsive Classroom Revealed
classrooms to observe our students engaged in learning.
6 Math at Meridian
I’ve so appreciated my walks around our halls this fall, as I’ve seen the benefits of a lot of hard work put in by our faculty and staff over the summer. Here’s a peek at
S CH O O L CALENDAR
some of what I’ve observed.
Creating community. When I pop into classrooms
27 Meridian Fundraising Phonathon
at the beginning of the day, I see and hear teachers and their students, often seated together in a circle, talking
30 Fall Carnival
NOVEMBER 3 - 6 Parent/Teacher Conferences 19 Early Admission Deadline for Siblings 24 Grandparents/Special Friends Day 25 - 26 Thanksgiving Holiday
about what constitutes a respectful learning environment and exploring ways to resolve conflict. I now hear a Mitchell and Alice enjoy a Responsive Classroom activity (see page 4) , a part of our curriculum that helps build a strong community here at Meridian.
common vocabulary gained through our Responsive
Photo by Amy Smith
Classroom curriculum, which helps to reinforce consistent schoolwide expectations for a safe, nurturing, positive
New technology. Smart Boards and document readers are no longer novelties and are now standard equipment in most classrooms. It’s exciting to observe teachers with the tools to seamlessly integrate technology into all aspects of their curriculum. I’m so pleased that our
DECEMBER 2 Open House for Prospective Families
6:30 - 8 p.m.
6 - 10 Creativity Week 14 - 15 3rd through 5th Grade Musical 18 Winter Break Begins
third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms now have enough laptops to accommodate every student in each class. With these computers, students have the opportunity to work separately or collaboratively on research, writing, and more. I’ve seen the excitement generated by our new touch-screen computers in the computer lab and the library. Students and teachers have been eager to interact with technology in new ways.
Children having fun. Of equal importance, I see children laughing and playing together in the beautiful grounds of Meridian Park, strengthening old friendships and forging new ones. I see instructional assistants out on
SAVE THE DATE March 5 Meridian’s Auction
the playground every day, establishing and reinforcing
Students and teachers have been eager to interact with technology in new ways.
consistent rules and expectations—again, the benefits of additional teaching support in action. When I return to my office after my walkabouts, I’m always refreshed by the good energy, the good teaching, and the wonderful children we’re so fortunate to have in our charge. It is certainly gratifying to see that our school community continues to be so well guided by our mission of a balance of mind and heart.
The board’s work at our September retreat will inform and guide the school through 2010 2011 and beyond. Back row: Peter Selby, Roger Cibella, Raphael del Castillo, Barbra Richardson, Katherine Laird, Harold Malkin, Jack Funes, Cristi Chapman. Front row: Barbara French, Ilana Bebchick (Assistant Head of School), Colleen Palkert, Ron Waldman (Head of School), Donna Bellew, Jennifer Zell, Barbara Herrington. Not pictured: Tim Dore, Linda Schoemaker.
Thanks and Farewell to Departing Board Members from 2009-2010. Last spring we said goodbye to four invaluable board members. Mark Malamud (alum - Jasper) was a major contributor to the
The Benefits of a Retreat By Donna Bellew | Chair, Meridian Board of Trustees
No one loves staying indoors on a beautiful fall Saturday, but as board chair, I prized the opportunity I had a few weeks ago to join my fellow board members, Ron, and the school leadership team at our board retreat. This annual retreat is our chance to spend an entire day together thinking deeply about our school. It’s a chance for us to review the year just past and set priorities for the coming school year. What does one do at such an event? We began our day by recognizing our progress: our excellent work
creation of our mission, school
on the school’s strategic plan, our work in response
philosophy, and diversity
to recommendations from the 2009 PNAIS self study,
statements. Ruth Tressel (alum - Claire) chaired nearly
and all of the strengths identified by last spring’s
This annual retreat is our chance to spend an entire day together thinking deeply about our school.
parent satisfaction survey. With all of this in mind, we next identified areas of focus for the board’s work, including financial planning,
every board committee and was
our diversity plan, and remaining work on the strategic plan. This resulted in a work plan
master of the South Annex
for 2010-2011. Rest assured, it’s never as cut and dried as it sounds, as the day featured
remodel project. Tuney Kannapell, middle school
excellent facilitation by Susan Smallidge, including small- and whole-group presentations and lots of big sticky notes on the wall. What’s next? The work generated at this meeting will serve to inform and guide us as we do
director at Northwest, had a
the work of the board this year. A key component of this will be to continue our work with
major role in shaping our
the leadership team to develop a set of “dashboard indicators,” the board’s term for a set
diversity plan. Chris White
of metrics and key performance indicators that will help to measure the success of the goals
(Alex-alum, Aris-5th) our past board chair, was a key leader
and objectives outlined in our strategic plan. To help with all of this work, last spring we were pleased to welcome four new trustees and two new ex officio members to the board: Jen Zell (Courtney - 4th, Mitchell - 2nd, Trevor - K),
in the development of our
Harold Malkin (Max - alum, Leo - 5th), Christi Chapman (Madeline - 3rd), and Rafael del
Strategic Plan, our the board
Castillo, acting Head of School at Seattle Girls’ School. We also welcomed our new
work on the PNAIS Self-Study and our Diversity Plan.
ex officio faculty appointment to the board, second grade teacher Colleen Palkert, and P.A. President Barb French as our ex officio parent rep. This is an exciting time to lead the board, with the addition of so many talented trustees and the scope of our work ahead.
Supporting Student Learning at Meridian
Communit y Service Day at Meridian
By Ilana Bebchick | Assistant Head of School
Once again, Meridian students
Teachers and students always benefit from
took to the neighborhood on
an extra hand in the classroom, and this fall
our annual Community Service
we have added several. Meridian students
Day on October 7. Kindergart-
are now supported by four new instructional
ners grabbed brooms and rakes
assistants (I.A.s), all of whom are certified teachers. Libby Bode is working with our
to level wood chips and brush
kindergarten classes, Heather Dryden with
away sand on the playground.
first grade, Jenseen Brons with second grade,
First graders worked with the
and Laura Schaut with the third and fifth
Good Shepherd Center gardener
grades. Our I.A.s work with students individually and in small groups and help
to pull weeds and plant bulbs.
to differentiate instruction in the classroom.
Our second and fifth graders
You might see them leading a guided
worked together, picking up
reading group, conferring with a student on his or her story draft, talking with students about their mathematical thinking as they play a math game, or administering a
Kindergarten instructional assistant Libby Bode offers advice to one of her young charges. Having a consistent corps of I.A.s at recess each day helps keep the playground atmosphere positive and proactive.
reading assessment in order to match
litter along planting strips on the streets surrounding Meridian Park. They also assisted a few of our neighbors
students to “just right” books. Our I.A.s also
Our team includes five classroom teachers
supervise lunch in classrooms three days a
and the Assistant Head of School. To
with weed pulling and raking.
week and recess every day. This contact
further support this team and our students,
Our third graders worked on
time gives them the opportunity to foster
Meridian is in the process of hiring a school
relationships with all of our students and
psychologist who is knowledgeable about
to teach them ways to peacefully resolve
diverse learning styles and needs. The school
conflicts as they play together. Our I.A.s also
psychologist will attend our meetings to
Art, and our own library. Our
plan for instruction with classroom teachers
help us assess and address individual
fourth graders conducted some
on a weekly basis.
To further support our students, we have just
Instructional assistants and our Student
formed a “Student Success Team” to address
Success Team are two avenues through
students’ academic and social/emotional
which we differentiate instruction at Meridian
locate, identify, and measure
needs. Teachers with a student who might
with the goal of meeting all students’
the diameter of Meridian Park’s
benefit from extra support are encouraged
academic and social/emotional needs.
many trees. It was a very busy
to bring them to the attention of the team.
We will focus on differentiation of instruction
Together with the teacher, the team talks
throughout the school year at staff meetings
about specific strategies and interventions
and workshops in our continuing effort
to best support that child’s learning at school
to make Meridian a successful place
and at home.
a variety of projects with the Dispute Resolution Center, Neo
research for Sustainable Wallingford, helping an arborist
day, and all students felt proud to serve their community so well.
The highlight of any Morning Meeting is the activity. By building an inclusive community, all children in the room feel like valued members of the group. PHOTO BY Janet Klinger
“Responsive Classroom” Weaves Meridian’s Social and Academic Curricula Together By Charlie Burkland | Fourth Grade Teacher
No matter whose room you were in during orientation night, you were sure to hear about Responsive Classroom. During our first staff meeting, when teachers were asked what went well during the first week of school, many cited activities related to Responsive Classroom. Since the start of school we’ve heard teachers talk about clock partners and Morning Meetings. We’ve seen children’s hopes and dreams displayed in the hallways and collaborative rules posted in the classrooms. There is definitely a buzz within Meridian School that revolves around our social curriculum, and there should be. Over the last two years, nearly all the Meridian teachers have gone The morning message created daily by the classroom teacher sets the tone for the day. This first step in the Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting process helps students transition from home to school. Photo by Amy Smith
through an intensive weeklong instructional course on how to implement Responsive Classroom at their grade level. So, what exactly is Responsive Classroom? In a nutshell, it is a social curriculum that allows teachers to bring together social and academic learning throughout the day.
Below are the guiding principles of Responsive Classroom.
social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
children learn is as important as what they learn:
Process and content go hand in hand.
greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
be successful academically and socially, children need to learn and
practice specific social skills. Five particularly important skills are cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control (CARES).
the children we teach—individually, culturally, and developmentally—
is as important as knowing the content we teach.
The greeting is the next step at meeting time. Here new and old friends say hello to help create a sense of belonging for all students. PHOTO BY Amy Smith
the families of the children we teach is as important as knowing
Photo by Amy Smith
the children we teach.
Sharing is often a part of the process. Here students learn not only how to present their ideas, but also to be active and respectful listeners.
we, the adults at school, work together is as important as our
individual competence: Lasting changes begin with the adult community. As you read these principles, you may have thought to yourself, these principles really aren’t new to Meridian. We agree. In fact, notice how well they support our mission statement with its balance of mind and heart. Responsive Classroom gives us a common framework, language, and tools to use in our classrooms and with each other. Below is a list of the activities, strategies, and common practices found in Responsive Classroom:
Collaborative Problem Solving
Common Teacher Language
Working With Families
As teachers, we integrate Responsive Classroom into our academic and social curricula. Throughout the day, Responsive Classroom establishes a positive classroom environment, promotes independence, facilitates collaborative work, and increases the investment each child makes in his or her learning. These are skills will serve them well not only in elementary school but as lifelong learners.
This collaborative professional development was made possible for our faculty thanks to generous 2009 Fund-A-Vision donors. In addition to Responsive Classroom, these funds have been used for staff development in math, language and Global Studies.
Collaboration on math problems begins right from the get-go at Meridian. Teacher suppport is especially important in the younger grades. photo BY Janet Klinger
Claudia Sibila Leads the Math Charge at Meridian By Ted Holmes | Director of Admission and Marketing
At Meridian we are fortunate to have a math coach on our faculty, Claudia Sibila. Claudia is a jack-of-allmath-trades who divides her time between coaching individual teachers, working with students, and leading the math club and teams. Never one to sit still, Claudia has honed her already deep background in math by attending the Math Institutes at the University of California at Berkeley for the past three years. Through extended summer sessions, weekend work during the school year, and a stint last summer as an instructor,
Math games encourage children to practice and understand math concepts.
Claudia has found herself amidst math experts from around the country. Her frequent presence among big
Photo by Amy Smith
Claudia Sibila has been Meridianâ€™s math coach since 2007.
thinkers about elementary math has allowed Claudia to bring the very latest in best practices to our school.
So what has Claudia brought to us? Most essentially, a knowledge of core standards and
The Meridian Navigator
the understanding that standards are the base of any good math program. Our Meridian math
published by The Meridian School 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, Suite 242 Seattle, Washington, 98103 Ph: 206-632-7154 Fax: 206-633-1864 email@example.com www.meridianschool.edu
curriculum, the inquiry-based Investigations, incorporates these standards throughout
Please direct any questions to Ted Holmes Director of Admission and Marketing firstname.lastname@example.org
The program emphasizes reasoning and
Printed on recycled paper made with 100% post consumer fiber and manufactured Process Chlorine Free (PCF).
its lessons. Investigations provides substantive instruction in all of the math strands, including rational numbers, geometry, measurement, data, and early algebra. requires students to explain their thinking
The program emphasizes reasoning and requires students to explain their thinking in algorithms, words, and pictures.
in algorithms, words, and pictures. Claudia recognizes that no program can stand alone, and another great gift she offers to teachers is a wealth of resources to challenge our strongest math students and support the children for whom
Math manipulatives are an excellent pathway to understanding for all ages and abilities.
photo BY Janet Klinger
Teacher guidance is essential to understanding math concepts. Claudia works with teachers on a regular basis to support classroom learning. Photo by Amy Smith
the concepts don’t come as easily. For this
Number Corner Debuts at Meridian
purpose Claudia taps into a range of resources, from Singapore Math’s 8-Step
A visitor to Meridian will notice
Model for problem solving in the early grades to Marilyn Burns’ Math by All Means to teach
a special calendar residing in
multiplication in the upper grades.
the corner of many classrooms.
With Claudia’s encouragement, teachers have engaged in summer math training, including sessions this year and last at
Teamwork is an important part of the Meridian math experience. Photo by Amy Smith
Oregon’s Math Learning Center. At these summer institutes, teachers have delved more
It’s a new math teaching tool called Number Corner. New pieces are added to this display
deeply into the math topics they present in their classrooms, ever in search of more effective
each day, becoming the basis of
ways to promote understanding.
math discussions, problem-
And as if Claudia isn’t busy enough, she is also the proud leader of our Meridian School
solving sessions, and short
Math Teams. These teams have quickly become a tradition at Meridian. Last year we had teams from third, fourth, and fifth grades. In the past Meridian’s teams have placed well both
written assignments. Number
at the “Math Is Fun” competition and the Math Olympiad. Math Teams are fun for all those
Corner is designed to provide
students who enjoy math and like to work in groups (most of the questions require a team
a foundation for ongoing
answer, not individual). We’re inspired by the children who take on this challenge and by
instruction in the five math
Claudia’s dedication to this group of high achievers. We are so pleased to have Claudia as our math standard-bearer at Meridian. She inspires students and teachers alike as she continually works to keep our math at Meridian greater than the sum of its parts.
strands: number, pattern and function, geometry, probability, and measurement. It’s a fun routine that’s spreading throughout our school.
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N. Seattle, WA 98109
Parent/Teacher Conferences: November 3 - 6
Meridian Welcomes New Staff for 2010-2011 Back Row: Jenseen Brons (I.A., 2nd), Anastasia Leja (Teacher, K), Laura Schadt (I.A., 3rd and 5th) Front Row: Ilana Bebchick (Assistant Head of School), Libby Bode (I.A., K), Heather Dryden (I.A., 1st), Jonathan Aldanese (Teacher, 5th), Amy Huber (Office Assistant), Luzelvia Diaz-Alejandro (4th-5th Grade Spanish and Extended Day)