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FA L L 2010


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


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

school experience.

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.

student needs.

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.

for everyone.

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.

• 3

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.

• The

social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.

• How

children learn is as important as what they learn:

Process and content go hand in hand.

• The

• To

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).

• Knowing

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


• Knowing

the families of the children we teach is as important as knowing

Photo by Amy Smith

the children we teach.

• How

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:

Morning Meetings

Academic Choice

Guided Discovery

Interactive Modeling

Collaborative Problem Solving

Classroom Organization

Logical Consequences

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 Meridian’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

curriculum, the inquiry-based Investigations, incorporates these standards throughout

Please direct any questions to Ted Holmes Director of Admission and Marketing

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)

Meridian School Fall 2010 Navigator  

The Meridian Navigator is published three times a year for current and past Meridian families, as well as friends of the school in the great...