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progressions GREENE HILL SCHOOL NEWSLETTER

FALL 2013

DEAR GREENE HILL FAMILIES,

Welcome to the second edition of our community newsletter. Last spring, we introduced Progressions — a quarterly newsletter for parents, grandparents and the larger GHS community. Progressions is a place for us to highlight interesting events at school, articles on curriculum and pedagogy and glimpses into the workings of the classrooms. The first month of school flew by so quickly and I want to thank everyone in the Greene Hill community (teachers and staff, parents, caregivers and children all) for making the first few weeks of school engaging and fun.

CONTENTS LETTER FROM DIANA GREENE HILL GROWS UPDATE PATHS REPORT LEARNING + PRACTICE AT GREENEHILL EYE ON EDUCATION BOARD CORNER

GREENE HILL SCHOOL 39 Adelphi Street Brooklyn, NY 11205 718.230.3608 WEB SITE

www.greenehillschool.org E-MAIL

info @ greenehillschool.org BOARD OF TRUSTEES Nanci Berman, Chair Frank Alvarado, Treasurer Amanda Smith, Secretary Lisa Edstrom Meeta Gandhi Jocelynne Rainey Beth Schneider

Parents took part in some interesting back-to-school events at GHS this year. At our September Speaker Series, offered for the first time this year, we discussed the historic roots and traditions of progressive education and how it is practiced at Greene Hill. School Psychologist Denise Prieto talked about transitions at this time of year and strategies for children and adults. We look forward to offering many Community Forums on a wide range of topics and hope that you join us from time to time. In the newsletter section titled Eye on Education there are short summaries and links to the supporting PowerPoint presentations in their entirety. I have had the pleasure of dropping in on all of the classes these few weeks, saying hello to the 4s as they eat their first lunches at school, observing the 5s as they work on their journals in the morning, viewing the 6s block buildings span the classroom, and the 7s as they play a getting-toknow-you scavenger hunt. The 8s were deep in a meeting about writing strategies when I peeked in and the 9s have been campaigning about their favorite ice cream flavors as they watch the results from the mayoral election. The 10s, our oldest group and now the grade that completes our Lower School, have been looking at timelines as they embark on their study of ancient Greece. A recent child visitor to Greene Hill was looking at the photos in our entrance lobby. He said, “Of course that first year photo is in black and white – because it is so old!” And sometimes those five years since we established the school with eight children does seem like a long time in the past. But generally when I take a moment to reflect on what changes have happened over this time I am continually impressed by the professionalism of our staff, the incredibly hard-work done by our Board of Trustees, and the dedication of our parent body, all of which has enabled the school to mindfully grow so much and so well each year. I look forward to a wonderful year with you and your families at Greene Hill School!

BEST, DIANA SCHLESINGER, SCHOOL DIRECTOR

GREENE HILL SCHOOL

www.greenehillschool.org • 718.230.3608


FALL 2013 FUNDRAISING BREAKING NEWS Greene Hill School’s Annual Appeal Goal Set for $100,000 this year!

NOTABLE DATES SCHOOL CALENDAR

OCTOBER 17 Community Forum Series: Progressive Education Traditions

It’s a ritual for schools – the start of the school year brings the kick-off of this year’s Annual Appeal. It happens yearly, but it is still good to emphasize again that it is everyone’s responsibility to support Greene Hill as we set our sights on an ambitious goal of raising $100,000 this year. WHAT IS THE ANNUAL APPEAL? Every year Greene Hill School, like most independent schools, asks parents, friends and community members to support the school with unrestricted (tax-deductible) financial donations to the school.

(8:40AM – 9:40AM)

WHY DOES THE SCHOOL NEED MORE MONEY IF PARENTS ALREADY PAY TUITION?

OCTOBER 18 Community Potluck (adults only, 7– 9PM)

NOVEMBER 11-12 Parent-Teacher Conferences

NOVEMBER 21 Community Forum Series: Assessment: What is it and how do we do it?

ISN’T THE TUITION ENOUGH TO COVER THE COST OF RUNNING THE SCHOOL? No. Tuition covers only about 80% of the cost of running the school in any given year. Greene Hill needs to raise the additional 20% each year just to meet our operating budget. This is similar to the challenges facing other independent schools. It costs about $1000 above and beyond tuition income per child to keep our doors open. The Annual Appeal raises operating support – part of the necessary cost of educating each child. Unlike tuition payments, however, gifts to the Annual Appeal are tax-deductible.

(9AM – 10AM)

DECEMBER 19 Community Forum Series: Community Service and other family activities (9AM – 10 AM)

To see the year-long calendar with school holidays and all events, CLICK HERE

DOES EVERYONE CONTRIBUTE TO THE ANNUAL APPEAL? For the past four years, 100% of our families have made contributions to the yearly Annual Appeal. It costs about $1000 per child more than what tuition brings in to provide all the wonderful educational opportunities that Greene Hill offers. Please think about how your family can contribute your fair share toward this yearly cost. Parent participation is important to GHS and we value participation greatly. GREENE HILL SCHOOL KEEPS TUITION AFFORDABLE WITH OUR SLIDING SCALE TUITION MODEL. IS THIS WHAT CAUSES THE GAP BETWEEN TUITION AND OPERATING COSTS? No. Most independent schools have a gap between operating costs and tuition. Greene Hill’s financial model is in line with other independent schools of similar size and age.

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GREENE HILL SCHOOL

www.greenehillschool.org • 718.230.3608


WHY DOES PARTICIPATION MATTER? WHAT IF I THINK MY GIFT TO THE ANNUAL APPEAL WILL BE TOO SMALL? Greene Hill School has had an enviable – and almost unheard of – record of 100% family participation in the Annual Appeal for the past 4 years! Since GHS is a relatively new school, foundations and other grant giving institutions look at the Annual Appeal to evaluate community support for the school. Many people have commented on the unusually high level of support for the Annual Appeal – it is a great compliment to the whole school community.

Parents and Teachers Helping the School (PATHS) Welcome everyone to PATHS – Parents and Teachers Helping the School. Everyone at Greene Hill is a member of PATHS, no need to join, no application and no dues. Much easier than the gym. PATHS was formed 2 years ago to provide a structure for parents,

IF GHS RAISES $100,000 ARE WE DONE WITH FUNDRAISING?

caregivers and teachers to get involved in supporting the school in meaningful ways. There are several PATHS committees – each with varying levels of time and commitment needed – and these provide

No. GHS is a relatively new school and we still need to raise funds for special projects. GHS is currently raising funds for

a great way for parents to connect to the school while creating and furthering projects that really help our kids.

4 special projects: the library, the playground, the new science and technology lab and a new art space. This year we will

In each issue of the newsletter, we’d like to highlight one particular

also begin to raise the money to fund the renovation of our

PATHS committee and project. This issue will focus on the library.

middle school classrooms. Many of you have been in the GHS library. It is a wonderful, cozy room with book-covered shelves, a well-organized system for checking out books and several inviting reading areas. But how many of you were in that room 3 years ago? It was filled with unused desks, chipping paint and cracked windows. While the contractors repaired the room, it was PATHS volunteers – with a big shout out to the library committee – who willed the library into being. With a generous do-

If there are any questions, please email me at rburton@greenehillschool.org

nation from parents who wish to remain anonymous, GHS hired a consultant to help us develop a cataloguing system and then the library committee kicked into action organizing bookfairs and donations of books, painting and arranging shelving, making reading nooks, hanging pictures and making the library one of the most inviting rooms in the school. If you have some time to volunteer in school, and would like to get involved in the library, please email Theres Wegmann (theres@m-i-c-r-o.net). Just a note – volunteering in the library can take many forms – 30 minutes here and there to catalogue books, a regular weekly time to help with a class visit, or even working on the bookfairs that provide us with so many of our resources.


FALL 2013

Learning and Practice at Greenehill

REFLECTIONS OF A RETURNING TEACHER

by James Choi (9s) REFLECTIONS OF A TEACHER NEW TO GHS

by Marjorie Vereen

(SCIENCE/MATH)

The first days back to school always seem to have parents, students and teachers feeling a variety of emotions — we anticipate new things to come and are nostalgic for familiar faces and routines. Having spent the last three years teaching the 7s at GHS, I knew almost exactly what to expect from children of this age and how to support their developmental needs. I was confident of my knowledge of the curriculum and the repertoire of teaching strategies that I'd cultivated over the years. In my new role as a 9s teacher, I know that I may not be able to anticipate every detail but I am comforted by the level of community at GHS, excited by the curriculum that lies

STARTING SCIENCE OFF WITH A BANG!

First of all, let me introduce myself. I’m the new science teacher, Marjorie. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several of you already and I look forward to meeting more soon. I come to GHS with 13 years experience as a middle school science teacher and elementary school classroom teacher.

ahead, and galvanized by the interests and curiosities of the children. French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” I find confidence in knowing that my yearning “for the vast and endless sea” will

I’m teaching science twice a week to the 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s classes and I’ll be popping into the 4s, 5s, and 6s classes weekly to help with science as well. While we are starting the year off with a school-wide food study, I felt it was important to begin with some basic science foundation.

prepare me for the exciting work ahead. Moreover, I stand

The students and I discussed what it meant to be a scientist and how they perform their work. I introduced them to the Scientific Method and we conducted our first experiment. I thought it would be thrilling to drop some Mentos into different sodas and see which one had the biggest reaction, or as the kids like to think of it, EXPLOSION!! By following the scientific method step by step we were able to really think like scientists and have fun at the same time. Be sure to ask your kids (7s-10s) about their hypothesis, the results, and their conclusion.

their anticipation of various challenges.

I am very excited about all the fun and interesting things I will be doing with the students (and staff) at Greene Hill School. I think it’s going to be a fantastic year!

yearning for the vast and endless sea.

GREENE HILL SCHOOL

ready to equip this year’s 9s with skills and content, and a lasting joy for learning. Not coincidentally, this was also a topic of discussion during one of our recent community meetings in the 9s, where which children also expressed

Now entering my fourth year at GHS, I feel fortunate to teach at a school that not only understands but emphasizes the value of helping children find inherent joy in learning and problem solving. Furthermore, I feel privileged to work with dedicated educators who strive to understand their students and support them richly. As our school continues to reach new heights, I am eager for the ways in which our faculty and parent body will jointly help children find their own

www.greenehillschool.org • 718.230.3608


Eye on Education The September Speakers Series kicked off the school year with two well-attended seminars on the history of progressive education and how it is practiced at Greene Hill. Since its founding, Greene Hill School has always been proud to identify itself as a progressive school. Progressive education can mean different things to different people, and there are always questions about what it means to us here. This pairing of talks was meant to help provide some clarity about who we are and

we hold onto the perspective that skills should be seen as tools,

where we see our roots.

not as goals in and of themselves. We believe that Open Work keeps us grounded in the core progressive value of respecting

School Director Diana Schlesinger presented an engaging look

the internal interest and motivation of the child.”

back at the various historical figures and movements that gave life to the progressive education movement. Progressive education

Laurie Baum, Middle School Planning Director, continued that

has an illustrious history – having engaged the attention of thinkers

theme discussing middle school planning in the context of progres-

from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Benjamin Franklin. One of the

sive education. She summed it up well saying, “Our commitment

big take-aways is that over a very long period of time, and vastly

to progressive education means that in the middle school we will

different historical, cultural and political contexts, there is a real

continue to focus on the whole child: academic (head), physical

consistency to the principle tenets of progressive education.

(hand), and social-emotional (heart), while at the same time increasing the expectations and rigor for students.

TO VIEW DIANA’S FULL POWERPOINT PRESENTATION, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

We recognize that early adolescents are at a distinct phase in their lives with specific needs, interests and abilities. We want

At the second Speakers Series talk, Lower School Director Barbara

to harness their innate curiosity and facilitate their learning in

Frailey gave an overview of how the central tenets of progressive

such a way that they are able to work independently and succeed

education are manifest at our school. Barbara placed GHS firmly

in any future endeavor.

within the tradition of progressive schools, noting that our constructivist approach to learning (children create their own understanding

It is our goal to make sure that children graduate from Greene

through authentic experiences) stands in opposition to the “empty

Hill with all the skills they will need for high school, however we

vessel” approach (children are recipients of knowledge) of main-

do not want to race through the curriculum to get to an end point

stream schools — especially the didactic learning styles of pre-

- rather our goal is for children to be engaged in their learning in

Progressive Era schools.

ways that are developmentally appropriate because the process is even more important than the product.”

One of the most interesting ideas Barbara touched on was GHS’s Open Work philosophy. “Open Work is such an important aspect

TO VIEW BARBARA AND LAURIE’S

of our program because it provides children with a supported

POWERPOINT PRESENTATION, CLICK HERE.

context in which to develop their own interests and ideas. When teachers teach new skills throughout the curriculum (math, writing, Labs), they often ask their students, “How can you imagine using this during Open Work?” This is one of the ways in which

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FALL 2013 Eye on Education

CONTRIBUTORS

FIRST COMMUNITY SING

Diana Schlesinger Barbara Frailey Rachael Burton Laurie Baum James Choi Marjorie Vereen

CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE

PHOTO CREDITS Rachael Burton Marjorie Vereen Diana Schlesinger Barbara Frailey Laurie Baum

Here are links to some suggested readings. Denise is at Greene Hill on Thursdays and her email is

Denise Prieto, Greene Hill���s consulting psychologist, held a talk for parents during the first week of school, about transitions —school transitions for children and also for their caregivers.

dprieto@greenehillschool.org BUILDING RESILIENCY IN CHILDREN http://www.nasponline.org/communications/spawareness/spweek2005_resilho.aspx

LAYOUT AND DESIGN Ilana Greenberg Please contact Rachael Burton at rburton@greenehillschool.org for information about contributions to the school

BACK TO SCHOOL TRANSITION- TIPS FOR PARENTS http://www.nasponline.org/resources/home_school/b2shandout.aspx

Board Corner Congratulations to everyone at Greene Hill on a wonderful first few weeks of school. We are so proud of all students and teachers – and know that there is a wonderful year planned for everyone. • We are pleased to announce that Greene Hill School has become a Provisional Member in Good Standing of the National Association of Independent Schools. This is a wonderful achievement for the school. As a young school, GHS has been following the criteria for certification by the appropriate New York and national organizations. This is our first official recognition by NAIS and we are so pleased. • Board members are planning to attend many community events this year and we look forward to meeting all GHS families. • On a personal note, the Board would also like to congratulate Amanda Smith, husband Rob and big brother Julian on the arrival of twins Miles and June! NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY AS TO STUDENTS Greene Hill School (the “School”) admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, financial aid programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs.

© 2013 Greene Hill School

GREENE HILL SCHOOL

www.greenehillschool.org • 718.230.3608


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